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.

Zombies!

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)

Commander

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.