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The Golden Age of Magic 1/20/2014
Author: Matt Marks.
 

 

We are truly living in the Golden Age of Magic, as it is my opinion that there has never been a better time to be Magic Player. I first started playing Magic around the time of Unlimited and Revised. I played up through Arabian Nights and the Dark Ages before drifting away from the game for a good long time, until the Zendikar block reignited my interest. And much has changed since the early days of the game, and it has evolved into a variety of formats providing the veritable "something for everyone." While that evolution has been slow and taken place over the decades, this year we have been reminded of all the formats available and have the means to participate in all of them.

Commander (EDH)

This format was most recently brought into the light via the newly released Commander 2014 series of mono-colored, Planeswalker commanders. These sets not only provided fodder for a wave of mono-colored decks, but also provided a great deal of new cards for use in multi-colored decks as well. Speaking of multi-colored Commander decks, the Khans of Tarkir block has finished out a few years of multi/dual colored themed blocks. From the two-color guilds of Ravnica, to the two-color gods of Theros, to the three-color wedge block of Tarkir, we have been inundated with multi/dual colored cards that easily find homes in all kinds of Commander decks. Another thing to consider is the wealth of legendary creatures we have been afforded lately. From guildmasters to maze-runners, from gods to royalty and from khans to dragons, we have a much wider range of possible commanders than ever before.

Modern

The highly anticipated Modern Masters 2015 release will once again allow Modern enthusiasts to gain access to high-value cards that are typically difficult to come by. The last Modern Masters set gave us reprints of Tarmagoyf and Dark Confidant, and the spoiled card for the upcoming set, the Eldrazi lord Emrakul, should pave the way for even more of these Modern staples to make there way into gameplay. Perhaps a Snapcaster Mage is in the works for reprinting? Aside from sets designed specifically for the Modern format, the Khans block has provided many great cards that have had ripples across all of the formats. The appearance of Jeskai Ascendancy combo decks among top Modern players is evidence alone. Even overlooked cards like Ghostfire Blade have made their way into Modern archetypes, finding a home in Affinity in this case. Delver also received some support with the new additions of Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time. And we can almost be sure that at least a few of the Fate Reforged cards (Monastery Mentor, Soulfire Grand Master) are destined to find homes in Modern decks as well.

Limited

While the Conspiracy set, designed specifically for drafting, may not have had the sales or the impact that was expected, it marked the first time a set had been released specifically designed for a limited format. Of course many of these cards have applicability in other formats, such as Eternal and Commander. The booster packs are also starting to decrease in price slightly, so the next time you want to do a draft with friends grab a handful of Conspiracy packs to toss into the mix. Drafts and other limited format events are always taking place, allowing folks to hone their sealed-pool skills in preparation for Pre-Release events.

Legacy

While this format sees little play due to the exorbitant prices for many of the staple cards, it is still around and is even seeing ripples from the current Standard block. For example, the notorious Treasure Cruise has made its way all the way back to this Eternal format. While no one expects any Legacy staples to drop in price ever, it is nice to know that even recently released cards can be useful in this original, classic format.

Standard

This is truly the Golden Age of Magic, particularly when it comes to Standard. The Khans of Tarkir release was the highest selling Magic set in history, and for good reason. For one, the much anticipated reprinting of the Odyssey Fetchlands that smooth out mana curves in any format they are legal in...which is just about all of them at this point. They are to also be printed (in lesser quantities) for Fate Reforged, so don't be surprised to find a Polluted Delta hiding behind the rare in your booster pack when Fate Reforged is released this week. What is also great about Standard is the wealth of viable archetypes. Usually metagames are dominated by one or two archetypes, but lately we've seen control, aggro, combo and midrange all vying to be the top deck. Yeah, Siege Rhino is everywhere but at least it's not a Pack Rat. Abzan and Mardu Aggro have made names for themselves, as well as Jeskai Combo and Temur Midrange. We have Red Weenie (Boss Sligh) all the way up to R/G monsters and everything in between. Whatever your play-style is, there is a competitive Standard archetype available and a breadth of cards to build from. And while the Standard block (Theros and Tarkir) may have supplied a lot of fun and complex cards for the Standard format, keep in mind that many cards being released today are having impacts across all the formats. Imagine opening a deck with a Fetchland, Jeskai Ascendancy, Treasure Cruise and Seeker of the Way. You just opened a pack that has cards useable for Commander, Modern, Legacy and Standard. And while this may not be the norm by any means, it just goes to reinforce that this truly is a great time to be a Magic player.

 

So let's play!!

