Going Mad – Planeswalkers in Love

By Derek Madlem - Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Let’s preface this by saying this is arguably the most absurd article I’ve ever written. What inspired it? A Twitter conversation about Planeswalkers in love. I know, right?! It’s somewhat absurd to think about at this point, but it’s a real thing. Wizards is in the process of making a feature film and has made great strides to leverage Magic’s star characters into more than just characters in a card game, Hasbro wants another blockbuster franchise to pick up where Transformers is slacking off. As some of you already knew, and others will after reading this Uncharted Realms, Jace and Liliana once had a romance… as it turns out, making pacts with a series of demons and erasing people’s memories of you are not the hallmarks of a healthy relationship.

While the story of Jace and Liliana’s romance is history, the story inspired a question: which Planeswalker is most likely to end up in a relationship? Which inspired another question: which Planeswalkers are most likely to have a Super-Planeswalker baby? That’s why we’re here today, to write a serious article about something absolutely absurd: Planeswalker babies.

But if we’re to embark on such an absurd premise we need to go about it scientifically and logically, this isn’t the Enquirer after all… this is real journalism.

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Going Mad – Don’t Call it a Comeback

By Derek Madlem - Friday, June 26, 2015

See what I did there? If not, read this.

I haven’t been playing much Magic recently, my time has has me traveling to either end of the country slinging cards with a variety of vendors. When you’re traveling five days in a week for Magic, the last thing you REALLY want to do is play Magic when you get back… especially when you have a wife that wants to spend time with you; I know, first world problems right?

Finally after a number of months, I had a chance to actually play some Magic at the SCG Modern IQ in my hometown of Indianapolis. I had ambitions to play Legacy, but working with Hotsauce Games on Saturday night left me feeling pretty exhausted and Modern started an hour later, and I already had a deck together – the decision was easy.

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Filed in Derek Madlem, Modern, MythicMTG.com News, Tournament Reports

Going Mad – Sometimes You Need a Bigger Rock

By Derek Madlem - Friday, June 12, 2015

In case you haven’t figured this out yet: everything in Magic is cyclical. We’re all familiar with the Rock Lobster, Paper Tiger, Scissors Lizard nature of the Magic tournament metagames. We know to switch archetypes as the foundation shifts to adapt to what we expect to play and we know that despite the fact that paper beats rock (sometimes), we know that rock is easily just the best.

“Rock” in Magic has long referred to the GBx decks of the format, whether those be Jund, Abzan, or Sultai, they basically play in a similar manner. Combine targeted discard with diverse removal and the best creatures in the game and crush to victory. Rock decks take up the midrange game, giving them play against both ends of the spectrum while being just fast enough to kill a combo player in a reasonable amount of time thanks to precision discard spells like Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek. But sometimes you need to beat a room full of rocks, so you need a bigger rock.

For as long as Jund has been a thing in Modern (since the beginning), there’s been one deck that’s been positioned exceptionally well at just smashing it with a bigger rock: Tron.

The deck gets its name from a cartoon in the 1980s called Voltron where a team of robot cats assembled to form the galaxy’s greatest protector… a precursor to Power Rangers in a number of ways. Just think, there is an alternate reality where this deck is referred to as “Zords”.

Urza’s Power PlantUrza’s MineUrza’s Tower

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Going Mad – Tarmogoyfs and Pro Pay

By Derek Madlem - Friday, June 5, 2015

If you’re anything like me, or any other Magic player I’ve ever met, you love a good Magic controversy. There’s something appealing on another level entirely when there’s a little blood in the water and the piranha start circling, especially when they’re turning on one of their own. There were hundreds of stories from GPVegas that could have bubbled up to the surface for public discourse, but one festering turd crested the water with far greater force than all the others.

Am I talking about the 8100 people that preregistered vs the mid-7000s that actually played? Nope. While I am sure that there are still people that think dropping after you open a sealed pool but before you pass is a crime against humanity, that fight is long over and there’s simply no reason to bring it back up other than to point out that logistically it’s absurd to expect judges to track down and deal with people who simply “walk off” with their sealed pools rather than just allowing them to drop. You’ll notice a clear divide between the two sides of this argument: the people that are successful at Magic and the people that feel it’s a game. While this argument itself has run it’s course, the people championing the practice of someone else opening good cards and passing them to you are far outnumbered.
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Going Mad – Taking a Break

By Derek Madlem - Saturday, May 30, 2015

Magic is a game that can cause immense frustration and feelings of intense chronic-indifference. Breaks are an absolute necessity if you want to maintain any semblance of sanity. Even the most stalwart cardboard hero needs time away from the game now and then… whether that break is a necessity for mental health or if it’s caused caused purely by outside circumstances. You never know when you’re going to fall into a position jetsetting around the country working Magic events sandwiched between family vacations and acquaintance based obligations.


