Friday, 30 September 2011

The Command Tower - Building Hanna

by Alex Gershaw


Before I get started with my EDH/Commander (hereby referred to as EDmander) deck tech, I want to outline what my goals are and why I am doing this. I was inspired by a fellow planeswalker of mine, Andy Pemberton, who originally began posting EDmander articles on the Team Leeds blog before he got drafted by MTG:UK (check out his articles - they are all good). His style is to post about his commanders, do some set overviews and post about his EDmander experiences, I will not be stealing his thunder. Instead I will be taking suggestions of commanders and doing a deck tech for them. I hope you enjoy.

Hanna Ship's Navigator

A friend of mine once asked me to look over his Hanna deck a while back and I didn't manage to do a great job, possibly because I would have preferred to gut the deck and start again, this is what I have done this time around.

Observations first, this commander doesn't have haste, I don't mean in the conventional red creatures and some green or black creatures "This creature is unaffected by summoning sickness" kind of way. I mean in the "This creature works immediately, I don't have to pass a turn to use it" way (read that article, if you haven't before). Hanna requires you to either give it haste or pass the turn in order to use her and one set of turns is a very long time in EDmander. This fact alone makes Hanna a slightly harder commander to work with.

On the upside of observations, her ability is definitely a "build around me" ability and it has given me plenty of options when building the deck. The deck list (with notes) is as follows:

Cheap Artifact suite:

Aether Spellbomb - Bounce effects are often useful for indestructible or hard to deal with creatures, this seems like a good cheap re-usable toy for Hanna to play with.
Dispeller's Capsule - Cheap, easy to use, just what every dispeller needs.
Elixir of Immortality - A favorite card of the friend who wanted me to build this deck there will be many of these. Crafting an EDmander deck is a personal experience and the deck needs to be fun for everyone but especially the pilot. There are many of these in the deck.
Expedition Map - I won't go into great detail on the lands until later but needless to say this can fetch a multitude of great effects (except I did have to say it).
Everflowing Chalice - Solid ramp in slow ramp colours especially when after casting Hanna from the command zone once to get her effect, she loses value every time. This should help offset that in the late game while also being a useful early game ramp spell.
Sensei's Divining Top - Any deck with enough shuffle effects should pack a top, it's like drawing another three cards every time you shuffle.
Pithing Needle - Need to shut down a commander with a tap effect... look no further than the handy-dandy Pithing Needle, shuts down important combo pieces, no questions asked. No refunds if Mindslaved into injecting your own commander with the needle.
Sol Ring - Obviously
Tormod's Crypt - Because graveyards won't remove themselves, actually sometimes they do.
Wayfarer's Bauble - It's like ramp but colourless.

Other Ramp Artifacts:

Green is the best colour for ramp effects sadly since Hanna can't run any of them she has to stumble around looking for baubles, signets and talismans to get the job done.
Azorius Signet, Talisman of Progress, Armillary Sphere, Darksteel Ingot, Coalition Relic, Solemn Simulacrum and Coldsteel Heart.

EDmander is about inconsistency and some people find the use of tutor effects in this format a problem, I do not think this, I think you can use tutors to make different choices than you did in the last game thus making the overall experience different:
Tezz 1.0 - The -x ability can be used on 1 to get any of the cheap artifact suite (or even 0 to get the Crypt or artifact lands). Which brings me on to... Trinket Mage the EDmander blue workhorse, if I had an artifact for every time I resolved Trinket Mage, I would have used him correctly.
Enlightened Tutor, Mystical Tutor, Idyllic Tutor and Fabricate as ways of getting useful singletons from your library to your Brain pan scroll room (read hand). The only one of real interest is the Mystical Tutor as it doesn't seem to be doing anything so far, but you shall see, you'll all see.

Draw spells:
Rhystic Study Asymmetrical effects are generally considered a good thing, this three mana enchantment either slows opponents down or gives you a card, make sure you ask politely.
Let me give you the Opportunity to see a great instant speed draw spell, reload at the end of an opponents turn and have a full grip for your turn.
Fact or Fiction - Has netted me somewhere between 2-4 cards at instant speed in the past, never be surprised about how wrong opponents can get your piles since they don't know what you know.
I also can't recall how many times I have stroked myself... but enough about my personal life.
Future sight and Magus of the Future - What if I told you every land you played and every spell you cast came with an additional "Draw a card" clause... What? Wait... Five manas?
Pulse of the Grid - I find this card a draw spell to find draw spells, when it's my only option I probably only have 3-4 cards in hand while my opponents have 6, so I can use it twice at the end of an opponents turn and dig four cards for something better. This is a bit of a personal choice but ever since a friend started using Pulse of the Tangle I knew I wanted to run is one in a couple of my decks.
Courier's Capsule - Re-usable instant speed draw when using Hanna. It might not be great and the first thing I would put on the chopping block.


