In this episode we challenge the “best deck in the format”? GB Midrange with our good friend Liam Canning from Team Mana Gaming.
Mother and son team, Harriet and Louis, take a trip down memory lane with a Khans of Tarkir draft.
Mother and son team Harriet and Louis Wilder venture into a Competitive Standard League with UG Stompy in search of a battle with the hottest deck of the moment Turbo Fog. Will they succeed?
Now that the Core Set is settling down and I’m thinking about what singles to buy, I’ve put together a very subjective list with my favourite magic cards from it; I’ve only picked 3 cards per colour… Here we go.
- Liliana, Untouched by Death. Very playable in Standard, will help to make zombie decks competitive again.
- Murder. Glad to have this unconditional removal at instant speed back in Standard. Okay, you might just play Fatal Push and Vraska’s Contempt (or even Cast Down), but hey, it’s nice to have more options.
- Duress. Yes, we already had it in Ixalan… but isn’t it the best sideboard card you can have these days?
- Llanowar Elves. What a classic mtg card! Always good news to see them reprinted. Featured in all sorts of stompy and ramp decks. Again, it was already brought back in Standard since Dominaria.
- Thorn Lieutenant. Allows you to create extra Elves if targeted, and gets huge later on? Sign me up.
- Vine Mare. Natural successor of Bristling Hydra. Quite difficult to deal with.
- Tezzeret, Artifice Master. I’m still not sure about how good this new Tezzeret is. Clearly you need a bunch of artifacts to make the most out of him, which limits your brewing options. There must be a pretty good list in this space with the likes of Sai, Master Thopterist, Karn, Scion of Urza, Mox Amber…
- Exclusion Mage. Man-o’-War is back, awesome!
- Nexus of Fate. Anything that gives me an extra turn makes me happy… Though 7 mana is a lot to pay! It’s an exciting card, perhaps not 100% playable but exciting enough to put it in my top 3 for blue. As far as I know you can only get this card if you buy a promo box (or if you buy it on a certain website for mtg singles 😊).
- Banefire. Outstanding card against control decks!
- Lightning Strike. Granted, it was already in Standard, but it’s still one of the best removal spells available in the format.
- Sarkhan, Fireblood. 3 mana planeswalker? Sure, I’m in. There are quite a few decent dragons in Standard, so why not…
- Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants. The +1 and -2 abilities make him very versatile. Powerful in decks such as W/B Knights.
- Resplendent Angel. I love a good Angel, very spicy card.
- Cleansing Nova. I had to include the ‘wrath’ of the set, sorry!
Artifacts & Multicolour
- Chromium, the Mutable. As a control player myself, I’m happy to play this big dragon as a win condition. Flash and the ability to give him hexproof compensate the high mana cost.
- Nicol Bolas the Ravager / Nicol Bolas the Arisen. Good fun. Great to see that 5 colour dragons deck.
- Crucible of Worlds. For sure very relevant regarding land destruction strategies in Vintage and Commander.
You might well have many of the reprints… However, if you do need to buy magic cards from Core Set 2019, either reprints or any of the new cards, you can buy your mtg singles on LilianaMarket, the mtg market for players and game stores in the UK!
Buying mtg singles on LilianaMarket is very simple, but I thought I’d give a few tips here, just in case.
1. Be mindful of new sellers. LilianaMarket is still a pretty new mtg market and community. Every day new players are joining the platform and many of them are listing their mtg collections for sale. When they list their cards for the first time, they still don’t have any track record of transactions and ratings & reviews. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t buy from them (we all need to start somewhere!). In this case the order will always be tracked and they won’t receive any payments until you confirm that you’ve received the cards, so it’s perfectly fine. It only means that you will be their first buyer and the first member to review them, either positively or negatively. (Those sellers that receive poor reviews or have cancellations are likely to be banned from the community).
2. Buy your cards from as fewer sellers as possible to minimise shipping costs. On LilianaMarket you can buy magic cards from multiple sellers in one go. However, it will always be cheaper to order your cards from a reduced number of sellers, since you pay shipping costs per each of them.
3. Message your seller if a few days have gone passed and they haven’t shipped the cards yet (you will receive an email when your order is dispatched), or if you have any questions regarding your order. If you feel like your seller is being slow or want to clarify any details, please do contact them.
