Bringing Reanimator Back from the Dead

I love reanimator.

Reanimator is sending me to Worlds this year and has gotten me to at least Stage 2 of every event I have played with it this season. Although the change to singleton Markets has diminished the deck’s consistency, I still think that it can power through metas when it’s not expected.

While reanimator can have draws that autopilot to a turn five win, most are not so straightforward. This is a primer I put together to help people unfamiliar with playing reanimator or those players who want to get better at the nuanced decisions to be successful with the deck.

Reanimator, colacoma’s Top 32 Throne Spring Championship.
The Combo

Vara, Fate-Touched; Azindel, Revealed; and Grasping at Shadows

At its heart, reanimator is a combo deck. The key to deck is resolving Grasping at Shadows returning Vara and then Azindel from your void. Azidel brings two Shadow units which allows you to bring two more and pretty soon your entire void is on the table ready to smash. These three cards make the deck and I wouldn’t consider cutting any copies of any of them.

I’ve seen some lists that run a single Grasp in the Market with 8 Smugglers. The advantage to maindecking them is: 1) you have more high-roll potential by drawing one naturally and 2) you have backup copies if you get negated. It is worth noting that many games play slow enough that you just hit eight power and play Vara naturally, so losing your Grasps to something like Rain of Frogs is not game breaking. With more copies of Grasp, you can also just grab Azindel and it’s often good enough on its own. Returning just Harbringer or Icaria to fight aggressive decks is often powerful too. While in Magical Christmas Land you can always wait for a full combo, in real life that’s not always the case and often not necessary.

The Enablers/Draw

Herald’s Song, Master Cartographer, Sporefolk, Honor of Claws, Back Alley-Delinquent, Strategize

These are the cards that get combo pieces into the void. While it may not seem important on the surface, the order in which you play these cards is vital. Against aggressive decks you need the chump blockers to survive until you can combo, but in midrange/control matchups you need the Sabotages to clear their answers before you can go for it. Sporefolk you rarely want to play before you have SSSPPP for Felrauk. Ordering these cards is the most difficult part of piloting the deck.

The Grind

Felrauk the Outcast; Blightmoth; Black-Sky Harbinger; Icaria, First Reaper

While reanimator has been a thing ever since Grasp was printed, I feel like Felrauk really makes the deck (especially after Privilege of Rank was nerfed). This card is huge in both aggressive and control matches as it provides card advantage, a body to trade, breaks aegis to make way for sabotage, and can be a legitimate win condition. Also, it feels great to mill two with a Sporefolk.

Blightmoth, Harbinger, and Icaria serve as board control before and after you combo off. Depending on the meta, these are the cards that I switch in numbers or add/drop. Blightmoth has the added benefit of triggering Vara when it dies, and Harbinger triggers Azindel. Learning when to hold these to cast from hand and when to dump them for later reanimation is also key, and in the more grindy games you’ll often want to get two bites of the apple with your big guys.

The Market

Royal Decree, Hailstorm, Cobalt Waystone, Desecrate, Linrei’s Kiss

I think Royal Decree (against control/combo), Hailstorm (against aggro), and Cobalt Waystone (power with the potential upside of aegis) are all pretty straight forward. Desecrate can help against a big unit but is more there to answer Vanquisher’s Blade or Reality Warden. Linrei’s Kiss is to go get Grasp or Vara. This is much weaker than playing a Grasp in the market before the market nerf but a passable option. Our team has tried Re-read in this spot but it was too inconsistent.

As this deck stands it scoops to Adjudicator’s Gavel. This was strictly a meta call for this event. Burglarize is a good market option if you expect relic hate.

Playing reanimator

Piloting reanimator is nuanced, as you can play it either as a straight combo deck or as a grindy control deck with the combo to kill. A lot of your power will come into play exhausted but you really want to have SSSPPP for Felrauk, so it may be correct to miss plays and play exhausted power in order to have Felrauk power earlier. Against an unknown opponent this decision is largely made based on your opening hand. The key decision points:

1) Should I mulligan?

Besides the obvious cases of too few/many power, this really comes down to the question of can my hand follow a game plan. If you have any mix of enablers and combo pieces the answer is usually yes. It is worth noting that following a game plan doesn’t mean can it combo: some of the best hands involve a turn three Back Alley discarding Felrauk and playing Sabotage. If you have a good grindy hand it is as good (if not better) than a good combo hand.

2) Can I get a quick combo?

If yes, the answer is usually to set up and go for it, unless…

3) Do I think my opponent is on Harsh Rule?

