Tag Archive: magic the gathering


Brain Maggot FNM Promo Card Review – November 2014


Brain Maggot is a really strong card, and now, there will be a foiled promo version for you to take home from your Friday Night Magic events this November! Solemnparty is a big fan of the art, although it grosses me out more than a bit. It’s already a card seeing a very good amount of play, and these are always the best kind of Friday Night Magic promos. Banishing Light, the September promo, is also pretty awesome, whereas Fanatic of Xenagos, a card that I personally quite like doesn’t quite have the same value at the moment.

For those that are unfamiliar with Brain Maggot, he’s very similar to an older card called Tidehollow Sculler. The difference is that the Sculler was an Artifact Creature that cost WB to cast, whereas the Maggot is an Enchantment Creature for 1B. Their effect is the same, however. When Brain Maggot enters the battlefield, target opponent reveals his or her hand and you choose a nonland card from it. You exile that card until Brain Maggot leaves the battlefield. With Thoughtseize already a huge card in the format, you’ll already know most likely what your Brain Maggot will be depriving them of when it hits the board.

Mono-Black Control will likely still well be a pretty good deck post-Return to Ravnica rotation, and a lot of that will be because of this card. Now for people that can stomach the alternate artwork foil, they can have a FNM play-set to “pimp” out their decks.

– Elspeth for the Win

Today begins a new mega series of top commons and uncommons from sets in Magic’s history. We’ll start with the expansions, going in alphabetical order. Most will be top 10’s, some will be shorter, and some will be longer. Today, we’ll start with one of my favorite expansions of all time, Alara Reborn.

We’ll go in reverse order, starting with Ardent Plea at #10:


Despite the fact that Ardent Plea does in fact have art of Elspeth Tirel on it, that is not why it makes this Top 10 list. In fact, it’s not a bad card, and there’s a reason that copies of this card can sell for $1 USD a copy. It’s an enchantment that costs 1WU (1 colorless, White, Blue) to cast and has Exalted and Cascade on it. Exalted is a neat mechanic that gives a creature attacking alone an extra +1/+1. These triggers all stack, so having multiple instances of Exalted are really good. Also, Ardent Plea is also one of the best Exalted cards around, as it also has Cascade.

The way that the Cascade mechanic works is that when you cast a spell with it, you reveal cards from the top of your library from the game until you hit a non-land card that costs less, in this case, 0, 1, or 2 mana to play. You may cast that card without paying its mana cost. Then every other card you removed from your library goes to the bottom of your library in a random order. Two of the best Exalted creatures of all time are Noble Hierarch and Qasali Pridemage, highly playable cards.  Hierarch costs one mana and Pridemage costs two. It’s very likely you’ll hit one of those two cards with this card’s Cascade trigger.

Because of the Exalted deck’s casual appeal, as well as fair amount of play-ability with cards like Cathedral of War and Sublime Archangel that were printed in the Magic 2013 Core Set, Ardent Plea is a very nice cog in that sort of deck.


At #9 is Lorescale Coatl. He has a pretty silly effect, which allows you to put a +1/+1 counter on the Coatl every time you draw a card. The Coatl could get out of hand pretty quickly, and at 1UG, he was highly playable and was something an opponent had to deal with quickly before it got out of hand.

But the Coatl’s main home today is in Commander decks. Because of all the ways that counters can be used and abused that have been printed since Alara Reborn, the Coatl’s counters can be used in many different ways. That’s why he’s a $2 card nowadays. If you can draw a lot of cards and give him a lot of counters, he gets quite silly.


Behemoth Sledge, an extremely popular card from the set, is at #8. It’s since been reprinted twice, in the Ajani vs Nicol Bolas duel deck and in one of the Commander 2013 decks. The Sledge is very popular is Commander decks, due to the fact that it gives both lifelink and trample, plus an extra +2/+2. That’s quite a boost for a 3-mana Equipment with a 3 equip cost. It just doesn’t quite have the potential game-ending quality of the next card on this list, but it can create quite a life total swing and help a creature that might otherwise be chump-blocked all day into a much bigger threat.


At #7 is Mage Slayer, which was later reprinted in one of the Planechase decks. You might wonder how this card beats out Behemoth Sledge on this list. It’s very close, but the fact that the Mage Slayer gives an effect on a creature declaring an attack is pretty sweet. Mage Slayer is an Equipment that costs 1RG to cast and 3 to equip. Whenever the equipped creature attacks, it deals damage equal to its power to the defending player.

Put on the right creature, Mage Slayer can deal quite a bit of damage without a creature ever actually having to connect for damage. While it’s not the more popular of the two Equipments on the list, it is the one that can potentially deal more damage.


