Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Top 20 Theros Magic Cards

My Top 20 Dragon's Maze Cards

Welcome to Theros 101:
We have the following students -

Scrying: It's a thing again. As much as I love Magma Jet and Dissolve, I don't include these here. They are powerful in their own right, but as game breaking cards... not so much.
Bestow - which is almost always too expensive for any serious deck. Boon Satyr and Thassa's Emissary(also the black Emissary) are both good solid cards.
Heroic - Most cards just get a permanent +1/+1, it's some of the others with other effects that make heroic - sacrifice a creature or fog(Favored Hoplite).
Monstrosity - Allows your creature to get bigger, most effects are decent bonuses.
Devotion - Can be very powerful, but also requires your deck to be too focused. I love Master of Waves, Karametra's Acolyte and Abhorrent Overlord. But they are slow to be done really effective.

Honorable Mention: Soldier of the Pantheon
This guy is in the wrong block. In Return to Ravnica, he would dominate. Only 14% of the Theros creatures are multicolored, compared to the 60% in Dragon's Maze. That doesn't make him bad, just not as appealing in limited as standard. It would be hard to make him any better without being broken.

20. Underworld Cerberus
A 6/6 for 5 is a great deal, and pseudo evasion is bonus. Everything else is kind of a workaround. One ability that might be great, but could also backfire. Rakdos isn't bad color choice for this, but Golgari or Dimir might have been more useful? At least it works well with other related Theros cards.

19. Chained to the Rocks
Another white staple removal, and they just don't stop coming. This one is severly hampered by the requirement of a mountain, but in a Boros deck this is even better than both STP and Path of Exile. It's a great card, just a little too specific for me to make it higher.

18. Medomai the Ageless
Costs one too many from being great. But even at 6, this thing can't be unblocked. It's a silly ability, but one that won't come up without the game already being in doubt. Good thing it has evasion, otherwise it wouldn't be enough.

17. Sylvan Caryatid
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This Birds of Paradise variation of course gets some love. It ramps just as well as BOP despite costing one more. You weren't going to attack with it, though it's a better blocker and hexproof makes it more pesky. Like any mana generator, it's a utility card not a game changer.

16. Arbor Colossus
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Again, I love the 6/6 for 5 cards and adding reach is a sweet deal. Killer limited card. Triple green requirement hampers it quite a bit from putting it in most decks. Not sure how serious of a main deck card it is as a tournament card, but it might find some takers in a sideboard.

15. Mistcutter Hydra
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Another sideboard friendly card. Blue had it coming, what can I say. Haste is nice as well. It's probably not as powerful as the last three hydras Wizards came out with, but this one is no slouch either. And the art is pretty fun. Green is really hating on Blue - Scragnoth, Skylasher..

14. Anax and Cymede
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The Boros flavor of this set is straight from Homer or something. Another build around sort of card which is also hampered by it's colors. How great would this be in a Simic deck!? The stats and abilities make up for the fact that their bonus won't go off as much in this sort of deck. Oh wait, Coordinated Assault and Dauntless Onslaught are things...nevermind.

13. Daxos of Meletis
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Card advantage and life gain in one card :) Such creativity in this set. This shirtless guy is quite wordy. Great early drop with pseudo evasion. Gaining life can be nice, but having the choice to play your opponents spells is the key. If only you could steal their lands as well. And he has a girlfriend: Ephara's Warden.

12. Weapons -
Great choices here in the form of legendary artifacts. I'm not as high on the Blue Bident(forcing my opponents creatures to attack for 6 mana) or White Spear(great in a weenie deck, but also not as exciting as the others)

Whip of Erebos
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Lifelink is great in a race, bringing creatures back from the dead gives some pretty nice value. Fits better in a Orzhov deck, but in a mono black deck it's really awesome. Oh and it goes flavorfully with Erebos.

Hammer of Purphoros
Haste and hasty golem enchantment artifact creatures. That's a lot of words. The issue is how often can you afford to be stone raining yourself? Better suited in the weenie deck. Unlike the Whip, this actually splashes better in White(Boros).

Bow of Nylea
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And right in the middle we have the bow. So many abilities, though nothing is free here. Attacking deathtouch is great. But unless you are being decked or dealing with fliers, it's just a slow pump or life gain.

11. Reaper of the Wilds
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Oh cards these days. I remember how great Erhnam Djinn was. Let's make that even better by removing the drawback, giving him an occasional scry AND activated hexproof-deathtouch. It's fairly silly thinking about how great this is.

10. Hero's Downfall
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Someone thought Murder wasn't powerful enough. I think this has replaced Go For the Throat and Unmake as my favorite Black removal. Art is pretty funny. They are making it easier and easier to deal with Planeswalkers(and for good reason).

9. Thoughtseize
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Everyone's favorite discard combo breaker card is back. The greatest thing since Hymn to Tourach. I don't think I like the art as much as the old one. Not as powerful in limited or multiplayer. But oh how this thing owns in a tourney deck.

