Tuesday, April 15, 2014

June 2014 FNM Card - Dissolve with Picture

June 2014's Friday Night Magic Promo Card is Dissolve.

I think this is a very good choice by Wizards to give as a promo card. The card is very useful for control decks in Standard.

This is the original artwork of Dissolve from Theros.

May 2014 FNM Card - Tormented Hero with Picture

May 2014's Friday Night Magic Promo Card is Tormented Hero.

A closer look of the artwork: 

Now, to compare it with the original artwork of Tormented Hero from Theros.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sukiya Yakitori Don (Grilled Chicken Bowl)

Like Yoshinoya, Sukiya also has a lot of branches in Japan. From the major cities to the provinces, these restaurants are very easy to locate and spot. Sukiya restaurant signage are commonly written in Japanese as すき家 but the color of the logo makes it very easy to identify and remember.

This is the 2nd restaurant that I will feature that is famous in Japan when it comes to Gyudon and Curry. Previously, I posted about Yoshinoya's Gyudon (Beef Bowl). Instead of Beef bowl or Curry, I decided to go for Yakitoridon (焼き鳥) or Grilled Chicken Rice Bowl.

In Sukiya, you can also order food in different servings: namely,  standard-serving (nami, or namimori, 並盛), large-serving (oomori, 大盛), or extra-large-serving (tokumori, 特盛). Usually, tokumori has the same amount of rice as with ooori but it has 2-times as much meat. In Sukiya, unlike Yoshinoya, an even bigger serving can be ordered if you really feel like extra hungry: this is the Mega serving (メーガ) [still pronounced as Mega in Japanese] that has 3-times the meat of oomori. ^_^

Yakitori, famous as a food paired with beer and other alcoholic beverages, is commonly used for barbecue chicken meat, skin, or liver, Sukiya's Yakitoridon is purely made-up of chicken meat (mostly thigh part).

Sukiya's Yakitoridon is served with rice with nori bits (Seaweed), spring onions and sesame seeds on top. I may not even add anything on top of it to make it even greater. It is also served with cold brown tea that you can refill anytime in the shop.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Magic 101 - Knowing Your Deck

In the world today, information is everywhere. In the world of Magic: the Gathering deck building, getting all the information that you need is very easy compared to, say 10 years ago. Information is very accessible now that with just a click, the discussions about a certain deck or the recent top 8 deck lists in major events around the world can be viewed in our computers and phones.

As someone who played the game way back before internet access became very easy, I used to open my booster packs, read every card that I get in the packs, and try to think about a deck for them. The fun part was play testing the decks with my friends. Usually, these experiments don't work out so either I just abandon the idea or keep working on it. And so, I buy more booster packs just to get additional copies of the cards, try to evaluate new cards again, repeat this process until I finish a deck with the strategy that I want. Without knowing, through this process, I usually end up with a deck that I know inside and out. I know how many copies of a certain card in the deck, I know how many creature cards are there, I know the right time when to properly use a card, or I know how many Islands or Mountains are there in my deck. Since I know my deck and I tested it many times while building it, decision making for these decks are easier for me compared to the decks that I only borrowed from a friend.

Know Your Deck

With the growth of Magic: the Gathering since that time and the abundance of information nowadays, many people will have the liberty of skipping the process of experimenting with cards. Don't get me wrong, that is a very good thing. Since I am not alone in this world, there are definitely other people who had the same idea as mine and they may have already gone through the process of testing the cards and may have already shared their ideas online. By accessing these information, we save a lot of time and we can just select the most efficient cards to use via the experiences of other people. One possible problem with this is that we may not know our decks as well as those people who did the experiments. That is why, it is very important to play with your deck multiple times and know how it reacts with different matchups. I am not really into the idea of looking at the recent top decks then just buying the whole decklist and immediately bring it on Friday Night Magic tournaments and expect to top 8 the tournament.

Getting the right cards is different from knowing the cards

Recent top decks are decks that underwent a lot of revisions. The player who won with it has definitely put in a lot of work to modify it many times and surely, it wasn't just an overnight process. For example, Domri Rade is a very good card, and everybody else in the world may say that every optimized red-green deck should have it. But actually winning with Domri Rade and using its abilities correctly takes a lot of time to practice and mastery. The way I decide on how to use Domri's ability may be different compared to a person who has been using it for more than a year, and sometimes, when you ask that person the reason for his/her actions, the person may not even offer an explanation. It's just that he or she KNOWS that it was the best thing to do under that particular situation.

Knowing your deck will greatly help in Mulligans

If we are playing a control deck and we will have an opening hand of : Island, Island, Island, Plains, Plains, Azorius Charm and Supreme Verdict, a player who really knows that his or her deck is control and would be winning in the long game would probably keep this hand. Even with no creatures, this is a keep. Since we know that we don't need creatures early on and we have a Supreme Verdict to protect us against aggro decks, this hand conforms to our goal of winning the game when game goes long. 