Mind Funeral is an extremely powerful mill card, and here it is at #6. It’s actually the most valuable card on this list (as of July 2014), and it was even repritned in Modern Masters, which didn’t help its overall value much, but it’s still a $3-4 USD card. But it’s in the middle of the pack for our top 10. Why is that exactly?

As much as I personally love the mill deck, and it is actually an interesting strategy that’s been making more of a push in the Modern format, Mind Funeral is a bit inconsistent in that it could potentially hit 4 straight lands. Cards such as Archive Trap, Breaking // Entering, and Glimpse the Unthinkable are simply more reliable as far as dumping cards in the graveyard. However, many Modern Mill lists are still finding room for at least two copies of Mind Funeral as played correctly, they are still very potent mill cards. In any case, it’s perhaps currently the most valuable and widely played uncommon from Alara Reborn, besides of course, the number #1 card on this list…


Wall of Denial was once one of my favorite cards in all of Magic. If not for its two reprints in Commander 2011 and the Venser vs Koth Duel Deck, it might still be as valuable money-wise as Mind Funeral. But wow is it a great card. For 1WU you get a 0/8 defender with both flying and shroud. Not only can it not be targeted by spells, but it holds the air like no one’s business. Fog Bank gets a lot more love today, as that card simply prevents damage. It’s simply one of the best Walls ever made, and it still gets plenty of Commander deck love, which is why it makes #5 on this list.


Zealous Persecution is our #4 card. The reason it ranks so highly is not only is it an important part of Black/White tokens in Modern, but it is a potential combat trick that can lead to some incredible blowouts. It’s splash-able in “Junk” (green/white/black) aggro decks as well as Deadguy Ale, a Modern variation on the Death & Taxes deck from Legacy. It even sees Legacy play in Esper Stoneblade and the Legacy version of Deadguy Ale.

A card that is so often played in Eternal Formats is obviously good for a reason. For only 2 mana, you pump your own creatures by +1/+1 and creatures your opponents control get -1/-1. Most often you’ll be playing this after blockers have been declared and the potential blow-out can essentially win you the game. It’s a very powerful card, and if it hadn’t been reprinted in both the Sorin vs Tibalt Duel Deck and the ill-fated Modern Event Deck, it would have a lot higher dollar value.


Terminate was actually first printed in Planeshift, but was reprinted for Alara Reborn, which brought it into the Modern Format. It’s our #3 card as it’s played commonly in one of the best decks in Modern, Jund, and is simply one of the most effective creature-kill spells in the game of Magic. It’s also a staple in pretty much any Commander deck that utilizes both Red and Black. It’s been reprinted a ton of times, and yet it’s still worth about a dollar per copy. It’s a very strong card.


Qasali Pridemage is our #2 card not only because he’s a Cat Wizard (which is freaking awesome typing) but also because he has Exalted (very relevant) and some of the most cost-effective artifact and enchantment removal in the game on a 2/2 creature. He’s played heavily in every Eternal format: Modern, Legacy, and Commander (heck, even Vintage!) A 2/2 creature with all of that on it is pretty special, and even his Exalted ability is relevant due to the fact that he’s typically played alongside his Exalted brethren, Noble Hierarch. He’s a very splash-able, main-deck-able creature, and he’s only a common! He was reprinted in the Ajani vs Nicol Bolas duel deck, as well as a Friday Night Magic promotional version.

I don’t think the #1 card on this list can be a surprise, as format-defining as this little Elf…


While I greatly prefer the alternate art version of her, you can’t deny that Bloodbraid Elf was one of the best cards of Alara Reborn. She was the deck that made Jund the top deck in that Standard format, and she was played in Naya Aggro decks, as well. Since then, she was a force in Extended, was banned in Modern, and still sees tons of play in Legacy because of her combo with Shardless Agent.

Bloodbraid Elf is the number #1 non-rare in the set for a great many reasons. She costs 2RG which sounds a bit pricey for a 3/2 with Haste, but it’s her Cascade ability that is so vital for her success. Pretty much every card you would want to hit with her in Jund: Fulminator Mage, Kitchen Finks, among others, was three or fewer mana. She was two cards for the price of one, and heck, most of the time hitting a Terminate or Thoughtseize wasn’t the worst thing in the world, either. As someone who played a ton of Jund and Naya back in my online Magic Workstation days, I fell in love with this card. The Steve Argyle alternate art on the Friday Night Magic promo (also displayed on the Planechase reprint) made me love her more.

In 2013, she was banned in Modern, due to the fact that she could Cascade into Liliana of the Veil among other ridiculously powerful cards such as Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant. This still happens, of course, in Legacy Jund. But the more powerful interaction is with Shardless Agent, a card that’s only ever been printed in a Planechase product.