8. Prognostic Sphinx
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It wasn't enough to just give this thing hexproof and evasion? They really needed to add Scry 3 every time it attacks?? What were they thinking??? Uh???? Hmm????? Anyway I love comparing great new cards to great old cards as it's all I know. Compared with Mahamoti for example: one mana cheaper and two great abilities for the small cost of -2/-1.

7. Gods -
My two least favorite here(despite being the largest) are the Black Erebos - A sideboard Greed, though in Black's defense it can be really easy to get devotion up, and Green's Nylea, God of the Hunt - Expensive pump and mediocre Trample abilities.

Thassa, God of the Sea
My favorite of the Gods. It's not only the cheapest, it has arguably the two greatest abilities. Scry one every turn is essentially Jace's +2. Making unblockable creatures uh, also is pretty schwing. Becoming a creature is just a bonus.

Heliod, God of the Sun
Quite similar to the Green Nylea God, you just replace Trample with Vigilance and pump with actual creatures. I guess I like permanent weenies instead of end of turn tricks, but I guess it's a preference thing. Either way this thing is solid.

Purphoros, God of the Forge
Goes well in the aggressive deck. It's hard to see how much of a game changer this thing is without playing against it once. It does some work, especially in a Boros build(Assemble the Legion anyone?). This God also works well with his Hammer weapon.

6. Fleecemane Lion
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Improved Watchwolf/Call of the Conclave(both Green/White staples). I love flexible cards. It works great as an early turn beater or as a late turn unkillable beater. I'm not sure what the limited format can even do against this thing as Monstrous.

5. Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
Cheap and gains counters quickly. It's ultimate really isn't as great as it's second ability honestly. Can't protect itself though and if you pull a creature your opponent can't afford to deal with, Ashiok won't live long enough to set it off.

4. Polukranos, World Eater
So many good 4 drops in Theros - Polis Crusher, Ember Swallower. Let's hear it for Pocahontas the World Eater. 5/5 for 4 is a good start. His ability can gain you card advantage and clear the board for other troops to come marching in. On curve it can kill two creatures and grow to 7/7 by turn 5. It might be too slow of an ability in a tourney, but it's still pretty darn great.

3. Stormbreath Dragon
The evasive, haste dragon was of course going to be on my list. It chows down on Serra Angel for breakfast. It's not a Red Baneslayer, but it's darn close. Arguably as good as Thundermaw Hellkite. Not sure how many cards your opponent will actually have by turn 7, but it helps in multi-player and having to deal with a 7/7 pro white flier might cause some nice problems.

2. Xenagos, the Reveler
I love planeswalkers with the ability to protect themselves. A 2/2 haste every turn is pretty great, even if it doesn't grow. You have to do some work to make the +1 effective, but the -6 is very dumb! Not too expensive and is flavorful being in two colors. Three Gruul planeswalkers before Simic and Selesnya get one?

1. Elspeth, Suns Champion
It's 6 mana, I get it. But oh what 6 mana can do for you. All three abilities have synergy together. She protects herself really well. Has a semi board wipe. Ultimate is decent. It really works in all deck types - Blue control, Red boros, Black mid range, you name it.

Nine that almost made it.
1. Celestial Archon - Simple and tough, even if Bestow can be expensive.
2. Fabled Hero - 2/2 Double Strike for 3 is no sneeze, and Heroic to boot.
3. Artisan of Forms - Cheap clone variant which requires Heroic.
4. Hundred-Handed One - Good stats and Monstrous ability is dumb.
5. Anger of the Gods - Super pyroclasm that also exiles mean cards.
6. Master of Waves - Requires some serious devotion to work well.
7. Hythonia the Cruel - Expensive board wipe, but leaves a 7/9 Gorgon in it's place.
8. Agent of the Fates - Devastating Heroic ability. And a good card not even counting that.
9. Prophet of Kruphix -  Currently the number one rated card. Powerful, yet powerful.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The 30 Coolest Magic Dragons (10-1)

The 30 Coolest Magic Dragons (30-21) 
The 30 Coolest Magic Dragons (20-11)

Honorable Mention: Malfegor
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What a stupid face it has. A mythic demon dragon with four hands that can't be trusted or ruled. Sign me up. It's not outright and overly powerful. But it definitely has enough going for it to make it a good card.

10. Archwing Dragon
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What is it barking at, a smaller dragon? Quite the bruiser. 4/4 hasty for four is a good deal. Too bad you have to pay that every turn. There must be some other ways to abuse this though, evolve? 

9. Ancient Hellkite
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Look at all that fire. Seven of course is quite a bit even for a biggie 6/6. Lack of haste or trample kind of hurts it. The ability is really nice if you get to swing with it.

8. Broodmate Dragon
 photo BroodmateDragon_zpsfb3a9ee5.jpg
Wahoo. Two 4/4 dragons for one cards. Now we are talking. That art is pretty good, but it seems like it could have been better. Three different colors hurts it a bit, though that doesn't phase me when you see number one. I think Armada Wurm is slightly more broken(less color restrictive, +2/+2 better), but this pretty solid.

