Under Constuction

Commander Theme Articles, MTG News Updates, and Random MTG Topics to help fill your hunger for

Magic: The Gathering!!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Walk Into The Random!!!

Back Where We Started!
Welcome one and all! Today I will, once again, be talking about a few random things on my mind. This is my more casual section so I figured I should let you know now. But, unlike before the will be links to decklists and a few ideas that popped up in my mind. Here I talk about a few things like game play, news, and other topics of interest to me.  So, if this all sounds boring to you, then… too bad. But, I do think that you may want to check this out because… well…. you’ll see. To all of you who are still here, let us take a walk into the random.
It All Began…
Last year, this happened. That would make this a little pass the one year anniversary of 3TF! One year of walking into randomness. One year of the Captain’s Log. One year of Oh Captain, My Captain. If you have followed me you got a chance to watch me go from a guy who couldn’t get published (so he made my own site) to a guest host on CommanderCast to a co-host of Off Color Cast. Over the last year I’ve make tons of friends who I have written with, shared ideas with, and have learned from.  So I figured I’d take this time to go over the last year and talk about of a few of my favorite things from this year.
Let’s start with this:
Crossover Month was fun. I really enjoyed the writing this article but the real enjoyment was that I got to work with Imshan from CommanderCast for a while. We were trying to figure out a way to have our articles feel like two stories that played out with us being lost and ending up on the wrong sites. But…
We couldn’t get the feel down in time so I did my thing and Imshan did his. All in all, it was still a great time and I wouldn’t mine to work with him again. I’ve also been on at least one show for four of the six seasons at CommanderCast! If you want to go back and hear all of the different times I’ve recorded:

 While I may have only worked with Imshan once and Andy a few times over the last year, I have had a lot of time with this man!
Cassidy also created this awesome alteration of Lightning Bolt!!!

In the past year we have traveled a similar path. We both started our blogs about the same time, guest hosted on CommanderCast multiple time, and we currently record together on Off Color Cast with, the final piece of our Three Amigos as it were, Christian Renoe.

Speaking of which…..
Off Color!!!
In case you haven’t heard yet (and if not where have you been??) OffColorCast.com is the main place to go to find me. If you’re a long time reader you know writing takes a lot of time for me but I still have enough time to record. We have been doing a season based of 10 shows and now we have recorded up to 19 shows. This means we may be going on vacation soon, but I make no promises due to the fact that it hasn’t come up yet. If you haven’t been listening, we discuss Commander and a few random things we feel like talking about. Just a heads up, we have a tendency to curse and no I’m not talking about the enchantments. If you’re not into that kind of language we understand. Not everyone can handle us but it’s really good content, funny to listen to, and you get to hear me!
In Other News…
In the last few weeks I’ve taken on the position of the guy who posts up all the shows at OCC, but I’ve also talked with my man Jonathan Felber and now write articles that are very themed over at OCC. I was thinking of having him here but changed my mind. Why should I try to keep such a great article for 3TF when OCC could do so much more with us all working together?
This leads me to the next bit of news I want to talk about. There is a very good time this will be the last post on ThreeToTheFace.com I do. Not for a while. I mean Period. Mainly because I feel if I want to do something I’ll post it on OCC where the whole team can benefit (or suffer) from it. I will still keep this page up and I plan to use it as an archive for my works so far. Don’t worry; you will still have me to kick around for a while, just over at OCC instead. I really want to thank all of you for this past year, all the comments, and for allowing me and my site here to keep you entertained.
So for one last time,

This is your Captain speaking… We’re Heading Into the Red Zone!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Oh Captain, My Captain!!!

There’s Blood in My Braided!

Welcome one and all! Today I have decided to bring to you another one of my real life decks from my Commander box. This is how I’ll be doing a few of my “Oh Captain” articles for a little while so I figured I should let you know now. Since I have these decks built already, it’s a little easier to do these decks during my down time. With my real life taking so much more of my time, I need to squeeze my free time for the time to make articles. Hopefully I’ll gain enough of my free time back soon to get back to writing on a more regular base. So enough of this, let’s get into the deck of the day!
Very recently, I started updating my decks with cards from Innistrad/Dark Ascension. Out of all of my decks, the one that got the most cards added was Ashling, the Pilgrim and Kresh the Bloodbraided. 