One thing that I must point out about Shardless Agent is that you may notice a subtle change in the reminder text about Cascade. Note that it says “cast” and not “play.” That’s right, Cascade counts as casting a card. This means that if you Cascade into a Shardless Agent with Bloodbraid Elf, you get to Cascade a second time with the Agent. In Legacy, yes you can hit your Deathrite Shamans and Tarmogoyfs. That’s all well and good, but you can also hit Ancestral Vision, which basically means you draw three cards for free. It’s a very powerful and silly deck. Ancestral Vision was banned in Modern due to its synergy with Cascade. Ordinarily, you’d have to suspend it for one blue for several turns. Not with Cascade. It’s a silly combo.

So there you have it, the top 10 commons and uncommons of Alara Reborn. Yes, you could argue that some of the cards could have ranked higher or lower, but all ten cards deserve to be on the list.

We’ll be back next time with another top list. We’re planning to go in alphabetical order, so submit your guesses what set the next installment will be featuring!

– Elspeth for the Win


The Beginnings of Magic 2015 Standard

While I’m not a Standard player myself, I am always keeping up on the Standard meta-game, as it’s good to keep up with what people are brewing with. Also, after the release of a set, it’s good see how certain cards from the newest set are being built around.  Now that the Top 32 have been decided at Star City Games’ Standard Open in Baltimore, Maryland yesterday, we are finally getting a glimpse into how Magic 2015 might affect the format.


One Mono-Black Devotion list used 3 copies of Sign in Blood to help with draw power. It’s good to have this card back in Standard, giving Mono-Black a bit of an extra push in card advantage. This list also ran two copies of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to help Mutavault tap for black mana. Mutavault is a fantastic card, but being able to also tap for black mana makes it even more valuable. The winning list from Dan Jessup ran 2 copies of Sign in Blood, and one main-decked Urborg.


The winning list also included a copy of Liliana Vess in the sideboard. The classic Liliana can make players discard, or help you search out your library for an answer you desperately need. It’s also nice that she can bring back creatures for all graveyard to fight for you. But her first two abilities are solid enough, especially as she starts with five loyalty. I see her being played all kinds of places. Esper Control has also managed to main-board one copy of Liliana.


Mono-Blue Devotion gained a copy of Polymorphist’s Jest for the sideboard, helping the deck out against aggressive creature-based decks, causing some potential blowouts. It’s a phenomenal card in limited, and in the right match-ups, it’s a really strong sideboard card that could really ruin an aggro player’s day.


One deck that has definitely been helped by Magic 2015 is Black/White Midrange, a list piloted by 3rd place winner Lloyd Kurth. which now has the full play-set of Caves of Koilos and one copy of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to make tapping for black mana far easier. The changes are mostly only in the mana base, but mana-fixing is extremely important in any Magic format, and adding the four pain-lands and the Urborg to fix for black mana definitely helps.


One Green/White Aggro list found room for 2 copies of Sunblade Elf in the main board. They’ve also found room for two copies of Ajani Steadfast in the sideboard. It’s hard to say how much play the new Ajani will get due to the presence of Ajani, Mentor of Heroes in Standard already (as you can’t have two Ajani planeswalkers on the board at the same time). The 2nd place G/W Aggro list did not have any Sunblade Elves, but did have the two side-boarded copies of Steadfast.


The new Ajani’s +1 is pretty decent, and his -2 is good if you already have a lot of creatures on board already. He also might see play in a “Super Friends” deck with other planeswalkers, but he’s sort of awkward in that sort of deck because of Ajani, Mentor of Heroes is a big part of that deck, helping you dig for more creatures and planeswalkers. Ajani Steadfast does have a rather nice emblem that makes you very hard to kill. I think he may see Standard main-board play once Return to Ravnica block rotates, but until then, he’s basically only a sideboard option.

The deck that has been affected the most by the new format, though, of course is Mono-Green Devotion. Why? The deck gained three new very valuable cards: Chord of Calling, Genesis Hydra and Nissa, Worldwaker. One copy of Hornet Queen and Reclamation Sage have also entered the main-board, as well as a copy of Darksteel Citadel for the obvious interaction with Nissa. The Hornet Queen, a 2/2 flyer with Deathtouch,  is basically played for the three green mana symbols in her casting cost, and the fact she brings in 4 1/1 Deathtouch flyers in with her. The Sage is played because Enchantments are running rampant, and optional artifact & enchantment removal is always good.


The Chord of Calling is fairly obvious, as it’s an instant speed tutor for a creature straight from your deck. It does cost X and triple Green, but because of its Convoke ability, you can just tap down creatures to help cast it, helping you to get your bigger creatures out on the board at instant speed. Mono-Green is never at a loss for mana, so you’ll have plenty of mana to get your bigger creatures out onto the board quite easily.


