All Posts By

Aaron Terry

Magic the Gathering

My Favorite Card(s) from Battlebond

Hello everyone! All the spoilers for the new team based draft set Battlebond are out now and the set looks like a lot of fun! The Village Geek is having a release party June 2nd so grab your best friend and play in the two-headed giant sealed event.

Rather  than just a single card, I had to pick a favorite cycle to talk about today and that cycle is the “Friend or Foe” cycle. Including Regna’s Sanction, Zndrsplt’s Judgment, Virtus’s Manuever, Khorvath’s Fury, and Pir’s Whim. While none of these cards are what I would call exciting for Legacy/Vintage (two of the three formats they will be legal in), I am very excited to try them out in various Commander decks!

When I sit down to play Commander either my plan is be the biggest baddest at the table or to be more subtle and use politics to secure a victory from nowhere and all five of these can fit either strategy. If you want to push everyone back a step you can choose yourself as the only friend and set the table against you, though you had better hope the benefit is enough to weather the beating you might be in for. I think Regna’s Sanction in a token swarm deck might be the best suited for this; buff your whole team and take out almost all the blockers your opponents have might just win on the spot. I am excited to try Khorvath’s Fury in my The Locust God deck to get some splash damage in and create a bunch of insects too.

On the politicking side you can knock down someone pulling ahead and help catch the others up, like getting rid of a scary enchantment like Doubling Season before it can be used and ramp everyone else with Pir’s Whim, or getting ride of a suited up Voltron commander while bolstering everyone’s defenses with Virtus’s Manuever or Zndrsplt’s Judgment.  The level of flexibility of these cards makes their use near limitless to balance the table or to pull you ahead.

There is a third playstyle that some (strange) people will definitely be eager to play with these new cards, commanders that just love everyone at the table like Phelddagrif. What better way to tell everyone you’re their friend than to choose “Friend” for everyone and let the bounties flow. Some poeple want to watch the world burn, others want to see everyone get everything they ever wanted and this new cycle even will let you do that.

With these few examples for commander I hope you are as excited as I am for these new flexible cards. Until next time!

Legend of the Five Rings

Rising From the Ashes pt. 2

Today I am finishing up the intro to the clans of the Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) Living Card Game (LCG) by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG). I already covered four of the clans in part one here, so today I will focus on the Phoenix, Scorpion, and Unicorn clans. There are very few cards that haven’t been spoiled yet so we have a very good idea of what a starting deck will look like and perform for each clan now. I’ll continue to use MtG references to help with playstyles of the clans.

The Phoenix clan is home to the most powerful shugenja in Rokugan. Shugenja are similar to clerics from D&D, they pray to the kami and the resulting blessings are the spells they cast. Most shugenja form a relationship with only one of the kami, but some of the more powerful can commune with multiple. (A lore aside, Kami (with a capital K) are gods, the children of the first sun and the first moon, that fell to Rokugan and helped humanity found the empire. Their legacy lives on as the names of major families of the clans, like Akodo, Bayushi, or Togashi. Kami with a lowercase k are the intelligent spirits of the elements that give their aid to shugenja.) Since the Phoenix clan has such a good grasp on the elements their play focus is on manipulating the rings, like swapping the type of combat to enhance their shugenja’s spells, or preventing a ring from being chosen this turn. They have a secondary theme of glory manipulation. Glory is a stat on characters that when honored is added to their military and political strength, or when dishonored is subtracted. The Phoenix’s spell arsenal has some very unique effects that can turn the game upside down. You might like playing Phoenix if you enjoy engine decks like the modern banned Birthing Pod or a commander like Mizzix the Izmagus, since Magic doesn’t have a ring system it is hard to find an analogy that fits.

If the Lion clan is the right hand of the emperor, and the Crane clan the left, the Scorpion clan are definitely the “underhand of the emperor,” using ninjas, spies, and manipulations to progress the empire in ways other clans could not. They believe they should get their hands dirty to ensure no one else has to. Most clan’s distrust them, for good reason, but they have the emperor’s best interest at heart. The Scorpion clan is full of tricks, most will result in your opponent losing honor or dishonoring their characters, but are not afraid to lose honor themselves. They also have a few fun mind control effects, as they call in favors, or blackmail your opponents into joining them. You might enjoy playing Scorpion if you like Pauper’s monoblue delver deck, full of tricks and control.

