SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…Kahns of Tarkir Holiday Gift Box

I purchased two Theros gift boxes for the SpartanKids last year.  I didn’t bother reviewing them.  But I purchased the Kahns of Tarkir gift box for myself at Friday Night Magic on Feb 13, and thought I would share my unboxing experience with the world!

1 box front

The front of the box is pleasant, featuring the Zurgo Helmsmasher art with a red wash over the image.  Note the price…$19.99.  I actually got this for $16 something.  There was a Valentines Day special! (at the Tangled Web)

2 box back

The back shows what you get.

What is actually going on is there is a sleeve over the actual box.

3 whats in the box

Sorry.  Too big a shot to keep the kitchen table from appearing!  I was surprised…there was what looked like a seeded pack with a special foil on top!  You got four regular packs, a pack of artsy dividers, and a label sheet.  Oh yes, also a nice box with three sections.

9 dividers

Here are the dividers where you can see them.  They are really pretty!

7 not a seeded pack8 foil Sultai Charm

That “seeded pack” wasn’t a seeded pack after all…(sadness.)  It was a pack of lands, with a premium foil Sultai Charm on top.  I believe this card is exclusive to this Holiday gift set.  I think that is one copy of each of the basic lands printed for Kahns of Tarkir.

I am going to open the packs so you can see them just as I did!  I will reveal the commons, then the uncommon, and finally the rare and extras from each pack.


10 pack I commons 11 pack I uncommons 12 pack I rare and extras

Nothing too notable in Pack 1!  Clever Impersonator hasn’t seen that much play, surprisingly.  I like Kin Tree Invocation.  But even in the warrior deck, it hasn’t been used much.


13 pack II commons 14 pack II uncommons 15 pack II rare and extras

I noticed right away that there were less commons in this pack…meaning a special surprise in the back!  Of the commons and uncommon, I like Gurmag Swiftwing the best.

My rare was Mardu Ascendancy.  What was that special card?  A fetch land?  No.  A premium rare?  no.  A foil Singing Bess Strike.  Really a pretty good card.  But not a fetch land.

Pack 3!

16 pack III commons 17 pack III uncommons 18 pack III rare and extras

Another situation like before!  But no fetch.  This time my rare is really good, Blood-soaked Champion.  A fighter who just won’t die!  Horde Ambusher was my foil card.

Pack 4!

19 Pack IV commons 20 Pack IV uncommons 21 pack IV rare and extras

And things round out with Sultai Ascendancy.  A pretty good card for Sultai decks.

Packs are packs.  They are always a gamble.  If I had purchased these four packs, I wouldn’t have been too happy.

Finally, how good does the box hold cards.

22 box is functional

I stocked it up with more cards so you could see.  There is enough room for sleeved cards.  This box has already helped me consolidate some of the odd and end boxes in my nerd closet!

What do I rate the Kahns of Tarkir Holiday Gift Box?

This is really a terrific product.  If a person did not know what to get a MTG player, then this is a pretty good gift.  The box works good, but the packs are a gamble.  The label sheet is the only thing I haven’t mentioned.  Check this out!

5 information stickers

6 set stickers

The labels are not really my thing.  What I really like about them is the educational value for new players!  I didn’t even know about different formats when I began playing.  Here is a good way to create awareness.  Guess what?  There is even a label for “Cube!”  (Among the newest formats, players find enjoyment in making booster packs for people to draft.  Then they collect the cards and reassemble the cube.)

I wish there was a guide for what set each symbol  represents.  This is something I can’t do yet.

Then there are blank labels for you to write whatever you want when organizing your cards.

So I guess I will give it a 5/5.  The packs are a gamble, so I easily could have gotten a Sorin and a Sarkahn. (I heard of someone opening a Holiday Box and getting these two.)  But I didn’t.  Otherwise, it is a good general product for MTG players, and a good starting product for new players, giving you four copies of the basic lands.

What is your rating?  Do you agree?  Let me know.  Even better, let me know what you opened in Your holiday box!

SpartanNerd Review…Fate Reforged Pre-Release Sealed Deck Experience

Fate Reforged, the second set in the Kahns of Tarkir block in Magic the Gathering, comes out this Friday,(1/23/2015) So naturally the Pre-Release was the weekend prior.  How did it go for me?  Read on, oh Hub City Geeks!

I decided to skip out on the midnight event at the Tangled Web in Spartanburg, SC.  I have played in those kinds of events a few times, and figure I am just too old.  My driving isn’t good at night, and my card playing isn’t either.  At about 3:00, my brain feels like it’s going to melt.  So I figured I would do better at the 1:00 tournament the next afternoon.  (Incidently, the Tangled Web also had a Sunday tournament, but I skipped that one on account of church and some other business.  Ah…Life.)

