A Magical Huffalump Resides Here: August 2014

A Magical Huffalump Resides Here

My name is Ed, I am a programmer. Just another dude with another blog. I like MTG, Open Source (more towards FREE software). I like sports, and eventually I hope to do business and do good for the world in general. This blog is gonna be about Magic The Gathering. Decklists and snippets will be posted here. It may lead somewhere or nowhere, as with all things arcane, that was bloody obvious =)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Onslaught Fetches are back !!!!!

Onslaught Fetches are back!!!

By now you probably know. Fetches are back.

Really back.

Why do I say that?

Well fetches have been in Modern forever (for as long as forever is to Modern :p)
However the fetches in there are from Zendikar circa Oct 2009, that is almost 5 years ago.

Yet modern is being pushed at the CURRENT batch of Standard players... who you know cannot go back in time 5 years ago.

Now for sure, a counter argument would be that Modern is not targetting the current/present players
but at the older veterens. Good luck in validating and substantiating that notion.

Current masses are in Standard. It might be because it is the easiest entry point, the most hyped,
the easiest?, the most available, the most whatever.

But it is the biggest cash cow.

And they see Modern and they cannot get in. Now if I were a new player and see no future in the game for me, I would quit right there hehe

But now with the Onslaught fetches being in CURRENT Standard. As with the shock lands from RTR block, players will now have actual access to fetches!

This opens up the entry into Modern by HEAPS.

Not just practically, since fetches were the most expensive part.

But also psychologically, for so long you will hear that player cannot compete for lack of fetches. There is some truth to that, but only a half truth I feel.

But all that discourse is now moot as fetches are now here! Innovation is ... well ... sparkly I guess =)

Since the onslaught fetches are allied colours, so the colour combies would be slanted as such (something previously not available).

Now will 10 fetches in Modern break it? I seriously doubt. Since even in Legacy, few decks play all possible fetches for their colours. In fact decks only vary the fetches to ensure capping or pithing effects do not utterly invalidate all their fetches.

Now will fetches have an impact in Standard?

Fetches in legacy are more used for deck manipulation, since it is the ability to change the top card of your deck that makes it so valuable. In that regard, yes it is nice with scrye, and yes it is nuts with Courser of Kruphix.

However in terms of colour fixing, fetches are less stellar in Standard. In legacy and modern, fetches can fetch duals and shocks respectively. This is what makes the colour fixing effect pretty. In Standard? Not so much. Without the RTR shocks, the colour fixing of fetches is actually pretty bad if you need heavy colour liquidity. If you are predominantly one colour or most of your cards are single coloured, it might not be so bad. But you have many colours and lots of double, triple coloured mana requirement... then fetches are less effectual than say mana confluence or even the pain lands.

Oh and no. Fetches, they no ramp =)

So in short, fetches are not going revolutionise Standard. But they are going to be a good enabler for entry to Modern. Something that WOTC should have done a long long time ago. And this is what I mean by WOTC printing Modern playable stuff in Standard. It is really the only way to get Modern on its feet. Else you will just have speculators who do not play, and players with no cards. A very strange predicament indeed.

Printing fetches is the "do reprints in Standard" way of stuffing Modern quality cards in players hands. On that count, kudos to WOTC for not listening to the inane calls of collectors and speculators to "hold the value of cards" a la Modern Masters or to a lesser extent Conspiracy. It is the reason for the existence of the bullshit that is the reserve list, and I am glad to see the non-perpetuation of that mistake. This opens the gates of Modern to Standard players. May the horde run free. Knock yourselves out. Please build new decks.

Now on the other count. Printing Modern quality cards without actually doing reprints. Thats something I would like to see more. Eidolon of pain pain (Eidolon of the Great Revel) seemed to have given burn some life in Legacy and Modern (I actually did try to build something with that for Standard .. glad to see it work out in Modern and Legacy ;)). So thats some encouragement. Something like that. More of that would be good. Birthing Pod was good too. More things like that please.