The final clan is the Unicorn. Long ago the Unicorn left the empire to search out threats before they could find Rokugan. After 800 years away, and almost 200 since their return, most of Rokugan still sees them as outsiders and lessers. They still holding to the customs, weapons, and magic they learned outside the empire but are fierce in their protection of it. The Unicorn prefer to hit fast and hit hard, using their superior calvary to get in and out before the opponent can put up any resistance. Many of their cards let them move to a conflict. Another of their themes is taking action in the first part of the turn, they get cost reduction, or power boosts if its the first conflict of a turn.  They do appear to have quite a dearth when it comes to politcal strength, they can make up for it though with an event that changes the conflict type, which I find hilarious. A good MtG analogy might be RDW (Red Deck Wins, a blisteringly fast linear deck that wants to apply pressure early and keep it on).

Well thanks for reading this series, I hope it helped you understand a little about the playstyle and themes of the seven clans of Rokugan. If you haven’t already, check out my learn to play article here. I have a few decks printed off and ready to try out if anyone wants to learn to play before it is released. We should be getting a release date this week at GenCon, I’m expecting early October. Until then here are all the strongholds I didn’t get into the articles, and I promise I won’t write about L5R again until after release. Thanks!


Legend of the Five Rings

Learn to Play: Legend of the Five Rings LCG

Hello everyone! We are still waiting on new spoilers for the Legends of the Five Rings (L5R) so we will be taking a break from the Rising From the Ashes series and talking about how to play the game. We don’t have the complete rule book yet, but from the Learn to Play and L5RLive broadcasts enough to learn is known. I’ll try to keep references to the original L5R limited, but I’ll be referencing Magic: the Gathering (MtG) since it is the easiest way for me to convey gameplay ideas.

L5R is played with two decks, the Dynasty deck contains Characters and Holdings. Characters are what will be performing all the action during a game and Holdings give you bonuses and abilities to your provinces. Your Dynasty deck can only contain cards from your clan or neutral cards. The other deck is the Conflict deck and contains Events, Attachments, and Conflict Characters. Events are your interaction cards, similar to instants and sorceries in MtG, Attachments are, you guessed it, attached to your characters, like auras or equipment in MtG, and Conflict Characters are a special type of character that can be played attached to a character or on their own, similar to the bestow mechanic (like Boon Satyr) from MtG. The Conflict deck can contain cards from your clan, neutral cards, and a limited number of cards from one other clan. The Conflict deck cards are drawn into your hand while the Dynasty cards fill your provinces. Each player starts with four provinces which they must defend, and attacking their opponent’s is the primary route to victory, break three provinces and their stronghold to win. There are two other ways to win the game, accumulate enough honor (25) that the emperor declares you the victor, or lower your opponent’s honor to zero, shaming them into withdrawing.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words here is what a typical set up will look like for a player. Stronghold and Dynasty deck to the left, four provinces, some with cards face up and others face down in this example, the Conflict deck to the right, and the in play area closest to your opponent, with two characters in play.

Under the four provinces and the stronghold are hidden province cards, each clan has a unique one and there are many neutral as well. They will have the strength of the province and a special ability, they are revealed the first time a conflict occurs at that province, but we will discuss that more in a bit. First, lets talk about choosing a clan to play,  I’ve given a brief rundown of each clan in the previously linked article to give you an idea of playstyle and philosphy, but for now we will focus on Strongholds. Each clan has their own stronghold, right now each clan only has one but I’m sure as expansions come out we will get more, back when I played the CCG, the equivalent of standard had about four stronholds for each clan, each with a slightly different theme of the clan emphasized. The original strongholds were printed on the box the started deck for that clan came in and are therefore frequently refered to as “boxes” (I’ll bow my box to pay….I’ll bow my box to activate…..etc). Anyway here is the Lion Clan’s stronghold with all the parts highlighted and named.

