All posts by Adam Willson

Trials and Tribal-ations: Mono-Black Vampires

For this article, like all the previous ones I had to make a decision.  I could have written about mono-black zombies, but zombies have been played to death (see what I did there?).  Vampires, while certainly not being an obscure black tribe, at least haven’t had multiple articles written about them this year.  When I was compiling my list of the best and brightest vampires in Magic, I was surprised at how small the tribe is.  Wizards designers surely took this fact into account when they decided to visit the tribe in the Zendikar block, and the Innistrad block just a year later.  There’s still a lot of room in Magic for vampires.  That said, some great ones have been printed both recently and further back in Magic’s history.  Since historically vampires have been likely sprinkled lightly in sets for flavor, their abilities go in a lot of directions.  Black magic has a few inherent qualities.  Black magic is very good at killing things.  Black mana is willing to supply a planeswalker with the resources he or she needs to win, for a price.  You won’t find a black mage practicing dark arts with power drawn from black mana who isn’t willing to pay with his life.  This is the nature of black mana.  Vampires exist here.  Unlike zombies, vampires are well aware of the price for power.  Unlike the black clerics, vampires already have a vast amount of power, and they aren’t about to spend their energy entreating other forces, like groveling at the feet of demons or evil avatars, or raising filthy zombies to do their bidding.  Vampires worship only their own ambitions, and they will do anything necessary to realize them.  In Magic, there are a few things, though, that you can expect vampires to do.  First, a lot of great vampires can fly.  Second, the longer they exist, the more powerful vampires become.  And thirdly, whatever else is going on in the game, you can expect things to be dying around vampires.  This just happens.  If you’re familiar with Interview With a Vampire, you may better understand how hard it is for a vampire to deny his or her nature.  Stuff dies.  Whether the vampire’s ability requires sacrifice, causes a sacrifice, or just straight up kills another creature, being around vampires is a dangerous business.  The main thing that ties all the great vampires together, however, is their efficiency.  With these creatures, you get a lot more utility than you pay for.  First, we’ll make a list tuned for power.  If we want a power list, the first place we look is Vampire Nocturnus.  This guy is a house, obviously.  He’s also managed to stay around $20 despite being printed in M10, and never seeing much competitive play.  Since I’m basically going for more budget decks, let’s leave him out of it.  Next up on the power scale we have Bloodlord of Vaasgoth.  He was just printed last summer, and this card is very cool.  I love getting bonuses for things I would do anyway, and the Bloodlord does just that.  He rewards you for attacking with vampires, then casting vampires in your second main phase. Continue reading Trials and Tribal-ations: Mono-Black Vampires

Tales of the Squire – The New Legacy Deck

Legacy is the kind of format that shifts in the meta from time to time but the decks primarily stay the same. Sure, a certain deck will get a new card like Dredge getting Faithless Looting and such. But overall the decks remain relatively the same or at least have the same idea behind them.  I have always been the type of player to love casting creatures and just attacking, but I needed to have interactions as well. I could never play Goblins because I would not enjoy it. I like decks like Maverick because you play awesome creatures but still have a lot of tricks. Well very recently I was browsing The Source and came upon a deck in the pimp thread. The guy posting, Chimera87, had a list that I immediately fell in love with. I messaged Chimera87 to ask some questions and with the answers in hand and some more discussion my deck was built. Continue reading Tales of the Squire – The New Legacy Deck

In Response: The Motivation Behind Cavern of Souls, and Attitudes of Design

This article is written as a collective response to “Gonna Hate”, written by Zac Hill for his Latest Developments column and posted on April 20, 2012.  We encourage you to read the original here.

Continue reading In Response: The Motivation Behind Cavern of Souls, and Attitudes of Design

Adam Cai: 2012 StarCity Games Baltimore Legacy Open Report (1st Place)

By Adam Cai


The weekend of the SCG Invitational in Baltimore my buddy Jeff Sirkis and I flew into Washington DC to stay at the apartment of another friend, Nick Reynolds. My job keeps me fairly busy, so I didn’t have as much time to prepare as I would have liked. It also didn’t help that as soon as I landed in DC, Nick was trying to distract me with talk of some combo deck he was brewing that would take longer than the age of the universe to execute. I refused to let him tell me anything about it, and instead I got busy making last minute decisions about the decks I was going to play. For Standard, I decided on Michael Jacobs’ Esper Control list without much ado, as control is generally my style of choice, and, to be honest, I thought my time would be better spent polishing my Legacy deck. Continue reading Adam Cai: 2012 StarCity Games Baltimore Legacy Open Report (1st Place)

Trials and Tribal-ations: The Guild.

About a year ago my pal Sean had an idea for a casual constructed format we could play in our playgroup.  The idea was this:  The Guilds of the plane-city Ravnica battling for supremacy.  The Guilds of Ravnica were stretched across the Ranica block, each having its own two-color color identity, along with a unique mechanic.   Continue reading Trials and Tribal-ations: The Guild.