While I know Kresh is probably one of the most popular Commanders around, due mostly in part to the fact that a certain member of the Magic community, who is kind of responsible for Commander, is well known for playing with it.

Please don’t sue me…
Still, I find this deck to be one of my main go to decks for when I gather with my friends. So, let’s cut the foreplay and jump right into the action!
Whose Blood Is This Anyway?
While my Kresh deck is not one of my usual theme decks I do feel a need to do a quick rundown of what it’s about. I have a plan of generating tokens as much as I can, play Kresh, sacrifice them, and swing with Kresh for the win. I like this strategy because if something happens to Kresh, I can still do well by just dumping out tokens. It’s also got a few added things for personal tastes.
Let’s get started with a few of the newer additions… the DFC’s!
Mayor of Avabruck//Howlpack Alpha, Garruk Relentless// Garruk, the Veil-Cursed, and Instigator Gang//Wildblood Pack: I have to say that, as much as I don’t like the way these cards work, they are still just too good to pass up. I’ve come to learn to respect Instigator Gang//Wildblood Pack. Giving all your creatures an extra point of attack for attacking is right up Kresh’s alley. If they are going to die anyway, no need to not cash in with a few extra +1/+1 counters. But when this thing flips, we enter a whole new area of danger for your opponents. All your attacking creatures gaining +3/+0 means Kresh could hit one shot kill in one swing afterwards. Even if your opponent doesn’t block they’re taking a huge amount of damage.  Mayor of Avabruck//Howlpack Alpha works well with Kresh. On the human side it gives Kresh a nice +1/+1 pump and when it flips it make 2/2 wolves that it pumps into 3/3’s. Which then gives Kresh three +1/+1 counters when they die. I also like how the Howlpack Alpha works with Garruk, Relentless//Garruk, the Veil Cursed by pumping both kinds of tokens it can make. It also doesn’t hurt that if it dies while in “Alpha mode“, Kresh could get a nice +3/+3 bump. I feel like since I’m dipping into the token part here I’ll just continue with the rest of that part of the deck.
Garruk Wildspeaker, Master of the Wild Hunt, Mogg War Marshal, Skirsdag High Priest, and Sprouting Thrinax: Here we have a nice range of token generators to play with. Garruk Wildspeaker has always been my favorite Planeswalker since they were first printed and I have no problem putting my fate in it again here. Master of the Wild Hunt is also another personal favorite that I feel needs a little more respect then it’s been getting. Remember all those wolf tokens from the flip cards, including the 1/1 deathtouchers from the flipped Garruk, are under Master of the Wild Hunt’s control. Mogg War Marshal is great with Skirsdag High Priest by providing two tokens and activating Morbid. Also, if you have the High Priest out when Sprouting Thrinax dies you get to tap two saproling tokens for a nice size 5/5 flying demon. Lose one 3/3 and gain a 5/5 flyer with three 1/1’s sounds pretty good. While we’re on creatures that are good with Skirsdag High Priest, let’s move on to…
Siege-Gang Commander, Broodmate Dragon, Dragon Broodmother, Skeletal Vampire, and Grave Titan: That’s right! Army-In-A-Can cards are a huge personal favorite. I always feel like I’m getting value when I drop one of these cards. And I am. Even if someone Day of Judgment’s the board, for me it’s a one for one even if I’m losing a hand full of tokens in the exchange. These are also great to cast after a wrath effect because you played one card that gives you more “cards” on the field. All but one of these, looking at you Broodmate Dragon, works great with Skirsdag High Priest and also brings in a ton of creatures worth dying to pump Kresh. I’m pretty sure this group is pretty cut and dry when it comes to what they do so I’ll just continue with…
Ulasht, the Hate Seed, Mimic Vat, Giantbaiting, Spider Spawning, Night Soil, and Necrogenesis: That’s right! More Tokens! Ulasht, the Hate Seed can pump out a few tokens and even if it doesn’t, it will still pump Kresh for whatever +1/+1 it had. Mimic Vat has become a personal favorite. Between Ulasht, the Hate Seed, the Army-In-A-Can, and some of the other token makers this little artifact its own little powerhouse. Giantbaiting can make up to two 4/4’s that, if you could find a way to sacrifice them, could pump Kresh up by eight counters. Spider Spawning brings us two chances to fill the field with 1/2 spiders for blocking as long as we have a graveyard with a decent amount of creatures. Night Soil and Necrogenesis provides a way to deal with opposing graveyards with a little gain in the form of a 1/1 Saproling token.
Does Blood Stain Hair?
Ok, so with all of this token making, let’s get into the various other cards in this deck. Let’s start with a few of the sacrifice outlets, then well do some removal, and see where we end. Sounds good? Let’s Go!
Viscera Seer, Greater Gargadon, Curse of the Cabal, Butcher of Malakir, Vampire Hexmage, and Braids, Cabal Minion: Viscera Seer gives us a way to sacrifice creatures at instant speed with a little control over our top deck. Greater Gargadon is a great way to sacrifice creatures and you end up with a nice size 9/7 beast. Curse of the Cabal is one of the best ways to insure that you have a way to sacrifice thing for Kresh. You can suspend it, sacrifice a permanent to it, and as long as you can keep it suspended you will always have a way to sacrifice a creature to pump Kresh. Also if anyone allows it to reach a point where it could actually come into play, someone will pay dearly. Butcher of Malakir can take advantage of this sacrifice stuff and makes everyone sacrifice a creature. Remember, Kresh counts when any creatures goes to the graveyard. Vampire Hexmage is here to deal with other players Planewalkers.