Starting at the top we have the province strength, this is added to the province card’s strength hidden under the stronghold at the start of the game. I’m not sure why the strongholds have a unique marker but on character cards it means only one can be in play on your side at a time (legendary in MtG). The clan’s mon is the symbol that would be printed on banners, or their seals etc, and each card will have a clan symbol identifying it. The Lion Clan has one of the highest starting honor at 12, nearly half way to victory, it looks like the game comes with a bunch of hexagonal honor tokens but a die seems way more efficient, especially since honor will always be changing. Fate is the primary resource of the game and each stronghold produces 7 per turn. Fate is used to bring your characters into play, and to play effects during combat or your turn. Fate not spent can be saved between turns, different than most games where your resources reset each turn. The game comes with a bunch of circular fate tokens with the blossom on them but I think a die might be more efficient for your stock and maybe the tokens for your characters, but then even a die for each would work as well. Influence allows you to add cards from one other clan to your conflict deck. Each eligible conflict card will have bamboo symbols to indicate how much influence they require, from spoiled cards so far between one and three is the norm. If a conflict card doesn’t show a bamboo symbol it cannot be used in an off-clan deck.

Another difference from a game like Magic is the turn structure. In L5R both players will go through the phases together, alternating actions until both pass in succession. The turn has these phases:

  1. Dynasty
  2. Draw
  3. Conflict
  4. Fate
  5. Regroup

The Dynasty phase begins by turning all Dynasty cards in all provinces face up. Then everyone gains fate equal to the amount on their province. The first player (determined randomly at the start of the game and alternating thereafter) may purchase a card from their provinces or activate an ability, then the other player. The first player to pass gains one fate from the stock and cannot purchase anymore characters this phase. When a Dynasty card leaves a province refill that province face down. You cannot play conflict characters or attachements at this time.

I think now might be the best time to introduce character cards and talk about fate and mono no awareMono no aware translates to “the pathos of things” and is a central philosophy in Rokugan, mono no aware is the bittersweet understanding that all things are temporary. This is incorporated in the game by the fate mechanic on the characters. Rather than being defeated in combat and sent to the discard (like the ccg, and nearly every game I’ve played) all characters have the MtG ability fading (as seen on Blastoderm) and will stay around even if defeated. Here is an example of a non-unique dragon character.

Again I’ve highlted the different card parts, starting at the top you have the fate cost, this is the base cost to put this card into play from your province. You may then put additional fate tokens from your supply onto the card when purchasing it, giving it additional turns in play before being discarded. The Military and Political strength are used in conflicts, sometimes a character will have a dash rather than a number. A dash means that character cannot participate in conflicts of that type, and if ever they somehow get involved in that type of combat they are bowed and sent home. When a character becomes honored or dishonored their glory stat is added or subtracted to both their Mil and Pol strengths, there is no negative values, but a zero can still participate in a conflict. Anyway back to turn phases.

The Draw step is one of the more interesting parts of the game, each player selects a number of cards they want to draw, between one and five, on a secret dial, then the dials are revealed. The player who chose the lowest number gains honor from the other equal to the difference. For example, if I bid 5 (who doesn’t love card draw?) and you bid 2 (You, I guess)  I would lose three honor and you would gain three honor. If we both picked the same number no honor is exchanged. After the honor changes hands we both draw cards equal to the number we chose. There is no maximum hand size so honor concerns and tricks are what should guide your bids.

The Conflict phase is the meat of the game and deserves its own list, the first player has first opportunity to declare a conflict.

