What I bought this month (March 2018)

So this week, there are actually two sales going on. The first one is the eBay flash sale which happened on March 12th. The second one is that Channel Fireball is holding a 12% sale today. (Unfortunately, it has already ended. Next time, I’ll try to post an alert before the sales ends)

For the eBay flash sale, I bought a Guilds of Ravnica booster box. As mentioned in my MTG Banter, I’m not really a fan of Ravnica Allegiance. Chances are I’ll just buy the singles of what I like and move on.

Guilds of Ravnica Booster.jpg

Personally, I think the cards in Guilds of Ravnica is a strong set that the price of the booster box will go up in the long run. The Arclight Phoenix has already made its home in Standard and Modern, so it’ll still retain some value when it rotates out. Having said that, I have a feeling that this card might show up in Challenger decks eventually. Meanwhile, my favorite cards in the set are Assassin’s Trophy and Doom Whisperer.

Assassin’s Trophy is a really strong card that can hold its own against Abrupt Decay. Yes, it can be countered and it does give opponent a basic land, but a removal that can target any permanent, including basic lands, is extremely strong. The pain of giving opponent an extra land also diminishes over time. Not to mention, a combination between Assassin’s Trophy and Surgical Extraction or Extirpate is just disgusting. Tron lands? Just get rid of one set of Urza lands.

As for Doom Whisperer, 5 mana 6/6 Demon with Flying and Trample is good, but what caught my eye is the ability to pay 2 life to essentially scry 2 cards without tapping. This is basically a toned down version of Sensei’s Divining Top. No, we only see 2 cards. Yes, we pay 2 life instead of 1 generic mana. But I still think this card is good to be honest, especially when you incorporate Doom Whisperer into a Surveil deck with Dimir Spybug or an Orzhov life gain deck.

Other goodies I can see in Guilds of Ravnica include Vraska, Golgari Queen, Thief of Sanity, Experimental Frenzy, Pelt Collector, Lazav, the Multifarious, Mission Briefing, and 5 sets of shocklands. So overall, I really like this box set.

As for the Channel Fireball’s sale, I tried to complete my playsets of Spell Queller, Lingering Souls, Fauna Shaman, Daybreak Coronet, Street Wraith and Runed Halo. I bought only 2 Spell Queller back in 2016 and I’ve been kicking myself since for not having a full playset. As you may notice, pretty much all of these cards are reprinted in Masters sets like UMA, Master 25 and Iconic Masters. I strong recommend buying cards from these sets as of right now, while everyone is distracted by War of the Spark, 2019 Challenger decks and Modern Horizon. After all, the best deals are always found when no one is paying attention to it.

So what do you think of my purchases and did you buy anything this month? Love to hear your comments below. And happy hunting, everyone.

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Ravnica Allegiance Highlights

So… as of now, pretty much all of the Ravnica Allegiance Spoilers are revealed. My impression is… a bit underwhelmed, unfortunately. The mana cost in general is too high and some of the mechanics are weak, if not downright awful.

Orzhov’s Afterlife mechanic is good in concept, but the cards are a bit weak. I would have recommend either making Afterlife mechanic trigger when the creature leave the battlefield rather than die, or simply generate more tokens (such as Seraph of the Scales, Knight of the Last Breath and Tithe Taker)

Simic’s Adapt is awful. I really don’t like the fact that you can only adapt once unless you have Biomancer’s Familiar or you transferred the counters to another creature first. The Adapt ability is also very expensive.

Azorius’ Addendum is also awful. The mechanic seems to be thrown in at the last minute just because every other guild have one. For instance, Emergency Powers only let you put one permanent for 7 mana, and that is a mythic’s addendum. At 7 mana, you should be able to put down 2-3 permanents. Meanwhile, Code of Constraint, which is an uncommon, cost 3 mana to give -4/-0, where as Downsize in Return to Ravnica and Stream of Unconsciousness in Morningtide cost on 1 with a chance to draw a card.