As in every Pre-Release I’ve been to outside of the core sets, I was handed a box with my materials for building a sealed deck.  The box contained some promotional materials, a “Sultai” button.  (Sultai was the color combination I chose.  Blue, Black, and Green.)  A life counter, four Fate Reforged booster packs, one Kahns of Tarkir booster pack, and a “seeded” pack meant to weigh the color choices towards Sultai.  All this for $25 is a pretty good deal…basically six packs, and a counter, plus the entry fee.  The box has long been in the trash…usually these are flimsy and useless.

But I do have pictures of the best cards of the night, and some commentary         IMG_5470 Here are the rares from Fate Reforged.  (Destructor dragon is uncommon…sorry!)


And I got these two cards from Khans of Tarkir.  What actually happened was that the Polluted Delta was packed in one of the Fate Reforged boosters instead of a basic land or a gain land.  The wizards said that a lucky few would get a fetch land, I guess I am one of them!

And then the other significant cards…


I decided to keep my colors as Sultai, so any rare red or white cards were useless.  Kind of a shame, really.  Flamewake Phoenix would surely be a star in sealed deck.

I decided that in my main deck I wouldn’t play Tasigar, the Golden Fang.  I probably made a mistake in that…I played him some in other decks since this tournament, and if you Delve him in, you have a fatty for only one swamp.  His other ability is fun, but because the opponent gets to choose the card from the graveyard to go to your hand, there is an element of stupidity, and I think this is what threw me off of this card for this particular event.  I decided to go with Archfiend of Depravity as my bomb instead.

Below are some cards with battle stories!


Sandsteppe Mastadon…the fatty of fatties.  He has maybe the best war story of all from this tournament.  Me and my opponent had full board states, with my side slightly better.  Instead of combat, he casted a sweeper, “End Hostilities.”  All creatures, bam.  Gone.  Leaving me with six lands.  And his lands were all tapped.  I only had this card in hand.  I smiled as I drew a forest, and GG!  (I had a 10/10 elephant as a response to that sweeper!)  Moments like this keep you playing Magic.


This guy was pretty reliable.  But because this is sealed deck, the only non creature permanents to destroy were generally lands.


The bomb of this deck, Archfiend of Depravity, was pretty good.  He’s a big flyer with non-targeted removal.  Unfortunately, usually the opponent didn’t have but two creatures on the battlefield.  If I was going to fire someone, it would be Sultai Skullkeeper, who causes you to mill two cards when he enters the battlefield.  Guess who got milled more than twice during the tournament…(this big demon, that’s who.)

And one more honorable mention…sorry, no big photo.  You’ll have to look at the collage above.  Archers of Qarsi.  5/2 with defender and reach.  These guys were just good deterrent.  So many people were playing big flyers…the dragons, Wingate Roc, etc.  The archers caused them to hold off.  Which let me find time to get out my bombs.


So how did I do?  At the conclusion of round five I had two wins and THREE DRAWS…  Basically, me and a slew of people were all tied after the fifth round, according to the standings.  So all of us were destined for ninth place or worse, and the top eight were locked in.  Sadness!  I gave a half hearted effort and called it a day after losing round six.

I didn’t get an Ugin.  But if I had, I doubt I would have been able to play him.  He would have broken up the creature stalls I suppose.  (I didn’t see an Ugin all day.  Is he real?)


I am glad to see dragons in Magic finally.  There have been an odd few every now and then, but they haven’t been a focus so much since I began playing.  The experience of the sealed deck box is OK.  The box leaves a lot to be desired.  The seeded pack did its job, but I probably could have gone red-white/ splashing black with my card pool and ignored Sultai.  (I chose Sultai because I thought the cards were stronger, when looking at the gallery on the Magic website.)

Still, I think this is a weak set.  Maybe even weaker than Born of the Gods from last year.  The dragons are nice, but the uncommon ones are take-it-or-leave-it.  I only saw one rare dragon all night.  He was no chump, but he steered clear of TWO archers.  A weak set that is designed to shake up the Standard environment.  At the Tangled Web, Jeskai is the deck to beat. There may be more diversity ahead.  I have found places for a few of my cards in other decks already, including Tasigur.

I’m a little underwhelmed.  But not too much.  So I’m going to give the set based on my pre-release experience a 3/5.  I have read very little in the way of spoilers, and haven’t played the new Standard yet.  We’ll see if I’m wrong…

SpartanNerd…Drafting with Kahns of Tarkir

I have had the chance to draft Kahns of Tarkir twice. Last week, It seems at least two other people were drafting green and black…”Abzan.” Since I was to their right, I got hosed. So no wins.

