Rees’ Pieces #16 – Battle for Zendikar Standard part 2: Draw back the Curtain

That’s not too bad, and while it doesn’t tell the tale of the tournament, it does give you a reasonable idea of what to expect if you’re going to FNM or a PPTQ any time soon. Abzan Aggro in the hands of Kazayuki Takimura took down the tournament, defeating Ryoichi Tamada’s Jeskai deck in the finals. The Abzan Aggro deck looks pretty much like what you would expect and not a lot has changed since last format so I’m not going to go into much detail about it, just the addition of Gideons and the new lands along with new early removal all star Silkwrap in the sideboard. Silkwrap is so efficient dealing with Jace or Hangarback Walker because exiling stops the Hanagrback making tokens and Ojutai/Kolaghans Command tricks, while it is vulnerable to Dromokas command it doesn’t make a difference vs Walker (most of the time) and decks playing Jace don’t tend to play the card. The ‘new’ deck here is Jeskai Tokens, an old friend we haven’t seen in a while but is now back in the fold. The core of the deck is still the same: Jeskai Ascendancy plus instant/sorcery token producers and Treasure Cruises. Gideon Ally of Zendikar popping back up here again, and four copies of Silkwrap yet again. An interesting point about this deck is that it had fallen out of favour due to how Dromoka’s Command is so good against it, killing the Ascendancy. However with Hangarback Walker being around and Silkwrap being a really good card at the minute you have protection against the Command, plus again if its a Hangarback you exiled with it sacrificing the Silkwrap loses you nothing.

jeskai ascSilkwraphangarback walker

Those are the new decks in the top 8 but again that’s not the whole story of the tournament. So to close off the article I’m going to talk about my favourite cool new decks coming out of the Pro Tour: Bant Tokens. This what boils down to a Retreat to Emeria landfall deck brewed up the night before the Pro Tour designed by Sam Black and played by his team-mates Justin Cohen and Ben Stark who all went 8-2 or better with the deck.  These numbers are kinda crazy especially as there was only one other player on the deck at the Tour. The key cards to the deck are Retreat to Emeria and Gideon Ally of Zendikar as your prime token producers backed up by the likes of Hangarback Walker, Secure the Wastes and Wingmate Roc. Retreat is an insanely powerful card it turns out especially with fetch lands and Blighted Woodland. This deck really wants to hit all its land drops which leads it to splashing green for just three Elvish Visionary and a full four Nissa Vastwood Seer; Sam saying that Nissa is just the best card in the deck. A last minute change was also made the morning of the Pro Tour to add blue for a couple of Lumbering Falls and a pair of Dispels in the maindeck. Dispel is a really well positioned card at the minute with all the Instants running around and has become maindeckable even on the splash because it is so efficient against so many cards in the format. It’s especially important here as the deck almost straight up loses to Dromokas Command. Its a really sweet deck and can really kill you out of nowhere with a fetch or two in play. Sam did a great deck tech for Pro Tour coverage you can find here.

retreatnissa 1nissa 2

And thats it from me again this week. I had a slight delay getting this one out there and seeing as the Pro Tour was fast approaching I decided to wait til then so I could give a better overveiw and have a better grasp on the format. So thanks for being patient and as always thanks for reading!



Rees’ Pieces #13 – My Magic Origins

Hi everyone! I’m still Alastair, but it’s been a (long) while since I’ve  written anything or posted an article but today I’m going to start at the beginning. This article will be me talking about my Magic Origins. Prepare for a long winded account of how I got to where I am today as a Magic Player, along with plenty of rambling and drivel along the way. And so our story begins…

The first time I ever heard about Magic: the Gathering was back around 1999/2000. I’d started collecting Pokemon cards and one of my neighbours mentioned that they had played this other card game called Magic while they were in high school and that they had a collection in storage. Sad to say, I never got a chance to see the collection (probably worth a pretty penny now) and didn’t end up diving into Magic for nearly a decade. To give some context, I was born in 1993 in Birmingham, UK and in 1998 my parents brother and I moved to  Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA.


As I said I ended up getting into a couple of different card games over in the states. Primarily Pokemon and Yugioh but that was more collecting than playing. The card game that really got me into playing with the cards was the Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game which came out along with the films and it was also my first real experience going to a shop to play games. In our town there was one dedicated wargame store: Ivory and Steel. They did all kinds of Warhammer type stuff along with the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, which is what got me into Wargaming. But they also ran game nights for a few different card games, and so it was that I went down there every now again to play games of the Lord of the Rings TCG.


Skipping ahead a little we see me moving back to the UK in 2003 and settling down in the Loughborough area of the Midlands. Coming back across the pond I’d managed to pick up a second wargame: Warhammer 40k and there happened to be a local Games Workshop near me, something I wouldn’t have dreamed of in Stillwater. At this point I had just turned 10 and was going into Year 6 of primary school, and a bit too young to really go into the store and play games ad take part in events.

GW Loughborough


At school though, there were plenty of people who collected Pokemon and Yugioh (the Lord of the Rings TCG never caught on over here), along with some ridiculous things called football stickers which I’ll never understand. This led me to dig out the cards I already had and eventually start playing Yugioh as a game as I moved up to years 7 and 8 of school. Here though our card game journey ends temporarily. I’d gotten to the kind of age where card games weren’t that cool anymore and had fallen out of fashion with my peers. This also coincided with me being able to start going into the local GW to play, and get heavier into the Wargame side of things. And so, my cards were left abandoned for a few years while I fought on the battlefields of the 41st Millennium.



A few years later though a new Game shop opened up in town, Wargames Inc. And along with 40k and some other wargames they also sold and provided player space for Yugioh. As it turns out a bunch of my wargaming friends also played Yugioh from time to time and I started to slowly get back into it. First digging out all my old cards and trying to scrape together a deck to battle, and then later looking for cool and awesome cards I could pick up on the internet. I soon found out that I’m quite competitive and do like to win games, so I started looking at Youtube for deck techs and the like and trying to brew sweet decks to play with.

Dark Magician

All this while, there were two boxes of Magic: the Gathering cards on the shelf in Wargames Inc just gathering dust. I’d ended up picking up a few other card games casually: VS System, UFS, and a bit of Pokemon again but I always looked at the Magic stuff and remembered about my old Neighbours collection. And so one day a friend and I decided to try it out, Wargames only had a couple of fat pack type boxes so I ended up going to a local comic book store to pick up a couple of intro decks. We played a bit and learned how the game worked, and eventually got to the point when we were building reasonable decks and a local Magic community started building.

the combo

As with Yugioh eventually I hit the internet in search for awesome cards and deck building inspiration. I was still on a Paper Round budget at this point though and couldn’t afford any of the big expensive cards and only ended up with those if I opened well out of boosters. This did though, lead me to see the Magic Pro Tour and start looking at the game from a competitive stand point. I was like: that sounds awesome I’d love to do that one day. Unfortunately Wargames didn’t run Friday Night Magic or anything like that, and I couldn’t really travel to go to other towns easily so I contented myself with going back through old coverage, watching Pros play and started reading/watching their strategy articles and videos.


Sadly like all good things Wargames Inc eventually closed down. This left me without a good place to play Wargames which I still dabbled in a bit but I’d mostly converted into a Card Gamer at this point. I mentioned earlier that there was a Comic book store in Loughborough that I bought my first Intro Packs off of, they’d recently moved at this point and now had more space for actual gaming so I was lucky enough to still have a place to play Magic but again they didn’t really run events or FNMs. A little while later though a few friends and I decided to knuckle down and actually pay some ‘competitive’ magic.