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Thursday, August 28, 2014

My Thoughts On The Latest Block Structure Changes

My Thoughts on the Block Structure Changes

I have always wanted to talk about peak decks.

Now i will likely not have the chance :p

Peak decks (to me) are when you have a maximum number of blocks. To a brewer, this is the full toolset open to you

Now why do I like "peak decks"?

I sometimes ask myself why do I like Magic, or what do I like about Magic?

One of the answers to that is I like decks!

Which is why I like all of magic, pokemonesque, combo, prison, permission, control, aggro etc etc

There used to be a time when I collected deck lists that were published. The Dojo! The Sideboard!

Anything on the mothership! Global Tournaments!!

Then it got too much. Too many decklist too little time.

One thing that constraints or invalidates a decklist is time.

Or rather time frame.

When was this deck made? What were the legal blocks? What format was this?

All those factors determine the success and define the legality and validity of the deck.

I remembered Owling Mine. It was an interesting Mill deck in that standard.

Where is it now?

But that was the problem, standard's legality and composition are as the shifting sands, literally with time.

it was hard to pin down actual eternal decks.

This actually ties in with my previous ramble on why I feel standard is not Magic! A deck that exists in Standard exist only in the "now", shift a few blocks and decks get invalidated or new decks are born.

A deck today, may not be a deck tomorrow.

Go play Ice Age block decks. I dare ya. Response is likely to be cold. sry just had to say that lol

Hence Standard's decks are hard to pin down.

However given my preponderance (some call it an addiction) with Magic, I will normally still engage with whatever rubbish Standard dishes out.

But there are just too many substandard temporal deck flying around.

I do not want a deck that is meaningless five year or actually two years from now. What to me would be more meaningful, would be a deck built from the full range of cards in existance for a particular period.

This would be what i term, "peak decks". I am pretty sure this is a known concept, i just like to keyword it hoho.

Anyways its basically what decks are left standing when all cards available are released. This occurs every Fall (October) when the big new set is about to rotate in.

The period is very short, in recent times it is when the new MXX core set (this year is M15 for example) is released.

it is about a month or two, so there is'nt much time for brewers to work. But it is the full range.

Now WOTC saying that meta changes happen the most when sets leave as opposed to when sets enter.

Well duh.

I blame that on them actually, since for new decks to emerge, there must be sufficient time for the ideas to coalesce. However with the current structure, Standard is already rotating pretty quick! So obviously the meta does not change much when new sets come in, because of deck stickiness.

Whereas when sets rotate out, the meta is forced to change.

I am not sure that using that as the reason for spicing up the meta (by speeding up rotation) is good or not, as deck are not given time to find themselves, but to be premade and pushed to the masses.

What does this all mean?

No more peak decks... at least not those of 8 set montrosities... tho this likely does not matter... since peak decks are hardly found in the first place =D

The new "peak decks" will only have a maximum of 6 sets if I understand it correctly. So the pool is smaller.

Decks will likely have to be pushed smartly. Hey hey Ensoul! Meet Darksteel citadel!!!

+ Chief Engineer
+ Generator Savant

Izzet a party? I don't know about you but that seems pretty pushed.

Oh and there was Shrapnel Blast and Ornithopters....

If they make quality cards, i can live with that....

But yeah it is likely goodbye to subtle ideas that take time to develope. The risk is people not finding the deck in time, or making it so subtle... that it falls flat on its face, not being discovered till it is too late and rotation is on. I believe some pro did a study on group think in magic, where players simply follow the current deck and assume it is the best.

Given the lack of time for discovery, pushed deck or heavy hints are probably the way to go.

If you are like me and you are stupidly opening sealed product to get all cards in the set? Move along, there is no change financially for us. We are screwed. We are still screwed! But no increase in the screwyness index, so thats cool no? *the image of deadpool is so in my mind now!*

If you are the sort that looks for deals to make only the decks you want to play.... well how does the changes affect you financially?

