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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!

Magic the Gathering

Five Things I’ve Learned in my First Month of Magic

Five things I’ve learned in my first month of Magic


Prior to becoming a member of The Village Geek family I had never played Magic: the Gathering before. Of course I had heard of it and seen it played but it had always only been on the periphery of my nerd-dar. However, after playing through two hands with my blue-white demo deck I became absolutely smitten and now, just barely a month after learning, I can happily say that I am on my way to becoming a baby Planeswalker.


I am a very reason and order based person (despite being a Gryffindor). I like systems and no loose ends and MTG delivers on all of those fronts in an almost algebraic fashion: mana is spent, spells are cast, damage is dealt, and although some turns can become very complicated there is always resolution. It’s an ideal love story for people (like me) who love unraveling the mysteries of how and why systems work.

My affection for the game has not come without some level of frustration and a lot of getting my teeth kicked in by my coworkers and fellow Village Geeks. However, nothing teaches you faster and more completely than losing. Here are the five most important lessons I’ve learned since I started playing Magic:

1. More cards, more problems.

At my first Friday Night Magic I tried to play with a deck so large I’m embarrassed to even admit the number of cards I was playing with. Not only did I look silly trying to shuffle all of those cards, but I looked even more like an idiot by being completely unable to cast any effective spells because I couldn’t get the right combination of land/creatures/instants to make any moves. Silly me thought “Look at all these neat cards. I like them all. They are so pretty and do such cool things. I don’t want anyone to feel left out!” Because all of my cards have feelings and personalities, (duh), I was afraid of leaving anything out, but now I know that what’s worse than leaving a cool card out of my deck is having that card in your hand but being completely unable to cast it. Now I’m learning the joy of creating multiple decks that include cards that compliment each other and have specific tactics.


2. Mana curve is a real thing.

If you thought I was being too poetic about how much I’m in love with the mechanics of gameplay you’re going to be really annoyed by how much I enjoy calculating mana curve and cost distribution of cards in my deck. Once I learned that 60 cards is not just the minimum but should be pretty close to your goal maximum I had to learn how to build the deck with the appropriate associations of mana and spells. There’s also no point having a card that costs 8 mana to play if you can never draw and play enough land. This article was very helpful:

You have to layout all of the cards you want to play and have an idea of how and when you want to be able to attack. Which brings me to number three:


3. Know thy self.

There are as many different ways to play Magic as there are players. Do you like crazy beasts or punching through everything or powering up a tribe or being able to control your opponent? I learned pretty quickly that I am definitely a control player. Give me more life, put my opponent’s creatures to sleep, stop the creatures from being able to attack, get rid of their lands, let me draw more cards. Which isn’t to say that I don’t also enjoy smashing stuff with dinosaurs or having a small army of mermaids, I just definitely know that I will always be the most excited by instants and enchantments that tangle up my opponent rather than brute-forcing depletion of their life points. Once you know what kind of player you are, you can build a deck that suits it and then distribute the cards and lands as necessary.

4. Accessorize.

Get card sleeves: in one game I had to mulligan three times because I wasn’t able to properly shuffle my cards. Sleeves make it sooooooooooo much easier and some of them are pretty and they protect your cards. Also, have some way of adding counters. Don’t make it harder on yourself than you have to. Even if it’s just random ephemera (like paperclips or beads or pencaps) have some way of keeping track of everything you’ve cast and any additional counters it has.


5. People are nice. The game is fun. Ask your questions.

I have yet to play someone who wouldn’t answer my questions. I’ve learned a lot by playing more experienced players who have curated really wonderful decks. Sure, those decks murdered mine, but I have always found that you learn infinitely more by losing than you do by winning. Magic has been around for decades. Take advantage of the millions of resources available online or from people who have more experience than you. GATHERING is half the name of the game and the community of players is definitely at least half of the experience. As much as I’m enjoying casting spells and planning decks and finding cards I want to play with, I am equally enjoying the people I’ve met and learning about their experience with Magic and what they like about the game.


