Monday, June 11, 2012

Magic Players and Their Wives

I just wanted to say that I think these guys: Jay Boosh and Jonathan Medina from The Eh Team podcast ( and as well as Andy from Commander Cast (, besides being my favorite podcast personalities, frequently mention their wives in good light.

It seems to me you can tell that they love their wives, the way these boys are so grateful of the way their women understand their hobby, and give them the space and time to enjoy it.

I love the episode of Commander Cast where Andy is whispering, "let's get it," because his wife is sleeping.

I'm getting married soon, and can't imagine having much time to play magic in the near future, so I'm trying to liquidate some of my magic stock to pay for wedding things. Mostly decorative details that I think we could do without. I imagine I can liquidate this stuff on eBay after the wedding and restock on Magic cards after the wedding, but we'll see.

This is just some. I'll keep posting more items for sale. I just have precious little time to play magic or even sell magic cards.

Here are some of the jars we've been picking up for decorations, as well as some inspiring photos from our wedding venue. We are having a farm wedding at Rogue Farms Micro Hopyard and Brewery. Yes, I'm lucky. My fiancée may not like Magic, but she loves beer. ;) We get to have a backyard wedding at the farm.

Also, you can explain buying any of my cards to your wife as, "for a good cause," "for love," etc. since it is helping to finance a wedding.

Thanks all,

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Seton Elf Combo (Commander)

Note: This post started out as a letter to Carlos from Commander Cast, asking for deck advice. I decided I just wanted to post it for everyone instead, since a whole community is bound to offer better (or at least more) advice than an individual. Enjoy!

Hey [everyone],

Long time fan of Commander Cast, Michael Rivers, here. I have been working on my Kamahl, Fist of Krosa deck, but some sweet new cards from Avacyn Restored have inspired me to attempt to make a legacy elves style combo deck. The inspiring cards are Soul of the Harvest and Craterhoof Behemoth. My first build switched out Ezuri for Kamahl, and just tutored for Heritage Druid, Nettle Sentinel, Soul of the Harvest, and Primordial Sage and tried to power out 1-drop elves. I have kind of moved away from that strategy since I discovered Gilt-Leaf Archdruid, and switched my 1-drop durdly elves for 1-drop durdly druids with the change to Seton, Krosan Protector as the commander (maybe some 1-drop elves should come back in, I hope you can help me decide).

I really want this to be a competitive build. I haven't really played any competitive EDH, but I'd like to go to some Grand Prixes(sp?), and as I know this deck is too powerful for my local playgroup, I thought that might be a fun place to play it. I haven't given any thought to resiliency or alternate win conditions (except for Vigor - so I don't just die on draw step because my opponent had Fog). I basically plan on beating other strategies by just being faster, and comboing off before they find their 4-mana wrath or can cast their 6-mana wrath. It has some built in resiliency in the form of artifacts and enchantments that stick around after the "just creature" wraths. The deck is probably most weak to spot removal, but it has so many redundant effects that I don't think this is a problem either. I really like it. I think Llanowar Elves was probably the first spell I ever cast, and I've been in love with the game (and the card) ever since.

Do you think this deck will be competitive at a Grand Prix (GP Vancouver)?

Below is the current list. It is marked with some of my latest changes, cards removed in red, cards added in green. I have noticed a tendency to get so close to comboing off, but get stuck with no creature in hand. This is why Wirewood Symbiote and Cloudstone Curio are amazing, they put creature ammo in your hand to combo with your draw spells.

Combo draw spells: Soul of the Harvest, Primordial Sage, Gilt-Leaf Archdruid, Recycle, and Glimpse of Nature.
Other major draw spells: Skull-Clamp, Regal Force, and Collective Unconscious.

Big mana guys: Gaea's Cradle, Rofellos, Priest of Titania, Elvish Archdruid, Wirewood Channeler
Untappers: Magus of the Candellabra, Krosan Restorer, Wirewood Symbiote, Quirion Ranger, Scryb Ranger, Copperhorn Scout, Seeker of Skybreak

With all those ways to produce a ton of mana, it is not too hard to tutor up a couple of combo pieces and start going off on turn 4-5.

I am wondering if I should include another win con like Essence Warden + Hurricane.

Just kidding, I actually don't really care about alternate win cons. I just want to make a 55/55 trample Craterhoof Behemoth every time (plus 49 51/51 trample elves).

I like to go for the glass cannon build. You'll notice I cut Nantuko Tracer (in red), that was previously cut for Scavenging Ooze because its a druid so combos with Seton, but I really just want to be as streamlined as possible. I know you like to do broken stuff, so I thought you might have some input. I've thought about Elvish Spirit Guide/Lotus Petal/Lotus Bloom type effects (although Lotus Bloom is a dead card when you're comboing off so maybe not that), but I'm not sure if that would really help since those cards don't combo with my engines (well, spirit guide can, I guess).

