Dracus Ashenvale, The Night of Fire

Dracus Ashenvale lived his life day to day, like most commoners did. An adult now, he had done his best to keep his family safe and happy. His father was called into service as a soldier and had long ago left, but never returned. The small shop the family ran made some profits, allowing a modest living. His aging mother and younger sister would spend their days mixing vials of different tonics for the travelers and merchants that would pass through their small town. He never had the skill, or patience, for it. 

He instead spent most of his days in the fields around the town, making a wage from various farms who needed assistance. Dracus didn’t enjoy the work, but it was the best way for him to earn for his family. He was unmarried and only had the two at home to care for. When he was not working, he would often train with the town militia. The Militia captain Theodrick, an older soldier himself, had become a mentor of Dracus. 

Theodrick had taught him the way of weapons and showed the different types of armor. He taught Dracus how to fight and even trained him in a few of the more specialized weapons that did not fit the standard spear or shield most of the militia were proficient with. Theodrick preferred an axe; he had a very finely crafted great axe that he said was expertly crafted and imbued with silver. Dracus was, luckily, not that familiar with the evils that the world had to offer. Though he had been called upon by the militia to fend off some wild animals or deal with bandits who were causing trouble, he had never seen the beasts that Theodrick had.

The area around their town was thought by many travelers to have a curse upon it. Many foul creatures lived in the woods around them and the woods were said to whisper, calling weary travelers to unknown fates. For this reason, the town was constructed with a large palisade, and men like Dracus were trained to guard those walls. Although, in his lifetime, there had never been a need to. Whenever he was on watch, Dracus and his compatriots often spent the evenings sparing, playing dragon dice, or trading stories of what they thought lay over the horizon. Although he had never ventured out of town for fear of leaving his mother and sister alone, he knew there must’ve been a good reason merchants only travelled those roads by day, and no one left after sundown. He did know of some attacks, where carts were brought back into town, their owners missing with a scent of blood still lingering on the wood where they had disappeared. Dracus would not leave his family alone or risk them needing to make that trek without him.

One day a group of two men and an elf came to town just before nightfall. Dracus saw them arrive as they passed the fenced field where he worked. The group had very little in the way of baggage and wore ragged clothes. He had the passing thought of how cold they would be this evening if they had not made it to town in time. After Dracus finished his work for the day, he made his way back within the walled city. He decided to go to the inn, which held The Tipsy Wisp Tavern, for a drink. There he saw the same Group of three from earlier sitting in a corner talking amongst themselves. There were only a few patrons tonight, as many of the townsfolk would be up at first light.

By now the town was very quiet. Other than the guards on the wall, many of the townsfolk were home and preparing dinner, the merchants had packed up, and made their way to the inn or left hours ago. As he saw the light fade to night through the window near his table, he polished off his pint and began to gather his things to head home. As he did so, the three, almost in unison, got up and walked out of the Inn. Something felt wrong. Dracus moved to follow the three, hanging back and darting between houses to make up lost ground when he could. Once the three got to the front gate and from the little bit Dracus could hear, they were requesting the posted guards to open the gate.

“Hey, good … can you … The gate”

“Sir … goes out … Night”

It didn’t make sense for someone to want to leave at night, even if they did not know of the creatures that lurked at night. The men did not have weapons; they did not have supplies to spend the night on the road, even regular bandits would have been a problem. Alternately, they would freeze. 