4. Take the order value into account. On LilianaMarket we have both pro-sellers (such as Samarpan or Gamerz-Nexus) and mere players that are looking to offset some of the costs of playing magic the gathering. Particularly if you’re ordering singles from a player, keep in mind that buying just a couple of 10p singles from someone is not necessarily the ‘deal’ they’re looking for. If you were selling magic cards yourself, you’d like to make a few quid per order, wouldn’t you?!
5. Choose the shipping method you feel more comfortable with. When you’re buying cards on LilianaMarket, you can always choose whether you want them sent tracked or untracked (unless you’re buying for the first time or from a first time seller, or when the order value is above £20, scenarios in where normally you’d only be able to purchase cards using the tracked option). Tracked delivery is always a bit more expensive but can give you extra peace of mind. On the other hand, untracked delivery is cheaper and you don’t need to be at home to sign the post, as Royal Mail will simple drop the order into your letter box.
5+1. If you sold cards on LilianaMarket first, then you can use the funds to buy other cards. In my case for example (see my profile here), I’m not spending any actual money on mtg singles: I pay the entry to FNM or whatever tournament I’m playing, list the cards I get from the packs, sell as many as I can and then buy the cards that I actually need, re-using my LilianaMarket Balance. It feels great 😊
I hope this was helpful. If you have any queries you can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re building a great community for buying and selling magic the gathering cards and it would be a pleasure to have you on board!
Team LilianaMarket member Pete Marrable is playing the Legacy GP in Birmingham… So, he can safely share all his thoughts on standard without giving his gameplan away. Just do the sporting thing, and pretend you haven’t read this if you meet him at a standard PPTQ in the near future!
With post-Dominaria standard now in full swing I will be taking a look at three of the decks that have been performing well. These are all decks I have played myself in multiple competitive leagues on Magic Online. Hopefully my experiences will give some insights on current viable decks, and help you decide what deck to play for the upcoming GP!
Deck 1: UW Control
As Gio highlighted last week, control has certainly got a lot of new toys from Dominaria! Normally control decks struggle at the start of a format but the power level of these new cards have already put UW control (and its sister-deck UW historic) on the map as one of the current top decks to beat.
Seal Away is what UW has been calling out for – an efficient 2cmc answer to problem creatures. With access to Seal Away, Fumigate and Settle the Wreckage it makes playing around the deck’s removal very challenging for your opponent. I found this regularly led to opponents making unwise or simply not committed-enough attacks.
This allows you plenty of time to set up the win, whether you do this the old-fashioned way with Torrential Gearhulk, or with a certain new planeswalker…
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is a busted magic card; it allows the UW deck to not have to rely on approach to win the game (which is a bad card a lot of the time). The raw card advantage followed by bouncing all your opponent’s permanents is a much cleaner and safer way to win the game. Importantly, its ability to bounce creatures also heavily punishes decks trying to resolve one large threat.
Another card to have a big impact is Lyra Dawnbringer. The card helps the deck against control’s traditional challenge, mono red, which has very few ways to deal with it. Lyra is solid against almost any creature-based deck, and its ability to race is not be sniffed at either!
You can read more, including a sideboard guide over at Star City Games, where UK player Autumn Burchett explains her recent success with the deck.
Deck 2: Mono red aggro
Despite what I’ve just said about Lyra, the mono-red deck and variants splashing black are very much still alive and kicking, as last weekend’s SCG events results show. However, its power level has certainly dropped due not only to Lyra but also the predominance of white-based decks with efficient exile effects to deal with Hazoret and Rekindling Phoenix.
Nevertheless, the deck has picked up a great new addition in the form of Goblin Chainwhirler, which allows it to operate on a slightly different axis than it did before.
Apart from its obvious use against token based decks, when combined with Soul-Scar Mage it allows the deck to shrink the size of the opponent’s creatures permanently, and consequently, playing four Soul-Scar Mage is probably correct.
The deck can struggle against decks with bigger creatures such as the green midrange variants and Chainwhirler’s combo with Soul-Scar Mage can help out against their bigger creatures, although it does likely take the place of Ahn-Crop Crasher which itself can offer evasion against bigger threats.
Due to the triple red mana cost Chainwhirler does also mean that the deck cannot afford to play the utility desserts. According to Frank Karsten, 22 Red Sources are required to cast Goblin Chainwhirler with 90% consistency on turn three.
Finally, Glorybringer is still a good Magic card, despite the presence of Lyra in the metagame.
