250-card decks, MMV drafts, and an invitation to see the Emperor.

Nephilim Are Prismatastic!

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The letter T!he other day I was looking over the formats available to Magic Online players, and realized I had not played a game of Prismatic in quite a while—not since Ravnica had been released, in fact! When Guildpact brought the cycle of Nephilim, I knew I would someday be compelled to build a Nephilim deck, and what better format to give them a run than Prismatic?

For those unfamiliar with the format, I included some links here (Prismatic with Comedy Al) and since then Doug Beyer wrote Prismatic in the Ravnica Era, which is a fine updated look. The basic rules are this:

Deck Construction Rules for Prismatic

So with those rules in mind, this is what I built:

Green - 24
For green I wanted mana fixing and some untargetables, since the format is chock full of removal. Eternal Witness is just awesome utility and too good not to play. Copperhoof Vorrac was a flash of inspiration to combat people who didn't want to tap out much during their own turns, so he'd be huge.

4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Silhana Ledgewalker
4 Troll Ascetic
4 Kodama's Reach
4 Eternal Witness
4 Copperhoof Vorrac

Red - 20
Much like Eternal Witness, Izzet Chronarch makes recursion fun! Dwarven Blastminer comes from my previous excursion in the format, where I used a good population of morph creatures to make sure I could play something early. Of course, the fact that there are tons of non-basics in this format makes him quite valuable too. The Red Bringer is a beating if he gets out there long enough. Red ended up hosting two of my Nephilim squad too.

4 Izzet Chronarch
4 Dwarven Blastminer
4 Bringer of the Red Dawn
4 Dune-Brood Nephilim
4 Yore-Tiller Nephilim

Black - 20
Black gave me removal, recursion (Oversold Cemetery is one of my all-time favorite cards, and each time a new basic set is released, I hope and pray to see that reprinted), and morphtastic goodness!

4 Putrefy
4 Oversold Cemetery
4 Headhunter
4 Haunted Cadaver
4 Zombie Cutthroat

Blue - 20
With all the tutoring and land fetching used in this format, Shadow of Doubt was the first Ravnica card I added to my Prismatic deck when I put this together. Repeal jumped in soon thereafter. The Blue Bringer is just all around good times, along with another Nephilim and the tricky morph Willbender!

4 Shadow of Doubt
4 Repeal
4 Bringer of the Blue Dawn
4 Willbender
4 Glint-Eye Nephilim

White - 20

White's got some great removal options, so I crammed a bunch here. Of course, with all the removal people are playing, I also thought Privileged Position would do well in protecting my board. Oh yeah, here's another Nephilim!

4 Privileged Position
4 Mortify
4 Witch-Maw Nephilim
4 Dismantling Blow
4 Seed Spark

Artifacts – 46
The rest of the mana fixing goes here, along with some lifegain, card drawing, equipment, and removal. Since Prismatic is all five colors, I added a Legacy Weapon and Door to Nothingness for kicks. I mean, why not?

4 Mana Cylix
4 Terrarion
4 Wayfarer's Bauble
4 Fellwar Stone
4 Solemn Simulacrum
4 Ivory Crane Netsuke
4 Journeyer's Kite
4 Etched Oracle
4 Ronin Warclub
4 Darksteel Ingot
4 Duplicant
1 Legacy Weapon
1 Door to Nothingness

I figured I'd want 40 percent land in my deck, which equated to 100 land cards. This is how the deck finished out:

My first game was against pcjr, and it quickly became apparent that this fellow had a very serious Prismatic deck. After seven turns, I had the distinct impression of being outclassed on cards at every step. I mean, just look at our graveyards!

It was over with shortly thereafter. I did get a Dune-Brood Nephilim in play, but I was so low in life at that point that I couldn't afford to attack with him into pcjr's morph guy; even if he didn't block and I got a ton of Sand tokens (something I really wanted to see), I was worried he'd flip the Morph over, Deed for zero to blow away my blockers, and swing over to kill me.

He ended up getting the second white mana to flip over Exalted Angel and she was enough to end the game on the spot. Afterwards, I asked if he'd be willing to share his decklist and thoughts on the format.

Peter Costantinidis A.K.A. pcjr on his deck and the format:

The new dual lands combined with Farseek have really helped with mana consistency. Not to mention the fact that you can tutor for the lands with existing cards like Krosan Verge, Eternal Dragon, and the Onslaught fetch lands. I used to have 4 Rampant Growth in the deck, but most of them got replaced with Farseek. I tend to like cheap mana-fixers, stuff that costs three mana or less. I still need some of the GP lands. I would rather enter lots of drafts to get them right now than to spend the money buying them.