Unexpectedly, Dracus heard a howl from outside the Palisade, and was momentarily distracted. It was not a new sound, the noises of the wolves in the woods were well known to him. His worry came when he heard a second, then a third. His eyes darted back to the men and the guards. Dracus saw two of the guards down at the gate preparing to let the strangers out. Suddenly, the three began to transform. Thick, brown hair began to erupt from beneath their skin. Their bones cracked so loud that Dracus winced, hearing the crunch of transforming bone caused his own to ache. Within a matter of seconds, the three were changed. Now stood three hulking beasts with thick fur, canine heads, dark eyes and muscles that could be seen rippling even beneath their hair. Two of them lunged at the guards opening the gate. Dracus froze momentarily, overcome by the menacing beasts and was all but motionless. He saw the third leap and start to scale the wall to get to the third guard; the claws dug into the wood of the palisade and it propelled itself up as easily as running on flat and hard ground. The two werewolves on the ground made short work of the two guards, who both lie grasping their wounds and drowning in their own blood. As the newly transformed werewolves opened the gate. the third guard managed to reach the bell, sounding the alarm, just as the third wolf crashed upon him. He ducked below the first swiping paw only to be sent through a wooden post and onto the road below as the shoulder of the creature with its weight behind it collided with his torso. Within moments Dracus heard commotion behind him from within the town.

“To the gate, to the gate!”

Dracus knew Theodrick’s voice and turned to see the aged soldier running towards the gate, with his great axe in hand. Dracus did not hesitate this time and flew from his hiding spot to meet his mentor. Several other townsfolk began to come out of the various abodes, many carrying weapons. Theodrick was the first one to the now open gate and his axe bit through the first wolf with ease. The second one lunged at Dracus who managed to dodge out of the way.

“Here!”

Theodrick tossed a dagger to Dracus, who threw it at the wolf as he wheeled to charge again, the blade digging into its chest. The werewolf recoiled back, but then kept coming and Theodrick stepped in front of the beast. His axe blurred as it decapitated the monster. The third wolf jumped from the ramparts landing on some of the oncoming militia. He clawed one woman’s chest clean open before being struck repeatedly by the surrounding militia. As the others went to the women’s aide, there was another howl and as Dracus and Theodrick turned to the gate, down the road they could see dozens of charging Lycanthropes.

“Shut the gate!”

Theodrick’s order commanded urgency. Dracus and another militia member began pulling at the chains to close both the left and right gates. Just as the Werewolves reached the gates, the left gate slammed shut, the right gate was not quite closed. Theodrick readied his axe. A thunderous impact shook the right gate, striking Dracus with such force, it threw him backwards. 

Dracus awoke to Theodrick and a Half-Elf man he knew as Yeri standing over him. Deep claw marks covered Yeri’s face and chest, and Theodrick had a large bound wound on his midriff which could be seen through his torn, bloody clothes. Dracus began to look past him and saw the village burning. He went to stand, the fight once again revitalized in his eyes. He felt the strong arm of Theodrick on his shoulder.

“It’s too late my friend.”

Dracus still stirred.

 “We are all that’s left.”

Bodies littered the streets. With not a werewolf in sight, leaving the carnage to appear as if the town had turned on itself.

“My family?!?”

Theodrick’s face went solemn. Dracus did all he could to hold back his tears.

“And the wolves?”

Dracus’ voice was now shaking with fury. Yeri gestured to the naked body of a woman Dracus did not recognize and then to another, this one a familiar half-elf. His back cut clean open with a wound that seemed to be from the great axe.

 “All dead or fled, we did what we could, friend. I am sorry.”

Yeri’s voice was soft as he knelt down beside the two. They helped Dracus to his feet, the full carnage of the battle now realized. Dracus looked toward his home and saw it ablaze, nothing but a skeletal structure burning in the midnight darkness. Yeri nodded towards one of the houses that seemed to still be intact.

“We should get inside.”

As Yeri turned to walk away, Theodrick brought up his axe. Before Dracus could react, he buried it in the back of Yeri’s head. The Half-Elf fell with a thump, twitching as life left him.

“Why?!”

Dracus screamed, quickly shifting his weight to his back leg as he widened his stance in preparation for a fight. Theodrick turned with the same solemn look and held the axe out to Dracus.

“He was infected with the curse, look at the scratches, that is all it takes, and we have no clerics here. There is a full moon already above us and I do not plan on becoming one of those things. I am sure Yeri would have done the same.”

Dracus looked at the axe, then to his mentor, and then again the axe. Theodrick then gestures to his bound wound. 