  1. Action Window – play actions before a conflict is declared
  2. Declare conflict – Choose the type of conflict, political or military, the province you are attacking, and the ring element of the attack
  3. Send attacking characters
  4. Reveal the hidden province card, there may be effects from this card
  5. Send defending characters
  6. Actions Window – Defender has the first action, when both players pass in succession the total strength of the type of conflict is compared and the highest wins the conflict. Passing here doesn’t exclude you from taking an action later in the window, if you are comfortably winning the conflict (or soundly losing and want to conserve your resources) you can pass until an action your opponent takes makes you want to do something.
  7. Compare total strength, if the attacker’s is greater than or equal to the defender’s plus the province strength the province is broken. Draws are given to the attacker. Draws with zero strength on each side are true draws with no winner.
  8. Resolve ring effects – The winner gets the ring token of the type declared back in step 2. If the attacker is the victor he gets to resolve the ring’s effect (outlined below after turn orders). In a zero strength draw the ring returns to the “unclaimed” pool.
  9. Bow (tap…it will always be tap) all participating characters and send them home.
  10. GOTO 1

Each player may choose each conflict type once per turn, for a maximum of four conflicts per turn, but may also pass their conflicts. If you pass on your first oppourtunity you can choose either conflict type for your second. Once all conflicts are resolved, the Imperial Favor is given to a player. The recipient is determined by the glory of their unbowed characters and the number of rings they have claimed. Then we move to the Fate phase.

In the Fate phase each character without any Fate counters is discarded, then each character looses one Fate counter. A fate token is placed on each unclaimed ring.

The Regroup phase allows you to discard any face up cards in your provinces that you wish, a broken province’s card must be discarded. Return all claimed rings to the unclaimed pool, unbow (also called ready)(also called untap) each card in play, and the first player token is passed. Then we get to do it all over again.

The five rings have a triggered effect after an attacker wins a conflict and they seem to have the ability to make quite an impact on the game, so choose wisely. The air ring allows you to either steal an honor from the defender, or gain two honor. The water ring allows you to unbow a bowed character or bow a character with no fate on them. This takes place before characters are bowed and sent home after a conflict so it doesn’t allow you to give a character vigilance. The fire ring allows the attacker to choose a character and either honor or dishonor them. The earth ring allows the attacker to draw a conflict card and have the defender discard a card at random. The void ring allows the attacker to remove one fate from any character.

I had the majority of this article prepared prior to FFG release the official rules documents so I decided to finish it and hopefully give you a slightly easier to digest run through. You can find the official document on the L5R product page and it is much more indepth in a lot of areas that I skimmed over for simplicity. There is much more we could discuss but nothing is quite like playing the game to try it out, therefore I have printed off some proxy cards, enough for two decks (Lion and Crane currently) and would love to sit down sometime and help someone learn to play.

Thanks for your time!

Board Games, Legend of the Five Rings

Rising From the Ashes pt. 1

Today’s article is about an old and dead collectible card game resurrected as a living card game. Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) was first published in 1995 by Alderac Entertainment Group and continued until 2015, giving Magic: the Gathering a run for its money as longest published CCG. AEG then sold the rights to Fantasy Flight Games who is publishing a new version that is incompatible with the AEG version. L5R is heavily influenced by Asian cultures, predominately Japan, and takes place in the magical world of Rokugan. You will find samurai, ninjas, monks, shugenja (elemental wizards), court politicians, emperors, and yojimbo. L5R has always  been very story driven, and was unique in that the players get to influence the story line directly. This was usually through doing well at tournaments, but during the time I played there were rewards for best decorated game store, best cosplay, most clan t-shirts at the equivalent of a Grand Prix, and many more I don’t recall. The end results of all of these was determining the next emperor and it was an insanely close race. Perhaps unfortunately FFG has decided to give the 20 years of lore the Star Wars treatment and started the story back at the beginning, though this does give them freedom to take it where they want without being bound by traditions and sacred cows from AEG. If you want, you can find all the previous short stories here under AEG CCG Story, but be warned there is a ton to read.

