koilos

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Crypto-Biology and Unusual Creatures!

On December 22, 1938, Captain Hendrik Goosen caught an unusual fish of the coast of South Africa. He took it straight to port to local museum official and amateur scientist Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, who recognized it as an extremely unusual creature and sought to identify it. 

Unable to locate anyone that day and facing the decomposition of the fish she had it stuffed and mounted. It wasn’t until the following February that a local university professor saw it and recognized its importance, naming the species after Latimer and the location it was found, the Chalumna River. The Coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) is a type of lobe finned fish that first evolved (and is present in the fossil record) over 400 million years ago. The name coelacanth was given by the great Swiss paleontologist Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz (1807-1873) and comes from the Ancient Greek word κοῖλ-ος (koilos) meaning hollow and ἄκανθ-α (akantha) meaning spine-the coelacanth has a very unusual central nervous system. The coelacanth was thought to have gone extinct at the end of the Cretaceous Period 65 million years ago. The coelacanth became the defining member (and still most famous member) of a class known as the Lazarus Taxon, species that disappear from the fossil record and are thought to be extinct only to be discovered after their period of supposed extinction. The coelacanth also enjoys minor celebrity status among Fundamentalist Christians, many of whom maintain that the coelacanth confirms that the fossil record is incomplete and not trustworthy, and many of whom use the coelacanth to assert that humans could also have lived alongside dinosaurs.

Video courtesy National Geographic.  Some users will see a brief ad, so sorry!  Note to parents:  extremely mild bleeped out cursing at first 15 seconds.

Happy Birthday, B! You are also a stunning wonder, and every day I am glad to be the one who pulled you out of the ocean, the rarest of treasures!

10

Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim (so many pilgrims, so little time) (now with decklist!)

(full decklist will be made available after the release of the  set)

Ayli is a great general. To start off, she only costs two mana to cast meaning you won’t get sick of her any time soon. She also has a 2/3 body which is decently bulky for her cost and she’s got sac abilities so get ready. 

The first thing you’re going to want 4 different versions of is Grave Pact (these 4 cards are dictate of erebos, martyr’s bond, grave pact and butcher of malikir) This will give your deck an extra control element which is much needed because this is after all a control general. Something recommended to go in tandum with these is leyline of void as it will ensure that no graveyard shenanigans take place from your opponents. 

Suture priest is another card that you’ll want a couple different versions of. She will make sure you’re gaining life off all your creatures and she gets really good when your opponents start to sac. Not to mention she’s necessary as you’ve got to get to 50 life to start exiling things. 

Smothering Abomination is a great card as well. Because he’s got card draw out the wazoo it’ll seriously speed up your game. If you aren’t drawing lands or creatures or spells you need, this guy will fix that. Reprocess functions similarly, sac things, draw cards. 

Karlov is amazing. You’ll be gaining plenty of life in this deck so being able to easily exile more things is just icing on the proverbial cake at this point. He’ll do it cheap and he’ll do it well and if there’s nothing to exile he can swing like a hammer. 

Proper burial and angelic blessing are also very highly recommended as they’ll speed up your life gain quite a bit.

Lastly, bitterblossom is amazing in this deck as it will provide one of our last points. Tokens. Having tokens in this deck is essential. They’re a sac outlet for both of your commanders abilities and you can make a thousand of them. Tokens are a requirement for this deck so consider other cards like White Sun’s Zenith and (the ever flavorfully ironic) eldrazi processors. being able to make multipurpose tokens out of the things you exile can serve you to no bound. 