There is also a full play-set of Genesis Hydra. It’s a card that I’ve liked since it was spoiled, but it’s cool to see it seeing instant competitive Standard play. It’s a great value creature that can tap for either small amounts of mana to get your smaller creatures on board, or be a mana-sink for massive amounts of mana to be able to drop your Nissa or Arbor Colossus on the board.


Nissa, Worldwaker is pretty much a one-mana planeswalker in mono-Green. She’s even better with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, as you use Nykthos to cast her, but then tap other forests and float the mana, then use her plus-ability to untap those forests. She’s a very strong ramp card. Never mind the fact that she has the ability to make lands into 4/4 Elemental creatures – the ramping element alone is enough to play her. Of course, her ultimate is bonkers, and can win games.

Sadly enough, the Mono-Green Devotion list that fared the best, piloted by Charley Murdock, finished 9th.

There are clearly a lot of good cards in Magic 2015, but in the current format, it’s clear that Mono-Green was the deck most affected by the new set. It may not be until October 2014 before we see more Magic 2015 cards taking the spotlight.

Until next time,

– Elspeth for the Win


M15 Spoilers – Generator Servant


Here at Win Target Game, we typically don’t review all that many common cards as feature articles. However, Generator Servant is interesting enough that it just has to be looked at. As someone who’s always been fond of Pauper and the Pauper Commander formats, I see potential for this card. It’s also a card that I can definitely see being a strong Limited pick and perhaps even more.

First of all, I don’t see Generator Servant running all over Standard. It’s not quite that good. But what it does is definitely interesting. It basically puts the effect of Hall of the Bandit Lord on a creature, and in this case, you’re sacrificing a creature instead of paying 3 life and in fact you even get 1 more colorless mana out of it.


Hall of the Bandit Lord is a very useful utility land from Champions of Kamigawa that sees some Commander play in decks that care about giving its big creatures haste. But first of all, it comes in tapped, and you have to pay 3 life to use its ability, which does give that creature haste, but only gives you 1 mana.

But Generator Servant is actually a bit better. Albeit its effect isn’t so reusable, but it gives you 2 colorless mana only at the cost of itself. That mana can be spent on any sort of spell, much like Hall of the Bandit Lord’s mana, but without the life cost. It’s sort of a ramp card in Red on a 2/1 body. Plus, if you happen to use even one of that mana on a creature spell (it doesn’t specify that BOTH of that mana need be used on a creature spell) that creature gains haste.

At common, this effect on any sort of body is pretty useful. In Limited, it’s great, because say you no longer need the 2/1 creature, you can turn it into 2 mana to either play some utility or removal spell, or cast a bigger creature and give it the added value of haste. Is this effect good enough for Standard? Of that I’m not positive yet. But there’s a lot of potential here. I can think of many Pauper Commander decks that could use its utility and Standard Pauper lists will definitely find room for this. A two-drop that can essentially pay for itself is pretty awesome.

There are definitely some potential ways to abuse a card like this. Marchesa, the Black Rose comes to mind as a Commander that could use this card a great many times, and that’s certainly a Commander who cares about her creatures having Haste. In Limited, it makes cards like Siege Dragon into a 3 mana Dragon with Haste. Granted, it is a weak body, and will probably die before its ability becomes relevant, but forcing removal on this guy would mean one less piece of removal for something else later.

Also, he’s an Elemental, which means Brighthearth Banneret makes him a one-drop. Definitely relevant in Pauper and some mono-Red Commander lists.

Overall, this is a fantastically designed common with an effect from the past made even better. How will you use Generator Servant?

– Elspeth for the Win



Magic 2015 will actually have two pretty good game day promos, both of which are definitely playable. We’ve already gone into quite a bit of depth about Chief Engineer. The card I’m more excited about is actually the card everyone will get for playing Game Day, the uncommon Reclamation Sage.


Besides having gorgeous art on the full art promo, Reclamation Sage is an Elf Shaman that is basically a better version of Viridian Shaman, which had a mandatory ability to destroy an artifact when it entered play. The Sage is a 2/1 rather than a 2/2 for the same mana cost (2G), but its ability isn’t mandatory and it also can hit Enchantments. Not only is this going to replace the Shaman in Legacy Elves, but it is definitely Standard Playable.


Plus, Reclamation Sage may perhaps even replace Harmonic Sliver in Modern Pod as a more inexpensive removal card, both in mana cost (1GW) and money ($3-4 USD). Also, the Sliver has a mandatory ability, and blowing up your own Birthing Pod isn’t really that good.

In Commander, she’s even better, having the dual types of Elf and Shaman. Elves, obviously, are very popular in the format and there are cards in the format that care about the creature type Shaman like Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro as a Commander, and of course, Coat of Arms.