If yes, you need to Sabotage/Royal Decree them before going off. Even if you have a quick combo it’s better to play a slow game and lean on your hand control elements. Protect your combo pieces from cards like Royal Decree or Rain of Frogs by getting them out of your hand ASAP. Planning your reanimation around Harsh Rules is also important. You will get Harsh Rule’d, so you don’t want to give all your Azindel’s voidbound when it happens. Winning through a single Harsh Rule by having a second reanimation turn is common. The second Harsh Rule hurts a lot more than the first.

4) Do I just need to survive?

Against fast aggressive decks you basically just need to hold on as long as possible. Back Alley’s three toughness is pretty useful here, and if you can sabotage out a torch to keep him in play he can buy you a lot of time against some decks. While aggressive decks in general are not a good matchup, reanimator plays better against the very low to the ground ones where Back Alley, Blightmoth, and eventually Harbinger shine. The more mid rangy ones like Stonescar are rougher.

Playing against reanimator

Reanimator is usually a meta call, so its appearance is usually cyclical. When people are playing mostly mid-range and no hate reanimator becomes good until it is hated out of the format. People stop playing the hate and reanimator rears its head again.

As a midrange or aggressive deck you basically want to go as fast as possible. Usually there aren’t any sweeps except in the market so you need to pressure them as quickly as possible. Use removal on blockers ASAP and just go full face.

As a control deck your goal is to take out as many of the key cards as possible. Turn to Seed is super powerful in doing this (and may eventually kill reanimator) as well as Rain of Frogs or Royal Decree with Onslaught. Transpose is also a very nice tool, as reanimator can break slow speed Aegis to get in with sabotage, but the fast speed Aegis will protect your key cards. Control decks with these tools don’t need to pack void hate, as the deck is just naturally very good against reanimator.

Conclusions

If you like high rolling and big explosive turns, try reanimator. It’s a fun deck with many more play decisions than you may realize. I want to thank my teammate and childhood friend, imsobad, with whom I worked with to initially build the deck. It was a wild run that took us both to the Promises by Fire ECQ finals where I edged him out in the mirror to punch my ticket to Worlds. When the time comes I promise that, if reanimator is anywhere near playable, I will be playing it.

Spring Challenge – Throne

We should start by thanking TheBoxer for shaking up the Spring Challenge – Throne meta last minute and presenting us with a disgusting Even Vox brew. As a team, we took a mix of decks to get a feel for the upcoming ECQ. Myself and a few others brought Skycrag Control (Spellcrag) while others played Skycrag Aggro, Reanimator, and Even Vox.

There were more than enough Vox decks in the Top 64 and it just shows how fast a meta can change from one week to the next. The other dominant decks were Ixtun Control, Spellcrag, FTJ Midrange, Skycrag and Stonescar Aggro (expect less aggro in the meta with the upcoming card changes), and one beautiful relic deck piloted by TGP’s Batteriez.

As the newest member of The Misplay, I really wanted to make an impact and share my knowledge and experience. [Edit: Oh, he did.] I ended Stage 1 21-7 and advanced all the way to the Top 4 before losing to TheBergund on Ixtun Control. I’m pretty sure I’ve shed the nickname “the rookie”. I want to thank the team who helped test and piece together our list, especially Piereese our resident Spellcrag guru who just missed the cut at 18-10.

Parmele also earned a Top 64 spot on Spellcrag. Parmele adds, “I finally played the right deck. Podcast listeners will be proud. We identified Spellcrag as being powerful pretty early and I was able to get a lot more reps in than usual. I am still nowhere near proficient at the decision making required to call myself an expert pilot. My 19-9 was more a testament to the strength of the deck than my play.”

chicityshogun (20-8) and Deedub (17-11) both played Skycrag Aggro. chicityshogun has been on a historic hot streak in major events and unfortunately we were paired up in the Top 16 where I edged him out.

Doc28 made the bold choice to go with Even Vox and it paid off (19-9). Like myself, he made it all the way to the Top 4. He had some wild matches and we heard him say several times, “I can’t believe I just won that!” Turns out, he says, “Karvet is good in the mirror.”

Congrats to the whole team for another excellent showing with half of the playing-group again making the Top 64. We’re looking forward to seeing how the balance changes shake up the meta ahead of the next ECQ.

Check out three of the team’s decks in the Top 16 Decklists.

Winners and Losers from Whispers of the Throne

Whispers of the Throne has finally released, injecting a batch of new cards into Throne and Expedition. History shows us that campaigns (and mini-campaigns) tend to dramatically shake up formats; in the Tales of Horus Traver, big bad Tavrod crashed the party and stomped all over his competition. Although he was never nerfed, Tavrod’s presence defined Eternal for a significant period of time. Vara, Endra, Korovyat Palace and Saber-tooth Prideleader further attest to the power level of limited releases, and this week’s bundle will be no different.

