Wow these Mythic Championship VI Decks

Mythic Championship VI decks were rife with Oko, Thief of Crowns

To Begin With, Mythic Championship VI was “the most lopsided, the most homogeneous, Pro Tour in history”

Right before coverage started, Pro Tour Historian Emeritus Brian David-Marshall called up Mike.

He asked: “What was the percentage of Rebel decks at ‘Pro Tour Rebels’?”

“Pro Tour Rebels” was of course Pro Tour New York 2000… The first and last song of Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero in Masques Block; famous for an overwhelming representation by one archetype (the aforementioned “Rebels”)… Despite being won by a Mono-Blue Rising Waters deck.

Forty-three percent.

To give you a frame of reference, Mythic Championship VI featured…

  • Over 70% Oko, Thief of Crowns,
  • Nearly that many Gilded Goose, and
  • A whopping 75.76% Once Upon a Time!

The top decks were Simic Food, Sultai Food, and Bant Food. Differences among them were not super pronounced; but if you weren’t one of them… You mostly got trounced. For its part, Simic was first, second, and third in this tournament when the dust settled!

All eight decks in the Top 8 — including one dissenting Golgari build and one Selesnya — packed not only Once Upon a Time but Veil of Summer.

Mythic Championship VI was, as Patrick says, “the most lopsided, most homogeneous, Pro Tour in history.”

Despite the Best Mythic Championship VI Decks Being Known, the Format Managed to Break!

Now despite the convergence around the core Food strategy, largely topping up on Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Hydroid Krasis, a dissenting Food — rather Cat Food — deck emerged and distinguished itself.

Somehow, amidst a Caw-Blade like line in the sand at this Pro Tour, Sultai Sacrifice managed to perform even better than its cousins. Trading in a Cauldron Familiar + Witch’s Oven for the default top end, Sultai Sacrifice performed even better than the three main Food decks against other Food decks… And absolutely murdered everyone else.

Playing an important event this weekend? Patrick heartily recommends Sultai Sacrifice!

In Other News, Veil of Summer was Banned in Pioneer This Week…

Basically, we think this is great.

Permission was already terrible in Pioneer; and Veil of Summer made it even worse. It also sets a great precedent for Standard…

What’s Next for Standard After Mythic Championship VI?

Clearly, if we are looking for any kind of a playable, balanced, format at all, Oko, Thief of Crowns has got to go.

The question is… Will anything else?

There are a lot of heavily played cards in Standard… But most of them don’t deserve a ban. Gilded Goose is just a fun creature; banning it would make Standard worse. Nissa, Who Shakes the World is a perfectly balanced, fair — if powerful — card… That just happens to be in the same colors as these broken Throne of Eldraine spells. Wicked Wolf? Come on!

The cards that have to be banned are Oko, and…

Once Upon a Time is an option. Michael doesn’t think this is going to happen in Standard, but maybe Once Upon a Time will become a thing of the past in Pioneer.

Veil of Summer, though? It’s already been banned in Pioneer. Why not Standard? The rate on Veil of Summer is just too good. It’s a permission spell, and an anti-permission spell. It’s a cantrip Dispel… But more flexible. You can just burn it to draw a card! Perhaps least civil of all, think about the poor Thought Erasure people. Oftentimes they have to play Thought Erasure to fix their hands… And then Veil happens?

Exactly.

We won’t know entirely what will be banned in Standard until next week; but it sure is fun to speculate. Listen now (but make sure to check back next week!):

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Fallout from the First Pioneer PTQ

Felidar Guardian
Felidar Guardian is one of three cards banned after the first Pioneer PTQ

First Up… The Pioneer Banned List

In light of the first Pioneer PTQ (and other events) our overlords in Renton, WA started taking the ban-hammer to the available cards in this new format. They plan to update us every Monday. The first one was a riot!