Deck 3: WB Vehicles
There are a lot of variations of this deck kicking around on Magic Online, as it’s still being refined and tested but it reminds me of the Mardu Vehicles of old, where it just plays some of the strongest cards going all the way up the curve.
Toolcraft Exemplar into Heart of Kiran is still an incredibly strong start against any opponent, who knew!? Some of these decks now also have a token element with Servo Exhibition / Sram’s Expertise, but also utilizing some of the new Dominaria cards such as History of Benalia. History is great, it provides creatures to defend your planeswalkers or its knight buff can provide big swings when you’re the beat-down.
Another new card, Benalish Marshal is also key to the more token-orientated versions, by turning your servos into real-threats, as well as crewing Heart of Kiran. When paired with older cards like Shefet Dunes and Pride of Conquerors your tokens can swing for a crazy amount of damage.
Others have been going for a more midrange approach and cutting the pump spells for Planeswalkers, giving the deck extra dimensions with Karn and Gideon.
Karn, Scion of Urza is another amazing new card from Dominaria – I would go as far as to say it could be the best card in the set. The card advantage it provides is very strong and can help you get ahead in grindy games, and it can also just make Constructs every turn and in some versions of this deck they can get very large very quickly!
So, that’s my rundown of some of the top performing decks of the moment, I hope it’s helpful, and I look forward to seeing a lot of you at GP Birmingham.
Now that Dominaria is out we’re all thinking of what decks to play (even more with GP Birmingham in the near horizon) and what magic cards to buy… As a fan of control decks, I think a classic blue/white control deck is more than viable in Standard, thanks to some of the upgrades from the new set. Here it is my list of top 5 control cards.
1. Seal Away
This is exactly the kind of removal that we were missing. Since Blessed Alliance and Immolating glare rotated out, white was lacking some decent targeted removal. Okay, Baffling End, Cast Out and Ixalan’s Binding are all good, but they all come with a high mana cost or without instant speed. Seal Away seems incredibly powerful to me: it exiles the thread and it doesn’t require it to attack, just needs to be tapped.
This card felt incredibly sweet in limited, and I believe it can be strong in Standard too. The ‘cat plan’ using Regal Caracal never appealed to me and without Archangel Avacyn or Gideon, Ally of Zendikar white didn’t really offer solid win conditions for control decks (other than Approach of the Second Sun, of course).
I love this card. Dovin Baan is rather clunky (though still had its glory when Carlos Romao made it to the final of Protour Kaladesh, playing jeskai control) and there weren’t many planeswalkers suitable to play control. Teferi changes things. The fact that you can untap two lands means that you can still go for it in turn 5 and have enough to cast Seal Away or Essence Scatter. That makes a huge difference. Then his other abilities basically allow you to take the lead and win games.
I’m not sure whether I prefer Blink of an Eye to Commit / Memory. I like bouncing things from the battlefield, and I really like drawing cards 🙂 Of course Commit allows you to bounce spells before they resolve, so hey.
5. Cast Down
This is not a white or blue spell, but it had to be included in the list. Great addition for Blue/Black control and middle range decks, as it looks like the perfect complement to Fatal Push.
Can’t wait to see how the meta game shapes up, I’m so excited about Dominaria!
Dropping some useful links to the platform in case they help:
Last weekend, Jessica Estephen was the first woman to ever win a Magic Grand Prix. Team LilianaMarket vice-captain Ceri Taylor celebrates Jessica’s and others’ successes and reflects on why watching people you can identify with do well can inspire you to try harder to be successful yourself.
Coming out of the cinema, I looked at my friend’s 21-year old daughter and realised that I wasn’t the only one feeling emotional… Neither of us are particular fans of action movies; so what was it about Wonder Woman (dir. Patty Jenkins, 2017) that had caused us to well up? Apparently, we weren’t the only ones!
When it comes to action movies it’s not often the case that the central character is a woman, and that their body is not there to be looked at, but there to fight. Watching Wonder Women made us realise that we’d been missing out on seeing characters we could feel some gendered familiarity with in those kinds of roles. Our emotional reaction to the movie was a visceral response to its total normalisation of women’s strength and ability, tinged with sadness that this felt like a novel viewing experience.
The Geena Davis Institute, which conducts research around the issue of female representation in the media has the motto, “If she can see it, she can be it”. So, do I want to be Wonder Woman? No… But I would rather like to be a successful competitive Magic player. And these last two weekends have certainly delivered the feminine inspiration needed!