Those that make the Top 8 at Game Day events will also rece3ive a full art foil Chief Engiener. The art is pretty fabulous, and we’ve discussed the card at great length already. He’s going to be a sought-after promo in any case due to his Commander play-ability, so he’s a strong card to pick up even if his Constructed value doesn’t become what it hypothetically could. Decks are going to have to center around Chief Engineer for his value to skyrocket, which as we’ve discussed is definitely possible in Modern. However, Standard will have to add tons more Artifact support for him to really see his potential maximized.

I won’t be playing in any Magic 2015 Game Day events personally, as I do not play Standard, at least at this time, but I’m actually more excited about the Sage than the Engineer as a promo, as the Sage will see lots of play.

Which card are you more excited about?

– Elspeth for the Win



While not nearly as exciting as some of the recent spoilers, we do have some new cards, some of which may have interesting Limited connotations.


Kapsho Kitefins is an interesting uncommon from Magic 2015. It’s a 3/3 flyer for 4UU, which sounds a bit over-costed until you read its effect. Whenever it or another creature enters the battlefield under your control, tap target creature an opponent controls. There’s already been a suggestion to play this card alongside Master of Waves in mono-Blue devotion, but I think 6 mana for a 3/3 flyer is a bit fragile, even with the potential power of that effect. Tapping down creatures is nice, but it’s not as good as bouncing them. Scourge of Fleets from Journey Into Nyx is 7 mana, and actually bounces opponents’ creatures equal to your devotion to Blue.

However, Kitefins could be pretty good in Commander, where tapping down creatures in this way could be better taken advantage of, especially in a multi-player setting. DereviEmpyrial Tactician lists could find a home for this card. There are aggressive Grixis lists like Marchesa of the Black Rose and Thraximundar that could use this to help clear a path to victory. Bant tempo decks will be able to tap down any creatures in the way of their armies’ assault.

It’s also going to be an interesting card in Limited. It just doesn’t do enough on its own for 6 mana to warrant being viable in a Constructed deck, honestly.


Research Assistant is a much worse version of Merfolk Looter. The original Merfolk Looter was a 1/1 that had the same ability to draw a card, then discard a card, but without the added mana cost, only a tap. The only improvement here is that the Assistant is a 1/3. It’s also a Wizard, meaning Azami Commander decks could potentially use it. I don’t think that R&D had Azami in mind when they created this card, though. They must have had their reasons for not simply reprinting Merfolk Looter. A disappointment here. Seriously, 4 mana for a loot effect?


Wizards just wants Mono-Black to be the best deck ever, apparently. Festergloom is basically a common version of Drown in Sorrow. It’s considerably worse, of course, but it only hits non-black creatures for -1/-1 until end of turn. Were it instant speed it would be a lot more useful, as it could be a combat trick. But at sorcery speed, it’s probably not going to see any play outside of Limited, or perhaps sideboards to help deal with Master of Waves Elemental tokens.

I don’t know why they didn’t just make this the black version of Holy Light, a common INSTANT from The Dark that did the same thing for non-white creatures. I guess they felt that may have been too good.


I’m jumping for joy that Striped Bears from Weatherlight has been transformed into an Elf Shaman. Seriously, Shaman of Spring is literally Striped Bears as an Elf – same effect and same mana cost. I do like the artwork, however, and it is an elf, which counts for something at least. Of course, you could have just reprinted Elvish Visionary, the 1/1 for 1G that draws you a card when it enters. It may see Limited play, of course, and perhaps some Pauper Commander play, but it’s pretty underwhelming outside of that; again, the artwork is pretty.


Wizards seems to be continuing their trend of creating functionally worse versions of cards that they could have just as easily reprinted. While the art and flavor of Nimbus of the Isles is cool, it’s just a vanilla 3/3 flyer for 4U. You could have reprinted Chasm Drake from Magic 2012, which is the same thing but gives one of your creatures flying until end of turn when it enters. Or you could have reprinted Faerie Invaders from Magic 2013, which is this card plus Flash. I guess they have to lower the power level of the set somewhere, but why in such an obviously dumb way?


Being a huge fan of Krenko, Mob Boss (and he may be reprinted or get a new version in Magic 2015 – that hasn’t been confirmed yet), I’m glad to see Krenko’s Enforcer. He’s a 2/2 Goblin Warrior with Intimidate. As awesome as it is that he can only be blocked by Red or Artifact creatures, and that he’s a Goblin, he is in fact yet again a functionally worse version of a couple of cards that already existBlind Zealot from New Phyrexia was a black common with Intimidate, but it had an additional effect of being able to sacrifice it whenever it dealt combat damage to destroy a target creature. Spectral Rider was a White Uncommon from Innistrad and although it was a vanilla Intimidate creature, it also cost one mana less.