This week I decided to research a little, and came across the idea to draft five colors, take up the fixing, and make people sweat in pack three. In this way, rares would be passed to me, especially at the end. This was true. I drafted five rares out of three boosters…Unfortunately, you need more than bombs and “build around me” cards. So Raksasha Vizier, while nice, wasn’t as good as he could have been…I only had three other delve cards. I did manage to get some big flyers…Abomination of Gudul, which were excellent. But not good enough.

Kahns of Tarkir continues to be the most challenging limited format of Magic I have played in my three year career. I haven’t had the opportunity to play constructed yet. And it looks like I won’t have the chance until November 1, when it seems there is a BIG BOX TOURNAMENT.

I have been preparing, however. I intend to stick with the plan of playing “junk.” I may splash blue, though…It is good to “cancel” stuff when people pay such high costs. It looks like control strategies have disappeared, without Sphinx’s Rev and Supreme Verdict. Then Mono Black also has been dampened, as predicted.

I ordered some cards off of TCGplayer that haven’t yet arrived. When they do, I will be posting a summary of my new Junk build. I am also considering getting that M15 “Clash Pack.” This item apparently comes with a lot of good cards in my colors…Courser of Kruphix, etc…Maybe I heard wrong? I could research, but I would rather unbox and review.

SpartanNerd Review…MTG Starter Theme Deck “Abzan Siege.”

Ahhh…The promise of new cards, cards that you will surely need!  You buy a Theme deck, and you can count on having a few good cards.  Then you get the two booster packs…Those have tremendous potential.  So how is “Abzan Siege,” the new “Junk” style deck (White Black Green) from the most recent MTG set, “Khans of Tarkir”?  Read ahead for my review!

1 box front

Here is the front of the box.  The premium foils for Khans of Tarkir in these starter decks has exclusive art, something new!

2 box back

And the back of the box.

3 what's inside

Here’s what you get in the box.  The deck.  A paper that has some details and hype, as well as deck list for all of the starter decks released with this set, and two booster packs.  There is also the new quick guide to playing Magic, which I have already pointed out elsewhere that I think is an improvement for training new players!

I am going to review the contents in this order.

1. Insert/Decklist  2.  Deck.  3.  Thoughts on the deck  4.  BOOSTERS!

4 insert

The art here is pretty good, showcasing Sarkhan the Dragonspeaker.  You get a summary of the wedge color clans.  “Junk” isn’t supposed to be called “Junk” anymore.  It is supposed to be “Abzan” now.  But they can’t make me call it that!  Long live “Junk!”

The back lists the contents of the deck.  Here I will present that extra large so you can read it!  (It also lists the contents of the other decks in this series.  You also get supposed good advice for playing this deck!)

5 decklist

6 encouraging message

Now for the cards…Creatures first.

7 Ivorytusk FOrtress

Ivorytusk Fortress is a great new rare.  As mentioned, this is the only place to get this art officially from the Wizards!  His ability is akin to “Prophet of Kruphix.”  But only for creatures with counters.

8 High Sentenels

There is one other rare, and it is also pretty good!  A great “mana sink” that really enhances your other creatures and gets bigger!

9 commons

Here are the commons.  Really nothing remarkable.  But there IS one good card to open your game with…

10 1 drops


Two copies of this guy.  I am personally a fan of Child of the Night in draft more than constructed.  But disowned Ancestor is a big blocker who gets bigger early!

11 notable cards

These guys are uncommon, and pretty good.  Giving your guys with counters trample, or especially flying isn’t anything to sniff at.

12 more notable cards

But these commons feel similar, but each have problems.  Their power/toughness vs. converted mana cost, and what they ask of you.  I could take or leave them.

13 armament corps

One more uncommon.  I haven’t decided what I think about him yet.  I am leaning away from liking him in constructed.  It isn’t always easy to cast all three colors…much less find two other mana.  And so there are better ways to get counters on your creatures.

Now for the lands…

14 nonbasic lands

Besides regular lands, you also get these guys.  I’m not sure what I think about the Tri-Lands for constructed yet.  You are getting access to each color you need, with the only expense of speed.  If they were only two colors, like the Guildgates from Return to Ravnica, they would be completely out of the question.

But the other lands are “Gain Lands.”  They enter the battlefield tapped, but you gain one life when they enter.  I prefer scrying over gaining life.  So these guys will be the first thing I swap.

Besides these lands, you also get 8 Plains, 7 Swamps, and 6 Forests.

Finally, the other spells.

15 instants and sorceries


16 Abzan Charm

Abzan Charm is what sticks out the most.  This is now one of the best Magic cards!  You get to choose one of each quality that each color in its mana cost does best!