It depends. If you are looking to play in standard, then you are kinda more screwed now, since standard rotates faster and your cards now have a shorter lifespan (for standard). If you are the sort that waits for rotatation to pick up the cheapies that people are dropping like hot potatoes (I picked up JTMS at 40 USD, that was the low point i think, it was almost rotation and JTMS got the banhammerz), then these changes actually benefit you since it happens faster now!

There is an off chance that WOTC will take more risks, since cards don't "stain" Standard for as long. On the other hand stinkers that they print also rotate quicker so its all cool ;)

What do you do if you refuse to print buttloads of modern playable cards in standard (so that you can manipulate balance by printing sucky low powered cards with a sprinkling of decent cards). But you seriously need to pump cards into players' collective greedy grubby hands so that they can actually play modern, instead of whining about how expensive it is to play modern? I mean you can't have your cake and eat it too right? Well apparently you can now! By increasing rotation, there are more sprinklings of decent cards, so cards from standard flow faster into Modern. So Standard can continue to languish in its low power pit, and Modern actually gets an increase in card input! Brilliant!  ... From a "lets maintain Standard status quo" and yet "get Modern going" point of view. I know I sound negative, but I am actually quite happy since it does mean that Modern actually gets something. Standard was screwed. Is still screwed. No change there.

All in all I am ambivalent to the block changes. If they can still print competitive good cards this change is all cool to me ;) In fact its all "LG". You know. "Changes for the better!"

have fun ppl!

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

M15 Quick Review

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Izzet Voodoo 0o0o0 || 0o0o0

Izzet Voodoo

Issit? Issit?

Okay so that explains the lame-mo name-mo

Well at least the Izzet half. The other portion is because of an aspect of the deck:
I overloaded it with the pithing needle aspects:
1) Pithing Needle itself *tada*
2) Phyrexian Revoker!

Now all that needling reminded me of those Voodoo dolls in those old movies with needles all over it.

Hence the name.

Oh well.

This deck is not new by the way. In fact it is almost made by WOTC themselves. It was pretty pushed i feel.

I mean:

Ensoul Artifact?
Dark Steel Citadel?

I love me some 2nd turn 5/5

Not just that, there is also ornitothoper

Oh and:

Generator Servant
Chief Engineer

It does seem pretty pushed to me =)

Ensoul Artifact alone was the one card that piqued my interest in the power level of M15.

Any ways here is the list (there is no sideboard)


1 x Keranos, God of Storms

1 x Ral Zarek

4 x Ensoul Artifact

4 x Astral Cornucopia
3 x Pithing Needle

1 x Hoarding Dragon
4 x Generator Servant
4 x Chief Engineer
1 x Soul of New Phyrexia
4 x Phyrexian Revoker
4 x Scuttling Doom Engine

4 x Shrapnel Blast

4 x Steam Vents
4 x Shivan Reef
3 x Temple of Epiphany
3 x Mountain
4 x Darksteel Citadel
4 x Mana Confluence
3 x Island

1 x Pithing Needle

Its similar to the one by Saito, except he went for flyers with Illusory Angel and Ornitothophers

I went needles.

To me they (Pithing Needle and Phyrexian Revokers) seemed cheap enough. Also Planeswalkers were prevalent, also
Mono Black the big bad? That deck has activated abilities galore.

The idea is that pithing effects are pretty strong and with Ensoul Artifact, playing the needle effects blind is not half bad as a move with Ensoul Artifact and Shrapnel Blast around.

Hoarding Dragon was added after seeing YH use it in his variant. I like the ability to grab an artifact of my choice.

A 0cc indestructible 5/5 is some good I heard.


Or a 0cc feed for a timely Shrapnel blast.

The Scuttling Doom Engine are a tag team together with Shrapnel Blast, which conveniently turns on all the cheap artifacts.

Astral Cornucopia was added after Sam suggested it, as an early 0cc drop it is pretty awesome. It makes the early 5/5 that much more consistent.

As for its xxx ability, that does help somewhat with this deck. If you look at the list, it is kind of a ramp deck.

The xxx is nice when you need to get that 1 mana more.