The tutors have gotten kind of crazy. With Congregation at Dawn you can fetch:

Getting Congregation at Dawn is much easier now with Mystical Tutor. I haven't gotten around to adding the Vampiric Tutor I rare-drafted the other day.

I don't know if Debtors' Knell is any good, but every upkeep is like Christmas with it in play. I figure my counters and removal are both fairly good, so there should be sufficient targets in their graveyard.

I have tried cards with Transmute, but ended up cutting them to make room for other Black or Blue cards. Life from the Loam is another interesting new card, but that one requires the entire deck to be built around it. I play with one Scrabbling Claws, which I have 13 (I think) different ways to fetch. This helps take out that Green dredger (and the occasional Genesis).

I think the deck could be improved a lot. I have only made one Top 8 with it so far, but that's probably as much my fault as it is the deck's!

Thanks, Peter! My next opponent was SerraChampion and I finally got to see my favorite Nephilim in action—Yore-Tiller Nephilim! SerraChampion had come out swinging early, but I drew enough removal to blunt the damage and eventually begin to swing back with Ronin Warclub being passed around to whomever felt like swinging this turn. SC had hit me with an Ostracize and knocked out my Blue Bringer, so when Yore-Tiller attacked, I thought ol' Blue boy the perfect companion to swing in… snatching up the Club, of course!

(Sharp-eyed readers will wonder about the Ebony Owl Netsuke on the screenshot when it's not in my decklist; I originally put them in the deck with the Ivory Cranes, but every time I drew one I never wanted to play it. If my opponent is mana screwed, he's already suffering by not being able to play his cards, I just didn't want to add insult to injury by playing the new Black Vise; after this game I swapped them out for Clearwater Goblets)

I went on to play six more Prismatic games, winning three and losing three and having a really good time with it. There was always somebody willing to play Prismatic, and all my opponents were polite and gracious. Thanks to shivan_hellkite, Halfdane, Comory, and TheKEG for the good times!

Mirage/Mirage/Visions Draft

I know some of you may be getting a bit burned out on Ravnica/Ravnica/Guildpact drafts, and one such player – my good friend Ken Krouner – has been shifting gears by drafting Mirage/Mirage/Visions until Dissension comes out (which, by the way, is being released online soon!). Ken offered up some tips on drafting this classic format:

Ah, Mirage/Mirage/Visions! My very first PTQ was after Visions initially released and... Oh wait, this isn't my article, you probably don't care to hear about my ancient exploits! So here are the nuts and bolts of Mirage/Mirage/Visions draft online as seen through my eyes.

  1. You still need to first pick Kaervek's Torch. This includes the second pack. Even if you aren't red, you want to be splashing it.
  2. Blue is the most powerful color. It isn't really all that close. There is a big problem, however. It's grossly overdrafted. Blue has arguably the three best commons in Visions: Undo, Man-o'-War, and Knight of the Mists. The secret doesn't seem to be out on the Knights yet, since I still get them late even when I feel like I'm being cut, but the other two are more than common knowledge. You can force Blue if you want; no one will think less of you, but you should try to learn how to draft the other colors to give yourself some flexibility.
  3. Green is deceptively powerful. Giant Mantis is a card that completely locks up the board. In fact as a general rule, anything with four toughness or greater is very good. Remember not to judge the cards in a vacuum, you have to judge them against the other cards in the format and four is about as big as toughness realistically gets. Granger Guildmage is an incredibly powerful card and Stalking Tiger is deceptively good. You dry up a bit in Visions, so be sure to get a solid foundation in Mirage.
  4. White is good because of its depth and ability to complement every color. White has fast, efficient creatures and more flanking creatures than any other color. Sun Clasp is a card that you will generally want to be on the lookout for in Visions. It creates a creature that will win any fight.
  5. Red is a very aggressive color with burn and removal serving as board control and finishers. It also has a good number of flanking knights and 3/3s. Ekundu Cyclops is a card you really want to look out for if you have a good amount of removal. In Red/Blue, Dwarven Vigilantes can be a powerful creature when your deck includes a lot of bounce.
  6. Black has some powerful cards but it's incredibly shallow. I'd avoid this color unless I opened a Dark Banishing. If you find yourself in Black, Fallen Askari is a card that can really put you ahead early and should be drafted early on.

Enjoy the queues. It'll be a nice break while we wait for Dissension!