This was just at the start of Innistrad pretty much, and just after the retirement of Zendikar block from standard with the memory of Caw-Blade still shadowing over. The deck I chose to build at first was Tempered Steel, a very linear Artifact beat down strategy revolving around cheap artifact creatures getting buffed up to smash face. On the opposite end of the spectrum my friend Arron decided to put together Solar Flare, a control deck with a reanimation package using Unburial Rites to bring back fatties like Grave Titan and Wurmcoil Engine. And so one day we heard that a store in Leicester (about 7 miles from where I lived at the time) was running Prereleases, and other magic events. So my first real ‘Tournament’ was the Dark Ascension prerelease at Tabletop Tyrant where I now work.

Tempered SteelImage (2)

It was a great experience and everyone was really nice and friendly even  though I went somewhere along the lines of 2-4, and this led Arron and I to start coming to their Friday Night Magics. Very quickly, I’d moved on from Tempered Steel and had picked up the pieces to play ‘Hippo-blade’ a Red White Control deck heavily relying on an artifact package and the recursion of Artifacts with Razor Hippogriff. As it turned out this was a great choice for the meta at the time because there were a bunch of people playing UW Humans, and with my Whipflares and Day of Judgments that match up was very biased in my favour. So went 2-1 at my first FNM and then managed to 3-0 the next two and I was feeling really happy with myself.

Over the summer I ended up playing a lot with the Leicester crew and just after the release of M13 someone said something about going to a PTQ. What’s one of those? I asked, and was told about Pro Tour Qualifiers and the way in which you qualified for the Pro Tour. I’d watched a bunch of coverage and kept up with it, but had no idea how to actually get there and qualify to play. So I went along with the others, all also attending their first PTQ with one exception to a Pro Tour Qualifier for Pro Tour Return to Ravnica in Reading. I’d done a bit of testing and felt like I had a reasonable grasp on the format, not that you’d notice with my deck choice. I ended up on a Mono Blue Delver deck playing Grand Architects and Invisible stalkers along with a couple of a few Runechanters pikes. The deck was sweet, but not good and I ended up going 4-4 with it. But that was my first taste of ‘actual’ competetive Magic: the Gathering.



Since then I’ve been playing pretty much non-stop, hitting up a PTQ every now and again and attending the UK Grand Prix whenever we get them having moderate success depending on how you look at it highlighted with a Day 2 finish at Grand Prix Manchester 2014, a PTQ top 16 in Theros/Kahns standard last december and recently under the new system a Regional PTQ Top 16. A long ways off of doing anything real in the competitive world. However I’ve managed to pick up a job in the Card Game/Wargame Industry buying/selling/trading/event hosting and have made loads of amazing friends and awesome people along the way.

So hah, Yay Magic!

Alastair Rees


Rees’ Pieces #11 – Here be Dragons

Liverpool has been and gone and now I have three more events to look at going to: Grand Prix Utrecht, Grand Prix Lille, and Grand Prix London. On top of this there are PPTQs to play, and the MtgUK Eternal Championship in May. Before GP Liverpool I came to the decision that unless I cashed the event I wouldn’t travel to play in Utrecht, between the costs of flight and hotel it just didn’t seem worth it; especially with the Modern Masters 2 limited I could be playing at home anyway. Lille however is much more reasonable and I do love Legacy so that’s a trip I will be making. That aside however my main focuses at the moment are Standard and Modern for PPTQs.

Modern Masters 2 huh, its shaping up to be pretty cool. Tarmogoyf is getting another much needed reprint, and Karn Liberated, Etched Champion as well as Emrakul the Aeons Torn are also confirmed. The release weekend coincides with the UK eternal event I mentioned earlier which is handy as it means MM draft side events all weekend (yay!). Here’s hoping the limited format is as good as the last Modern Masters.


Moving on to discuss the new standard format and the meat of this article, post Dragons of Tarkir standard looks awesome. That is all… No really.  The sets out, prereleases have gone, and tournament results are starting to come through so its time to get stuck in. I’m not going to go through everything I think is good and playable, but instead highlight a few cards I’d like to discuss. Yes Deathist Raptor is a good card, but its not got me excited to play standard like some of these have:

Anafenza, Kin Tree Spirit – Far from a vanilla bear, Anafenza has a very powerful effect, unfortunately she is not a warrior but she might be a key player in a mono white or W/X aggro deck in standard. Curving Anafenza into Anafenza sounds tricky but troublesome for your opponent. Its worth noting that she also does a Melira impression with Kitchen Finks while being a better stand alone creature, while Pod has been banned this might still do something. We’ll have to wait and see.



Arashin Foremost – This dude is a warrior and a sweet one at that, very Silverblade Paladin-esque. In a BW warrior deck this guy seems insane. He’s a good 3 drop to curve into a Mardu Strike Leader or Surrak the Hunt Caller and can lead to some mighty beatings. The double white in its mana cost is restricting but I imagine this will be a played card in some decks. At this point I’d also like to point out that Goblin Rabblemaster is a Goblin Warrior.

Arashin Foremost


Avatar of the Resolute – There are a few important things to note about this card. Firstly its a 2 mana 3/2 which is a decent body for an aggressive creature. Secondly it has GG in its mana cost adding devotion for cards like Aspect of the Hydra and Nylea, God of the Hunt, and thirdly it has trample to push damage through from cards like the aforementioned Aspect or Become Immense



Anticipate – If we ignore Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise this is probably the most powerful library manipulator we’ve had in standard since Ponder was reprinted in M12. Its almost certainly going to change the way control decks are built in standard giving them more turn two plays and allowing them to cut down on lands (no more 3 lands off of my Ingenuity, grrrr…). It allows them to dig for the specific answers they need earlier, not to mention that in a format with delve spells cheap cantrips get better. It also looks like it could see some modern play in combo decks like Scapeshift or Splinter Twin or even maybe in UWx control decks.



Collected Company – 4 mana, 2 dudes, instant speed, seems purty good if you ask me. This is the card that currently has me thinking about it the most in the set for standard and modern. In a deck like Abzan Aggro this card might even be better than Siege Rhino, and the fact that its an instant you can hold up for your opponents turn against control is great. I have a magical christmas land where I cast this hitting a pair of Mantis Riders but I won’t go too far down that rabbit hole. The larger the card pool the better this kind of effect becomes and the possibilities for this card in Modern are very exciting.



Contradict – I’d just dismiss this card as unplayable but there’s a chance it’ll be a one of in some kind of control deck. I’ll be honest I just wanted to make pun of it.



Hate Cycle – These are a set of very powerful colour hosers, Rending Volley for sure (Screw Twin, no really) and perhaps one or two of the others making it over into Modern. The worst of the cycle for Standard is probably Display of Dominance; UB doesn’t have a swathe of non-creature permanents, and two mana for a Gods Willing isn’t great. The rest I would expect to see a lot of sideboard play, Surge of Righteousness against the Red or Black aggressive decks and similarly Encase in Ice against the Red Green Aggro decks that have been popular recently. I really like UW Heroic still, so hopefully no-one plays Self-Inflicted Wound.