So you happen to be playing Blue so you have all of these counterspells to choose from which do you pick:
Hinder and C-c-c-crumple are two counterspells that I personally dislike (not that I don't or haven't used them in the past) but they are very useful for getting rid of pesky commanders who just won't die. These were selected personally as cards wanted for this deck.
Some Mages won't take "no" for an answer, but now you can tell the repeatedly with Forbid.
Glen Elendra Archmage, Draining Whelk and Venser, Shaper Savant are all wonderful options for counterspells, Glenny with her re-use-ability, Whelk with "I'm also a beat stick" and Venser with his versatility, all personal favorites.
Time Stop - Exile the stack? End the turn? I use this and Riftsweeper in my Bant deck to hopefully one day stop two turns in a game as it exiles itself.
Decree of Silence - I have no idea why my playgroup doesn't run this apart from the "risk of hardcasting" it into a dull game. Cycle this for six mana and get a nigh on uncounterable counterspell and draw a card. (Note those are the only four effects in the game that I can think of that usefully stop triggered abilities aside from maybe Sundial but that card sucks anyway). Also for this deck in particular it is an enchantment so for three more mana Hanna can fetch it back.

All decks need some form or removal usually in the form of wraths although spot removal is necessary too.
Wrath of God and Rout for creature clearing.
Austere Command and Oblivion Stone for a general destroy everything (or some of everything) kind of wrath.
Path to Exile, Swords to Plowshares and Soul Snare backing up your sweeps with some spot exile.
Aura of Silence and Seal of Cleansing which backs up the Dispeller's Capsule for more point artifact and enchantments hate. (Be aware that some of the above removal spells are either artifacts or enchantments and thus reusable with Hanna, time and time again).
Finally in this section Stonecloaker - Evacuate your MVP, or pay three to exile a card and bounce it to use again. Stonecloaker is an almost auto include for any deck I build carrying White.


Usually this section would be for any combo enablers I would have. I have neglected to give this deck a combo finish, it is more of an attrition style build and as such likes to grind down its opponents and beat them with fatties (in a later section). So in this section I have included cards which give Hanna haste and one which gives the deck a bit of a boost.
Lightning Greaves, Swiftfoot Boots and Strider Harness to grant Hanna actual haste, although if I was going to cut back here, I'd let go of the Harness as it doesn't protect your commander.
Thousand-Year Elixir - If your commander has a tap ability and does not have haste or enough of your creatures, this is an auto include.
Rings of Brighthearth - Since the deck is built upon activate abilities, you might want to use them again, copy them for two mana... Bargain.

These are just eight big Blue/White/Artifact Creatures I could find, Since this deck wants to exhaust the opponents and then win, it didn't really matter what I put in these slots. You get the added bonus of their effects, some are draw, removal or recurrsion but mostly they are here to bring the pain.
Sun Titan, Yosei, the Morning Star, Consecrated Sphinx, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, Deathless Angel, Wurmcoil Engine, Godhead of Awe and Rite of Replication (not technically a creature, but also technically five creatures).


Due to budget considerations, I'm not going to tell you how to build the mana base, technically 18 Island and 18 Plains should do it. I wanted to inform you of the best lands in these colours (and colourless).
For this deck specifically: Ancient Den and Seat of the Synod due to Tezzeret's -x ability.
Generally: Kor Haven, Reliquary Tower, Tolaria West, Winding Canyons, Prahv, Spires of Order, Terrain Generator.

If budget wasn't an option I'd cut the two cards I mentioned earlier (Courier's Capsule and Strider Harness) for Land Tax and Scroll Rack. I would also suggest a whole swath of lands you could use ranging from Tundra to Mystic Gate to Glacial Fortress.

If anyone has any suggestions for Commanders you want me to build around, tell me the general, how competitive your play group is (from casual to competitive on a 1-10 scale) and how involved you wish the deck to be (from easy and fun to challenging and involved on a 1-10 scale). Please do not suggest either Hakkon or Phage as all you will get is a Mono-Black Control deck with no care about the commander.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Team Leeds Drafting #1 - M12 with Rob Catton

By Rob Catton

In a new series for the Team Leeds Blog™, Rob Catton will be presenting some of his online drafts which he will record for our viewing pleasure. To get things going we have a triple M12 draft - a format quickly going out of style but a good format which can teach us much about tempo. Please leave any feedback in the comments below - where would you have done things differently?