My only reasoning for making Krenko’s Emissary 1RR with no additional effect is that he’s a Goblin that can get a lot bigger with Goblin Lords in other formats. He’s also a nice inclusion in many Goblin Commander and Pauper lists. He’s a good Limited card in any case, but this trend of reprinting functionally worse versions of existing cards and at times color-shifting them is kind of annoying. But he is better than Bladetusk Boar; I will give him that.


Here we have another functionally worse version… oh, seriously I feel like a broken record. It’s basically a more expensive version of Griptide and Grasp of Phantoms, both of which put a target creature on top of its owner’s library. Griptide was an Instant, though, and Grasp of Phantoms was a Sorcery, but both were 3U and very playable in Limited. Chronostutter does put the target creature second from the top, which is the reason for the two more mana. But guess what? There’s another card that already did that in Magic, Oust in White, which does the same thing for ONE White mana at Sorcery speed, but its controller gains 3 life. Blue is the color of bounce for God’s sake. Why not just make this 3U as an instant in Blue and just make it an upgraded Griptide and put it at uncommon?

And it might be playable in Commander. In Pauper Commander, that is.


Wait, Borderland Marauder is a functionally better version of a card that already existed! Rogue Kavu was a 1/1 for 1U that had the same effect as this creature: whenever it attacks, its gets +2/+0 until end of turn. It’s no Goblin Piledriver, obviously,  but it’s essentially a 3/2 for 2 mana, which at common is perfectly good in Limited. This one gets a thumbs-up for a good aggressive early drop.

Overall, these spoilers are a bit disappointing for M15 Limited fans. There’s only one common that’s functionally better than a card that could have just as easily been reprinted (Borderland Marauder) and an uncommon that could serve a purpose somewhere somehow outside of Limited. Color me unimpressed with these cards.

– Elspeth for the Win


Chasm Skulker – Magic 2015 Rare Card Review


Back in Alara Reborn, there was an uncommon creature card called Lorescale Coatl. It cost 1UG for a 2/2 that allowed you to put a +1/+1 counter on it each time you drew a card. Chasm Skulker basically does the same thing for 2U, but it nets you a nice little bonus when it dies.

When the Squid Horror that would then be formerly known as Chasm Skulker dies, you get to put X 1/1 blue Squid creature tokens with Islandwalk onto the battlefield, where X is the number of +1/+1 counters on Chasm Skulker. That could be a lot of tokens. Talk about doing a good job replacing itself. Plus, those tokens have islandwalk – meaning that if they attack a player who controls an Island, they are un-blockable.

A couple of very popular Commander decks already have a home for this guy: Prime Speaker Zegana and Vorel of the Hull-Clade. The former cares about drawing cards to draw into combo pieces where as the latter cares about doubling counters in order to draw cards to draw into combo pieces. The synergies with cards like Chasm Skulker and Lorescale Coatl become fairly obvious in those sorts of decks. Imagine sacrificing a big Chasm Skulker with Greater Good. Not only do you get some sweet card draw out of his sacrifice, but you get a lot of nice little 1/1 tokens that will cause opponents a lot of issues.

Also, Azami, Lady of Scrolls, a deck that draws a lot of cards could probably find room for Chasm Skulker. The only issue would be making sure that he dies. But if he does, he’s going to make a lot of tokens, and Azami doesn’t usually win from damage, so it’s a thought.

While it probably won’t see any play in Eternal formats, Chasm Skulker will be solid enough in Limited, as any card that can replace itself is pretty good. It also has some nice synergy in Standard with Dictate of Kruphix, where drawing an extra card every turn will make this guy pretty big pretty fast. Also blue/green decks might find a way to make good use of this guy, as well.

Chasm Skulker is basically a better Lorescale Coatl, although you can’t build a nifty Pauper Commander deck around the Skulker as you can with the Coatl.

How would you use Chasm Skulker?

– Elspeth for the Win




Every once in awhile, a card comes around that looks to be ready to break multiple formats. Chief Engineer would appear to be that kind of card. A card that can make any artifact you cast gain Convoke sounds incredibly silly, in theory. Basically, what this allows to happen is giving each artifact you cast the ability to tap as many creatures that you control as you want to reduce its casting cost by one. The best part about Convoke that is often misunderstood is that Convoke is unaffected by summoning sickness. You can tap creatures as soon as they are played, meaning that Affinity in Modern (and Legacy) for that matter could soon become ridiculous. Right?

Chief Engineer is a 1/3 for 1U. Those are reasonable stats, but he’s not exactly very aggressive. Plus, multiple copies of him on board don’t do much for you. It’s not like Etherium Sculptor where its ability to make your artifacts cost 1 colorless mana less can stack. However, in concert with Etherium Sculptor and Grand Architect, Chief Engineer does have a chance to shine.

