Which reminds me, Canadian Mummy’s Day is in three weeks or so.

Magic the Gathering oriented post. If this isn’t up your alley, come back tomorrow when I’ll most likely visit a different laneway or boulevard.

After all that build up, Amonkhet is finally here! I unintentionally stayed out until just after 5am last night, had maybe three hours sleep then got back up for the 10am pre-release. Who’da thought I’d still be burning the candle at both ends after hitting 30? Most anyone who knows me, probably. In any case, I was shattered this morning and felt like I’d been embalmed. Fitting, given the Egyptian themed set I’d be playing. I prayed to whoever the Egyptian deity of Magic was to either have a solid pool or understanding opponents who wouldn’t mind me making terrible plays all day.

My prayers were answered. Praised be Heka and Isis, you did me a solid one.

My pool was actually pretty decent for most colours. My rares were Sandwurm Convergence, Channeler Initiate, Rags///Riches, Dispossess, Heaven///Earth, Regal Caracal, Plague Belcher and Nissa, Steward of Elements. Like I said, I did well all around. Looking at my blue, it was an easy disqualification. There were a ton of counterspells and good draw, but very few creatures. The red couldn’t muster enough to back up Heaven///Earth, so that went by the wayside too. I liked the look of my green. It had a bunch of early beaters, the Cartouche of Strength, the absurd Exemplar of Strength (that I’m pretty sure snowballs Longtusk Cub style if it gets dropped on curve), Rhonas’s Monument and some tricks. I matched it up with my black and had a look at its curve. I had very little in the way of mana fixing, but considered running Nissa as a small splash. To be honest, it looked marginal. The creatures were fine, but not consistent all the way up the curve. I didn’t have enough removal to make it worth it. Bummed, I cast another look at white. I had the Regal Caracal, which was a house. A couple of cheap conditional removal spells. Oh, and a ton of zombie synergies with black. The Binding Mummy could trigger a bunch with a combination of natural and embalmed zombies. Reluctantly, I put my green away (you’ll still be loved, my Channeler Initiate) and looked at the curve with white. It actually looked a little something like this:

Creatures (16)
1x Fan Bearer (z)
1x Gust Walker
1x Doomed Dissenter (z)
1x Binding Mummy (z)
2x Cursed Minotaur (z)
2x Unwavering Initiate (z)
1x Blighted Bat (z)
1x Plague Belcher (z)
1x Bone Picker
1x Tab-Crop Elite
1x Grim Strider
1x Regal Caracal
1x Oketra’s Attendant (z)
1x Winged Shepherd

Non-Creature (7)
1x Time to Reflect (z)
1x Impeccable Timing
1x Rhonas’s Monument
1x Forsake the Worldly
2x Final Reward
1x Stir the Sands (z)

Land (17)
8x Plains
8x Swamp
1x Grasping Dunes

*(z) indicates zombie or zombie synergy.

As you can see, I had a ton of zombies or zombie aligned cards, which were excellent with Binding Mummy, Plague Belcher and Time to Reflect. My curve was reasonably low and had a couple of removal spells to back up my solid creature base. Provided I drew lands, I tended to win games. In fact the only games that I lost were to mana screw (and poor choice of hands to keep, let’s be honest) and even then I managed to come back and stabilise after missing my land drops for several turns in a row. Fun interactions:

Plague Belcher and Doomed Dissenter was my dream curve that never happened. One time I killed the zombie token though. Worth it for a 3 mana 5/4 Menace, plus the Belcher drained my opponent for 1 when it sacrificed itself. I never got to play Plague Bearer and Bone Picker in one turn, but that would’ve been saucy as fuck. A couple of times I had an Unwavering Initiate and Rhonas’s Monument. I’d play the Belcher and pump the Initiate, then drop my counters on it. I’d get to attack for 3, then it’d die at the end of turn (leaving it in the graveyard to embalm later).

Binding Mummy did work. Between Fan Bearer and its bigger mummy, I could play an aggro control game. So often I’d curve out post Binding Mummy with a Cursed Minotaur or Blighted Bat and be the beatdown. If Rhonas’s Monument was in play, things went south quickly. My favourite play of the game was at a potential stall, I’d set up a whole table of lifelinking cats (via the Caracal), dudes and a Tab-Crop Elite ready to exert. The Binding Mummy triggers off zombies coming into play, not zombie spells or some kind of cast trigger. I played Stir the Sands and got my three zombies, tapping down the big threats on his board. I swung in with a pumped up team and took him from 15 to 4 in one barrage. Noting that I also had three zombies back on defence in the event of any counterattack.

