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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Return to Ravnica Draft and League Details

Hey all!
  We're closing in on our Return to Ravnica Post-Release Draft and soon after that the Return to Ravnica League. Yay!

  So I wanted to share a few details with you (with more extensive details on League coming later):

WHEN: October 27th. We'll start announcements at 11:00, with drafting immediately after.
WHERE: Time Warp Games, formerly called Packard's Games and Movies, in Northgate Mall in Hixson, TN
RULES: Full Rules for Return to Ravnica Draft

DURATION: November 10th - January 5th
TOURNAMENT TYPE: Modified version of Sealed Deck. Specific deck building rules TBA.
COST: $46 if paid up-front OR $20 first period + $9 each additional period after if on a period-to-period basis.
1) The Return to Ravnica League will run for only 2 months (instead of the traditional 3).
2) We will run the League in 2-week increments, or "periods."
3) First period, you'll get 6 Return to Ravnica packs to use in building a 40-card (still unofficially) deck.
 Every period thereafter, you'll get 2 packs of Return to Ravnica as additional help in strengthening your deck.
4) Trading of cards from your League pool into someone else's League pool is allowed. As such, you are constrained to 4 copies of any non-Basic Land card in your deck. Details on legal trades TBA.
5) Every so often, the deck size minimum will go up until we hit 60 cards. Specific details TBA, including if we'll up it to the full 60 or only to 50.
6) Prizes will come from splitting up a Duel Decks: Izzet vs. Golgari deck set and/or Return to Ravnica pack splits and/or any promo cards I have.
7) There is a points system.  Points (for prize distribution and bragging rights) are done on a period and overall basis. Details TBA.

I'll have more details toward the end of the week or beginning next week. I'm just excited to get to play with the new cards! :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

How It Seems Return to Ravnica Pre-Release Will Work

With all the information from last night about Shocklands and new previews, what got glossed over was how the Pre-Release will work for Return to Ravnica.

From the start, we were told of "Guild Packs" that will serve as the 6th pack of a Sealed Deck Pre-Release. It was assumed from the chatter that you would pick one of the 5 Return to Ravnica guilds and, along with your 5 normal packs of Return to Ravncia, you'd get 1 "Guild Pack" of 15 cards: 14 cards exclusively in the  colors of the Guild you chose plus a Pre-Release promo tied to that Guild.

However, last night we not only got the Pre-Release promos for the set spoiled but also the way these packs will actually work.

First, let's see how the Pre-Release will work.

(Details are from http://www.wizards.com/Magic/TCG/Events.aspx?x=mtgcom/events/prerelease-facts)

When you go to the Pre-Release, you'll choose 1 of the 5 Return to Ravnica Guilds:

  • Azorius (White/Blue)
  • Izzet (Blue/Red)
  • Rakdos (Red/Black)
  • Golgari (Black/Green)
  • Selesnya (Green/White)

You will receive a collection of stuff called a "Guild Prerelease Pack". It contains the following:

  • 5 normal Return to Ravnica boosters.
  • 1 14-card Guild-specific pack
    • These 14 cards that fit your Guild's colors (mono-color cards could be included, but they will fit your Guild's colors. Also, I assume nothing with even a loose affiliation with another Guild would be included)
  • 1 Prerelease card specific to your Guild.
  • 1 Spindown Life Counter (I would assume "20" is the Guild symbol of your chosen Guild)
  • 1 Achievment Card (probably similar to the last few Pre-Releases)
  • 1 Guild Symbol Sticker
  • 1 Letter from your chosen Guild's Guildmaster

That's not too shabby, is it? :) As usual, it's a Sealed Deck tournament, meaning you build your deck from the 6 packs you get plus any Basic Lands you need (usually provided by the tournament venue).

Why don't we look at the Pre-Release cards now? Perhaps what they do is important to what you'll pick for the Pre-Release (and it gives me a good excuse to post a few Spoilers this afternoon. ;)  )

(NOTE: All images from Wizards of the Coast's Return to Ravnica Card Image Gallery and may or may not be the artwork used for the Pre-Release promo versions)


If you're reading and going "Wait...the reminder text sounds familiar." Well...that's because it's normally been on cards. Look at Arrest (oddly enough, from the block Return to Ravnica will replace in about a month!):

From  http://magiccards.info/som/en/2.html

So this also gives me a good excuse to preview Azorius' new keyword, Detain.

When a creature with Detain gets to use its Detain ability, it allows that player to choose a certain number of opponent's nonland permanents (it'll be specific how many in the text) and keeps that/those permanent(s) from doing 3 things:

  • No attacking.
  • No blocking.
  • No activating their activated abilities (Anything with a colon [:] before the actual effect is an activated ability)
The effect usually lasts for a turn, so it's kind of like getting a Frost Titan effect when the Detain trigger happens.

Detain's trigger isn't the same for every creature. For Archon of the Triumverate, it's on attacking. For Lyev Skyknight, though, (another preview card from the Card Image Gallery), it's when he enters the battlefield.


So we have a 4/4 Flying Haste dragon for 5 mana. Not bad as-is. But this lets you cast Sorceries as if they were Instants! Imagine being able to cast Past in Flames on your opponent's turn to set up a win on your very next turn, or casting Reforge the Soul to refill your hand while your opponent can't use what he drew because he didn't think to keep some lands untapped to gain mana from them.

Though I'm sure some pro will be much more sinister than I with their plans. ;)


Yesterday one of our player's reactions to "Unleash" was one word: "Lame." Why? It was on a 1/1 creature.

AHem...perhaps to explain Unleash. It's a pretty simple mechanic really. You can bring the creature onto the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it. As long as it has a +1/+1 counter on it, though, it can't block. Yes, you're basically forcing your Unleash creature to focus on attacking only.

So why would you ever do this? Look at Carnival Hellsteed.

For 6 mana, he's a 5/4 with First Strike and Haste. 5 power with First Strike is very helpful, but what if you're not focused on defense? What if your opponent has an empty field and you can hold off any other creature threat he's got?

Give the Hellsteed a +1/+1 counter and let it attack for 6 each turn, duh! And if your opponent happens to get something out to block, then Hellsteed will just First Strike it to death with 6 power vs. what will most likely be a relatively smaller-toughness creature.

It's important to note, though, that if you do give an Unleash creature a +1/+1 counter FOR ANY REASON, it will not be able to block. This might be where you'd favor casting a Blessings of Nature and giving an Unleash creature a +1/+1 counter. This way, if you have a big creature you didn't want stopped, it won't be a problem now. (Of course, you'll then have to deal with a stronger creature next turn, so be careful about doing that!)


So perhaps we won't get Doubling Season reprinted, but honestly we've got half the card in Innistrad's Parallel Lives. This gives us, for the most part, the other half of Doubling Season.

If any creatures you control would get any +1/+1 counters, double them up! Hmm...Blessings of Nature looks better and better now, eh? lol!