7. Thundermaw Hellkite
A red Baneslayer Angel. I'd get this as a tattoo. Just enough of a bomb to be playable in any deck with red. It's nice that it is essentially unblockable for one turn, which is huge for a red mage. Did I say it was red already? Oh and it's red.

6. Crosis, the Purger
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Three colors again are kind of restrictive, even if it is Grixis. It looks like an all black dragon(even on the old artwork). The ability can be kind of nasty of course, even if it doesn't have trample and costs an extra three.

5. Two-Headed Dragon
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Six mana for a 4/4 is kind of pricey, even if it does have all those abilities. The extra evasion is nice. The pump is flavorfully different. Blocking multiple creatures doesn't come up too often though.

4. Moltensteel Dragon
Is it in a cave or volcano? Why is it an artifact? Phyrexian mana can be quite broken, especially in games with more than twenty life. If you weren't red, it might not be worth the cost to pump it. But you can't argue that on turn four, a 4/4 flier is a problem.

3. Steel Hellkite
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Not nearly as fast as Moltensteel, it has this third ability which will likely win the game if it gets through even once. I feel like the art isn't centered, but at least looks more artifact like than his little brother.

2. Kargan Dragonlord
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Less of a dragon and more of a "dragon..lord"(in my best Dr. Evil voice). Cards like this are good at all stages of the game. I suppose you are still paying a 4/4 flier for six. It is a versatile investment as it's paid in pieces and can swing on turn two. The ability to become a late game 8/8 pumpable trampler is a welcome addition.

1. Hellkite Overlord
 photo HellkiteOverlord_zpsda2b0782.jpg
It literally looks like it could be Smaug or just a generic red dragon I suppose. 8 mana is obviously a ton. You couldn't cast this in a normal game. It does have black and green which are the two quickest colors. An 8/8 pumpable trampler and most importantly regenerating ability makes this guy #1. Compared to Shivan - an extra black and green gives you +3/+3, trample, haste and regenerating.

The Red Dragon from Atari's Adventure
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Sunday, November 3, 2013

The 30 Coolest Magic Dragons (20-11)

The 30 Coolest Magic Dragons (30-21)

Honorable Mention: Chromium
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The elder dragons are interesting. At least they make good commanders. 8 mana for a 7/7 these days with a required upkeep cost isn't all that special. Rampage isn't terribly useful. Nicol Bolas has a much better ability, but the art (and color combination) isn't as great, and the older art is even worse.

20. Ryusei, the Falling Star
I like all 5 of these dragon spirits. The art is sweet but most importantly, the abilities are all fairly unique. A 6 mana earthquake is quite the price to pay for killing this guy.
Kokusho, the Evening Star and Yosei, the Morning Star are better cards, but aren't nearly as cool.

19. Scion of the Ur-Dragon
Despite the insane casting cost, this guy could be really useful. In a multi-color dragon deck, this thing is golden. Copying different dragons every turn is a nice flexible ability. There is some nice flavor text on these next few. Play a whole cycle of Planar Chaos dragons just to fit whatever you want to do!

18. Shivan Dragon
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Grand pappy. This original artwork is some of the best in the whole game. Such a simple powerful card. Dragons have come a long ways though. Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon is now a thing.

17. Hellkite Igniter
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Haste is always kinda cool on large fliers. An unprepared opponent almost always takes some form of damage. This one also is extra powerful in an artifact deck. Hellkite Charger is just as good, but doesn't have the flaming gas this one does.

16. Preyseizer Dragon
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Devour is kind of like gambling. Throwing all your eggs into one pot. This particular dragon is better than other creatures with this ability(or Kilnmouth) by getting a Shock thrown on to it by the simple sacrifice of one creature. And by taking 2 creatures, this thing becomes a bomb.

15. Flameblast Dragon
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Actually very similar to Preyseizer, though instead of sacrificing creatures, you have to pay mana every turn. I like the flexibility of this much more. Also considered Niv-Mizzet which is slightly worse as a Jayemdae Tomb than a Fireball.

14. Volcanic Dragon
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This guy gets bonus points for the super fantastic artwork. It is very vanilla as far as a dragon goes, not that it's a bad card.

13. Stormbreath Dragon
Triumphs Volcanic Dragon undoubtedly. Pro White can be really annoying. The extra Monstrosity ability - even just doing 2 extra damage can just be game over.

12. Bogardan Hellkite
 photo BogardanHellkite_zpsc3588497.jpg
It's a Boulderfall!!! ...with a 5/5 flashing flying dragon attached to it. Yes, Boulderfall is terrible for 8 mana, but I think the creature attached makes this thing a horse.

11. Dragon Broodmother
Such a bizarre casting cost. An Assemble the Legion variant. Mama doesn't dominate the game immediately like Stormbreath, but she does present a rather large problem.