Obviously Regal Caracal was a bomb, but I wasn’t expecting to get such a swing from it. Having the backup from Tab-Crop Elite or Rhonas’s Monument really pumped up the amount I gained back, letting me stabilise in dire times. I was constantly worried that my opponent would kill my main kitty, neutering my team in the process, but then I RTFC and realised the tokens naturally have lifelink anyway. Dumb card is dumb.

I never got to use my Winged Shepherd or Gust Walker. I played both of them, but they never had a chance to attack. Either I’d win before Winged Shepherd could do anything (or it was fodder for a Rhonas’s Monument pump), or my opponents would kill Gust Walker on sight. Happened three or so times today. Weird. Card’s good, but not backbreaking. Rhonas’s Monument though, Jeebus. It’s a dumb card, even off colour. +2/+2 and Trample is a huge boost every turn. The boost is one thing, but you disregard how easily it lets you punch through. Your beaters usually just end up bigger than theirs. Heka/Isis forbid I dropped two creatures in one turn. Which I did. Ain’t I a stinker?

All in all I came away with a 3-1 record (reminder: Two land hands are a trap no matter how good they look. Don’t get greedy) and 7 prize packs. I didn’t open anything truly amazing, but got the Prowling Serpopard and Pull from Tomorrow I’d been wanting for EDH. Day well spent.

More like pizzazz party, amirite?

We played Boggle Pizza Party last night. Boggle Pizza Party is a subset of a regular pizza party, whereby the goal is to encourage innovative and unintuitive pizza creations. I’ve always loved Make Your Own style meals. We did it a ton growing up. A typical MYO night was Mexican. We’d have a selection of basic ingredients on the table (grated cheese, red onion, diced tomatoes, salsa, guacamole, mince) and a combination of hard and soft shelled tacos. It was fun assembling meals in different combos, or testing assorted structural arrangements (what happens if the mince is on the bottom? Or perhaps setting a bed of cheese first to soak up any juices and keep the taco crispy?). We had sushi nights where we’d make all sorts of rolls. Then we’d do pizzas. It’s hard not to enjoy pizzas.

Boggle Pizza Night differs with the idea of “points” as incentive. Much like Whose Line, the points don’t matter for much more than bragging rights. If you somehow haven’t played Boggle (I hadn’t until 2013), the goal is to find as many words as you can in a block of letters (“super” in this instance) in a limited amount of time. Once the round is over everyone runs through the words they found. If anyone had the same words as someone else, nobody gets points for those words. Unique words only. Like Scattergories, really. This way people are encouraged to think outside the box and bring creative toppings. We supplied the basics. We had gluten-free tortillas to use as bases (my GF is GF, geddit?), which surprisingly worked gangbusters. We put two together with a thin layer of cheese between for adhesion purposes. They came out crispy and thin, which also meant we could make/eat a ton of them without getting instantly full from the dough. We had cheddar and an assortment of pizza sauces (tomato and garlic, hot and spicy and “authentic”, which low key sets up a classist divide between pizza sauces that I never expected to see). From there, we set sail with others’ creativity.

One of the couples was really late, so they just brought pizza with them. No points awarded (until later when we cut up chunks of the cheese pizza to use as meta toppings). We had ham (because of course we did), pineapple, mushrooms (a friend brought more. NO POINTS), cranberry sauce (in case anyone wanted to try a Thanksgiving pizza), garlic slices and, well, a fridge worth of backups (like pickles, etc). Our other friends won by a one-two punch of sheer quantity and ingenuity. Sundried tomatoes, regular tomatoes, mozzarella, olives, artichokes, salami, baby eggplants, brussels sprouts, broccoli and potatoes. Their choices were mind Boggling.

Then creation happened. We chopped and sautéed up the eggplant (because we didn’t want it going in raw) and put it together with olives, thin potato slices, salami and artichokes. We had a Canadian special with ham, pineapple, mushrooms and garlic. A vegetarian sundried tomato, broccoli, olive, artichoke and mozzarella special. The mandolin was pulled out for more potato work and my friend assembled a pizza base from thinly sliced spuds that looked a little like a scalloped potato mandala. It could’ve used a little bit longer to crisp up but it was surprisingly excellent. Will try again.

