Entries from December 2010 ↓

Wargate Various


Wargate :: Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle :: Scapeshift
Masashi Oiso :: Clarion Ultimatum :: … and of course Wargate

I played in a few 1 v. 1 Extended queues with Masashi Oiso’s Wargate deck and filmed (x-1) of them; obviously the HyperCam exploded during the one match I lost (a mirror where I was savagely out-drawn)… So I am just going to add to this same blog post over the course of the day as the videos finish exporting and uploading to YouTube.

In case you haven’t seen it, Oiso’s Wargate deck goes a little something like this:


4 Cryptic Command
4 Mana Leak
1 Negate
4 Preordain

4 Wargate

4 Cultivate
3 Explore
4 Prismatic Omen
4 Rampant Growth
3 Scapeshift

4 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
4 Flooded Grove
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Murmuring Bosk
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Verdant Catacombs
4 Island
4 Forest
1 Plains
1 Mountain

4 Great Sable Stag
3 Kitchen Finks
3 Wurmcoil Engine
2 Firespout
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Qasali Pridemage

… A much more detailed article RE: the deck and the matches will be going up at TCGPlayer circa tomorrow morning.

Wargate One:

So check back over the course of the day or so (or wait until tomorrow at TCGPlayer). Quote of the week (so far), from YouTube side:

“… I use Clarion Ultimatum instead in this deck. it’s pretty much the same except it costs 3 more mana and can get easily countered.”

Love it!

Wargate Two – Vivid Control:

Wargate Three – Destiny:

On the one hand, this one is guest starring Bella Flores; on the other hand, the YouTube army pointed out one millisecond after I posted it that I missed an on-table kill. Doh!


blah Blah BLAH Phyrexian Crusader


Phyrexian Crusader :: Phyrexian Crusader? :: Um… that’s about it

This is a follow up  from the Mirran Crusader post earlier this week. If you have seen that card, you’ve probably also seen the bad guy opposite number, Phyrexian Crusader:

Phyrexian Crusader

What can we say about this cat Zombie Knight?


Just as with Mirran Crusader, Phyrexian Crusader seems very close to a strict upgrade to onetime staple Paladin en-Vec. It is not a true strict upgrade because Paladin en-Vec is a different color (it would be like comparing Fresh Volunteers with Wild Mongrel or something)… But for practical purposes, Phyrexian Crusader is just better.

They have very parallel if not identical mana costs (1BB to the original’s 1WW), and both have the same “Protection from Lightning Bolt ” to go along with “Protection from Doom Blade Guy” … But in addition to first strike, Phyrexian Crusader also dodges Oust and has Infect.

Infect is neither better nor worse than not-Infect in the abstract, but for the most part creatures with Infect have been smaller than regular creatures for the same cost. It’s really not better. Wither is better, but Infect is just different. While Infect kind of deals double damage to players, it can be less effective against creatures. For example take Infect creature Cystbearer. Against a player it is kind of a 4/3 but it doesn’t even really trade with a comparably costed Silt Crawler (which you would never play in Standard). Keep in mind in the heads up race, Mirran Crusader also does double damage 🙂

My main concern about the size (specifically power) of Infect creatures is that they are much less effective — given comparable costs — against Planeswalkers. Mirran Crusader will whack the average Jace, the Mind Sculptor with one swing; not so Phyrexian Crusader.

… Just something to think about when evaluating the abilities on a creature like this one.

That said, as was pointed out by Propagandist in the previous blog post comments, Phyrexian Crusader is basically un-killable. Not only does this creature dodge all the same removal as Paladin en-Vec did (and make for more practical protection from Journey to Nowhere than Mirran Crusader’s “Protection from Aspect of Wolf (or whatever)” Phyrexian Crusader might be a fine combattler. Context will determine much of this as the format unfolds, but I can see him first striking down the power of larger animals, and walking away even when he doesn’t win.

Where Can I See This Fitting In?

