Entries Tagged 'Podcasts' ↓

Harness by Force is my Favorite Journey into Nyx Card

Harness by Force

If you’ve listened to the Top 8 Magic podcast review of Journey into Nyx, you know I am a fan of Harness by Force.

Oh wait, you haven’t listened to the Top 8 Magic podcast review of Journey into Nyx? And you’re too lazy to actually navigate to ManaDeprived to listen over there (you know, in Canada)?

I suppose I can help you out there:

Nyx or Ixnay: White, Lands, and Artifacts

Nyx or Ixnay: Blue

Nyx or Ixnay: Black and Gold

Nyx or Ixnay: Red

Nyx or Ixnay: Green

Well, there you go! Five podcasts about Journy into Nyx! In the red chapter I talk about why I like Harness by Force.

The simple story is that I’ve always liked cards like Threaten and Act of Treason, which have been tournament staples in almost every format that they’ve been legal. Threaten, for instance, made it to the Top 8 of its debut Pro Tour in the hands of Gabriel Nassif as a three-of main deck (his only non-creature spell).

In G/R decks various Threaten (and the like) have proven great sideboard cards against players trying to stabilize with big creatures. Planning to hold off my little army with your one sizable six drop? Threaten has something to say about that! (and while we’re at it, let’s go to Game Three)

I’m sure at one time or other you’ve handled a Threaten, Act of Treason, Mark of Mutiny… or even one of the four mana versions to successful effect.

Harness by Force is just the “card advantage” version of these cards. “Card advantage” in quotes because it isn’t actually card advantage in all likelihood… But because you can get off two of them with a little extra mana. Two giant defenders holding your team down? Well how about we hold them down; you know, forcefully? I like that this card can be a mana dump. Sometimes a low curve aggro deck draws into six lands and is wondering how it can ever come back to win… But with Harness by Force it at least has something to do with excess Mountains other than to soak up the tears of the flooded.

My predicted status for this card will be sideboard Staple.


Post Script

In between my starting this blog post and publishing it, Kerrydan actually posted yet another podcast! You can go over to ManaDeprived.com to give it a listen (and a like!) or just play it here. Lazybones.

Angelic Accord, Podcast, etc.


Angelic Accord, version 1.0

2 Bubbling Cauldron
1 Elixir of Immortality
3 Trading Post

3 Bogbrew Witch
4 Festering Newt
4 Sign in Blood
3 Tragic Slip
4 Vampire Nighthawk

3 Angelic Accord
2 Fiendslayer Paladin
4 Lingering Souls
2 Terminus

4 Godless Shrine
4 Isolated Chapel
4 Orzhov Guildgate
5 Plains
7 Swamp
1 Vault of the Archangel

3 Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
2 Fiendslayer Paladin
2 Orzhov Charm
1 Tragic Slip
4 Duress
2 Terminus
1 Liliana of the Dark Realms

For anyone wondering about the deck BDM and I were talking about in the most recent podcast the above is it.

I don’t want to spend a huge amount of time talking about the strategies, plans, and angles various on this deck as it ended up being a bit less than super awesome; but as BDM raved in the podcast it is fun to play, [presumably] fun to watch, and capable of some pretty exciting comebacks.

If you brave yourself up to give Angelic Accord a swing, keep these things in mind:

  • Trading Post + Angelic Accord is the basic combo. Once you have both of these in play, it is rare that you will do anything but discard to Trading Post every turn. But be careful! You have to discard before the opponent’s end step if you want to crash with a new 4/4 on your turn.
  • Bubbling Cauldron + Angelic Accord is basically a Batterskull. Almost anything can catalyze the first 4/4 Angel. You can crash on your turn, sacrifice the Angel, gain four, and net a fresh (untapped) Angel to block on your opponent’s turn. Okay, I’ll bite… It is probably a bit better than a Batterskull. Ya got me.
  • Elixir of Immortality allows you to loop your Festering Newts. The limit on the Bogbrew Witch combo is that you can only search up four Festering Newts. But if you can put your Festering Newts back into your deck, you break the normal limit on Bogbrew Witch. I don’t know if you’ve played much Bogbrew Witch in Standard, but the other two halves of the combo win a lot of games for me. Somehow… A real thing.
  • You can activate life gain abilities on both your turn and your opponent’s turn in order to trigger a single Angelic Accord twice per cycle. Truth.