The wine kept flowing, which kept the conversation going. We had a constant production line of pizzas baking, topping assemblage and base prepping. Boggle Pizza Night was tons of fun for the whole family.

Next time, Scattergories Pizza Party.

Fingers crossed I get a hold of everything I’m looking for by Dune or July.

The usual disclaimer for Magic the Gathering related posts. I know that yesterday I said maybe come back tomorrow, but I’ve still got shit I want to talk about in Amonkhet, so slow your roll. With that out of the way…

Honoured Hydra – How great is Honoured Hydra? Back in the day I loved Penumbra Wurm to bits. It was 5GG for a 6/6 trample that came back as a black version of itself when it died. That felt pretty fucking gnarly. Honoured Hydra on the other hand feels like a fusion of Penumbra Wurm and Roar of the Wurm. If you want to get the full Penumbra Wurm treatment you get a one mana discount upfront for more mana on the back end. Unlike Penumbra Wurm, Honoured Hydra is flexible. Who doesn’t like self-mill or discard? With Noose Constrictor (and the new minotaur bro Bloodrage Brawler) in standard you can run it just like Roar of the Wurm and have a sweet curve. RG madness in standard? Why not?

Vizier of Remedies – This card is silly good, much better than it looks on first glance. You wouldn’t think it was a combo machine or the second coming of Melira, but it is. It works gangbusters with persist creatures (Aerie Ouphes mean your opponents have no more flying creatures. Glen Elendra Archmage means your opponents don’t get noncreature spells any more) but also goes infinite with my main mana man Devoted Druid (will I ever stop repping his flag?) which Melira can’t do (since the -1/-1 counter is the cost, which Melira prevents you from playing).

Slither Blade – Not super exciting, but it’s hard to get lower for an evasive creature for all your saboteur abilities. Ezuri? Ninja deck? Coastal Piracy? It’s your boa.

Trespasser’s Curse – A common curse you can use to hose that token swarm deck at your table. I mean, that will usually be me, but if I’m not running Aura Shards I probably deserve to get shat on by this.

The Monuments – An uncommon cycle that’s great for EDH, varying in playability. The red one letting you cycle is fucking great. In fact, all the Naya ones are rad. Getting a 1/1 vigilance warrior for every creature you play will stack up. +2/+2 from the green one keep the beats/momentum coming and the trample makes sure it connects. Okay, so the black and blue ones are subpar, but they’re not dominant creature colours anyway.

Embalmer’s Tools – I’m sure this can enable some nifty shit. Reducing the cost of Unearth creatures is nice. Reassembling Skeleton and Bloodsoaked Champion get closer to Gravecrawler, which rocks. Glory and Genesis are way more affordable. I’m no doubt thinking small potatoes here. Also that second ability plays right into Undead Alchemist’s gameplan.

Cascading Cataracts – Failing anything, this means Bring to Light in a non-Experiment Kraj Simic deck can happen. Do with that what you will.

Shefet Monitor – I’m super interested to see how it plays. Krosan Tusker has always been close to an auto-include in a green deck. For one more mana you get the ability to put it straight into play untapped (though losing that one turn could be critical) and flexibility of searching up a Desert card. None of the new Deserts are making me lose my shit, but it could be fun to gain the ability to kill off x/1s with your land as a surprise ambush.

Combat Celebrant – It’s mega fragile, but holy shit will it wreck faces if it has the chance to go off. If you’re playing Naya with Ahn-Crop Champion and Samut, Voice of Dissent, then you’re bringing the pain every turn. From that point, I can only assume there won’t be many more. For the love of Fuck, please don’t do this with Aurelia on the table. Your opponents can only have so many dreams crushed.

Faith of the Devoted/Drake Haven – This is gonna be a neat deck. If you get New Perspectives rolling, you should probably just win. If Archfiend of Ifnir is in play, you’re a straight up nasty person.

Harsh Mentor – I always had a soft spot for Burning-Tree Shaman. I’m hoping this dude will pick up where BTS left off. Maybe I’m a mean person, but I plan on sowing as much salt as possible with Ruric Thar.

This set looks like a fun time for casual deckbuilding. That’s all I’m saying.

Well Nile-ism won’t be my problem any more.

The usual disclaimer for Magic the Gathering related posts. If this isn’t your thing, maybe come back tomorrow.

With that being said, now having seen the full Amonkhet spoiler, it looks like a bounty for the EDH/Commander crowd. There are a bunch of new legends that’re gonna be slung around kitchen tables soon. Zombies, an already popular archetype got a massive push (and potentially a nudge into Esper) and there are some spicy new mythics that’ll hopefully get some play in the format. Enough of that, let’s have a look at what’s got me excited.