Well, think of it this way...working with Unleash you get a creature in with 2 +1/+1 counters instead of 1. If you use it against Unleash (as I was talking about just a couple paragraphs above), your Unleash target only gets 1 +1/+1 counter while, in total, your other creatures would get 6 total +1/+1s! (Either 1 creature gets 6, or 1 gets 4 while another gets 2, or each gets 2, etc.)

I imagine with Shocklands being back we'll see Rakdos and Golgari team up in this fashion. Or perhaps it could just be a Golgari beatdown deck using effects that gives +1/+1 counters...including Scavenge! Or because of Shocklands, why limit ourselves? When Gatecrash comes out, we'll have Breeding Pool so we could go with Inivisible Stalker Counters (using Scavenge and the 1- or 2-of Blessings of Nature to make 1 huge Invisible Stalker that's difficult to handle.)

This is a potentially Standard-playable card, but I feel it'll find a lot more favor at the casual table as 4-toughness creatures aren't as easy to handle in and of themselves.


Okay...so I'll be honest. This feels like a kick to Selesnya. Every other color gets a decent creature while Grove of the Guardian gets a land?

Perhaps it's not as bad as it looks. Remember, Selesnya's new keyword is Populate, which lets you make copies of tokens. It's plausible that this effectively reads as:

4GW (remember, you have to tap Grove of the Guardian itself, so that's like using the mana from itself)
As an additional cost to cast this creature, tap two untapped creatures you control.

So from that perspective, perhaps it's not too bad. And if there are cards that can get lands back, even if it's just 1 or 2, that'll possibly net you two of these guys. Unfortunately, we don't know of any yet so I have to judge off a 1-time activation.

An 8/8 is scary! Add to that it can attack and block with no problems and this can be a menace.

But what I'm also seeing is what's termed "power creep" in creatures. No longer is a 3-mana creature a 2/2 with a decent ability. It's usually a 3/3 with a keyword or 5/4 with nothing else. This increases the chances your 8/8 could be killed on it attacking. Add to it that we have 2 guilds with Red and 2 with Black and there can be some decent damage or toughness-lowering abilities that ends up killing this humongous 8/8 before it actually deals a ton of damage.

If it had Trample as well (that way White would be Vigilance and Green would be Trample, making it a White/Green creature), I'd be more willing to try it. As it stands now, though, I'd like to see more of the set before passing judgment.

As a Legacy and Modern note, though, remember that Green has Life from the Loam and can use Crucible of Worlds so perhaps there it might make a better casual card for playgroups that play those formats but don't use tournament decks.

I hope you enjoyed the run through the Pre-Release promos! Hopefully over the next few days I can get more previews posted for you. Until then, take care and enjoy Return to Ravnica preview season!

Shocklands: Confirmation! And Some History and Rules

Today is a good news day if you've been playing Magic since at least Ravnica: City of Guilds block.

There was speculation based on art and very artful dodging of questions about the matter, but at tonight's PAX Prime MTG Party, there was no question.





From  https://twitter.com/mtgcolorpie/status/242083449048006657

Yes, sir! The original Ravnica: City of Guilds block "Shocklands" are back in Standard for 2 years! Woot!

*crickets chirp*

*they keep chirping*


*No more chirping*

Okay, okay...so you're fairly new to the game and you're wondering "So...what's the big deal?"

Let me tell you a story...a story of the original "Dual Lands"...

When Magic: The Gathering's first set (now named Alpha) first came out, there was a "cycle" of 10 lands called "Dual Lands."

From  http://magiccards.info/al/en/278.html
These were non-basic lands that had basic land types. In Bayou's case, it's Forest and Swamp. While it *was* part of the effect, it later got errata'd to always have those land types (so the type line would read "Land- Forest Swamp").

These cards are so good for a single reason: they do have the basic land types.

"So they're basic lands!...Right?"

Oh, if it were that simple! You can have unlimited numbers of Basic Lands in your deck. But there are only 5 cards (constantly reprinted) that are Basic Lands. They are named Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest. They also have the type line read "Basic Land - Plains" or "Basic Land - Island", for example. So these original Dual Lands were, later in the game's history and like most other cards since, limited to 4 copies in a deck.

No, having basic land types made them easily searchable! Look at Farseek (recently reprinted in Magic 2013 Core Set):

From  http://magiccards.info/m13/en/170.html
Look at the wording..."a Plains, Island, Swamp or Mountain." It doesn't say a basic Plains, Island, Swamp, or Mountain. So let's look at Bayou.

If you wanted to search for Bayou, you could search for a Swamp, go get Bayou, and put it onto the battlefield tapped. Not too shabby!

So when Ravnica: City of Guilds came out, we got the first preview of the "new Duals", called collectively as "Shocklands".

From A Special Ravnica Preview, August 18 2005
These are closer to "true Duals", a re-creation of the original Alpha/Beta/Unlimited/Revised Bayou-type duals that have 2 basic land types in their typeline. But by this time, the "Reserved List" had been put in to prevent reprinting of old Rares (for the most part). So this was the fix.

Why are they called "Shocklands", though? Unlike the "true Duals", these lands had a clause universal to all 10:
"As [card name] enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, [card name] enters the battlefield tapped instead."

So basically, you were doing a self-Shock just to get to use the land the same turn you played it.

"Soooo not worth it!", some claim. "2 life to get to use it?"

Yep...but look at cards like Wild Nacatl (HINT: Shocklands seemed to be the reason it was banned in Modern):

From  http://magiccards.info/ddh/en/4.html
Now look at Temple Garden again:

New art in Return to Ravnica. From Return to Ravnica card image gallery.

So you pay 2 life on turn 1, right? Then pay G for Wild Nacatl. Congrats! You now have a 3/3 creature! Temple Garden is a Forest, so that's +1/+1 to Nacatl's 1/1. Then, it's also a Plains, so Wild Nacatl goes from 2/2 to 3/3. Feel powerful that you have a Turn 1 3/3. That's not easy to accomplish, no matter what generation of cards you were looking at. (EDIT: Or what could also usually happen in Modern was Turn 1 Stomping Ground to cast Nacatl [now 2/2 because you have a Forest], then Turn 2 you play a Temple Garden or Sacred Foundry to have a Plains and make him 3/3. Either way, you have a 3/3 creature attacking on Turn 2 of the game while the opponent probably has a 1/1 or 2/2 if they're not playing the same deck.)

So back to the history of these...so you notice how generic the names are? "Stomping Ground", "Temple Garden", "Watery Grave" (for Blue/Black), etc. The intent was indeed to make them re-printable in non-Ravnica-themed sets. (REFERENCE: http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtgcom/daily/db47)

So what happened? At one time "Painlands" (you tap for 1 colorless mana OR you tap to get 1 of 2 colors of mana for a 1-life payment) were the go-to lands for Core Sets. It was speculated these "Shocklands" would replace them.