“Take it, please Dracus, you have been a great student, and this is the last I will ask of you. Do not let me become one of them. I can already feel the blood lust coursing in me. TAKE IT!”

Theodrick’s eyes flared with a yellow flash before returning to their usual blue. Dracus took up the axe, as his fingers caressed the wooden handle his mind flashed to memories of his sister laughing at him as Theodrick knocked him from his feet during training. Flashing next to the time his mother had scolded Theodrick as she had stitched up a wound on Dracus’s shoulder.

“You said you were using training weapons”

Her voice echoed in his mind. Finally his mind went to this morning, when he awoke to his sister shaking him as the first glints of pink and orange sun were invading the dark sky.

“Mom says to be home by sundown, and to bring some salt from the market.”

He had forgotten about the salt… As the memories retreated from his awakened mind he looked down to see Theodrick kneeling before him, his head bowed.

“Strike true my friend.”

Theodrick’s voice still was stern, tough, and unwavering. The same voice that had taught him to step when he strikes, that movement was life and that the mind was as important in battle as strength and speed.

“Thank you for all you’ve taught me.”

Dracus’ last words to his mentor as the axe separated his head from his shoulders. Theodrick’s body slumped and then toppled over. Dracus fell to his knees, leaning on the axe. For a short time, he just sat there and starred. Then he made his way toward the shelter Yeri had sought. The whole time he was thinking, I will hunt them down and kill every, last, one of them. As he walked past one of the pillars of fire, a voice emanated from within the column of reveling flame.

“If you seek a hunt, I can provide the light, I seek a champion who, like the flame, is both useful and frightful, warming and consuming, shifting and purifying. I will guide your hand through against the night as we bring Radiance of the dawn.”

Dracus spun, seeking the source of the voice. Readying the axe, he looked high and low, seeing nothing but flame and smoke. His eyes darting back to the pillar of fire. The light burned his eyes, the smoke choked and clogged his breath, and the heat began to scald his skin.

“Useful and frightful, warming and consuming, shifting and purifying, I am the fire that forges worlds, bow to me and all of your enemies with fall before you.”

This time Dracus’s eyes locked with something within the flame; elusive, but present; bright, but calming. He slowly knelt to one knee, placing the axe before him.

“I will be your hunter, I will be your torch, and I will see the night brightened if you but grant me the power.”

Elemental eyes glowed within the fire now, meeting Dracus’s gaze. His eyes suddenly no longer tearful, the sensation of suffocation fading and his skin seeming to be almost soothed by the flames, the voice returned.

“You shall cut through these creatures of the night as my flame pierces the darkness.”

Written by Calvin De Leon (@osogladiator)

Edited by Bryn Glatzel (@Blg0416 on Twitter)

Legacy Mono Green Infect (Budget-ish)

So it is almost rotation time and I have been away from deck building for a while with the summer. Thus, I decided to try something different than another standard deck, especially because I am still enjoying a updated version of my The Vampire Conquistadors deck (Updated List Here). I have been working on a few standard decks, so if they still appear viable after rotation, maybe I can write about them.

Anyway, back to the reason you are here. I wanted to brew something I had not worked on before, and for me that meant another adventure into a new format. I had never played legacy before, but had always wanted to give it a try. At first I wanted to find a budget way to introduce myself to the format. Having always held a want for an infect deck I decided to have a go at it. I looked at some of the other decks in the format and their extremely high price tags, and that made me decide to stick with a mono colored deck. Out of the five choices, I decided to go with green, due to its great pump options, especially a few free options. This did mean for going the counter magic of blue, but, it was also good for the pocket book.

To start, I slapped together a super budget list. This Infect Deck sits at just about $50 on TCG Player. There are a few other options out there for alternate versions of a similar deck by other brewers as well if you are looking for ways to tweak this and stay within a modest budget.

Going from there I began to look at ways to make the deck more competitive. I knew I would be facing down a suite of counters and removal that would likely see my first few creatures sent to the bin. So to up my creature count, I of course added the allstar, Inkmoth Nexus. This would be added to the Glistener Elf, Ichorclaw Myr and Necropede.

