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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


Happy Gaming!

The Vampire Conquistadors (Deck Teck: Rivals of Ixalan)

Updated: This deck has been updated with the release of Ravnica, the updated list can be found here.

So are you ready to command the Dusk Legion to victory?

This deck goes straight beat down. Every single card here is meant to put vampires on the battlefield and use them to slaughter your opponent.

Starting out quick with Skymarcher Aspirant who has the potential to gain flying quickly if you can get tokens going.

Image result for skymarcher aspirant

Backing up the Aspirant is the Martyr of Dusk. This guy can sneak in for a lot of damage and even if he gets blown up in combat, you still get a lifelinking body to replace it.

The bulk of the list is vampires. Getting bodies on the ground to do some throat tearing and blood draining. Guys like Gifted Aetherborn can also help you stave off aggro or any big hitting threats your opponent may drop while you are going wide and Adanto Vangaurd can help your board survive sweepers and big blockers.

Using Dusk Martyr and Legion’s Landing to make tokens means you’ll want to grow those tokens into the soldiers they were meant to be, that means good leadership is necessary.

New Arrival Legion Lieutenant fills this spot perfectly. A 2/2 beater for 2 that also makes everyone else bigger, yes please. This will help you wear down your opponents, if not finish them outright.

In addition, you can also drop a radiant destiny, and when you get up to 10 permanents, it can really give the token deck the ability to survive late game.

Finally, once you have driven your opponents back, you use Sanctum Seeker to finish the job. He can easily drain someone in one turn.

In addition to Sanctum Seeker, I added two copies of Twilight Prophet to be a late game finisher.

This works especially well if you can get the cities blessing early with a Skymarcher Aspirant.

As for removal, we are running 4 Fatal Push. Plain and simple.

For side board, here is what I am currently running:

2x Authority of the Consuls
4x Duress
3x Ixalan’s Binding
2x Lost Legacy
2x Dusk / Dawn
2x Kambal, Consul of Allocation

There you have it. I hope you enjoy! Feel free to send me some feedback on Twitter @OsoGladiator

Full Decklist and Sideboard

Mono-Red Invades Ixalan (Deck Tech)

Update 1/15/2018
Ramunap Ruins and Rampaging Ferocidon are now banned in standard. They had a good run…

Check out my “The Vampire Conquistadors” deck for a new take on aggro. The Vampire Conquistadors

If you are still up for some casual play games, the list is below.

So its time for a new release with Ixalan. My prefered play style in Standard is to be as agressive as possible. So let’s jump in.

Ramunap Red was a break out deck towards the end of the last rotation. However, despite using some of those pieces this deck is a bit different, although… it is still Red, so the differences are subtle. There was also a budget in mond with this deck, trying to keep it around $100.

So to begin, here is the list.

Creature (25)
4x Ahn-Crop Crasher
4x Bomat Courier
4x Earthshaker Khenra
2x Hazoret the Fervent
3x Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
4x Rampaging Ferocidon
4x Soul-Scar Mage

Instant (14)
2x Abrade
4x Lightning Strike
4x Shock
4x Sure Strike

Land (21)
13x Mountain
4x Ramunap Ruins
4x Sunscorched Desert


So as mentioned a lot of the same pieces from Ramunap Red are back. It is hard to be a Red deck without them. So what are some of the othet pieces. Rampaging Ferocidon is a creature I am really excited to try. I really like the no gaining life clause being an aggro deck with a burn package, and them getting pinged for their creatures is great. This is a card that will certainlynot be a 4 of in game 2 against control, but can be a good on curve beater with evaision and a good ability against all others.

Another good meta game player is Soul-Scar Mage. So lacking Haste it is no Monastery Swiftspear, but prowess does let it grow as you burn our opponents, which will be very useful. Also his ability to shrink Dinos will certainly be useful, it turns all that burn into combat tricks.