The other thing I'm wondering about is if I have too many tutors, since I have a lot of redundant effects anyways. I could cut them for more 2 mana elf/druids, and that might make the deck play a little smoother. The tutors do let you go into turbo combo mode, getting all 3 of your creature based draw engines up and running is usually overkill, but fun.

Any advice is appreciated. Explanations are necessary (what goal the change is helping to accomplish - faster, more consistent, more resiliant, etc., as I probably won't make any changes I don't agree with, but I'm a pretty reasonable person.

I made a low quality video deck tech of my deck. You can repost it if you want, but if you think the quality is low, or have some ideas about how to make it cleaner/shorter/more entertaining I'd love to hear it. I want to share it with the community, I'm just a little nervous as I haven't done a ton of this before. And if you don't have any tips, maybe you can direct me to someone who does?

One obvious change is to get a cut that is short enough to post as one video, and update them, but I figure I want to really nail down this list before making a new video, and I'm still making a lot of changes. I made this video right after I made the breakthrough of using Seton as the general over Ezuri, which is pretty obvious since he's a major part of your combo.

Michael Rivers

Part 1:
Part 2:


Non-Elf Druids (11):
Diligent Farmhand
Druid Lyrist
Krosan Wayfarer
Promissed Kanushi
Treefolk Harbinger
Village Elder
Woodland Druid
Heart Warden (D)
Harvester Druid
Nantuko Tracer

Krosan Restorer

Yavimaya Elder (D)

Elf Druids (21):
Llanowar Elves
Arbor Elf
Fyndhorn Elves
Birchlore Rangers
Boreal Druid
Elvish Pioneer
Heritage Druid
Joraga Treespeaker

Bloom Tender

Devoted Druid

Leaf Gilder

Llanowar Druid
Priest of Titania

Quirion Elves
Quirion Explorer
Quirion Sentinel

Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary

Wirewood Elf
Elvish Archdruid
Elvish Harbinger
Wirewood Channeler
Gilt-Leaf Archdruid (D)

Non-Druid Elves (6):
Quirion Ranger
Nettle Sentinel
Copperhorn Scout
Sylvan Ranger (D)

Wirewood Herald (T)

Elvish Visionary (D)
Fauna Shaman (T)
Seeker of Skybreak

Elvish Spirit Guide

Oracle of Mul Daya (D)
Other Creatures (8):
Magus of the Candelabra
Wirewood Symbiote

Scryb Ranger
Skyshroud Poacher (T)
Primordial Sage (D)
Soul of the Harvest (D)

Regal Force (D)
Craterhoof Behemoth (F)

Combo Pieces (6):
Concordant Crossroads
Lightning Greaves
Swiftfoot Boots
Cloudstone Curio

Phyrexian Altar

Card Draw (6) (+8 D): 
Skull Clamp
Glimpse of Nature
Sylvan Library

Collective Unconscious

Tutors (9) (+4 T):
Worldly Tutor
Sylvan Tutor
Green Sun's Zenith
Weird Harvest
Survival of the Fittest
Chord of Calling
Birthing Pod
Defense of the Heart
Natural Order
Wild Pair (D)

Land Tutors (3):
Crop Rotation
Expedition Map
Sylvan Scrying

Lands (28):
Gaea's Cradle
Wirewood Lodge
Dryad Arbor
1 Forest
25 Forest

Commander (1):
Seton, Krosan Restorer
Creatures/Spells/Lands: 50/22/28
Elves: 28
Druids: 33
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
27 22
1 1

– Draw spell. Puts another card into your hand or onto the battlefield.
– Tutor. Searches your library for a card and puts it on top, in your hand, or onto the battlefield.
– Finisher. Craterhoof Behemoth gives your guys +50/+50 and trample if you manage to draw and play your whole deck, so you swing for >2500 dmg. (Remember to not to play Regal Force or Elvish Visionary unless you have enough cards.)

Let me know what you think of these changes - if I'm going in the right direction, if I have cut too many/need more forests/elves/druids etc. And please give me your ideas for turning up the power dial from 10 to 11. Oh, and build a proxy deck/try it out on Cockatrice and see how it runs. Thanks.

Re: How to Negotiate

Warning: I suck at trading. I typically lose value. I try to listen to Jon Medina, but when I trade I am usually the buyer - aka I just lose value to get what I want. This talks about that, but is not intended to help you gain value or money, just maybe be happy and get what you want.