Fleshbag Marauder, Gatekeeper of Malakir, Engulfing Slagwurm, Ambush Viper, Shriekmaw, and Vampire Nighthawk: Fleshbag Marauder and Gatekeeper of Malakir come in as a way to add a few more sacrifice outlets to pump Kresh. Engulfing Slagwurm is just a beating because with Kresh out your in a lose/lose situation. They can’t block it or Kresh will get bigger and we’ll gain some life, but if they don’t they’ll be taking seven. Ambush Viper is an instant blocker that can gain Kresh two plus X +1/+1 counters. Shriekmaw can be played for its Evoke cost and Kresh could gain three plus X +1/+1 counters. Vampire Nighthawk’s deathtouch and lifelink abilities make it more of rattlesnake card with a “don’t mess with me and I won’t mess with you” feel.
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed: What more can I say about this card that I or my main man Cassidy hasn’t said already. Oh yeah, this with a Bloodbraid Elf is cute with a second chance to Cascade... For Free!!! 
Bloodghast, Bloodbraid Elf, and Lightning Reaver: Speaking of Bloodbraid Elf, I enjoy playing with it here because its effect is always just random fun. Bloodghast is great for a sacrifice effect due to the fact that it will return with the next land we play. Lightning Reaver is a house left in checked. I say get it equipped with a Whispersilk Cloak and watch how much hate it generates.
Hull Breach, Desert Twister, Innocent Blood, Devil’s Play, and Putrefy: Removal. What more is there to say, outside of the fact that Devil’s Play has ended more than its fair share of games in the short time I’ve had it.
Deathbringer Thoctar, Basilisk Collar, and Gorgon Flail: Deathbringer Thoctar combined with either of these two equipments is a one-side Wrath effect. All it needs is a single +1/+1 counter and you can ping away every creature your opponents control… you know that don’t have indestructibility or regenerate.   
Grave-Shell Scarab, Dawn of the Dead, Bloodgift Demon, Lurking Predators, Greed, and Harmonize: Here we have my card draw effects. Dawn of the Dead is a new addition along with Bloodgift Demon so let’s talk about them more. With the sacrifice outlets this deck has, Dawn’s exile effect rarely comes up and I’ve come to find out that when you start with 40 life points, paying one life to get a second chance to cast a creature is just fine with me. The same applies Bloodgift, but the different here is Bloodgift can help make allies if you use it to allow them to draw a few cards. I haven’t used this ability to kill a player yet, outside of Limited, but I know it will happen soon.
Champion's Helm, Whispersilk Cloak, and Trailblazer's Boots: Here we have three nice pieces of equipment. I’ve come to use Champion’s Helm more over Lightning Greaves just due to the fact that I’ve learned Greaves get destroyed a little too often in my group but Helm goes under the radar a little more often. This often applies to both the Cloak and the Boots.
Fires of Yavimaya and Pain Magnification: Pain Magnification is another recent addition. While I have yet to use it I feel it well fit in fine. If I can connect with most of the creatures in this deck, while this is out, it will lead to a little added card advantage. It could even add up to a player discarding multiple cards in one turn. Fires of Yavimaya help by giving all my creatures haste but could be a quick pump to finish someone off.
Mage Slayer, Relentless Assault, and Lord of Extinction: Here are my other last ditch game enders. Mage Slayer can deal out a ton of damage if it’s not destroyed. Relentless Assault can take players by surprise and cause them to do some really bad blocking. Lord of Extinction just takes advantage of both of these cards in ways that make me wonder why it’s not a legend.
Sol Ring, Golgari Signet, Gruul Signet, Rakdos Signet, and Coalition Relic:  And here are a few mana rocks to help get to five a little bit quicker. 
Kazandu Refuge, Gilt-Leaf Palace, Rakdos Carnarium, Golgari Rot Farm, Kessig Wolf Run, Llanowar Wastes, Lavaclaw Reaches, Blackcleave Cliffs, Auntie's Hovel, Akoum Refuge, Arena, Gruul Turf, Shivan Oasis, Vivid Marsh, Vivid Grove, Raging Ravine, Treetop Village, Grixis Panorama, Sulfurous Springs, Savage Lands, Dakmor Salvage, Llanowar Reborn, Skarrg, the Rage Pits, and Rix Maadi, Dungeon Palace:  And here are the non-basic lands I run in this deck. A few dual color, Tri color, and Man lands combined with a few Effect lands. I could say more here but I’ve ran passed my word personal cap a while ago so I’ll just leave you here with the links to look at and piece it all together.
Time to Wash My Hair!
With 4 Mountains, 4 Forest, and 5 Swamps my version of this popular deck is completed. This is one of the few times where the mana base is my actual build in the real, but don’t let that stop you from making your own personal changes. At the bottom, you can check out the deck list. Feel free to leave any comments you have and you can always hit me up at CaptainRedZone@gmail.com. You can also find me on OffColorCast.com where I podcast with Cassidy Silver and Christian Renoe. Just a heads up, OffColorCast.com may not be work safe. As always thanks for the read and I will see you next week for another article!