Vizier of the Menagerie – Sweet, sweet value card. Future Sight was always busted in half. Have you ever played with one? It’s fucking absurd. God forbid you had a Sensei’s Divining Top or something of the like. Just gross. This Vizier isn’t quite as ridiculous, but chopping three mana off Garruk’s Horde and downsizing it would’ve been sweet enough. Having the ability to peak at your top card at any point is neat (just ask Sphinx of Jwar Isle) and a lot better than you’d imagine. The mana ability isn’t nothing, but it could also be handy from time to time.

Pull from Tomorrow – Seems like an improved Stroke of Genius, a card that was already decent. It’s instant speed draw x and while you discard one, that’s hardly a massive cost. How many EDH decks don’t have some cards they’d like in the graveyard? By the time you’ve drawn 4 or 5, you probably don’t mind tossing one or even filtering something you’d had in your hand already. Double thumbs up.

Heart-Piercer Manticore – Creature based removal is always something we want more of. Attaching a fling to a creature is sweet, but giving it embalm for double the fun gets even better. Plus it’s an optional ability, so if your floor is a 4cc 4/3 that’s not terrible. Not great in EDH, but you’re not crying either. Considering the number of times you’ll throw your otherwise chump blocked 15/15 at someone’s face, it’s probably worth the odds.

Harvest Season – YES. THIS IS WORT I’M TALKING ABOUT. In that it’s going straight into Wort the Raidmother. The floor on this (with conspire) is basically four basics for 2G. After you’ve already convoked another spell, you’re looking at eight lands for 2G. Anywhere up from that is straight up nuts and you should probably just go win.

Insult//Injury – While we’re talking Wort, how does quad damage for 2R sound? Follow that up with any x spell or alpha strike and you should probably win. If somehow you also Fork/Mirari/Reverberate it, then shit has gotten way past real.

Mouth//Feed – While we’re talking Aftermath cards, how rad is it that there’s now a card in magic called Mouth. That’s it, Mouth. Get your 3/3 hippo. It’s not a remarkable card, but it’s silly and fine, if it comes attached with a mini Collective Unconscious. It should get play in EDH.

Samut, Voice of Dissent – Flash, double strike, vigilance, haste, haste for the team. If that wasn’t enough, she has a rad untap effect (that’s also relevant with the haste, if you want to cast her as a six drop for a surprise ambush). Most players don’t realise how excellent it is to have a creature based haste enabler, but she does the job and then some. My only minor grip is that she’s not straight Gruul so I could slot her into Ruric Thar.

Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons – Okay, so the deck is super linear, but I’m making it. Shadowmoor/Eventide were fucking great and playing around with -1/-1 synergies was kick ass. I’m only too happy to dive back in, except now I get to double up on the Flourishing Defences with Scarab Nest. Swarms and sac fodder everywhere. Wickerbough Elder, perennial favourite mana dork Devoted Druid (ramp to 5 on turn 3. DOO IT), Grim Poppet and Mikaeus of the Unhallowed. Also I’m gonna throw in a Mazirek suite because I’ve always wanted to do those kind of dickish things.

Throne of the God-Pharaoh – Solid, solid card. Rewards you for turning your critters sideways. THE BEST PART OF MAGIC. Whether it’s getting more reach in your UW Merfolk deck, an elfball deck or some aggro concoction, this thing will routinely do three or four damage at the end of each of your turns. Sometimes a ton more.

Annointed Procession – It’s always great to double up on your doubling effects, and I’m sure Parallel Lives was due for some kind of reprint. If you’re running a GW token deck, you just got a big boost. There you go Trostani, Rhys, Ghave, etc. As if you needed new toys.

Shadow of the Grave – If anything in this set has seemed like it could enable truly busted shenanigans, I think it’s this card. At its worst it lets you double up on some kid of Wild Mongrel style creature for the kill. At best you play it post wheel and your opponents cry.

Ugh, I’ve gotta go pick a friend up from the airport, but I feel like I’m not even halfway done. This may not be the last you hear on this.

If I don’t emerge for a few weeks, does that make the game aptly named?

My teen years were filled to the brim with the obligatory angst and unrequited amorous desire. Time and time again I’d decide on the basis of one interaction that I’d found my soul mate. Confirmation bias would only affirm this belief. Then I’d find out she was into someone else and repeat the process all over. In all my time at high school, only one of my great loves ever gave back: Diablo 2.

