Entries Tagged 'Conflux' ↓

Conflux – Knight of the Reliquary

A quick review on Conflux rare, Knight of the Reliquary.

Aesthetics:

My friend Luis Neiman (aka Luis Not Vargas) asked me last week what I thought of this card, but I hadn’t seen it yet. He described it as a 2/2 for three mana (which it is); to which I said, unexciting. Then he explained how Knight of the Reliquary is basically a progressive Tarmogoyf (or Countryside Crusher) while fixing mana, thinning out lands, or even drawing extra cards!

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. You can only sacrifice a Forest or Plains, but you can get any kind of land you want. So for instance in Extended you can get a Flagstones of Trokair and then another Flagstones of Trokair and they can kill one another, netting you both more lands, and more lands in the graveyard.
  2. You can tutor up specialty lands, such as Academy Ruins, Ghost Quarters, Riptide Laboratories, or even Urza’s parts (though I have doubts about those in any deck that would be willing to play a 2/2 like this one)
  3. Knight of the Reliquary hasn’t got vigilance; so if you want to play searcher, you are either playing defense or simply forgoing your Red Zone rights. It’s not just a free giant monster on the cheap; on the other hand…
  4. In a format like Extended, you might have a gaggle of lands in the graveyard anyway, charging up Knight of the Reliquary from the get-go.

Where do I see this fitting in?

This card can go in a couple of places. First of all, it can be incorporated into any creature deck that can play it. It’s just a good card. Worst case scenario, it should be a serviceable Gnarled Mass, that is, an automatic PTQ winner :)

Secondly, Knight of the Reliquary can go into a specific creature deck with a bunch of Forests and Plains and specialty lands, serving much the same function as “any creature deck” but with a more specialized function. It can beat. It can be good. But it can also perform surgery. It can be Dwarven Blastminer, grabbing Ghost Quarters to kill the opponent’s special lands. It can be a slow and inexorable Demonfire, finding Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree, eventually killing the control opponent… but it might take a while. It can even be a kind of Platinum Angel, finding Prahv, Spires of Order to force the opponent to commit more and more resources to the board even as it grows out of easy control.

Then there are the “Karoo” interactions, where Knight of the Reliquary is a kind of Benalish Heralds.

And of course the process of putting lands into the graveyard can give it a synergy with Life from the Loam or Crucible of Worlds (in this case you can call it a Terravore in a pinch).

Finally — that is “finally” in the context of things that I have thought of off the top of my head — Knight of the Reliquary can be a specific puzzle piece that finishes a deck strategy. Maybe it fills the role of a flexible Reap and Sow in a deck that needs to stick two or three different kinds of lands together like Legos.

Snap Judgment Rating: Role Player (high) to Staple (low-medium)

LOVE
MIKE

All Conflux

P.S. While you’re here, in case you haven’t read the previous post The Hidden Value of MTGO Ringers, check it out. The comments section is one of the most awesomest ones in the short history of this site, and includes an opening line by GerryT that is the equal of any strategy article that has been written this year. Do yourself a favor and check it out :)

Conflux – Martial Coup

A quick review on Conflux rare, Martial Coup.

Aesthetics:

So this is obviously my favorite card in the set.

I mean… It’s almost like a Decree of Justice stapled onto an Akroma’s Vengeance! It’s like my dream card!

(Sad as that is to say).

Martial Coup is even super expensive, like cycling a Decree for a million guys, or, um, playing Akroma’s Vengeance. Incidentally how much does it suck that Akroma’s Vengeance is going to rotate in Extended after this year? Man! 

Okay, back to Martial Coup…

Basically…

  • At two mana it’s nothing.
  • At three mana it’s sub-Squire.
  • At four mana it’s barely playable in Limited.
  • At five mana it would be pretty good in Limited, if the creatures had flying.
  • At six mana it’s sadly Pro Tour Top 8 caliber… Yes, in Constructed*
  • At seven mana… OH MY GOD HAVE YOU READ THIS CARD?