  • Felidar Guardian – There are lots of good reasons to ban the Copy Cat. It is a key card in one of the two most prevalent (and successful) Pioneer archetypes to date. But maybe more than that, with four toughness, Felidar Guardian is really tough for some decks to deal with (for example a Red Deck where Shock-plus Wild Slash is the default burn spell)
  • Oath of Nissa – Oath of Nissa was a key early spell in a number of archetypes. This card was a four-of in both of the most popular Pioneer decks (Copy Cat and Mono-Green Devotion). It made the Devotion deck really — really — consistent (especially because of its ability to help hunt up Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx.
  • Leyline of Abundance – Maybe not the most offensive card to anyone’s sensibilities, Leyline of Abundance just contributed to extraordinary explosiveness from the green mana acceleration decks and provided two essentially unearned green pips for Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Patrick notes that there is a long and storied tradition of banning (or just restricting) weird cards so that the card R&D wants to be good can remain in the format. This time it was Leyline of Abundance that bit the bullet.

An Energy Sub-Theme from the Pioneer PTQ?

One curious jumping-off point might be BARONVONFONZ’s four-color Copy Cat deck from the PTQ.

Yes, Felidar Guardian is no longer going to bother anyone (at least not in Pioneer) but it is interesting to think about BARONVONFONZ’s approach and technology.

Our speculation is that the Energy sub-theme was there largely to power up Harnessed Lightning; which can deal four damage to an opposing Felidar Guardian. The deck already had Oath of Chandra to go along with the typical Oath of Nissa set.

Losing Oath of Nissa makes casting Planeswalkers in up to four different colors more challenging. To what degree does Attune with Aether keep a “Temur Planeswalkers” deck alive? Might Traverse the Ulvenwald make a reasonable replacement for Oath of Nissa here?

Mike is skeptical, especially given what’s left in Pioneer…

Not a Single Card was Banned from Wilderness Reclamation

The big winner from the first winner-take-all PTQ event was obviously TROLLINGSARUMAN with Wilderness Reclamation.

This deck is highly reminiscent of the recent Standard deck… But upgraded with Dig Through Time as an additional awesome card to play on your own end step. Not for nothing, this particular awesome card is helpful in finding the “real” signature big blue instant of the deck: Nexus of Fate.

Given the shakeups elsewhere, Wilderness Reclamation combo might be the right place to start. After all, it did rip through a room full of Mono-Green Devotion packing Leyline of Abundance and Felidar Guardian with… um… actual Felidar Guardians. How might it fare against theoretically weaker opponents?

Check it all out in this week’s episode:

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It’s the Pioneer Decklists Podcast!

What is Pioneer?

Magic was born in 1993.

Modern, one of the game’s most beloved formats, takes cards that were legal from 2003 on… So chops off Magic’s first ten years.

Now Pioneer does the same, but starting in 2013. It eliminates Magic’s first twenty years.

It’s the Wild, Wild West.

Pioneer is great, or at least exciting for now because it’s such a wide open universe. There have been lots and lots of bans in Standard over the last six years… But none of those bans have hit Pioneer (yet). It’s like Sam Black said… If you’re not trying to get a card banned, you’re not trying hard enough.

Is Goblin Chainwhirler Good Enough for Pioneer Red Decks?

Goblin Chainwhirler
Goblin Chainwhirler

There have been a number of viable Red Decks over the last six years. Multiple won Pro Tours, even! (Back when we had such a thing.)

Tiny creature decks with Atarka’s Command were great.

There were lean and flexible decks with Eidolon of the Great Revel and Abbot of Keral Keep.

There were fast threats like Earthshaker Khenra. Big and busted ones like Hazoret the Fervent.

We know the Pioneer Red Deck will be less uniform and efficient than the Modern Red Deck. It has to be, right? There will be no Lighting Bolt, for one thing. Will the ever-impressive (in Standard) threat Goblin Chainwhirler make the cut?

Spoiler: Might that creature be great if people are playing 8-12 one drop mana accelerators a la Llanowar Elves?

What Will be the Role of Dig Through Time in Pioneer?

Dig Through Time
Dig Through Time

Patrick loves the idea of Dig Through Time being powered up by Wilderness Reclamation.

Wilderness Reclamation

If all you do is resolve a Wilderness Reclamation, you can start casting Dig Through Time the next turn, even if you haven’t put a lot of cards in your graveyard.

But of course you can set up to put cards in your graveyard! Growth Spiral is going to be in a class by itself. But Opt will be great… and so will cycling cards like Hieroglyphic Illumination an Censor.