17 kill shot

Kill shot is conditional removal.  I think I like other options better.  It isn’t a bad card, but you know, you have to be being attacked in order to destroy something.  This is a downside for the mana-hungry format being presented in Kahns of Tarkir.

20 incremental growth

And if I’m not mistaken, this card is bad because it REQUIRES three targets.  What if you don’t have three?  Are you really going to put a counter on one of THEIR creatures?  There is a similarity here to Cone of Flame.  But getting stung for one damage isn’t so bad if you need to target yourself in order to Shock a creature and Searing Spear another.

Before I go into the boosters, I think I would like to pause and talk about what I think about this deck.

The mana is just too slow.  Khans of Tarkir is releasing “fetch lands” that allow you to get the land you need.  Fetch lands are good because they are “deck thinner.”  You are getting two cards out of your deck when you crack a fetch land.  And the mana is usable right away.

I haven’t got to play Standard with Kahns of Tarkir yet, but the fetch lands have a TREMENDOUS impact on Modern.  Everyone that is good at Modern plays them.  But they have been expensive, which is why I haven’t had any.  The Modern decks I attempt tend to be easy on the mana because of this.  But now that we are getting these lands, Standard is going to speed up significantly.  I already spoke about playing sealed with this set, how slow it was.  I drafted last night also…It is just slow.  But constructed is going to be a speedy thing of beauty.  Almost like two different games entirely.  I say forget all of the fixing, and pay out or trade for some fetches.

I went ahead and modified this deck, putting in the two copies of “Windswept Heath” that I have acquired.  I also swapped out the gain lands for the scry lands, and also added a couple of pain lands.

The next big change…This deck doesn’t have enough chumps!  Go back up and look at the commons…Go ahead.  I can wait.

Two copies of Disowned Ancestor are the only one drop creature.  Then you have six two drops, two of them Child of the Night, one Sungrace Pegasus, and the other three Ainok Bond Kin.  The Ainok and the Ancestor have Outlast, so that is asking EVEN MORE mana.

Outlast is weak sauce for combat.  It is good in the early game if you don’t have anything to play.  I’ll give it that.  But so far I don’t see it being an effective way of getting counters.  I feel better about incremental boosts from static abilities than using this activated ability, which requires a tap, so you can’t do it on the turn they come out, and requires a tap, which also keeps them out of combat.

I swapped in some good stuff.  Fleecemane Lion.  That is the kind of two-drop people need to play in Standard.  How about something like Favored Hoplite?  Then you hit him with a boost spell, and he gets counters.  Because he has counters, then he reaps benefits from say, Abzan Falconer.

So it is a synergistic deck as it is vanilla, with no modification.  But it isn’t strong enough.  At least not for the Metagame in Spartanburg.

So I rate this deck a 2/5.  I really appreciate the two rares…those were great!  I was glad to really learn a few new cards, and I wanted “Abzan Falconer” and another copy of “Abzan Charm.”  The art in the insert is average for what it is.  Sarkahn looks cool, but that is all it really has going for it.  But the deck just isn’t strong enough for a competitive metagame.  It is great for what it is…a deck for new players learning to play the game.  I see kids get ahold of a product like this, and they think they have something really really special with that foil rare.  It is shock and awe for them.  But it falls flat for expert purposes.

Now for the boosters!

I said before that I would open the boosters and photograph them live from sets like this!  So here goes!  What did I get in the first pack?

21 booster 1

Don’t know who this is on the package.  Don’t care either!

First my commons.

22 commons

First the commons…There is my sixth copy of “Jungle Hollow.”

Next the uncommons…

23 uncommons

Temur Charger just isn’t my thing.  I don’t play red either.  The vampire guy’s art really creeps me out.  What is that tongue hanging down below his chin?  (shudder)  This is the kind of card I like to use.  I just don’t know how I will use it yet.


24 rare and extrasMaster of Pearls

Let’s have a closer look,

25 master of pearls

This card is all over the place.  You can hard cast it as a 2/2 for CMC2.  If you do, he might as well be vanilla, I suppose.

But he has Morph…When he flips over from being morphed, all creatures you control get +2/+2, which is something!

The problem here will be what it asks of you.  It wants five mana, two of which have to be white.

In draft yesterday and sealed deck, I got a copy of this card.  Usually it gets removed before its ability can trigger.

Now for Booster pack number 2!

26 Booster two

The guy pictured here was BEAST in sealed deck…

27 commons

You gotta love that art for “Savage Punch!”

28 savage punch

Now for the uncommons…

29 uncommons


Chief of the Edge is my favorite here.  He goes with the other chief, and they boost each other.

And my rare was…

30 rare and extras


Mantis Rider.  Not bad.  He is the “America” creature that coincides with “Lightning Angel.”