So today I wanted to introduce you to the clans we will be seeing in the new game, as well as some basic rules information. FFG is giving us a slow drip of rules and card spoilers so I will only discuss four clans today in any sort of depth but will introduce all seven (yes, only seven are in the base game as of now, sorry Mantis, Spider, Ratling, Shadowlands etc players).  Before I can talk about the clans though there are some gameplay elements to discuss. First, there are three methods to victory in the new version, breaking, honor, and dishonor. Breaking victories consists of breaking your opponents provinces and stronghold, most similar to attacking life total in MtG, provinces can be broken by military or political attacks. Each character will have both a military and political strength stat and conflicts of either type can be declared. Honor victories comes from raising your honor from its starting value (around 11 from what we have seen so far) up to 25 and you lose if your honor falls to 0. Honor is traded with your opponents whenever you bid for card draw or duels. Each player secretly bids on how many card they want to draw for the turn and whomever bids higher loses the difference in honor and the lower bidder gains that much honor. You also lose 5 honor if you deck yourself but you get to reshuffle your discard back into your deck. So when I say a clan is “military focused” or “dishonor focused” you are not lost as to how they want to win.

The Seven Great Clans of Rokugan

The seven clans in alphabetical (and, luckily, spoiled up to now in roughly this order) are Crab, Crane, Dragon, Lion, Phoenix, Scorpion, and Unicorn. This new quiz can help you identify which clan might appeal the most to you. You’ll have to make a copy in google sheets or download and fill it out in excel. I’ll try to outline the clan strategies and play style as best I can.

The Crab clan are the defenders of the Kaiu Wall on the southern border separating the Emerald Empire from the horrors of the Shadowlands. They are mighty warriors and builders, boasting some of the highest military stats spoiled so far. The Crab clan excels at defense, often receiving bonuses that victorious attackers would get when the Crab wins a defense. They are also used to sacrificing themselves to protect the wall, which translate in-game to trading weaker characters for a larger gain, such as directly destroying opposing characters, boosting other Crabs, or drawing cards. They also have a strong dishonor theme, such as punishing opponents for not attacking, or punishing the opponent for playing cards in combat. You might enjoy this style if you like MtG decks like Aristocrats or a Commander like Savra, Queen of the Golgari.

The Crane clan are masters of the court, and rather than using brute force to destroy their opponents use their political might to bring honor to their clan, but when words fail they are among the best duelists. Crane’s have the highest political stats we have seen so far and have many ways of interacting with your opponents characters. Their raw political strength should be enough to win by breaking provinces but they also have an efficient control suite to help control the board. This combination of efficient attackers and control elements makes me thing a good MtG analog would be a tempo deck like Delver or for Commander a heavily political deck like Edric, Spymaster of Trest.

The Dragon clan lives a secluded life in the mountains in the North of Rokugan. They seek enlightenment and avoid attachment to the physical world. So it is ironic that they have a focus on attachments, like equipment or auras from MtG. They will usually invest many resources into one powerful character that will stick around for a while and is more flexible than the straight political strength of the Crane or physical might of the Crab. They also have a resource manipulation theme, both in adding fate to themselves or removing it from opponent’s characters. Simply put, fate is like fading from MtG, when you summon a character you can over-invest in them to add fate counters which are removed every turn before your character goes away. My next article will cover a lot more of the rules and playing the game while we wait for more spoilers for the other clans. If your favorite commander ever was Uril, the Miststalker the Dragon clan might be right for you.

The final clan to get a good look at is the Lion Clan. The Lion clan is the backbone of the Emerald Empire’s military and has the largest standing army. They strongly follow the codes of Bushido and honor is very important to them. They are looking to swarm the board with cost effective characters and go for quick military breaks. The Lion clan has the ability to purchase more characters than other clans and has tricks up their sleeve to allow them to stick around longer than they should. If you like token decks this clan might be a good fit for you.

We haven’t seen much yet for the remaining three clans but I can give a brief overview. The Pheonix clan are where the majority of the shugenja study, and are a pacifistic clan. From the spoiled cards we know they have a pacifism effect called…pacifism…and that shugenja can impact a conflict while not participating. The Scorpion clan is the underhanded and sometimes dishonorable “dark” opposite of the Crane clan, they work in secret to achieve political ends for the greater good of the Emerald Empire. The spoiled cards show manipulation of the bidding process, and a strong dishonor theme. The Unicorn clan left the Empire for 800 years and explored the surrounding lands. When they returned they were greeted as invaders and were only “allowed” to rejoin the empire after carving out their lands and soundly defeating the defenders. The Unicorn resemble the Mongolian horde with their focus on strange weapons and horses. Their calvary allows them to harry their foes or disengage from unprofitable combat.