Did I mention there is a new Top8Magic podcast up on ManaDeprived? Well there is! And BDM is back!

If you are somehow too lazy to click one of the several links to ManaDeprived on this page / in this post, I suppose you can listen to the cast here:

(I suppose.)

Hope you <3 it! LOVE MIKE

Five Banners Better Than Kalonian Hydra


Well BDM was off at the World Championships last weekend so I did a fill-in podcast with the incomparable Innovator Patrick Chapin over on ManaDeprived.

The only problem is… For the second consecutive week, we got Kalonian Hydra for our banner! Boo-urns!

On the bright side, KYT and company replaced the Top 8 Magic entrance music with a piece pilfered from the princess of pottymouthed chick rockers, Liz Phair. Yay! As such, here might have been a possible awesome banner:


Okay, maybe that doesn’t scream “Magic: The Gathering” or even [accurately] that Brian David-Marshall is on this podcast.

How about this one, thematic of NLDB and Patrick’s guest appearance?


Yeah, yeah… Not quite as beautiful as the cover design on NLDB… But I tried! (not very hard) Fine. You want to see “didn’t try very hard”?


So… No. Gotcha.

How about the classics then?


Or bringing back to NLDB (stole this image from NLDB in part, in fact), and the whole “me and Patrick talking on the phone” aspect?


Reader / Listener / Beloved Customer:

Hold up, did you just say you did a new podcast, and that it was guest-starring Patrick Chapin?



Reader / Listener / Beloved Customer:

Whatever dude. Carry on. No one cares about Kalonian Hydra re-run banners or intro music. I’ll be over on ManaDeprived listening to Deck Building and Life with Patrick Chapin thank you very much.


Um… Sweet?

Subscribe to the Top8Magic Podcast (usually starring Brian David-Marshall)



Weekend Update



  1. The Moral Victory of 16 Thumbs and 7 Toughness
  2. The Destiny of 4 Kalonian Hydras
  3. The Next Level of The Next Level

So I was gone at the Star City Games Invitational in Somerset, NJ Friday through Sunday, and basically missed a whole bunch of stuff. Some of it is important; other stuff, simply awesome. Hence, this after-the-weekend Weekend Update.

Top8Magic on ManaDeprived Update

First of all, thank all of you cats who went over and liked our first podcast on ManaDeprived, “Save or Delete”.

In case you didn’t know, we posted another podcast last Friday.

Let me ask you a question: DO YOU WANT US TO DO THESE EVERY WEEK?

Is that like asking if the world needs more TAUNTING JON BECKER?

Answer in the comments below but I assume the answer(s) is / are em effin’ yes. If so, I need y’all to click over to ManaDeprived and Like the bejeezus out of this. Our first podcast over there got 10x the usual likes of a ManaDeprived podcast, but “The Moral Victory of 16 Thumbs and 7 Toughness” has to date garnered a pathetic 3 Likes. I don’t know what kind of Up North operation KYT has at ManaDeprived but I assume his servers are made out of maple tree twigs and run on a hydraulic system of syrup and snow. Go click over to ManaDeprived and break that thing! Come on BDM fans! Let’s go!

And / or…

Listen here:

Download and listen later…

But most definite, DEFINITELY, subscribe on iTunes:

Kalonian Hydra Update

In case you were wondering what happened to those four Kalonian Hydras I picked up [but did not play] for the Invitational, they found a fine home in the Zvi Mowshowitz-designed G/W Elves deck piloted by our good friend William “Baby Huey” Jensen:

William Jensen with YT’s four Hydras!

