Category Archives: magic


A Black Aggro Deck

I enjoyed the pauper black aggro deck that Strictly Better MtG did. So once again I felt inspired, and decided to build a black aggro deck.

For my deck I wanted to make use of some of the cards I thought were cool in Rivals of Ixalan. I love Ravenous Chupacabra, a 4 cost 2/2 that removes an opponents creature also when it enters the battlefield, I’ll take that. Especially when I can get it back from the graveyard to my hand easily. Tetzimoc is my big hitter, and also with his ability removal. When you start putting out those pray counters it’s putting a timer on your opponent. Do something about this fast or you are stuffed. I love Mastermind’s Acquisition, being able to go and get the exact card you need is awesome.

Naturally I have removal in my spells, but I also have a little graveyard hate available to me just to make sure some stuff stays dead! The nice thing about Scarab Feast and Wander in Death is they can also cycle. So I have that option there depending on the game of going searching for the card I want.

Ok here is a look at the mana curve for the deck. I’m pretty happy with that and having the AMC under 3.

So here is my black aggro deck list…


4 Skittering Heartstopper
4 Vicious Conquistador
3 Dinosaur Hunter
4 Gifted Aetherborn
3 Ravenous Chupacabra
2 Tetzimoc, Primal Death


2 Duress
2 Fatal Push
2 Scarab Feast
2 Walk the Plank
2 Never // Return
2 Recover
2 Wander in Death
2 Mastermind’s Acquisition


24 Swamp

Sadly there is no sideboard at the moment. But when I do come up with one I think it will have the other two copies of Fatal Push and Never//Return. I’ll probably look at Gonti and Dire Fleet Poisoner also. After that I don’t know.

What would you have in the sideboard? What would you replace in the main deck?

Angels crash to earth

We started a MtG Tournament at work this week. Four rounds of swiss, over 4 weeks with 12 competitors. Each round is the best of 3 games, with the whole thing being run on the website. At the moment there is no prize support, we are currently playing for honour.

I’m playing an angel deck in this tournament. Which I didn’t do too well with in my first round match I lost 2-1. The first game I won, things went to plan. Which in the second game they didn’t. Things went down hill in that game when Overwhelming Splendor was removed from my hand just before I could play it. Sadly at the moment I only have the one copy (Yes more are on the way). But it’s a funny card to play.

It does a good job of buying time for the Angels in my deck to come out, and shutting down planeswalkers that my students like to play. But with the card discarded from my hand my “Great Wall of Darren” as I call it (I have 12 walls in this deck) managed to only delay the inevitable in this game. I just wasn’t hitting my Angels.

In the third and final deciding game things just got worse for me. I just wasn’t hitting land. I was stuck on 2 or 3 mana for a long time, unable to play most things except my walls, cycle the odd card in the hope of hitting land. It was a quick death luckily for me. And a poor start to the tournament.

On a brighter note in a “friendly” game earlier in the day I did get to transform Bruna, The Fading Light and Gisela, The Broken Blade into Brisela, Voice of Nightmares.

This does look really cool on the battlefield.

My Take on CardKingdoms Rookie Red

When I got the Rookie Red deck from CardKingdom last year I was taken aback with it’s speed and how fun it was. It offered great value also. But I wanted to do my take on the deck. How would I do a red aggro deck?

From Saturdays post you know I spent sometime testing this deck with Justin, and a little bit more time on Sunday as well (before swapping over to play with other decks). In the games Saturday my initial version of the deck was just getting it’s butt handed to it by Justin’s Vampire/Zombie token deck. I needed a solution. Ok I needed a legal version of Scalding Salamander (it’s legal in Commander/Legacy and Vintage, but not Modern). I didn’t have a creature like it, but I did come across Pyroclasm. So I ordered a play set of the card. I thought in the meantime seeing as this was a casual game, I’d play 3 copies of the Scalding Salamander for fun. They worked like a charm against those tokens. After I had finished playing with the deck, before moving on I thought “you know what? I’ll see what cards CardKingdom put in their sideboard pack for red”. Guess what was in there? Yep 2 copies of the Pyroclasm. I could have been testing with those!

So what is this deck all about? Speed. Hit them hard and fast.

What am I looking for in the opening hand? 3 or 4 mana, Bloodlust Inciter, a 2 drop and 3 drop, possibly one of the removal cards as well. I like Mutiny and Hijack. Using the opponents creatures against them is fun. And could be with Hijack that little extra bit of damage to push you over the finish line. I think in the initial version I had the 2 cost Lightning Strike because that is the card I layed my hands on first, but I do like the 1 cost Lightning Bolt more, so I dug that out for this deck to use instead.