Oh, and bonus #6 + #7: make sound effects when you cast spells and always let your opponent know when your turn is over.

Magic the Gathering

My Pet Card: Evolutionary Leap

I’m a very casual Magic player. I hardly play in any constructed tournaments and rarely spend more than $5 on a card. However, I do really enjoy some casual Modern and particularly, Commander. Commander is a fantastic format to play multiplayer as the nature of the rules keeps it fairly casual, and encourages players to gang up on whoever has the best board state. Additionally, because of the casual nature of Commander, you can also get away with playing some mediocre cards in the format. I don’t become super attached to Magic cards, so thinking of what to use for my first “Pet Card” article has been tough. However, when I thought about which cards I’ve had the most fun with, I thought of Evolutionary Leap, which I currently have in my Yasova Dragonclaw Commander deck.

Evolutionary Leap is going to cost you a whopping $1 and most regular players have a full playset of them in their trade binder they’re probably willing to trade away pretty easily. However, there are several things I love about this card. First, it’s fairly cheap to play at two converted mana cost- not broken but definitely a reasonable price to pay for what it can do. Second, I really appreciate the fact that you don’t have to tap it to activate its ability. That means late game you could have a pretty sweet board state and the next turn it’s going to be even better.

Now the downside is that you don’t want to activate Evolutionary Leap and get a weaker creature out, but if you’re sacrificing a 1/1 dork or something that has a cool effect when it dies then it’s probably worth it. Even better, if you can do this multiple times in a game of Commander, then play something like Rise of the Dark Realms then you could have a really good board state.

Like I said earlier, I currently have Evolutionary Leap in my Yasova Dragonclaw deck. It’s really fun to take control of peoples’ creatures, then sacrifice them and put a creature of my own onto the battlefield. In casual games of Commander I’ve had a lot of fun with this card. The process of revealing cards from your deck until you get something really huge like a Pelakka Wurm can be a lot of fun. If you’ve never included Evolutionary Leap in your Commander deck, I highly recommend checking it out!


Magic the Gathering

My Pet Card: Aetherspouts

Now it’s my turn in this series we are doing. Aetherspouts is hands down my pet card in the Commander format. This is the card that I always catches my opponents off guard. It’s a psuedo board wipe that can cripple an opponent in ways they may never recover from before the game ends. I know the staple blue board wipe is Cyclonic Rift but I personally prefer Aetherspouts. I like my commander games to go long but not forever. Cyclonic Rift too often “restarts” the game and I would rather wipe the board of my opponent’s creatures and keep mine as well as any other non-land permanents in play. Keeping non-land, non-creature permanents in play will keep the game moving forward.

Aetherspouts has also never made anyone as angry as I have seen a Cyclonic Rift make players angry. I don’t like playing commander to make people angry. I like to play games in ways that can make everyone have an enjoyable time and Aetherspouts accomplishes that better than Cyclonic Rift.

Magic the Gathering

My Favorite Commander deck

The perfect commander for my “life gain” deck is Oloro, Ageless Ascetic . He is a legendary creature that regardless if he is on the battlefield or the command zone i gain 2 life at the beginning of my upkeep. It is a perfectly broken card for a pretty broken deck. Although it is banned from french 1v1, it is not banned from anything else.

this life gain deck can either slowly gain life and when you least expect it, have a life total of over 200, or it can severely take life from its opponents as it gains life. what i do is put small creatures that give me at least one life each turn like Nyx-Fleece Ram (a 0/5 enchantment creature that gives me one life at the beginning of my upkeep). Or there is Soul Warden (a 1/1 creature that gives me one life whenever another creature enters the battlefield). Another good distraction creature is Rhox Faithmender (a 1/5 creature with lifelink. He makes it to where if i were to gain life, i gain twice that much life instead). I have one specific card that can protect me from losing which is Exquisite Archangel (a 5/5 flying creature that if i would lose the game, instead i exile that card and my life total becomes equal to my starting life total).