Okay, so the question is, what kinds of decks can make the seven mana required to kick butt with Martial Coup?

Where do I see this fitting in?

In Standard, the obvious answer is Reflecting Pool Control. That deck already plays sevens like Cruel Ultimatum. This isn’t as powerful as Cruel Ultimatum (even at seven) but it is so much easier to play. I was thinking of a U/r/W version (only three colors) for Pro Tour Kyoto and this might be a good option.

Over on Twitter** zeichen95 / Mark Ian suggested playing it as a one-of in Kithkin. That’s a pretty interesting idea, and a nice way to break open the mirror, especially for a beatdown deck that plays a million lands.

In Extended BDM thinks this is a card that can put U/W UrzaTron back into the mix. It is certainly quite powerful if you are playing it for seven or more, and ‘Tron is the kind of deck that can make seven or more.

The reservations I have about this card — and again I am very excited by it — are based on the fact that it does nothing until you hit a gigantic mana count (I cycle my Akroma’s Vengeances at least one third of the time by the way). That probably keeps Martial Coup out of four-of candidacy in most strategies that might be willing to play it.

Snap Judgment Rating: Role Player

LOVE
MIKE

* Bonus points if you know what I am talking about.
** To follow me on Twitter: Twitter.com/fivewithflores

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Conflux – Banefire

A quick review on Conflux rare, Banefire.

Aesthetics:

The comparison to Demonfire are pretty obvious, so that’s what I’ll talk about first.

You guys probably know that I was a gigantic Demonfire fan. I played it in G/R Snow, This Girl, and other decks, usually as the killer. One of the most memorable games I had at the 2006 New York State Championships was over Christian Culcano; I swung with my Firemane Angel knowing that he could not resist — really had no recourse from — playing his gigantic Snow seven mid-combat (thanks to Teferi). I had Culcano’s mana tapped and I played ye olde Compulsive Research into a Hellbent Demonfire. We agreed whoever won that deciding third game was going to win the next two (and I upheld).

Thing is… I didn’t have nearly the mana I would have needed to go uncounterable with Banefire.

So the question is… What is easier, Hellbent or X = 5?

Actually… That’s not a question at all. It doesn’t matter. We don’t have the option for Hellbent and we are therefore stuck with this one… Which is fine! This is a very good card and I am going to enjoy — in the words of Jonathan Becker — “being able to win matches again.”

For some of the decks that were the most notorious Demonfire decks, such as B/R, X = 5 would not have necessarily been easy to hit (while Hellbent was pretty easy). On balance, the controlling decks that also liked Demonfire, viz. U/R/W control, will much prefer the X = 5 version. Like playing one of these might be good in Reflecting Pool Control even.

Where do I see this fitting in?

Frankly all different kinds of decks. G/R Ramp decks will be able to go big with this, Reflecting Pool control can play it as an alternate finisher, maybe even combo decks. For example can an Extended deck just produce 21 mana and kill you with this? Is that easier or harder than Storm combo? Blaze was a defining combo kill card a few years back; Banefire is just so obviously better… Do I really need to finish this sentence?

In a sense I am happy I didn’t get this as an official Top Decks preview card. To me it’s just obviously good and workable in lots of places and I don’t know what to say so much as look forward to actually playing with Banefire.

Snap Judgment Rating: Clear and present Staple.

Thanks for reading!

LOVE
MIKE

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Conflux – Maelstrom Angel

A quick review on Conflux mythic rare, Maelstrom Angel.

Aesthetics:

Ah… Now I get it!

Previously cards like Conflux (review forthcoming) and Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker seemed very out of whack. Like I guess they can print largely impractical if aesthetically flavorful and eye-widening cards like these… But the main villain? Do you really name the set after a Constructed Unplayable?

With Maelstrom Angel, the formerly impossible becomes free!

I actually thought about this a bit today after seeing this card… Will Magic de-volve to just who can hit the other guy with a Maelstrom Angel? It seems like you can make a deck to be able to cast Maelstrom Angel and pack it with all kinds of impossible jones and hope for the best.