The sideboard is more of the same, if anything I could add in something to get rid of enchantments. Which I am missing. But there is artefact removal, one or two more big creatures to swing in with if needed. Plus cards to remove those nasty tokens.

So let’s look at those lovely graphics and stats that the Decked app gives me for a deck.

Not surprisingly the AMC is under 2. Which is what I want, and allows for that hit them fast and hard.

22 lands seems about right


4 Bloodlust Inciter
4 Fanatical Firebrand
4 Goblin Trailblazer
2 Nest Robber
3 Raptor Hatchling
2 Swab Goblin
2 Wily Goblin
1 Combat Celebrant
3 Frilled Deathspitter
1 Charging Tuskodon


2 Blazing Volley
3 Lightning Bolt
3 Mutiny
1 Bombard
3 Hijack


22 Mountain


1 Weaver of Lightning
1 Charging Monstrosaur
1 Sun-Crowned Hunters
2 Dual Shot
1 Earthquake
1 Lightning Bolt
3 Smelt
1 Abrade
2 Fling
2 Pyroclasm

So that is my take on the CardKingdom Rookie Red deck. What do you think? What would you change?

Magic Saturday

As you can probably guess yesterday was spent playing more Magic the Gathering. But it wasn’t planned that way. The day had started out as any other Saturday, chilled.

I’d had my morning mug of Pact Coffee, along with two chocolate chip brioche. I’m a creature of habit, and routine. I start everyday like this. After watching some YouTube videos I fell upon the latest Strictly Better MTG one U/R Curious Auras $10 Deck Tech. It looked interesting and just as important fun. So I clicked his TCGPlayer deck list link, and pressed the purchase button. Don’t be fooled by that $10 price, it was double that on TCGPlayer. But still a bargain. I’ve enjoyed the other decks of his that I’ve built (well bought the cards for them). Along with the CardKingdom decks I’ve bought I’ve got a nice little collection of premodern decks that like the now sadly cancelled Duel Decks I can just whip out and say to a friend who fancies a casual game of Magic “which deck do you fancy playing with?”, and then we can just play some Magic.

There was a card in one of his decks which I thought “hey that will go well with my Death and Taxes deck for its sideboard”. I particularly like it for playing against this deck Dale has built. Dale has one or two nasty etb’s in his deck, like taking over my creatures and using them against me. Can’t have that. Dale has said he has ordered cards that will work well in his deck against mine. And so the arms race goes on!

While I was in the card buying mood, I thought I’d buy some more cheap wall defenders to use in my work in progress Angel deck. The plan is to use cheap 1 or 2 cost defenders to chump block and keep me alive long enough to get my Angels out onto the battle field. There seems to be 2 approaches I think to an Angel deck. One is to have cards that give you life gain to try and keep you alive until you can get your Angels out, or you try and ramp up quickly and get them out faster than you should. I’m going with the later. I have the tron lands now.

Ordering those walls reminded me I had a play set of Wall of Omens that I should dig out and put with my Angels and tron lands ready to build with. But as I was looking through my collection I was coming across cards that would go well in my back burner deck I was going to build. So after finding the actual cards I was looking for, I ended up putting together my initial take of my version of the CardKingdom Red Rookie deck.

It was while I was deck building that Justin messaged me asking what I was doing. Naturally I said I was building a new deck. Justin asked if it needed testing. ‘Yep” was my one word response. So I ended up round his playing Magic, testing my new deck against a new deck he’d built. Plus playing my R/G Dino deck against it. Plus we tested another of his decks a vampire/zombie token deck against both my new deck and the dinos. My new deck didn’t do that great against the token one. I need to think about the sideboard and what I can add that will help against this type of deck.

Netflix Recommendation

My teenage years were spent watching amongst other things movies like Caddyshack, Animal House, National Lampoons Vacation, Porkies etc. The humour in these types of movies appealed to a teen me, and to be honest still do. Naturally back then I was oblivious to some of the tragic stories that hide behind some of these movies I loved. It was only in later life that I would learn of these tragic and heart breaking stories of some of my comedic heroes and heroines. Which brings me to a great Netflix recommendation. A Futile and Stupid Gesture tells the story of Doug Kenney co-founder of National Lampoon, creative genius behind some of those comedy classics I loved watching.

This is a really good biopic. I really loved the way the director and writers handled the end of the movie. There are some great decisions made to tell the life story of Kenney. They even break the fourth wall once or twice. They capture for me the spirit and humour fantastically. For me I can count the truly great biopics on one hand. I’m adding this to that list.