At GP Seattle, Miranda Keith top 8’d the Legacy GP, having gone 13-2 in the swiss. Meanwhile, Kendra Smith (better known for playing Pauper) X-0’d day 1 of the Seattle Standard GP. The same weekend I got to watch fellow UK player Chloé Beadell beat SCG Pro Todd Stevens on camera over at SCG Open Milwaukee. By the end of the weekend I was feeling happy and inspired by their successes.
But this weekend topped even that! I woke up on Sunday morning to see that Jessica Estephen and her teammates Ryan Lewis-Johns and Lachlan Saunders had won the Unified Modern GP in Sydney. The first woman to ever win a GP! Later in the day I saw that Jadine Klomparens had come 16th in the Modern GP in Hartford. Then, I woke up on Monday morning to find out that UK player Autumn Burchett had won the sealed MOCS open!
Jessica isn’t the first women to do well in Magic; shortly after I first started playing Magic I became aware of the successes of Melissa DeTora and Jackie Lee. However, it feels like women have become increasingly visible at competitive Magic events. Event coverage has been part of this, increasingly showing women on stream, and using commentators like Maria Bartholdi. But it’s also because women are doing better at competitive events. According to data collected by Play it Forward in 2017, the percentage of women or non-binary players in day two of US GPs increased over the year in every format except Modern.
Play it Forward is an initiative established in the USA to,
“…promote and cultivate women playing Magic: the Gathering at a competitive level by raising awareness of, and providing aid to, the hundreds of pro-candidate women already out there. Also by motivating additional women to join their ranks.”
It’s important to note that Play it Forward is not affiliated to Wizards, it’s a voluntary activity established by, and for, women and non-binary players. What they do, alongside collect data, is publicise successes by granting donated prizes to the highest placed woman or non-binary player at selected GPs. The prizes started with a playmat, but as the initiative has become more well-known they have become more impressive, including mentorships from high-level pros. Initiatives like this, and particularly the greater publicity given to women who are doing well, has been really important to me as a source of inspiration and encouragement.
Why does all this matter to me?
The reason it matters to me is not just because of the pleasure of seeing people I can identify with do well. The increasing visibility of women in competitive magic also has important potential effects on my ability to do well at tournaments. The reason for this is that tournament performance is not simply based on play-skill. For women* attending competitive Magic tournaments the concept of ‘stereotype threat’ is a real issue.
So, what is ‘stereotype threat’? Various studies (e.g. those reported on here, here and here) have shown that when people are in a minority that is stereotypically assumed to be worse at a particular thing (e.g. doing maths or being competitive), that assumption has a negative effect on their performance. The effect is increased when they are reminded (even in subtle ways) of their minority status immediately prior to the test/tournament etc. A reminder of their minority status may simply be realising that they are a numerical minority in the room, or may be more evident, such as overhearing comments that remind them their involvement is novel to the others present. It doesn’t have to be an overtly sexist comment, although of course being on the receiving end of that will likely have an even more negative effect.
Another factor is overall numbers. The tiny number of women playing competitive Magic means that whatever their play skill they’re very unlikely to top eight a large event. I mentioned above that the number of women day two-ing US GPs in 2017 increased, but we’re still only talking about an increase from just over 1% to approximately 2.5% for Limited, and about 0.75% to 1.5% for Standard (data from Play it Forward). Numbers are important, as Play it Forward organiser Simone Aiken explains:
“Right now competitive women are 0.5% of competitors in a typical GP. So for every 100 matches 99 will be won by a man and the last match might be won by a woman. In a game where even world champions only have a 67% win rate this kind of numeric disparity virtually guarantees that the top 8 will be men. You can run simulations where women have an 80% chance to win a match against a man but with 2000 players and 10 competitive women the top 8 is still frequently all male… It isn’t changing the skill dial that gets women in top8. It’s changing the headcount.”
Consequently, Simone interprets the increase in the percentage of women day two-ing in 2017 to a roughly equivalent increase in the overall number of women attending GPs over the same time period.
There are also practical reasons why more women in competitive Magic makes it easier for us to attend and enjoy events. Simple things like having people to share hotel rooms with can cut costs. Also, as Chantelle Campbell explains, attending events with other women players, even if part of a mixed group, makes it much easier to picture yourself as ‘a Magic player’ first and foremost, rather than the odd one out, which leads to a much more positive experience overall. As part of Team LilianaMarket, I get to work with a great group of people; but however great the guys are, having Harriet on the team with me is an integral part of it being a comfortable and enjoyable experience.