With bigger creatures than ours running around, I really like Sure Strike in this deck. Since you want to be agressive anyway, having a good combat trick will be nice, especially one that allows your Ahn-Crop Crashers and Rampaging Ferocidons to kill a Carnage Tyrant.

This deck really wants to smash in early, but with big creatures and conrol being an issue, a good burn package is necissary to finish people off. Because of this, I have included 4 ofs of Shock and Lightning Strike. Its nice to know you have 20 damage worth of burn available to you.

The damage doesn’t end with spells and creatures. In the land package we have 8 that deal damage too. Ramunap Ruins and Sunscorched Desert represent a way to hit and or finish off opponents as well.

I am excited for this Standard environment, and I am very excited to keep bolting people with Red!

The Blacksmith Soldier (EDH Deck Tech)

So the Commander of this deck is Dakkon Blackblade. 

He is a character from way back in Magic, his story is very interesting, and I suggest you look him up. However, the part that matters for this Deck Tech is his ability, and for Dakkon there is only one; “Dakkon Blackblade’s power and toughness are equal to the number of lands you control.” So that seems simple enough right, we want to get lands on the battlefield and let him bang away at opponents. So let’s break that strategy down into a few smaller points.

First, Dakkon is an Esper commander, so even though that gives us access to a lot of fun tools, we do not benefit from Green’s ramp abilities. So we will need to be creative on how we get lands on the battlefield. The way that I have chosen to do that is in two ways, the simplest way to do this is with artifacts. Since Dakkon’s ability relies heavily on having lands on the battlefield, lands matter. So when we look at artifacts we cannot just look at mana rocks. Though those will help ramp us into casting our 6 mana commander, they are not what are going to make Dakkon into a one or two shot killer. Instead, we are going to use cards like Armillary Sphere, Journeyer’s Kite, and good old Solemn Simulacrum to get the lands out there (The full complement of land finders listed in the decklist). 

These cards will do one of two things, either ramp us into more lands, or ensure we are hitting all of our land drops, both of which are extremely important to making sure Dakkon is a powerhouse the moment he comes down. The second way to do this is through a land card like Thawing Glaciers. 

Even though this is a slower process, it does allow us to accumulate lands onto the battle field at a faster rate in the long run. The final part of the lands matter equation is making sure you can get lands back from the Graveyard if they are destroyed because this not only sets you back like it does other players, but it cripples your commander. For that reason I run Crucible of Worlds in the deck. 

This is a high priced card I understand so I will point out is I not necessary if you are looking to keep the budget down.

So now we know how we are going to ramp and make sure Dakkon is the beat stick we want him to be; now we need to protect him. So for protection, we will be running a few counter spells in case they are needed, but the main source will be trying to us a Whispersilk Cloak, Lighting Greaves or Swiftfoot Boots to do so. 

These are nice because they will not only avoid him getting Pathed or otherwise removed, but Whispersilk will give him Unblockable and the others will give him haste, either way that’s a win and a problem for your opponents.

Since we are using artifacts to ramp and to protect our commander it is pretty obvious we are going to have a lot of them in the deck, 41 to be exact. So that means that not only do lands mattet, but artifacts too. This lead me to start looking for artifact synergy as well. First I looked to cards like Efficient Construction and Contraband Kingpin to get some added value off of the artifacts being cast or entering the battlefield. 

I also added Metalwork Colossus to be an extra beater if Dakkon gets stonewalled.

Finally I was looking for a way to get back my lost artifacts if they were sacrificed or destroyed. There were a lot of ootions here, Argivian Archaeologist and Hanna, Ships Navagator fill this role nicely,

as well as lands like Achedamy Ruins and Buried ruin. This artifacts matter suite can really help grind out value in a late game when it is needed most, or even as a way to ramp at an accelerated rate.

Fianlly, With all of these value engines producing card draw and small creatures, I added Elspeth, Sun’s Champion to potentially take advantage of a go wide strategy should it present itself.