Ink

Because Infect is looking to alpha strike and not have to wait to long to get the kill, we need the ability to pump up one of our creatures quickly. The ideal way to do this is for free. So the main two options we use are Mutagenic Growth and Invigorate. Both can be paid for via alternate costs, allowing for us to hit for lethal even when an opponent may have thought they were safe. In addition to these two options I added a few copies of the green force of will. Bounty of the Harvest. This can also be cast for an alternate cost, but is a little less ideal than the others since that cost exiles a card from our hand.

Free pumps on our creatures are ideal, but there is another way to do this without cards in hand. We use two lands to be able to give our infect creatures a little more bang. Pendalhaven and Cathedral of War were included in the mana base as a way to increase the potency of our otherwise small threats. One thing to note with Pendelhaven, you will need to use its pump ability first, since it can only pump 1/1 creatures.

This deck is truly a deck that needs to go all in, when something connects we need it to be a big hit if not a one hit knock out, this means bringing in the true all or nothing pump spell, Berserk.

Beserk

We will also need a way to protect our guys once they are on the ground, to do this we are going to use Vines of Vastwood. This is a nice spell for us because it not only protects, but if kicked can also pump an attacker. In addition to Vines, we are also running one none green card in Apostle’s Blessing. This card allows us not only to protect, but potentially by pass blockers as well.

Finally, we need a second way to ensure our damage makes it through blockers if we cannot get past them all. This means a second way to give our guys trample. Rancor is the best and really only option that could round out this list. Not only does it give a solid power boost, but it also gives trample and is reusable.

Ranc

So what do you guys think? Also this deck, even with upgrades, is still a similar or even lower price to some of the modern and even standard decks out there.

I have included a full deck list here.

I am always happy to receive feedback and can be found on Twitter or Instagram @Osogladiator

Vona’s Crusade into Brawl (Deck Tech)

When the Dusk Legion came to seek the Immortal Sun, A warrior of great renown was at their front.

This is a Deck Tech for the new format Brawl, that will be legal with the launch of Dominaria.

I know there are plenty of ideas out there about the format, but a new format means a new chance to have some fun brewing.

Vona has a nice ability, but with its high cost you’re only going to want to use it when absolutely necissary. However, being a 4/4 for 5 with Vigilance and Lifelink means she has some survivability and can mix it up with a lot of things in combat. She also gives you more bandwidth to use her ability if she is attacking and blocking. When she cannot save herself, we can hit her with sheltering light to try and keep her around.

Supporting her will be a host of her Vampire Conquestadors.

Having creatures that can trigger hitting all opponents can help close out the game or put more people on defense. Which is where you want them. Vicious Conquestador, Sanctum Seeker and Twilight Profit are very good for this. Twilight Profit can even give us a little card advantage. In addition to creatures, we can also use spells to set the table back. Arterial Flow and Vona’s Hunger, are not only on flavor, but allow you to hit everyone at once.

With the Legion being assembled, we need to get them pumped up and ready to battle with larger beasts. Using Legion Lieutenant, Radiant Destiny and Vanquisher’s Banner give them little bumps. Also Radiant Destiny can give Vigilance and Vanquisher’s Banner can supply some card draw.

With this deck we want to establish a board presence early, grab the cities blessing as early as we can, and start trying to manipulate the attacks of others by presenting an unfavorable target in us. Vona and many of the other vampires have Lifelink which can help us stay in the game.

If you would like to see the whole deck list, it can be viewed here.

Vona’s Crusade into Brawl

Feel free to find me on Instagram or Twitter (@OsoGladiator). I am always open to feedback, questions and suggestions.

If you are looking for vampires in standard, check out my other deck tech here.

Magic and Story Telling

I recently had the great experience of playing in a 6 person commander game where everyone was playing with a mono colored deck and one was playing all colorless. The game was a lot of fun and it really reminded me of the fun you can have with story telling through a game of magic. So often when playing formats like Standard or Modern (Or even sometimes EDH) we get caught up in the competitive game we are playing and forget to enjoy all the flavor and back story we are given.