31 mantis raider



So no planeswalkers.  No mythic rares.  No premium foils.  Just plain old boosters.

I rate the Abzan Siege deck at 2/5.  What would you rate it,   Let me know in the comments!



SpartanNerd…What happened at Kahns of Tarkir Pre-Release Sealed Deck


“Fetch Lands! Need I say more!

I have been playing “junk,” that means Green White and Black. Kahns of Tarkir calls this “Abzan.” Whatever. The cards revealed so far are pretty amazing! I can’t wait!”

I wrote these words and saved them as a draft in WordPress over two weeks ago.

Sadly, my sealed deck experience fell flat.  And I’m not sure why.

I went to the midnight pre-release, basically on a tiny little nap.  I left early, about 10:30 PM, and wished I had brought a commander deck or something.   I didn’t intend to purchase anything outside of basic snack needs.  But the Tangled Web was slam dunk packed, and excitement was in the air.  When it was finally time to break out the packs, I was happy to see a beautifully designed box, and got a nice pin to wear also depicting the symbol of the “Abzan Houses”.

The seeded deck came with a beautiful foil “Hardened Scales,” a good card.  And I got a good bit of cards in my other packs that went well with “Abzan Houses” green-black-white colors.  Only one rare didn’t fit at all.  I was also happy to get a copy of “Windswept Heath.”  (If you know the SpartanNerd’s secret identity, then you know why!)

My problem was, I believe, that I didn’t have many chumps.  A large quantity of my card pool was four drops and higher!  I got a copy of “Anafenza, The Foremost” but she amounted to one of the cheapest spells in my deck!  I did have a few morphs, but I’m not sure I played the best ones.  (Abzan Guide costs way to much to morph.)  I got some removal, but most of it was over-costed.  I didn’t get many black cards to refill my mono-black deck.  (I am of the opinion that the wizards are trying to suppress mono-black devotion.)

I played until 3:30 AM, then decided to drop.  My first match as a loss to a blue-red deck, and my second match was a draw to five color deck that was mainly a mirror but splashing red and blue.  I reckoned that it wasn’t worth staying the other four rounds after what amounted to two losses and me getting sleepier and sleepier.  (With house framing to do the next day!)

The weird thing about this particular format for sealed deck was how doggone SLOW it was.  You pretty much have to play three colors, and mana-fixing is the number one priority.  This means 18 cards of the 40 are boring lands.  I was able to fix with “life gain” lands, however, three copies of “Jungle Hollow” and one “Soured Barrens.”  As well as the “Abzan Banner” and Sandsteppe Citadel.”  But all of these lands enter tapped, so that will slow you down.  Then there is the opposite.  “Windswept Heath” is very speedy!  But combine this slow mana base with cards that ask for ridiculous mana requirements, and you get a slow, slow, slow format.

Hub City Geeks, I’m afraid this was my final midnight pre-release.  You are going to have to wait until Saturday afternoon when the next set comes out.  I just don’t play that well during the day, much less in the wee hours of the morning!

I am going to post a copy of all of the rares I got as they are in my trade binder, then say a word or two about them.



Windswept Heath”  Especially glad to have this fetch land!  I want MORE!

Trail of Mystery” was a good idea.  It never showed up in all six matches of MTG I got to play.

Hardened Scales” I opted not to play this guy but instead to play Trail of Mystery.  All I know about sealed deck is “keep it about the creatures”  And enchantments don’t do anything if they don’t have creatures to effect.  The art of this card is very pretty…this is the promo foil version.  I like the idea of what this card does, however, and it is going to find a home somewhere somehow in my constructed decks.

Anafenza, the Foremost.”  I believe Anafenza is meant to hate on “delve.”  (With that mechanic, you exile cards from the graveyard as a cost for colorless mana.)  The other ability goes well with “outlast.”  (Outlast lest you pay a cost and tap a creature to put a counter on it. She lets you put an extra counter.  She also gives them a counter when they attack)  Because she is a potentially early bomb, she also got removed a good bit.

Abzan Charm.”  OK, not a rare.  This card is being touted as a potential top card in Standard and Modern.  So here it sits in my binder!  It is good removal.  It is also a “sign in blood” for you.  And lastly it can target two creatures giving them a 1/1 counter.  If you are paying attention, then you know this will go great with “heroic” stuff from the “Theros” block!

Meandering Towershell”  This is one of those cards…it makes you scratch your head.  Like “Alms Beast” did in “Gatecrash.”  WHY?  Why should it be exiled when it attacks?  Then come back during the attack phase next turn?  I don’t see the point.  You could LOSE THE GAME BY THEN.  In case you are wondering.  NO I DIDN”T PLAY IT!

