You Lika The Juice? – Announcing…

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Friday, January 8th – One of my favorite cards from Zendikar is Emeria, the Sky Ruin. Longtime readers and friends of mine know my fondness for creature recursion (and in response to Mike Turian’s Twitter question regarding what card I’d most like to see in M11, I quickly replied “Oversold Cemetery”), and Emeria is the near-perfect realization of that theme.

Announcing… Summon Elder Dragon Podcast!
EDH fans, I’m pleased to alert you all to a new podcast for the MTGcast network dedicated exclusively to Elder Dragon Highlander. It’s being put together by Tom and Steve from the awesome Monday Night Magic show, and they have asked me to join them! Right now the plan is to do 1-2 shows a month, but that’s subject to change depending on the response we get, so make sure to tune in and let us know what you think. By the time you read this, we’ll have finished recording Summon Elder Dragon Podcast #1, and it should be available for downloading sometime over the weekend.

Don’t worry, though – this won’t mean that I’ll be saving up all my EDH stuff for the podcast. Trust me, I’ve always got plenty of stuff to talk about regarding EDH, and I will continue to cover it here (along with my “competitive” Magic musings). Think of the podcast as bonus material, with two other fans of the format joining me to discuss the buzz on the format and toss around ideas. I’m really excited about it!

Speculation on From the Vault: Relics
I have to admit to being initially lukewarm to the From the Vault products Wizards has put out. I think it’s a great product for collectors, and there are certainly plenty of players who love their foils. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of foil cards in my tournament decks – the few times I’ve had to run a couple foils in a deck due to not having normal copies available, the deck seemed plagued by terrible draws and excessive mulligans. Perhaps it’s superstitious, but it just seemed to me that the slightly different thickness and weight of the foil card made shuffling do terrible things to my deck.

Since I started playing EDH though, there has been some appeal in “pimping” my decks with foil versions of cards as I run across them. I didn’t get the Dragons set, but I did buy Exile and many of those cards nicely pimped out some of my builds. Now I’m looking forward to the new one! From the Vault: Relics “contains fifteen battle-tested artifacts, culled from throughout the history of Magic: The Gathering.” Nine of them will feature new artwork.

I thought it would be fun to speculate on what might be in the set, especially since I have a funny feeling that casual multiplayer Magic (and EDH specifically) might have had a big impact on what cards were selected. I’m guessing there won’t be any artifact creatures, since “relics” doesn’t really evoke creature in my mind, even an artificial creature. I’m probably wrong, but I don’t see Arcbound Ravager as a “relic.”

Keep in mind that the previous FtV sets did not violate Wizard’s Reserved List policy, and I presume they won’t start with Relics… though it makes me sad that I won’t get to see a shiny Ice Cauldron featuring the Oracle version of its rules text.

Okay, let the guessing begin!

1. Mythic Rare artifact from “Lights” (“new” artwork)
Okay, we know we’re going to get some unknown card from Lights as a sneak preview, and I’m sure it’s going to be one that kicks-ass since they’re going to want to stir up excitement for the new set.

2. Nevinyrral’s Disk (new artwork)
This artifact was a tournament staple for years and has been a constant casual favorite. Certainly sounds “battle-tested” to me! The artwork previewed in the FtV: R announcement certainly suggests Nevinyrral’s Disk to me… though someone on Twitter pointed out it could certainly be a new take on… Conservator. Looking at that new art, and then the art on Conservator makes me a little nervous, but… they couldn’t include something so dang terrible in this set… could they?

3. Sol Ring
This casual staple is relatively expensive and difficult to find (who ever trades away their Sol Ring?), so I can see Wizards bringing this back as a gift for the newer casual player.

4. Mana Crypt (new artwork)
No way! … or way? I would never even consider this coming back if it weren’t for the presence of Berserk in FtV: Exile. In fact, I’m willing to bet that these FtV sets will contain a “Berserk slot” for a high-value card to spark buzz and excitement, and Mana Crypt certainly will. Casual players will find the random pain/no pain upkeep interesting, while Vintage fans will certainly be interested in snagging one for their decks… and lord knows it could use some new art!