Instead, we got 5 lands like Glacial Fortress (with the entire 10-card cycle finally finished out in Innistrad):

From  http://magiccards.info/m13/en/225.html

Why did we not get Shocklands? Well, it seems players were not looking at the "Painlands" and seeing the power of paying life for mana. It wasn't "obvious" why advanced players were willing to give up life to get one of 2 colors of mana off their land. So this was the response (SOURCE: http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/feature/45)

So we figured "Okay...goodbye Shocklands! We'll see you in Legacy...NOT!" Well, along came a format called "Modern", which basically said any card in an Expansion from around 2003 onward (Mirrodin block and 8th Edition start the run for Expansions and Core Sets, respectively) was legal (save for a ban list). So what happens when you combine a new format with lands that eerily simulate the "real Duals" that are widely used in Legacy?


At some point (and I can't remember when, so I apologize), WotC said it was their plan to reprint certain Modern cards where they were more easily available to the masses. Combine this with the fact that the "Shocklands" had generic names and it meant that any Core Set from the onset of Modern forward could have had the "Shocklands". But that one paragraph about players not liking to pay life for lands kept ringing in our heads.

...Until today. With Return to Ravnica being an Expansion set, I feel Wizards of the Coast felt it was safe to reprint the Shocklands here.

1) Players who pick up Return to Ravnica are partially doing so for nostalgia's sake. They remember the Shocklands so it's a familiar thing to them to pick more up, or some perhaps for the first time as they couldn't get their hands on them before.

2) As an Expansion, it's naturally geared toward higher-level playing players than complete "noobies", for lack of a better word.

3) Perhaps they felt with the popularity of the Zendikar fetch lands (which finished out a 5-card cycle from Onslaught with the other 5 color pairs) it was safer to allow players to pay life for their lands as more saw the benefit of doing such just a few years ago.

For whatever reason, I am very glad WotC has reprinted the "Shocklands." I'm sure many veterans from that era are more than happy to dust off their old "new Duals", plop down some Farseeks or Gem of Becomings to help fetch them out, and let the multicolored goodness fly much more easily. And for newer players? The Shocklands here have an advantage the older ones didn't: Magic is played much more frequently, and therefore bought more frequently, than it was in the past. Add to that regular Rares are easier to get thanks to the introduction of Mythic Rare in Shards of Alara in roughly 2007 and we should see a lowering in Shockland prices. This means your dollar could buy more "new Duals" that function very closely to the "old Duals" of days gone by. :)

SO NOW...which ones will be legal when?

RETURN TO RAVNICA (releases October 5, 2012*)
Hallowed Fountain (Azorius)
Steam Vents (Izzet)
Blood Crypt (Rakdos)
Overgrown Tomb (Golgari) (previewed at very top)
Temple Garden (Selesnya)

GATECRASH (releases February 1, 2013)
Godless Shrine (Orzhov)
Watery Grave (Dimir)
Breeding Pool (Simic)
Stomping Ground (Gruul)
Sacred Foundry (Boros)

So yes, there is nearly a 4-month wait until you can use the other 5 lands. But once February 1st of next year comes up, enjoy having both the Shocklands and Magic 2010/Innistrad duals legal at the same time until October 2013. :)

(PS: Yes, cards like Glacial Fortress or Isolated Chapel will look at the land types on the Shocklands to determine if they can enter the battlefield untapped. Source: http://gatherer.wizards.com/pages/card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=221919 and scroll down just a bit to the rulings)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ravnica Spoilers from Duel Decks: Izzet vs. Golgari

Hey hey hey again!

Today I come with actual card previews. Yay!!! lol.

Last year, when we got Duel Decks: Ajani vs. Nicol Bolas, we learned that the order of Duel Deck releases was getting switched. Normally, in the Spring of a year we'd get some oddly-themed Duel Deck (Phyrexia vs. The Coalition, Elves vs. Goblins, etc.) while in the Fall we'd get a Planeswalker-themed Duel Deck (Elspeth vs. Tezzeret, Jace vs. Chandra, etc.). They decided to change it up so that the Fall Duel Deck could serve as a preview of the upcoming block.

And preview is more than the right word!

Duel Decks: Izzet vs. Golgari gives us more Return to Ravnica spoilers than just Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord. Each deck contains a few Return to Ravnica previews for your insatiable hunger for the return to the plane of Ravnica!

First off, let's start off with the new guild leader, Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord!

(NOTE: all images come from this article on the Duel Decks: Playing with Izzet vs. Golgari)

Jarad is only the 3rd Zombie Elf to be printed (less than 2 years ago was Glissa, the Traitor and back in Apocalypse was Llanowar Dead) and the 2nd one that could be a Commander.

You'll see a theme among the guilds in Return to Ravnica...in some way, they can work with the mechanics from Ravnica: City of Guilds block. Jarad is no different. He starts off getting +1/+1 for each creature in your graveyard. Hmm...Dredge shenanigans, anyone? And at 4 cost, that's not a bad deal. Depending on when he comes out, if you mill yourself or do a lot of discard effects, he can be quite the bargain at 4 mana.

For 1GB and sacrificing another creature, you can have each opponent lose life equal to that creature's power. Hmm...Drove of Elves, a ton of green permanents...no, that won't swing the game at all... *rolls eyes* lol.

Then comes his "semi-reanimation" effect. You have to sacrifice a Swamp and a Forest to return him to your hand from your graveyard. Life from the Loam would be very interested in this. "I sacrifice a Blood Crypt and Temple Garden to bring Jarad back to my hand. Now I play Life from the Loam, getting back Blood Crypt and Temple Garden." Not as much of a loss then, eh?

In Standard, I don't know how he'll fare. Golgari won't get Dredge back (in fact, none of the Guilds get their original abilities back), so it'll be tougher to get creatures to the graveyard on purpose without a lot of sacrifice outlets. And even then, why get rid of an army for a single big creature with no protection, no evasion or semi-evasion (like Trample), and returns to the hand for sacrificing a Swamp and Forest?

No...Standard won't be this Lich Lord's playground, not without a lot of help from the Golgari guild in general. But on first blush, I just don't see it. In Modern, though, where Dredge can work quite nicely and all 5 Mirrodin-based Swords are legal...I wouldn't doubt it, honestly.

Next up, we have the Guildmage cycle previewed in Golgari. I'll introduce...Korozda Guildmage!

(BTW, Korozda is the new location for the Golgari's guild house)

So we already see some changes over, say, Golgari Guildmage. For one, he's not hybrid; his casting cost is strictly 1 Black and 1 Green. He's also got 2 non-hybrid abilities that are still multi-colored. (I figure WotC didn't want Guildmages going into decks that didn't support the Guild it came from, at least in part). So how good could this Guildmage be?

Quite good, in fact. For 1BG, you can give one of your creatures +1/+1 and Intimidate! Imagine that! If Scars of Mirrodin block were legal for Standard after Return to Ravncia releases, you'd see Poison decks jump 10-fold, I think. However, Return to Ravnica's release will push Scars of Mirrodin (and Magic 2012) out of Standard, so that's no issue anymore. Still, though, in a B/G beatdown where U/R or U/W may live on as competitive Standard deck colors, I'd imagine a Korozda Guildmage can deliver quite a beating on bigger creatures. As well, as long as you have the mana, you can do this as many times as you want: either give a big creature an even bigger boost, or allow another of your creatures to get slightly bigger and perhaps become unblockable. Really not too shabby, even outside of Standard.