I sunk hours into that game night by night. I was exceedingly more studious about it than French, without a doubt (c’est vrai). It took years of my life, until the expansion pack came out and that took the rest. I played the campaign again and again, trying out all of the characters, teaming up with friends late into school nights to crawl dungeons, hopeful for rare or unique treasures. It was a blast and, as with most games, way more fun before we got into any of that min/maxing shit.

After a conversation with some brunch ambushing friends (they keep turning up randomly at spots my girlfriend and I drop into), I remembered that Diablo 2‘s spiritual successor (which surprisingly wasn’t Diablo 3) existed. Path of Exile. It’s a hack and slash RPG made by an independent NZ game studio. It’s totally free to play, with optional micro-transactions that’re only cosmetic. Say you want a little dragon that walks behind you (but doesn’t influence the game state at all?) or your armour to glow bright pink? That can happen for a tiny fee, but none of this play to win shit.

Path of Exile has a monstrous amount of depth, even ignoring the “for a free to play game” addendum. It’s a mash up of game mechanics that’ve worked in the past, smooshed into an intuitive yet complex amalgam. You choose a character, which is basically picking a character skin and being placed at a certain point on the passive skills tree (which is basically the junction system from Final Fantasy X). So you’d have your Marauder (Strength), Ranger (Dexterity) and Witch (Intelligence), then hybrid classes that bridge the gaps. You can follow the passive tree any way you want, offering huge flexibility. Active skills are conferred by gems, that gain experience as you do. All items have coloured sockets that will hold corresponding gem colours. Sometimes sockets will link, allowing you to slot in support gems, that buff the active gems in the same item. It sounds very complicated, but makes a ton of sense as you play.

When you do start playing, it’s a shit ton of fun. Being made in New Zealand, the voice actors all have NZ accents (though varying in severity). Elements of Maori culture have been incorporated, which feels wicked to see represented onscreen. The game can be both serious and goofy as fuck. The character I put together, a summoner, runs around using necrotic magic. She raises zombies and skeletons. There’s a spell that summons Nic Cage as Ghost Rider style floating flaming heads and another that animates weapons to fight for me. A typical battle involves a couple of undead bros flanked by flying flaming heads and hovering dirks, clubs and polearms battering down my foes. I’m sure the game will get a lot harder soon, but for now it’s a riot.

Speaking of which, I’ve gotta go. In the spirit of Diablo 2, I’m gonna raise some hell.

Tour on TO.

I heard from a friend today that she’s thinking of stopping off in Toronto for a couple of days. Naturally, this is fantastic news. It’s always excellent to see good friends from far and away. Even better when you have the home court advantage. If she does come, it’ll be over Easter weekend, which has its pros and cons. I didn’t have any big plans over the weekend, so spending quality time with a good mate trumps anything else. It’s also during a time where I naturally have time off. Another plus. On the other side, I’m worried that Toronto may slow down over Zombie Jesus’ Cave Time. What if nothing’s on? How am I supposed to show her the best that Toronto has going for it, if there’s nothing going on? She’s coming from London (the good one) for fuck’s sake. How am I supposed to one up that?

Let’s work on a wish list. What ideally would I love to show her about Toronto?

  • Weird movie screening: Maybe something at The Royal, The Carlton or The Revue. Local cinemas working together with niche community groups to give the public access to lesser known filmic works. If there’s anything by Exploding Zebra or The Midnight Society, The MUFF Society, etc. Perhaps some horror film fest or an interesting TIFF screening/Q&A session.
  • Food: Always food. Toronto has several cities’ fair share of brunch spots with a ton of options for all diets. She’s vegetarian and Toronto will provide. Failing anything, it’s another excuse to get Ethiopean, as if I ever need one. Spring will come with a ton of pop-ups. There are also the regular spots like Bang Bang/Bakerbots, Sweet Jesus (thematic) and everything Kensington has to offer. Oh wait, how could I forget poutine? It’s Canadian food incarnate.
  • Bars: So many theme bars here, and surprisingly few I’ve checked out. As a local, you rarely explore your own backyard much. Why not put paid to that idea and dig around? I’ve never been to Eat My Martini or Nightowl. The hubbub surrounding “Harry Potter Bar” The Lockhart has probably died down by now. Get Well is always the best and I haven’t been in aaaages. the Get Well owned bar Greater Good has opened up close to me and I’ve still not stopped in for a pint. Not to mention great local breweries like Blood Brothers and Bellwoods. There’s so much excellent alcohol on offer.
  • Shows: There’s always some type of performance going on in Toronto. There’s a vibrant art scene between the visual arts, theatre, dance and more abstract stuff. Could she be interested in a themed burlesque show? Comedy gigs, whether improv or sketch? An offering from one of the many talented local theatre companies? An exhibition or gallery? Art battles or cooking competitions?
  • Dance: The anachronistic charms of Chronologic? Disco vibes of Beam Me Up? Guilty pleasure pop? K-POP? Queer femme hip hop? MTV Throwback? Whatever she’s into, like good beer, it’s probably on tap.
  • Funtivities: Escape rooms? Axe throwing? The Rage Room? Archery Tag? An escape event at Casa Loma?
  • Oh the Places to go: Toronto Island/Hanlans, The Beaches, Trinity Bellwoods, The Distillery District, Evergreen Brick Works.