Showtime Cards has a variety of formats available every week. Obviously there is Friday Night Magic, the best place to play Standard for both competitive and "just for fun" players, that takes place every Friday at 7 p.m. at Showtime. For the Modern enthusiasts, Tuesday night is Modern Tournament night at Showtime, starting at 6 p.m. And don't forget the newest set in the Tarkir block, Fate Reforged, comes out this Friday January 23! Pre-order your booster boxes and fat packs now for discounted prices, and get your buy-a-box promo Shamanic Revelation! Come by on Friday to open your boxes, sleeve up your new cards and get playing!

 
 
July 14th Ban-List Analysis; Welcome to the new format 6/24/2014
Author: Ian Tezer
Showtime Cards Gaming Coordinator

Hey everyone, Ian back again. I'm coming to you today to talk about the ban list that takes effect July 14th, 2014.

Overall, I feel like this ban list isn't too influential. Konami didn't honestly make a lot of changes to the list, but there definitely were a few notable alterations. First I'd like to talk about what I feel should have been touched on the ban list.

Recently, there has been a lot of hype over the lightsworn ruler deck. With the release of the Realm of Light structure deck, we were introduced two new lightsworn monsters. Raiden, and Minerva. These two influential tuner monsters have opened up a whole new dimension for lightsworn players. Prior to this, synchros in lightsworn were much harder to get to. But, Lumina plus any of these tuners in grave can make a powerful synchro play while still putting a dead card from your hand into grave.

Moreover, I think that one of the main reasons this deck is functioning really well is it's ability to use soul charge. While some people say soul charge is healthy for the game, I would have at least liked to see it go to the semi-limited state. Most controversy I hear on this argument is that "The cost on soul charge is so much that it makes it a balanced card." While I agree this is a decent argument, I disagree. The ability to set up an incredibly established and sometimes unbreakable board is definitely a major benefit, regardless of how many life points you have to pay (or skipping your battle phase for that matter). Given the amount of lightsworn support Konami's releasing, I wish that they would have put cards like Macro-cosmos to two, or dimensional fissure back to 3. These two cards tend to be one of the best floodgate cards for lightsworn due to their ability to shut down the graveyard.

Ending my mini rant about soul charge, I'll get down to what actually happened on the list.

Goyo Guardian:

Oh yeah, the original Mr. Steal yo' girl is back. Konami officially took Goyo Guardian out of the ban zone and is letting everyone run one copy of him. So what does this mean for the meta game? Well, let's look at how card interaction is currently functioning.

First of all, this format is very wishy-washy. On one side of the meta, you have the solid OTK decks like lightsworn ruler, that can basically make ridiculous blowout plays and win in one solid push. While on the other side, you have the solid grind game decks like H.A.T. or Geargia. These decks play so many backrow cards that pushing through all of it isn't an easy task. You basically need to blowout card such as judgment dragon or exciton knight backed by a solid answer to effect negation. So where does Goyo Guardian fit in? Realistically, he can only be played in decks that have the ability to make level 6 synchros. We're going to see him function a lot in lightsworn, as well as other rogue decks like Six Samurai, etc. In my personal opinion, Goyo will not have too much of an impact in games against control decks. However, in matches where speed is the name of the game, making a super clutch Goyo Guardian to steal your opponents monster and break their set up for next turn is pretty cool. I think the best place to make Goyo Guardian is going to be in lightsworn mirrors, against Mermail, Sylvans, etc.

GeargiaGear:

Oh boy, I really dislike this card. This single trap card alone allows access to so many things for Geargia. Being able to go first, set this and a Geargiarmor, backed by 2-3 other backrow cards was insanely strong. Chaining this at the end phase of your opponent's turn was amazing, because they were unable to respond to it with backrow they set that turn. You would get the ability to make Gear Gigant X next turn, and with a live armor search, you were basically in a golden position to set up plays. Konami did a really good thing by putting this card to 1. Overall I think that Geargia will still be a consistent deck, and will still see a lot of play, but this is definitely a hit to the consistency factor.

Magician of Faith:

This card didn't see any play at 1, so I don't see it getting much play at two either. It doesn't do much to help any deck this format, and in my opinion is not honestly worth running.

Formula Synchron:

I don't honestly see this card making too much of an impact aside from being ran at two in silly quasar things. Although the obvious statement to be made here is that with the release of Legendary Collection: 5d's being confirmed, we can definitely expect a formula synchron reprint.

Reinforcement Of The Army:

Getting another search card for warrior decks is pretty cool I suppose. With the noble knights of the round table box set being released, this boost doesn't surprise me much at all. Now Noble Knight players can't say "I lost because I didn't open Medraut." Because they can technically play 5 of them now.