As for its second ability, Saprolings are back!!! If one of your creatures is about to die, just pay 4 mana and sacrifice it (you were going to lose it anyway, remember? ;)  ) and get some tokens to replace it. Oh, and while we may or may not get a Doubling Season reprint, we do have its cousin in InnistradParallel Lives. Hmm...possible combo if the right cards come out?

I think you'll love playing Korozda Guildmage. It's got power and who doesn't love tokens, right? :)

NEXT UP!...an example of the Scavange mechanic (replacing Dredge for Golgari) used on a very decent creature. I give you...Dreg Mangler!

Dreg Mangler returns Plants to the forefront of Magic (as they were in Ravnica), this time with a decent creature.

For 1BG, you get a 3/3 with Haste. Not too shabby of a 3rd turn play! But goodness, it died the turn it came out due to some double-blocking! What a waste!

OR...or...you could get some decent-sized creature out and use Scavenge to make it bigger.

Scavenge is a sorcery-speed ability (meaning you can only use it when the stack is empty and on one of your Main Phases only) that allows you to exile the creature card and pay the Scavenge cost (usually 2 colorless more than its casting cost) to put a number of +1/+1 tokens on a creature equal to the Scavenge'd creature's power.

So in this instance, let's say you are using Jarad mixed with the Korozda Guildmage. Jarad's a 2/2, but with the Mangler in the graveyard it's a 3/3. Psh! Scavenge that Mangler and make Jarad instead a 5/5! With enough mana, you can use the Guildmage to give it another +1/+1 and let it attack through for 6!

But that's not all. Champion of Lambholt loves Scavenge! Make your creatures most likely unblockable after a Scavenge or two? Are you crazy!? ... Yes, yes I am. :)

Finally, let's say your opponent has an Undying creature you just can't stand. You can destroy it outright, but it'll just come back. Uh...Scavenge says "target creature", not "target creature you control." Yes, let him have 3 +1/+1 counters...then Murder it! No self-reanimation there, folks.

With all the Golgari previews out of the way, let's move on to Izzet. This is the guild I'm most interested in, as I loved the flavor of Izzet when it came out but wasn't overly enthused by the power of most of its cards.

This time, though, it looks like WotC is out to strengthen the Izzet guild.

There is no preview for the Guild leader here, but it will be Niv-Mizzet. The version of him in this Duel Deck is the original Guildpact one, the version we all know and love...to hate. :p

However, we do get some preview cards from the Izzet side of the deck. The first shows off the new Overload mechanic. Let me show you...Street Spasm!

Okay, so another "X" spell for Red that deals X damge to target creature without flying you don't control. So yeah, a removal spell to boot! But eh...not too exciting.

That is, until you read Overload. If you pay the Overload cost (which, I'll assume, is always exactly double the original casting cost) instead of the original mana cost, you get to change all instances of "target" to "each."

WHOAH! HUUUGE difference!

Let's say you do end up battling an army of Saproling tokens. Yeah, XR to target isn't going to be of much good. Instead, though, pay perhaps 11RR, or 4 total (where X = 1), to deal 1 damage to each Saproling instead. See how powerful Overload can be?

It's Izzet's new ability, which is reminiscent to Replicate. Replicate allowed you to pay a cost (usually just its mana cost) as many times as you wanted as you were casting the spell in order to make copies of that spell. Overload in a way is kind of a Replicate in that you could just see the spell copying itself and hitting every non-flying creature you don't control. (Of course, technically it's not targeting if you Overload. Remember, you replaced "target" with "each").

I honestly don't see Street Spasm being good unless tokens take over. Even then, it's creatures without flying, so White will prefer Midnight Haunting and Lingering Souls. This will make Street Spasm at best a Side Deck card in Standard. In older formats, again unless tokens take a lead or you have a ton of mana, I bet you'll be using it more for its normal cost to take out a single non-flying creature.

(Two more and I'm done, I promise! lol!)

Next up we have a cycle of Charms, one for each guild (the fact that there will be one of each is spoiled in today's Card of the Day on the dailymtg.com website). Izzet got the Charm preview. Welcome...well...Izzet Charm!

It seems the Charms from Alara block were quite popular, enough to bring a Charm cycle back for Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash.

(For the record, a "Charm" is any spell where you can choose 1 option from a list of 3).

So off the bat, Izzet gets a counterspell similar to Mana Leak. Countering noncreature spells I feel will be a must soon, so this is a good reactive spell.

But what if creatures start becoming an issue? The 2nd option allows you to do 2 damage to a creature.

Need to draw? This is where Blue meets Red. You can draw 2 cards (Blue)...but then you have to discard 2 cards (Red). Not bad if you have stuff you need to get rid of, but on an otherwise empty hand...yeah...lol.

Again, there will be a cycle of these, 1 for each Guild, so look for a Selesnya, Rakdos, Azorious, and Golgari version in Return to Ravnica in a bit over a month.

Finally, we have the last Izzet preview card of the bunch. Wanted to pay less for your spells but never liked the mana cost for doing so? How's about a cheap alternative in Goblin Electromancer?

Goodness! 2 mana for a 2/2 already? That's not too shabby on the 2nd turn. But what's this?

"Instant and Sorcery spells you cast cost 1 less to cast"? Are you insane!?

Yes, for the record this lets your normally turn 4 Rewind work on Turn 3 (and consequently basically make 1 mana). Or perhaps that late-game Burn at the Stake that needs to be followed up by an Incinerate for the win? That now costs a total of 1RRRR.

Can you say "way too good"? I knew you could! lol.

Oh...wait...I lied! I have 1 more preview...well, more like 2, but once you see one we see them all really.

With Duel Decks: Izzet vs. Golgari currently available to view on Magic Online, we saw some new artwork for the Izzet and Golgari Signets (2-mana artifacts that, for 1 and tapping them, make one of each color of that Guild). For example...

(Image from http://forums.mtgsalvation.com/showthread.php?t=443059)

Golgari Signet also got new art.

"So what? They do new art all the time in these Duel Decks. What makes the Signets so special?"

Well...last night I posted a link to some artwork of, among other things, the Guild leaders, the Guildmages, and...well lookie here! This is one of those artworks!

Since WotC wouldn't put out a lot of art that didn't come from actual cards, especially mixed in with artwork that is from cards we know, we can be safe to assume that all 10 original Signets will be in Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash!

It's far from actual proof, though. No one's holding a Return to Ravnica copy of Izzet Signet or Golgari Signet. But all evidence kind of leads to the conclusion that we're getting some of our favorite "mana rocks" back for 2 years of Standard action. :)

*pant pant pant*...And that's all I have...literally! lol! There is a storyline update on the guilds here: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/feature/210a  Watch for a ton of typos, though, as I don't think an editor re-read it before being published. :(

SO...impressions? Is Return to Ravnica living up to your expectations so far? Don't like it? Feel free to share below!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Few More Return to Ravnica Tidbits and Rumors

Hey guys!
  I'll post the preview cards from Izzet vs. Golgari tomorrow, but tonight the Magic Player's Championship and online copies of Izzet vs. Golgari seems to have brought some interesting developments.