G/W Elves

4 Garruk, Caller of Beasts
4 Kalonian Hydra
4 Elvish Mystic
2 Loxodon Smiter
4 Wolfir Silverheart
4 Craterhoof Behemoth
4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
4 Gavony Township
4 Arbor Elf
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Elvish Archdruid
4 Elvish Visionary
4 Temple Garden
10 Forest

4 Strangleroot Geist
2 Ranger’s Guile
3 Garruk Relentless
3 Tree of Redemption
3 Acidic Slime

Huey Made Top 8 of last week’s Standard Open with U/R/W Control but did poorly in the Invitational. He switched it up to the G/W deck for the Somerset Standard Open and crushed his way all the way to second place. I have thought about playing against this deck with a variety of strategies and I think it is both counterintuitive and tough from the control side. At first glance this is the classic deck you crush with Ratchet Bombs and Supreme Verdicts but I don’t think it is ultimately that cut-and-dried. You can’t screw up. You can’t give them operating mana for too long. You certainly can’t let them level up repeatedly with Garruk, Caller of Beasts. I played a Quicken + Planar Cleansing deck in the Invitational and Open specifically to crush Jund decks that had been accumulating Planeswalker-based battlefield advantages but I don’t think that works against Garruk-six. The last thing you want to do is to tap for Planar Cleansing, clearing their board… But leaving them with seven cards in hand (most of which are sweet threats).

I actually think that you want both lots of sweep but need Need NEED permission to fight Garruk, Caller of Beasts here. I would consider siding in Negate just to fight that six. The creatures are not particularly resilient exclusive of dealing massive damage in one big attack. You really need to keep them off their combination of acceleration and card advantage or you are going to eat a Craterhoof, I fear.

Anyway, great weekend for Huey, who made back-to-back Standard and Legacy Open Top 8s.


Are you living under a rock or something?

Biggest of the big that happened this past weekend was the release of Patrick Chapin’s new book NEXT LEVEL DECKBUILDING on Star City Games. Patrick is one of my best friends and as a writer, an inspiration. He was one of the driving forces that got me off my butt to do THE OFFICIAL MISER’S GUIDE and I wish him all the luck with NEXT LEVEL DECKBUILDING.

NEXT LEVEL DECKBUILDING is huge — some 472 pages — but I haven’t been able to put it down all day. It’s beautifully laid out by the ebook elves at Star City Games; the content is one-of-a-kind and often quite hilarious (more on that later in the week). I haven’t read it all yet but I am absolutely loving much of what I have so far. Don’t go out and immediately buy NEXT LEVEL DECKBUILDING before you buy THE OFFICIAL MISER’S GUIDE or anything silly like that; but if you are in the market for awesome Magic books… This one is pretty awesome. I’m going to be recommending this for years I think. Again, more deets later.

Okay friends!

Lots of stuff to do!

Action Items!



New Top8Magic Podcast on ManaDeprived.com!

Click the above to jump to the podcast on ManaDeprived.com

Top 8 Magic #340 – Save or Delete


New Top8Magic Podcast!

In case you missed it, a long-awaited podcast with YT, Brian David-Marshall, and Steve Sadin is now up at MTGCast:

Top 8 Magic #329 – The 13 Lucky Charms of Fichael Mlores, Reality Bender

It took a couple of weeks to get up and onto the Internet due to some (admittedly understandable) stumbling blocks on the MTGCast side, so some of the discussion is a little dated [like whether Craterhoof Behemoth is good in Standard or not — LOL]. But… hopefully Top8Magic fans will love it anyway. On deck is our Thanksgiving podcast that is, like, only one week old 😉


Show notes I wrote /+ pilfered from MTGCast:

  1. A bunch of excuses as to why Mike and Brian started podcasting Podcasting in September… and then, you know, stopped.
  2. Brian is a big traitor that goes and hangs out on Limited Resources.
  3. Name dropping Brandon Sanderson (Mike — aka Fichael Mlores, Reality Bender — is the Brandon Sanderson superfan)
  4. Lots of stuff about Standard (“lots of” being “relative”)
  5. STAFF OF NIN! -Mike // Abrupt Decay? (“It probably isn’t good enough,” -Brian)
  6. Brian talks about baseball. Mike doesn’t know anything about baseball.
  7. Whew! Basketball! (“He doesn’t coach defense… AND he doesn’t coach offense!” -Sadin [Sadin appears])
  8. Talk about Magic some more (“… Guess you can play whatever you want” -Mike)
  9. Apparently Lingering Souls is bad in every format (Reid Duke is the nicest man in Magic)
  10. Mike, Brian, and Steve talk about some podcast they never put up where Steve turned out to be right about a bunch of stuff but you will never know for sure. Brian blames Will (not pictured) for saying “something unseemly”.
  11. What it’s REALLY like to do coverage. (gray hamburgers, “Brains! Brains!”)
  12. Shout out to Douglas Scheinberg (not actually in the podcast).
  13. Surprisingly, lots and lots of discussion about Legacy combo decks! (“lots and lots of” again being relative)