As I sat there and watched my army of soldiers get blasted back to my hand by the blue wizard who was trying to summon Tromokratis with his cyclonic rift and soon a whelming wave as he built up his mana to bring out the big Kraken.

Tromokratis

I started to think about what this battle would actually look like if the wizards had gone to war. It may seem silly to those Spikes out there , and that is totally fine, but I really enjoyed it. In that game it was a lot of fun to turn the game into a story. The black wizard releasing his Relentless Rats into the darksteel halls of the grand artificer. The artificer unleashing his thopters, lead by his ace, the Hope of Ghirapur to defend his works, soon the rats were everywhere. Inside the darksteel walls, the indestructible fortress no longer protecting him. He turned power onto all of his creations and soon even the Hope of Ghirapur was pulled from the sky as he swooped in to try to protect his master. With nothing left in their way, the Rats consumed the halls, leaving nothing but a hollow city in their wake.

HopeRats.jpg

Simultaneously the Goblins went to war with the Elves. The Elves did not take the threat seriously at first, using their natural magic to instill their warriors with to more power than the Goblins could muster. Looking past the Goblins, the Elves left the safety of their woods to infiltrate the swamps. Wading through filth and Rats alike, the Elves finally found their quarry. As the Elves fought off wave after wave of rats, finally one of them got through to the wizard and ended his pestilence once and for all. The Rats slowly returned to the muck from whence they came.

elf.png

When the elves returned to their sacred forest they were stunned to see the numbers of Goblins and grown at an impossible rate. Worse yet these new recruits were not weary from their training, they were charging down the mountain’s with fervor and burning the forest as they went. Krenko leading his band of mischievous zealots into the Elven camp, slew no Elves himself but just watched as his horde cut through them before lashing the green wizard to a tree and burning him at the stake.

Fer.jpgStake.jpg

The Elves may have held the Goblins at bay had they not spent a good amount of their magic to take out the horde of rats assembling in the swamps. With the Artificer gone, the Rat keeper lifeless and the Elf mage dead, the Goblins took site at the blue and white wizards. The blue wizard cast up his walls and began bolstering his defenses. Odric and his soldiers stood strong, knowing the Goblins would not have a tactical strategy, but also knowing that their numbers in the end would win. This threat needed to be dealt with before that could happen. They moved in, with a tactical strike of coordinated air and ground forces, they by-passed the brutish Goblin defenses. The Goblin wizard lashed out in a furry knowing he was all but doomed. In a last-ditch effort he tried to cast a final spell on the white wizard to finish him off, but found that the white wizard could not be targeted. He had some form of protection from the Goblin’s Hex. Not wanting to be defeated, he decided to go out on his own terms, deciding to detonate the spell on himself. Krenko’s Mobb saw their master fall and soon began to withdraw back into the mountains.

agkre.pngod.png

The blue wizard locked gazes with the white wizard, and suddenly called forth from the depths, not his prized Kraken, but instead Ulamog!

mog.png

The Soldiers Shuttered at the sound as they saw Odric, their General, banished into some other worldly torment and their Sun’s Champion Elspeth felled as well. As The Ceaseless hunger crashed in, the very halls of the white wizards library shook. The Soldiers rallied and the white wizard brought back Odric from his exile. Without a way to destroy this new threat, they decided they had to go for it’s summoner. Forsaking defense they attacked, laying siege to the blue wizard’s island, but yet he stood. Unrelenting, he called for his creature to attack again. This time his ally, Jace, thrashing the white wizards mind with torment. The towers of the white wizard’s library shook to their foundations and his knowledge and spells seemed to be pulled from his mind, now useless. Then, with his master on the brink of destruction and his fellow Soldiers fighting bitterly on the battlefield, Gideon stepped forward. He beckoned to the Creature, “the next time you come this way you come through me.” With that Ulamog crashed in and devoured the heroic soldier.