First off, the link that's about to follow has artwork for 4-5 cycles of Guild-based cards among both Return to Ravnica and Gatecrashhttp://imgur.com/a/T9wjh

While there are no specific names (except for already-spoiled cards from Izzet vs. Golgari), it does break down to the following (in order):

10 Guildmages (sorry, no reprints from the original Ravnica block. These Guildmages are 2-color, non-hybrid 2/2's with 2 multi-color abilities.)
10 Guild Leaders (yes, you see Isperia, what seems to be a Ghost Council, and Jarad)
10 Signets (so yes, we're getting Simic Signet, Gruul Signet, Orzhov Signet, etc. all back in Standard for 2 years!)
10 "Charms" (from the spoiled Izzet Charm art last night...which I'll post tomorrow. lol!)
10 "Death to [Guild]" (which isn't noted as such, but Evan Erwin's Twitter calls it that: https://twitter.com/misterorange/status/241000829899919361)

As well, some interesting artwork came up while Featured Matches from the Magic Player's Championship were airing online. Look at these images (from MTGSalvation.com) and see what you think:

Hmm...I see a fountain sitting by itself and an anvil with molten something pouring out of it.

Kind of sounds like a Hallowed Fountain and a Sacred Foundry, eh? ;)

While it doesn't prove the existence of "Shocklands" (lands that enter the battlefield tapped unless you pay 2 life, like a self-Shock), keep these in mind...

1) WotC has said time and time again that new players don't like having life loss tacked onto their lands. Well...Shocklands aren't meant for the new player, they're meant for the strategic player who can either make back the 2-life investment or don't mind taking 2 life payment for having a land with 2 land types enter in. And Expansion sets aren't the place to be picking up new players, really...

2) Farseek's reprinting, along with new cards like Liliana's Shade and Gem of Becoming, show an interesting pattern...these cards say to search for "a Mountain card" or "a Swamp card" but not a "basic Swamp card", for example. Well...Shocklands have basic land types on them, meaning Farseek, Liliana's Shade, and Gem of Becoming can each search out, say, a Watery Grave.

3) WotC has had plans on reprinting these babies since when they came out. That's why they had fairly generic names such as "Watery Grave". You could set this on Zendikar, for example, in the swamps of Nephalia, so "Watery Grave" is not a plane-specific location. Their original intent was to put them into Core Sets, or at least that was the idea (to replace "Painlands" [Lands where you tapped for 1 Colorless mana OR got 1 of 2 colors for a 1-life payment] supposedly), and Core Sets at the time needed non-planar names moving forward. Instead, we got lands like Rootbound Crag as a direct result of Issue #1.

4) Wizards of the Coast has also said since Modern started as a format that they want to reprint staples at easier-to-get venues. Shocklands are just as helpful there as the original Dual Lands are for Legacy, so this would be a perfect avenue to reprint them: in a set that returns to where they came from!

Granted, it's all circumstantial evidence, but the timing is either all to coincidental or one big trolling. lol!

Finally, there are pictures of the supposedly-fake-but-could-be-real Rootborn Defenses being signed by the Return to Ravnica design team. I doubt they'd sign a completely fake card, so Rootborn Defenses is real.

This confirms now 3 new keywords for the Guilds in Return to Ravnica:
SELESNYA: Populate (To populate, put a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of a creature token you control.) (works with Ravnica: City of Guilds' Convoke, which lets you effectively treat creatures as mana)

GOLGARI: Scavenge [COST] ([COST], exile this card from your graveyard: Put a number of +1/+1 counters equal to this card's power on target creature. Scavenge only as a sorcery.) (works with Ravnica: City of Guilds' Dredge, which let you get back cards by replacing your draw with milling yourself for a certain amount of cards. If a Scavenge card ends up in your graveyard from Dredging, well...)

IZZET: Overload [COST] (You may cast this spell for its overload cost. If you do, change its test by replacing all instance of "target" with "each".) (Kind of works similarly to Guildpact's Replicate, which let you make copies of the spell for any number of times you could pay the Replicate cost [usually equal to the original mana cost])

We do not know what Azorius and Gruul's will be, but their originals were Forecast (on the upkeep, you could reveal the card from your hand and pay the Forecast cost to get a certain effect) and Bloodthirst (if this creature comes into play after an opponent took damage, you put a certain number of +1/+1 counters on it).

That's all I have time for tonight, but tomorrow I'll be back with a more thorough card update of what we know about Return to Ravnica, as well as some storyline links for you. :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Few Early Morning Return to Ravnica Impressions

Hey, I'm finally updating the blog! Yay!!!

(EDIT: I'll post article links later to give credit where credit's due, but they're on the main page of dailymtg.com throughout the day Monday, 8/27)

This morning came a lot of information about Return to Ravnica, which is exactly as it sounds: Magic's first run back to Ravnica since the plane was first explored in Ravnica: City of Guilds block.

While I don't have a lot of time (after all, it's 2:04 AM here as I type. lol!), I can give you a few highlights to chew on...

1) Duel Decks: Izzet vs. Golgari is not just Ravnica-block reprints. Actually, like Duel Decks: Elspeth vs. Tezzeret, each deck will have preview cards from Return to Ravnica! Yes...preview cards!

2) The return to Ravnica will be much more kind and gentle than recent returns to planes. Whereas Dominaria had been through wars and an Armageddon and Mirrodin was invaded and changed, Ravnica will be relatively unharmed and unchanged from its previous incarnation. Consider this a check-up to see how everyone's doing.

3) NEW MECHANIC: Scavenge seems to replace Dredge in the Golgari colors (B/G). What is Scavenge?

"Scavenge 4GG", for example, means "4GG, exile this card from your graveyard: Put a number of +1/+1 counters equal to this card's power on target creature. Scavenge only as a sorcery."

Take for example a 5/5 creature with Scavenge 4GG. When it's in your graveyard, on your turn at any time you could normally cast a Sorcery card, you can activate its Scavenge ability by paying 4GG and exiling this creature card from the graveyard to put 5 +1/+1 counters on any creature.

I can see Doubling Season getting a reprint or a lot more casual play. And you thought the price was high already...yeesh! ;)

4) NEW MECHANIC: Overload goes on Instants and Sorceries aligned with Izzet (U/R).

Take a new card in the Duel Decks, Street Spasm

Street Spasm
Street Spasm deals X damage to target creature without flying you don't control.
Overload XXRR

"Overload [Cost]" is an alternative way to pay for the spell. If you pay the Overload cost instead of the mana cost, you change each instance of "target" to "each" instead.

So let's take Street Spasm and say we have 8 mana.

Cast it for its normal cost. That's 7R, so X = 7. How does Street Spasm read?

"Street Spasm deals 7 damage to target creature without flying you don't control."

Instead, cast it for its Overload cost. You pay 33RR, or a total of 8 mana (6 generic {X=3 and X = 3} and 2 Reds).

