The Boss Five From 12

Posted in Serious Fun on July 12, 2011

For the uninitiated and unaware of my over-the-top excitement, I love new Magic sets. Everything from the buzzing interest of players to the crack-and-sniff ritual of opening a new booster pack, getting into the latest set is an ever-present desire I carry to every set release.

While some of you are much more particular about what sets excite you, and why they're specifically exciting at all, I have a different attitude. Thanks to a somewhat (but probably not) unique combination of adoration of commons, love of singleton formats, and desire to play with the biggest and boldest of spicy Magic cards, sets are veritable treasure troves of awesome for me.

Perhaps I'm channeling my spirit fingers and getting a little too far into cheer mode, but Magic 2012 is really sweet. Today, I'm showing you five very different cards that are the hot stuff, at least to me. It's five reasons to love Magic 2012, and I hope you're ready for a wild ride.

    Number 5 – Adaptive Automaton

Didn't we just go over this? Yes, but I didn't fully cover the all-encompassing nature and depth of this fantastic artifact creature. I'm pretty sure it would take several articles to even try to do so. The "Lord lord" has the goods, and you know it—at least based on the ideas I saw kicked my way.

Automaton Alliance

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You want to play with Ally creatures? How about buckets of them! All of these creatures have just one color requirement in their cost (except for one "creature"), and all of the lands help bring us there (except for one "land"). It's kind of like Commander-format game play in miniature: draw random, singleton cards and get a different play experience every game. Sometimes you get a cluster of white and black Ally creatures. Other times you get just one after dropping multiple creatures with changeling.

While the land configuration isn't reminiscent of the Commander format, it works for this kind of crazy rainbow deck. The only thing Adaptive Automaton set to Ally doesn't pump is the surprise Genju of the Realm I chucked in. I mean, we're making every color of mana anyway, and the legendry enchantment doesn't really get the love it deserves. (Double bonus points for playing Automaton set to Spirit, then dropping the Genju.)

Slivers Under My Nails

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Some of you really love Slivers. While I'm not the biggest fan, it is correct to say that Adaptive Automaton is another lord for our most colorful of tribes. Slivers were the original, and still greatest-populated, rainbow-colored tribe. What our Mr. Roboto-Lord does for us is make it even easier to dive into them.

But, as .Blaze. asked in the forums, "Do Slivers really need lords 9-12?" The answer is probably no, but laying the massive beats with giant critters is easier than ever. And paying just two mana to get something that's 4/4, or likely larger, is easier than ever too.

Adept at the Æther

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This is a slightly modified version of last week's Jellyfish deck. As a few of you pointed out, Dormant Gomazoa may untap when whoever controls it is targeted by a spell, not the Jellyfish itself. Oops.

No worries though. The suggestions from xJudicatorx of changing Preordain to Portent and Mind Spring to Blue Sun's Zenith look to work well, and I elected to include a split package of Oona's Grace (as you can continually target yourself with every extra land you draw thanks to retrace) and Sapphire Charm.

Sapphire Charm is deceptively handy here: you can target yourself to untap a Dormant Gomazoa, give something (like Man-o'-War or Adaptive Automaton) flying, or even use it as pseudo-removal for a turn or so by making an opponent's creature phase out. It might be old school but it still works.

    Numbers 4 and 3 – Garruk, Primal Hunter and Chandra, the Firebrand

While I admit running the cheats by lists two card in one slot, I also don't need to spend too much time diving into where these two are the bee's knees as two of my compatriots in Magic writing already did this, Mike Flores and Tom LaPille.

With Mike's take aimed at taking Chandra into Standard, and Tom's a reflection from the inside on crafting the new Garruk, my slant is much more direct: paying homage to my roots. While I've played Magic off-and-on for quite some time, it wasn't until around the time of Ravnica: City of Guilds that I really got into things. I attended my first Friday Night Magic the Friday of the Dissension release. I bought more packs of sets from the block than any block before, or since. I organized casual draft nights in college just so I had an excuse to zealously wrangle up players to play.

Guildpact is a set I remember fondly. The last draft of the year was during one of my desk shifts as a resident assistant. Drafting can be tricky enough, but doing it while performing due diligence for safety and security, and completing all of the required tasks thereof, made for some awkward and fast decisions.