5. Icy Manipulator (original artwork)
While there are plenty of versions of this artifact floating around, the artwork on the original version was incredible and iconic… and it should be positively breath-taking done up in foil!

6. Ivory Tower (new artwork)
This casual staple could really use an art make-over and seems like a natural fit here.

7. Smokestack (new artwork)
I can totally see this making it in as a chase card for Vintage fans.

8. Aether Vial (new artwork)
A Vintage card with casual appeal, and is certainly “battle-tested” across all formats and would likely benefit from an art makeover.

9. Winter Orb
Tom LaPille was involved in selecting the cards for this set, and I can totally see him pushing hard for this “griefer” card. I have visions of new EDH players throwing this in their decks, being momentarily baffled as to why the table rises up and kills them whenever they play it, and then learning their lesson and throwing it hastily into their trade binders.

10. Isochron Scepter
This popular card is still seeing play in Extended and seems like a natural tie-in if the new set “Lights” marks a return to Mirrodin or perhaps some themes (such as Imprint) from that block.

11. Urza’s Bauble
Not too long ago I ran across my playset of Urza’s Baubles and, recalling how nicely they played with Yawgmoth’s Will back in the day, decided to toss this and some other Baubles in one of my EDH decks that had a Will in it. Setting Urza’s Bauble and its old frame next to Mishra’s Bauble and its new frame, it was… aesthetically unpleasant. New art or no, having the new frame would be nice.

12. Library of Leng (new artwork)
Casual players love them some Library of Leng, though Reliquary Tower has eaten into some of that demand somewhat. I could totally see an artist having fun with a new picture for this one.

13. Copper Tablet
Copper Tablet has that “old-school” cache, and seems like it would make a great multiplayer card which is why I think it will probably make the cut. Anyone who’s read my EDH primer will know to keep far, far away from this card though… hey, the cards can’t all be good, can they?

14. Millstone (new artwork)
Millstone is a classic, and was the win condition for slow-ass control decks way back in the day so it certainly qualifies as battle-tested. Wizards has recently brought back milling as a viable strategy in Zendikar, and I could see them showcasing that strategy’s founding card.

15. Pithing Needle (new artwork)
Despite being printed in three sets, this card has still held its value and is currently being played in Standard (and other formats). Also despite being printed in three sets, it’s only had one piece of artwork, so I could totally see them giving the card an art makeover.

What do you think will be in the set?

Back to Emeria
“You hear that Mr. Anderson? That is the sound… of inevitability.”

One of my favorite cards from Zendikar is Emeria, the Sky Ruin. Longtime readers and friends of mine know my fondness for creature recursion (and in response to Mike Turian Twitter question regarding what card I’d most like to see in M11, I quickly replied “Oversold Cemetery”), and Emeria is the near-perfect realization of that theme. Since it’s a land that produces colored mana, adding it to your deck doesn’t cost you any card-slots. Its effect is powerful – once each turn, pick any creature in your graveyard and put that bad boy into play. It’s also well designed to balance out that power – you need to have seven Plains in play for Emeria to work, that’s at least turn 8 at the earliest, and even with some mana acceleration you’re only going to be able to pull it off turn 6 or 7 at the earliest if everything happens perfectly. So it’s definitely a late-game card.