The Draft (note that if the video quality is not high enough for you then try maximising the screen, or buying Team Leeds a massive computer):

Round 1:

Round 2:

Saturday, 24 September 2011

University Prerelease Report - Innistrad

By Wagz

Hello and welcome! One thing we've done here before is live coverage of our pre-releases. While not possible this time around I did manage to take some notes while I was there, so I can bring some posthumous coverage - here goes!

We managed to get a whopping 50 players at the event for Innistrad Sealed deck and managed an 8-man draft along the way. Some familiar faces came back, along with many new ones, and even some very old ones. We managed to begin our coverage with a feature match in round 2:

Round 2: Steve Parker vs Andy Pemberton

For game 1, both players decided to send back their opening hands and after a pair of lands apiece, Silverchase Fox on the draw began the board development by Steve. Crossway Vampire from Andy presented a potential blocker, but Steve fearlessly sends his pet, and backs it up with a Voiceless Spirit. Attempting to break the tempo of the attacks, Andy makes and equips a Blazing Torch, but once more Steve doesn't care for it and attacks to take Andy to 14.

A Galvanic Juggernaut for Steve presents Andy with quite a conundrum. Andy passes without a play once more, and Steve attacks before reinforcing his army with an Abbey Griffin. Andy attempts a comeback with a 3/3 flier for 5 mana, but a Fiend Hunter takes it out of the game and Steve is able to press even more damage through. Andy is unable to bring enough defences out to stay alive, and concedes the game - Steve 1, Andy 0.

Both players topped off at 5 lands of two types in game 1 - were their decks hiding any bombs? Steve's turn 1 Traveller's Amulet for a Forest in his previously- White/Red deck would indicate that something should come along soon. Andy makes the first creature with a Kessig Wolf, a 3/1 for 3 mana which can gain first strike - quite a difficult card to play against perhaps. Steve looks visibly annoyed at himself as he untaps, but makes a Voiceless Spirit to block. The Spirit is Exorcised, allowing for an attack for 3 damage, and after another attack into Steve's Abbey Griffin, Andy makes the Innistrad answer to Siege Mastodon.

Steve lays a Kessig Wolf Run, answering the question of what the green mana was for, and starts to clog up the ground with a Pitchborn Devils. The 5 mana creatures trade in combat, taking Steve to 11 life. Finally making the card he'd missed out on turn 2, Steve offs the 3/1 Wolf with a Geistflame, flashing it back to kill a Village Ironsmith. Both players make a few more creatures, but the Wolf Run means that Steve is able to push through lethal damage, taking the match.

Steve 2 - 0 Andy

During round 3 I was busy setting a side draft going, but I managed to note a few interesting sights around the pre-release:
  • Johannes Ihli curved out with turns 2-5 Werewolves in draft but due to casting spells each turn doesn't transform them for too long - not as aggressive as desired.
  • Craig Stevenson makes a turn 2 Mayor of Averbrook in both games of his match, that'll sting in the morning.
  • Kenny Hall made a Grimoire of the Dead, discarded 3 creatures to it and took 7 total back onto the battlefield at once.
  • Old-school pro Gordon Benson was seen bothering the top tables - does this herald a return to Magic?
Round 5's Feature Match was:

Round 5: Rob Catton vs Steve Tyson

On the play, Steve mulligans once and makes audible concerns about the hand he does keep. He has three different basic lands on turn 3, and makes the first play of the game with a Screeching Bat. Rob matches it with a Thraben Sentry, but it can only dream of attaining the 5/5 size of the Vampire on the flip-side. A Bonds of Faith deals with the Vampiric entity, and the game notably slows down as Rob summons a Skirsdag High Priest, promising to itself summon some 5/5 fliers.

Scourge of Geier Reach attempts to clog up the ground of the battlefield for Steve, and his Rolling Temblor as an attempted Plague Wind is thwarted by Rob's own small burn spell. An Angelic Overseer from Rob is rolled out to try to break the deadlock, but it is forced to Fight the Pacified Vampire. Another attempt to get things rolling is also nullified, and Steve is makin' Morbid Bacon to fill the gap. It finds itself Rebuked on its attack, and Rob is the first to draw more creatures - killing his own Pitchborn Devils with a Harvest Pyre to deal the last few points of damage.

On the draw for game 2, Rob makes the first play with a Rakish Heir. A Tribute to Hunger allows the vampire to get in Steve's hair, but a Bloodgift Demon threatens to single-handedly take over the game. Rob attacks and Steve blocks with his Demon, Rob using two different cards to save his own creature and kill his opponent's, losing out on cards but ensuring he wouldn't quickly lose the game. The Rakish Heir is dealt with, and the players resort to draw-go for a few turns, with a 5/4 trampler staring down a 1/1 deathtouch.