Myth Realized – This one is super interesting. It works a bit like a Glint Hawk Idol without flying but with a few key differences. Firstly it costs a single mana to play, this isn’t hugely relevant until you take its ability to grow whenever you cast a noncreature spell which lets you play it early and then let it sit and grow while you play a control or tempo game. There are multiple places this card could go, and its far from a definite player in the new standard format but there are some cool possibilities either in control, tempo, or maybe even a combo deck. Anticipate being printed also gives this card a boost, as it gives us a cheap cantrip we can play.



Surrak, the Hunt Caller – This guy is a sweet addition to Green based aggro decks, often coming in as a four mana 5/4 with haste and then giving the creatures you play haste for the foreseeing future. He is a warrior which leads to a nice synergy with Arashin Foremost for a brutal curve of creatures. Also, he adds two devotion to Green which lends itself to a mono Green aggro deck utilizing Nylea, God of the Hunt, Reverent Hunter, and Aspect of Hydra. Starting pretty low on the pricing scale he’s slowly starting to creep up.



Sidisi, Undead Vizier – Now this is the last card I’m going to discuss today and part of the reason why is that I’m currently watching Reid Duke and Jacob Wilson do a nsidisiumber on people with it in the Top 8 of the SCG Invitational. At first I thought the card looked fine, but not great but I didn’t see the full potential of the card. In the BGx midrange decks, you want to play a card like Satyr Wayfinder to help hit cards and enable graveyard interactions with cards like Tasigur and Murderous Cut. Previously after that he just sat around after getting his value until eventually being chucked in the way of something as a chump blocker, now Wayfinder gives you a body lying around that you can trade in with Sidisi for the best card in your deck at the time whatever that may be. Reid is even playing it in a Sultai Reanimator shell where you can get extra value by sacrificing a card like Hornet Queen or Reclamation Sage for you to then bring back with Whip of Erebos giving you even more insane value.

And once again that’s going to be it from me this week, hopefully I’ve been able to give you an insight into my thoughts on the cards above. Next week I’ll be looking at a few decklists for the new standard format looking towards Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir. Thanks for reading,


Rees’ Pieces #9: Tiny Leaders

Hi there, today I’m going to be talking to you about a relatively new Magic format which has been picking up in popularity recently. Its a variation of Commander but instead of 100 cards you have 50, and in addition you can only use cards with a converted mana cost of 3 or less. You can find the official rules along with the banlist here:


The first I heard of Tiny Leaders was 4 or 5 months ago when a friend of mine in my Commander play circle found the format and suggested we give it a try. Honestly I wasn’t particularly impressed, the power levels of the decks we’d built were pretty low and at the time it just seemed like a duller version of regular Commander and we soon deferred back to the 100 card format.

Around 6 weeks ago, I started to notice an uptick in the format with more people starting to write about it culminating in a match I watched in a (relatively) local game store between Alesha and Anafenza. The game seemed really entertaining and the decks were doing much more powerful things than those I’d played with long before. I started to get more excited for the format but still wasn’t sure who I wanted to choose as my Leader.

Then later that weekend I was watching the SCG Open Series and the commentators started talking about the format between matches. Patrick Sullivan was getting excited about Zozu the Punisher, and all he wanted to do was blow up lands and stop his opponent casting spells. Immediately I washooked and started rummaging through the stacks and folders of cards in my room to try and find as many Stone Rain effects as possible.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find all the land death spells I wanted and ended up ordering a few cards. While I waited however I became impatient and decided to put together another deck in the meantime. What else stops  my opponents from playing magic? Oh look here’s my Death and Taxes deck, and that’s how Thalia was born. Here’s my current 50:

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Mother of Runes
Grand Abolisher
Stoneforge Mystic
Phyrexian RevokerThalia
Leonin Arbiter
Leonin Relic Warder
Ethersworn Canonist
Serra  Avenger
Mentor of the Meek
Aven Mindcensor
Banisher Priest
Fiend Hunter
Mangara of Corondor
Mirran Crusader
Swords to Plowshares
Path to Exile
Brave the Elements
Councils Judgement
Oblivion Ring
Aether Vial
Thorn of Amethyst
Crucible of Worlds
Sword of Light and Shadow
Sword of Feast and Famine
Ghost Quarter
Tectonic Edge
Dust Bowl
Rishadan Port
Arcane Lighthouse
Secluded Steppe
Drifting Meadow
Eiganjo Castle
Cavern of Souls
Maze of Ith
10 Plains

Small cheap creatures with disruptive abilities backed up by incredible equipment in the Swords and a small land destruction package to help tax my opponent’s resources. The deck plays out pretty much as I’d intended to limiting control or combo type decks with disruption from creatures like Ethersworn Canonist, Leonin Arbiter or Thalia herself; meanwhile beating out aggro using the incredible power of the swords along with good removal like path to exile and council’s judgement.

By that friday though another idea had come to mind. Another one of my favourite things in magic is to spend a lot of time doing absolutely nothing. Such as casting Life from the Loam over and over again. I’ve always been tempted by Legacy Lands but never caved and bought into it; still though I’d picked up some of the cheaper pieces. Tiny leaders seemed like a great place to mess around with the deck, and get some durdling done. Once again I went out wondering who to use as my Commander, and I remembered that Yasova had been printed in Fate Reforged. She let me play Intuition, Gamble and Loam all in the same deck. Game on! Idid another dig and came up with most of what I needed, picking up a Gamble from a friend of mine. I’m still missing some of the more expensive pieces (see Tropical Island and Tabernacle), but here is the list:

Yasova Dragonclaw
Satyr Wayfinder
Young Pyromancer
Eternal Witness
Courser of Kruphix
Ancestral Vision
Ancient Stirrings
Crop Rotation
Life from the Loam
Edge of Autumn
Punishing Fire
Krosan Grip
Compulsive Research
Sylvan Library
Lightning Rift
Seismic Assault
Engineered Explosives
Elixir of Immortality
Crucible of Worlds
Dack Fayden
Wooded Foothills
Scalding Tarn
Misty Rainforest
Tropical Island
Volcanic Island
Forgotten Cave
Lonely Sandbar
Tranquil Thicket
Smoldering Crater
Remote Isle
Slippery Karst
 Command Tower
Grove of the Burnwillows
Rishadan Port
Maze of Ith
Dark Depths
Thespians Stage
Academy Ruins
Raging Ravine

Its not as smooth as I’d like it to be, for example I had to wasteland my own taiga to replay it out of my


yard to get a third red mana for Seismic Assault the other day. A Seismic Assault that was added to the list after the Lightning rift, which probably tells you a bit about how I think. The deck is however insanely sweet, even though I have to whether the glares I get when I’m at 2 life having done nothing but durdle for the entire game only to finally lock them out of the game with the engine I’d finally got to.

At this point I was super excited to play the format, I’d built a couple of sweet decks but hadn’t played many actual games. The next weekend I traveled back to the same games tore again to try and get a few games in and also try out a sweet Legacy Death Shadow list (Legacy FNMs whoop whoop). Playing the decks most of the matches were fairly close and a ton of fun, with a couple of instances of Swords of X and Y just running away with the game (strongly recommend having main deck answers to these). It did however lead me to find space for the Elixir of Immortality in the Yasova deck as some of the games ended with 1 or 2 cards in my library and on 1 or 2 life.