I started writing a response to Chas Andres' article How to Negotiate, linked to from today's Traderous Instinct article, when my reply started getting out of hand. So I thought I'd write my reply here instead. And by reply, what I really mean is guttural response to the few paragraphs.

The concept of knowing "who's the buyer, who's the seller" is such a strong concept. I have realized that I like to be the buyer when trading, but never thought of it in these terms before. Obviously, this means I'm not a binder grinder. Those are the sellers. But what really pisses me off is when the binder grinders act like buyers. When they won't trade with you unless you let go of your choice rares. They want specific high volume traded rares, and once they see you have those highly played dual lands or whatever, they won't let you use anything else as "currency," to pay for the rares you want for your commander decks.

I guess that's fine. They have the right to do that. I just drives me nuts. I'm not a binder grinder, but it is nice when you can get more value by making a trade than you can trading with the store. And I understand a trader acting as a seller needs to limit their "buy list" (cards they will accept in trades) to high volume (frequently traded) cards that they will be able to move, and won't just sit in their binders. But when you're new at trading, it is easy to get picked over by the binder grinders.

My advice is for the buyers. If you're a fairly casual player, not very experienced at trading, don't want to be a binder grinder, but you do want to be able to use your spare rares for trade fodder to pick up cards for your FNM or EDH deck, or even your budget Modern deck, without having to lose value at the steep rates you might trading with the shop, here you go.

  • Draw up a buy list. Even if its just for you, know exactly what cards you are willing to trade for. This should include your goal cards, the cards you need for your decks, and high volume cards, cards that are in current popular Standard decks, or are Modern/EDH staples.
  • Build a trade binder. I haven't done this yet. I have some rare binders. I need to empty one out, and fill it with playables for Standard, Modern, and EDH, that I am not trying to build decks with. It's a waste of my time and others' when I show them my rares binder full of dual lands I'm trying to build a deck with, but I just don't have the other pieces. If those cards are "in a deck/for a deck," get them out of the binder.
  • Say, "no." Don't trade for anything unless its on your buy list. You either need to be getting a card that is higher volume than the cards you trade away (will be easier to trade later), in which case you are the seller, or you need to get your goal cards, in which case you are the buyer, and its OK to get fleeced at this point, because when you have all the cards you need to do what you love, you are the real winner.
I feel like every financial article kind of says the same thing. It's probably because I don't do a lot of trading, so I don't really have an inbox for it. But I really see the value in trading with other players versus the store, and I honestly trade with the store a lot, just because it is convenient, and they don't brag to their friends when they rip you off, its just business. But even if someone "rips you off," you are likely still getting more from them than you would trading with the shop, so its a win-win anyways. Don't be discouraged from trading just because you lose value. But at the same time, if you're new to trading, like me, you probably shouldn't try to be the seller. Consider yourself the buyer, lose value, but absolutely get the cards you want for your deck. As a buyer, you have the right to get what you're looking for. This is the right the seller must give up in order to gain value. Let him/her get the value. Get the cards you want. And along the road, maybe you will learn that its OK to be the seller too, you don't always have to be the good guy.

UPDATE: Since I wrote this, I've been selling my cards on eBay. I find this to be a much safer marketplace than the card shop. I tend to get ripped off at my LGS. I was trading with a guy after a Standard match between rounds and ended up swapping a Primeval Titan and a Cavern of Souls for a Natural Order. Not only are those cards worth way more than the Natural Order, but they are Standard Staples that are way more high volume/easier to trade cards. It was part of a much larger trade that I was overall happy with, and I really wanted that Natural Order, but it just makes me sick. So, in short, don't listen to me. I have no F-ing clue what I'm doing when it comes to trading. I'm impulsive and don't mind throwing money down the drain for immediate gratification.

Draft 3/4/2012

Since I missed going to the GP, I treated myself to a little draft at Wild Things last night. I was very successful and won it, going 2-1-1 in swiss rounds, and 2-0 in the top 4.

Here is my draft deck, as close as I can remember it now (I might edit it when I actually have my cards in front of me). It was a super sweet zombie deck with a ton of synergy, mid range mana curve, and very aggressive. We drafted DKA, DKA, INN.

I first picked Ghoultree over a bunch of good cards including Lingering Souls, Death's Caress, and a Soul Seizer that I wheeled, but didn't end up playing. I wanted to go UG mill yourself and picked as a bomb. But green was cut off. I think about 4/6 at the table were playing green. The guy to my left, Raph, 2nd picked Lingering Souls, but didn't decide to move into white until middle of pack 2. White was wide open the whole time. I think he's the only one drafting white.