Censor, in particular, is interesting: There are so many busted things to do in Pioneer… But none of them are permission spells! Censor does double duty here. It’s not much worse than Quench (even if it feels worse, when it happens to you). Its Plan B is so good to help find Wilderness Reclamation and resolve Dig Though Time.

It’s Probably Going to be a Treasure Cruise Deck…

At least until they ban Treasure Cruise.

Format is wild

New ideas are flowing.

All our takes on the first couple of Pioneer tournament results here:

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Once Upon a Time (and more!) in Modern

Once Upon a Time there was this sick card called Once Upon a Time...

Once Upon a Time in Amulet Titan

The powerful Throne of Eldraine instant provides great stability to the explosive — but sometimes inconsistent — Amulet Titan deck.

This card can help set up a first-turn Sakura-Tribe Scout, find a particular land (say green source), or of course ensure that you have Primeval Titan as soon as you have the mana to play it.

But that’s not all from Throne of Eldraine! Castle Garenbrig makes an appearance here, and even comes into play tapped sometimes (to help net mana with Amulet of Vigor). Another recent addition [with the superpower of entering the battlefield tapped] is Field of the Dead.

Field of the Dead is a “one-card combo” in the land rich Amulet Titan deck, a powerful tool for long games.

Once Upon a Time in Selesnya

The “Devoted Devastation” version of Selesnya makes abusive use of Once Upon a Time to find the Devoted Druid + Vizier of Remedies infinite combo. The new instant is just one of many Tutors in this deck, though…

  • Eladamri’s Call
  • ‘Eldrich Evolution
  • Finale of Devastation
  • (and of course this card)

The deck can be fast.

That isn’t even the only Selesnya deck performing! In Selesnya Eldrazi Once Upon a Time teams up with Ancient Stirrings to assemble mana acceleration [lands] and ensure action.

Once Upon a Time can find Stoneforge Mystic, which is a big game for a deck with so much upside potential on the mana. Remember, Once Upon a Time can also help get you a first turn mana accelerator or Eldrazi Temple! Or one of the big guys later, of course.

The Best of the Rest

Urza Outcome versus Urza Ascendency: Fight!

Why would you want to cast Yawgmoth, Thran Physician

Oh, and what (if anything) is getting emergency banned in Standard?

All that and more is one click away!

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The Evolution of Fires of Invention

Fires of Invention is a rule-breaking card that’s already re-writing its own rules!

Fires of Invention – Week Two

We looked at a Jeskai Planeswalker deck last week that used the Fae of Wishes / Fires of Invention engine last week. Mike thought the combo was cool… But might be more funny than good.

One week in, and the combo is playing alongside Golos, Tireless Pilgrim and Field of the Dead!

One of the key differences given the shift in archetype is that the Golos version wants to keep playing its lands. Previously, a deck that topped up on five or six mana might not have an incentive to play additional lands. After all… It’s not using lands to cast any spells. That would allow a Jeskai Planeswlker deck to use excess lands to bounce Fae of Wishes for more and more uses of front-side Adventure, Granted.

Fae of Wishes gives you a dump for mana you’re not otherwise using, as well as something to do with excess lands.

But in a Field of the Dead deck, you actually want to keep playing lands! That’s how you get more and more 2/2 Zombie tokens (especially in the mirror match or pseudo-mirror).

Check Out this Cool Fires of Invention Play Pattern…

All the Golos / Field of the Dead Ramp decks are capable of big and powerful plays. But there’s big… And then there’s Big. What about this? [With Fires of Invention already on the battlefield]:

  1. Play Granted for 0 mana. Go and get Planar Cleansing.
  2. Fire off Planar Cleansing. You’ve now spent nine mana worth of cards but haven’t actually tapped any lands. You’ve also just destroyed your own Fires of Invention.
  3. Hard-cast Hydroid Krasis! This is a great use of lands you weren’t otherwise going to tap and you simultaneously unlocked your ability to cast more than two cards in one turn. If you’re really lucky, your giant Hydroid Krasis might have just given you another copy of Fires of Invention. At the very least, you have the biggest — if not only — creature in play and probably a whole new hand.