The last two weekends have been truly inspirational, and watching Miranda’s, Kendra’s, Chloé’s, Jessica’s, Jadine’s and Autumn’s success has really spurred me on to keep working on Magic, and one day join them in the top-end standings. I’ve seen it, now I want to be it!
*And likely other minorities too, but I don’t have the personal experience to comment on that.
You can find out how this new found inspiration helps Ceri, Harriet, and the rest of the team by following their progress on twitter @TeamLiliMarket, and of course we’ll keep you posted on our own Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
This weekend a new Magic team was launched; and as part of our mission to support the MTG community, we’re their proud sponsors. Introducing the captain and vice-captain of Team LilianaMarket, Ross Broxup and Ceri Taylor, to tell you more about the team, their approach and ethos.
The team as a whole are really excited to announce our new partnership with LilianaMarket.co.uk. LilianaMarket is a new marketplace platform specifically aimed at the UK Magic community. As a new and ambitious UK team we realised that there could be potential parallels between us and them, so we sent an optimistic email…
Gio replied almost immediately saying they liked our email and our “entrepreneurial approach,” and were really enthusiastic about the idea. Over Skype and email we quickly realised we had a lot of shared values, and started trading ideas and laying the foundations for Team LilianaMarket.
You can read all about our nine team members, their favourite formats and personal aims here, but we wanted to use this opportunity to talk a bit more about our approach and plans for the team as a whole.
As a team we believe that supporting each other and focussing on continuous development is the best way to improve and achieve consistent results at a high level. Of course, we care about results but we try and focus on the process rather than just the outcome. We’re ambitious and competitive, but hopefully not at the expense of enjoying Magic and all the great community aspects that come with it.
Speaking of community, we’ve been inspired by the way the UK Magic community is continuing to grow and improve. It’s great to see a growing number of competitive teams. Of course, like others, we’ve looked to Team Axion Now for guidance, and we appreciate the help of Axion team members regarding some of the practicalities of team administration – that has been really useful. Some of us have also previously been involved in local teams such as the Eastbourne-based Mana Gaming team, which have been key to our development as players. Internationally, Facebook groups such as MTG ProTutor and the amusingly-named ‘Ladies on the Grind’ have also been really important mechanisms for support.
We’re really looking forward to becoming a more visible part of the UK Magic community!
We’ll be officially launching Team LilianaMarket at GP Birmingham 2018, so you’ll be able to meet us there – you won’t be able to miss us in our stand-out green! We’ve got team members in both the legacy and standard main events, so feel free to come and say hello.
Ross Broxup and Ceri Taylor
To start this week off we got a chunk of 22 new Dominaria cards revealed, as we come to the conclusion of spoiler season. We already know all of the mythic cards in the set, so let’s tackle this batch by rarity, which is made up of 2 rares, 12 uncommons and 8 commons
Here we have Mishra’s Self-Replicator with an effect that screams ‘break me please!’, but at 5 CMC will it be possible? Also our second rare – Blackblade Reforged which with the semi-recent Planeswalker errata means that this beauty can be equipped to Gideon while he’s in creature mode for just 3 generic mana… flavour win!
Continuing into the uncommons we have a couple of artifacts with Urza’s Tome that has a sweet loot effect and Jhoira’s Familiar to make ̶o̶w̶l̶ all your Artifacts, legendaries and Sagas cheaper (yup – that means planeswalkers too)
Garna, the Bloodflame is an interesting Black/Red creature which could see some janky self-milling or cycling combo to gain card advantage.
Warcry Phoenix definitely rekindles my love for red decks, but at 4 mana as a 2/2 hasty flyer it may only see play in limited formats.
On Serra’s Wings comes in as a white aura looking to give one of your creatures +1/+1, flying, vigilance and lifelink. Perfect for building your very own B/G flying and vigilance creature, just as MaRo intended 🙂
And finally the commons, which finish off today’s spoilers to give us a menagerie of various creature types – not limited to but including Sphinx, Pegasus and Bird Soldier! My favourite of the lot is definitely Baloth Gorger, which I’ll definitely be looking to slam a couple of at the pre-release given the chance.
Lots of sweet new cards to look at here so what do you think? I’m really looking forward to see how the format handles the Historic mechanic and what creative interactions spring up.