Category Archives: magic


Gisharth’s Army

Welcome to the start of a long and laborious series of posts where I work through building my process (based on the template suggested by The Command Zone, with input from The Prof at Tolarian Community College).

My Commander is…

Considering the title of this blog post, is it really a surprise? So I am running a three colour mana deck. As the rather crude image at the start of this post says, this will be a dinosaur tribal deck. I think it has to be to make use of Gishath’s ability.

Here is The Prof with a short information film about how to choose the right commander.

Obviously I have followed The Prof’s most important rule when selecting a Commander to play with:
I want to play dinosaurs, I want a big fun dinosaur commander. Who in their right mind doesn’t want to play dinosaurs right now? Nope pirates are not even close, so don’t go there. Just for the record in the current set Ixalan, it’s dinosaurs, merfolk, then vampires, and finally the over rated pirates. Why do I hate pirates? Those awful (and that’s the most positive word I can think about them) movies in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

Unlucky for me I don’t seem tick some of the other factors that he hints we might like to consider.

Gishath is not a cheap commander to cast, at a converted mana cost (cmc) of 8. Which means I am breaking his following advice:

But considering this is the only dinosaur commander, then I have no choice but to accept that I won’t be getting Gishath out on to the battlefield early.

I do know that being red, green and white I have ticked one of The Prof’s recommendations.

Having access to those three colours of mana means I can use, or at least have access to all the dinosaurs that are in Ixalan. Which is what I want in a tribal deck (I think).

I’m not sure in what universe Gishath would not be considered an immediate threat when it enters the battlefield. Gishath has trample, vigilance and haste. Plus when it does damage to another player you draw cards and get to put into play any dinosaurs drawn! So I kind of break the following rule from the Prof.

I have to consider the following questions that The Prof raises:

  • is my commander my win condition?
  • does my commander enhance the existing synergy of my cards?
  • is my commander a tool that strengthens my position in the game?

That first point is important, The Prof says that your commander shouldn’t be your win condition because your commander will always be a target and get removed. He recommends you have multiple win conditions, and that you are able to win without your commander. The Prof suggestions a commander that enhances an existing synergy within the deck is the stronger route to go. Considering I haven’t built the rest of the deck yet it’s a hard one to say whether Gishath will do that or not. But it’s something I will need to consider when looking at cards.

In my next post in this limited series I will start looking at constructing my commander deck, starting with my mana base for the deck.

Cake and Magic

It doesn’t get much better than a student baking (this was a belated cake to celebrate German Unification that happens on 3rd October) and bringing it in to share.

Not only that, it’s enrichment for my students today. So it was great to see them playing with their new Magic cards that they have purchased, and their welcome decks. One got the Huatli Planeswalker deck, another got the latest deckbuilding kit. Some games of Magic were played by them. A couple have downloaded a life tracking app to use while playing to track their life totals. There has been 1 v 1, 2 v 2, games.

Yesterday one of my students came up to me and said he’d been watching Magic videos on YouTube all weekend, and wants to play Commander now. So looks like in his enrichment session I will have to bring in my Commander 2017 decks for him to try.

Naturally I have to play the odd game with them. If a student manages to beat me they take great pleasure in that. They have had to work for that victory, I haven’t let them win. The games have been pretty close when I have lost. I know that once they improve then they will easily beat me. My win record against more experienced players proves that.

But it’s all good because we have had delicious cake as we play.

What have I started?

Magic Bug Bites

I still have enrichment sessions with my students this year. So once again I approached WotC directly to see if I could get some of the 2017 (Amonkhet based) Welcome Decks for Magic the Gathering.

And once again WotC were generous enough to send me about twenty decks to give to students to learn to play Magic the Gathering with.

The Welcome Decks arrived Monday, so I started handing them out to students in this weeks enrichment sessions. Sadly for my level 2 students this has meant they have only been able to get a couple of the packs. The rest have been distributed to my level 3 students during their enrichment session.

I was not prepared for how hooked they would become. After the enrichment session they went to lunch. When I went through our cafeteria, there were some of my students playing with their Welcome Decks. They had even come up with their own format of 2 v 2, that was very close to a two-headed giant format. They had separate life totals and shared mana. Which was very impressive indeed.
Despite getting literally nothing, the Magic bug has also hit some of my level 2 students. I have had students staying in the classroom playing my Magic Duel decks over their lunchtime.