After studying Ken's tips, I jumped into the draft queue and ended up drafting this:

I originally started out drafting green and then red, but red was rather sparse and there were a few blue cards I “hate” drafted because I didn't want to get wrecked by them (and there was nothing else I really wanted in the pack). Early in pack two, I jumped on a second Rampant Growth and decided I would probably be going Green/Blue/Red (because I just had to play my Kaervek's Torch).

Round one I squared off against WHJester, who also drafted Green/Blue/Red, but I didn't see the red in the first game (though his Granger Guildmage made me suspicious). Game one I had a nice opening hand with all three lands, Inspiration and Wild Elephant, and then drew a Guildmage. My opponent got early beatdown with Stalking Tiger, Bull Elephant, and Cloud Elemental. I traded my Elephant, Hyenas, and Guildmage to take down his two big guys, but was he was still left with the Elemental flying over my head. Spring forth, Burley Protector! Or rather, Burley Ovinomancer!

Drawing the Man-o'-War, I decided to hold off on the Ovinomancer, since I also had Kaervek's Torch and a Rampant Growth in hand; Man-o'-War would let me develop my mana a little bit more before I needed to bounce back Ovinomancer and possibly have to replay it (setting me back three lands). When he replayed his Elemental, I went ahead and turned it into a Sheep at EOT and later also his Jungle Wurm. Eventually I got in enough damage so his life total matched up with my X-1 lands for the Torch win.

I felt pretty good about my deck until WHJester showed me what his was capable of when he actually got mana for his removal color, red! Rock Slides and an Incinerate made short work of my early creatures and let him just stomp me with his creatures in both the remaining games. Ouch!

Even though I failed to advance, I thought the deck ended up pretty decent. What do you think, would you have built it differently?

IntoTheAether Invites YOU (again)!

Last week I touched on the Emperor format and was curious whether there would be interest in holding another Emperor Fun event (like Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar did - see IntoTheAether Invites YOU). Here was the poll I put up and the results:

Would you be interested in playing 2/2/all Emperor during Days of Emperor Fun?
Yes 1479 73.8%
No 524 26.2%
Total 2003 100.0%

1,400 of you said you were game for it, and I also got positive feedback on the ideas in the forums and through email, so why not just go ahead a do it this weekend?


***

You are cordially invited to attend Days of Emperor Fun 2

When:
Saturday, April 29th & Sunday, April 30th
Starting at 6pm Pacific,
And also at seemingly random times during other parts of the day
whenever Bennie can find time.

What:
Online Emperor, 2-2-3 (also called 2-2-all) format, which means:
Your spells and effects have a range of two players.
All global spells and effects affect all players.
Standard decks (9th Edition, Champions of Kamigawa, Betrayers of Kamigawa,
Saviors of Kamigawa, Ravnica and Guildpact).
Anything goes. Choose whatever kind of deck is most fun for you to play.

Who:
Anyone with a Magic Online account who is looking for some wacky, casual fun.
Beginners to Emperor format welcome
(just be sure to brush up on the format here and here)

No RSVP or pants necessary (just keep your pants status to yourself)

***

By all accounts, JMS's event was a smashing success, so hopefully we can recapture the good times this time around! Keep in mind that we're all doing this for fun in the hopes of stirring up interest in this format that many think has grown stale, but if you don't particularly like the 2-2-3 format or a Standard cardpool, feel free to fire up your own!

By the time this column is up, I will have also sent this invitation personally to other magicthegathering.com columnists – along with JMS! – so hopefully we'll get some of them in on it too. I'll have an Emperor and Flanker deck already to roll, and hope to see you there!

Tips & Tricks

A few weeks back I talked about how I had used Gatherer incorrectly and ended up thinking Crypt Rats was an uncommon in Visions rather than a common, and that mistake led me to chat with my editor Scott Johns about the Gatherer database and all the amazing things it can do for us Magic deckbuilders who don't have an encyclopedic memory of all the cards. (Yes, I know there are those who do and I envy you, but for the rest of us, the magicthegathering.com team has made it easy for us with Gatherer.) Shortly after our chat, Scott ran across a feature he thought worth sharing:

Something cool I just noticed on Gatherer:

On the front of Gatherer, there is a checkbox for "Only show matching printings".

If you check that, you only get exact matches. So, for example, if you search "John Avon" and put a check next to artist, and also in "Only show matching printings" then search. In that list is only John Avon. Scroll down to basic Forest for example. Now every Forest you could click on there is John Avon, which isn't something you would have got without the "only show matching printings."

Thanks, Scott! By the way, I'm still taking nominations for the MTGO Community Virtual Road Show, so keep sending them in or making your nomination on the forum!

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