Sagu Mauler.”  Not in my colors.  But a pretty good card.  I may eventually try out the “sultai” graveyard strategy.  It might be an enhancement to “junk” to add another color.

I’m not giving up on “Kahns.”  This time I was just unlucky, and maybe should’ve played on Saturday afternoon instead of midnight.  I have already made a new “White weenie” deck with my new cards.  We’ll see how that works out next time I get to play standard.

Thanks for reading, faithful readers!

SparanNerd…”Return To Ravnica Block…I am going to miss you!”

When I started playing Magic the Gathering, I had a vague idea of what a “set” was.  I didn’t get the full on meaning to the game.  “Return to Ravnica” and its two companion sets, “Gatecrash” and “Dragon’s Maze” were the sets that truly absorbed me into the game and taught me that there was a new and an old in MTG.

As I accrued more and more of these cards, I began longing for the day that the “Innistrad” block would rotate out of Standard…I was at a disadvantage…I didn’t play seriously when those sets were released, so I didn’t have “Cavern of Souls” or “Geist of St. Traft” or “Olivia Voldaren” to stomp my opponents in the ground.  True, I did have some cards from the sets, but I was a learning player.  And I knew when Innistrad rotated out, “Theros” block would be the new thing, and I wouldn’t have this problem so much anymore…instead I could do like my really good opponents and build stadard decks as they are meant to be built, with maximum resources.

But as much excitement as I have for the release of “Kahns of Tarkir” next week, I find it bittersweet.  the RTR block has been good to me, and now that I am having to retire a bunch of my cards, (at least for Standard), I am reflecting on what the cards mean to me and what they have taught me.

I will also be talking about “Magic The Gathering Core Set 2014” or “M14” cards that are rotating out as well.

Below I will provide a photo, and a “tearful goodbye” paragraph.  Enjoy!

Nightveil Spector


Vampire Nighthawk had me spoiled…She was one of my favorite cards to play when I began playing this game.  A three drop with flying and other abilities, in black, is just perfect!  The Nightveil Spector was a good replacement for the Nighthawk.  This card was good, and when Theros came out, it kept getting even better!  The Nightveil Spector was easily the card I played the most over the last year, besides “Gray Merchant,” who was part of the reason this guy was so good!  I have a story about this involving “Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx.”  Here I am, playing Mono Black devotion, with two Spectors on the field. I steal my opponents card with the spector, and instantly think…”Dang.  I can’t play it.”  But then I realize…How could I forget?  The Spector is also blue!  So I charged up my Shrine using the blue devotion supplied by the Spector, (who just stole the card…) and played Fated Infatuation…a Three drop spell that lets me copy another creature and then scry.  This moment won me the game!

Nightveil Spector, you’re insanely good.  Me and the Gray Merchant are all that much grayer without you.  I will even miss your art, though only the special foil is really good…

Lotleth Troll

2 LT

Another insanely good card.  And a card that seems to have been forgotten in the current metagame.  Too bad for everyone else.  This troll is a real fighter.  On turn three, when your red opponent thinks he can burn the troll before you have enough mana to regenerate, BAM.  You just put your Desecration Demon, Jarrad Lich Lord, and Erebos God of the Dead in the graveyard to give him counters…an alternate way of saving him!  Then on turn four you have a troll that can swing for five..WITH TRAMPLE!  This combat trick drew awe from many newer opponents.  I always played four copies of the troll in my “Junk” deck.  I would even ditch trolls to pump trolls.  This guy is a game winner.  I never got to draft one.  But I’d bet you in draft this guy is unstoppable.

I’ll miss you, Lotleth Troll.  May the “Abzan House” find more ways to help you out in Modern!

Lilliana of the Dark Realms

3 Lilliana

My favorite card EVER is Lilliana Vess, clearly a superior Lily to this card.  But LOTDR has uses…

This card taught me about deck thinner…a concept every Magic player should learn.  So you have to have 60 cards in a deck…Why not figure out how to get what you need faster…and LOTDR ability to find swamps in your deck and place them in your hand keeps you from having dead draws.  I often would use this card as a burn spell also.  Her negative ability is basically “mutilate” for one creature.  But it is her ultimate and emblem that makes this card crazy if used properly.

Not long ago, maybe two months ago…I decided to play this card along with “Rakdos’ Return.”  The Rakdos card isn’t something I played much…Really I had never played it in a tournament.  But three times that night, I was able to burn my opponent for lethal damage by using Lililiana’s Emblem ability and a copy of Rakdos Return.  One time was a spectacular win, where I was down to one life and was topdecking.  I actually said out loud to my opponent, after he sent all of his damage to my face, “If I don’t draw the right card, you win the game.”  But I drew my lone copy of Rakdos Return and burned him for 36 damage.  Not bad at all!  And it was a moment were people suddenly started whispering around the room.  I could hear the words “Rakdos Return for 36 with Lilliana’s Emblem.”