Can you imagine accelerating this one out then getting in there to the tune of a turn five Cruel Ultimatum? Conflux is pretty exciting, too.

Hit you with Maelstrom Angel

Play Conflux.

Hmmm… Go get Firespout, Cruel Ultimatum, Thoughtseize, Cryptic Command… and… um, Beacon of Immortality.

5/5 flying — in Black — seems like a nice recipe for something that is not going to die [easily]. The card is big and Terror-proof to start.

Where do I see this fitting in?

Wherever there are domains in play that have not done anything yet or horribly overpriced cards waiting for a mercy cast, she is there.

Snap Judgment Rating: Ever the Flagship! Even if the ship ain’t that good in the end, it wouldn’t have existed at all maybe…

LOVE
MIKE

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Conflux – Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker

A quick review on Conflux mythic rare, Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker.

Aesthetics:

Well that’s big.

I don’t know what to say other than you can really feel the majestic power of this Dragon-Planeswalker with how they’ve laid out the card. Looks great. Certainly scarier than the librarian-Dragon from the old Nicol Bolas card.

The mana is interesting. Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker is actually a slightly easier cast than Nicol Bolas version 1.0 (exchanging a U and R for 2 generic mana).

All right. All right already!

Is it any good?

In play Nicol Bolas is pretty daunting. Activating its “plus” ability puts Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker to eight loyalty, which is very hard to crack.The “minus” ability is just Control Magic. Only it’s better than Control Magic because you can’t Disenchant it. Yes, Nicol Bolas keeps his minions forever… It’s not just a Threaten. Yes, that’s pretty ridiculous. As for the “ultimate” ability, I think that you would have difficulty losing if you activated it.Interestingly, Bolas is designed to live through using the ultimate ability (5+3+3-9=2)… In fact, Nicol Bolas has one more Control Magic left in the barrel (if necessary).

So is it good?

Well that’s the thing… Not conventionally.

A Cruel Ultimatum in the same colors is cheaper and has more immediate effect on the game.

As for Planeswalkers, both Ajani Vengeant and Elspeth, Knight-Errant have similarly effective action… and they can get going much more consistently due to being half the mana cost (Ajani is only Icy Manipulator to Nicol Bolas’s Vindicate, and “only” Lightning Helix to Control Magic, but Ajani’s ultimate ability is just as automatically game-winning and nearly as destructive).

But the fact of the matter is that Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker is probably going to be one of the chase [mythic] rares of the set, and is undoubtedly powerful in play… Plus I recall being told something recently. All the Planeswalkers are meant to be good. So maybe there is a way to “cheat” Nicol Bolas into play that we haven’t seen yet. I mean, if you don’t consider the mana cost, he’s pretty insane.

Where can I see this fitting in?

I don’t think Reflecting Pool Control would necessarily play Nicol Bolas; they have a nice Grixis finisher in Cruel Ultimatum already, and you can only play so many seven or eight mana spells. However I think Planeswalkers might find a one-of spot for this guy. They have a lot of mana (some builds) and others are optimized to make Planeswalkers look good with, say, Rings of Brighthearth.

But unless there is a cheatyface way of breaking Bolas… He’s not even a role player in non-kitchen table Magic.

Snap Judgment Rating: Role Player (low)… but expensive!

LOVE
MIKE

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Conflux – Esperzoa

A quick review on Conflux uncommon, Espezoa.

Aesthetics:

I actually had to read this one a couple of times because I got confused. There are only three other Jellyfish in all the annals of Gatherer, and one of them is one of my all-time favorite creatures (Man-o’-War), which also returns creatures to hand and also costs 2U.

Well, I guess Esperzoa doesn’t necessarily return creatures to hand so much as artifacts (but I bet they will be creatures relatively often).

I thought for a bit that this returned artifacts from your graveyard to hand, so I had to look at the mana cost again. Then I figured out it is kind of like Blue (or Esper) Stampeding Wildebeests.
For one less mana, apparently.