Nothing too  innovative here since, the deck is almost premade :p

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Why Standard is not Magic

Magic is so rubbishy these days and reading developing-annihilation-2014-08-15 only kinda confirms it.

We are spiralling into mediocrity.

I am all for balancing power creep, but please don't give me power weep and turn Magic the Gathering into Magic the Gathering: Dust or Tragic the Gathering lol

Now i recently mentioned that Standard is not Magic.

Now that is a loaded statement and probably requires some caveats and definition of parameters to make any sense.

Exactly what is Magic?

I can only define that for myself unfortunately, as Magic is many things to many people.

To me pokemon is not magic, creatures dumping themselves on each other is a subset of magic, but can NEVER claim to be all that Magic is.

Magic to me, is everything that it can be. Think about that for a moment. Circa 1993, the game was broken beyond itty bitty.

But it was fun. It was gorgeous. At that time Vintage was akin to drving a fast car. Well no. Actually Shivan Dragon was King and so was Leviathan and Lord of the Pit. So you have the fire, the pit the meat and the dude who cooks em'! Oh and Force of Nature if you want veggies.

That was cold.

Anyways, magic in its original incarnation was kinda boring I guess. But boring is a good baseline. A good hole to climb out from. The only way is up. Kinda like in Batman. Rise of the Black Knight. Rise, rise and the only way is to lose all inhibitions. So it was the wild wild west. Moxes traded for Dragons. I wished I played then. I only came in when the party was over.

Though Moxes were still only 100 SGD, when I started and Lotus was 300 SGD. I was only a teen with money for Mirage though. So those times, those were out of reach for me. But they were legend.

Then. It enthralled me. The combos that were possible. The first combo. Channel Fireball. Oh it was'nt just a shop front yo. It was the first combo. The first combo deck! Prosbloom! Cadervourous Bloom into Drain Life. and Before that, there was Necro Summer and later on Academy Winter. Those were the heights of Magic for me as information was scarce and Magic was a game where there was a big bad and decks were build to prove their mettle. Innovation was demanded to bring the latest scourge down.


Mind you in those days the big bad sat for months or years at the top. Necro was eventually defeated by Sligh (or was it turbo stasis?). Combo Winter? I honestly cannot remember but I am on combo's side so it was never my prerogative to remember :P

I liked the decks in combo winter.

Magic was magic in those days. Power levels were high and with each printing, everyone was looking forward to the next combo, the next great card. The next innovation! The next mechanic. All artifact! All graveyard! All whatever.... and i suspect WOTC just ran out of ideas eventually. Magic was then fresh and ideas were unbounded.

Now mind you, people poo poo at high power levels. But I'll give you a clue. Only when power levels are high, will the mechanics actually make a dent in eternal formats. Look at devotion, and the othe gadzillion mechanics created in the past 3-5 years. Which is prevalent or even standing in Modern (the weakest of eternal). Nada. Why? Because we are spiralling into mediocrity. Mechanics today are watered down and priced very safely. And this is done for a watered down environment. Is it really that surprising that everything goes down the drain and becomes irrelevant in Modern?

I don't know about you but a bunch of cards that are only relevant and played for 2 years plus... and then *POOF* become totally irrelevant is really not Magic to me. Don't get me wrong, I am not wearing rose tinted glasses where EVERYTHING in Standard is playable in eternal format. We are now even lacking the proverbial bone (Okay that was a little harsh we did get some good stuff, Abrupt Decay and DRS -- but still. most standard cards are rubbishy - and personally I like the Gatecrash 1cc dudes... but Theros block  has me floundering tho...). Standard used to bring in new cards that contribute to the playable pool in Magic the gathering (that to me would be the eternal formats, so it must at least make the cut in Modern). Now of course it is still magic in terms of the all things magic. Like playing a random pile is magic. Like ermm like homelands only is playable magic :)

To me, these days, Standard is no longer Magic. It might as well be a different game bought to have fun for two years and then you say goodbye to it. With zero worth to it. Much like a PC game I guess. You could take it out and lose with it once in awhile. Alright I am being very negative here, but I hope you get my point. Sure you and a bunch of pals can play block cube from 2013. Which is cool if thats all you want from ex-standard cards.