Stuff that you probably already know but is awesome to mention anyway:

Mike – @fivewithflores
Brian – @Top8Games
Steve – @SteveSadin

Stuff Brian and especially Mike really really want you to buy (also awesome):

Go listen!

More this week!



Desperate Ravings #2 – The Pickup Artist of 1896

Once upon a time I held the respect of Isabella Jane Hill Flores.

She had, at an early age, decided she was going to be Girl Iron-Man and has, admirably I think, done a good job of focusing on math and science and disciplined thinking and strategy… at least for an eight-year-old.

… Once upon a time…

Today if you ask her which parent she thinks is smarter, me (the primary breadwinner) or her mommy (the infectious, more accessible @BastardStory) she will laugh at you.

“Mommy has a Masters Degree in Physics,” Bella will declare, and with contempt. “Daddy studied poems. Poems!”

You see, I had a strategy backfire a couple of years ago. Mommy was always there, kind, and focused primarily on taking care of the kids. They loved — and of course still love — her, but I didn’t feel they were showing her sufficient awe (Katherine really is one of the most impressive persons I know). So I informed my Girl Iron-Man-to-be which of us had the full-ride advanced degree in Physics (though she went into publishing and later conventional advertising pre-full-time mommy); and which of us studied poems. Poems!

I got it half-right. At least she now respects mommy.

So on the subject of poems, longtime readers know that in the years before FiveWithFlores, my online handle was madmanpoet. Paul Jordan (and I would guess relatively few others) have figured out that I stole that from the wonderful Dar Williams song Are You Out There.

But anyway, at the age of 18, freshly off my first national publication (in a poetry journal) I decided I was going to devote my college years to British poetry (Americans, in my 18-year-old estimation, couldn’t write). One of the poets I most liked was A.E. Housman; today’s assignment was a piece I fell in love with in the spring of 1994:

Today’s Assignment – The Pickup Artist of 1896

OH see how thick the goldcup flowers
  Are lying in field and lane,
With dandelions to tell the hours
  That never are told again.
Oh may I squire you round the meads        
  And pick you posies gay?
—’Twill do no harm to take my arm.
  ’You may, young man, you may.’
Ah, spring was sent for lass and lad,
  ’Tis now the blood runs gold,        
And man and maid had best be glad
  Before the world is old.
What flowers to-day may flower to-morrow,
  But never as good as new.
—Suppose I wound my arm right round—        
  ‘’Tis true, young man, ’tis true.’
Some lads there are, ’tis shame to say,
  That only court to thieve,
And once they bear the bloom away
  ’Tis little enough they leave.        
Then keep your heart for men like me
  And safe from trustless chaps.
My love is true and all for you.
  ‘Perhaps, young man, perhaps.’
Oh, look in my eyes then, can you doubt?        
  —Why, ’tis a mile from town.
How green the grass is all about!
  We might as well sit down.
—Ah, life, what is it but a flower?
  Why must true lovers sigh?        
Be kind, have pity, my own, my pretty,—
  ‘Good-bye, young man, good-bye.’

-from A Shropshire Lad by A.E. Housman

Please make sure to pay attention to your spacing and punctuation in this one; it’s both tricky and rewarding.

Here is a short, two-minute, recording of YT & Bella that illustrates just why:

Same deal as yesterday!

1) Copy today’s assignment, by hand, and in triplicate.
2) Upload to on.fb.me/DesperateRavings
3) Like this post!
4) Become eligible for fabulous prizes!