I do have an infinite combo that almost every magic player knows about which is Sanguine Bond (whenever you gain life, target opponent loses that much life) and Exquisite Blood (whenever an opponent loses life, you gain that much life). If i don’t pull Sanguine Bond i have a backup, Defiant Bloodlord (a 4/5 creature with flying, that whenever i gain life, target opponent loses that much life).

If none of that is possible and my opponent manages to get past all of that i can just cast Felidar Sovereign a 4/6 creature with vigilance and lifelink and at the beginning of my upkeep, if i have 40 or more life i win the game). Equip it with Swiftfoot Boots and i win the game!

Magic the Gathering

My Pet Card: Blade of Selves

So I had this idea a few weeks back while looking through my commander decks to try and create a series of posts by everyone here at Minis and Meeples who plays magic to have each of us write an article about a pet card. For those of you who are unfamiliar with a the term, a pet card is a card that a player uses quite often, or almost every time it is applicable, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a good card. We’re not talking about like Reliquary Tower which is good in almost everything, although it can be a player’s pet card. A pet card, played often enough or to great enough effect can become almost synonymous with a deck, or even a specific player within a play group.

For the most part I only play commander, I have dabbled in modern a bit but mostly that was to kill free time on tuesday nights in McPherson. The idea actually came to me because while looking through my commander decks I kept finding one specific card in each deck no matter the archetype from burn, to spellslinger, to a tribal deck, since it has come out it has made it into every deck, and even every build I’ve done, (you know, like where you try to build a deck out, look at it’s interaction, get it all down on paper, and then never bother actually playing the deck or even buying the cards? No? Just me? Darn).

The card I’m talking about is Blade of selves. It isn’t as flashy like Cyclonic Rift or as potentially game

breaking as say Deadeye Navigator, but it just has so much potential and appeal to my eye. Worst case scenario to me, is you equip it to a 1/1 chump and swing out, at least you’re getting even damage to each player, working on each of them. I understand people who question why I might try it in a spellslinger deck and the answer is twofold: 1. I am not one of those players who tries to super optimize their decks, which to many players will be code for “I am bad”, and 2. Guttersnipe. Most of my spell-based decks run a LOT of instants, so the idea is I go to combat and swing with snipe and trigger myriad, then before it moves beyond declare attackers step I’d dump whatever instants I have in my hand. In the average 4 player game that would make 8 damage to each opponent per spell, which in my opinion means you only have to have one instant to cast to make it worth the slot you’re giving up (because honestly if you’re a spell-based deck in red, you’re bringing guttersnipe even without the blade).

Some players might say I’m dreaming, being entirely too optimistic, that I’m dreaming to look at it like that, but honestly Guttersnipe isn’t the only card in those decks I could use it with. Young Pyromancer. Faultgrinder. Firebrand Archer. Do I really need to go on? The point is even in non-creature decks there are a lot of fun ways you can use this card and get some milage out of it.

Let it begin!

If you REALLY want to see me dream, we’re looking in the wrong colors and archetype, for a real dream/nightmare scenario we need to go over to Selesnya tokens, because there were two cards when this was released that I was almost immediately afraid of seeing it with, they’re in one color, and they were even both in standard at the same time, back in the glorious days of Innistrad and Return to Ravnica. First, and definitely more situational of those two cards is Craterhoof Behemoth. Just… just look at it. I mean, normally, you do have to have a bit of a board state but if we look into perhaps one of the best token commanders out there, Rhys the Redeemed getting to that board state isn’t all that hard. Assume we drop Craterhoof and equip the first turn It’s out in a game with 3 opponents, he already has +2/+2, then Myriad hits, each of those behemoth’s add another +5/+5, bringing his total so far up to +17/+17, then, you could tap Rhys, to create 3 MORE Craterhoof tokens, which would each give him +8/+8, for a grand total of +41/+41 making him a 46/46 WITH TRAMPLE, plus each of the 3 tokens from the blade itself are attacking, granted those 3 are only at 44/44 … from a starting board state of 2 creatures and an artifact. Then you can add in the flavor, lets go for a complete dream. Add to that if you have Doubling Season, Primal vigor,Parallel Lives, and Anointed Procession. 48 Craterhoof drop from the attack, the first
Craterhoof is now at 2306 . Activating Rhys would make this ramp insane, I could have done my math wrong, but his total attack would be 2,361,602! That’s my kind of dream!