Naturally some are already asking how do I get more cards? So I am directing them to my FLGS The Hobbit Hole, plus apparently there is a comic shop nearby to where I work that sells Magic cards as well (although I believe they are not able to run official Magic events like prerelease).

But it is so cool to see this excitement about a game. I need more Welcome Decks, but asking for more like Oliver Twist with his empty bowl with WotC after they have been so generous already makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.

I’d love to be able to give some free deck boxes similar to the cardboard ones the stores give when you join a Magic League. However I know there is not a chance in hell of getting them out of WotC. They reserve that sort of thing for stores only. And for sure stores won’t give this sort of stuff away. They understandably want to use these things to get players into their stores. Maybe one day I’ll be able to solve this problem and give my dream starting experience to Magic for my students.

My Commander Deckbuilding Homework

I’ve already pondered on here about the Commander I want to build a deck around.

But I’ve not build a Commander deck before. So this process will be documented on this blog in a series of posts (yes I’m going to bore you with more MtG posts, if you haven’t been bored enough with them already).

However there are some useful videos on building a Commander deck on line.

The first is from The Command Zone podcast. It gives a template to use as the basis for your own deckbuilding process. I’ll be using this template for the basis of building my first deck.

It’s definitely worth looking at the links in the description of the video. There is a lot of useful stuff there, plus a link to a list of essential cards for Commander decks.
They mention another channel that I enjoy Tolarian Community College. I like his style, light humour and honesty. In fact I think his “is such and such value for money” influenced my posts. I’ll say influenced because they are posts and not videos. But you could easily say copied as well, and I wouldn’t disagree.

Here is a video by The Prof about building a three colour mana base in Commander. Which is what I am going to have to do for my first Commander deck.
You can find a whole playlist of The Prof’s videos about Commander basics HERE.

While I am talking Commander, we have a Commander session planned for the 21st October at Fenrock for anyone (locally really) interested in playing. It’s free to attend, you just need to bring a Commander deck with you, which could be one you have built yourself or a precon. I know I will be using a 2017 precon myself if I haven’t finished building my first deck. You can find more details in the events section of the Fenland Gamers Facebook page.

Amonkhet League Finale 

Yesterday was the finale of the first Fenland Gamers Magic League. We had been using the Amonkhet set for this. 

My first game of the afternoon was Michael. Michael’s deck was a nasty one. I haven’t won against him all season, although I did come close once! I started off well this time. But it soon all fell apart and I was looking defeat in the face again. With 2 life left, and a Painful Lesson in hand, instead of waiting to take the beating from Michael I committed suicide. I played Painful Lesson on myself. 

Next up another player I had never won against, Josh. That was a very quick game. I spent most of that game waiting for a swamp to surface so I could play one of the cards I had in hand. 

Jamie threw down a challenge to play him next. But before I accepted I went to my sideboard and swapped in Harsh Mentor. I’m glad I’d pulled this card. It was a silver bullet for Jamie’s deck. Playing it early would disrupt his game plan. 

The corner stone of Jamie’s plan are these two cards.

Which usually chips away at you until he can swing in with his creatures. You take a bit of damage in the build up, and your creatures are stopped from attacking. Eventually at the crucial moment you can’t block either. This time I was able to get Harsh Mentor early, which forced Jamie to remove it with an instant spell which I think was Cut/Ribbons. That spell in the graveyard nearly won him the game. If he’d had one more mana it would have. But I get ahead of myself, back to the removal of Harsh Mentor. That scuppered my plan. I wasn’t worried I had a second, and hopefully would draw into it quickly. I even used my suicide card on myself to try and draw into it. Luckily I play with Wander in Death that allows me to pull back two creatures from my graveyard. While I was waiting for either of the two cards to turn up I was doing a pretty good job of making sure Jamie didn’t execute his plan and keeping his battlefield empty or not able to attack. So when I drew Wander in Death with Jamie on 7 health and myself on 8. I knew I had him. Harsh Mentor was out on the board, next turn bam! Jamie was shut down, he knew it was over if he couldn’t pull it out of the bag. He did the math, the Ribbons half of Cut/Ribbons was short by 1 mana for killing me. Jamie decided to make the futile jesture anyway of dealing me the 7 damage. I was on 1 health, my go. Unable to switch off my attackers with out hurting himself, or block me with creatures, I swung in for the kill and sweet sweet victory. I was a bit vocal, and a quick tease of Michael from Josh and me as I had beaten Jamie when he hadn’t been able to. 