Hope you had fun and please leave any comments or suggestions.  Until next time,

This is your Captain speaking… We’re heading into the Red Zone!!!

 1 Kresh the Bloodbraided
1 Kazandu Refuge
1 Gilt-Leaf Palace
1 Rakdos Carnarium
1 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Llanowar Wastes
1 Lavaclaw Reaches
1 Rix Maadi, Dungeon Palace
1 Blackcleave Cliffs
1 Auntie's Hovel
1 Akoum Refuge
1 Arena
1 Gruul Turf
1 Shivan Oasis
1 Vivid Marsh
1 Vivid Grove
1 Raging Ravine
1 Treetop Village
1 Grixis Panorama
1 Sulfurous Springs
1 Savage Lands
1 Dakmor Salvage
1 Skarrg, the Rage Pits
1 Llanowar Reborn
4 Forest
4 Mountain
5 Swamp
1 Sol Ring
1 Golgari Signet
1 Gruul Signet
1 Rakdos Signet
1 Mayor of Avabruck
1 Garruk Relentless
1 Mogg War Marshal
1 Skirsdag High Priest
1 Sprouting Thrinax
1 Siege-Gang Commander
1 Broodmate Dragon
1 Dragon Broodmother
1 Skeletal Vampire
1 Grave Titan
1 Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
1 Ulasht, the Hate Seed
1 Mimic Vat
1 Giantbaiting
1 Spider Spawning
1 Night Soil
1 Necrogenesis
1 Desert Twister
1 Innocent Blood
1 Devil’s Play
1 Putrefy
1 Viscera Seer
1 Braids, Cabal Minion
1 Vampire Hexmage
1 Fleshbag Marauder
1 Greater Gargadon
1 Curse of the Cabal
1 Butcher of Malakir
1 Gatekeeper of Malakir
1 Grave-Shell Scarab
1 Engulfing Slagwurm
1 Ambush Viper
1 Shriekmaw
1 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Hull Breach
1 Deathbringer Thoctar
1 Basilisk Collar
1 Gorgon Flail
1 Fires of Yavimaya
1 Master of the Wild Hunt
1 Bloodghast
1 Bloodbraid Elf
1 Lightning Reaver
1 Dawn of the Dead
1 Bloodgift Demon
1 Lurking Predators
1 Relentless Assault
1 Champion's Helm
1 Whispersilk Cloak
1 Trailblazer's Boots
1 Greed
1 Harmonize
1 Pain Magnification
1 Mage Slayer
1 Lord of Extinction
1 Instigator Gang
1 Coalition Relic
1 Garruk Wildspeaker