Even if you are not a fan of the type of humour Kenney created I think you will enjoy this movie. Just go watch it.

Rivals of Ixalan Pulls Part 3

After the two Planeswalker decks for this set we are going to look at the six boosters that came with the second Prerelease kit I’ve had. This one I picked up on release day as part of my haul.

The Prerelease kit comes with 2 boosters from Ixalan. So let’s look at what cards I pulled from those before moving onto Rivals of Ixalan (although the foils and promo below are from both sets!).

Ok let’s now look what goodies I got from the four boosters from the new set that are included in the Prerelease kit.

That was the Prerelease kit. Next up will be the bundle pack.

R/G Dino Deck V2.0

I’ve made some changes since the initial version of this deck. I liked the idea of the dual lands, but they were just too slow. They kind of gave the deck drag. By that I mean there was always that turn delay between playing them and being able to cast anything with them. Even just by adding in those handful of basic lands in the previous version of the deck it did speed things up sometimes. So I decided to go with 20 basic lands, and the one three colour land. I’ve gone with the 3 copies of Commune with Dinosaurs, although I am tempted at making that 4, to either go looking for that basic I need, or just to find a dino that I need. I’m playing 1 fling, but that has been a game winner more than once for me. Glorybringer has been an amazing card, sadly not a dinosaur, but it is a big flying lizard! I’m playing 3 of these because my students do like their flyers. So I need to be able to block them, but also I like it’s exert which I can use to remove a threat as well. Ghalta has been a great card to play alongside Regisaur Alpha. Playing it for 2 forests and swinging in straight away for 12 trample because of the haste Regisaur has given it, is an amazing play. I’ve never payed the full cost for this yet. I’ve also used fling with it for the killing blow! Burning Sun’s Avatar is another favourite, and I use it more for removal and direct damage. If I can land 6 damage too then I count that as a bonus.

So what stats has the Decked app given me for this version of the deck?

As you can see I’m still under the target of 4. As the following shows I am heavily into red. For me 21 lands is pretty good.

Ok here is the real info that you want…

Counts : 60 main / 15 sideboard


2 Drover of the Mighty
3 Otepec Huntmaster
3 Raptor Hatchling
2 Deathgorge Scavenger
3 Rampaging Ferocidon
3 Charging Monstrosaur
3 Glorybringer
2 Regisaur Alpha
3 Burning Sun’s Avatar
2 Carnage Tyrant
1 Gishath, Sun’s Avatar
1 Ghalta, Primal Hunger


3 Commune with Dinosaurs
2 Abrade
1 Fling
2 Lightning Strike
3 Crushing Canopy


9 Forest
1 Jungle Shrine
9 Mountain
2 Plains


1 Deathgorge Scavenger
1 Rampaging Ferocidon
1 Ripjaw Raptor
1 Regisaur Alpha
1 Carnage Tyrant
1 Gishath, Sun’s Avatar
1 Ghalta, Primal Hunger
2 Blazing Volley
1 Commune with Dinosaurs
2 Abrade
1 Fling
2 Lightning Strike

So what do you think of this deck? What would you change? Could the sideboard be better?

Rivals of Ixalan Pulls Part 1

Well I did purchase some product on Friday for the latest set Rivals of Ixalan. I didn’t attend any events at my FLGS due to commitments such as fixing a relatives pc on Saturday, and Gloomhaven today.

So my coverage for my pulls will be spread over the next week, interspersed between my other compelling content. If you can read that last bit with a heavy hint of sarcasm, as if anything I write would be compelling. Spreading it out also means I’m spreading out the scanning in of the pulled cards to the Decked app that I use to track my MtG collection and build my decks.

So we are starting with the two booster packs that came with the Vraska, Scheming Gorgan Planeswalker deck. I’ll do the usual coverage of the cards pulled, show foils, rares/mythics and the 3 uncommons from each pack.

So here are the poorly photographed cards I pulled from those 2 packs plus the foil planeswalker card from the deck.


Let the fun and games begin! Yep after pre-release weekend last weekend, we know hit the release weekend for Rivals of Ixalan. These two weekends are like shooting fish in a barrel for your FLGS. Release weekend means that most stores will be running draft or sealed events. Excuses to buy even more MtG product from the new release. Sadly I won’t be at any store events this weekend.

Here is a photo of my haul of product from my FLGS. Which means lots of sad look at what I pulled posts soon.

This evening was spent playing MtG though.

At our regular Friday hang out for gaming The White Lion Hotel, along side the normal gaming, one or two of us played some MtG.