Likewise, a Monored player may not keep a hand of : Mountain, Mountain, Mountain, Mountain, Mountain, Shock, and Lightning Strike. Provided that the player built the deck with the goal of winning quickly - by attacking with cheap creatures, this hand will definitely not give the player a big chance of winning the game, does it? So this hand may be an automatic mulligan until, say, we get early creature drops.

Knowing your deck changes game-time decisions

Let's just say that you are piloting a Dimir deck. For the sake of having an example, let's just say that you only have 3 counterspells in your deck (probably Dissolve) and a bunch of removals like Doom Blade, Hero's Downfall and Ultimate Price. When you have a Dissolve in hand and you don't have a removal spell, will you use your counterspell to counter the Polukranos, World Eater of your opponent? I'm not saying that there is a definite answer to this, but by knowing that my deck has a LOT of ways to kill a creature, I may not counter that spell. I think that I will have more chances of drawing a spell that can kill the Polukranos so I'd rather save my counterspell for something that my deck cannot answer. Likewise, if my opponent casts an Assemble the Legion, by knowing that I don't have anything in my main deck to deal with enchantments, I know that I should use the Dissolve to counter this spell.

What I described above are just some of the benefits of knowing your deck. Knowing your deck will give you more chances of winning. And remember to not just cast cards from your hand just because you have the mana to cast them. Try to just give it a simple thought first: if casting this spell is something that you want to do. Knowing how your deck operates and wins is something worth considering.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Playing Monored Devotion

After playtesting with a Gruul Aggro deck for a few weeks, I wanted to drop Green and just go with a monocolor deck to make the manabase more consistent. I still wanted to pressure the opponent and to use burn spells to finish the game up or destroy early game blockers, so I new I need to keep playing red.

MonoRed Devotion

The transition from Gruul to mono red devotion is not that difficult. The playing style is similar and to increase the devotion count, we need to play Chandra's Phoenix and Fanatic of Mogis instead of the Fanatic of Xenagos and Ghor-Clan Rampager as the 3 and 4 mana-drops of the deck. Playing with no dual lands also gives us the liberty to just run 20 lands thus increasing our creature and spell counts.

Chandra's Phoenix

Chandra's Phoenix is just great for this deck. Along with Ash Zealot, Chandra's Phoenix will quickly trigger the Battalion ability of Firefist Striker, thus letting you push early damage when your opponent leaves just 1 blocker. Phoenix also flies through most of the defenders in standard and the ability for recursion and the 2 red mana in the mana cost is an auto-include to any red devotion list.

Fanatic of Mogis

Fanatic of Mogis might be the reason to play Red Devotion. This card comes down with the possibility of finishing your opponent after the early damage dealt by your other creatures in the deck. Even when you drop this creature after your battlefield is wiped out, 4 mana for a potential 4 damage attack while dealing at least 1 damage from devotion is still a good card. Also, your haste creatures will give you the extra damage when your opponent will tap out for the 4th turn Supreme Verdict.

Magma Jet vs Searing Blood

For several weeks, I tried to playtest Searing Blood and I wanted to believe that it will be an auto-include in all red decks. Don't get me wrong, Searing Blood is still a very good card, but in this deck, I found the scry ability of Magma Jet to be more valuable than the possible extra 3 damage of Searing Blood. Scry fixes your draw when you are waiting for the 4th land to be able to cast your Fanatic of Mogis on the next turn. And the possibility to cast Magma Jet via the mana produced by Burning-Tree Emissary is a plus.

MonoRed Devotion by Bryan Inno Wong
20 Mountain

Rakdos Cackler
Firedrinker Satyr
Burning-Tree Emissary
Ash Zealot
Firefist Striker
Archetype of Aggression
Chandra's Phoenix
Fanatic of Mogis
Lightning Strike
Magma Jet

Hammer of Purphoros
Mizzium Mortars
Frostburn Weird
Act of Treason
Peak Eruption

I finished 1st place in our local FNM last week. Although many may question the addition of Archetype of Aggression in the main deck instead of Boros Reckoners, I thought that the card can give us trample against token decks. It also prevents your opponent's creatures from having trample in late games (especially via Nylea or Ghor-clan Rampager). This allows us to survive late game matchups while using burn spells and Chandra's Phoenix to grind out a victory. However, I found myself siding out these 2 Archetype of Aggression in ALL of my games, so I think we can put in 2 Boros Reckoners or 2 more Shocks to take their place in the maindeck. For the sideboard, I like to increase the number of Mizzium Mortars since I am expecting to face more Brimaz, King of Oreskos and Courser of Kruphix in the future. For now, here are my matchups from last week's tournament.


Monored Devotion vs Bant Kiora Control splash Black: (2-0)

Monored Devotion vs Mono Black Devotion: (2-0)

Monored Devotion vs GW Hexproof : (2-1)

That's it for now. Next time, I will post my sideboard decisions and some tips on how to play differently on some matchups. I will try to continue to edit the deck and post updates on how I will be doing in the local tournaments.


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