Part two of this article will discuss the remaining three clans a little bit more in depth but unless FFG starts giving more to us it will be very close to release before I can tell you more. In the mean time I’ll get an article about gameplay, card break down, and what rules we know.

Thanks for reading!

Board Games

One Box: a Million* Different Games

Warning! This article contains math!

I’d like to introduce you today to one of my favorite games: Kingdom Builder. Kingdom Builder is an area control game by Donald X. Vaccarino (the creator of the deck building game Dominion) for 2-4 players that won the Speil des Jahres in 2012. The Spiel des Jahres is an award given to one game a year for “excellency in game design” and those games usually end up among my favorites.

Kingdom Builder is a very fast game to set up, play, and score. We averaged a set up time of around two minutes, with an average play time of about 30 minutes (some combinations take planning while others are more straight forward). For your first time playing and reading the rules I’d expect about 45 minutes.

Anyway, to play Kingdom Builder you get one card a turn, which tells you the type of terrain on which you can place your settlements.

Terrain Cards

There are 5 playable terrains, grasslands, forest, desert, flowers, and canyon, and two unplayable terrains, water and mountain. You can also get bonus tiles that give you free settlements or allow you to move your existing settlements. The key rule to the game is that, if possible, your new settlements have to touch your current settlements.

The previous paragraph is enough to get you started, but what about winning? This is where we get into the math I mentioned earlier. Before the game starts you shuffle a ten card victory deck and choose three cards. These three cards tell you how to get points for that game. The points cards include easy to accomplish tasks, such as “one point for each settlement touching the water” to the more difficult tasks, such as “one point for each row containing one of your settlements.” Overall there are 120 different combinations of victory cards. Here is the math on combinations:

The formula for combinations is \frac{n!}{k!*(n-k)!} where x! represents x factorial, n is the number of choices, and k is how many you choose. Factorial in long form means x*(x-1)*(x-2)…*(x-(x+1)). I won’t bore you with the derivation of the formula, but you can look it up on Wikipedia here! So from the ten cards, and selecting three the formula looks like this: \frac{10!}{3!*(10-3)!} or \frac{10!}{3!*7!} or in long form \frac{10*9*8*7*6*5*4*3*2*1}{3*2*1*7*6*5*4*3*2*1} luckily we can eliminate some numbers because they are on both the top and bottom of the divisor leaving us with: \frac{10*9*8}{3*2} which simplifies to 720/6 or 120.

Replayability is also increased by the unique board set up. The game includes eight different boards, each with their own terrain combinations and bonus tiles. You shuffle the boards and lay out four for each game. This gives us more math!

We used combinations for the victory cards since the order in which you draw them doesn’t matter. For the boards we have to use permutations since the same four boards could be placed in a different order, 1234 is different from 1324. The formula for permutation of possible placements is \frac{n!}{(n-k)!} which looks very similar to the combinations formula but grows much quicker. Since we have eight boards and choose four of them our formula is \frac{8!}{(8-4)!}, which simplifies to \frac{8!}{4!}. We can cancel out similar factors again to end up with 8*7*6*5 which equals 1680 possible board combinations.

Board ready to play

So when I say replayability I really mean it for this game. Taking the 120 different victory card combinations and the 1680 different board set ups there is a total of 201,600 unique games possible. Slightly fewer than the million I mentioned in the title but enough to keep the game from being the same everytime you play.

Finsihed game with boards seperated

If for some reason you want even more variety (oh and I do) there are now four expansions and three promo “Queenies”, each with their own new bonus tiles, victory cards, and even new terrains (true to Donald X’s style). I only have two of the expansions but my box now contains 24,460,800 unique set ups, and the ability to play with up to five players.

 

I’ll end with some quality of life advice if you decide to pick up a copy of Kingdom Builder.

Why Queen Games? Why?