Friday, March 16, 2012

Walk Into The Random!!!

A Deep Look At: Mikaeus, the Unhallowed

Welcome one and all! Today I’ve decided to try something new that I like to call A Deep Look At, where I pick a card I think needs a little more exposure. The card I chose to talk about today is…

I know that by now you’ve all probably heard about combining Mikaeus with an artifact creature named Triskelion. For those of you who don’t know by now, and haven’t figured it out yet, these two cards combine to make a loop that could “go infinite” in dealing damage to players. Remove all but two +1/+1 counters from Triskelion to burn your opponent. Then remove the last two counters on Triskelion to deal damage to itself (while having Mikaeus out on your side of the battlefield). Mikaeus gives Triskelion Undying and Triskelion returns with all of it counters plus one. Repeat until everyone is dead or until someone breaks you combo by killing Mikaeus or removing Triskelion from you graveyard or whatever.
While I will admit that this is a great interaction, after people found out about it… they seemed to stop caring about Mikaeus and all he brings to the game. So I’ve decided to take a closer look at him and I’m going to tell you some of the more interesting things you could do with him that don’t include the pervious combo. Ready? Let’s Go!
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed + Dawn of the Dead
I know what some of you are thinking.

“Um… Captain... Are you feeling alright? Dawn of the Dead removes creatures at the end of the turn. Last time I checked, that didn’t work so well with Undying. You know because the creatures never hit the graveyard again “.
I will have you know I still have my wits, or what little I still have, about me. Yes if you reach your end step, Dawn will come and remove your creatures. That’s why I have no intensions on letting them stay that long. I’m thinking of Fleshbag Marauder. We’ll get Fleshbag with Dawn at the beginning of our turn. Fleshbag will force everyone to sacrifice a creature so we’ll sacrifice Fleshbag. Mikaeus gives it undying and it comes back forcing yet another sacrifice, to which we sacrifice Fleshbag again.
With this out we now have a way to make all of our opponents sacrifice two creatures at the beginning of our turn for as long as it’s out… and all it cost us was one life point a turn.
If we go a little... um… Off Color… we can combine this with creatures that like to sacrifice. Sakura-Tribe Elder will give us two tapped basic a turn, for four mana Siege-Gang Commander will pump out six 2/2 goblin tokens (They get +1/+1 for not being human), and for two mana Qasali Pridemage will destroy two targetable artifacts or enchantment a turn. If we dip back into black, Vampire Hexmage will kill two Planeswalkers or remove +1/+1 counters from one of our other creatures that’s about to die. You know so they can Un-die. We could also use Viscera Seer to sacrifice a creature Dawn of the Dead returned to Scry for cards.
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed + Shriekmaw
In case you haven’t heard yet, this game has a pretty deep history of killing creatures. Undying loves watching creature die. For example, back in 2007 with Lorwyn block, which was as of writing this was five years ago, we got Evoke. For those of you who don’t know or remember, creatures with Evoke were creatures that had abilities when they entered the battlefield or died, but you could cast them for an Evoke cost instead of their printed mana cost. The down side was that if you evoked a creature, it sacrificed itself when it would enter the battlefield. You get the effect but didn’t get to keep the creature.
But With Mikaeus some of these may never see their printed mana cost again. Take for instance Shriekmaw.