The MtG session started off with Justin testing his new deck against the raw aggression of the CardKingdom Rookie Red deck. The first game was over fast as the aggro of the red deck kicked in as its meant to. The second game was played at a more slow tactical pace because Justin got three of his cheap 0/3 blockers out. Although I stopped his Nissa from being a problem by zapping her with direct damage. While we were jostling for a tactical advantage Charlie arrived. In the end the cards were kinder to Justin and he won. But as a game gets drawn out, the longer it goes on the more likely it is that this red deck will lose.

Using the 2017 Commander decks, the three of us started a game of commander. Our fourth player hadn’t turned up. After taking 3 rounds of Charlie hitting me for 5 life, things started to change and the smashing each other for damage began to get shared around. Charlie likes the cat deck and it’s artefacts and cats working together. Justin was playing the Vampires, whilst I was the Wizards. I actually like this deck, and it’s graveyard shenanigans, both it’s own and the opponents. In the end the game came down to Charlie and I could gang up and kill Justin, or one of us could kill the other and leave it for Justin to finish off the survivor. It was my turn, Charlie said we had a deal. But I didn’t trust him, so I killed him. Which meant I was wide open for Justin to kill me for the win.

Our next game was four player. Our fourth player having turned up some what late. They had the dragons. Boy there are some cool cards in the wizard deck. I was able to stop any real big nasty threats stay on the battlefield. Which meant not being hit by big bad dragons. I had lots of land, great cards to play. But we were running out of time. At 9:30 despite the best efforts of a poor three man alliance, I was declared the winner having the most health at that point in time.

It was a fun evening playing MtG.

Oh out of no interest to you lot what’s so ever here is a photo of the first 3D object that was printed on our new 3D printer at work. We had the students set it all up, and run this test printing. They will be using it alongside their 3D Modelling unit. My interest well its gaming related for sure 😉

Winner,winner,chicken dinner

It’s pre-release weekend in the world of MtG for the next set in the Ixalan block, Rivals of Ixalan. Which means it’s time to milk those addicts for lots of money as they throw money at store owners just so they can have early access (by a week) to the cards in the new set. For store owners this weekend and next weekend is going to be like shooting fish in a barrel, and time to rake in some much needed cash.

Naturally I’ve been waiting for this set to be released because it gives me more dinosaurs to work with, with the dinosaur commander deck I want to build. So having to wait a week less to get my hands on those sweet sweet cards isn’t a chance I’m going to pass up.

So yesterday I was booked into the morning pre-release event at my FLGS The Hobbit Hole. £22 (Early bird booking price instead of £25 on the day) for the pre-release kit, some games of MtG, and 2 participation booster packs, a bargain.

Justin had decided to join me at the pre-release the night before, so we travelled together to The Hobbit Hole. It felt like we were representing Fenland Gamers at the pre-release.

Just after 11am, after giving any late arrivals a chance to show up, everyone got their pre-release kits, and opened them. I’ll go over the pulls later in the post. But as both of us were going through our 6 booster packs in our pre-release kits, from one of the other tables one person was getting really lucky. In the 4 boosters from Rivals of Ixalan that they opened they got 4 elder dinosaurs. Plus the promo card they got was the legendary creature Sphinx. That sure was an awesome box to get. However I was happy with my pulls, I got some of the cards on my hit list that I wanted.

After opening the boosters, it’s time to build a deck to play with. Justin and I built our 30 card decks. I was going red/black pirate, with one or two vampires. Luckily just before we were meant to start playing I checked the deck size. They were meant to be 40 cards!!!! Doh! We had just got in the habit of 30 card decks for our league. I’d forgotten this format was 40. We had seconds to throw in 10 more cards. Something that was easier for me than Justin I think. Mainly because I had pirate cards I thought I could fit in, and now could.

My first round match up I won the first game. I even went to my sideboard and fetched a copy of Aquatic Incursion to cast using Mastermind’s Acquisition. This gave me a couple of chump blocking 1/1 merfolk tokens to use. I lost the second game. I got my opponent down to about 14 health, and my plan was to turn the creature they’d been pumping up to a 9/9 against them. However I was short 1 mountain to do that and was killed first. Our third and final game I won easily and quickly. I’d won round one 2-1. Wow I was chuffed. I believe Justin also had won his match up too 2-1. Would we meet in the next round?

Sadly we wouldn’t. I was paired up against Kar-Fai for the second round. This was our first time playing each other at MtG, but not our first time on opposite sides of the table at a tournament. Previously Kar-Fai and I had faced off against each other playing Netrunner (Which he did attempt to tempt me back into playing). I don’t think I’d beaten Kar-Fai at Netrunner. Would I beat him in MtG?