Limitations and Opportunities of the Fires of Invention Sideboard

The joke about Fae of Wishes / Fires of Invention setsups is that, while they can access a great many options to win Game One… They tend not to be able to sideboard very much. The deck that finished second at last weekend’s Open, for instance, had fourteen distinct sideboard cards… Most of which stayed in the sideboard in between games. Sure, you might want to shave a Deafening Clarion or three… But most of the time? You don’t sideboard much with this archetype.

Another subtle area of opportunity for the archetype is that much of the sideboard is constructed as if you already had both Fae of Wishes and Fires of Invention already in play. So… Tons of sweepers. Tons of cards that are difficult if not impossible to cast the old fashioned way.

Patrick in particular believes that the deck might get a little better if it had access to more cards that assumed Fae of Wishes, but not necessarily the powerful red enchantment.

The Best of the Rest…

This week’s podcasts includes but is not limited to…

  • Other Golos decks
  • Fun tricks with Kenrith, the Returned King
  • Teferi or Oko?
  • Infinite aggro

… And, honestly? Quite a bit more. What are you waiting for?

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In for Doom Foretold Esper

Believe it or not, Patrick thinks Doom Foretold is better than The Abyss!

Doom Foretold has drawn some tall comparisons…

  • Is it kind of like a Smokestack? Sure… The same total casting cost, but in this case it can’t manascrew an opponent the way Smokestack did. Still, the comparison is apt.
  • How about The Abyss? Doom Foretold has some different limitations, but it can at least act like The Abyss… And incidentally, it’s more flexible against more types of permanents.
  • When you lose your Doom Foretold, it’s also like a mini-Cruel Ultimatum. A little of this, a little of that; your opponent loses a little something more… Payoff!

There are multiple possible homes for this card; Michael is toying with the idea of putting it in a deck with creatures like District Guide that produce cardboard. Patrick would try it in an Orzhov Knights deck for all the obvious synergies.

But most of all, Doom Foretold is an enchantment for Esper, allowing that strategy to win with Dance of the Manse. Teammates like Wishclaw Talisman and Golden Egg can also help fill out the 4/4 line.

Doom Foretold is increasingly good against increasingly good cards

By contrast, it seems to be less effective against fast Red Deck creatures.

But if you are up against Planeswalkers? Few of them have very good answers to this enchantment. What will Teferi, Time Raveler do? Bounce it?

You’ll probably just re-play the Doom Foretold and eat their hapless Teferi.

Generally speaking, the more, and expensive, cards in the opponent’s deck, the more Doom Foretold can punish them.

The Best of the Rest

With tons to talk about driven by the early MTGO results, we couldn’t focus on just one card. How about…

  • The ferocious Red Deck with Cavalcade of Calamity.
  • “The Patrick Chapin All-Stars” … Basically all his favorite cards from the last couple of weeks, all in one deck.
  • Cauldron Familiar + Witch’s Oven. Boom. (aka “the best Forcefield ever”)
  • Jeskai with Fae of Wishes… Is it more funny or just flat-out good?
  • An actual Simic Flash deck with Wildborn Preserver

What are you waiting for?

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The Great Henge and Other Great Cards from Throne of Eldraine

The Great Henge

  • 7GG
  • Legendary Artifact
  • This spell costs {X} less to cast, where X is the greatest power among creatures you control.
  • {T}: Add {G}{G}. You gain 2 life.
  • Whenever a nontoken creature enters the battlefield under your control, put a +1/+1 counter on it and draw a card.

How Cheap Does The Great Henge Have to Be Before You’re Into It?

This Legendary Artifact is clearly powerful.

It’s reminiscent of top end threats like The Immortal Sun… A big artifact that helps you out with mana and makes your guys bigger and draws you extra cards. But then again, it’s nine — nine — mana at retail cost. Luckily you can get it for less mana… If you do the work.

Mike thinks The Great Henge is “stupid” at four mana.

What if all you did was cast this card on turn three?

If you play Lovestruck Beast on turn three, you will have a five power creature in play already. That discounts The Great Henge from nine mana to four… Which is how much mana you will probably have the next turn!

Boom!

Now go ahead and tap for Good Game and run out something like this… With an extra +1/+1 counter, even!