Dimensional Prison/Mirror Force:

For the longest time, battle stoppers have been sort of irrelevant. I'm glad to see these two cards being put back to 3. With all of the super duper OTK's going on in lightsworns, and destruction effect being a thing, dimensional prison and mirror force will definitely be worth running, and if not ran at 3, definitely sideboarding your 3rd copy.

With that, I'd like to conclude my short ban list analysis. With the new format rolling in, I'm curious to see how the meta shifts.

Thanks again for reading, and see you next time.

- Ian Tezer

 
 
 
One players guide to Magic the Gathering ep.5 7/7/2014
Author: Nick R.
 

Welcome back to another installment of On the Draw. Sorry for the long hiatus in the articles I recently changed to a new job with some crazy hours, and finally found some time to breathe and relax, and write a little too!

With a new set approaching and to fill Standard with sets till M14 and the full Ravinca Block rotating out in the fall with the new block of Takir coming out, there are lots of amazing cards to play in standard. In this list I'll go over the Standard Cards with only a few months left to live in the current Standard Sets.

Lets go down the list, with all the most impact full cards in standard with only a few months to playability on them.

Pack Rat - The bogeyman that broke out of its shell with the release of Theros this card has been on a rampage the last 9 months of standard due to monoblack devotion.

Supreme Verdict - The best sweeper in the format, the uncountable all creature killer has put control on the map. This with 2 other cards being Sphinx's Revelation, and Detention Sphere. I for one will be happy when these trios of cards are rotated out of standard format.

Shock lands - This set of lands for each of the two color combinations have provided so much, to a wide range of decks. I think these lands are far better than the cycle of scry lands that we got in the Theros block.

Last but not least a quick list of other cards that will be out of standard rotation in a few months Archangel of Thune, Blood Baron of Vizkopa, Advent of the Wurm, Jace Architect of Thought, Young Pryomancer, Obzedat Ghost Council, Abrupt Decay and that land Mutavault. These are just a few of the cards that will rotate out of standard. Good amount of these cards will find themselves in different formats from modern to commander.

What favorite cards will you miss in the standard format, and which card are you most happy that will be leaving the format? I for one will miss my old pal Obzedat Ghost Council. For the past few months this guy has been an all-star in my standard Junk Midrange Deck (White, Green, & Black). See on the draw episode episode 3 for a brief rundown of the deck I use. He has been by far the best card in the deck most matches. I know I for one will have to think of a new deck type when the format changes.

The card I'm most happy to see go is Jace Artitect of Thought. I really despise this card. Between his plus 1 ability by powering down all of your attacking creatures by giving them a minus 1 power on the attack or his negative to draw cards into two piles and picking what to give your opened to use against you is dishearten. I hate that guy.

On that note pre-release weekend is upon us. This is best time to journey to your local card shop and check out what the new set has to offer.
Showtime Cards Presents:
Magic the Gathering M15 Pre-Release
Friday - July 11th 12:00 Midnight - Sealed
Saturday - July 12th 1:00pm - 2 Headed Giant
Sunday - July 13th 1:00pm - Sealed
$25.00 - Pre Register on website or at shop to ensure Kit color.
Pizza/Food for all participants at every Pre-Release Tournament.
Also, door prizes at every event!

I know I for one will be at the midnight release and the FNM beforehand. I always bring my commander deck to pass the time between FNM & the pre-release, this time I think I'll even bring my modern. The pre releases are always a blast, with a great atmosphere and a great group of people I always choose to go to Showtime Cards. Until next time I'll be on the Draw.

Happy gaming!, Nick R.

Sitting under the night sky; Constellar, and why it's under the radar 6/24/2014
Author: Ian Tezer
Showtime Cards Gaming Coordinator
 

Hey everyone, Ian here, this is going to be the first article I write for Showtime Cards.

Today my focus is to talk about one of my personal favorite decks, which is a deck I believe has a lot of potential to be one of the top decks of the format. The deck I'm referring to is none other than Constellar.

For a long time, this deck has been one of the "rogue" decks that you see at regionals or at locals, but hasn't really topped any events this format. One of the biggest reasons it was under the radar during previous formats was that decks like Fire Fist, Mermail, Dragons, and Spellbooks all outshined this deck with their ability to pump out constant board advantage and grind through back row cards. Overall, I feel like Constellar has a lot of potential to be competitive.

With the release of the set Primal Origins, we received two cards specifically that can help this deck tremendously. The release of Artifact Sanctum and Artifact Moralltach allows Constellar to have an answer to things even when they don't open the ability to make their boss monster. Now, you may be asking what could be so special about two cards that it opens up such amazing capability for a deck.