I ended up in red and green, not quite clinching much of the Selesnya or Boros contingents. Bloodthirst it would be, and I ran a duo of Viashino Fangtails to support the plethora of grunting Gruul. What happened next was similar to something that what will happen if you decide to add new Chandra to your new Garruk.

Opponents in Pieces

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The crack of thunder and stamp of feet are all you need to know about this. Hitting your opponent is rewarded through bloodthirst, which in turn helps you hit your opponent for more bloodthirsty satisfaction. Goblin Fireslinger and Flame Jab can get the hunger for blood turned on, and so can Chandra herself for that matter.

Garruk no longer has Overrun in his new form, so I added it in directly. Even better, you can cast Overrun before using his second ability to draw a ton of cards, then attack your opponent. And if you start to run out of creatures, Garruk just makes them up as you go. The only thing that would make this more mortal for your opponents would be something toasty, and Incinerate pulls double duty: removing things that can block as well as zapping life totals directly.

    Number 2 – Zombie Infestation

Raising the undead is usually hard work. While Rise from the Grave, Zombify, and a host of other, similar spells all require a creature card already in the graveyard (and only give you that creature back), Zombie Infestation is the easiest Zombie-getter ever: just discard two cards and you're in the necromancy business!

Particularly appealing is that we can craft a configuration of necromantic might thanks to this plucky star and a little rules text ingenuity.

Don't Stop Me Now!

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Madness is a neat ability that lets us cast spells as a result of discarding them, and Zombie Infestation is one way to take advantage of that. There are a few ways to "throw cards away" that aren't just pitching two down to the graveyard:

Since we're playing black we have access to several tools that are exclusive to the darkest of colors. Attrition becomes a machine gun of death with so many tokens and so much creature recursion. Graveborn Muse draws us cards for all the Zombies we cook up. Tendrils of Corruption feeds out life-hungry Muse as well as resisting any early rush from opponents. Volrath's Stronghold is a chestnut of card but is an easy way to rebuy our pitched critters.

Perhaps most enticing of all in black is the bevy of tutors—Demonic Tutor, Diabolic Intent, and Vampiric Tutor—that can find us whatever tool we want most. And in the (unlikely) event that we want to recycle our graveyard entirely, Elixir of Immortality does the job with a life boost to boot.

    Number 1 – Skywinder Drake

Surprised? I'm not surprised that you would be! Skywinder Drake isn't a chart-topper in terms of power, majesty, or uniqueness. In fact, it's precisely because it doesn't have any of those three features that I love this "new" card.

Rishadan Airship and Cloud Spirit are the forerunners of our aggressive-in-Limited Drake, and they both happen to be members of my very select choices for my Pauper cube. I've mentioned my cube a few times before, and devoted an entire article to the fun cubes provide. I like it, and there's a still-growing group of people out there who do as well.

Without getting too deep into minutiae, both Rishadan Airship and Cloud Spirit provide very unique and useful effects (for blue) in my cube. Skywinder Drake is all but identical to each of them and I'm quite pleased to be able to swap it in for something that's less useful at the moment.

If you're curious to see more you can find all kinds of information about my cube at the blog I keep about it. My point here is that when a set is littered with powerful cards, unique effects, and interesting interactions, it's still perfectly acceptable to be thrilled by something that seems so small and insignificant! Scouring the newest commons in the latest set is a ritual I genuinely enjoy, and I'm sure there are some of you that look for similarly "peculiar" things every go-around as well.

    Packed to the Gills

Last week's poll was very straightforward:

Are you planning to attend a Magic 2012 Prerelease Event this weekend?
I'm not sure!14015.1%

Most of us headed out last week to get our grubby paws on the first Magic 2012 we could. If you missed that party—as some of you said you would—your next chance is at this weekend's Launch Party events! I always have a smashingly good time at Prereleases, which is why I've been hitting up two every weekend since Rise of the Eldrazi.

This week I'd like to ask a related question:

What's your favorite way to jump into the latest set?SealedDraftPack Wars / Mini-MasterJust rip them packs open!Something else (Please share in the forums!)

I've shared that I like pretty much every way to dive into fresh cards, but I'm curious if you have more distinct preferences than that. Share your thoughts, through voting and comments, and we'll see you next week!

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