The game only comes with a few very large baggies for the pieces, so my crafty (devious, and she likes to make stuff) sister came up with a nice solution.  She took a snack sized plastic baggy and used a sewing machine to stitch up the middle, creating two sealable pouches for easy sorting. This also helps with set up time since you don’t need to paw through all the pieces to find that last one.

Mo’ Betta

We also moved the settlement pieces to a smaller bags as well. When I purchased the expansions I removed the weird filler/sorter cardboard from the main box to allow all my boards to fit into one box. The box is pretty heavy now but I don’t have to pull down other boxes to play with expansions, everything is together and compact.

Well I hope this prompts you to try out Kingdom Builder sometime, you can always ask me to bring my copy to the Geek, I’m always happy to play, and I promise I wont talk about math (unless you want me to).

Magic the Gathering

Boros Prison in Legacy

In early April we had our first ever unsanctioned Legacy event at The Village Geek. Since the event was unsanctioned, playtest or “proxy” cards were allowed meaning anyone who wanted would be able to play! We had an ok showing of 10 people for the first event and more importantly 10 archetypes were played, and miracles didn’t even get played (not that we have to worry about that now). We had everything from all-in combos like BR reanimator, Sneak and Show, and Leylines, to grindy decks like Maverick, Enchantress, and Lands. The event was an absolute blast to play in and the next one is scheduled for late May. I hope everyone is able to make it out, and once again it will be unsanctioned and proxy friendly.

Here is a breakdown of the Wr prison deck I took to a draw in the finals of the April event. I played this deck because it has a pretty even matchup against just about everything, a good knowledge of the meta works in your favor, nobody really knows the deck (I love coming out of left field), and I just plain like prison decks (sorry not sorry).

The heart and soul of the deck is the combination of Land Tax and Scroll Rack. If we somehow find ourselves with less land than the opponent Land Tax lets us search out three basics from our deck and put them into our hand. We can then use Scroll Rack to turn them into “real” cards and with a shuffle effect (like Land Tax) we get a fresh set of cards each turn.

So how do we get fewer lands on the table than our opponent? The best way is to use Mox Diamond for our mana and just not play as many lands from our hands, even skipping just one land drop against most decks will keep Land Tax drawing cards. Another way is to use Path to Exile as our removal rather than the Legacy standard Swords to Plowshares, if the opponent decides not to get a basic or doesn’t run basics it is a one mana removal with no drawback. Finally, if things get rough or you need Land Tax triggers, Zuran Orb can guarantee you have fewer lands.

The deck runs two different win conditions in the main deck. The first is the combination of Rest in Peace and Helm of Obedience. Helm of Obedience is worded just right so that with a graveyard exiler in play like RiP or Leyline of the Void you only need to activate it for 1 mana to exile your opponent’s entire library. The second is Goblin Charbelcher. You can easily pull all the basics out of your deck while stalling the game so Belcher hits a mountain or no lands at all. I was able to deal an opponent 48 damage from an activation one game.

A motley crew of prison cards that hold the deck together and your opponent off while you set up your win-condition. 3 Wrath of God effects, Ghostly Prison, Humility, Solitary Confinement, Ivory Tower, and kicked Orim’s Chant contain most creature decks. Trinisphere, Blood Moon, Orim’s Chant, and Pithing Needle can shut down a lot of combo decks and some Oblivion Rings round up the controlling elements of the deck.

To tie the deck all together it runs a full playset of Enlightened Tutors. The tutors make the deck quite consistent and flexible as nearly everything you want can be found with them. Early game they can set up the Tax/Rack combo, later they can find whatever will make your opponent groan loudest, and if everything is under control, they find the win. It’s like running 7 or 8 of your favorite cards and the full playset of the silver bullets.

The mana base is one of the least expensive you will find in Legacy; 15 plains, a mountain, and two plateaus means you can spend your money on other parts of the deck (like Mox diamonds).

The sideboard has a smattering of protection like Leyline of Sanctity, and Pyroblasts, some different win conditions like Baneslayer, and Assemble the Legion, and addition hate cards. I never felt like Nahiri was what I wanted so I may be adjusting the sideboard for the event in May.

Decklist:

Sideboard