Well, Artifact Moralltach says that you can set it face down in your spell and trap card zone as a normal spell/trap card. Then, if it's destroyed while there during your opponent's turn, you can special summon it from the graveyard in face up attack position. Aside from the fact that Moralltach is level 5 and has 2100 attack points, its second effect is what really takes the cake. Moralltach's second effect is that when it is special summoned during your opponent's turn you can destroy one face up card your opponent controls. The best part about this is that his effect doesn't target since it applies at resolution. Moralltach has allowed access to getting over problematic cards like Bujin Yamato with a Bujingi Turtle in grave, and other such cards that can't be targeted for card effects.

Furthermore, Artifact Sanctum allows for essentially the same play, but you now have three more ways to do it. Sanctum is a normal trap card, but when you activate it, you special summon Moralltach from the deck, and if it was during your opponent's turn, you get the destruction effect of Moralltach. Secondly, Sanctum also says if it is destroyed while in your possession, you can destroy a face up card on the field. This is especially good, because if you activate it, and your opponent responds with Solemn Warning, you still get the effect to destroy a card on the field.

Now, for the main point of the article, how does this relate to the Constellar deck? Well, let's look at the Constellar boss monster. Constellar Pleiades is a rank 5 xyz monster that requires two level 5 light monsters. Constellar Kaus is the playmaker of the deck. He allows you to raise or lower the level of two Constellar monsters by one per turn. So you can make two level 5 Constellar monsters, which are all light, to xyz summon into Pleiades. With the addition of Moralltach, who is also a level 5 light monster, Constellar got a huge boost into consistency of making this card.

Overall, the addition of the Artifact cards into the deck has given a way for Constellar to keep up with the Meta, and to access Pleiades, as well as any other generic rank 5 monster they want. With this, I believe that a player who knows how to pilot the deck can bring down a lot of the commanding decks of the format. Constellar has always been one of my personal favorite decks, and I would love to see this deck do well at events in the future.

Thanks for taking the time to read, and I'll see you next time. Ian

 
 
 
Yu-Gi-Oh Regional Report 6/10/2014
Author: Elijah Shipman
 

Hey fellow duelists last weekend we had a regional qualifier in Phoenix, Arizona. Just days after the new set Dragons of Legend was released, I was able to take third place out of a field of over 300 players.

A month or so before the regionals I was pretty set on playing geargia at the event, my friend Sam had just recently topped YCS Vegas with it and he helped me with a list, well not even a week or so later soul charge was announced and that card alone completely deterred my desire to play geargia.

For the next week or so I was completely unsure of what to play. After some contemplation and theory - crafting I came to the conclusion the deck to play would either be a deck that can abuse soul charge or a deck that can counter soul charge effectively. I ended up going with the latter and decided I would choose evilswarms, I felt the tournament would be very saturated with mermail and dragons which is why evilswarms became my ultimate choice.

My reasons why evilswarm would be the best counter to these two decks was, if I would go first I would make an ophion for the blowout or if I go second versus an established board I could make exciton for the blowout, I also decided to main deck cards that would help break established boards or stop their construction.

Heres my main deck list from the event:

3 Evilswarm Heliotrope
3 Evilswarm Castor
3 Evilswarm Mandragora
3 Evilswarm Kerykeion
3 Evilswarm Thunderbird
1 Rescue Rabbit
2 Maxx "C"
3 Infestation Pandemic
3 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Book of Moon
1 Dark Hole
1 Reinforcement of the Army
2 Soul charge
1 Infestation Infection
1 Torrential Tribute
1 Compulsory Evacuation Device
1 Bottomless Trap Hole
1 Solemn Warning
1 Needle Ceiling
2 Black Horn of Heaven
2 Dimensional Prison
2 Fiendish Chain

The only main deck choices that may seem off is the 2 soul charge and needle ceiling, my reasoning for soul charge is that soul charge helps you come back from disadvantage and is also used to make your board more unbreakable. Some examples of what I did was use evilswarm exciton knight to clear the field then soul charge to make evilswarm ophion. I liked needle ceiling because it served as a second dark hole or torrential to help break established boards. I felt my deck could main needle ceiling effectively because of cards like thunderbird and pandemic.

So without further ado let's get into how my rounds went:

Round 1: Evilswarm vs Assault Mode.dek

My opponent states this is his first regional and is still filling out his decklist, I see assault mode cards written on it and assume he's new to the game/competitive scene.