After beating Jamie it was my turn to play Sarah. Harsh Mentor was returned to the sideboard, it had done its job. The game started out poorly. And I was soon in single digit health. But then my cards started kicking in. With my Cartouche  of Ambition out I had life link, and my life total started going up. I had weathered the storm and was hitting back. Somehow in a game I thought I was going to lose, I clawed my way back to get a victory. Two wins in a row! 

Next up was Jamie’s son Lucas. The cards were just totally unkind to Lucas. He just had no answer for the cards I was playing. By the time I’d won I had accumulated over 40 life. 

My final game of the afternoon was Chris. Another player I had not won against all season. Another big hitter. We traded blows. Scuppering each other’s plans along the way. But I ended up victorious. Bloody hell what was happening 4 back to back wins. What a way to end the season. 

I’ve really enjoyed our League. My final record for the season was 11 wins, 16 losses.

Michael took the Most Wins and the Most Plays awards for the season and walked away with two boosters as his prizes. Sarah got the friendliest player award and a booster. So congratulations to them both. 

For those interested here is the final version of my deck.

Deck: Fenland Gamers Amonkhet League 2017.dec
Counts : 30 main


  • 1 Bloodrage Brawler
  • 1 Dune Beetle
  • 1 Gust Walker
  • 2 Blighted Bat
  • 1 Cursed Minotaur
  • 1 Wasteland Scorpion
  • 1 Emberhorn Minotaur
  • 1 Merciless Javelineer


  • 1 Blazing Volley
  • 2 Magma Spray
  • 1 Impeccable Timing
  • 1 Mighty Leap
  • 2 Cartouche of Ambition
  • 1 Faith of the Devoted
  • 1 Painful Lesson
  • 1 Sweltering Suns
  • 1 Wander in Death


  • 1 Cradle of the Accursed
  • 3 Mountain
  • 2 Plains
  • 1 Sunscorched Desert
  • 3 Swamp

A big thank you to our hosts Fenrock. Great facilities and just as important coffee. 

Our next Magic League will start in November, and will be using the Ixalan set. If you are interested in joining in on the fun you can find out dates and times on the Fenland Gamers Facebook page in the events section,

In the meantime we do have on the 21st a Commander session planned if anyone local fancies playing. Once again details on our clubs Facebook page.

Ixalan Rare, Mythics, and Foils I Pulled #6

Two more after this one folks. I know it’s dragging on. It’s getting boring. But I’m determined to see this through to the bitter end. I do like that Spell Swindle card though. I love that it counters a spell, plus you get lots of treasure artifact tokens too. That’s just rubbing salt into the wound if you ask me.

I can also see Priest of the Wakening Sun seeing some action to. Life gain, plus being able to sacrifice (at a cost) to find a dinosaur from your deck. Yep I’ll take that. I also like the look of Kinjalli’s Sunwing, basically stopping opponents blocking with newly cast creatures. Switches of that flash ability. Love it.

Hobbit Hole Ixalan League Night #1

Last night was the start of the MtG Ixalan League at my FLGS The Hobbit Hole (link on the right hand side of the page).

For an entry fee of £10, you get three Ixalan booster packs, a league deck box (cardboard), a tracking sheet, and the opportunity to play MtG on a regular basis.

Before I go on and talk about my experience of the nights playing MtG in this league. I should point out I have signed up to one previously, however didn’t really get any games because it clashed with game night. And that I have been running an Amonhket one for The Fenland Gamers over the last couple of months or so (it’s taken longer than four weeks due to various factors).

I think that the League format is a great way to get new and old players playing together on a more even playing field. It removes the card pool advantage a long time player has. There is also the affordability of it. You don’t have to buy lots and lots of boosters to play. It limits that to an initial three, then one a week after that, plus you may buy an additional pack for every three loses in a row you have. The fact you get a rather nice looking cardboard deck box as well for that tenner makes it that you are getting a little bit more value for your money. Remember my FLGS sells three boosters for a tenner. Plus you are getting that deck box.

Then you need to factor in that for participation (after playing 10 games) you get a promo Unclaimed Territory land card. Plus if I’m remembering right we are also going to get an additional foil card from the shops foil card folder of our choice!