That’s all for this deck, have fun and CRUSH YOUR ENEMIES

Keep reading

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Finding the Rarest Fish in the Ocean

On December 22, 1938, Captain Hendrik Goosen caught an unusual fish of the coast of South Africa. He took it straight to port to local museum official and amateur scientist Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, who recognized it as an extremely unusual creature and sought to identify it. Unable to locate anyone that day and facing the decomposition of the fish she had it stuffed and mounted. It wasn’t until the following February that a local university professor saw it and recognized its importance, naming the species after Latimer and the location it was found, the Chalumna River. The Coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) is a type of lobe finned fish that first evolved (and is present in the fossil record) over 400 million years ago. The name coelacanth was given by the great Swiss paleontologist Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz (1807-1873) and comes from the Ancient Greek word κοῖλ-ος (koilos) meaning hollow and ἄκανθ-α (akantha) meaning spine-the coelacanth has a very unusual central nervous system. The coelacanth was thought to have gone extinct at the end of the Cretaceous Period 65 million years ago. The coelacanth became the defining member (and still most famous member) of a class known as the Lazarus Taxon, species that disappear from the fossil record and are thought to be extinct only to be discovered after their period of supposed extinction. The coelacanth also enjoys minor celebrity status among Fundamentalist Christians, many of whom maintain that the coelacanth confirms that the fossil record is incomplete and not trustworthy, and many of whom use the coelacanth to assert that humans could also have lived alongside dinosaurs.

Video courtesy National Geographic.  Some users will see a brief ad, so sorry!  Note to parents:  extremely mild bleeped out cursing at first 15 seconds.

Happy Birthday, B! You are also a stunning wonder, and every day I am glad to be the one who pulled you out of the ocean, the rarest of treasures!

A Quick Review: Modern Event Deck 2014

 

What’s up folks and welcome to a random edition to one of my quick reviews (literally written on the night of) on a deck that’s near and dear to my heart. BW Tokens or Orzhov Tokens to some!

Traditionally known as one of the fairer decks in the format, Orzhov Tokens takes advantage of launching quick swarms at your opponent and just beating them senseless.

There’s been different builds over the past 2 years in Modern, but many of the lists fall short to some of it’s worst match ups in the format… Anything that can kill it within four turns. So you’re looking at basically almost every combo deck in the format, in addition to playing an attrition war against stronger control decks in Modern.

Instead of addressing these shortcomings, Wizards of the Coast didn’t exactly provide these answers in the Modern Event deck.

So this is where I come in and help you guys understand what went in the deck and what you can do to fix the shortcomings. Yes, especially if you’re on a budget of any kind.

The Usual Suspects

 

Let’s run down the deck’s contents!

4 Caves of Koilos

2 City of Brass

4 Isolated Chapel

5 Plains

4 Swamp

1 Vault of the Archangel

4 Windbrisk Heights

2 Soul Warden

3 Tidehollow Sculler

1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant

3 Honor of the Pure

2 Inquisition of Kozilek

4 Intangible Virtue

4 Lingering Souls

3 Path to Exile

4 Raise the Alarm

2 Shrine of Loyal Legions

4 Spectral Procession

1 Sword of Feast and Famine

3 Zealous Persecution

Sideboard

2 Burrenton Forge-Tender

2 Dismember

3 Duress

2 Ghost Quarter

3 Kataki, War’s Wage

3 Relic of Progenitus

Being a Orzhov Tokens pilot myself for the past year, there’s some great tools in the deck for entry level use. While I wouldn’t use this exact list, I can provide commentary on why these cards exist in the deck.

First, the mana base has been on heavy debate.

“Where’s the Marsh Flats?”

“Where’s the Godless Shrines?”

“Where’s the value?!”

So before some of you guys start the mob mentality of whining, you have to realize that this is an entry level product for people interested in Modern. Players that have no idea where to start, especially if they’ve been playing Standard or drafting for a year. If Wizards of the Coast included one or two fetchlands, it would defeat the purpose of having an entry-level product on the shelves. Guess what would happen? Mark-ups.

Suddenly that $74.99 MSRP Modern Event deck becomes $99.99 or even $149.99. Just like Commander’s Arsenal, you wouldn’t have players buying out the product, you would have scalpers and speculators clearing out stores just to resell and cannibalize them for their own trade binders or eBay auctions.

What happens to Lisa or Jeremy at FNM? They’re not going to have a chance to buy the Event deck, let alone play Modern. The format itself is moderately more expensive than Standard , so it was a good decision by Wizards to not include these outrageously expensive Fetchlands in an entry level product. I would much rather have new players entering a new format rather than none at all.

(Thanks to Jonathan Medina for pointing out this concept as well.)