Coming out of the weekend I had a pile of new deck Ideas which I wanted to try ranging from Doomsday to Goblins. I’m ashamed to say that as of the date of writing Zozu Land Death is still not complete, but I am the proud owner of a bunch of other decks with a pile more in the works. The formatis awesome, and its definitely worth giving it a try even if you don’t like the sound of it there’s almost certainly a deck that’s up your alley.

That’s it from me this week, thanks for reading

Rees’ Pieces #8 – Pro Tour Fate Reforged (Modern)

Its just coming up to 10:30 in the evening of Sunday the 8th February and the finals of Pro Tour Fate Reforged have just finished. The victor: Antoni del Moral Leon of Spain playing straight up Blue-Red Splinter Twin, defeating the American Justin Cohen who was playing Amulet Bloom Combo. The rest of the top eight consisted of a second copy of Splinter Twin, 2 copies of Burn and 3 copies of Abzan. Today I’m going to take a brief look into these decks and try and give you an insight into different choices the players have made in deck construction as well as give you an idea of what the meta will be like post Fate Reforged.

pro tour fate reforged

Lets get the ball rolling with Abzan Midrange, this was by all means the deck to beat coming into this weekend. With Cruise and Dig gone, and especially Birthing Pod banned all eyes were on this deck. And what do you know they were right, it showed up and in ridiculous numbers. The percentage of people playing Abzan in the field was 28% of all competitors which is a ridiculously high number. However only three made it into Top 8; Jesse Hampton, Jacob Wilson, and Eric Froehlich. Here is Hamptons list:

Planeswalker (4)
4 Liliana of the Veil
Creature (12)

2 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
4 Siege Rhino
4 Tarmogoyf
2 Scavenging Ooze
Sorcery (12)

4 Lingering Souls
4 Thoughtseize
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Maelstrom Pulse
Instant (7)

4 Abrupt Decay
1 Dismember
2 Path to Exile
Land (25)

4 Windswept Heath
2 Marsh Flats
4 Verdant Catacombs
2 Stirring Wildwood
2 Overgrown Tomb
1 Godless Shrine
1 Twilight Mire
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Vault of the Archangel
1 Temple Garden
2 Treetop Village
2 Swamp
1 Fores
1 Plains

Sideboard (15)

1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Path to Exile
3 Aven Mindcensor
2 Fulminator Mage
1 Feed the Clan
1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
2 Damnation
3 Stony Silence
1 Batterskull

Going into the tournament this is probably what you would expect from an Abzan deck, even though it has a couple of curve balls in the 75. Resilient threats, hand disruption, flexible removal; a proactive game plan backed up with plenty of cards to disrupt anything your opponents doing. I mentioned that there were a couple of curve balls earlier and while a the main deck is almost set in stone for your starting 60 the sideboard is where this particular list has an unexpected card or two. Feed the clan is a common from the recent Fate Reforged expansion originally thrown in the chaff pile as unplayable. It came on the radar at the first Open Series event after release though where Gerrard Fabiano had 2 copies in his sideboard to board in against aggro. Fabiano had very few ways to get the full ten life out of the card. In this Abzan deck almost every creature has the possibility to trigger ferocious making it more effective of a sideboard card here, primarily for the Burn match up where it’s text often reads ‘have a dude in play? counter the next 3 spells your opponent plays’. Another interesting thing is the three copies of Aven Mindcensor. Being able to snipe opponents when they crack fetches is nice but there are also a number of decks this card shuts down such as Amulet Combo, Scapeshift and Tron. However this is not a foolproof plan and in game three of Jesse’s semi final against Justin Cohen (on the Bloom deck) a Mindcensor in play seemed to have the game locked up, proving that both luck and skill are needed to win matches Justin ripped the exact pair lands he needed out of the top 4 cards of his library to kill Jesse. the last card i’d like to mention is the Vault of the Archangel among the lands in the main. In a meta where you expect a large amount of people to be playing Abzan this is a huge advantage to have especially combined with Lingering Souls. My spirit token for your Rhino? Yes please!

Efro’s list is very similar to the one above, but I’d like to take a minute and talk about the Abzan deck that Jacob Wilson piloted which came from a slightly different angle:

Creature (27)

4 Noble Hierarch
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Voice of Resurgence
2 Qasali Pridemage
3 Kitchen Finks
3 Loxodon Smiter
4 Siege Rhino
3 Wilt-Leaf Liege

Sorcery (6)

4 Lingering Souls
2 Thoughtseize

Instant (4)

4 Path to Exile

Land (23)

3 Gavony Township
3 Forest
1 Swamp
1 Plains
3 Razorverge Thicket
1 Godless Shrine
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Temple Garden
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Windswept Heath
1 Marsh Flats

Sideboard (15)

2 Thoughtseize
2 Chalice of the Void
2 Fracturing Gust
1 Relic of Progenitus
1 Stony Silence
1 Zealous Persecution
2 Sword of War and Peace
1 Ajani, Mentor of Heroes
1 Rule of Law
1 Slaughter Pact
1 Leyline of Sanctity

This is a different take on the GWB midrange deck. Now if you’ll throw your mind back in the day and recall the card Birthing Pod  Wilson was an expert with the deck, even using it to make the finals of the previous Modern Pro Tour. While Pod is now banned this is what remains. A bunch of mana accelerators in Birds and Hierarch, along with difficult to deal with creatures like Kitchen Finks and Voice of Resurgence. It keeps in the Rhinos a normal Abzan list has and adds Loxodon Smiter and Wilt Leaf leige in multiples. Word on the street says by the end of day 2 Jacob Wilson’s opponents were even ending game ones with copies of Thoughtsieze and Inquisition of Kozilek in hand, afraid of running into a hand full of these. Smiter is also excellent against control and Liege also makes all of your creatures better (especially good with Lingering Souls). The Gavony townships in the manabase are another shout to Pod and go great with all the mana creatures and Souls tokens, combining with Wilt Leaf Liege to make your guys bigger. This list is definitely tuned to beating other Abzan decks, which as it turned out was very popular. This comes as a price though, the deck runs four copies of Path to Exile as its only removal it makes your Splinter Twin match up weaker as seen in the quarter finals against Jelger Wiegersma. This also means that you are relying heavily on Lingering Souls against Affinity game 1, though you have a solid sideboard plan for them later. An unfortunate similarity with Pod as a result of all the mana creatures is that the deck can run out of steam pretty quickly and will have some awful late game top decks. This deck was a strong meta choice but fell short in the final eight.

