Let’s Take a Ride on The Omenkeel!

Have You Seen The Omenkeel from Kaldheim?

The Omenkeel

The Omenkeel is a 3/3 vehicle for two mana… It’s got more than a little Smuggler’s Copter to it.

In Standard, this card seems like it could slot into a Dimir Rogues deck. And that Crew 1 — one — is an attractive pair with almost any creatures. Okay, okay… Maybe not Ruin Crab. But most.

It might work in larger formats; but there is a heck of a blue one drop in Kaldheim for potential Standard play, as well.

Buuuuut… The Omenkeel isn’t even the front side of this card!

Cosima, God of the Voyage is The Omenkeel’s Other Side

Say hello to Cosima, God of the Voyage

Cosima, God of the Voyage is a complicated card with eight lines of rules text before you consider it’s a modal double-faced card that also gives you the option of The Omenkeel.

First and foremost… There is no shortage of 2/2 creatures for three mana that people are willing to play, so long as they get even a little bit of card advantage. Borderland Ranger, Trinket Mage, Treasure Mage and more all fall into this category. Cosima is a comparatively gigantic 2/4.

This card allows you to set up a slow grind. Provided you can exile it the first time, Cosima can accumulate a ton of potential extra cards (and size), assuming the opponent doesn’t just kill you.

The two sides of the card potentially work nicely together. You can exile Cosima, but run a conveniently-not-redundant The Omenkeel to ensure a steady stream of lands. An exiled Cosima in fact works wonderfully with other modal double-faced cards. It’s lands Lands LANDS that lead to inevitability here.

Plus…

  • The fair — and unfair — implementations of Tibalt’s Trickery
  • One of the sickest blue one drops ever. Ever!
  • A new engine that is a little bit Sensei’s Divining Top, a little bit Neoform… And a little bit Survival of the Fittest.

Check out “Let’s Take a Ride on The Omenkeel!” right now!

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Valki, God of Lies (and tons more Kaldheim)

Meet Valki, God of Lies

Valki, God of Lies

A little smaller on the back-side than a Tidehollow Sculler. With disruption a little less disruptive. Or, as Mike points out, a little bigger than a Mesmeric Fiend. If terrible, terrible, types.

But that’s not all!

Valki might only hit creatures, but gets better the better the opponent’s creatures.

Still not all!

Valki, God of Lies can come down, trigger his 187, and die in response. (For instance you can sacrifice Valki to the Pyre of Heroes before actually looking at the opponent’s hand.) Valki will die, giving the creature back. But because you have not taken it yet, there is nothing to give back. Ergo, when the trigger does fully resolve, it will be permanent.

And of course there is the option of just stealing a big Baneslayer Angel… Which will allow you to make Valki, God of Lies into the Baneslayer Angel. The aforementioned Baneslayer Angel will not have the text referencing the return of the Baneslayer Angel; so if and when it dies, they opponent will be returned zip, nada, nothing.

Great card on the front side? Good at least? Did we mention Valki, God of Lies is a Modal Double-Faced card?

… Who is also Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter

The artist formerly known as
“Valki, God of Lies”

Notably, using the [+2] only twice will put you in a position to [-8].

And in this case? [-8] is akin to drawing like twenty cards.

Valki’s fail state is “2/1 for two mana” which isn’t good enough in the abstract… But can still put the opponent on a clock. That, combined with all the rest of Valki’s options — including the option to play him as a big seven — makes this one of the most exciting potential options in Kaldheim.

We’re buyers.

Kaldheim Continues to Heat Up

  • Hakka, Whispering Raven – Does an awful lot. The fact that it can bounce back to hand (to be played as a Maro-like God afterward) is cool… But potentially restrictive. Patrick points out that it’s a Hammerhead Shark (which was a killer)
  • Behold the Multiverse – Is great! Seems better than Glimmer of Genius (which was heavily played, even in non-energy decks)
  • Glimpse the Cosmos – Is a worse Shimmer of Possibilities… But has a great synergy with Giants. Mike points out he won a PPTQ with Bonecrusher Giant and original Shimmer of Possibilities without the possibility of a one mana buyback.
  • Niko Aris – Is in just for the Nekrataal-ness. Seems cool with Elspeth Conquers Death… And is clearly a great option for grinding card advantage OR tap-out decks.
  • Old -Growth Troll – Almost has to be seen to be believed! Short list for the best card in the set, for sure.
  • Absorb Identity – Might not be that great. But when it does win? It’ll be very satisfying!