One question that has been brought up quite a bit already is, how much better is Chief Engineer than Grand Architect?


Grand Architect was a very strong card during the Scars of Mirrodin block, and still sees heavy Commander play, as well as some fringe Mono-Blue Devotion play in Modern in a deck called Master Architect (which is of course based around Master of Waves and the Architect.) Like Chief Engineer it’s a 1/3 but with a 1UU casting cost. It also is a lord for blue creatures and it has an ability for one Blue to make an artifact creature blue until end of turn. Then, if you tap an untapped blue creature you control, you get to add 2 colorless mana to your mana pool. You can only spend that mana to cast artifact spells or activate abilities of artifacts, but that’s pretty solid.

The obvious advantage of <strongChief Engineer is that it costs 1 fewer Blue mana to cast and it gives your artifacts Convoke, which means that the color of the creature you are tapping isn’t nearly as important. It is possible to see the Engineer working well alongside the Architect, however.


Etherium Sculptor was a very strong card back in the days of Shards of Alara. It’s been reprinted a couple of times since, most recently in Modern Masters. It hasn’t seen much Modern play, sadly, outside of Krark-Clan Combo, an inconsistent but at times highly successful deck. (I hate combo decks, and I am sure that SolemnParty will be covering some of my most hated combos in the Games and Mechanics series at some point in the future.) It’s an extremely popular Commander card, however, and it was very good in its Standard and Extended heydays. In an artifact based deck, it would seem that the Sculptor is a better turn two drop until you remember that Chief Engineer can be Convoked for Blue mana, and in Eternal formats likely you’ll have a Memnite or Ornithopter to tap for the colorless mana, meaning you get to cast a free Sculptor. That’s very solid.

That being said, many people are dreaming of turn three Wurmcoil Engines. While that would be technically possible, as many players have already pointed out on various forums and on Reddit, potentially playing out your whole hand for a turn three Wurmcoil is more than a bit risky. But here is a very playable scenario that doesn’t necessarily involve over-extending.

Turn one, play an Island and some one-drop or zero-drop creature. Turn two, play a land. Then, drop the Chief Engineer, then using the Sculptor’s new Convoke ability, tap both creatures to bring it out. You could then bring out another two-drop creature by tapping the Sculptor, or using the other Island, as well – but that’s not necessary. Even with just three creatures on board, and presumably two lands, with Sculptor on board, that’s all you need to drop the Engine. There. you now have a turn three Wurmcoil, and probably still a couple of cards in hand. Yes, you might be asking for removal to wipe it out, but you’re already greatly up on board position. Grand Architect doesn’t offer that sort of acceleration. But this scenario, of course, assumes that you have a Sculptor and one other creature to drop. Then again, that’s not at all far-fetched.


The card that Chief Engineer probably enables the best, however, is Mycosynth Golem. Yes, it costs 11 mana to play, but it does have affinity for artifacts. Let’s take the scenario with the Turn 3 Wurmcoil Engine
. You have four creatures on board and presumably three lands now. That’s 7 mana. So turn four, you’ll likely have at least 4 untapped creatures and 3 land. You may have a fourth land-drop, as well. Already Mycosynth Golem is a 7 drop, due to having 3 artifacts and the Sculptor on board. Therefore, you have the mana already to cast it on turn 4 by Convoking all four creatures and tapping three land. So yes, you have a turn for Mycosynth Golem, and after that point, since now your artifacts all have affinity for artifacts, you basically play everything else after that for free.

Right now, Mycosynth Golem is only played in Commander, but it is legal in Legacy and Modern. Chief Engineer has just made Mycosynth Golem far more playable in Modern and Legacy.

And there’s this guy:


Turn one creature, turn two Chief Engineer. Tap two creatures. Get a free 5/6 Myr Superion. Yeah.

OK, so that’s all well and good. Affinity in Modern got a new friend. It remains to be seen just how Chief Engineer is brewed with in Eternal formats, but there potential is definitely there. I don’t even have to begin to tell you how good Convoking Artifacts is in Commander, a format dominated by artifacts everywhere.

So what about Standard?

Well, Magic 2015 already has a fair share of decent artifacts. Our old zero-drop Ornithopter is back. Juggernaut is back. Phyrexian Revoker is back. Perilious Vault can wipe out a board, the exiling version of Oblivion Stone. You also have the lovely indestructible artifact land Darksteel Citadel.

Oh, and there’s Soul of New Phyrexia.

Yes, there’s definitely a lot of potential for Chief Engineer to go somewhere. He’s going to even be playable in Limited with the number of artifacts in this Core Set. Depending on what the Khans of Tarkir block has to offer for artifacts, he could find even more great synergies in Standard.