On the subject of “fabulous prizes” here are yesterday’s winners —

The winner of a $10 gift certificate from GatheringMagic: Sonja Boschman

The winner of a $10 gift certificate from LegitMTG: David Weitz

The winner of a $10 gift certificate from ManaDeprived: Shaun Louis Korb

The Story So Far…
In order to qualify for those prizes, Sonja, David, and Shaun wrote out a short segment from Gwen Stefani’s Early Winter and uploaded their work to the Desperate Ravings HOMEWORK page:


Why do you act so stupid?


You know that I’m always right.

(in case you were wondering my homework for today has been up there for hours!)

The Gwen segment perfectly encapsulates how I feel about the comments from some — especially combative — commenters and forum denizens. It is important if you are going to write down your thoughts and present them to large groups of people — and certainly if you expect to be paid for them — that you can develop some sense of confidence (that your words are worthy of publication, and to be appreciated by others), and a bit of a thick skin (haters gonna hate).

I love a lot about Gwen, but really, really, thank her for the above fourteen words.

Secondly, one of the classic openings in the Magic writing game is the asking of a question. To wit:

I wanted to prime the Desperate Ravings pump with a super simple one, and one of the best — and reminiscent of likely the absolute most influential and important articles — despite its being an easy and simple one to start us off right… Even if the question itself (“why…”) wasn’t a particularly useful one.

If you think you’re late to the game — that’s okay! You might have missed the first day’s $10 gift certificates, but you have until June 13 to complete all seven Desperate Ravings assignments in order to qualify for one of the big prizes.

The Desperate Ravings Calendar:

  • June 4, 2012 – Desperate Ravings assignment #1, $30 in gift certificates went to Sonja, David, and Shaun!
  • June 5, 2012 – (today) Desperate Ravings assignment #2, $30 in gift certificates to Like-ers and contest participants
  • June 6, 2012 – Desperate Ravings assignment #3, $30 in gift certificates to Like-ers and contest participants
  • June 7, 2012 – Desperate Ravings assignment #4, $30 in gift certificates to Like-ers and contest participants
  • June 8, 2012 – Desperate Ravings assignment #5, $30 in gift certificates to Like-ers and contest participants
  • June 9, 2012 – Desperate Ravings assignment #6
  • June 10, 2012 – Last Desperate Ravings assignment, #7
  • June 12, 2012 – Everything is due! Shortly thereafter we will finalize an additional $150 prizes, a personalized coaching call, and the possibility of Desperate Ravings – Flashback.

I hope you guys are having fun.


Desperate Ravings Facebook Page
Desperate Ravings Homework Page
All Desperate Ravings Posts on FiveWithFlores

Please remember to visit the Desperate Ravings Sponsors:

Why I Don’t Like Avacyn, Angel of Hope

No, I don’t like Avacyn, Angel of Hope. More on this later.

Yesterday was an absolutely epic day here in Five With Flores land.

243 Facebook Likes? Are you m-f’ing kidding me?

We crushed any and all all-time records with well over 10,000 visits. And why?

No effin’ clue.

I literally saw Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded circa 6am when my toddling monsters awoke me from my Thursday evening slumber, and decided to comment based on — if you read yesterday’s blog post — what I saw as some unnecessarily reductive forum posts.

Was I a little too harsh?


But it’s not like this is the New York Times or something; if one can’t be self-indulgent on one’s own blog, where can one?

Over 300,000 people have visited Five With Flores over the past four years or so, but we have never welcomed 10,000 of them in a single day before, not even when being linked to by ye olde Mother Ship. Was the universe just trolling me on account of it being Friday the 13th?

Don’t care.

Thank you any and all for validating me, per usual.

At this point, I would like to thank my Twitter friend Scott MacCallum, better known as @MrScottyMac. A short time ago I appeared on — to be frank — a surprisingly unpopular episode of Scott’s podcast The Eh Team.

I am a “what’s great about this problem?” kind of person, and took something really compelling out of that appearance, which is that all The Eh Team guys talked about loving this blog, and lamented that I had let updating it slip since, you know, December of last year… Scott in particular.

So if Scott (and KYT, Medina, and Jay) didn’t give me a little push, I might not have ever had a day like yesterday.