The next deck I would like to discuss is Splinter Twin. While there have been many different versions of the deck splashing green, white or black it is straight UR Twin that puts two decks into the Top 8 of this Pro Tour in the hands of Jelger Wiegersma and Antoni del Moral Leon who eventually lifted the Trophy. Twin is a deck that has always been a mainstay in Modern ever since its inception, one of the premier combo decks in the format. The deck contains ‘the combo’ in Deceiver Exarch, Pestermite and Splinter Twin itself, Cards that by you time and help find the combo, and protection for your combo (with some overlap in between). The deck also has a decent tempo plan with Snapcaster Mage beatdown and Lightning Bolts; though you look a bit silly getting into the red zone with a 1/4 Exarch sometimes its just what it takes to get the win. Here is the winning decklist from Antoni Del Moral Leon:

Creature (11)

3 Snapcaster Mage
2 Vendilion Clique
4 Deceiver Exarch
2 Pestermite

Sorcery (5)

1 Flame Slash
4 Serum Visions

Instant (16)

1 Peek
1 Dispel
2 Electrolyze
2 Spell Snare
2 Cryptic Command
4 Remand
4 Lightning Bolt
Enchantment (4)
4 Splinter Twin

Land (24)

4 Misty Rainforest
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Sulfur Falls
1 Stomping Ground
3 Steam Vents
1 Desolate Lighthouse
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Mountain
5 Island

Sideboard (15)

1 Dispel
1 Flame Slash
2 Keranos, God of Storms
2 Blood Moon
2 Spellskite
1 Negate
1 Ancient Grudge
1 Pyroclasm
1 Threads of Disloyalty
1 Jace, Architect of Thought
1 Shatterstorm
1 Anger of the Gods

While there are variations of twin involving splashing other colours (shout out to Makahito Mahara and the Humble Defector tech in Grixis), straight Blue Red lists are fairly similar and this one is pretty stock. Having multiple cliques in the main is a bit of an oddity but does improve your tempo plan and let you know exactly what you have to play around. The ability to also target yourself with the ability to ditch dead cards should also be noted. One card that faded out of these lists is Kiki-Jiki Mirror Breaker; even with less bolts flying around with delver gone people are still hesitant to include him in their lists despite allowing you to play all of the combo in one turn after picking a fight on your opponents end step. If you take a quick peek at his board you might see nothing of interest or out of the norm but if you look closer you’ll see a stand alone copy of Jace, Architect of Thought in the list and boy is this a spicy one even if |i’m not exactly sure what its doing here, possibly for the control match up or maybe even against Tokens. While the Plan B is fine, if you play Twin, if you’re lucky enough and if you can find it you’ll have combo on turn five with protection every game hiring the A Twin. Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?

The next deck to discuss is good old fashioned Burn. While it did lose some power with the ban on treasure cruise the important thing to remember is that most of the other decks also lost out with the banning and Burn was good deck before Treasure Cruise was printed. As it is the deck is still very good putting up a plethora of good finishes this weekend culminating with two Top 8s in the hands of Lee Shi Tian and Seth Mansfield who both unfortunately lost in the quarterfinals. The formula of the deck is pretty simple: count to twenty, using combination of early creatures and direct damage spells. While the concept is simple the deck still takes skill to pilot and there are complicated lines of play take and decisions to make. Here is Seth Manfields 75:

Creature (13)

4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Goblin Guide
4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
1 Grim Lavamancer

Sorcery (8)

4 Rift Bolt
4 Lava Spike

Instant (20)

4 Skullcrack
4 Searing Blaze
4 Boros Charm
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Shard Volley
2 Lightning Helix

Land (19)

4 Arid Mesa
4 Wooded Foothills
3 Sacred Foundry
2 Mountain
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Stomping Ground
4 Scalding Tarn

Sideboard (15)

4 Destructive Revelry
1 Lighting Helix
3 Kor Firewalker
3 Molten Rain
2 Deflecting Palm
2 Path to Exile

4 Eidolons, 4 Goblin Guide, 4 Swiftspears is standard for any burn deck now but Seth is also playing a single Grim lavamancer. Its a bit of a risk as if it gets picked off by a removal spell early it doesn’t do anything but if you can untap with it the pay off is huge. I like the one as its already a risk be it one worth taking, but multiples are often dead so any more would be taking too many chances. The other interesting thing in the main deck is the 2-2 split of Shard Volleys and Lightning Helixs, many other players choosing to play three or even four shard volleys despite of its downside. Helix however is a bit slower at two mana but the life gain attached can be crucial when you’re in a tight spot with an Eidolon in play, or against the mirror. As far as the sideboard goes most of it is pretty standard now, one of the more interesting cards is Deflecting Palm. This is a sweet one and it can have applications all over the place. Abzan player have a giant ooze they’ve taken over the game with? Swing the game back in your favour, Tron opponent bearing down with a Wurmcoil? Prevent the damage and deal it right back at them. As the day goes on though these kind of tricks get spoiled to your opponents which can make them play around it games two and three, though even that you can use to your advantage. I’m just gonna say Valakut the Molten Pinnacle and leave that there.

If I haven’t saved the best til last, I’ve certainly saved the most complicated. Amulet Bloom Combo is a deck that has been around a while but has only recently started putting up good finishes at high level events. Justin Cohen whose been piloting the deck for a long time made it into the Top 8 here very nearly but not quite accompanied by his housemate and current testing partner Sam Black. Like I said the deck is complicated but the main things are the combination of Amulet of Vigor with Karoo lands allowing then to untap when they enter the battlefield, along with either Azusa or Summer Bloom to give you multiple land drops in a turn accelerating out either a Primeval Titan or a Hive Mind. With Hive mind in play you simply cast a Pact and have your opponent unable to pay for their Hive Mind copy. If you make a Titan however things get tricky, with amulet in play you can fetch Slayer’s Stronghold and Boros Garrison which both Untap to give your Titan haste. Into combat goes your titan and you’re finding some more lands. If you have either excess mana or two Amulets in play you can find Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion and a Vesuva to copy the Slayers Stronghold, which both untap to give your titan Double strike. The beauty of the deck though as going all in on a Titan will often have you stopped in your tracks by a path to exile, is to tutor up Tolaria West and a bounce land to return the West to your hand. This synergy allows you to go and find either a Summoners Pact, to get a new Titan, or a Pact of Negation to protect the Titan you have in play. You can also use the Tolaria Wests to tutor for the pacts to allow a Hive Mind win, or to tutor for a utility land like Cavern of Souls to make your Titans uncounterable. To help us get a grasp on the deck, here is Cohens list:

Creature (7)

4 Primeval Titan
1 Simian Spirit Guide
2 Azusa, Lost but Seeking

Sorcery (12)

4 Serum Visions
4 Ancient Stirrings
4 Summer Bloom

Instant (7)

4 Summoner’s Pact
2 Pact of Negation
1 Slaughter Pact

Artifact (4)

4 Amulet of Vigor

Enchantment (3)

3 Hive Mind

Land (27)

1 Khalni Garden
1 Vésuva
1 Slayers’ Stronghold
1 Boros Garrison
1 Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
1 Radiant Fountain
1 Tendo Ice Bridge
1 Mana Confluence
1 Forest
1 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Selesnya Sanctuary
4 Gemstone Mine
3 Tolaria West
3 Gruul Turf
4 Simic Growth Chamber
2 Cavern of Souls

Sideboard (15)

3 Leyline of Sanctity
2 Thragtusk
1 Hornet Queen
2 Firespout
1 Pyroclasm
1 Nature’s Claim
1 Seal of Primordium
1 Swan Song
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Sigarda, Host of Herons
1 Wurmcoil Engine

While saying that there is a ‘standard list’ for Amulet Combo isn’t exactly accurate, there are a couple of differences here to decks we’ve seen in the past. Firstly there is only one copy of Simian Spirit Guide as opposed to the usual four, and in its stead we see Ancient stirrings to try and make your draws more consistent finding both lands or an Amulet of Vigor. The board is where the difference is really shown with a whole host of big creatures to bring in with Sigarda, Wurmcoil Engine, two Thragtusks and a Hornet Queen. These are primarily for the Abzan match up as the games there can be quite rocky with all of their hand disruption and answers for Titan and Amulet, making the combo aspect of the deck weaker and increasing the value of large difficult to deal with creatures. The Thragtusks and Wurmcoil are also Excellent against Burn which had a good showing at the PT, and the Sigarda is an excellent card against a control deck. Many people thought that with the rise of Abzan this deck would not be played in large amounts due to it being a weak match up and the deck certainly didn’t end up being very popular. Justin Cohen and Sam Black however thought that they had a good build for the meta and certainly proved it with their finishes; Justin losing in the finals to Antoni.