Regardless of what happens in Standard, he will be the nuts in Commander and Affinity players will get to visit Magical Christmas Land with their turn 3 Wurmcoil Engines and turn 4 Mycosynth Golems on a good many occasions. Affinity was already a deck in Modern without the artifact lands, and Legacy still has them. It’s really just a matter of figuring out where to stick your copies of Chief Engineer in Affinity lists. Not sure it will be run as a full play-set or not, but as it’s 3 toughness, it’s well in range to be hit by Lightning Bolt or Lightning Strike. Plus, you’ll want to have enough copies to open with one consistently.

Basically, if you get a great opening hand, Chief Engineer makes Affinity very tough to beat. It won’t be Mirrodin block all over again with artifacts overrunning the format – Wizards learned that lesson well – but artifact lovers are going to have some fun with this guy.

And he’s even Vintage playable with Moxen.

How will you use Chief Engineer?

– Elspeth for the Win



Games and Mechanics – Evergreen, Part 1

An Evergreen mechanic is any mechanic that is usable in any set. In fact, you can find a list of them here.

These are the barebones basics of the game, and I’ll be going over each of them in the order they appear in the linked list.


Deathtouch: Any amount of damage this deals to a creature is enough to destroy it.

First Key-worded: Future Sight

Deathtouch modifies what is referred to as “lethal damage,” or the damage required to kill a creature. For example, lethal damage for a 4/4 is 4 damage. What deathtouch does is make that number 1, no matter what. This creature just needs to be able to do 1 damage to the creature it’s fighting to kill it.

Defender: This creature can’t attack.

First Key-worded: Betrayers of Kamigawa

Defender is less of an ability and more of a hinderance. Creatures with Defender are completely unable to attack, but are generally limited to just Walls and other things that tend to have 0 power. Originally, Defender was not an ability – it was a side effect of being the creature type Wall. However, now it’s also on non-walls, like Pride Guardian and Wakestone Gargoyle. These creatures are generally designed to be just defensive creatures (hence the name of the ability) but is also sometimes used as a temporary limitation.


Guardian of the Ages is one of those cards – it’s a 7/7 defender until an opponent attacks you, and then it loses defender and gains trample.

Double Strike: This creature deals damage in both first strike and normal combat.

First Key-worded: Legions

This needs a little bit more explaination,

First Strike: This creature deals combat damage before creatures without first strike.

First Key-worded: Alpha

First Strike damage takes place before normal combat damage. So for example, a 7/2 blocks a 2/1 first strike. The 2/1 deals damage before the 7/2 creature, and kills it as the creature only has 2 toughness. As the 7/2 is already dead, the 2/1 survives.

Now, to explain double strike, we’ll use a very similar scenario. a 7/4 blocks a 2/1 double strike. First strike combat occurs, and the 2/1 deals two damage to the 7/4. The 7/4 now has 2 damage on it. Then, we go into regular combat. The 7/4 deals 7 damage to the 2/1, but the 2/1 deals another 2 damage to the 7/4, which kills the 7/4, and the 2/1 dies to the 7 damage from the 7/4.

Now, keep in mind that double strike does not let you hit the player after you kill their creature, unless that creature has trample. Many players think that a 2/2 double strike killing a 2/2 lets you kill the creature and then hit the player for 2 damage. This isn’t true – and a lot of people will try to trick you with this. The creature with double strike is completely safe from that 2/2, but the creature is also still blocked.

Enchant states what an Aura targets when it comes into play, and was first key-worded in Alpha.

For example, most auras have “Enchant Creature,” which allows the aura to attach itself to a creature. Fairly straight forward.

Equip N: Attach to target creature you control. Equip only as a sorcery. 

First Key-worded: Mirrodin

Equip is the activated ability that appears on Equipment that allows you to attach the equipment to your creatures. (Used equip a little too much in that sentence…) Equipments give benefits to the equipped creature, much like Auras. The difference between equipments and auras, however, is that equipments stay in play after the equipped creature is destroyed.


Lightning Greaves for example is an equipment straight out of Mirrodin. A 2-drop artifact with the benefit of giving Haste and Shroud (which I’ll mention later), and has an equip cost of 0.

Fight: [Something] and target creature fight.

First key-worded: Innistrad

Fight was actually originally from Onslaught block, but took a very long time to get key-worded. It causes two creatures to literally fight. More specifically, the creatures each deal damage equal to their power to each other, just like regular combat. Personally, my favorite card that causes fights is Ulvenwald Tracker. For a cost, he forces two creatures to fight, and at only 1 green.


This is, however, only part one of the evergreen articles. There will be one more, talking about the rest of the evergreen mechanics.

Until next time,






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