It now reads

"Street Spasm deals 3 damage to each creature without flying you don't control."

Notice the subtle but important difference? You do less damage, sure, but you deal that damage to each creature now instead of just one creature.

I don't doubt we'll see cards that have normal casting costs but alternate Overload costs to change all instances of "target" to "each." For example...

MADE UP IZZET DAMAGE + DRAW CARD deals 4 damage to target creature and target player draws 3 cards.
Overload 6RRUU

But the point is...NEW MECHANIC! And it still fits the Izzet's theme of copying and its old version, Replicate. Changing "target" to "each" is kind of like saying "copy this spell as many times as there are targets and choose only 1 target that hasn't been targeted yet."....or something like that. That's what I get for doing this at 2:00 AM! lol!

4) GUILDMAGES ARE BACK: They're not your hybrid-color Guildmages, though. A Golgari-themed one in the Duel Decks has a casting cost of BG but is called Korozda Guildmage.

At this early an hour, that's all I have for you. If I can find time before Wednesday I'll post the preview images for all to adore. :)

Until then, may the wait for Return to Ravnica spoilers be short!

Monday, July 9, 2012

M13 Post-Release Details!

(WARNING: LOOOONG post! But if you've played in our Post-Releases before, this is nothing new except for the location and entry fee)

Coming up two Saturdays from now (on July 21st) is our M13 Post-Release Draft! Woot!

If you're unfamiliar with our Post-Release Drafts, it's just like a normal draft except for the following:
1) When you open a pack of M13, be sure to write down any Rares and/or Foils you open.
2) Draft as normal: Pick 1 card and pass the rest to the left for the 1st pack, then right on the 2nd pack, then left again on the 3rd pack. Your deck size minimum is 40 cards, like normal.
3) Rounds will be a sort of double-elimination. After the each round, the losers and winners of that round are separated out into their own bracket (from the 1st round and winner's brackets only.). The highest position anyone in a split-off loser's bracket could get is one position below half that round's total number of players (for example, a round of 5 people who were going for 1st through 5th will separate into a winner's bracket for 1st-3rd and a loser's bracket to determine 4th and 5th). Anyone who loses 2 matches is done for the tournament. 
3) When we do prizes, we'll do a number of packs of M13 being split (usually by opening the packs and everyone getting a turn choosing 1 card from the pack) AND we'll use the Rares and/or Foils from the draft packs as part of the prizes.

"That 3rd rule sucks!", I hear someone saying. Actually, it's not as bad as it seems.

See, when we started drafting at SMM, we had to pay full retail price. So to let people get their money's worth, we made the Rares and/or Foils part of the prizes BUT ALSO let them keep one of their opened Rares/Foils.

Let me explain how this will work: When we get ready to pick our prizes, all the Rares and/or Foils go onto the table we'll use for distributing prizes. In finishing order, each person will decide if they want to keep one of the Rares/foils they opened. If they do, that is considered their first pick around the table. Then, whoever did NOT "reserve" a Rare/foil gets first crack at whatever prizes are left on the table. Once everyone has 1 prize, we'll start back with the winner and pick out the remaining prizes one at a time until all the prizes are gone.

The entry fee is $10. $9 of this goes to cover the packs you use for the draft, while $1 goes toward prizes. For every 3rd person who enters, we'll put 1 pack of M13 into the prize pool along with the Rares/foils from the packs.

I'll also have loose packs available for sale after all the drafters have been entered. Individual packs will be $3 each.

LOCATION: We'll meet at Packard's Movies and Games inside Northgate Mall (at the old Gamestop near JC Penny). Josh Merritt will hand out packs while Wayne Eanes takes up the entry fee as well as any cash paid for loose packs.

TIME: We'll start around 11:00 AM and stay as long as needed to finish the tournament. Deck build time will be 30 minutes or whenever everyone is done, whichever comes first. Rounds will be 30 minutes. The tournament should be over around 2:30, and with prize picks around 3:00.

PLAYING BONUS: Players will all get a promo card. IF YOU PREPAY, you'll be guaranteed a promo card. If you did not go to a Pre-Release, you get first dibs on the Xathrid Gorgon Pre-Release card (Pre-pays get priority). If you did go, you get first dibs on the Staff of Nin FNM/Launch promo (Pre-pays get priority). (All while supplies last) (You can see the 2 promo cards here: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg%2Fdaily%2Farcana%2F998)

I won't be at the Post-Release. I have some teaching licensure testing I have to do. But I wish everyone else good luck and lots of fun with the M13 Post-Release Draft! :)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Some Interesting M13 Previews!

Hey all!
  I know I said I'd be back on Monday...of last week. I apologize. I got  busy and didn't get back to the blog.

  With enough of M13 spoiled to show off some cards, I'd like to start showing off stuff I think might be interesting to see in Standard and possibly even Legacy, or perhaps just some cool casual stuff hitting for the first time.

First off, we have the return of some beloved Time Spiral-block Angels...er rather, an Angel and a memorial to an Angel.

Welcome back to Standard Serra Avenger and Akroma's Memorial!

Images from DailyMTG.com

I love these cards! Serra Avenger is forced into being a Turn 4 play, but the ability to play 2 of them then or to play one and have enough mana left over for, say, a Phantasmal Image both on Turn 4, I think the mana savings over something very similar (Serra Angel) is well worth the wait. In fact, I'll be surprised if Serra's Avenger does not find a home in Standard over the next year or so.

As for Akroma's Memorial, this is either a mana ramp deck's dream come true or a casual player's dream of a cheap one come true. Running right now in the $15-$20 range, the one from Future Sight is highly sought-after. With a Mythic reprint in M13, Akroma's Memorial will probably go down in price but it'll still be pricey. As for playability...so what it's 7 mana to get out? Look at what all you get! All your creatures are mini-Akromas (or in some cases with fatties, major-Akromas!). How can you turn that down?

Next up, we have a card that may mimic cards like Dream Halls, or perhaps will be used alongside it to help big Conflux big win decks. Presenting Omniscience!

From DailyMTG.com
Okay, okay...I know what you're saying. "10 mana!!' Yes, I don't see people hard-casting this either. I do, however, see cheating it into play. And Legacy has plenty of options: Academy Rector, Dream Halls, HypergenesisEureka, and Show and Tell are the most likely ways. After that, who needs to give your opponents chances to put more stuff down? Just either Conflux up a bunch of cards or get your fatties or 1-turn combo pieces into play and go at it!

This will have casual appeal. Anything that lets you cast cards for nothing can be broken given the right circumstances, I feel. The question is, who latches on and who thinks it's not worth the time or effort?

Finally today, I'd like to look at a Red card I feel will be a sleeper hit...no pun intended. :) It's a 1-mana Dragon. 1-mana Dragon!! However, it takes a while to build him up...thus the unintended pun. Let's look at Slumbering Dragon.

