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
A while back I wrote about my wildy popular Commander deck – Godo, Bandit Warlord. This week I’ll be discussing my other commander deck, a Jund deck that is focused on dominating the mid-to-late game with recursion, bombs, and sweepers with a general that just so happens to be Kresh, the Bloodbraided. The deck isn’t focused around it’s general at all, in fact, I’d go as far to say that the deck wins a majority of it’s games without ever even casting it’s Commander. That’s not saying Kresh is a bad card, it’s more that the deck is powerful enough once it gets going, casting the Commander isn’t the best thing to do with it’s mana. Continue reading Cook’s Kitchen –Kresh, the Bloodbraided.
This week we’re taking a step back from the classic mono-colored tribes, and taking a look at a tribe that might not be as obvious a grouping as some others. The cleric type has been printed on some great cards through the years, but you may not have noticed the creature type. Academy Rector, Eight-and-a-Half Tails, Ethersworn Canonist, and Mother of Runes are just a few that claim the Cleric subtype. In Standard Leonin Relic-Warder and the new sensation Geist of Saint Traft are both Clerics. The type isn’t constrained to the white piece of the color pie, however. On the other side there are black aligned Clerics, diligently serving darker forces. The Onslaught block was among the first to explore the darker side of the Cleric tribe, and as the Lorwyn block did for Merfolk, Onslaught provided Clerics with not only powerful creatures, but also non-creature spells specifically designed to support them. Let’s talk a bit about what it means to be a Cleric in Magic. Continue reading Trials and Tribal-ations Bonus- W/B Clerics
My first article on tribal decks covered Elves, so (with apologies to purists) it should be apparent that I’m not following the color wheel. I do plan to hit each color at least once, though. This time we’re hitting blue, with the extremely popular choice- Merfolk. Like Elves, Merfolk is such a deep tribe in Magic’s history that an extremely competitive tribal Merfolk deck is ever-present at top tables of high level Legacy events. I’ll list that deck, and the Elves deck (referred to as Combo-Elves) at the end of this article. Continue reading Trials and Tribal-ations- Merfolk
By Adam Willson
I hear this all the time from casual (just-for-fun) players: “I don’t care about tournaments; I just enjoy playing Magic with friends.” Hanging out with friends and playing Magic is great, no doubt. It’s one of my favorite ways to play. However, there are a few benefits to playing with a larger group, if only once every three months. A Magic “Prerelease” celebration tournament is a great way to compete for prizes and learn more about Magic without the competitive atmosphere of other tournaments. Continue reading Why Play in a PreRelease?