To all of this I added a basic removal pacakge, a few combos to make mana or more 1/1s and the usual card draw to make the deck more competitive. The deck does its best when it is grinding out value and then either going for the allstar finish with Dakkon or by chipping away with all the value 1/1s.

Below is the full decklist, please fell free to take a look and comment!


Artifact (31)

Land (35)

Instant (11)


Creature (15)

Enchantment (5)

Planeswalker (2)

Going Tribal

So we will soon have 4 new tribal commanders and 4 decks to play with them. So rather than speculate on which tribes we will get, or if they decks will be balanced, or even what colors they will be. I thought it would be fun to explore one of my favorite tribes.


I sincerely doubt that Zombies will be one of the tribes that we end up seeing in the 2017 printing of commander product. They are already a very well supported tribe, and other than perhaps receiving a five color commander there is not much more they need; in comparison to many of the other tribes in magic, I am looking at you Minotaurs. They also were shown a lot of love recently in the ripped from a horror novel plane of Innistrad and with the mummified servants on Amonkhet.

So why Zombies? For me it has always been a fascination with the lore of zombies, they have always been one of the most fearsome beasts of the old horror genres. I feel with the amount of pop culture screen time they have received of late, they have lost some of their fervor, but to me the slow, methodical, and relentless aggression was always much more troublesome than any of the werewolves, vampires and other creatures that the heroes of my youth used to face off against.

So how to get that idea, that relentlessness, that ever growing threat to appear upon the battlefield of Magic? Well the game designers at wizards have given us quite a few ways to slowly drag down your enemies with the hordes of the undead. Cards like Diregraf Captain and Plague Belcher give us a way to make ever opponent pay for wrathing or killing parts of our board; draining each opponent one life at a time. Having sacrifice combos in conjunction with that drain like the Phyrexian Alter and Grave crawler can also be a sure way to win. Other creatures like Diregraf Colossus or Unbreathing Horde grow stronger the more Zombies you control, and you even get credit for those in the graveyard. Finally there are cards like Empty the pits and Army of Darkness to grow your horde quickly.

Currently my favorite commander to run them with is the Siblings, Gisa and Geralf, although with the coming of hour of devastation I may look to The Scarab God to take their place. I have also toyed with the idea of having Sidisi, Brood Tyrant take command to add green to the mix. I can post my list later if there is interest; it is a bit different than some of the other ones I have seen floating around.

So there you have it, that is my favorite tribe for commander, or I should say in all formats.

What is your favorite tribe? Do you have a certain tribe you would want to see in this year’s release?

Let me know!

Edit: I included the Zombie Tribal Deck I built below, feel free to check it out.

Creature (32)

Land (37)

Enchantment (8)

Instant (3)

Planeswalker (2)


Artifact (14)

Sorcery (3)

Mirrorpool and EDH

Magic the Gathering and Wizards of the Coast like to give us hidden gems for EDH all the time that are just waiting to be discovered. Then again, there are cards that are just asking to over perform. Mirrorpool is one of those cards.

With the ability to be a utility land in any deck, this card can be an secret weapon, yet I very rarely see it across the table. Mirrorpool has a couple of obvious uses, giving good value off of good spells. But when used to double a spell like that makes tokens when a card like Purphoros is out, it can end the game in a hurry, especially for only 3 mana.

The second ability is no joke either. Think about copying utility creatures like Consecrated Sphinx to gain card advantage or having an Oloro on the battlefield and in the Command zone. This card can break games wide open.

This is one of those cards that is often over looked, but can very easily turn into a game ender. It also is rarely a dead card since at the worst, its a land that that taps for colorless and at best you can twin cast your game winning spell when the first is getting countered.

There is an argument to be made that it might be too slow, however since most people do not have a way to remove a land, it can be an easy way to sneak in a win even if it has to make it around the table.

What are your thoughts on Mirrorpool?