What can we expect moving forward with all these new cards?  How will both formats change, and which cards will instigate and perpetuate these changes? Predicting the future is a tall task, but nonetheless I will attempt to do just that! Let’s start by taking a look at what will change in Throne, the format with the largest available card pool in the game.

Throne

Winner: Keelo/Makto Sacrifice 

I’ll cut right to the chase: Keelo is very strong, and Makto plays very well in a Keelo “Pod” shell. There are a bunch of sweet units that curve into Makto with Keelo, Makto curves into Icaria or Telut and the game reaches its conclusion. It’s been a hot second since Makto saw his rise to stardom, but I think now’s the time for a Revenge renaissance.

The real star of the show, however, is our resident Birthing Pod on a stick. Two aspects of Keelo differentiate her from Pod; she’s a unit, and her ability cannot be responded to if you activate it immediately after playing her. The good news is that, if you sequence accordingly, you’ll be able to get the unit you need before your opponent’s interaction window. The bad news, however, is that your opponent can interact with Keelo using single-target removal. One of the frustrating parts about playing against Birthing Pod was that it required very specific interaction to be dealt with; Keelo is a unit, and a Torch-able one at that.

While there are some upsides to having your Pod be a unit, I consider it to be a significant downside. Single-target removal spells are very prevalent, so you’re not required to allot specific slots in your deck for the purpose of beating an uncommon card type. This means that your opponents will usually be able to answer Keelo, and you must plan accordingly. Nonetheless, the payoffs for building your deck around her are massive, so expect to play against this archetype regularly on ladder.

Loser: Spellcrag/Unitless Control

Most constructed playable units in Eternal impact the board or fuel a synergy engine; you can’t really get away with random fatties or aggressive early drops unless your deck has payoffs that convert those stat lines into more impactful sequences. Garden decks tend to be very good at praying on units that need to stay on board in order be maximized, and with each new expansion comes a wave of impactful units that do something besides attacking and blocking.

Don’t get me wrong, control decks are still a strong option in Throne. Until Garden of Omens gets nerfed (again), control will be a pillar of the format, but it’s worth noting that the deck gained virtually nothing from the bundle while lots of other strategies received powerful support. Furthermore, I don’t think unitless is particularly well positioned into a field of Makto nonsense and Even decks, so you’ll need to have a significant skill edge over the playing field at large in order to succeed with this deck in an ECQ.

Winner: Fire Aggro

Oni Ronin aficionados rejoice! Fire-based aggressive strategies are back on the menu, in no small part due to Milos and his anti-Sabertooth, anti-Golem text. Milos singlehandedly solves two of aggro’s biggest problems: ambushing cats and early card advantage. In addition to being a powerful hoser, Milos is pretty respectable on rate as a 3/3 charger with overwhelm, meaning that he’ll rarely be a dead card in your hand.

Milos also happens to be a Gunslinger, which is surprisingly relevant and could lead to some clever market choices in Stonescar Aggro like Hideout Pistol. Furthermore, being a Gunslinger might give Rakano Aggro the unit type density to consider running Steady Marshal as an above-rate one drop that doesn’t die to Blazing Salvo. All in all, Milos significantly expands the options for Fire-based aggressive strategies in Throne and should give them more of a fighting chance going forward.

Loser: Even Strangers

Those who’ve watched my stream recently can attest to the power of Evenhanded Golem in tandem with Grodov’s Stranger and Traver’s Farm. So long as you avoid playing your Golems with a single active Farm on board, the deck functions very smoothly and has all the tools tackle the Throne metagame. Up until this point, the clean answers to Golem have been fairly lackluster; Royal Decree constitutes a significant tempo loss, and Magebreaker is too weak of a card to consider maindecking.

To circle back to Fire-based aggro, the very presence of Milos will have an effect on the strength of Even decks in Throne. Milos not only shuts off your Golems when he connects but counters the tempo loss you’d usually experience from an ambushed Sabertooth Prideleader. I want to emphasize that I’m not preaching the downfall of Time-based Even decks; rather, I see this development as bringing them closer to Earth relative to the rest of the format.

Expedition

Winner: Tri-Faction Decks

In the most recent ECQ, I consciously chose to play Skycrag Dragons over Menace Dragons due to the diminishing returns of stronger cards in relation to a much poorer powerbase. Part of this equation was evaluating the available payoffs, and at that time I concluded that sticking to two factions was the best way to build the archetype. With that said, I expect Whispers of the Throne to give new life to tri-faction decks in Expedition with its cycle of 2-cost legendary units.