Gruul’s mechanic is okay. I would have preferred that most of the creatures with Riot mechanic have power exactly equal to the converted mana cost, so that the player have the choice of efficiency versus speed.

The only mechanic that wowed me is Rakdos Spectacle. In fact, a few of the cards I’m going to cover uses this mechanic.

Black:

For Black, I really like Drill Bit and Spawn of Mayhem. Drill Bit is basically a delayed Thoughtseize but without the life loss. This can easily be done with a burn spell or Alms of the Vein.

Meanwhile, Spawn of Mayhem is easily a 4/4 Demon with Flying and Trample for 3 mana. Dead Revels is a great common, allowing you to get back two creatures from the graveyard.

Blue:

For Blue, Sphinx of Foresight is a solid card at 4/4 for 4 and lets you Scry each turn. But the best thing about it is the ability to Scry 3 if this is in your opening hand. This is what blue is always good at: library manipulation.

Essence Capture is an upgraded version of Essence Scatter, but require double blue instead. But then again, if you’re playing blue, this would not matter at all.

 

Green:

Most of the mono-green card did not pique my interest. Incubation Druid lets you pump 3 mana, but only if you can put a +1/+1 counter on it, which requires workaround which slows down the ramp.

For those who uses Assault Formation, Doran, the Siege Tower, or Arcades, the Strategist, the Tower Defense reprint will work wonders on your creatures.

Red:

Red by far has the best cards.

Light Up the Stage significantly help Burn decks, which usually run out of cards by turn 3. The fact that you can use the exiled cards by the end of your next turn make this card awesome.

Skewer the Critics adds another Burn card to the red deck. Looks like it’s time to buy Leyline of Sanctity, everyone.

Finally, Spear Spewer is a really cheap pinger. The fact that this can trigger Spectacle makes this card really good in standard. I wonder what I can do with this in Modern…

White:

angel of grace

For white, Angel of Grace is an interesting card. It has a strong body at 5/4 for 5 mana with Flying and Flash. But the best part is the Angel’s Grace ETB (enter-the-battlefield) effect. You can combine this with Eldrazi Displacer to get Angel’s Grace every turn, which sounds very interesting.

Multi:

As for multi-colored, the two that I am the most interested is Biomancer’s Familiar and Gruul Spellbreaker.

Biomancer’s Familiar is basically a creature version of Training Grounds that cost one more mana. The fact that it reduce the mana cost of activated abilities by 2 makes a lot of cards viable. In fact, you can check out the deck that I made with this card here.

As for Gruul Spellbreaker, 3/3 Trample for 3 mana with Riot is already strong. Giving itself and you hexproof during your turn is even better. While not overpowered, I can’t seem to hate this card.

Meanwhile, Warrant is quite a strong bounce card, considering that it bounce the creature to the library rather than the hand. This is quite good in tempo.

Prime Speaker Vannifar is basically a watered down version of Birthing Pod. While the ability no longer uses mana, replacing Phyrexian Green for a Blue mana significantly reduces the flexibility that Birthing Pod has as a mono-colored card.

Finally, Lavinia, Azorius Renegade is a decent card against Tron and Eldrazi as well as decks that uses mana dorks to accelerate. Someone also mentioned that it turns cards like Possibility Storm and Knowledge Pool into a control deck. Very interesting.

 

My final thoughts on Ravnica Allegiance is that it is an overall weak set with some interesting cards. I can see that most cards are good for Standard and EDH, but not much to be excited about for Modern.

Biomancer’s Familiar – Training Tokens (Modern)

So recently, Ravnica Allegiance spoiled the card, Biomancer’s Familiar:

biomancer's familiar

This card reduce the cost of creature activated abilities by 2 mana, reducing it down to 1 mana. It also allows creatures to adapt more than once. Because of the first ability, many players begin to comment that this would be Training Grounds with legs. (A creature version)

training grounds

Given that Training Grounds requires less mana and is an enchantment and therefore more difficult to remove, is there a use for Biomancer’s Familiar? (Hint: The answer is yes)

Because Biomancer’s Familiar is a creature, there is a variety of ways to fetch it. The most common one is with Duskwatch Recruiter. Duskwatch Recruiter can dig through your library to find Biomancer’s Familiar, while Biomancer’s Familiar reduce Duskwatch Recruiter‘s activated cost. Now, that’s value.