An Angelic Overseer is shot down by a Geistcatcher's Rig, and a first attempt to Geistflame the deathtoucher is thwarted by a Spidery Grasp. It is removed on the flashback, and Steve is forced to use 2 Rolling Temblor to not quickly lose any kind of race. A Gallows Warden is taken down via a Prey Upon, but a final Village Ironsmith is not met with an answer and Rob is able to attack in for lethal damage once and for all.

Rob 2 - 0 Steve

Round 6: Danny Whitaker vs Nathan Edwards

Two Leeds prerelease veterans face off in the finals, but neither one has ever won a feature match here - who will manage to end their streak today? A Deranged Hermit on turn 2 for Nathan on the play signals a ramped start. It only attacks for one on turn 3, but is soon stopped by a Chapel Geist. Milling an Unburial Rites while generating mana for an Angelic Overseer, Nathan threatens a very aggressive start to the game. Not to be outmatched, Danny summons the Angel's Evil Twin. Although Danny was yet to supplement his Angel with a Human, Nathan was unable to attack due to losing a racing position due to the Geist. Danny soon found a Human and a deadlock was reached - who would first be able to deal with their opponent's Humans and then Angel?

For many turns creatures were summoned and dealt with on both side of the battlefield, the action revolving around the two identical Angels in the centre. The mighty Grimgrin, Corpse-Born shows up to break the stalemate, but his Bloodline is Severed to keep the fight fair once more. Danny begins to gain an upper hand in terms of flying dominance, with some less-relevant 4/4 and 3/2 creatures which were building up to a lethal attack team. Nathan cannot find a second Island, presumably for some stockpiled spells, but also for the flashback on a milled Cackling Counterpart.

Danny finally draws enough removal spells for all the Humans, and aims a finishing blow at Nathan's Angel, but the Village Bell-Ringers ring in the town's defences to aid their champion. Taking the game another way, Danny is able to deal with Nathan's other flying creatures, and sends in his team for a large strike. A Murder of Crows finds its end, but 15 damage is inflicted to the defender. Another dies the next turn, and a brief flurry of spells seeks to save Nathan enough damage, to no avail. The players apologised for what looked like a boring match, but this writer saw nothing but a tense show-down the whole way through. Danny 1 - 0 Nathan.

The same, unfortunately, could not be said for the second game of the frame. Nathan's Deranged Assistant makes another turn 2 appearance, but Danny cuts off the Dead Weight. Nathan misses his third land for a ocuple of turns, and Grimgrin returns to take revenge for his quick death in the previous skirmish. Tearing through both armies alike, he inflicts cutting blows on Nathan, and a Stitched Drake called to Grimgrin's side is enough for Nathan who raises the white flag. We have our winner,

Danny 2 - 0 Nathan.

Thanks to all who attended the pre-release and making it yet another great day and tournament. I took notes on which archetypes were represented at the event and will be collating the data soon when I'm not so tired (I've judged 2 prereleases in the last 24 hours :s). See you at an events soon!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Team Leeds is Recruiting!

Hi all! Some of you may remember this Blog from before but most of you are unlikely to. Team Leeds is the competitive branch of Magic play in Leeds. We are aiming to play the best Magic we can, and win events.

Magic in Leeds has undergone a lot since I last posted here. I used to run a weekly event in the University, which is still going on Wednesdays, which was the only option for sanctioned Magic play at the time. Since then Travelling Man began running events, and a player at the Wednesday events (Mark Hammond, who now runs the Wednesday events) set up a branch of Patriot Games in Leeds.

It is really great to see so many players wanting to play Magic in Leeds, and having a place to play. However, what I really want to see is players looking to go that little bit further. I want to see players who wish to improve themselves, to try to win. This isn't in any way opposing having fun playing Magic, it's something additional.

If you feel like you want to stop slinging cardboard around a table and take an active part in just being better at the game we all enjoy, then come to the banner of Team Leeds. Anyone and everyone is welcome to add themselves to the Planeswalker Points table (link here, message me your name and DCI number), and anyone and everyone is welcome to write for this Blog. If you feel like you have anything to contribute then please ask - you will be printed! If you are scared that people will disagree with you, don't be. Discussion is how you improve as a player. Look through our archive for many instances of people lodging their opinions and being wrong (I've done it more than enough). We will try to stay up to date with all the local news and provide details of local and competitive events, but this blog is an open book for anyone wishing to improve. I hope to hear from you soon.