It soon became obvious during our first game that this was literally a mirror match up of decks. I think the main difference was Kar-Fai was using more artefacts/vehicles than me. While I had a little bit more removal. I was also playing less land. In my deck I had a total of 12 land, plus the Traveler’s Amulet. As long as I had a land and the amulet in my starting hand I was golden! Mainly because I could fetch a second land if my next card drawn wasn’t a land, or I could use it to go fetch a land I needed, like a second swamp or mountain.

It was my removal, and the Mastermind’s Acquisition that gave me the edge I think. I won our first game. The second game was close I was down to 3 health before making my comeback and winning the game. The Mastermind’s Acquisition allowed me to look for a solution at the crucial moment to turn the tide in my favour. I’d won the round 2-0. Revenge for the Netrunner defeats finally, and I’d only had to change games to do it!

We had time to spare so Far-Kai and I played a friendly game. This time it was my deck against a second deck that he had also built from his cards pulled. It was a close game, but in the edge his merfolks were victorious.

I was a bit gobsmacked I’d won 2 rounds now. I was feeling a little pressure, and a little apprehensive about the third and final round match up. Surely this would be pitching me against a much better MtG player than me. I’d been lucky so far.

The third and final round. I had the fast start this deck was capable of (and to be fair the one I played most games, as was Kar-Fai) with Fanatical Firebrand. I played an early Dark Inquiry that allowed me to remove Tetzimoc, Primal Death. I wasn’t going to have that putting out pray counters and clear my battlefield when it came out. The rest of the first game went to plan and I won. Game 2, I was within striking distance of winning when those damn pray counters tagged two of my creatures. Unluckily for my opponent having 1 creature out against 4, wasn’t going to give them enough time to even things up a little by bringing out that Tetzimoc. My next turn I swung in with everything, I had, pumped up one of my creatures so that it made no difference which one was blocked, I’d do a killing blow. I’d won 2-0, and quickly too.

Oh my god I’d won my 3 rounds, and only taken 1 loss. Ok I’m going to finish high. The question now was how high? As John read out the final positions, as we got closer to the top I wasn’t mentioned. Ok, I’m top 3. Cool. Not third, not second. WOW!!! I’d won. Out of a field of 16 players, over 3 rounds I was first. This is the first time I’d won an event. Bloody typical though it was an event with nothing on the line like store champ, or prizes for winning. But hey a win is a win.

Because this was a pre-release event everyone got participation boosters at the end. There was 1 pack for playing the first round, then a second pack for playing all three rounds. Everyone got these at the end. So in reality we were all winners!

Justin and I had a really great time at this pre-release. This is what MtG is all about not that other rubbish that’s been happening online. At the moment WotC have made a move in the right direction over the background checks for judges. The jury for me is still out on the one sided biased handling of bullying/harassment online. But they bought themselves a little grace time with me, with that announcement on Friday.

Here are the stats for the day. I went 3-0 (2-1,2-0,2-0) on the rounds, that’s a 6-1 win/loss record. However I did lose a friendly game between Kar-Fai and myself after I won our round 2 match up. So technically that win loss record with the friendly game is 6-2.

So I’m sure you are curious about the deck I built.

Deck list

Counts : 40 main

1 Daring Buccaneer
1 Fanatical Firebrand
1 Grasping Scoundrel
1 Vicious Conquistador
1 Desperate Castaways
1 Dinosaur Hunter
1 Dusk Legion Zealot
1 Gleaming Barrier
1 Goblin Trailblazer
1 Storm Fleet Swashbuckler
1 Fathom Fleet Boarder
1 Forerunner of the Coalition
1 Swaggering Corsair
1 Brazen Buccaneers
1 Brazen Freebooter
1 Fathom Fleet Cutthroat
1 Ravenous Chupacabra

1 March of the Drowned
1 Mutiny
1 Prying Blade
1 Traveler’s Amulet
1 Buccaneer’s Bravado
1 Arterial Flow
1 Dark Inquiry
1 Hijack
1 Impale
1 Mastermind’s Acquisition
1 Pirate’s Pillage

5 Mountain
7 Swamp

My sideboard naturally for this type of event was all the other cards I pulled. Which is too many to list here. However here are…

My highlights from cards pulled

These are the foils I pulled. The Ravenous Chupacabra was a really useful card yesterday to be able to play.

Before the pre-release apart from elder dinosaurs I had ear marked some cards I hoped I’d pull. These are the ones below from that list that I pulled.

These following ones are cards that weren’t on my radar, but I’m pretty glad I pulled them.

So that was my Rivals of Ixalan pre-release event at The Hobbit Hole. A great days entertainment playing MtG and getting new cards.