So back to the review!

Mana Base

Orzhov Tokens wants to cast Thoughtseize, Duress, and Inquistion of Kozilek turn one. No ifs or buts. This is your line of play, especially against a format full of decks that can kill you by turn 3 or 4. You want your opponent to play on your level and on your terms or at least long enough so you can overload them with your swarm. So when I see Caves of Koilos and City of Brass, that’s a good direction to take.

Vault of the Archangel is there as a one of since it’s more of a utility card. You don’t have to have it to win, but it’s nice to have in the deck when you do manage to top deck it. Windbrisk Heights on the other hand is difficult to evaluate. Against slower or fairer decks, you might be able to double up your army or add another Anthem effect during an attack. That’s about it though. On a competitive level, you need to be ahead on board to make this card great, but you’re dealing with a format full of Blood Moons, land destruction and a lot of board wipes. So when you’re behind and top decking, this card isn’t going to do much, but when you’re ahead, you’ll stay ahead.

Creatures & Planeswalkers

Soul Warden is basically the poor man’s Auriok Champion. When I say poor man, it’s even worst than ramen noodle with left over Prego sauce poor. You’ll get the cute life gain against creature decks, but it’s missing the key ability that makes Auriok Champion so much better.

Protection from Black and Red.

This means you can chump block Goblin Guides, Dark Confidants, or survive popular board wipes such as Pyroclasm or Anger of the Gods. Otherwise, all Soul Warden does is allow you to gain life, but that’s up to your opponent to decide.

Tidehallow Sculler is a solid tempo card. When combined with Thoughtseizes, you’ll definitely make unfair decks a bit fairer.  Elspeth is definitely the finisher in the list, along with Sword of Feast and Famine. She’s better than Sorin since she’s just a better card overall in a top deck situation compared to our favorite long-sworded Vampire.

Spells

Let’s talk about the token generators and rank them:

  1. Lingering Souls
  2. Spectral Procession
  3. Raise the Alarm
  4. Shrine of Loyal Legions

Lingering Souls is ridiculous against control decks due to it’s Flashback ability. It might get countered, sure, but you get another chance to cast it. Four evasive tokens for five mana, that’s not bad either. Spectral Procession isn’t nearly as useful, but it gets there producing three flyers for three mana. Raise the Alarm isn’t bad since it does give you the option to leave up open mana so you can cast them at the end of your opponent’s turn or as surprise blockers.

Rounding down is probably the least exciting card in the deck and for many that were expecting Bitter Blossom in the slot. Shrine of the Loyal Legions is extremely slow and is normally used against control decks in an attrition war. That’s assuming it doesn’t get countered, bounced back by Cryptic Command when you’re tapped out, or just gets nuked by Wear//Tear.  Again, it’s one of the shortcomings of the deck. It just can’t deal with a competitive Control deck or against a player with match-up knowledge.

So that leaves us with the real reasons why this deck is dangerous. The Anthem effects, the +1/+1 buffs and the hilarity of playing back to back buffs with three spirit tokens on the board. It’s great to see the deck gives you almost a near play set of both Honor of the Pure and Intangible Virtue. This allows you to focus more on either your creatures or tokens specifically since there’s various builds for Orzhov Tokens (which I will be covering in my beginner’s guide to Modern). In addition to that, Zealous Persecution is a complete blow out against Affinity. Any greedy Affinity player that has almost zero match-up knowledge will dump their hand asap only to have it wiped out by this spell alone.

Swords of Feast and Famine seems a bit out of place in the deck. I image it’s there just so players have a way to deal with Tarmagyof. As it stands, the other effects the sword gives you doesn’t really benefit your deck overall. You don’t really need to have your lands untapped unless you want to constantly bluff Persecution or Raise the Alarm. I’d much rather see Swords of Fire and Ice in this slot to at least allow your tokens to survive a Lightning Bolt or an Anger of the Gods. Maybe even a Sword of War and Peace so you can at least bypass Restoration Angel, Colonnades, or even a Path to Exile.