From DailyMTG.com
 Yes, you get a 1-mana 3/3, so he's most efficient as a first-turn drop. But it's got a downside...it can't attack until it has 5 +1/+1 counters! 5!! And how does he get those? Well...you gotta be attacked. *CRINGE!* Well...perhaps it's not that bad. You're gonna get attacked anyway, right? So unless your opponent has something to deal with it soon, they're either gonna hold off their attacks or wait until they draw a removal spell to deal with the Dragon. After all, who wants an 8/8 Dragon to hit them? Green and Red may have issues as most of their destruction is either A) limited to a few cards, or B) limited to "x damage to target."

It'll be a huge causal favorite, I feel. It takes a drawback and turns it into a potentially huge gain. In Constructed, though? I wouldn't expect it to last too long, and with a lot of targeted "destroy/exile/return target creature/permanent" effects your opponent can just attack as normal and deal with the dragon before it hits 5 counters. But what do I know? I'm just a lowly casual player. :p

That's what I have time for today, so hopefully next week I can get a few more previews in before M13 Pre-Releases hit. Look for the full spoiler on DailyMTG.com next Friday, though, as they usually do a full spoil of the set ahead of the Pre-Release.

Take care everyone! And feel free to post comments here on what you think may be sleeper hits or huge Standard-playable cards in the set. :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Some M13 Nuggets

Hey guys!
  This will be sort of short and sweet tonight as spoilers have come in left and right on MTGSalvation as to what is and isn't in Magic Core Set 2013. For those who are returning to the game, M13 is a part of a yearly release of Core Set product that both reprints and brings in new cards to the Standard and Modern environments (okay...technically Extended, Legacy, and Vintage too, but it has bigger impacts in Standard and Modern generally).

  If you've not had access to the previews or have been lazy about looking around, I'll make a few highlights here before starting actual previews Monday.

- Vampire Nocturnus makes its vampiric return in the Core Set...and makes for one of the 3 promos given for purchasing Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013. Joining him and partying like it's Zendikar Reborn? Vamprie Nighthawk!
- Serra Avatar gets a much-needed reprint as a Mythic Rare in M13. Now for some big lifegain cards. Oh, wait...there is a 2/2 creature with Lifelink for WW too, and it's Common!
- There are six Planeswalkers in this set: Reprints of Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker; Chandra, the Firebrand; Garruk, Primal Hunter; and Jace, Memory Adept. The other two?
- There are two brand-new Planeswalkers: Ajani, Caller of the Pride (1WW and starts at 4) and Liliana of the Dark Realms (2BB and starts at 3).
- A card that says "Destroy target creature"...with no restriction.
- Mill gets some super-mill cards and a creature that grows similarly to Isleback Spawn.
- Exalted...yes, Exalted is the returning mechanic for M13! And there's a land that has Exalted at only Rare.
- Legendary Creatures return in M13! There are 5 Legends, 1 for each color, and they're literally the face cards of the Intro Packs for M13.
-...and more!

- The Titans will not be returning to M13. WotC learned a lesson: Powerful cards don't necessarily need to stick around for 2 years as if they were in the old 2-year Core Set cycle.
- Day of Judgment does not come back for the first time since M11.
- For the first time since the span from Fourth Edition to Eighth Edition, Royal Assassin will not make a Core Set appearance.
- Giant Spider, the last card from Alpha to see print in all Core Sets released since then, has lost that title. There are now no cards that have made every Core Set appearance since Alpha.
- Apparently 1R for 3 damage and no regeneration is too much, so Incinerate gets replaced by a new card: Searing Spear. It's a 1R Instant that deals 3 damage to a target...and that's it. Basically, a Volcanic Hammer as an Instant instead of Sorcery.
- For the first time since 9th Edition, Birds of Paradise will be left out of a Core Set. Interesting factoid, though: The next block to release after 9th Edition was Ravnica: City of Guilds. Birds of Paradise was moved from the Core Set to Ravnica at the time. Now? What's the set after M13? Return to Ravnica. The bet? Birds of Paradise will be in Return to Ravnica, making it for sure legal for 2 years instead of a tenuous 1 year in a Core Set.
....and more as we know more, I'm sure!

This week marks the end of official spoilers until the week of the 25th, so next week I'll take some time to catch up on spoilers on here and anxiously await the final bits in about a week and a half. Join me then and see what you think!

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend. :) See you here Monday!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

For those who used to play Yu-Gi-Oh! or Magic at the Baha'i Faith Center on Hamill Road in Hixson, we're having a going away lunch for Rachel this Saturday. Her house beside the church has been sold, and there's a good chance she's leaving the area which also means no more league there. :( But I'm asking everyone who did play there to come by Saturday afternoon after 2:30 for a going away lunch party thing. I'm asking everyone who can to donate $5 toward some present for Rachel + $5 OR a dish/snack for everyone to munch on the rest of the day. There's no planned end time, just probably until Rachel gets tired of us. lol! Thanks! :)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Some Sad News Followed By Good News

(Forgive the attrocious font size and placement. I'm copying this directly from my Facebook post and it doesn't translate well to Blogger.)

I have some bad news to be followed immediately by good news.

It's with great sadness that I have to announce June 9th, 2012 will be our last weekend of play at the Baha'i Faith Center. Our Baha'i watcher, Rachel, will be moving out of town and won't be able to continue her role as Baha'i's watcher over the group. The Baha'i Faith Center will not put another person in to watch over us.

HOWEVER...we are not homeless. One of our players has offered some empty space in his apartment for us to use. However, he is going to wait to check his lease agreement and get some neighbors' opinions before finalizing his intent with us. If worst came to worst and we could not use his place, we'd meet at Packard's Games and Movies inside Northgate Mall (in the old GameStop store). Stay tuned for more details on this front, but WE WILL HAVE A PLACE TO PLAY PAST JUNE 9TH.

I'll post an event for June 9th for everyone to get together for a farewell lunch and/or dinner to say goodbye to Rachel and our Baha'i home of around 10 years. If you can make it out this way that day, I'd encourage you to swing by and wish our "adopted mother" farewell and good luck. :)

While this ends an era, it is the start of a new age. We may not be as encumbered by time limits, we don't have to have as strict a set of behavioral rules, and we get to stay local and casual, the intent of Saturday Morning Magic of Hixson. :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

REPEAL: Cavern of Souls Ruling

In the post below I said it was ruled that you must declare Cavern of Souls' colored mana to make the creature uncounterable.

After a week or so and review among different judges and players, the ruling is reversed.

The NEW ruling is this: The only time it matters is if you're casting a creature of the named creature type (otherwise you can only use the colorless ability). When you do cast a creature of the named creature type, the assumption will be that you're choosing the (generally) most favorable ability, which in this case is to use the colored mana therefore making your creature uncounterable.

How will we handle this? Basically...the same. The only time colorless goes into a creature of the named creature type is if the player casting the spell says so. Otherwise, it's assumed he chose the (generally) more favorable "make colored mana and it's uncounterable."

Clear as mud? :P lol.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Few Rulings Notes: Cavern of Souls and Missed Triggers

Hey all!