I guess I will have to thin my deck with “fetch lands” or “evolving wilds” (gasp!) from now on. Lilliana of the Dark Realms, whether or not the wizards like you or not (they don’t), I will miss you! Good luck getting rid of that cursed veil!

Shock Lands…

4 Shock Lands

As I moved into regular tournaments, I started to see that usually it was the seasoned players not playing the regular lands.  Instead they played special lands…especially “Buddy Lands” and the like.  The “Shock Lands” confounded me.  Why would you pay two life for a dual land when clearly it was unnesecary?  And there were “Guildgates” which were basically the same thing, but always entered the battlefield tapped.

Thankfully this mystery was solved for me as I played more and more MTG.  The shock lands increase your chance of having the mana you need available when you need it.  Guildgates are just too slow.  “Buddy lands,” “Evolving Wilds,” Transguild Promenade…these are good for formats other than standard.  (Sealed is a good place for these)  The standard environment tends to be…”fastest man with card advantage wins”.  You are technically “behind” a land drop if your land enters the battlefield tapped.  The life you pay for a shock land pays off in the end.

Shocklands, I will not miss you.  You are being replaced with “Fetch Lands,” which will be used to find you in Modern!

Mazes End

5 Mazes End

I have three different printings of this card…Sad really.

Maze’s End was a gimmick where you could play ten different guildgates, then tap the Mazes End to win the game.

That’s all you have to do.

See the above entry about the Shocklands to see why this is a bad idea.  Oh yeah.  You pretty much have to play at least THREE COPIES of the guildgates to make this work, so that’s thirty cards, plus four copies of Mazes End.  That’s 34 slow cards.

Now I’m not saying it isn’t fun to win this way against little kids and noobs especially.  It is a fine SLOW game plan.  No one has quite figured out how to play this strategy in Modern as a reliable strategy either, (yet.)

Mazes End…you are a nice concept.  I will miss the cute feelings young kids express when you beat them down without swinging.  Other than that, I will keep my deck together for a rainy day…

Jarad, Golgori Lich Lord

6 Jarrad

I love this guiy.  He’s hard to kill and goes nicely in the “junk” deck beside Lotleth Troll.  And I have two foils!  Jarad can beat you down in THREE DIFFERENT WAYS!  Regular swinging (with counters), as a “sac outlet” which you can also use as a burn spell, and as a surprise attack later in the game when you can give up a few lands, and when he comes back in that late game, he will have a ton more counters on him!

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord, I will miss opponents just scooping when they see you enter the battlefield the second time.  May Abzan house or Sultai be good to you in Modern!

Desecration Demon

7 Double D

OK, I already mentioned that Lilianna Vess is my favorite card.  But truth is I have two more favorites.  Grave Titan and Elbrus the Binding Blade/Whithingar Unbound.

I mention this because the Binding Blade was my first “demon” card.  I was pretty allergic to the idea of playing demons…until I figured out they were game winners!

Desecration Demon isn’t any different.  (I like to call him “Double D.”)  There was a time abut four months ago, that this card was upending everyone’s game with Mono Black Devotion.  But before you know it, people figured out the trick to beating Double D here is to just sac something.  Sure he gets a counter, but they just bought more time to draw removal.  And until Master of the Feast came out, you pretty much could count on people playing this guy.

But a 6/6 flyer for four, in all black…That’s broken.  (But not if they sac an ornithopter, an Elvish Mystic, or a 1/1 chump token.)

Desecration Demon, I will miss you because you were reliable for awhile.  Then I learned something about the meta-game.  It is always changing.  You really were a fad, like silly bands and jelly shoes.  But you are being retired to the binder of rares.  Maybe I’ll trade your foil for a “Butcher of the Horde”!

Detention Sphere

8 D sphere

In the early days of Return to Ravnica, I played “Azorius.”  You should read this article.  While I prefer Esper nowadays, (gotta have the black too.)

I regularly played Azorius in my earliest standard tournaments.  I couldn’t figure out why it didn’t work our for me.  I was locking down their creatures.  In those early days, full on control wasn’t played so often.  So I was trying to quickly arrest their creatures, exile their stuff, etc.  To sweep the board would have been a nightmare for me.  Nevermind that hasty red creatures usually beat me, or giant green creatures would beat me.  Geist of St Traft would beat me.  In fact, I got beat a lot.

Detention Sphere was a key part of this strategy.  But as Theros came out, there were more ways to easily remove enchantments.  And this card almost disappeared.  But it was feared against “pack rat” if you played that particular strategy in Mono Black.  (It could exile all of your Pack Rats!)