With only two Inquistion of Kozilek in the deck, don’t expect to blow out your opponent. You’re not going to strip Splinter Twin, Birthing Pod or even a Karn. You can deal with Pyromancer’s Ascension and such game one, but don’t expect this card to pull it’s weight that much without Thoughtseizes or Duress in the main board.

Path to Exile is the best removal spell in the format. No question, the best. Period. In worst case situations, you can path your own tokens to ramp up next turn. Not the best play, but it does happen a lot, especially if you need to respond to a Blood Moon before it resolves.

Sideboard

So this is where things get a bit interesting. Burrenton Forge-Tender is a fine card since it allows your swarm to survive a Pyroclasm or Anger of the Gods. The two best board sweepers in the format and you have an adequate answer for them. They also double as chump blockers against Red Deck Wins too.

Dismember is there probably for the Splinter Twin match up or just additional removal when needed. For me, I wouldn’t recommend this card, especially with Spellskites in the format.

The three copies of Duress is a great starting point if you don’t own Thoughtseizes. They deal with multiple combo decks in the format, such as Birthing Pod, Splinter Twin, Scapeshift, Living End, Pyromancer’s Ascension, Karn, Ensnaring Bridge, and various other types of cards that would traditionally end you for playing fair.

Ghost Quarter is wonderful, but I’d recommend an additional copy and move them up into the main deck. There’s unfair decks such as Tron where you need to stifle them any way you can. It also helps you deal with man-lands and Gavony Township found in GW Hate Bears and Birthing Pod lists.

Kataki, War’s Wage is the deck’s answer to Affinity. It’s ok, just not the answer you’re looking for against Affinity most of the time.

Relic of Progenitus is a decent solid card. It’s decent against Storm (not optimal) and deals with Living End players. There’s also cute fringe decks in the format where a single graveyard hate spell just tanks them as well.

Overall, the deck introduces new players to a solid foundation for their Modern collection. There’s definitely some questionable cards in the deck that should’ve taken up the mythic slot (Hero of Bladehold), but as it stands, it’s not bad for the price and I hope they reprint Path to Exile with Rebecca Guay’s art.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

So we’re looking at $75 bucks for a decent starter package. How do we improve upon on it with an extra $25 or at least enough through a few trades?  With this restriction in mind, here’s two lists for anyone starting off Modern on a budget.

Keep in mind, I’ll be writing an article about a more fleshed out competitive list without restrictions next week. In addition to detailed match ups, mulligan selection, illustrations, and deeper sideboard talk. What you see here is just literally a more streamlined list.

Aggro Heavy Meta

4 Caves of Koilos

2 City of Brass

4 Isolated Chapel

5 Plains

4 Swamp

1 Vault of the Archangel

1 Windbrisk Heights

3 Soul Warden

2 Honor of the Pure

2 Inquisition of Kozilek

3 Intangible Virtue

4 Lingering Souls

4 Path to Exile

4 Raise the Alarm

4 Spectral Procession

1 Sword of Feast and Famine

3 Zealous Persecution

1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant

3 Ghost Quarter

3 Duress

1 Engineered Explosives

1 Timely Reinforcements

//Sideboard

SB: 1 Surgical Extraction

SB: 2 Extirpate

SB: 1 Memoricide

SB: 2 Disenchant

SB: 1 Sudden Death

SB: 1 Grafdigger’s Cage

SB: 1 Pithing Needle

SB: 2 Eidolon of Rhetoric

SB: 2 Kataki, War’s Wage

SB: 2 Burrenton Forge-Tender

So this list takes on a much more specific meta where you might deal with a lot of aggro base lists. Engineered Explosives is amazing against decks such as Zoo and can wipe most of Affinity’s board if you didn’t draw into your Persecutions.