But nothing from Kaldheim is even the coolest thing to talk about this week:

Don’t Miss Patrick’s Swimsuit Calendar!

Mike guest stars along with a number of Magic: The Gathering’s biggest superstars.

All proceeds to to The Trevor Project.

Check it out now on etsy.

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It’s Kaldheim Spoiler Season!

It’s Kaldheim Spoiler Season!

This set seems to be exploring creature types in multiple dimensions. Last week we talked about a card where race (i.e. Dwarves) mattered. Increasingly we see cards where class (like Berserker or Cleric) might, too.

Are you in it for Humans? Elves? Dwarf Berserkers? Angel Berzerkers? (For the record we delve all the way to Demon Berzerkers in the first few minutes.)

Do You Like Angels? How About Them Angels?

Angels seem like a pretty mechanically pushed creature type in Kaldheim. With a limited number of cards revealed we aren’t 100% sure how the Angels deck will manifest, but we can see an initial direction:

Youthful Valkyrie

Mike is never going to let anyone forget that 1/3 for two mana can make for a competitive body if you know who you’re up against. But even if it’s not a squad of Jackal Pups you’re up against, Youthful Valkyrie seems like an awesome way to spend your second turn if you are playing an Angels-themed deck!

What about following up with Renegade Reaper?

Renegade Reaper

This card doesn’t seem like the best on rate… But 1/3 for two mana followed by 2/3 on three mana with multiple triggers actually makes for a cohesive theme. Angels can certainly be set up for blocking, life gain, and generally forcing a StOmPy or Red Deck in Standard to play into strategic blocks.

Can we do better than Renegade Reaper on three? Probably. But the message is clear: Angels Matter.

This is especially true with payoffs like Rampage of the Valkyries making “fair” Magic play impossible.

Kaldheim Spoiler Season Goes Big with Giants

Got five mana? A Red Deck could do worse than…

Surtland Flinger

Surtland Flinger is a 4/6 for five mana with a — pardon the adjective — giant text box. Mike points out that medium and big Red Decks over the years have been happy with 4/4 Dragons at five; Surtland Flinger can be in the range even without the appropriate fuel.

Patrick brings it back to reality, pointing out that there have been some truly awesome Giants to Fling the last couple of years:

Kroxa — conveniently still legal to play in Standard — probably did a bunch of damage already, so if Surtland Flinger is reading off that text box, it might very well be game!

Giants have a variety of interesting if not spectacular new tools… Like Fire Giant’s Fury! Imagine connecting with a Beanstalk Giant. It’s not just about the card advantage… Trample is a powerful upgrade to the X/X cantrip.

All That And…

The Big, Bad, Wolf. (is it good?)

Find out here!

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Kaldheim

Kaldhem spoilers have started to hit the Internet.

What we’ve seen so far is all over the place. Following are some of our favorites from the first few looks at Kaldheim…

Magda, Brazen Outlaw

Magda, Brazen Outlaw

Kaldheim is giving us A LOT of options with just this two drop.

Not for nothing, but in Historic, first turn Toolcraft Exemplar into second turn Magda, Brazen Outlaw is pretty awesome. Magda gives Toolcraft Exemplar the artifact it needs to get bigger, not to mention giving it +1/+0 to begin with.

You can play a narrow number of “otherwise un-cast-able” artifacts in your deck just to get with Magda’s five Treasures ability.

Pyre of Heroes

Pyre of Heroes

Patrick — once a notable deck designer of Birthing Pod decks — thinks this card might not be as dangerous as it seems on its face.

Being a “Tribal” sort of card, Pyre of Heroes from Kaldheim will unlikely be abused with something like a Deceiver Exarch.

Counterpoint: The return of the Changeling mechanic might make designs less stringent than we’re currently imagining. For instance, if you just play the card Realmwalker (which is every creature type), you can ramp any two into it… And then ramp Realmwalker into any four.

Being every creature type, Realmwalker can add some variability to Pyre of Heroes

So, silly for sake of illutration, you might go Magda (Dwarf) into Realmwalker (Shapeshifter) into Wicked Wolf (Wolf).

Toski, Bearer of Secrets

Hilarious

Sooooo much going on with this card.

Given it can’t be countered and it’s indestructible… Toski is theoretically a Jayemdae Tome on legs.