D-Sphere, I will miss you and your controlling ways on the battlefield.  You will continue to be beast in Esper Control as a Modern Staple my friend.

Fencing Ace

9 Fencing Ace

Here we have three would be friends.  Near the end of last year, as I locked into a regular Standard routine, I began to try a new strategy, “Heros.”  My Hero deck had the Fencing Ace as a main player…you can’t beat his double strike!  But then he got a few helpers…one was a big brother “Fabled Hero,” a double striker who could be pumped if enchanted (He has Heroic).  And Fiendslayer Paladin, a card that makes people “pooh” and “a hhh”

Because the ace was so slow to start with, I tried numerous ways to speed him up.  One way was Savage Siummoning, the green foil you see above.  But rarely did that ever work out.  You were flashing in one of these heroes before your opponent could respond, then whacking them upside their head with double strike something or another.  The strategy would work, except you have to draw what you need at the right time.  I remember rearranging one guys face on turn three once.  That’s about it.  Usually, my opponent would find some way to adjust.  If they could just stop the double strikers, then I would lose.  Big time.

Fabled Hero, I think I am going to miss you because I never seemed to be able to find you when I needed you.  Even though you were uncommon, I felt compelled to leave you in my rare binder.  You went well with so many others…Two-Headed Cerberus, Fabled Hero, Skylasher, Satyr Hoplite, and more even.  You begged to be pumped and enchanted.  And I was much obliged.  But you just weren’t good enough.  Can’t wait to really figure out how to use you some day!


10 Mutavault

So I played in the South Carolina Star City Games State Tournament (probably not a good idea.)  I lost terribly.  I didn’t have one of these cards.  One of the best cards in the format.  So I dropped $30 on a copy while there.  (I regretfully traded one that I got at the 2014 pre-release, not knowing what I was doing!)  This card became a real hit in the mono-black strategy, working well with Pack Rat especially.  (you made a surprise rat!)

But this card died easily to “eye gauge”  A surprise kidney punch if someone side boarded it against mono-black.

I am NOT GOING TO MISS YOU.  I wish I had never seen you.  I wish I had saved my $30.  You are not a bad card. Nope.  You are great at what you do. But you NEVER SHOW UP when I need you to pump my rats.  (I only have one copy.)

Maybe I’ll trade the $30 copy.  Last time I checked, it still was $30 right at rotation time!

Sphinx’s Revelation and Supreme Verdict

11 SRev SV

I include these two because they became my arch enemy.  As I moved to a Mono-black strategy that was getting me into the final rounds of tournaments, I feared these two cards to most.   And because Sphinx’s Rev was woefully out of my price range, I couldn’t even try to pull together a mirror match for all the Sphinx’s Revelation control decks that were popping up in response to Mono-Black.

First of all, the sweeper.  What good is devotion if you have no creatures on the field.  Supreme verdict also CAN”T BE COUNTERED!  (Enough said.)

But Sphinx’s Revelation is a card that wins games outright.  A control player not only gains life, but draws as many cards as they would like, and this card gets played as an instant at the end of your turn.  Too bad for you.  They are generally looking for “Elspeth, Sun’s Champion” or “Supreme Verdict.”  Then they hit you with that on the next turn.  And you are dead before you know. it.

I finally bought a playlet of Sphinx’s Revelation two weeks ago for $8 a piece.  Considering it was $40 just about a month prior, i figured now was the time to buy.  This card isn’t going anywhere.  It will become a staple in all of Magic.

I will not miss seeing you across the table, Sphinx’s Revelation and Supreme Verdict.  BUT I look forward to a future playing you in Modern!

Deathrite Shaman

12 Deathrite S

Ah.  My first banned card.

Did you know that this guy was $40 to $60 dollars before he was banned in modern?  One drops with powerful abilities ten to be like that.

One day they will unban you from Modern, and then I will play you good.

You can guess that I used this guy a lot in both Mono-Black devotion and Junk.  And you would be right.  He is a nifty card.  I guess you will take up a spot in my binder after rotation.  I will miss you, Deathrite Shaman.

Doom Blade

13 Doom Blade

Here is a card that I learned to play early, hated when they rotated it, and cheered when they brought it back.  This is the card that taught me to have a sideboard.  You didn’t want this in your hand if you were playing against another player who was playing black.  But it is good removal against everyone else.  In draft, it was also a great card, you get just about ANY removal you can.

I’ll miss you, Doom Blade.  I wonder if you will be reprinted in the FINAL CORE SET, M16?

So what cards are you going to miss, oh Hub City Geeks?  Let me know in the comments.  I intend to begin doing an article like this anytime there is a rotation in the future if I get responses or if I see a lot of traffic here.