And worst of all. I see what is happening in Modern, happening in Legacy now. Strange people who never cared for the format, suddenly pop up to claim that Brainstorm is broken. And that it should be banned blah blah. But seriously, there is no doubt that blue is strong in Legacy. That is not blue's fault, that is a design problem where WOTC did not make the other colours strong enough. Its not that Blue is too strong, but that its basic premise is one of the strongest elements in the game: card draw and variance reducing. It was a WOTC mistake to make it exclusive to blue. It was also a design mistake to make creatures weak (that was a basic tenet before the recent power up of creatures). Already now other colours are making a comeback in Legacy. I see that as a good correction by WOTC. However as the format gets more popular, newer players bring their perception of Modern in (a la ban everything etc etc). Please play another format if you are not able to keep up. But don't expect the format to slow down or dumb down for you. You have modern. Leave Legacy be. Legacy was ground up. Even without SCG or WOTC it will persist (and be better for it). And oh brainstorm is a dollar card. You DO NOT have to play blue. You can splash blue. I see nonsensical arguments like BUG is blue splashing black and green. I would argue that it is as much the other way round... its just that haters will forever see it in a way that benefits them. There is no doubt that brainstorm is pervasive in the environment. But seriously you have people thinking that you should remove a good thing rather than build on it? And damn I am not even a blue player.

In the past people build decks to beat the top dog, these days with a new set every few months and the meta changing so fast, people would rather be spoonfed and get pushed cards and decks or just follow the crowd. And when no new decks or cards that were pushed can beat the current top dog. They whine. "Oh control is too strong" or "I did'nt get to play Magic". People, its simple. You have tried and tested and your deck (and you if you say so) have been found wanting. Thats all there is to it. You can either find a solution or whine. Its kinda sad.

Sorry it was rantish, but that comes from reading inane rants I guess.


This just came to mind:

Recently there seems to be a trend where, WOTC prints modern, legacy or Vintage specific cards in non-standard sets. I see this as a double-edged sword. While it is good in that, it is more likely that we get more eternal playable cards, since they do not disrupt the "balance" in the environment for the cash cow called Standard. It also makes me question if there will be eternal playable cards in Standard. Which is the main problem I see here. If Standard cards are not strong enough to stand in Modern, then is Standard still Magic? Or really just a card board PC game to be bought and forgotten after two years (well sure its mainstream Magic for two whole years. Wonderful stuff.).

And then another scary thought comes to mind since. If you cannot print strong cards to make Standard cards relevant in Modern, the "obvious" (seriously there are people who think this way) solution is to cut Modern down to size (through bannings) and make it like Standard, in terms of speed and functionality.

Which I am fine with, and I say it with kindness.
But please stay away from Legacy and Vintage :p

[Edit 2]

And I still do play Standard, I just don't like the direction it is going ;P

[Edit 3]

I was just thinking why did I reject Standard as Magic. What triggered it? And then it occurred to me that with the way WOTC is going, the Magic that I loved was being rejected. Its not easy to erase 20 years of cardboard (ah yes the trials and tribulation of geeks, wrangling over card board... it amuses me sometimes... oooh the ragin'!) but they try. Modern bannings, the removal of LD, and until recently hand disruption, fast mana, playable hard counters. Alternative resource constriction (I can't off hand give a better name) like sphere effects or even cheap repeatable tap effects. Combo's neutering. Old Magic is being pissed on. To me thats WOTC rejecting the old Magic. It did'nt really occur to me that as a whole that is what they were doing, and that is what riles me. I guess it is to cater to newer players. Who prefer more interactivity (a false premise) through creatures. It took me awhile to realise that since I played for quite awhile, Magic to me is really not the magic they have been dishing for the past 3-5 years. Hence the rant and my question of whether Standard is really Magic, or simply a different game in the form of Magic. (this is even more stark if Standard contributes little to Modern (the easiest eternal format to make a difference to)).

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