Recently, Sam Pardee made a deck tech article around Biomancer’s Familiar. You can find the article here: Combo’ing in Modern with Biomancer’s Familiar

The best thing about Biomancer’s Familiar and Training Grounds deck is that you can abuse the combo in many different ways. Sam’s first deck focus on infinite +1/+1 counters, while the second deck generates infinite mana with Walking Ballista as the finisher.

In my case, I threw in a bit of everything:

Training Tokens

We start off with the mechanics:
Eldrazi Displacer: There are many uses surrounding Eldrazi Displacer. You can blink chump blockers to avoid losing creatures. You can blink creatures, such as Biomancer’s Familiar, and protect them from removal spells. It also forms an incredible combo with Eternal Witness, retrieving any card from the graveyard.
Eternal Witness: This card can retrieve a variety of things from the graveyard. This includes spells such as Negate and Spell Pierce, as well as dead creatures. However, my favorite combo would be using Eldrazi Displacer to blink Eternal Witness to retrieve Ghost Quarter. With this combo, you can essentially shut down the opponent’s mana base.
Duskwatch Recruiter: As mentioned above, this is an important backbone to the deck, as it essentially lets you dig through your deck for creatures with just one mana with Biomancer’s Familiar. This card helps you get all the creature pieces you want.
Jade Mage: By itself, this card is essentially useless. 3 mana to generate a token is way too much. But with Biomancer’s Familiar, this becomes a token powerhouse. The fact that it doesn’t require tapping to generate tokens makes this all the more lethal.
As you may have noticed, the activated abilities of all 3 creatures does not require tapping. This means that it is possible to activate the abilities more than once each turn, yours and the opponents. As a result, the best way to abuse this deck is to leave as much mana open as you could during your turn and activate abilities at the end of opponent’s turn.
Aether Vial allows you to vial in creatures at the drop of a hat. You can use this at the end of opponent’s turn to keep more mana open. It also works with Eternal Witness to retrieve answers from your graveyard.
Negate and Spell Pierce helps protect your deck while giving an element of control to this deck. With Eldrazi Displacer and Eternal Witness, you can recur these spells.
Collected Company also adds more creatures to the board and can flood your board with Eldrazi Displacer and Eternal Witness.

Since this deck is in bant color and requires colorless mana, a lot of color fixing is required. To satisfy this, Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarch works as mana fixer as well as mana ramp for all the shenanigans. Because a lot of the creatures in this deck has Human subtype, Cavern of Souls help fixed the mana as well as provide colorless mana to Eldrazi Displacer. Meanwhile, Ghost Quarter can destroy opponent’s key lands and generate more mana for Eldrazi Displacer.

As for sideboard, we have Path to Exile as well as Journey to Nowhere. The advantage of Journey to Nowhere is the ability to target cards such as Emrakul, which cannot be killed by conventional removal spells.

I also included more shenanigans such as Herald of Anafenza that pumps itself while generating a token, as well as Ghost-Lit Warder that acts as a recurring Mana Leak. Fauna Shaman allows you to tutor creatures by discard a creature card from your hand, which can then be retrieved with Eternal Witness.

To make the deck more budget, you can replace Cavern of Souls with Unclaimed Territory. While you do lose the ability to protect creature spells, the essential functions are still more or less intact. Meanwhile Oath of Nissa is a possible, though inferior, substitute to Noble Hierarch. Instead of a direct mana fix, Oath of Nissa allows you to dig for your fetchlands and shocklands while giving you the option of digging for creatures as well.