jacegide.jpg

The blue wizard was assured of his victory now. Until… no… wait… he saw them, Odric and his Soldiers flying over the tops of the towers, over the creatures in the sea that defended his island. Gideon’s sacrifice was a distraction! Suddenly they were on him, a vampire, a dwarf, the alliance of Solders were dragging him down.

ari.pngasp.png

The white wizard held his ground, he had trust in his Soldiers, they would make it in time. Ulamog came charging in once again, this time for the killing blow. Then he suddenly vanished, his very substance departing as the one who summoned him lay dead. Odric and his Soldiers raised up a cheer! Battle Cries turned to jubilation. They had won the battle and the day! They would be able to return to their camp on the plains and enjoy, at least for now, peace.

I know this is a lot different from my usual posts, but I really enjoy the back story of Magic the Gathering and think that the game can have a lot added to it if we spend time to appreciate the story we are telling in each game. At least once in a while.

Look for more deck techs soon. I will of course post them on Twitter (@OsoGladiator). If you have anything you would like me to see or review, a specific card you are trying to break in a deck, let me know, maybe I can take a look at it next time I am brewing up. Until then, cheers!

Jund Midnight Madness (Deck Tech)

So I put a twitter poll up a few days ago and the chosen format was Pauper. If you dont follow me you can find me as @OsoGladiator on both Instagram and Twitter.

So pauper, for those who don’t know, pauper is a mtg format that uses cards that are commons only. (Must have been printed at common at some point).

For this deck I decided to go with one of my favorite archetypes and on of my favorite mechanics; Madness and Burn.

To start off we need a burn package and no burn package is complete without Lightning Bolt.

In addition to Lightning Bolt we use 3 other one mana spells to deal 3 to our opponent’s head. Bump in the night is a easy way to hit for 3 and if its in the bin late on, it can be flashed back for another 3.

The other two are actually 3 mana cards, but can both be cast for one if you can trigger madness. Alms of the Vein and Fiery Temper can give us another set of Bump in the night and Lightning Bolt respectively.

So next comes triggering madness. Madness triggers if you discard the card, so we are going to use a few cards to do that.

We have a couple of card draw/selection engines in Cathartic Reunion and Faithless Looting. Since both of these require us to discard cards, we want to use them when we have mana open to take advantage of madness, or if we don’t have madness cards we can ditch extra lands to make room for spells.

In addition to using our burn as removal we can also use Lightning Axe since we don’t mind the discard. Lightning Axe conveniently kills Gurmag Anglar, which is one of the big bads we are likely to see. We will also use Insolent Neonate as another way to card select and/or trigger madness. Use him as a chump blocker and then sac to loot. Many times you end up taking no damage and give yourself the ability to hit them for 3. With Menace, he can also sneak in for a few points of damage early game.

Two of our creatures have madness. The first is Bloodmad Vampire. If she is not killed right away she can deal some serious damage and also trades up very well.

So maybe you are asking where the green is. Well, the second is Basking Rootwalla. This little guy can get bigger when you need him to if you can get your forest out, but does not need to. Since he can madness for 0, most of the time its just a free little piece of board presence in place of a discard.

We are also running one copy of Rummaging Goblin. He just fits all the things we need. A consistant discard outlet and a body when we need him.

To support this package we are also running 21 lands.

4x Swamp
2x Bloodfell Caves
9x Mountain
1x Forest
4x Evolving Wilds
1x Bojuka Bog.

As for the sideboard options, we are going with mostly removal to make sure we can keep the opponents threats in check while we burn them out. Being able to sideboard in the answers we need. We are also running two Gurmag anglars since we will often have a full graveyard and many times people won’t sideboard in yard hate just for our two flashback cards. So it can be a good way to muck up the board or beat face.

2x Electrickery
2x Gurmag Angler
3x Magma Spray
4x Smash to Smithereens
4x Tragic Slip

As always, please share your feedback here or via twitter @OsoGladiator.

Full Decklist

here

Happy Gaming!