Opponents without specialized removal are (again theoretically) going to fall behind.

It’s also very powerful in combination with certain strategies. For example: Tokens. Most removal is already not good against Tokens; and sweepers don’t kill Toski. Hilarious!

The problem is that it is very easy to beat Toski with value. For instance, almost any 2/2 completely shuts it down. Heck, a 0/2 largely does. Still? It will see play and bedevil opponents for the next two years.

And lots more Kaldheim!

  • The Phyrexian Praetor
  • A heck of a Gnarled Mass
  • Which Saga is best (Spoiler: They’re both quite good)
  • … and more!

Check it out now:

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Is Omnath, Locus of Creation Next on the Chopping Block?

Omnath, Locus of Creation

Let’s Look Closely at Omnath, Locus of Creation

This is a card that is outstanding on rate.

The card is efficient on its face… It’s a 4/4 cantrip for four mana before you start considering landfall abilities.

If you think about just the first landfall ability (gaining four life), it’s already better than a Siege Rhino.

It’s really, really good… But is it going to meet the Standard executioner so soon?

Uro, or Omnath, or Uro AND Omnath?

Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath is likely to be banned soon.

Reason: It has just been so warping in Standard (and other formats) essentially from the moment it appeared.

… But with Omnath join Uro?

We think so.

Among other reasons, banning Uro does very little to curb the dominance Omnath has already shown in Standard. Few decks play a full load of Cultivates and Beanstalk Giants. If all you did was cut Uro, making room for other three mana ramp cards might arguably make them more consistent at producing Omnath!

Uro might get an extra land into play, but it’s not great at fixing colors.

The Kitchen Sink

While Omnath is dominating a lot of Magic: The Gathering conversations right now, we did have a little time to go over how badly Mike missed on Sea Gate Restoration, some Pioneer talk, the newest Craterhoof Behemoth implementation, and even the hot new Modern tech!

It’s like Death’s Shadow 5-8

Check it out here!

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The Modal Double-Faced Episode!

Modal Double-Faced Topic #1: The 2020 Mythic Invitational!

Part One is a quick-ish review of the 2020 Mythic Invitational / Top 8 decks.

No doubt this tournament was stacked with DIs and absolute masters.

Spoiler! Our favorite deck from a Historic Top 8 that was largely Standard decks with one or two overpowered additions:

Mono-Black Gift played by Matt Nass

Part Two is a longer explorations of… You guessed it! Some more standouts from the still-emerging Zendikar Rising. Cards like…

The Two Sides of Valakut Exploration

Valakut Exploration can be played several different ways
  • Valakut Exploration as an Outpost Siege – In some ways, this card is a faster source of incremental card advantage. A little Outpost Siege, a wee bit Experimental Frenzy or one of the many card-drawing editions of Chandra… Valakut Exploration comes down a turn earlier and can give you some extra card oomph.
  • Valakut Exploration in Gruul Ramp – How about playing this card with Radha, Heart of Keld or Dyrad of Ilsyan Grove? The ability to draw extra cards and play extra lands — gaining extra advantages from either side — may make this three mana enchantment a main-deck option.

How to Think About Kazandu Mammoth

What a Gnarled Mass!

Kazandu Mammoth is arguably… Just a little bit better than our preview card, Murasa Brute. Sure, it’s not a Warrior, but this Elephant has options before you play it, and extra punching power after.

  • Is Kazandu Mammoth a kind of Woolly Thoctar with cycling?
  • Patrick thinks of this card, somewhat as one with Forestcycling 1? You can certainly “pay” G [by putting Kazandu Valley into play tapped] to “get” a “Forest”.
  • Michael likes it on the battlefield (unsurprising). Sometimes it dies to any old deal three; others it hits for nine.

Legitimately Exciting is… Swarm Shambler!

Swarm Shamber is great on turn one… But can go long

While this card is probably not good enough for your Gruul Ramp deck… It’s more than good enough for your Gruul beatdown deck, your Selesnya beatdown deck, or as a mirror-breaker for Mono-Green.

The synergies with Hardened Scales in larger formats are obvious. It’s going to be great with any kind of a Winding Constrictor; Standard just happens to have one, and a persistent source of +1/+1 counters to boot.

Not quite a Scavenging Ooze, maybe; but what can you really ask for from your one-drop?

What if Murasa Sproutling Were Actually Good?