There was a Stromkirk Captain and a Diregraf Captain in pack 2 or 3, and Raph hate drafted the Stromkirk Captain (he told me a lot of his picks after the draft), and when the Diregraf Captain wheeled, since I had gotten almost no good green dudes, and black was clearly open due to this wheeling, as well as the many Death's Caress floating around, I decided it was time to move into blue black zombies. I had picked up some blue zombie enablers like a Screeching Skaab and a Thought Scour, as well as and a Relentless Skaab to top it off.

My biggest mistake was passing a Mikaeus to Raph in our Innistrad pack. I knew someone in that direction had Lingering Souls, and white had been wide open all draft. He was my only loss all day. I'm lucky to have beaten him in the top 4. He's a much better player than me.

This is only my 4th draft in a year, and my 5th or 6th ever, but I'm a good student. I do my homework. And I really love deck building. Studying math and computer science helps with logic, reasoning, and evaluation of things like efficiency, and probability and statistics. All in all, I would say I'm pretty well suited for these kinds of things.

The important thing is, I got to play some Magic. I had fun. And I think my opponents had fun too. I bought in Kevin, who I'd play tested a little Standard with at Borderlands. I'm happy to front a Magic player a little cash. You know they can always pay you back, even if it means selling some cards to the shop. Magic players usually have more cash flow flexibility than they think.

So, that puts me 5-7 at local events this year (winning 5 out of 12 events). This was a 12 person field, with a few good players, at least two that are more experienced as me, and very likely to play better. I make a lot of play errors, because I don't get out that much to play, but I am very good at the theoretical and deck building aspects, which is why I like draft so much. I can see synergies and opportunities, read signals, and just plain build good decks. Well, at least I could last night. :p

Anyways, until next time,

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Grand Prix
So, I was planning on going to GP Seattle this weekend, but Melissa really wanted me to spend the weekend with her. She graduates from college in three weeks, and she is going through a lot.

Here is the thing: a lot of signifigant others don't like their person's hobbies. Magic is just another hobby. Yes, it happens to be my favorite hobby at the time, but if I have friends and family who need me, I am always willing to put it on the back burner for them.

Melissa and I also have our wedding comming up in less than five months, which is requiring a lot of planning right now. I keep thinking, "whew, we've planned all this stuff. Now we just coast until our wedding." But that's not the case. There is always more to do.

I am lucky. Melissa still owes me a game of Magic. I built a cat themed legacy deck. Originally with 32 one drop cats. Here is the list. I've made some changes. Less cats. Some Lightning Helixes maindeck and more land. But she loves it, because she loves cats.

Also, in the vein of Melissa loving me and supporting my habbit, is the fact that she bought me the Devour for Power commander deck for my birthday. I took out about 20 cards, siding in a bunch of Innistrad/Dark Ascension cards that are perfectly graveyard/dredge themed, as well as some classic dredge cards like Golgari Grave Troll and "oppenent's graveyard's matter" cards like Guiltfeeder. All fun stuff. I just have yet to play it. I have played some Magic since my birthday, and some commander, but I just sleeved up Devour for Power and tweaked it last night.

So, I hope everyone at GP Seattle has a blast. And I'm sorry to Ryan for not splitting a hotel with you. I was really looking forward to it. I have these booster packs I was planning on practicing sealed with just sitting on my desk unused. I'll go to some big event sometime in the future. I've only been playing Magic seriously for about a year now. And I don't want to take it too seriously. I just want it to be a hobby. But that doesn't mean I don't want to go to big events, and work hard at my hobby.

I'll be routing for you, Ryan. Good luck.

Monday, February 27, 2012

GP Seattle

Hey y'all,

(As if this actually reaches anyone.)

I'm going to GP Seattle this weekend and am looking to split a hotel room with someone if I can. I have messaged a couple of people on mtgsalvation who are also looking, but no responses yet.

The Mrs. isn't too keen on the idea, but I'm ready to give up Magic for a month or so if I can just have this weekend.

In other news, I'm 4-4 at local FNMs since I picked the game back up.