Really though, it’s not about what I want to show her, but what she’s into seeing. First and foremost, is she even coming? If not, nothing’s stopping me from doing any of this stuff.

Y’know, Toronto’s quite something when you think about it.

Why don’t I slide? Astral Slide, in particular.

This post will probably not make a ton of sense to a lot of people, but given that I’ve got creative control about my topics here, that’s fine by me (the only person who should really be invested). I’m gonna blab on about Magic the Gathering and Shandalar, so if that’s not your thing, perhaps come back tomorrow?

So with all the normies gone, let’s talk about Shadalar once more.

Over the past two or so months I’ve been playing this game a bunch. They basically took the 90s game and added in thousands of new cards. This means you can do all sorts of unfair things, but the difficulty level has been cranked up accordingly. The AI isn’t human opponent intelligent, but it plays decently. It’s a whole ton of fun. Anyway.

On my first play through I thought I’d try making a Zoo deck. I’ve never had enough spare change to play tournament magic. When Tarmogoyfs go for $90-$100 a pop, the deck is basically unobtainable for me. In this game though, I’m free to waste as much meaningless digital currency as possible. MAKE IT RAIN GOFYS. In any case, I loaded the deck up with Tarmogoyfs, Swords to Plowshares, Lightning Helix, Voice of Resurgence, Rancor, Seal of Fire, Knight of the Reliquary and as many fetches/dual lands as I could. Seeing how Tarmogoyf actually runs in practice was awesome. Just how quickly it ticks up to a monster, throwing a turn three or four Berserk on that bad boy and crushing skulls. Having access to that experience was awesome, knowing it’d be out of reach in paper Magic. Getting an authentic feel for how these mechanics work has given me a greater appreciation of the tournament scene. I’m more engaged than I was in Modern, for instance, now that I understand a little better.

My second play through, I swung for a mono black devotion deck. I’ve always wanted an excuse to run Phyrexian Obliterator, because it’s such a ridiculous card (that unfortunately gets sidelined a bunch). Playing against AI was a chance to see just how unfair it could be. Especially turn one off a Black Lotus. After deciding that, I thought why not drain them out with Grey Merchant of Asphodel? Or do some nutty loop with Recurring Nightmare and Bitterblossom? Truthfully, I’d never tried out cheap, selective discard before. That was an eye-opening moment. Using a first turn Thoughtseize or Inquisition of Kozilek to help shape my overarching plan for the game was a whole new experience. A definite level-up moment.

In my most recent play through I thought I’d take Affinity for a spin. While some cards straight up weren’t in the program (Vault Skirge, Shrapnel Blast, etc) I had access to some truly insane stuff. Affinity with Moxen? It’s as dumb as it sounds. I always knew that affinity was a silly deck, but piloting it is something different. I don’t know if the build is optimal, but it can do some frightening things with artifact lands, Disciple of the Vault, Arcbound Ravager, Cranial Plating, Master of Etherium, Tolarian Academy (!) and, well, Contract from Below. A single black mana to draw seven cards is truly stupid. I’d never experienced that kind of power with my casual EDH decks. It brought back memories of an old friend’s Tolarian Academy/Metalworker/Phyrexian Colossus deck from when I first started playing.

The experience of this game has also made me realise how fun it’d be to have a rotation of tournament calibre proxy decks to swap around with friends. Playing tight, tuned decks in an environment where everyone is on equal footing sounds awesome. Or at that point, are we just cube drafting?