Right now I would guess Phyrexian Crusader will be limited to an Infect linear deck. The problem with this creature relative to Mirran Crusader is that he doesn’t add much to “regular” strategies. I mean you can throw him in next to Black Knight and the opponent will just let Phyrexian Crusader hit four times before thinking about dealing with the new guy. The damage [plus Poison Counters] just don’t add up. Maybe he will get some good teammates, or maybe he will make for some kind of a stop sign / sideboard switcheroo (say holding back an entire White army or buying 100 turns against a Red Deck), but I don’t see the same potentially widespread adoption that the opposite number might have.

Even on the Infect team he isn’t the All-Star, but it is certainly the case that he helps upgrade the team (and with some help, potentially to Constructed legitimacy) by providing a much more legitimate option at a lower point in the curve.

Snap Judgment Rating: Role Player


Blah Blah Mirran Crusader


Mirran Crusader :: Paladin en-Vec :: … In comparison to Mirran Crusader

I savagely stole this from the Star City Games Facebook page:

Mirran Crusader

So on the stats, this guy is pretty nutso. I mean compare him with Paladin en-Vec:

Paladin en-Vec

I have been hot and cold over Paladin en-Vec over the years. Generally I am not on the same side as the little White creatures, and I am basically never on the side of playing two power combat creatures for three mana… But back when Paladin en-Vec + Umezawa’s Jitte was “the best combo in Standard” (credit: Tsuyoshi Fujita) I did make Budget Boros, which was an influential and successful deck in its day.

Anyway, enough about me…

Mirran Crusader is almost a strict upgrade to Paladin en-Vec.

Both creatures have the same mana costs (1WW), the same brawlin’ stats (2/2), and Protection from Black. Paladin en-Vec has Protection from Red and Mirran Crusader replaces that with Protection from Green. Let’s table the color difference on those abilities for a moment and move onto the First Strike line.

The original has First Strike; Mirran Crusader matches with Double Strike… Which is like First Strike stapled onto regular-strike… Making Mirran Crusader a highly efficient four power attacker, especially when left unblocked.

Mirran Crusader may very well make for the most aggressive Double Strike creature ever (or at least since Boros Swiftblade)… If Paladin en-Vec + Umezawa’s Jitte was supposed to be the best combo in Standard back a few years ago, what does that mean for Mirran Crusader? This is a cat (err… Human Knight) who can tussle with a Primeval Titan and walk away. What happens when you slap Adventuring Gear on it? Does Mirran Crusader singlehandedly blank the entire Vampires deck?

I mean probably.

I think we can all agree that Mirran Crusader is a near-strict upgrade to an old favorite, and is even more wicked once you start making him bigger, especially up front.

Now let’s get back to the issue of Protection from Red versus Protection from Green. Protection from Green is not as good as Protection from Red. As in part of what made Paladin en-Vec so super duper is that you could put Umezawa’s Jitte on him and no one was going to Doom Blade or Lightning Bolt (or shall we say Terror or Shock) in response. When it comes to instant speed Red removal, Mirran Crusader is so wide open he might as well be that new Mel Gibson movie.

Don’t get me wrong; this should still be an excellent drop… It is just not a strict upgrade, and Red Decks will actually be happy to face it a lot of the time, despite the absurd number of high quality abilities.

Did you see what that guy did with three mana? Shock you! … I mean it. I MEANT THE MIRRAN CRUSADER. Die, Knight, die!

Snap Judgment Rating – Staple


#WorldsDraft Clarification…

Concerning: #WorldsDraft :: PT Points

So the previous blog post lined up scoring based on Swiss points.

However the scoring criteria for #WorldsDraft is individual PT points. So like I said it is deceptive. The standings based on projected PT points is not close at all.

The reason?

Only two drafters have a Top 16 player — YT and Osyp. And Osyp is way out of contention. The other player with a Top 16 player is YT… And I also have a Top 8 player.