Standard (M12) with RDW, 4-1
Standard (DKA) with RDW, 4-0
2HG (DKA) Sealed Deck with BU control, 3-0 (I partnered with a kid in Monmouth who also didn't have a partner).
Draft (DDI) with B/u/r control, 3-0

Standard (M12) with Splinter Twin, 0-3
Extended (INN) GPT in McMinnville with UR Delver, 2-2-1 (had to play lands instead of preordain/ponder - oops)
Standard (DKA) with a version of the BUG Deathfed Event deck, 1-3 (2 Undead Alchemist decks crushed me - exiling my creatures I want in my yard)
Standard (DKA) with Frites, 3-2 (Two Solar Flare decks beat me, but I crushed one 2-0 the first time around)

Non-Standard Events (losses):
2HG Commander (M12) (End of the Month Challenge at MMB) with Riku (me) and Scion (Ryan), 0-1
Draft (INN) with UB control/mill yourself/Lab. Maniac side into UW fliers, 2-1
Standard (DKA) with Frites, 3-1-1 (draw against Solar Flare, and crushed by RG janky combos in the rematch)

So, I'm basically I'm 4-7 at the local stores. But the fields average 8+, so I figure anything above 1-7 is good.

I'll post my results for GP Seattle after the event. You can watch me on twitter @zanthir23. I'll try to tweet.

See you around,

Monday, July 25, 2011


So, since I read about EDH on the mothership site, I looked through my pile of rares, found Borborygmos, built a deck, and haven't looked back since.

I now have a Riku deck and a Kamahl, Fist of Krosa deck in addition to my first one. And they've all gone through their own evolution. Since the beginning I have pretty much only played red, blue, and green, so of course I had to get the commander deck with those colors (that's the Riku pre-constructed deck: Mirror Mastery released by Wizards). Then one night I wanted to play 3-way, but I only had two decks, so I built my Kamahl deck the next day so that that would never happen again.

My Borborygmos deck has turned into a land/artifact hate deck with cards like Shatterstorm and Ruination. Mostly because when I was building it I was jealous of other EDH decks and all their cool artifact toys, and fancy non-basic lands. Well, if I can't have it, then no one can! I also put in a bunch of board sweepers, and then just plan on Voltroning my Borborygmos for General damage (Swiftfoot boots, Darksteel Plate, Sword of Vengeance).

Kamahl is actually a pretty scary aggro commander. With Elves he can easily hit the table on turn 4, and start swinging with an army doing 20+ damage on turn 5. The deck consisted of basically every elf I owned, some other random ramp, some flier hate, some artifact/enchantment hate, and some card draw and utility. For being thrown together in a couple of hours, this deck is surprisingly strong.

Then there's my Riku deck. This is my pet project. It has a bunch of equipment for Riku to suit up in, a bunch of variety hate (artifacts, enchantments, graveyard, counters, fliers), a bunch of clones and other copying spells like Rite of Replication, Parallel Evolution, and Followed Footsteps. Then it also has a bunch of cantrips, and a few tutors and combos. The tutors are Mystical Tutor, Worldly Tutor (which surprisingly I just had laying around - I've never played an eternal format before, so I never really even looked at them), Fauna Shaman, Birthing Pod, and Tooth and Nail. The combos are Spliter Twin/Kiki-Jiki + Deceiver Exarch/Pestermite. So I can either Combo out, get multiple copies of whatever bomb someone else is playing via clones, Rite, etc, or just Parallel Evolution and copy it with Riku to make 4x all my already copied spells, then 16x after flashback.

The Riku deck's variety hate is mostly in the form of creatures (Druid Lyricist, Manic Vandal, Veridian Shaman, Aether Adept) so when I Parallel Evolution it can get pretty fun. I also have Call to Mind, Eternal Witness, and Elven Cache (I know, I need Regrowth) for recursion.

I've gotten a lot of my tech from listening to CommanderCast, but I'm pretty brand new at this (like 1-2 months old) so don't blame my crap decks/decisions on them. But all the good stuff you can probably attribute to them. No, I'm a pretty smart guy in general, being a Software Engineer and a Mathematician, but I'm just not all that experienced at Magic, despite having played it since I was 8 or 9. I'm just saying, those guys who have been playing for the last 20 years straight are obviously way better than me.

Even though I just picked up Magic again 3 months ago, and EDH even more recently than that though, having played it before, and always been very interested in the rules, in deck construction, and in the mathematical analysis of the game (mana curves, expected damage by turn X for aggro decks, etc). I guess I've always strayed away from control strategies because they're difficult to analyze mathematically.

When I started this blog I thought all I would be doing is playing Standard. But EDH is way more fun. Its so weird, I thought Standard was the coolest thing ever, but now I don't even want to play it. It seems boring to me in the blink of an eye.

That's all for now folks. I guess I am too lazy/don't care enough to deck out this blog with any kind of images/cool appropriate fonts etc. so I'm just leaving everything at default now. Mostly I just care about writing as a creative outlet. Maybe someone will read this and enjoy it too. Probably not though unless I advertise somehow, but I'm not that interested. I'm not trying to make money, or make a name for myself or anything. I'm just having fun. And that's why I like EDH. Its just about having fun.