Game 1. I make Ophion cutting him off from his decks main strategy and quickly take out his life points

Game 2. he makes assault mode immediately on my turn. I open 5 swarm monsters and actually have a chance to counter it by going Mandragora Castor to make Bahamut Force the assault negation summon Kerkion to get Castor back and make Ophion, however I decide to attack first instead of making Ophion and get mirror forced, I lose shortly after.

Game 3. I make Ophion turn 1 and that seals it.

Record: X-0

Round 2: Evilswarm vs Photon

This kid is also new and got a round 1 bye

Game 1. I keep constant pressure with monsters and he can't handle the aggressiveness.

Game 2. Unfortunately for him he bricked in a match up that's tough for photon anyway. My constant monster pressure took the game rather quickly.

Record: X-0

Round 3: Evilswarm vs Fire Fist.

Before the round I was walking around and saw this gentleman playing, so I came into the match knowing what he was playing.

Game 1. I have a thunderbird going and a good amount of backrow, I just keep applying pressure to him backed up with pandemic and he dies quickly as he is never able to even resolve a bear.

Game 2. He goes into the Spirit Leopard Wombo Combo turn 1. Thankfully I had Dark Hole combo'd with Rescue Rabbit and Mind Crush.

The Heliotropes summoned off of Rescue Rabbit attack for damage and when I go to make Ophion he fiendish chains. On my next turn I go Castor into Kerk but Kerk is shunted by Shadow Mirror, my opponent has a Rooster, Tenki, Tensu , and Shadow Mirror up, I attack with my monsters then make exciton, and set mind crush for the blowout. He's left top decking and Dark Holes my exciton. Next turn I Soul Charge for Heliotrope Castor and he scoops.

Record: X-0

Round 4: I am paired against my good friend, Dom. Who I know is playing Spellbooks for the event.

Game 1. I win the dice roll and make Ophion turn 1. He isn't able to resolve his spellbook magician as I have fiendish chain. He continues to draw badly, he is unable to resolve spellbook of fate to shunt my board and quickly loses.

Game 2. He goes first, sets up his Blue Boy, Tower, and Backrow which I know fate is one of. I set a bunch of cards, summon a Heliotrope and poke over his Blue Boy. On his turn I flip Mistake, he slowly loses the game due to not being able to search his spellbook cards.

Record: X-0

Round 5: Evilswarm vs Hand Deck (Cody)

Unfortunately I have to play one of our local players, Cody, this round, and I'm aware he's playing a form of the Fire/Ice hand deck.

Game 1. I open Thunderbird 2 d prison plus other backrow and just decide to be very aggressive which works out because all his monsters are smaller than mine, once he finally sees a hand I have warning to shunt it.

Game 2. I have Thunderbird going with some backrow and I attempted to use my sided in Soul Dragon and Dimensional Fissure against him. I'm in hopes these cards will help me win against his fire hand but he has twister and typhoon. On my next turn since hes already used warning this game I drop exciton into his 5 backrow and it resolves, sorry bro.

Record: X-0

Round 6: Evilswarm vs Harpies

I'm currently at table 1 and I'm playing against a dude I met in ARG Vegas, who happens to be playing the same deck he was playing there which is Harpies.

Game 1. I attack into a magical hats allowing him to resolve Hysteric Sign. Next turn he uses hunting ground to sweep my backrow and I proceed to lose very quickly.

Game 2. This game was very back and forth for a while, he eventually top decks hysteric sign to pitch for his hysteric party and proceeds to OTK me.

This round kind of upset me and I actually got a little tilted but my friend Abdullah cheers me up and gets me off of tilt.

Record: X-1

Round 7: Evilswarm vs Mermails

Game 1. He goes first setting a monster and 2 backrow. I play dark hole and hit his Abysslinde, when Linde attempts to activate I chain Maxx "C" to draw a card. He summons Abyssleed off of Linde's effect.

I drop castor into heliotrope and excition his field, clearing a typhoon and mirror force. He tops aqua spirit to go with his in hand abyssturge and makes bahamut and runs over exciton.

He then uses Bahamut's effect to summon abysstrite. Next turn I soul charge for 2 monsters and make Number 101: Silent honor ARK and suck up his Bahamut Shark; I set black horn and end my turn. He draws and then passes. I kerykeion into blackship and sink his trite, he sets one backrow and passes. I attack he spheres for linde, but instead of attacking I go into mp2 and sink the linde with blackship for game.

Game 2. He sets 2 backrow and passes. I castor into ophion and he black horns, I soul charge and make another ophion, he draws no discard for his infantry and loses pretty quick.