Quid Pro Quo, Scott recently did an interview at Medina’s site LegitMTG (“what is LegitMTG?”) that he asked me to look at. I actually enjoyed this interview. I think you should visit LegitMTG and read it.

Summon Legend: Scott MacCallum

Things I really liked:

  • Scott taught his son to read via Magic: The Gathering cards (he saw how much fun they were having and wanted to join in)
  • Actually the whole thing was heartfelt; I learned lots of stuff about Scott I didn’t know, despite chatting with him regularly and listening to quite a few episodes of his cast for the past handful of years… Well worth the read.

Things that could have been better:

  • Not enough michaelj. Sure, Scott says that I was a podcast inspiration and that being able to chat with me on Twitter was cool… But most of you on Twitter know that I will chat with most anyone there! Examples for improvement: 1) naming me as the hero of his story (over the ridiculous choice of Brian Kibler), 2) drafting me for his “surviving the Zombie Apocalypse” team, or 3) at least mentioning Top 8 Magic in his favorite podcasts!

    … But hey, we all have room for improvement 🙂

On the subject of fellow Twitter folk / podcasters / personalities elsewhere, Chris Lansdell of Horde of Notions recently did a nice write-up of deck design principles he learned from me (and some other guys but I don’t remember who any of them are).

One thing I find to be super ingenious and super useful is anything that is both blatantly obvious and true being said in plain language. I absolutely love stuff that has some people saying “well, duh…” You know why? Because even if something is obvious to you, that doesn’t mean that it is obvious to everyone, and especially in a game as fast-growing as Magic, we have new players who are eager to learn joining our ranks every day.

This is what I am talking about in Chris’s post:

“It’s a fundamental truth that the power of your spells increases with the mana cost, at least when it comes to tournament-quality cards.”

I was talking about a very similar concept in the most recent Top 8 Magic podcast *, specifically why I don’t like Avacyn, Angel of Hope.

Most of my compatriots were talking about how she has a lot of board presence. Yeah. Congratulations. She costs eight. If I am spending eight, I don’t want an “indestructible” creature that dies to Tragic Slip. My God, Vapor Snag is probably the most common creature control card being played in Magic: The Gathering right now.

“Well you probably aren’t paying full retail for it.”

Well if I am reanimating… Or I am paying eight, and I am allowed to play Avacyn Restored cards, why do I have dumb Avacyn, Angel of Hope in my deck rather than Griselbrand?

“Pick me! Pick me!” -Griselbrand

Even the most Spreading Santorum-leaning conservative player can, you know, gain seven to pad HIS life total a bit before paying the seven to, you know, completely take over the game.

“One of these things is not like the others.”
-Aaron Forsythe
(when the DailyMTG fans were voting on Crucible of Worlds versus other, less card advantageous, options)

Anyway, Chris’s plainly spoken statement pretty much echoed what I was thinking about last week, and as you know, that gives you like +1 points in my book.

Check out Chris’s blog post and see where you can agree, disagree, or just pick out michaelj name-drops (also an admirable way to spend a Saturday evening).

Last “everywhere” in this roundup: AJ Sacher put up a blog post on EV and how to deal with girls, possibly “for whom you care deeply” (AJ’s terminology).

A Tale of Expected Value

I would recommend clicking the above and checking out AJ’s story before reading this next bit.

I have been in similar spots, especially early on in my dating / married life to / with Katherine. One thing that women I dated found odd about me — and I don’t know if this is the same with you or what — but they often didn’t understand the adversarial / competitive relationships I had with some of my best friends. Think about how you deal with some of your best buds… Many of mine are duels of oneupsmanship, or running beats, shenanigans, or dirty tricks on each other. Who’s the barn? Who’s the hull? Different question: Who’s winning? How do we keep score?

In AJ’s spot I hope I would have recognized the communication disconnect and just acceded to her. It is just simpler to let her thank the other guy than inadvertently step on feelings. If there is one thing marriage has taught me, it is that avoiding conflict is generally more desirable than “being right” (or perceived as right).

Anyway, summary of everywheres:

* Oh, and one more thing… New Top 8 Magic Podcast is up at MTGCast!

Part 1 :: Part 2

Thanks for reading, etc.