June 26, 2015

Sooooooulblade

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In this issue:

The Hippest Djinn in the Multiverse | Grand Prix Fallout | Magic Origins Power Rankings


I would like to think that somewhere in the vastness of the worlds that make up Magic, there is a place for young planeswalkers to come together and dance their young worries away. And that place is a musical showcase called Soulblade. And the Don Cornelius of this particular world is the one and only Soulblade Djinn, aka The Hippest Djinn in the Multiverse. Let's take a look at him:

Okay…well after looking at him—and reading the flavor text—it seems unlikely that Soulblade Djinn is presiding over any sort of dance party. Perhaps Soulblade is actually a showcase in fighting with edged weapons. Perhaps we should move on from this line of introduction and actually talk about this new card coming your way in just two weeks.

My immediate thought, looking at this card, is about how I am going to play with it in Commander. I have three decks that could support it, based solely on color identity. Momir Vig and Sidisi, Brood Tyrant could certainly squeeze it in, but there is a question of sufficient prowess triggers since both decks are very deep in creatures. I would have to see if I could squeeze it thematically into my Lazav deck, which has a hard-boiled crime theme but does contain more cards that would trigger prowess. (Also, now that I think about it, a flying badass with three scimitars dancing around him should be able to make the cut.)

There are fewer than twenty cards in Momir Vig that would trigger prowess—although plenty of creatures to benefit from the super-prowess that Soulblade Djinn grants to the rest of your board. Spitting Image is really going to shine here—as will any retrace card—since you can start making copies of your Soulblade Djinn. And every time you do copy it, you start piling up multiple prowess triggers…for the entire team.

In my Sidisi deck, there are even fewer spells to trigger prowess—just sixteen nonland, non-creature cards in the whole deck. Though in the Sidisi deck, sometimes they come back. I have to admit I am tickled by the idea of casting Spider Spawning and then making my whole team bigger by flashing it back a turn later. And then once I start looping it with Runic Repetition and Memory's Journey….

Nah, flashback and retrace are just not going to be enough to make the Djinn shine in these two decks. What we need is something new. I have long wanted to build a Bant enchantment-based deck for Commander, and there is another new card in Magic Origins that would provide me with plenty of creatures to enhance with Soulblade Djinn but also abundant prowess triggers. I am talking about Starfield of Nyx, which turns all your enchantments into creatures (you also get to play Opalescence in this deck) and they still trigger prowess when you play them.

I am not sure which of the Bant-eligible Commanders I would use to build this deck around—and I am open to any suggestions you might have on Facebook and Twitter—but it is certainly going to have an enchantress theme. I definitely like the idea of the usually mild-mannered, hanging-back-on-the-sidelines Argothian Enchantress piling on a handful of prowess triggers from Soulblade Djinn, and rumbling into the red zone while I am hiding behind the effects from Ghostly Prison, Propaganda, and Sphere of Safety—which are all creatures because of Opalescence or Starfield of Nyx and getting their overrun on thanks to Soulblade Djinn. I will probably throw a Sigil of the Empty Throne in there as well, to make more creatures to overrun you with.

Soulblade Djinn is clearly on your wish list when you are heading to play in your local Magic Origins Prerelease. Who doesn't want an Air Elemental that comes with the ability to give all your creatures a mini Overrun? What about how this card will play in 60-card decks? I don't know how many five-mana non-Dragons will make the cut right now, but if Soulblade Djinn is going to be bringing his talents to Standard I am going to be looking for cards that give me creatures while also triggering his ability.

Cards like Collected Company and Chord of Calling keep expanding your board presence while also triggering prowess. Wildcall, Soul Summons, Mastery of the Unseen, Cloudform, and Lightform all give you creatures and also provide a Soulbladed boost to your team in the process. Token generators are also sweet ways to advance your board and boost your team with him in play.

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Grand Prix Fallout

There were two Grand Prix this past weekend, and there were several notable performances aside from the two winners. Congratulations to both Sky Mason, the GP Providence Champion, and Przemek Knocinski, the GP Copenhagen winner. But success at a GP can run a lot deeper than just the outcome of the finals showdown for the big check, trophy, and your name in the history books.

Sky Mason (left), champion of Grand Prix Providence. Przemek Knocinsky (right), champion of Grand Prix Copenhagen.

In Copenhagen, Jacob Wilson picked up some crucial points with his Top 16 finish. That nudged him up in the Top 25 standings but, more importantly, got him to 51 Pro Points, pulling him into a tie for the Canadian National Champion title with Shaun McLaren. That could set up a straightforward footrace between the two of them at Pro Tour Magic Origins for that World Magic Cup seat. It also pulled Wilson to within single digits of Player of the Year frontrunner Eric Froehlich. As we are closing out the season with just a handful of remaining Grand Prix Wilson is one of a dozen players all within 10 points of the Player of the Year title.