… And here’s ANOTHER nice 3/3 for three

Using a Murasa Sproutling to pick up another Murasa Sproutling is kind of a chain in and of itself.

The question is if Standard will be a place where 3/3 creatures for three are good enough; or certainly 3/3 creatures for five (no matter what advantages they generate).

There are certainly kicker-matters things that we want to try. Roost of Drakes is up there. Tajuru Paragon even more. Though Patrick really has to explain Sea Gate Stormcaller to his co-host.

This plus Into the Roil now? If you’ve got nine mana to burn, the other player is in trouble!

Just imagine all that were going to be good enough!

Or imagine with us:

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Taking a Look at the Full Zendikar Rising Spoiler

Is Maddening Cacophony from Zendikar Rising even good? How about great?

Maddening Cacophony

Maddening Cacophony is definitely not Mike’s favorite blue card from Zendikar Rising.

But is it good? Great? Archetype defining even?

Things to note:

  • Maddening Cacophony doesn’t target. Good in group games, sure; but it can also anchor a Mill deck against an opponent with Leyline of Sanctity on the battlefield.
  • Eight cards for two mana isn’t that bad.
  • You can Mill out an opponent using only Maddening Cacophonies. The card rounds up; so it can take out the last card.

While Mike isn’t excited by this one, Patrick points out that there might be a critical mass of Mill in Modern that is too fast for interaction. This card can be helpful, with or without being kicked.

How interested are you in Ondu Inversion from Zendikar Rising?

Front side
Back side

On the one hand… Mike doesn’t want to play either side.

On the other hand… He could see this being a four-of in Standard.

Macro / interesting discussion: Will modal double-faced cards change how mana bases have been built for the past twenty-plus years?

Is Nighthawk Scavenger the best card in Zendikar Rising?

Nighthawk Scavenger

Nighthawk Scavenger is only smaller than Vampire Nighthawk if they have nothing in their graveyard at all.

Sometimes people put cards in their graveyards for you (e.g. Fabled Passage).

But if you actually try? A little hand destruction and creature removal? Nighthawk Scavenger can easily jump to 3-5 power… The true, evasive, racing love child of Vampire Nighthawk and Tarmogoyf.

Prediction: This will get played even in Legacy! Standard and Pioneer for sure.

Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats is just Questing Beast

Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats

I mean… Look at it!

Listen to our first drive bty the full Zendikar spoiler now!

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Zendikar Rising Exclusive Preview – Murasa Brute!

Thanks to Wizards for letting us preview
Murasa Brute!

Murasa Brute – More Than Meets the Immediate Eye

Is Murasa Brute “just” a 3/3 vanilla for three mana? With no rules text?

Patrick argues that that doesn’t just cover what’s really going on with this card… There is actually some hidden rules text!

First off, Murasa Brute is a little bit better than onetime tournament Role Player Gnarled Mass (a card Mike was once famous for advocating). But unlike Gnarled Mass at 1GG… Murasa Brute is a little less restrictive to cast.

But besides that, it’s also a Troll Warrior.

With Zendikar Rising, being a Warrior can help you out in building your Party. So you might just have a little more incentive to consider a creature like this one.

Now that said…

Tajuru Paragon can Help You Fill Your Party

Tajuru Paragon is also a Warrior
(as well as a Cleric, Rogue, Wizard… and Elf)

Tajuru Paragon is a three power creature for only two mana. A 3/2 for two (with a lot of potential types), this card has a heck of a fail state.

It can help get your beat on early… While filling any slot in your Party. In addition, a late game Paragon can dig up other Clerics, Rogues, Warriors… Or Wizards.

What about nabbing a Fae of Wishes or Gadwick, the Wizened?

Snowballing card advantage is quite a possibility!

Maybe he’s friends with Red Decks; enabling Wizard’s Lightning or buddying up with a Rogue like Robber of the Rich.

A Rollicking Discussion of Legion Angel

… And all our initial thoughts on Zendikar Rising

Check it all out now:

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Is Alpine Houndmaster the Best Card in M21?

Alpine Houndmaster marries Grizzly Bears and Ancestral Recall

What Makes Alpine Houndmaster Worth Talking About?

Alpine Houndmaster would certainly be an odd “best card in the set” if in fact it ended up the best card in the set. But this one is kind of like an Ancestral Recall.