Record: X-1

Round 8: Evilswarm vs Spellbooks

Game 1. He merely activates Crescent and sets 2 then passes. I decide I need to kill him as quickly as possible before he can out grind me with Tower and Fate, so I summon Castor and Thunderbird and the attacks get through. Next turn he Blue Boys and gets him powered, he uses spellbook of the master and secrets to search wisdom and fate. I drop more monsters onto the board and get him down to 2k range, next turn he power masters another blue boy and im about to scoop due to his sheer amount of advantage versus me, but I top kerykeion with pandemic allowing me to get enough damage in.

Game 2. He opens horrible to my double mistake Mandragora combo. I keep poking him to death and when he tries to go for a Temperance play I Torrential.

Record: X-1

Round 9: Evilswarm vs Geargia

This guy is the only undefeated player left in the tournament, and is down paired against me. He politely gives me the win to guarantee that we both top. Nice guy.

Final Record: X-1

So after pairings are posted I get 3rd. My friend Abe also top taking 7th.

Overall I enjoyed my experience and have no regrets about choosing to play Evilswarm. I thought I'd see a lot of Dragon Ruler and Mermail variants at this regionals but that proved not to be the case. Thanks for reading my report, hopefully my experiences will help you craft your own deck theories and will give you some insight on the competitive Yu-Gi-Oh scene and receive a mat and deck box, also my friend from Yuma and my and 8th place respectively.

 
 
 
More Than Just a Game:
A Quick Guide to Maintaining Your Magic Collection's Value
6/10/2014
Author: Matt Marks
 

Whether you are buying booster packs from newly released sets or singles of cards specifically needed for a deck, you can't play the game of Magic without spending some money. But it is important to keep in mind that Magic is more than just a game. It is the longest running collectible trading card game in existence, having been around for more than two decades. And the variety of formats allow for cards to remain in demand years after their initial printing. If you have ever looked up the price for a Black Lotus or any of the Power 9, then you know first hand just how valuable cards can become over time. But like comic books, collectible toys or sports cards, the condition the card is in can greatly affect its value. Going back to the ol' Lotus, the price difference between a NM (near-mint) and a SP (slightly played) card is pretty drastic...like $3,500 compared to $1,000. And that doesn't even include the ultra-rare gem mint price: $100,000. Of course this is the most expensive card in existence but the concept is the same. If you want your cards to maintain their value, you have to take care of them. Not sure if they really will maintain their value? Let's examine some examples of cards from across the formats.

 

 

If you play Modern, then you have definitely at some point played against an Affinity or Pod deck. These two cards are staples of these popular decks, and thus have maintained a pretty good value over the years. Mox Opal, from the Scars of Mirrodin expansion set, is still sitting around $30 for a NM card. Birthing Pod, from New Phyrexia, is at about $12. So three years later, these cards are still seeing play and holding on to value.

How about this ol' fella?

Perhaps the most powerful and thus broken Planeswalker to be printed, the Mind Sculptor has hovered between $80 and $100 for years now. You think he'll ever drop in price? Me neither.

Re-printings are another way that older cards become relevant again and can go up in value or at least demand. Thoughtsieze and Mutavault are current Standard Legal cards that originated in past sets. You still have your Thoughtsieze from Lorwyn? It's going for anywhere from $25 to $85 based on condition. The cards of yesteryear may just get reprinted in a set down the road and will be in demand once more.

Everyone knows this guy, and everyone wants this guy. You have one? Keep it in good condition and it will do nothing but increase in value.

City of Brass is a land from 5th etc. It still gets played and still has value. While it may only be around $5-6, the Arabian Nights version is going for between $60 and $80. Guess what the difference in price is based on. Yep, NM vs. SP. If you had a playset (4 copies) of this card that you took good care of you'd have an extra $80 total compared to if you didn't take care of the cards. Mana Confluence, from the most recent set Journey into Nyx, is a card that operates similarly. This card will definitely maintain its value as it can fit well into any format currently and is a "better" City of Brass. Keep your eyes out for Ed. through 8th Ed., Arabian Nights, Modern Masters, cards that could fit well into a variety of formats or that are unique (an effect not printed on any other card in existence).

Here is a quick guide on how to maintain your collection to prevent loss of value with time.

First off, avoid heat and sunlight and moisture. Your cards are ink on paper. Paper doesn't like moisture and the ink doesn't like sunlight or heat. Here in Tucson, many of us have noticed that you can open a booster and then put it in the center console to drive home, where you will then notice the cards are now slightly warped. Heat! I have stacks of cards sitting around my house, and I always turn the top card of the stack over. I don't necessarily care as much if the back of the card gets some fading, as long as the front of the card doesn't fade. My stacks may not be in direct sunlight, but open a curtain and ambient solar radiation will find its way to the beautiful bright colors and turn them into a dull, washed out color.