Barkhide Troll is durable with one +1/+1 counter on it… But two?

The Henge gets really powerful in the middle turns, where you can use its mana production to Ramp, rather than just make a two drop. It’s not out of the question to lay out a 5/5 Questing Beast (or so) the turn The Great Henge hits the battlefield.

So Many Great Cards from Throne of Eldraine

  • We already thought Throne of Eldraine was pushing Adventure creatures… And then we met Brazen Borrower. Wow what a future teammate to Nightpack Ambusher!
  • We finally have the context to talk about Edgewall Inkeeper and Lucky Clover. Will Adventures-linear be a thing?
  • Who would have thought that in a set this big and flashy that a common Island would be the cross-format All-Star? Mystic Sanctuary could be a problem with, like, fetchlands; Crucible of Worlds; Cryptic Command… You know, all the cards Azorius Control decks already want to play in Modern.

Check it all out now!

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So Much Brewing With Throne of Eldraine

Nobody’s Making You Tap Castle Locthwain

Castle Locthwain is a nuanced, powerful, but not obvious new tool.

Castle Lochtwain is already splitting the community.

“It’s not that good,” say some. “You’re just going to take, like, eight damage.”

Well… Did you think maybe you’re supposed to take eight?

The reality is that you don’t have to tap it. It’s relatively low cost to get into your deck, but presents a lot of useful options.

  • If you’re in topdeck mode, Castle Locthwain from Throne of Eldraine is pretty great. You’re only going to take one and you’re going to dig past your opponent.
  • Some strategies — like Death’s Shadow — actually reward you for losing life. You’re welcome.
  • Subtly, this is a way you can generate card advantage — at the end of your opponent’s turn, no less — even if they’ve got Teferi, Time Raveler in play!
  • Whatever Esper! It’s probably just great in black-red decks.

Castle Vantress is an Expensive Way to Do It

Castle Vantress offers an ability we all want… But it kind of costs a ton.

Don’t expect this member of the Throne of Eldraine “castle” cycle to be super popular. “It could be okay to play one” says our beloved Pro Tour Champion, but it’s essentially five mana to not actually draw an extra card.

Probably effective in slow, grinding, matchups; though.

Castle Garenbrig is going to be a four-of

There are totally going to be decks with, like 17 Forests, 4 Castle Garenbrig.

Castle Garenbrig, on the other hand, is a super obvious contributor from Throne of Eldraine. Many decks are just going to play Forests and Castle Garenbrigs (say four copies)… Which will turn Castle Garenbrig into, essentially, a Forest.

… Except you’re going to be able to land Feasting Troll King (and its Food tokens!) a turn early.

This card is essentially an Ancient Tomb with no life loss drawback that also washes mana. Castle Garenbrig just looks great!

Will Castle Ardenvale be the Gem of Throne of Eldraine?

Compare Castle Ardenvale to…
Kjeldoran Outpost.

Castle Ardenvale is more-or-less just better than Kjeldoran Outpost. If you think back to the Outpost’s era, you either had a strategy to beat it… Or you lost to it.

Cards like this one are especially useful because they occupy “land” slots instead of “spell” slots. That means you can save space for other things, and win incidentally with an army of free 1/1 creatures.

Stomp // Bonecrusher Giant will be a cross-format All-Star

Stomp would be close to good enough by itself… But add on the Giant?

Stomp // Bonecrusher Giant is “clearly of the Top 5 cards in the set” according to Patrick.

We agree the card will be highly played in Standard. Michael, for instance, thinks it will immediately Top 8 a Star City Open the first week the card is legal.

On top of that, though, Patrick thinks the card will see play in not only Modern but Legacy and even Vintage! In Legacy, they already play all kinds of terrible red three drops, and this one has a removal spell tacked on. The needs in Vintage are quite specific, and this card does multiple things reasonably well.

There is too much Throne of Eldraine in this podcast to summarize here

  • The Magic Mirror…
  • Fae of Wishes…
  • Black Lance Paragon…

… Really, more brewing than you can even fit in The Cauldron of Eternity.