There are a couple of different existing models that can rub up against Esperzoa that we know are effective in Constructed or as sideboard strategies:

  1. Stampeding Wildebeests – Back in the dizzle, Stampeding Wildebeests returned such hits as Wall of Blossoms and Uktabi Orangutan to generate recurring card advantage while crashing through the Red Zone with a big 5/4. Esperzoa can return creatures like Sanctum Gargoyle or Sharuum the Hegemon for similar advantage. But it doesn’t just return artifact creatures. Perhaps we will see it resetting limited-use artifacts like Serrated Arrows.
  2. Imaginary Pet – My old Team Discovery Channel teammate and Morphling innovator Patrick Johnson aka PatrickJ used to say “Imaginary Pet has the rules text ‘Destroy target opponent. During your upkeep, pay U1.’” Esperzoa seems like a pretty decent stop sign in Blue for three mana. It is a little smaller than Imaginary Pet around the back (making it weaker against Red or potentially Black), but the flying can be really annoying for some attackers. Will we play this card exclusively for Imaginary Pet-style defense in any decks? Almost certainly not. But the flexibility of being able to scare off some Bears — in Limited or certain situations in Constructed (kind of like a poor man’s Plumeveil) — are not out of the realm of imagination. Then you have some potentially profitable artifacts next to it and you get a whole new way of looking at things!

Where can I see this fitting in?

Pretty sure I just said.

Snap Judgment Rating: Role Player

LOVE
MIKE

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Conflux – Nyxathid

A quick review on Conflux rare, Nyxathid.

This card is excellent.

I’ve only just seen it so I haven’t gotten a chance to chat about it with my Top 8 Magic compatriot BDM, but I’m sure he thinks it’s excellent, too. A few years ago he and I collaborated on a deck called Black Thumb. The concept of Black Thumb was parallel to Miracle Grow, only instead of growing your Quirion Dryad by playing card drawing and Counterspell, we grew our Dryads by manipulating our decks, destroying creatures, and tearing up the opponent’s hand.

The downside to the Black Thumb deck was that sometimes you would draw a middle turns Quirion Dryad and it would be this pointless 1/1 Green creature.

Or you would have to play a Green spell viz. Naturalize and it would not grow.

Nyxathid is very interesting as a “Quirion Dryad” given the Black Thumb model.

You are basically given a bonus of +1/+1 (upper limit of 7/7) for beating up the opponent’s hand. It doesn’t matter if you put a card in the graveyard with Raven’s Crime, on top of the opponent’s deck with Agonizing Memories, or just pretend to take it away temporarily (you know he’s getting it back) with Tidehollow Sculler… As long as his hand is nil, you have a gigantic 7/7. Draw step or so… still Dragon-sized.

If you play this card very early on turn two or three, it is a small 1/1 or 2/2. The opponent can [try to] sandbag the grip and manage the size on this guy, but that will sometimes be pointless (you go and get ‘em anyway) or embarrassing.

Shock that.

“Okay.”

It’s dead.

“Actually, it’s not. You have one less card in hand now.”

If I just go ahead and concede, you’re not going to tell everyone I just did that, are you?

“Okay.”

Okay then, concede.

You’re still going to tell everyone, aren’t you?

“Obv.”

Well, I probably deserved it.

Aesthetics:

I’m going to go ahead and skip this section on account of I already wrote an imaginary dialogue, which is about as “aesthetic” as it gets with five minutes to go before the Cavs game.

Where can I see this fitting in?

Frankly, lots of places. This is a superb card. It is just a good creature in a Black deck that destroys the opponent’s hand, or could probably be a good sideboard card against Red Decks for mopping up attrition fights (he spends his last Shock, you go ahead and deploy your Verdant um… Thorn… oh, it’s actually an Elemental).

IT’S ACTUALLY AN ELEMENTAL?!?

That is a whole other bag of bananas, now isn’t it?

Smokebraider, Mournwhelk, this cat (err… Elemental)…

Like I said: lots of places.