Next, keep them from getting scratched up. Just picking up a stack of cards and flipping through them creates tiny grooves and scratches that may not be immediately visible but will accumulate with time. Setting cards down, a stack sliding over, or an accidental drop can blunt or bend corners. Luckily, there is a simple solution. Sleeves. Most people use sleeves for competitive play, but oftentimes the cards are only "sleeved up" right beforehand. One thing I have always done is to keep the majority of my cards in penny sleeves. Called penny sleeves because of their cost, you can get a back of 100 clear plastic sleeves for a buck and change. Going through a booster box or Fat Pack? When you hit that rare or foil, sleeve it up. If you have been doing this for a while, go back and look at some of the cards you sleeved up from years prior. The sleeves are gnarly. Scratched up, bent, dirty. Guess what? That only cost you a penny. Take off the sleeve, put it in a new one and poof! The card is as good as new. You can put 4 cards safely in one penny sleeve too, so feel free to put a playset of commons in a single sleeve; it'll make your life much easier when you decide to play that card and all 4 copies are together. Playmats are another way to keep cards safe while playing, but only applies to a single deck at a time. Everyone has his or her favorite sleeves. UltraPro and DragonShield are some of the more popular brands, featuring a variety of colors, themes and finishes. Be it matte black or shiny pink, you can find sleeves that fit your personality or deck. Is Jace, the Mind Sculptor looking sad in a penny sleeve? Hard plastic covers, like those commonly used for sport cards, provide a sound and strong alternative. You can get ones that use a magnet to close or a screw depending on how often you think you will need to access to it. I keep my most expensive cards in hard plastic. I may not keep all cards in sleeves but Mythics, Rares, and good Uncommons are definitely getting penny sleeved. I typically don't like to put more than one Rare or Mythic per penny sleeve, but I may be a bit more obsessive/compulsive than you. Sleeves also keep oils from your fingers from making smudges on the cards. And yes they protect against soda as I have learned the hard way. Spill a drink on your stack? Quickly pull them out and blot off any moisture. I saved a playset of Cavern of Souls and Thundermaw Hellkites this way.

Storage of cards is another vital step to maintaining a collection's value. It is a collection so treat it as such. It may be convenient to toss them in a pile somewhere but it's not so much when you actually need to find something. A SuperShoeBox is a box designed specifically for holding cards. It typically has 3 or 4 rows, is made of cardboard and has a fit-over lid. Start out with one, and as your collection grows you can add more boxes. UltraPro deck boxes are another great way to store cards. They are compact and great for travel, and are big enough to hold your deck and sideboard and even a few tokens. Some deck boxes even are made of hard plastic and feature a bottom compartment for storing dice. If you only keep a few decks on hand at a time, a deck box may be better for you than the SuperShoe. The boxes that come with Fat Packs are also great for storing cards. All of these methods allow you to store cards in or out of sleeves, upright, and easily accessible. Sorting cards at this point can also be helpful. Cards can be sorted by color, set or rarity. Binders are a great way to store, protect and make cards available for easy access. UltraPro makes binders with the sheets built in or you can get any 3-ring binder and buy the 9-card pages to put inside.

Finally, make sure that you are shuffling your decks in a way that does not bend the cards. Everyone knows how to shuffle and bridge a deck of playing cards, but those are cards that you can throw away and buy a whole new deck for super cheap. More than likely your Esper Control or Junk Midrange decks will cost hundreds and thus shuffling in this manner is not a good idea. There are ways to shuffle without bending such as breaking into two stacks, fanning one out slightly and pushing the other down on to it. Another great way is to deal them out into 3 piles (1,2,3,1,2,3,1 etc.) or 5 piles if you prefer. Once the piles are made stack them up and cut the deck and you are good to go. Every time I see someone shuffle Magic cards as if they're playing Black Jack or Poker, my soul cringes. Way to bend your Brimaz. I guess that means mine will go up in value.

Buying Magic cards is the only way to get a deck to play but it can also be an investment. Like any collection, the better care that is taken the better the value will be maintained. Treat your cards well and spend the extra few bucks to get sleeves and a box. If you ever decide to sell your collection, you will be glad you did.

 
 
 
On The Draw 5/14/2014
Author: Nick Riess
 

Welcome to another thrilling On the Draw! In this article I'll go over the new exciting Journey into Nyx cards and the new standard decks you can make. I'll even go into depth on the Hour of Strive deck I'll be running for Friday Night Magic.