The other card I was afraid of, and probably more so than Craterhoof, has

God, I hate this card!

been my bane since I first saw it played. Thragtusk. Luckily Thragtusk doesn’t have haste so you get a turn to kill it with fire. Again just Rhys and Thragtusk, when you go to attack you gain 5 life per tusk for 15 life, then Rhys can tap to make it 15 more life by doubling your tokens… and then at the end of combat you exile the copies of Thrag and get 6 3/3 tokens, and yes, I am going to expand on it just like I did for Craterhoof, because at this point you have come to expect it. Thrag attacks with all the same nasty token doublers that I mentioned before, 48 tokens gaining 240 life, Rhys taps and all that other stuff triggers for 1536 Thragtusk tokens, gaining 7680 more life, at this point you’ve gained 8020 life this turn, also you deal 80 to 3 opponents. Then because Thragtusk takes advantage of EVERY part of Blade of Selves, when the tokens begin exiling you get more tokens. For each of those 1536 tokens you get 48 3/3 beast tokens, leaving you with 24,576 tokens for NEXT turn… you know if you friends haven’t just given up yet. Of course for the 3rd time I might have set up the equation wrong, and my math might be off, but I’m willing to bet it’s near fatal.

Even in the last 2 paragraphs I’ve been handicapping just how high my dream can climb with one basic assumption, that they’d only have 1 blade of selves. Granted this is where we’re going full on Alice in wonder land, but if they’d played this deck with Mirrorworks. They would have 17 blade of selves to equip to something as soon as they had enough mana, which since it was a dream anyway we could have done more math, but all the math I’ve done already has tired me out so if you want to go for it.

Suddenly trying to get 8 damage per spell with a Guttersnipe isn’t such a pipe dream is it. Perhaps the real reason I love this card is because it prompts me to ask “what if?”, which honestly, isn’t that the real purpose of playing Commander, to challenge you to reach for the stars in your building?

Now I’m sure some folks who comment are going to be cheeky and point to cards like Magister Sphinx or Fog or something that could bring any of my situations crumbling down, yes those cards exist, but I can’t keep going just to list all the ways this combo could fall apart, there are many of them, more than many probably.

Is Blade of Selves a good card? Maybe. Is it a fun card? Abso-FREAKING-lutely! Thanks for joining me in what I hope will be an ongoing series of all of us here at Minis & Meeples gush about our most beloved cards from this wonderful game, Magic the Gathering.

Magic the Gathering

Sealed League Tips

We just finished week one of our Ixalan Sealed League at The Village Geek. Sealed League is a bit different from other sealed format tournaments. Sealed League lets each player begin with 3 packs instead of 6 and you are expected to build a 30 card deck instead of the normal 40. It can be a bit challenging to open up your 3 packs week one and try to figure out how to make a coherent deck. Let’s cover a few tips that I hope can help anyone jumping in to their first sealed league.

  1. Your curve is what will matter the most. Open your cards and sort them all by their color and mana cost. Then look at what you have laid out and figure out which color combinations will give you the best overall mana curve. Curving out against your opponent is one of the best ways to get some easy wins during week one when everyone’s decks are relatively weak.
  2. You will probably have to play a third color. You are opening 45 cards when you start instead of the 90 you would in a normal sealed tournament. You are less likely to open enough playable cards in just two colors so you will likely need to splash a third color. Try not to splash cards that have double or more color pips in their mana cost. Just find something in a third color a bit higher up your curve that will fill it out nicely. Also check to see if you opened any mana fixing that can help with your third color.
  3. Play lots of games and pick up those losses early. You get to buy a pack and add it to your pool after every three losses. The more cards you open the stronger your pool and deck can become. Sure, losing sucks, but just get it out of the way and hope you open some great cards to strengthen your deck for future matches.
  4. Just have fun. At the end of the day you are getting to play games of Magic which is one of the best games ever. Just play some games and have some fun. That’s what playing Magic is all about.