You’ll just have to listen to the podcast:

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Rosethorn Halberd from Throne of Eldraine

Rosethorn Halberd is our exclusive preview card from Throne of Eldraine

Rosethorn Halberd: It’s Like an Unholy Strength for G

Unholy Strength was a playable card in multiple Constructed formats past. Giving a single creature +2/+1 for B was solid in certain Suicide Black builds…

Now we have essentially the effect at G!

It’s important to remember Rosethorn Halberd is kind of an Unholy Strength with upside. The free equip makes the card very comparable to that age-old creature enchantment, but the fact that you can move it if you have five mana (or continue to reap value in a long game) is all on the bonus.

Rosethorn Halberd… Plus Shimmer Dragon?

Shimmer Dragon is a new card from Throne of Eldraine that has Mike’s creative juices flowing. It’s reminiscent of Mahamoti Djinn… But has multiple abilities that come online if you have artifacts in play.

In a sense, Rosethorn Halberd is just a cheap artifact. You can drop it before you play Shimmer Dragon. If you have enough [cheap] artifacts, you might be able to start Shimmer Dragon off with hexproof!

Further, the tapped-ness (or not) of Rosethorn Halberd is irrelevant. Ergo, you can use it to help draw cards if you have another artifact!

It also plays both ways! If you have Shimmer Dragon first, you can just play Rosethorn Halberd, get the free equip, and end up with an even bigger Dragon. At the same time… Everything else still applies. You just get a quicker clock.

Rosethorn Halberd is Reminiscent of Rancor

Though Rosethorn Halberd is very reminiscent of Unholy Strength, there is a lot of Rancor to it, as well. Unlike Unholy Strength, Rancor has some grind and long game to it… Just like this artifact that doesn’t go anywhere if its creature teammate dies.

Rosethorn Halberd even has a little upside relative to Rancor! If you were to cast Rancor and the opponent removed the target creature in response, Rancor would go to the graveyard. If your intended creature is destroyed before Rosethorn Halberd can buff it, you get to keep Rosethorn Halberd. The next equip might be painful… but you won’t lose the card.

There are lots of tricky things you can do with this card, from receiving the ministrations of an Animating Faerie (Bring to Life), to buffing the same Faerie in another order!

But Patrick thinks its best contribution will be in green aggressive decks.

Let me introduce you to Barkhide Troll or Wildborn Preserver.

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Wildborn Preserver in Simic Flash

Wildborn Preserver

Wildborn Preserver is a home run!

On its face, Wildborn Preserver “isn’t too far off” …

A 2/2 Flash creature for 1G isn’t the greatest on its face… But it’s still pretty good. This card can come down on turn two to mug the opponent’s Healer’s Hawk.

Boom! Simian Grunts card advantage!

Of course it is a great compliment to — and just another fast drop for — the Simic Flash deck. You can play mostly on the opponent’s end step, leaving up mana for permission, or creatures like this one, obviously.

Given its Flash and low cost, this card is a great two mana teammate to Brineborn Cutthroat. Interestingly enough, it almost doesn’t matter which you play first: They buff each other!

Wildborn Preserver has great synergy with Nightpack Ambusher

Playing a fast Wildborn Preserver [whether or not you mug the opponent’s one drop] is potentially good on its own. But the card gets ca-razy once you add centerpiece Nightpack Ambusher to the mix.

Nightpack Ambusher is a creature itself (giving you the opportunity to buff the Preserver). But more importantly, it spits out more and more Wolf creature tokens in future turns. Importantly for specifically this card, it just matters that you make creatures… It doesn’t care if they’re Elves, Wolves, tokens, or anything else specifically.

Therefore you can make a 2/2 (really 3/3) Wolf creature token and tap a little mana to buff the Wildborn Preserver. You can always leave up 1UU for your permission spell… Or not, if you don’t think the opponent will have a play. It won’t take long for your 2/2 to grow up into a 10/10.

Wildborn Preserver isn’t the only great creature, or green creature we talk about this week…

Michael and Patrick are initially split on Questing Beast.

They are not, however, split on the unmitigated beatdown that will be Feasting Troll King. Wow is that card great.

Both play offense-defense, and both are aggressively costed. Not a bad time to be a green creature…

More in the podcast:

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