As always all of the pre-release events were a blast. Hopefully you had a chance to attend one and dabble in the fun. Journey into Nyx has a ton of brand new exciting cards that will hopefully change the face of the standard format.

Currently there are 7 sets that are legal to play in standard decks (Return to Ravinca, Gatecrash, Dragons Maze, M14, Theros, Born of the Gods, & Journey into Nyx). This provides a lot of different options as to which deck to play. The new deck up for my test run is built around one card and the amazing possibilities for this card.

This card is no other then Battlefield Thaumaturage. A 2/1 for a blue and colorless and an ability making to be used with the new mechanic called strive which lets you target more creatures for effects.

This deck features 8 mana producers and 23 Lands. This deck has two good win conditions, one is to clone Biovisionay and win the game a bloodless way and the other way is to use Hour of Need and transform your Elvish Mystic and your other mana enablers into 4/4 Flying Sphinx's at the end of your opponents turn and swing in for massive damage during your turn.

 

I played this deck at my last Friday Night Magic at Showtime cards and ended at 2-1- it was a blast to play! My only match loss was to a Red/Green Monster deck that just over powered this Blue/Green deck. If I had to make any changes it would be to add more of Kiora, the Crashing Wave. She was an all-star in all of the games that she presented herself in the battlefield for. I even got to her ultimate abilities twice to make 9/9 Krakens every turn.

 

It's always a great time to try out new decks and ideas whenever a new set is out. My best advice is to take a look at all of your commons and uncommons and find ways for cards to go together and what cards play off each other well, which is exactly what I did with Hour of Need. Friday Night Magic is the best test ground to try out your new decks. There's no other place that has so many different decks to test play against.

So build your deck and come get your Magic on at Showtime Cards for Friday Night Magic. Events start at 7pm and the cost is $5 dollars. The top four win promos with 3-0 getting 4 packs and all 2-1's receiving 1 pack.

Also this Saturday, May 17th, there is a special Limited Magic Tournament with an entrance fee of $20 which provides you with a Journey Prerelease Kit. So if you didn't make it to the pre-release weekend or if you want another shot at this type event - here is your opportunity! I hope to see you there!
Happy gaming! Nick R.

 
 
 
 
Playing the X 4/28/2014
Author: Matt Marks
 

There are not many cards printed that use an "X" in the casting cost or activated ability cost. Typically the cards that do become widely used and find applications in a variety of decks. What it truly does is allow you to cast insane cards that can and should always turn the game in your favor.

X can represent a variety of things. It can be related to colorless mana, devotion to a color, total number of a specific land type controlled, the number of creatures in play or attacking/blocking, the amount of life gained or lost in a turn, a player's life total, a creature's power or toughness, or the number of cards in a player's hand. It can be found on creatures, artifacts, planeswalkers or non-creature spells.

Let's look at some of those cards making an impact in the Standard format and some that have not yet thus far.

Anyone who has competitively played Magic at all in this current block has either played against or they themselves play a U/W/x control deck. Be it Azorius, Esper or Bant, Sphinx's Revelation has defined the metagame and influenced the cards other decks are forced to play. Thoughtsieze is around partly to strip it from an opponent's hand and Spirit of the Labyrinth sees some sideboard action to prevent the Revelation going off fully. Not to mention the inclusion of Skull Crack in many burn decks to cut off the other side of this spell.

The counterpart to Sphinx's Revelation: Rakdos's Return. Instead of gaining life and drawing cards you force your opponent to discard and lose life. When the Lord of Riots makes his return, there's not much one can do about it. Like the Revelation, if you see someone playing these colors and starting to accumulate a lot of mana sources, be wary. Rakdos's Return has seen competitive play in R/B decks as well as Jund Monsters and Grixis Control.

This last guy really needs no explanation. Almost every devotion deck that features black as one of the colors is definitely going to be playing four copies of this card. It pairs especially well with the notorious Pack Rat since the tokens it makes are copies and so also have a black mana symbol in their casting cost. For a common, the Gray Merchant has had one of the greatest impacts on the game. This is evident in the sheer number of Mono-Black Devotion decks that have won or Top 8'd tournaments with slight variations of the chosen 75 cards.

Now for some of the "X" cards that haven't seen much play:

Despite being able to replace the X with a 1 to break through for early damage or shut down a control opponent's rebuttals during your turn, Aurelia's Fury has not gotten much love. The same can be said for Biomass Mutation. Perhaps the addition of Kruphix, God of Horizons will change the Simic growth spell's usability by allowing you to hoard colorless man