I wanted to go over a couple rulings issues that we're bound to encounter in the weeks to come, and one includes certain effects that are being re-templated due to some Profeesional-level events rules changes.

1) Cavern of Souls: How do I know the creature being cast is counterable or not?

First, let's look at Cavern of Souls (image from magiccards.info):

So at first glance, it's an easy card to comprehend, right? Name a creature type when it enters the battlefield, then you either get 1 colorless mana or a colored mana that makes your named creature type spell uncounterable. Not too shabby!

BUT...it came up as one of the biggest controversies at Pro Tour: Avacyn Restored.

A player attempted to cast a Huntmaster of the Fells by tapping a Forest, Mountain, Mountain, and Cavern of Souls (with Cavern set on Human, most likely).

His opponent immediately cast Dissipate to counter the Huntmaster.

The first player called a judge. After explaining the situation, the judge ruled that the opponent can attempt to Dissipate the Huntmaster because the player didn't specify if he was adding Colorless or colored mana in for Huntmaster's casting.

So why was the announcement so important? Look at the tapping order of his lands. By putting in Forest and Mountain, he's already signaled he's got the colored part of the casting cost taken care of.

The extra Mountain obviously went to Colorless.

But the Cavern of Souls tapping could have been either for colorless or colored mana. And that's a very important distinction. One that was not communicated clearly.

So you know how it turned out. Since the player casting Huntmaster didn't declare which part of Cavern of Souls he was using, it was assumed colorless and Huntmaster could be countered by Dissipate.

So how will we work this at League? We have 2 options, either of which are just as good as the other.

   A) You can announce the use of colored mana as you cast each creature. If you decide to do this, then any lack of announcement may be taken as you not using the colored mana, therefore opening your creature spell up to be countered.

   B) Both you and your opponent can agree at the start of a game/match that you will always use the Cavern of Souls' second ability to make the named creature type uncounterable. This way, there is no question of the intentions and doesn't have to be checked on for each casting.

   C) If a creature with only colored costs (ie: Colorless mana symbols don't appear anywhere in the cost(s)) is being cast and Cavern of Souls is being tapped to pay any costs for the creature, use the KISS method: It's obvious he/she got the colored mana from the Cavern of Souls, so it's uncounterable. Keep it simple, stupid! (For example: Cavern of Souls calling Elf and being used to pay for a Llanowar Elves should be clear that the Llanowar Elves is uncounterable, whether the casting players says it or not)

2) Missed Triggers Policy

This section of the rules deals with how to handle an opponent missing triggers that don't have may in the ability. For example, dealing with effects like Shrine of Boundless Growth versus stuff like Blood Seeker.

At Professional REL (Rules Enforcement Level), which I believe is mostly for Grand Prix and Pro Tour events, the rules on handling missed triggers changed a bit.

While under previous rules it'd been either a Communication issue or Failure to Maintain Game State problem (I forget which, or it could have been either depending on the situation), at Profession REL the updated rules have stated that you are no longer responsible for your opponent missing Triggered Effect triggers that don't use "may" in their effect. You missing your own triggers is considered a "VBT", or Very Bad Thing, though, and can get a penalty levied against you.

However, at Regular REL (which is mostly Pre-Releases, FNMs, basically lower-level events), the rules are unchanged from before: If a mandatory trigger (one that doesn't use the word "may") should trigger and either player notices it before the other, they are obligated to point it out. It could result in penalties, I'm not clear on that, for Failure to Maintain Game State if it's not pointed out.

At Saturday Morning Magic of Hixson, even though we're not DCI-sanctioned we do like to try and stick as close as possible to the spirit of most DCI rules (for example, our matches being 30 minutes is to help with the time constraints we have at the Baha'i Center), even if we don't follow them exactly, while still allowing for flexibility, in part for that we're not sanctioned and mostly for being more about fun than competitiveness. (for example, if someone looks at extra cards by accident you're free to just let it go or deal with it how you see fit, or if someone wants a take-back you may grant it but are under no obligation to do so in a tournament setting).

So we have 2 disparate policies, both of which are legal. So how do will we handle situations concerning missed triggers at SMM tournaments?

We're going to stick closer to the Regular REL rule with a few changes.

MISSED TRIGGERS, MANDATORY: If you notice an opponent has missed their mandatory trigger(s) (those that don't have "may" written in them), you are obligated to point out to your opponent the trigger was missed as soon as you notice it (also note I said "if you notice". It happens that both players miss mandatory triggers, so it's a bit of a draw if both just flat miss it/them). The reason for this is to keep the game state as accurate as possible at all times. You and your opponent may agree to have the missed mandatory trigger go on the stack X times, with X being the number of times both players can agree the effect should have triggered. (You may both agree on 0 and just make note of it for future triggers, especially if it's been quite a few turns since the triggers should have gone on the stack).

Should a judge call be needed to resolve the missed triggers issue, both players may get warnings/penalties for Failure to Maintain Game State as the judge sees fit.  IMPORTANT: Should someone be found to have ignored opponent's missed mandatory triggers and not told their opponent, warnings/penalties will be given in this order: Warning, Warning, Game Loss, Match Loss, Disqualification. Do not tempt repeated intentional offenses in other tournaments. IMPORTANT 2: I'm sure I'll never have to go to even a Game Loss on anyone. This group is good about correcting in-game mistakes once they're noticed. :) I'm just putting it there to avoid anyone possibly going "but if all we get is a Warning, what good is it to have the rule in the first place?"

MISSED TRIGGERS, OPTIONAL (MAY): If you or your opponent misses an optional trigger (one that says "you may..."), the player under whom it activates is the only player responsible for pointing out the trigger and resolving it. The opponent has no obligation to point out missed optional triggers. When a "may" effect is ignored, it's assumed the player chose not to carry out the effect once the trigger came up for resolution. Should a judge be called to resolve a situation like this, the judge will usually favor the opponent and you'll get nothing off the call. Both players may, however, choose to put the trigger on the stack X times if they can both agree on how many times the trigger was missed.  (You may both agree on 0 and just make note of it for future triggers, especially if it's been quite a few turns since the triggers should have gone on the stack).  The opponent is under no obligation to grant this request, so it works similar to asking for a take-back in one of our tournaments.

A couple important notes in this section:

1) Even though we're a much more casual League, we do still need rules so that if things go wrong we can fix them and help provide correction for the future.

2) These rules are meant to help you. If you miss some triggers that are beneficial to you, you're gonna get sick and tired of your opponent going "*sigh* You forgot the trigger...again! Grr..." lol.

3) You will probably never need a judge to fix the game state. I've provided an out for you in that you can either choose to fix the game state as close as possible or just keep in mind you have the triggers coming up in future turns. It's when both players don't agree that a judge needs called, and I've tried to explain what you can expect the outcome to be when that happens.

These were 2 big rulings issues of the past month that have caused a bit of confusion even among pros about how they should be handled. Hopefully the rules are clear for our group now (Cavern of Souls should be clear as day. The Missed Triggers, not so much possibly).

If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment here or E-mail me.

Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you for the Avacyn Restored League starting next Saturday! :)