And that’s it for today everyone, in the end there really were not that many surprises coming out of the Pro Tour but that does leave the format open. Thanks for reading and I’l catch you next week.

Rees’ Pieces #7 – Tasigur Talk

While the golden fanged shaman didn’t exactly go under the radar when he was spoiled, I think few were prepared for the full potential for him in standard. At the SCG Open this past weekend there were seven copies over four decks in the top eight, and his impact was definitely shown in Gerrard Fabiano’s victory. From Aggro to Midrange to Control its safe to say he’s Sultai to stay. Before we take a look at couple of decklists here’s an overview of what Tasigur does and what makes him so great.



Firstly, he’s a six mana 4/5 with delve. This makes him realistically castable on turn three or four after an early Satyr Wayfinder or Commune with the Gods. Cost reduction mechanics are great (see Treasure Cruise) and the fact that he has a decent base that allows you to both threaten your opponent or bolster up your defences all the while providing you with a source of card advantage.


Moving on to his ability you can pay four mana (of which two must be blue or green) to put the top two cards of your library into your graveyard and have your opponent choose a nonland card in your yard to return to your hand. So your opponent gets to choose what you get, so more often than likely it’ll be the worst spell in your graveyard. However its still card advantage and with Tasigur’s delve ability along with other cards such as Dig Through Time, Treasure Cruise, and Murderous Cut you can have decent control on what’s in your yard for them to give you. Considering the rest of the card the cost of using the ability is fair, and in slower and grindier strategies you can just pass with mana up and if your opponent doesn’t do anything you can double activate him at the end of your turn. These all make him a decent early game card with the help of graveyard fillers, or a fantastic late game top deck when you have a bunch of land in play and a graveyard of fuel.


But thats enough harping on about him for now, lets get down to business and look at a couple of standard lists from the past weekend:



Gerrard Fabiano – Sultai Control

4x Satyr Wayfinder

2x Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver

1x Garruk, Apex Predator

2x Kiora, the Crashing Wave

2x Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

4x Bile Blight

4x Dig Through Time

2x Disdainful Stroke

3x Hero’s Downfall

2x Murderous Cut

2x Sultai Control

2x Crux of Fate

1x Interpret the Signs

2x Rakshasa’s Secret

2x Thoughtseize

2x Island

3x Swamp

2x Llanowar Wastes

4x Opulent Palace

4x Polluted Delta

2x Temple of Deceit

4x Temple of Malady

1x Temple of Mystery

2x Yavimaya Coast

1x Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth


2x Rakshasa Deathdealer

2x Feed the Clan

2x Negate

2x Pharika’s Cure

1x Sultai Charm

1x Polukranos, World Eater

1x Silumgar, the Drifting Death

2x Tasigur, the Golden Fang

1x Drown in Sorrow

1x Thoughtseize


This is the winning decklist from the open at the weekend, with two copies of Tasigur in the sideboard. Watching Fabiano play the deck though he brought them in against a wide range of opponents I would be surprised if he didn’t start playing at least one in the main if he continues forward with the deck. He provides a road block against the aggro decks and buys time and also is a card advantage machine in the late game where this deck shines. It utilises both Murderous Cut and Dig Through Time which as mentioned earlier can be used to manipulate your graveyard, but then the deck is also chock full of super powerful cards like Ugin and Garruk which you can get back with Tasigur’s ability, not to mention the versatility of cards like Sultai Charm and Hero’s Downfall. He really does shine here.


Abzan Aggro – Hunter Nance

4x Fleecemane Lion

4x Rakshasa Deathdealer

4x Siege Rhino

3x Wingmate Roc

3x Courser of Kruphix

3x Anafenza, the Foremost

2x Tasigur, the Golden Fang

1x Sorin, Solemn Visitor

2x Abzan Charm

3x Bile Blight

4x Hero’s Downfall

2x Thoughtseize

1x Forest

2x Plains

3x Caves of Koilos

3x Llanowar Wastes

4x Sandsteppe Citadel

3x Temple of Malady

1x Temple of Plenty

2x Temple of Silence

4x Windswept Heath

2x Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth


1x Back to Nature

1x Bile Blight

1x Murderous Cut

1x Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

1x Liliana Vess

1x Nissa Worldwaker

1x Sorin, Solemn Visitor

4x Drown in Sorrow

3x Glare of Heresy

1x Thoughtseize


The aggro variant of Abzan has been becoming more and more popular after a bunch of successful finishes just before Fate Reforged was released. In this deck we see two copies of Tasigur in the main with the only real graveyard manipulation being Tasigur himself. However the card quality in this deck is less variable with nothing like Satyr Wayfinder your opponent can hand you back. In this deck you want all of your creatures have some kind of ability that allows them to stay relevant later into the game and Tasigur fits the bill perfectly, providing a much needed source of card advantage while having a 4/5 body to apply the beats with. Golden.


And with that its time for me to wrap up another article. Last time I mentioned I’d let you know about all the Cloudform bad beats stories I would have from pre-release but I’m happy to say I don’t actually have any. I did on the other hand have a game that went: T1 land go, T2 land go, T3 land Jeskai Infiltrator to then have my opponent untap and act of treason it. That went badly. Cheers for reading and I’ll see you next time.


Rees’ Pieces #6 – Fate Reforged

What’s up everybody? Its been a while since I wrote an article, and I hope you all had a happy New Year and Christmas. Now while we’ve all been having a happy holiday Santa has also sent us a sets worth of spoilers for Fate Reforged. Without further ado I’m going to discuss some of my highlights.

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

This is the big guy everyones talking about. He’s extremely powerful unchecked, and has the potential to be a wrath that starts bolting your opponent if they don’t have an answer. Unfortunately we’re in a standard format where decks are already maindecking Hero’s Downfall, Utter End and Banishing Light. While these and his super high mana cost of 8 mean he probably won’t be format defining, I expect to see him popping up in a few decks and sideboards.

Temporal Trespass

We have a Time Walk effect in standard, and that’s always fun. It does however cost eleven mana without help and you need to be delving six cards to even make this a Time Warp. But its a time walk, and we have Narset running round as well as a million and one ways to put cards into your graveyard. I expect this to see about the same amount of play as Temporal Mastery where its very exciting but will only see fringe play in one or two decks.

Monastery Mentor

This card is the real deal. So you liked Young Pyromancer? Well they printed a new one, that triggers off of Non-creature spellls instead of just instant and sorcerys, oh but the guys yoou get also have prowess. Let’s get this out of the way; pyromancer does only cost two mana so it comes down earlier and has a higher chance of getting value before its killed. However this is a one man army in a way that pyromancer isn’t, and tokens left behind still have the potential to do a lot of damage.

Dark Deal

Talk about card disadvantage… This card has primarily one purpose and that’s to see how good we can make Waste Not. With the addition of Tasigur’s Cruelty we have three different mind rot effects plus thoughtseize and despise in standard. The tools are out there but how good will the deck actually be? I’d be up for jamming it together if only to see exactly what happens when you cast one of these with Waste Not in play. It and Rakshasa’s Secret also power up delve cards so it cooouuld happen. Right?