So Jamie being tied with me and Patrick at present is highly deceptive. His Shuuhei Nakamura at 18 is worth a PT point less than my Joshua Utter-Leyton at 16. Huzzah!

If Worlds ended right now, I would win by a huge margin of over 10%; I counted all Top 8 players as 12 PT points (5-8) rather than their Swiss positions (despite his position in the Swiss, PV hasn’t won the PT yet).

Here are my numbers, with projected PT points based on last year’s Worlds numbers:

As you can see, the current standings are much less close…

  • Osyp – 18
  • Jamie – 24
  • YT – 31
  • Phil – 26
  • Patrick – 27

Therefore I would be overjoyed if Efro ran the tables and won, with all of our current Top 8 horses losing in the quarterfinals. Remember, PV is a very serious threat to Brad Nelson’s once seemingly insurmountable Player of the Year lead.

Interestingly there is one other threat.

According to Twitter…

Should Efro fail to win his quarterfinal match to my horse Guillaume Matignon [please don’t lose, Efro], I would like to see Matignon win it all. Why? In addition to locking YT as the winner of #WorldsDraft, that would put Matignon in a tie for Player of the Year with Brad! It would go to a playoff (which in this amazing fantasy Brad would win); I think that there would be awesome drama around Brad falling so far, but being given a chance to retain his Player of the Year title on the field of battle.

Very Maher v. Finkel 2000 if you get the reference 😉


Cheering Against Phil Napoli

Concerning: Momir Vig, Simic Visionary (not really)

Earlier this week, five friends decided to run a fantasy draft RE: the 2010 World Championships.

  • The hashtag? #WorldsDraft
  • The success criteria? Individual PT Points earned at Worlds 2010.
  • To the winner? Some number of #FloresRewards (http://www.floresrewards.com)
  • To the loser? He is forced to write an in-depth strategy article on the format Momir Vig.

Pick order was [somehow] determined by Star City Somebody Ted Knutson; it went a little something like this:

  1. Osyp Lebedowicz
  2. Jamie Parke
  3. YT
  4. Phil Napoli
  5. Patrick Chapin

The format was a traditional Rochester wheel for the first four rounds of picks; but Patrick (before he was assigned #5, mind you), asked that pick orders be identical for rounds four and five. That is, 1-5, 5-1, 1-5, 5-1, 5-1. The theory being that in the last round most of the prime picks would be gone anyway, and it would be unfair to give Osyp another first crack. With that out of the way, this is how things shook out:

Round One:

  1. Osyp – Brad Nelson
  2. Jamie – Luis Scott-Vargas
  3. YT – Martin Juza
  4. Phil – Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa
  5. Patrick – Gerry Thompson

Osyp’s first pick here was hella obvious. All five of us would have made the same first pick. I would have second picked LSV, as Jamie did as well. This left YT with an interesting decision. I went with Juza, though there are a number of reasonable options… for example Phil’s pick of PV. Patrick set up his wheel with Gerry Thompson, a nod to his friend and collaborator… Who coming off a number of strong domestic fishes — err finishes — recently, might have been hotter than the PoY standings indicated.

Round Two:

  1. Patrick – Gabriel Nassif
  2. Phil – Brian Kibler
  3. YT – Joshua Utter-Leyton
  4. Jamie – Shuuhei Nakamura
  5. Osyp – Tsuyoshi Ikeda

Patrick made another wild pick; his theory (and it is a good one) was just that Nassif is the 3d best player of all time, and still a heck of a performer. I mean how long ago was his PT win? Exactly. I mean what would the PoY race have looked like if Nassif, LSV — or heck, Brad — decided to travel to as many GPs as the Japanese?

Phil’s slam of Brian Kibler looked prophetic through the first two days… and who wouldn’t want to root for a Kibler?