Meanwhile, in Providence, Steve Rubin continued his quiet Platinum season with a Top 8 finish at the Grand Prix. Rubin has been consistent throughout the year. He also has a hand in multiple successful Pro Tour decks, including the Abzan deck that Ari lax used to win Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir to start the season. This was only the second Grand Prix Top 8 of the year for him and he has yet to make a Pro Tour Top 8 this season. That should give you an idea of how solidly he has performed when you look at his 49 points, which currently has him taking home an At Large Berth to the World Championship, pending the results from the last PT.

Alexander Hayne posted another strong finish as well at GP Providence. Hayne, who is looking to secure the Grand Prix Player of the Year invitation to the World Championship, had extended his lead over Pascal Maynard to 4 points the weekend before this past one, with a Top 16 finish at GP Charlotte. Chalk up another 3 points for Hayne this week as he repeated that feat in Rhode Island. His lead over Pascal Maynard is a nearly insurmountable 7 points, with very few opportunities remaining. Even a second-place finish by Maynard wouldn't allow him to catch Hayne in a single event. Only a win by Maynard can jeopardize Hayne's lead, and that assumes that Hayne does not pick up any more points along the way.

Canadian players have been performing especially well at Canadian Grand Prix this season, and it will be interesting to see if Maynard keeps up the hunt this weekend in Buenos Aires before heading to Montreal the following weekend. After that, there is a break for the Prerelease and then only one GP remains, in Dallas the weekend before the Pro Tour. It's hard to imagine anyone else catching up to Hayne—and it's getting pretty difficult to even visualize Maynard doing it at this point—but Teruya Kakumae is also within one event of doing so. He would need to win a GP without Hayne picking up any more points to tie the Pro Tour Avacyn Restored Champion.

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Magic Origins Power Rankings—Just Happy to See You Edition

Looking through the Card Image Gallery, here are my five favorite cards so far from the new set—for a variety of reasons that do not always include their Constructed impact.


#5 Rhox Maulers

I just love the art on this card, and desperately hope someone is making this into a playmat for an upcoming Grand Prix. My affection for this card is also due in no small part to a local TV station that used to run ads for Raiders of the Lost Arc with made-up lyrics to the iconic Indiana Jones theme song, and featured a lyric about being "chased by rocks"…which in my head I have always read as "chased by Rhox." Like I said, the reasons are not always about playability.


#4 Tower Geist

This was one of my favorite Limited cards to play when it was first printed, and I'm excited to see it back for a summer tour. It's not quite a Mulldrifter, but it comes pretty close. You get to dig two cards deep, and we've seen continually over the past few years of Magic that the most dangerous place to put a Magic card is in your graveyard.


#3 Starfield of Nyx

I am going to play the heck out of this card. I already talked about playing it in Commander, where I can search it up with cards like Enlightened Tutor and Sterling Grove. In fact, that is a pretty sweet little engine right there since you can just sac your Sterling Grove each turn to find the next piece of the puzzle while you keep returning it to play with Starfield of Nyx. I talked above about how dangerous cards in your graveyard can be, and this is just one more example of that. I'm looking forward to playing Satyr Wayfinder as one of the few actual creatures in a deck built around this card in Standard as well.


#2 Flameshadow Conjuring

Again, not a card that is going to set Standard ablaze, but it's one that makes you want to build decks around it. I can imagine playing this in some Izzet Commander deck and bouncing two different creatures with my Man-o'-War, or getting four cards back when I cast Nuckalvee. Or, if you want to be mean about things, getting a second copy of either Frost Titan or Inferno Titan and tripling up on the trigger that turn since the token copy gets to attack with haste.


#1 Nissa, Vastwood Seer

 

Such an innocuous looking card. It is, judging only by the first bit of rules text—a slightly worse Borderland Ranger that can only get a Forest. Of course, once you read all the way down to the last lines, you see that this is a card that is capable of taking over a game. I play with cards like Borderland Ranger and Civic Wayfinder in my green Commander decks all the time. They basically are part of where I start all those lists. I expect Nissa to join them immediately in both Momir Vig and Sidisi.

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I would love to hear what cards have caught your fancy so far. You can always find me on Twitter as @Top8Games if you want to give me some ideas for playing with Flameshadow Conjuring, Starfield of Nyx, or any of your favorite new cards.



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