When you see this card you probably thought one of two things; a) its a cool little trick; or b) how good is this with ascendancy? The good thing is that it’s at its best in the green based ascendancy combo decks, where it acts a bit like a manamorphose when you’re going off or gives you extra Retraction Helix activations. The other good thing is that it doesn’t do much without ascendancy in play and the deck doesn’t have space for many cards like that. The potential is there though.

Monastery Siege

This ones pretty sweet. The Khans effect is a bit like Sultai Ascendancy, if Sultai Ascendancy was good. The Dragons effect is ‘partial hexproof’ for you and all your permanents. Both effects are great and the fact that the dragons clause is worded so that these can stack up in multiples is pretty awesome. I was brewing up a delve control deck with sultai ascendancy a while ago and this just seems better in almost every way. What I really like about the siege cycle is that almost all of them are playable in competitive and casual magic.


The only reason I’m really talking about this card is that I can imagine dying to it very easily in limited. Pre-releases are this weekend, so I’ll be able to tell you all the sweet things my opponents manifested off of it next week.

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading my thoughts and opinions on the new releases. If you have anything you’d like to add or any feedback feel free to comment below. See y’all next week,

Rees is a magic expert, but sadly also a magiciser; he can never commit to one deck. Maybe one day he will settle down.

Rees’ Pieces #5

Last time I talked about Blue Green infect, a deck I have been playing recently and would have probably played at Grand Prix Madrid this past weekend if I had chosen to go. It turns out the deck did top 8 a GP at the weekend, just in Legacy instead; Tom Ross tainted strikes again. This week I’m going to discuss the results of Grand Prix Madrid and their implications on the modern format.

Firstly, pre-tournament hype. Since Khans has come out there has been two decks at the forefront of people’s minds: Blue Red Delver, and Jeskai Ascendancy Combo.

After seeing the UR list Bob Huang won the first legacy open after Khans was released with, the concept of the deck has been translated over to modern. Not that UR Delver wasn’t a deck before, but it now has a better 1 drop threat in Monastery Swiftspear which has replaced the variance high Goblin Guide and also is possibly the best Delvecestral Recall deck in the format.

Jeskai Ascendancy combo was by far the deck most hyped up, but aside from winning a few daily events on Magic Online it hadn’t put up many finished. The deck threatens to combo out on turn 2 or 3 which doesn’t fit what Wizards want for modern. As a result of this and the decks supreme hype train there have been calls from all over the place for the deck to be banned.

Ascendancy didn’t even make into the top 16, there are a bunch of cards the deck just folds to and it’s possible to hate it out easily. Red Blue Delver had a much but also failed to make top 8. However Temur Delver; a deck very similar to UR but splashing green primarily for goyf managed to not only top 8 but win the Grand Prix. Just goes to show, don’t believe the hype.

On to the actual Top 8 now. It consisted of 3 Birthing Pod decks, 1 Scapeshift, 1 Martyr Proc, 1 Breaching Trap, 1 Junk Midrange, and the Temur Delver deck. A few decks we haven’t seen in a while come out of the woodwork, but Birthing Pod proving it’s still here to stay once again putting multiple decks into a Grand Prix Top 8.

Looking at the three pod decks, all of the lists have gone in slightly different ways. Two of them were ‘Angel Pod’ forgoing the Melira combo and using Spike Feeder and Archangel of Thune instead freeing up a little space to make the main deck more flexible. One of these was fairly standard whereas the other added two copies of Tarmogoyf, an Eidolon of Rhetoric and a Thragtusk. The other list was a fairly stock Melira Pod deck with a single Eidolon of Rhetoric in the main and also included a Thragtusk. One thing all three decks shared is that they were all playing some number of Siege Rhino (More copies in the T8 than Cruise, better ban it).

I briefly touched on the Temur Delver deck that won earlier. It uses the Blue Red Delver shell and swaps out the Monastery Swiftspears for Tarmogoyfs allowing the deck to play much more reactively once you’ve landed a threat (a downside to Swiftspear). Another limiting factor on the deck is that it can’t afford to play cards like Snapcaster Mage or Grim Lavamancer as you need your graveyard for Goyf, and Treasure Cruise is pretty taxing already. That this deck can work just illustrates the power of Treasure Cruise and Tarmogoyf in the modern format.

The Junk deck looked very well positioned going into the weekends meta game with its two main deck copies of Dark Blast for the delver decks and a full eight hand disruption spells for combo. The deck was playing four copies of Siege Rhino and Bitterblossom has finally shown up. The scapeshift deck that made it is about as stock as you can get with the three Dig Through Times from Khans becoming staple in the deck.

Summoning Trap/ Through the Breach is not a deck we’ve seen a lot of for a long time but this one has combined the Primeval Titan Emrakul plan we saw in the old Cloudpost decks with Valakut the Molten Pinnacle. To supplement this the deck played Sakura Tribe Elder, Farseek and Search for Tomorrow to help get Valakut online and allow you to cast your titans, and Chalice of the Void and Anger of the Gods as Disruption.

The Last deck in the Top 8 is another old favourite in Martyr of the Sands/Proclamation of Rebirth. Its a white weenie deck very similar to Soul Sisters and it does use the same Martyr of the Sands with Serra Ascendant plan A. Past that, this version of the deck runs Ghostly Prisons and Wrath of Gods to deal with creatures; Prison also conveniently dealing with Splinter Twin combo also. Then it runs Ranger of Eos which helps you put white cards in your hand for Martyr as well as tutoring for Martyr and Ascendant and also helps you rebuild. Then it pays three copies of Proclamation of Rebirth, a forecast spell with two modes. The first if you cast it is to return up to three CMC 1 creatures from your graveyard to the battlefield allowing you to reuse Martyrs and get back Ascendants after they’ve been killed. The other mode is with forecast; paying six mana and revealing the card in your hand you can bring back a single CMC 1 creature from your yard but you keep the Proc in hand and can keep recurring it over multiple turns. Recurring Martyr every turn can easily put you out of range of some of the combo decks in the format and can stall aggro for a long time until you find a threat. This is a new take on the deck and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a rise in its popularity.

Once again that’s it from me this week, I hope you got a chance to watch some of the coverage at the weekend. See you next week,


Rees’ Pieces #4: Modern & Infect

Hi everyone,

Back again with another magic article. This week however I’ll be going my usual foray into the card market and talk about a deck I’ve been playing lately in modern in the run up to Grand Prix Madrid this weekend which is the first Modern Grand Prix since Khans of Tarkir was released. So without any further ado, here is the UG Infect list I’ve been playing:


4x Noble Heirarch

4x Glistener Elf

4x Blighted Agent

3x Viridian Corrupter

4x Gitaxian Probe

4x Groundswell

4x Mutagenic Growth

2x Might of Old Krosa

1x Become Immense

4x Vines of Vastwood

2X Apostles Blessing

2x Distortion Strike

1x Wild Defiance

4x Inkmoth Nexus

1x Dryad Arbor

2x Pendelhaven

4x Misty Rainforest

4x Windwept Heath

4x Breeding Pool

2x Forest


2x Wild Defiance

2x Spellskite

2x Hunt the Hunter

3x Nature’s Claim

2x Twisted Image

3x Dispel

1x Viridian Corrupter


This list is fairly similar to the one Tom Ross popularised earlier this year, forgoing the usual Ichorclaw Myrs for Viridian Corrupters which help you deal with maindeck spellskites and give you main deck cards to hate Pod and Affinity freeing up some space in your board. Another recent addition to the deck is Hunt the Hunter; its narrow I know but Pod is prevalent enough and bad enough of a match up to warrant two copies of these. The obvious purpose for this is to get Melira Sylvok Outcast off of the table but its also great if they get greedy and you can snipe mana dorks, or killing a vital creature in response to them casting birthing pod. Between these and twisted images they help stabilise the match up though its still far from favourable. The last card I’d like to talk about before I go into the kahns of Tarkir additions is the one of Dryad Arbor in the main. So its great against edict effects like Liliana of the Veil but it also; as Ross put it “keeps people fair”. It sounds like a joke but people are very careless with their life total playing against Infect and the Arbor has killed more people than you would think.