Combo/Control Heavy Meta

4 Caves of Koilos

2 City of Brass

4 Isolated Chapel

5 Plains

4 Swamp

1 Vault of the Archangel

1 Windbrisk Heights

3 Honor of the Pure

2 Inquisition of Kozilek

2 Intangible Virtue

4 Lingering Souls

4 Path to Exile

4 Raise the Alarm

4 Spectral Procession

1 Sword of Feast and Famine

2 Zealous Persecution

1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant

3 Ghost Quarter

4 Duress

3 Tidehollow Sculler

1 Sudden Death

1 Doom Blade

//Sideboard

SB: 1 Surgical Extraction

SB: 2 Extirpate

SB: 1 Memoricide

SB: 2 Disenchant

SB: 1 Sudden Death

SB: 1 Grafdigger’s Cage

SB: 1 Pithing Needle

SB: 2 Eidolon of Rhetoric

SB: 1 Kataki, War’s Wage

SB: 2 Burrenton Forge-Tender

SB: 1 Engineered Explosives

Little closer to a tempo style deck with Tidehallows instead of Soul Wardens. There’s more specific creature removal in this list that will allow you to deal with Splinter Twin. Sudden Death lets you bypass Spellskites as well.

The main revamp given our budget has been the sideboard. You’ll notice Extirpate, Surgical Extraction and Memoricide as new additions. I wanted to find ways to deal with ridiculously powerful linear combo decks such as Scapeshift. In addition to that, playing Ghost Quarter on an Urza land and immediately casting Extraction/Extirpate is your best option against Tron.

I was surprised that there were no specific artifact/enchantment removal spells in the sideboard. The Orzhov Tokens is basically dead cold against Ensnaring Bridge and Ghostly Prison. That’s not even mentioning a Blood Moon to lock you out. With that said, Disenchants were added over Sundering Growth for said situation. All you need is 1 Plains and you can get back into the game.

Sudden Death is one of the underrated cards in Modern right now. It deals with Splinter Twin decks, in addition to being an amazing answer to threats found in counterspell heavy decks with Restoration Angel and Colonnades.

Grafdigger’s Cage was chosen over Relics since it shuts down Birthing Pod reliant decks. Not quite as effective as removing said graveyard, but you already have that partially covered with Extirpate/Extractions.

Pithing Needle is also another criminally underrated card in Modern.  You can do a lot with this card in Modern, so I’ll leave this to your imagination for now until my article.

Finally as a budget option way of dealing with Storm in Modern, Eidolon of Rhetorics was added. Not only do they hose Storm, but they also can limit Cascade effects found in Living End and puts a damper on Infect decks that rely on spewing a ton of spells at once.  I prefer Ethersworn Canonist myself, but they’re not as budget friendly.

Just for reference, here’s my current list I use against a combo heavy meta:

1 Fetid Heath

4 Godless Shrine

3 Honor of the Pure

2 Intangible Virtue

4 Lingering Souls

4 Marsh Flats

4 Path to Exile

3 Plains

4 Raise the Alarm

4 Spectral Procession

1 Swamp

1 Vault of the Archangel

2 Zealous Persecution

4 Thoughtseize

3 Arid Mesa

1 Sacred Foundry

1 Mountain

2 Inquisition of Kozilek

1 Duress

3 Tidehollow Sculler

2 Hero of Bladehold

3 Ghost Quarter

1 Caves of Koilos

1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

1 Liliana of the Veil

//Sideboard

SB: 1 Pithing Needle

SB: 1 Grafdigger’s Cage

SB: 2 Ethersworn Canonist

SB: 2 Wear // Tear

SB: 2 Engineered Explosives

SB: 2 Extirpate

SB: 1 Sudden Death

SB: 1 Liliana of the Veil

SB: 1 Aven Mindcensor

SB: 1 Slaughter Games

SB: 1 Surgical Extraction

There will be a much more detailed explanation for my list in the article, so be on the look out for that.

Only a warm up

So after 2 hours of writing this review (without an editor even), I hope there’s enough information here to understand what kind of cards you’re getting out of the Modern Event deck. Again, I will be creating a much more detailed guide to Modern next week featuring BWR Tokens, but they operate very similarly.

Overall, I have to say Wizards did a good job on the card pool selection, but lacks tuning against combo and control decks. Especially combo decks…

If you have any questions or comments, you can find me on Twitter @PolishTamales or on Tumblr at Polishtamales.tumblr.com or polishtamales!

Have a Magical day!