Have any other useful tips? Leave them in the comments.

Magic the Gathering, Pokémon TCG, Star Wars Imperial Assault, X-Wing Miniatures

To Netdeck, or not to Netdeck?

Netdecking is the act of finding a deck, list, or army, usually from an online source, and copying it. Typically the player is copying a relatively competitive deck.
In the world of customizable games, the term “Netdeck” gets thrown around like prejudicial slur. I’ll even admit that I have been guilty of that in the past, but I realized something recently that has completely changed the way I think about the issue.

Justin Phua’s Dengar/Tel Trevura list won the Fantasy Flight Games’ X-Wing World Championship this Spring of 2017. Will we see this list at every Store Championship?




I recently played in a Magic Tournament at The Village Geek and got crushed horribly. I’ll also admit that when I play games I can often be a get a little frustrated when I lose. It’s something that I have tried to work on over the years, because I want my opponent to have a positive play experience and enjoy their win. I wouldn’t say I am a horrible loser, but I want my opponent to thoroughly enjoy their victory, because if I win I would want my opponent to let me relish in it as well. I’m not saying I want to be able to brag, but there’s definitely something special that happens when two people are completely sportsmanlike; be it is the epitome of what makes games great from a social perspective. In this recent Magic Tournament I got absolutely destroyed and for some reason, I had a blast. So then I realized the reason I wasn’t butt hurt or frustrated: I wasn’t playing my own deck. It wasn’t even a deck that I researched and slightly modified. This is an extreme example for sure because I also didn’t even expect to win, but at at very basic level, I think an extremely valid reason to Netdeck is that it levels the play experience on an emotional level.

Aetherworks Marvel was everywhere in Standard…until it was recently banned.

When you play a list that you didn’t create from the ground up, taking hours upon hours to design and tweak, your highs will likely not be so high. It’s less rewarding to win with a deck/list what already has notoriety, yes, but your lows are also not so low, and not so frustrating. If you lose too much you just scrap it and find another without worrying about spending tons of time.

There are other reasons people Netdeck. Obviously many people want to win, true, but I think for some people it comes down to the amount of time it can take to create a list from scratch and practice with it. Why spend hours of time when someone has already cracked the code?

Magic the Gathering

Mardu Suspended License

So your last Friday Night cruise around Kaladesh ended with a run-in with the Consulate and now your vehicle license is suspended. Can you stay true to your beloved Mardu colors with no vehicles? I think so with the help of the new gods from Amonkhet. No need to go to the Temur Casino and play Aetherworks Roulette. Let’s check out a list I brewed up.
Other Spells
Magic the Gathering

Three Reasons to play Magic: the Gathering Commander

Commander has become my favorite way to play Magic: the Gathering. I play so many formats in Magic but this one has risen to the top for a few reasons. I think these reasons will entice you to come join us on a Thursday night and try some commander games.

1. The singleton deck construction makes every game just a little different. The variance in commander can be quite a bit higher than other formats with their deck construction rules. I prefer to not run a lot of tutor effects because I like the variance. With my 99 card decks I like to see the maximum number of different cards each game. It makes each game a unique challenge and I enjoy that.

This is so much fun to cast late in a game!

2. Games last longer which means you can cast more powerful and interesting cards. Lots of cards in the game do cool things but their mana cost keeps them from being cast in any other format. Commander games offer a long enough gameplay to allow for those cards to be cast.

3. Multiplayer games with friends are just a more fun and social way to play. I love getting together on Thursday nights at the store with my friends. We gather around the table up front, shuffle our decks, and start slinging spells and the occasional insult. It’s the most enjoyable part of my week.

Games are varied, powerful, and social. These are the top three reasons I can give you to come try playing commander. It’s a great format and if you just want to try it out there is always someone with an extra deck to lend you.