Currently there is only one card from kahns of Tarkir in the list but that may be incorrect and there are a few other options that are worth considering. The one of Become Immense in the main has been fantastic, between fetches, probes and the inevitability of your creatures dying five cards in the yard is very achievable and +6/+6 for a single green mana is clearly big game. Every time I’ve drawn this card it has been great and I’d be tempted to go up to two copies. Its especially good versus RWU where your creatures are going to die in droves to fill up your yard and you can bait them with other pump spells before slamming this in response to a bolt or helix. Another thing to note is that with a Wild Defiance in play this makes any of your guys ten power. Also combos with Dryad Arbor.

The cards I am currently not playing but might be correct to play are the Obvious Treasure Cruise/Dig through time, and Stubborn Denial. Dig is a bit too mana intensive for this deck as double blue isn’t easy to achieve, but I feel Cruise should be present at least in the board if not the main. I don’t think it’s an auto include in the main because especially in game one it can be very clunky. It also contests space with Become Immense as there are only so many delve cards you can play. You want to kill your opponent very quickly and having multiple 6-8 mana spells will clog up your draws and dilute your game plan. I could see running a cruise alongside the Immense in the main and I can definitely see the merit for having a couple in the board for the grindy match ups like Jund or RWU.

Stubborn denial is an interesting one, most of the time its just a worse dispel. Don’t be under the illusion that your dude is gonna have 4 power when they try and kill it and sometimes Denial will end up being a Force Spike. However, the ability to simply spike your opponent or interact with their sorcery speed removal is relevant so if something like Storm is prevalent in the Meta Stubborn Denial could be a better choice. (It also has Tilt Value).


So that’s my take on Blue Green Infect, all things considered I think the deck is still a solid choice and I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled looking at the coverage from both rand Prix this weekend to see what does well. That’s it from me this week though,


Rees is a magic expert, but sadly also a magiciser; he can never commit to one deck. Maybe one day he will settle down.

Rees’ Pieces #3: Tarkir Going Down & Jeskai Heroic Is a Thing!

This week it appears as though the flurry of price drops in Khans of Tarkir over the past few weeks has slowed down, with only a few small changes. I’ll give you a quick rundown:

– Near the top of the pile Sorin has dipped a tad down to £19.99, Abzan still popular but being outshone this past weekend by GB Constellation and he’s not seeing much play elsewhere.

sorin solemn visitor

Fetches still continue to fall with both Flooded Strand and Polluted Delta at £12.49, with Windswept Heath now £9.99, and Bloodstained More falling further to £8.49. Wooded Foothills is still at £11.49 for now but I would suspect it will follow suit down to the £10 mark soon.

khans tarkir lands Fetches

Dig through Time has fallen a little bit further down to now £8.49. UB control and Esper haven’t done particularly well the past couple of weeks however a UW control deck showed up at the SCG Open a week ago. Despite the fact that it’s seeing a bit of modern play and Jeskai has been doing pretty well in standard its price has continued to fall.

Mantis Rider has dropped down to £4.99 now, at the very start of the format the Jeskai Tempo deck was very dominant doing well at the Pro Tour, multiple Opens and Grand Prix. This past weekend it didn’t have a great showing and since (much like Sorin) it only really sees play in one deck which has probably led to its descent in price.

– A quick note on Crater’s Claws. If you’ve been one of the few people stocking up on these; they have now doubled in price to a whopping £1.99.

The Rest of the Standard Market

Like I said, Khans has been fairly quiet the past week, and the same can be said for the rest of standard:

Ajani Steadfast has taken a small hit dropping from £14.99 to £11.99, not too surprising seeing his lack of play.

Chasm Skulker has gone up in price at £4.49 with foils going up to £7.49. Travis Woo talked about the card in one of his recent articles and it also saw play in the Jeskai Heroic Combo deck that took down the SCG Standard Open this past weekend (more on that later).

Athreos the Overhyped has dropped down to £7.99 surprising… Nope, no-one.


– Apparently not everybody wants to be a cat, as Kitty King Brimaz drops down to £19.99. This is a bit suprising, as he sees play in both Abzan and Jeskai strategys as well as some of the white based aggro decks.

Elspeth has gone down to £19.99. While her days in the sun aren’t done yet she’s not seeing nearly as much play without the help of Supreme Verdict and Sphinx’s Revelation.

Ashiok Nightmare Weaver has now gone up to £9.99. While he saw a bit of play last format in Esper decks and a decent amount in block (Go GTA), he seems much more suited to this format where the field is dominated by midrange ‘Good Stuff’ decks.

A Look at the Tournament Scene 

That’s it for Standard price changes over the past week, but I’d like to briefly mention two archetypes that dominated the SCG Open this past weekend. The first one is well known, and that is Green Black Constellation. Its been doing well since the new format began but this past weekend there were 3 of these decks in the top 8 though for the most part they were defeated by the Jeskai Heroic combo deck I’ll move on to in a moment. The key cards from the archetype that are unique are Doomwake Giant, Eidolon of Blossoms, Pharika God of Affliction, and Whip of Erebos; while these cards haven’t moved much yet it’d be a safe bet to say they’ll be ticking up a bit soon.

The other deck I’d like to mention was pretty much off the radar up until now. Ivan Jen stormed through all comers with his Jeskai Heroic Ascendancy deck.

ivan jen
Ivan Jen after taking the first game of the SCG Standard open final

While Ascendancy was on everyone’s radar this is a completely new take on the deck which looks far superior to any other version we’ve seen forgoing green and the mana generators normally used when comboing off for aggressive heroic creatures like Akroan Crusader and Favoured Hoplite. This allows the deck to function well with or without ascendancy. It’s worth noting the combo in this version is slightly different as it uses retraction helix and springleaf drum (another new addition to the deck). Again none of the cards have really started to go up in price yet, however the deck seems like it could definitely be format warping. Jeskai Ascendancy, currently only £3.99 will almost certainly start going up in price again. Stain the mind, is looking like a very favourable sideboard card and is almost certainly going to see more use; currently £1.35 these seem like a good investment. The last card I’m going to mention is Spirit of the Labyrinth; it hurts both of the ascendancy decks in standard but also is becoming more and more playable in modern with the rise of treasure cruise. As a result it wouldn’t surprise me if Spirit saw a rise in play and price.

That’s it from me this week catch you next time,


Rees is a magic expert, but sadly also a magiciser; he can never commit to one deck. Maybe one day he will settle down.