I took what would be a controversial pick in Joshua Utter-Beatings. I took some flak from Teddy after the draft, but I had a clear idea of who I wanted on my team, and I didn’t want to risk Josh being taken by one of the other drafters. As Osyp would later point out, National Team members are “more motivated” due to higher EV… But that isn’t why I took Josh. He had hands-down the best deck at US Nationals (even though his collaborators played everything from Pyromancer Ascension to DredgeVine), and Worlds has two Constructed events.

Jamie stole Shuuhei, and Osyp made basically the worst pick of the draft in Ikeda. Nothing against Ikeda — he has 300+ PT points and not-distant PT finals appearance, but he could have gone way later… I guess I am making the same argument against “the other Tsuyoshi” that Teddy made against my Utter-Leyton pick.

Round Three:

  1. Osyp – Antoine Ruel
  2. Jamie – Paul Rietzl
  3. YT – Andre Coimbra
  4. Phil – Michael Jacob
  5. Patrick Guillaume Wafo-Tapa

This round was 80% sentimental picks and 20% “Phil trying to put Patrick on tilt.” Phil was successful. I know I could have gotten Coimbra later in the draft but was afraid that Osyp would try to do to me what Phil did to Patrick this round so I pulled the trigger.

Round Four:

  1. Patrick – Katsuhiro Mori
  2. Phil – Ben Stark
  3. YT – David Williams
  4. Jamie – Conley Woods
  5. Osyp – Yuuya Watanabe

This round was my only real dilemma. I wanted Katsu Mori — one of the most successful players ever at making Top 8 at Worlds and reigning Japanese National Champion — was going to be my Round Four pick. Patrick had the same information I did and made a superb fourth pick there. I decided to go with my planned fifth pick. Osyp rounded out the round with what looked like the best pick of the draft, Watanabe at motherloving on zillionth or whatever.

Final Round:

  1. Patrick – David Ochoa
  2. Phil – Kyle Boggemes
  3. YT – Guillaume Matignon
  4. Jamie – Matt Sperling
  5. Osyp – Christian Calcano

This round didn’t seem particularly strategic to me as an observer or a participant. I mean I was planning to take Dave this round. Osyp said he was so satisfied with his first four picks that he almost took Jonny Magic here out of respect; who would have known his highest finisher would be Calcano?

The players I had left on my list of people I was willing to pick were Guillaume Matignon and Efro; the first three days of play tell us that they are now paired against each other in the Top 8. I was actually pretty surprised that no one took Efro!

I was always going to take Andre and Dave — I knew they would have the best Standard deck — plus who doesn’t root for the home team? Incidentally, how great is the Wave deck? It beats all five of the five most popular decks in Standard, and has a 75/25 edge over Valakut! The Extended deck (which to my knowledge no one played) was even better. [sad face]

Anyway, this is where we stand right now:

Nominally I am tied with Jamie and Patrick for first place, but the only players who can likely win — based on Top 8 — are YT, Patrick, and Phil. Jamie can’t improve; whereas Phil is nominally 9 points out of the lead, but that is deceptive. The Swiss numbers are misleading to begin with. For example My Utter-Leyton and Jamie’s Shuuhei are both “37 points” but IRL Utter-Leyton made Top 16 and Shuuhei finished 18th; Josh will probably be worth more points when PT points are announced.

And #WorldsDraft is ultimately going to be tallied by individual PT Points.

I hope you will all join me in cheering for Lukas Jaklovsky — but more importantly Jonathan Randle — as we go into Day Three. I can’t really cheer against EFro for something as silly as #WorldsDraft, but if PV wins… It’s not just the pall of Phil coming back from his initial lead thanks to having Kibler on his squad (incidentally Phil was the only drafter with two premium players on his squad, and only then because Patrick made two unusual ones to start)… But Brad will lose the PoY title!

Let’s go Jonathan Randle!


PS: Follow the action at #WorldsDraft on Twitter!

PPS: To Osyp – FiveWithFlores.com would love to have your Momir Vig article!