Other times, you might feel such overwhelming apathy for the game that you can’t even be bothered to put on shoes and drive to the local game store for a weekly tournament. You can find yourself buried in frustration as losses pile up and win streaks are diced up under the oppressive back and forth of the pendulum. Magic is a game of averages, and during those weeks when wins turn to losses, it can be a hard pill to swallow.
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Going Mad – Getting into Modern

By Derek Madlem - Friday, May 15, 2015

With the release of Modern Masters 2015 edition right around the corner, it’s a great time to consider getting into Modern if you haven’t already. Reprints for a number of the formats rarest and most expensive cards will create a number of opportunities to buy in at a reasonable price. But it’s not out yet, so what can you do before hand to get ready?

Your best bet is likely to be picking up the cards that did not get reprinted so that you’re able to quickly slot in those reprints and get to battling right away.

The Modern Masters series has breathed new life into an age-old archetype in Modern: Affinity … nevermind that it plays nearly zero cards with the affinity mechanic on them.


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Going Mad – Modern Masters II

By Derek Madlem - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

In case you haven’t heard, Modern Masters 2015 is right around the corner. If being the centerpiece for the largest Magic tournament ever held is not enough, these cards are sure to have an impact on card availability and the decks people bring to your local Modern tournaments. But this format wasn’t made purely for constructed, it’s also a draft environment. We’ve already got a couple clear strategies shaping up for the draft format.

Eldrazi Temple

Modern Masters is shaping up to be a “clash of worlds” with major draft strategies drawing heavily from their parent block. Eldrazi are easily the most dramatic of the strategies. By moving Eldrazi Temple to uncommon, we could reasonably see more than one copy show up in a draft pool powering out the lower end of the Eldrazi swarm like Artisan of Kozilek … but also you can expect to occasionally run into the big man himself:


And his dear friend Ulamog …
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Going Mad – Tetsuo Umezawa, the Tiny Leader

By Derek Madlem - Sunday, May 3, 2015

We’ve all heard of Umezawa’s Jitte and assumed that it belonged to Toshiro Umezawa … but I like to pretend otherwise. I like to rep’ it old school because I’ve been around long enough to know that it was Tetsuo Umezawa that defeated Nicol Bolas and locked him away for ages.

Tetsuo Umezawa

I admit, that as of writing this article I know basically nothing about Tiny Leaders. Nobody at the shops I play at locally has really picked up this format … but seeing as I am a veritable pillar of the Magic community I cannot leave a segment of it ignored. I chose Tetsuo for a couple reasons beyond just representing the old school.

First, Tetsuo is the only Grixis colored Tiny Leader and he has the super powerful ability that he can’t be target of aura spells (sarcasm). He also does some sweet things in combat, so there’s that.

The main reason I chose Tetsuo is that Tiny Leaders appears to be a competitive format with smaller decks, meaning there’s a lot of edge to be gained playing a deck that combines combo pieces or takes advantage of the 50 card starting size – confession, I really just wanted to play Laboratory Maniac. I’ve never played with the Lab Maniac and this seemed like the perfect chance to include him as a win condition … but where to start?
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Going Mad – Rock and a Hard Place

By Derek Madlem - Thursday, April 23, 2015

On a long enough timeline every player is going to experience peaks and valleys. Right now, I’m in a valley … check that, I’m in a chasm of defeat. Ultimately I know that a major portion of that is due to my choice in decks, but if formats are “balanced” you should be able to show up with basically any style of deck and manage a 2-2 record if you know what you’re doing. Not me!

Standard: 3-1
Standard Game Day: 2-2
Standard Game Day: 1-3
Standard: 0-2 drop
Modern: 1-2 (and the win doesn’t even count because my opponent was playing a red / blue vampires deck)


But ultimately the pendulum swings both ways and these results are ultimately based on the fact that I made poor deck choices. Choosing a deck in the middle that has decent matchups against the edges is often a safe way to go, but every once in a while those decks that are 55% against the field shift to 40% against the field and that Rock deck becomes gravel.
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Going Mad – Sultai Shenanigans

By Derek Madlem - Friday, April 17, 2015

I’m going to start on a bit of a soap box here because frankly, that’s what I do. There are dinosaurs in Magic, it’s happened. We had Pygmy Allosaurus in Ice Age and it clearly says dinosaur as the creature type … APPARENTLY all of Magic’s dinosaurs have been reclassified as lizards. So for the rest of my life, I’ll have to look at Deathmist Raptor and say “raptors are not dinosaurs” and deny myself any fantasies of my pack of Deathmist Raptors running alongside Chris Pratt on a motorcycle.

Deathmist Chris

I admit that I was initially extremely underwhelmed by Deathmist Raptor, it just wasn’t a Vengevine and I really disliked morph cards in general, why should I have to pay for a card twice to get a nominal effect? As a general life policy, I don’t do layaway at KMart so I shouldn’t be doing layaway in a game of Magic either. The thing that I failed to take into account was context, a 3/3 Deathtouch creature could be relatively worthless if it’s in the same world as lightning bolt (Glissa, the Traitor) or it can become the absolute wrecking ball that it is in this format.
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Filed in Derek Madlem, MythicMTG.com News, Standard