You play the Alpine Houndmaster and get one 2/2 for two mana (1); but in addition you get to search up Alpine Watchdog (2) and Igneous Cur (3)… So three-for-one!

While potentially powerful, the Houndmaster demands a steep deck building cost. In addition to playing [presumably] four copies of Alpine Houndmaster, you have to play some copies of both of the other two to get maximum value. On the high end you might spend twelve slots in your deck for four copies of each of the three two drops; but at a minimum, you need to play at least one Alpine Watchdog and at least one Igneous Cur in order to get paid off by even the first Houndmaster.

Therefore the question can only be answered if we know if we want to actually pay the deck building cost. Or, would you want to play any of the other two at all?

Houndmaster’s Best Friend: Alpine Watchdog

Alpine Watchdog

Mike points out that twenty years ago, back when he was a kind of White Weenie player, he had to pay a full WW for a 2/2 creature with vigilance. For 1W he only got a white Grizzly Bears.

Not that he actually paid for either thanks to Ramosian Sergeant or anything:

Alpine Watchdog is an update to the same. You probably wouldn’t be stuffing either Fresh Volunteers or Steadfast Guard into your sixty without Rebel support; but Patrick points out that people weren’t really into 1/1 flyers for two mana either… Except Squadron Hawk proved everybody wrong.

Good doggy.

Houndmaster’s (other) Best Friend: Igneous Cur

Igneous Cur

Igneous Cur is probably better than Alpine Watchdog all other things held equal.

If you’re stuck casting it on turn two… It’s still a better body — tapped out — than a Runaway Steam-Kin. It will trade for the Stomp half of Bonecrusher Giant or Shock like any other x/2 early.

Later in the game, it’s a legitimate threat. Igneous Cur and a ton of untapped mana is like a Fireball waiting to splatter the opponent; or at the very least, trade up with a more expensive creature. Not bad at all, being on the bonus.

The Best of the Rest

Is Alpine Houndmaster going to prove to be the best card of Core Set 2021? We’ll have to wait and see… But both hosts are cheering for it.

Potential payoffs include Rin and Seri, Inseparable; while Feline Sovereign can be a rival or teammate (probably with Rin and Seri, Inseparable).

Mike’s old school favorite Faith’s Fetters might be better than ever; while the even more ancient evil, spiteful Kaervek finally makes his way to a cardboard depiction.

All that and more in this week’s (slightly belated) podcast!

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Terror of the Peaks – Fair… and Not!

Who’s Afraid of Terror of the Peaks?

Terror of the Peaks

… Maybe you should be!

Let’s break it down…

Terror of the Peaks is a 5/4 flying Dragon for five mana. It’s comparable to many other Constructed-playable Dragons.

But unlike many of them, it has a built-in defensive capability. They might get your Terror of the Peaks, but you give them a Lava Spike back.

If they don’t deal with it, though? Terror of the Peaks can be a true terror for the opponent! Not only will it not take long to kill the opponent “naturally” with five power and evasion, other considerations can close the kill super fast… Or even in just one turn.

For the “fair” take on Terror of the Peaks, look for this card to show up in Gruul as a straight swap to start.

What if You Weirdly Had this Spider?

Sporeweb Weaver

“I didn’t like Gruul Spellbreaker anyway.”

-Mike

Sporeweb Weaver is a pretty good creature on the merits. It’s a tenacious defender for its cost; and can put the big hurt on both Mono-Blue and Mono-Red Aggro.

So… Pretty good card; devastating in some matchups.

But how does this card go with Terror of the Peaks?

Putting it All Together

No one read that text box, please!

So you’ve got a Terror of the Peaks on the battlefield.

You play Sporeweb Spider. Ting for one!

Now you play a Selfless Savior. Trigger your Dragon, targeting Sporeweb Spider. In response, sacrifice Selfless Savior to give Sporeweb Spider indestructible.

Now when you finish resolving the ting on Sporeweb Spider, you can make a 1/1 and get other triggers. The new creature also gives you a Terror of the Peaks trigger. Target your 1/4 again; rinse and repeat.

Since your Spider is indestructible, you can do this as much as you want, gain essentially infinite life, make infinite power, and finish off with a point on the opponent.

In sum: Terror of the Peaks is great fair… And might be something else entirely when infinite or unfair.

The Best of the Rest…

  • All of the M21 Planeswalkers
  • Barrin, Tolarian Archmage
  • and more!

Check it out:

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