It also requires Plains, and with no Plains running around Standard that aren’t basic Plains, that pretty well limits your colors to Mono-White. Luckily, White actually has two playable “Plains-acceleration” cards in Knight of the White Orchid and Kor Cartographer, along with one of the best creatures ever printed (and thus one of best creatures to bring back from Emeria). It’s also got Day of Judgment, which fits very nicely in this deck because Emeria means you can pull the trigger and wipe away all creatures knowing that eventually they can come back. Here’s what I brought up to last week’s FNM:

I was watching The Matrix on cable Friday afternoon, and as I snapped Emeria, the Sky Ruin onto the battlefield that night, Agent Smith’s words as he held Neo in the path of an oncoming subway train popped back into my head. “The sound… of inevitability.” That’s what Emeria represents. If you can hold on long enough, Emeria means you will eventually win. Wall of Reverence, Emeria Angel, Day of Judgment, and of course Baneslayer Angel are all well positioned to buy you time for that inevitability to kick in.

I played a version of this not long after Zendikar came out to mixed results, but at the time I only had 2 Days of Judgments and 3 Baneslayer Angels, and did not yet know how awesome Emeria Angel was, and the deck didn’t exactly light me on fire. This build… well, you certainly can’t say it’s lacking in power cards.

Unfortunately I could not find my notepad for FNM and so I don’t have any notes to give you a decent recap.

Round 1 I played against Vampires and swept it in two games.

Round 2 I again played Vampires, but in two games turn 5 Mind Sludge set me too far back to do anything about it. I did win one game where I managed to draw three of my Days of Judgment to buy enough time for Emeria and recurring Lightcasters to put the game away.

Round 3 I can’t recall what I played against, but I did sweep the match. My Round 4 opponent was undefeated and said we could draw into the Top 4, so I chilled out until the final cut. In the Top 4 I played my Round 4 opponent playing Grixis Control, I was threatening Emeria inevitability in the first game (by picking Wall of Reverence, which put me out of burn range), so he Earthquaked for the draw. It’s been a long time since I had a game 1 draw… He ended up keeping control of the next two games to take the match, so the draw didn’t much matter anyway. Cruel Ultimatum is still stupid broken, and it still pisses me off they made that one so much better than the others.

PChapin & George Baxter
In Patrick Chapin column this week, I was pleased to read him giving props to George Baxter and his classic book on building Magic decks. Baxter’s book was my gateway to competitive Magic – prior to that, I was just playing casual multiplayer Magic, throwing cards into my deck based on how cool or powerful they were, with no real planning involved. Like Patrick, I printed out worksheets based on Baxter’s grids, and it was a real revelation to see how carefully planning out your deck yielded real results when playing duels. When I lay out real cards while building decks, I still follow Baxter’s grids, with one casting-cost cards taking up the first block or two of 4-grids, two casting-cost cards taking up the next block, etc.

When I’m brainstorming decks nowadays, I don’t use actual grids anymore; instead, I just fire up Notepad and start typing out a decklist. However, Baxter’s lessons are still with me, and I order my cards by casting cost, starting with one mana at the top and working my way higher as the list goes on. For instance, here’s my recent update to my G/W Knightfall deck:

At a glance, you can get a sense of how balanced your mana curve is – starting from the top I’ve got seven one-drops, seven two-drops, eight threes, eight fours, four fives and two sixes (I count Thornling as a six-drop since you’ll want to keep a green mana open for the indestructible ability). That’s a pretty good curve! But you can see if you were a little too top-heavy it would be easy to trim spells from the bottom of the list and add cards to the top of the list.

(By the way, here’s the Sideboard: 4 Great Sable Stag, 3 Grizzled Leotau, 1 Thornling,
3 Wall Of Reverence, 2 World Queller, 2 Gigantiform)

Okay, that’s it for this week. I’m planning on heading up to Richmond Comix tonight, foregoing FNM and just revel in EDH!

Take care!


starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com

New to EDH? Be sure to check out my EDH Primer, part 1, part 2, and part 3.

My current EDH decks:
Tibor and Lumia (copy copy copy copy)
Doran the Siege-Tower (toughness matters!)
Baron Sengir (Evil Vampires!)
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary (huge creatures, big mana spells)
Sharuum, the Hegemon (Kaldra Lives!)
Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund (DRAGONS, RAHRRR!!)