That takes the vfm (value for money) by the end of the league to way over the initial tenner. I’m not counting in the extra boosters you can buy during the league to strengthen your deck. They are what they are, boosters bought at £3.50 a time.

Now we are talking about boosters how did I do with my three for the league?

Well I pulled the foil Vanquisher’s Banner below. I’m really chuffed with that. I had target bought the regular version at the weekend. But to now have the foil, super cool.

Spoiler alert but I did lose three games last night. So that will explain to the observant and those that care why there are four cards in the following photo of the rares that I pulled. I got the chance to buy an extra booster to help improve my deck (possibly, maybe).

I played John the owner of The Hobbit Hole for my first two games. Our first game was over quickly, I was not drawing well, and John just destroyed me. Our second game I lasted longer, but the end result was the same. Maybe my decision to go with a green/blue (simic) dinosuar merfolk deck was a mistake?

My third game against Mark, a player returning to Magic was just as bad as the first two. But this third loss did mean I could get another booster to try and make my deck stronger. Yay!

I tweaked my deck, added in a couple of mountains, so now the deck was going to become blue/green/red (temur). Took out a couple more lands ( I was sure I had too many lands in my deck). They were replaced by a couple of red removal cards, and a red dinosaur.

Mark and I then had a rematch. This time the deck was working better, and I got the win.

My final match was against Kath. This was a bit of a slow game, with a lot of build up, getting our forces into place. Then we started trading blows. This sort of game was ideal for me. I was able to get my dinosaurs and merfolk into place. I had been frustrating Kath with some of my blue control cards early on that stopped her using her creatures to attack.

But our game came down to one play. I was on 11 health, Kath was on 7. She swung in with everything on her battlefield. 12 points of damage coming in. A killing blow. Unless…

I played Fiery Cannonade. A card that had been sitting in my hand for most of the game, waiting for the right moment. It’s time had come. One of the cards Kath was attacking with was not a pirate. It was an unblockable merfolk (can’t remember which one), a 3/2. It was gone. Only 9 damage delivered. I was still alive just. The big play had failed, leaving me able to swing in with my dinosaurs (yeah they all had more than 2 health) and deliver my killing blow.
So for the evening my record was 2 wins, 3 losses.

Next week I get to buy another pack, and hopefully pull some great cards to make this an awesome deck.

A great evening of playing Magic at my FLGS.

Getting some staples for Commander

I decided that to help me build my first commander deck it was cheaper to use a precon commander deck to get some of the “basics”.

I didn’t want to cannibalise my Commander 2017 or Anthology decks. They are my let’s play magic with a group of friends go tos.

So I grabbed a 2015 precon to act as that sacrificial deck. This will be my first 2015 precon. But seeing as I haven’t any of the others (well all of them), and I won’t be in a position to get them all. It won’t become part of that “let’s play magic” thing I just mentioned for 2017 and Anthology, I don’t feel guilty using it as card fodder.

This deck gives me Sol Ring and Command Tower for starters. Plus 74 other cards (excluding basic lands).

Just to target buy these two cards would be around £6.

I loved the following card Karmic Justice when I saw it. It’s like a warning, leave me alone or something bad will happen to you. Plus with me going with Gishath, Sun’s Avatar as my commander I can play it. But Karmic Justice is a £5 card on Magic Madhouse and eBay but £1.75 from Chaos Cards. So depending on availability of the cards on the sites I would have been looking at between £8 and £11 for three cards! Obviously target buying was looking to be potentially more expensive than just getting the precon. Plus would I have even looked at or known to look at Karmic Justice without getting the precon?

For me just on a value for money exercise I think taking this approach to building my first commander deck, and getting my hands on some of the deck staples, plus expand my card pool to build from, and learning about cards to put into my deck then this was a good buy for the money.

So Karmic Justice protects, kind of, cards like Thought Vessel below.

I like not having to worry about hand size. It means you can keep answers to problems in hand ready to play at the right moment. Like the following bit of jank.

Can I find a place in the deck for this bit of jank below? But this digresses from the point of the post because neither card is in this precon deck.

I’m still looking through the cards, and trying to think if they fit in with the deck I want to build. But then again I just know the commander at the moment, with no real plan.

Maybe in my next post on this first deck I should look at this commander and try and work out a plan for the deck?