Image is used for reference only and is the product of Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast.

Proxies, Stand ins and Gold Boarders

So have you ever sat down to play a game of Magic and been surprised to see your opponent was playing a proxied card? In general I tend to think it is bad form to not notify your opponent(s) ahead of time that you will be using cards outside of the regular tournament legal varity. Admittedly this has never really been a problem with the write “Force of Will” on an island proxies. I have however, run into individuals that use printed proxies.

These proxies tend to be direct copies of the card, magic back and all. Now, as a player who has collected or paid for cards it does bug me when I am not told of a card being fake ahead of time. This also extends over to the gold boardered cards from the World Championship Decks. I think these cards were fun to play with the championship decks for fun or practice, but not to be used against unsuspecting opponents.

I should be clear, as long as its discussed ahead of time, all is fair. I have run into a few playgroups now who use proxy cards, without notification or notice and it was just surprising. So am I in the minority? Is this something that many playgroups do? Or maybe just for certain formats like commander?

Let me know your thoughts.

Dealing with competition in casual MTG

Making sure you enjoy your hobby is important, but it is also important to make sure others enjoy theirs too.

Whenever you sit down to play a new game you always face the social question of how competitive to get. Some people can be finely tuned to this; maybe there was a plethora of team sports growing up and have built up a mental fortitude to stressful situations, maybe they are supremely confident with their abilities, or maybe they truly don’t care who wins and they are there for the good old entertainment.

So how do you manager another player’s competitiveness? Now in the tournament setting this is much easier. You have signed up to play to win, and although you may find yourself beating someone who got mana-screwed, or facing a slaughter yourself, it is expected that at the end of the match a you’ll shake hands, say good game, and get on with your day. This can be different with Casual play or even FNM. Friday Night Magic has casual players as well as spikes, where as other formats, such as commander, also have extremely varied play styles and play levels.

Now, there is no way, short of asking, to truly know what level of experience, competition level or how tuned their deck is. So how do you manage your competitiveness to be appropriate so that both players have fun. This is where a little self reflection is needed. I know I have certainly been guilty of taking our hobby too seriously. Taking things personally when I shouldn’t have, making things overly competitive in a casual setting. Here is where you must learn to be a gracious loser and an even more gracious winner.

When someone beats you it is important to realize you don’t win every game, even if you are the superior player. Take a look at the pros winning percentages, these are arguably the best in the world, and they do not have 100% winning percentages, they do not even have close to that. Also, if you are not losing games then you are not playing tough enough competition. This will end with your skill set stagnating. You should be losing games. So how do you maintain being gracious loser. First suggestion… Don’t flip the table. But seriously, losing sucks, it does, accept that it sucks and expect to lose sometimes. That way when you do you can be gracious. When you lose make sure to be sincere in your “good game” hand shake. Stay and discuss the game with your opponent, make sure not to just say the things you did wrong. This can make it sound like you are short-selling their ability, and instead saying the victory came from your mistakes. It very well might have, but if nothing else they capitalized at it. Make sure to be comfortable complimenting them on this.

On the other hand, winning can seem easier, but it is even more important here to be gracious. I mentioned before, losing sucks. You know it, I know it, your opponent knows it. So when you win, again, it is good to stop and say good game. If it was a landslide victory you can always comment on the things you noticed that lead to it. Maybe they got mana screwed, maybe their deck just didn’t draw the cards they needed, it happens. Maybe you got a nut draw or just straight out played them. Regardless, it is a good sport, who looks for a way to compliment and respect his/her opponent even in a sound victory. So be gracious. If they are a new player and ask you questions, offer advice. Be a good example of the player you want to play against.

We play a game that is meant to be fun, part of what makes it fun is playing competitively. You don’t have to stop playing competitively to make sure your peers are having fun. This game is about social interaction, it is about helping yourself and your opponents enjoy the game. See ya at the table.