Snap Judgment Rating: Staple (low) / Role Player or sideboard Role Player (high)

LOVE
MIKE

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Conflux – Hellkite Hatchling

I just realized I can skip typing all these card jones by just pasting an image of the card (anyone who has already read the Dragonsoul Knight post can go back… It is now adorned with an image of the aforementioned Dragonsoul Knight).

Okay… Hellkite Hatchling.

Aesthetics:

This card is pretty in-line with little baby Dragon cards of times past in terms of size versus mana cost.

Some of those cards have been pretty good in the past, mind you (Dragon Whelp in Dave Price’s “Dallas 1996″-era PTQ deck, Furnace Whelp in Pat Sullivan’s Nationals deck, overcoming the Vedalken Shackles with a fist full of Seething Songs).

So what about the new kid?

This one is interesting in that it has a pretty decent upside. If you only Devour one little guy you have a 3/3 evasive creature for four mana, which is more-or-less Constructed Unplayable (Phantom Monster, et al); but if you Devour two or more little guys, you have a 4/4-ish (or bigger) Hatchling, and that’s not complete garbage.

However with no delicious Black, Green, or Red weenies meal, the card is horrendous: a 2/2 for four mana; that is, sub-Scathe Zombies in terms of efficiency.

Where can I see this fitting in?

I decided to make up a brand new label for card reviews: Puzzle Piece.

That is, this card is pretty narrow. It is probably best played (if played at all) as a compliment to a specific strategy. Like it’s not that bad if you play a Sprouting Thrinax on turn two, get in for three, then plop this guy on top of the aforementioned Thrinax, keep three powers from that fellow and upgrade to a 3/3 flying + trample Dragon.

Not bad!

Not the best, probably, but there is some synergy there.

Outside of a scenario like I just described, Hellkite Hatchling is kind of a janky creature enchantment, right? It’s a developmentally disabled Blanchwood Armor that requires a potentially heftier down payment than usual… Not horrible in the right situation (say sideboard in Green-on-Green when you basically want to get in and can hold the floor reasonably well); but probably not the best given what is being asked of you.

Just some ideas… I think the Team Token one is better than the second.

Snap Judgment Rating: Puzzle Piece / Role Player

LOVE
MIKE

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Conflux – Dragonsoul Knight

So I’m going to mix it up for the next two weeks or thereabouts and attempt to review as many of the new Conflux cards that I can.

Up first is Dragonsoul Knight.

Dragonsoul Knight
2R
Creature – Human Knight
Uncommon
First Strike
WUBRG: Until end of turn, Dragonsoul Knight becomes a Dragon, gets +5/+3, and gains flying and trample.
2/2

Aesthetics:
I like the +5/+3-ness of the boost. Very “Red” … That is, more up front than in the back. Last week I read something along the lines of “You can’t mention the Gutenberg Bible without thinking of Steve.” Well in Magic, it is difficult to see a five next to a three and not think of Juggernaut. … Which wasn’t even Red, but it fits.

The aesthetics are pretty much everything this card has going for it, in Constructed at least.

In draft it is likely to be a half-step worse than a Kitsune Blademaster (which was still pretty good), and only pretty rarely going 7/5.

In Constructed decks that can actually activate this ability probably have something better to do with their mana than make a Grey Ogre-ish battler… well… at any point.

Where can I see this fitting in?

Honestly, at present… Not a heck of a lot of places. The only thing I can think of off the top of my head (though I’m sure if you have an idea you will gladly state it in the comments below!) is as a sideboard card in one of those aforementioned decks that can actually make WUBRG. Like maybe those decks are kold to an Island (they just sit and wait to Counterspell whatever saucy Reaper King-sort of mojo the WUBRG deck was setting up to make) and they want to sneak out something kind of inoffensive — perhaps under the Counterspell wall — with the long term plan of going large when they are able.

Snap Judgment Rating: Constructed Unplayable

More to come!

(seriously)

LOVE
MIKE

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