You have two chooses with Mikaeus out. You could pay five mana to destroy target nonartifact, nonblack creature and get a 4/3 (Mikaeus gives non-Humans +1/+1) or you could pay two mana to destroy target nonartifact, nonblack creature, let Shriekmaw sacrifice itself and Un-die, destroy another target nonartifact, nonblack creature, and get a 5/4 (+1/+1 for not being human and a +1/+1 counter from Undying).
Yeah I know that’s not really a chose but it’s kind of funny how this works out with just about all of the other Evoke creatures in the same way. High cost for effect and creature or really low cost for the same effect (maybe twice) and same creature (with +2/+2).
It’s even has a very similar effect on creatures with Echo, Cumulative upkeep, end of turn sacrifices, and  various other effects like Persist…
Mikaeus + Persist
Since we’re on the idea of Persist, I feel this is a great place to talk about Undying and Persist. Both effects are basically the same with the only difference being that when you creatures comes back you get a -1/-1 counter for Persist and a +1/+1 counter for Undying.
Funny thing is that, if one of your creatures with Persist dies while Mikaeus is out, it comes back with both a -1/-1 and a +1/+1 counter on it. Now the rules state that if one creature has both of these counters they cancel each other out. So your creature basically got a get-out-of-jail free card. Murderous Redcap gets to do three damage to who or whatever it likes, because it’s not a human so it gets a +1/+1 lord boost from Mikaeus. Puppeteer Clique gets to steal any opponent’s creature from a graveyard for as long all the gravy train is in town.
If we combine these two effects with say a way to sacrifice creatures we could use Redcap like the Triskelion combo from above. You could steal all the opponent’s creatures with Clique and then exile them at the end of the turn or sacrifice all the creatures and use the same trick during someone else’s turn to have a field full of blocker. Combine any of them with Ashnod’s Altar and you get all of the colorless mana you could ever want.
Mikaeus + Other Legends
With Mikaeus seeing play I wouldn’t be surprised if Ulasht and its kind get a little more play.

 This is a card that works along the same lines a Triskelion with the difference being Ulasht cost you one mana and activate and doesn’t kill players in one shot. But if you can get enough mana you could make a huge army of Saproling tokens. Just remember to leave one counter to have Ulasht ping itself.
Also if you didn’t know yet, Mikaeus tells Kamahl, Fist of Krosa and Crovax, Ascendant Hero to go take a nap.

Usually someone playing this combo will use Kamahl, Fist of Krosa to turn your lands into 1/1 creatures and Crovax, Ascendant Hero’s Nonwhite creatures effect would kill them. But Mikaeus only sees your land as non-human and gives it +1/+1. That’s not even counting the fact that they’re both humans so if they so much touch you, they better make sure that it’s going to kill you or Mikaeus will make sure they pay, with their lives. Even if they try to use Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite instead of Crovax the lands have undying, so the lands come back with +1/+1 counters as lands. Now if Kamahl tries to animate them again their 3/3’s that Elesh Norn would turn into 1/1’s.
Bury Your Dead

With all of this I feel that Mikaeus has a lot of unseen potential. Even with all of this I’ve still only touched the surface of what this card can do. For more things, you can check out my boy Cassidy Silver over at TCGPlayer.com in the Magic section. He built a whole deck based around Mikaeus, the Unhallowed using a totally different set of cards and combinations. Feel free to leave any comments you have and you can always hit me up at CaptainRedZone@gmail.com. You can also find me on OffColorCast.com where I podcast with Cassidy Silver and Christian Renoe. Just a heads up, OffColorCast.com may not be work safe. As always thanks for the read and I will see you next time for another article!

Hope you had fun and please leave any comments or suggestions.  Until next time,
This is your Captain speaking… We’re heading into the Red Zone!!!