At first glance, I expect each unit in the cycle to see some amount of play in Expedition. It’s not immediately obvious where Keelo, Elham and Kaspar will fit, but I expect that there’s at least a solid tier 2-3 deck featuring each one respectively. Vox and Razca happen to fit well in existing shells, meaning that either one of them could turn their faction combo into a serious contender. We’ll see how this shapes up as the format progresses and deck builders refine and retool their lists, but as of now I’m feeling optimistic about each member of this powerful cycle.

Loser: Tribal Decks

This card is really strong against Dragons and Strangers, and it slots super nicely into the FTS sacrifice decks. Decent bodies with Corrupted are almost always better than they look, with the best example of this being Rectifier. Hence, I expect Blightmoth to play a similar role in decks that can take advantage of Corrupted and want to improve their matchups against tribal strategies.

As someone who has played an extensive amount of Dragons in Expedition, I can tell you right now that I’m not looking forward to staring this guy down. Dragons is very good at being an early game control deck that pivots into a mid-to-late game evasive beatdown deck, and Blightmoth in tandem with light disruption makes the latter significantly harder to sustain. For what its worth, I do think Blightmoth will make the format better overall since it’ll do a reasonable job policing Stranger decks. I’ve felt for a while that the sacrifice decks were a card or two away from making the Strangers matchup very lopsided, and this might be the missing piece to the puzzle.

Winner: Touch of Force

This one definitely needs a bit of an explanation. Since its confirmed that Yushkov, Brutal Tyrant himself deals the damage from his ability, granting double damage will make his ability extremely potent. If your double-damage Yushkov happens to sacrifice a Grodov’s Stranger, you get a twelve damage Fling and a Korovyat Palace in hand for your trouble. Touch of Force has been awaiting its moment to shine, and I think that moment might be upon us.

I could see a Praxis midrange deck with Yushkov being a great shell for Touch of Force in Expedition. Yushkov gives Praxis decks inevitability and an answer to large board stalls that doesn’t require the deck to warp itself around ramping to Kairos, meaning that you can lower the deck’s curve yet maintain a lot of staying power. Korovyat Palace will be a lot stronger in Expedition than it is in Throne, so the payoff for finishing Yushkov’s mastery is massive. Finding the best shell to do that will be valuable going forward, so be on the lookout for Touch of Force!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on ladder!

 

Doc28’s Pauper Primer

Pauper is back! It’s been a while since we’ve had an Eternal pauper event, and I for one am super excited to see how the format has changed with the release of Echoes of Eternity. To help instigate this format exploration process, I’ve comprised a batch of decklists that highlight the strategies you’ll need to watch out for (and/or play) in this week’s mini-event.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Mono Fire Aggro

4 Furyblade (Set8 #2)
4 Grenadin Drone (Set1 #5)
4 Oni Patrol (Set6 #5)
4 Oni Ronin (Set1 #13)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Blurreechaser (Set6 #7)
4 Kaleb’s Favor (Set0 #3)
2 Ornate Katana (Set1 #23)
4 Shavka Evangel (Set7 #6)
4 Yeti Pioneer (Set1006 #1)
4 Burningcore Drake (Set8 #14)
4 Nimble Conscript (Set6 #23)
4 Streets Aflame (Set6 #26)
19 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
2 Granite Coin (Set6 #1)
4 Granite Waystone (Set3 #1)

Decks like Mono Fire tend to do very well in a format’s early stages, and Pauper is no different. Mono Fire received two crucial upgrades from Echoes of Eternity: Furyblade and Burningcore Drake. Drake offers evasion and potential card advantage, while Furyblade offers consistency and versatility. Blurreechaser is a format staple that provides valuable card selection and allows the deck to maximize its power usage in the early game.

Redundancy is the name of the game for any deck without easy and frequent access to card advantage. When I’m building a deck like Mono Fire, I want to try and make sure that my best card isn’t miles better than my worst card. This used to be harder to pull off when Pauper’s card pool was smaller, but we’re at a point now where the deck can feasibly play fifty reasonable cards. All things considered, I expect Mono Fire to be an immediate frontrunner in the format; it’s fast, it’s furious and it gets to play some of the best aggressive cards in the game!

Praxis Warp

4 Initiate of the Sands (Set1 #74)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Devotee of the Sands (Set6 #55)
4 Magnificent Stranger (Set8 #39)
3 Purify (Set2 #176)
4 Trail Maker (Set3 #65)
4 Avirax Familiar (Set2 #46)
4 Awakened Sentinel (Set2 #57)
4 Infused Guardian (Set5 #67)
4 Cannonbearer (Set2 #31)
4 Champion Grappler (Set7 #154)
3 Powerbreach Sentinel (Set5 #70)
2 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
4 Granite Waystone (Set3 #1)
7 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
4 Amber Coin (Set6 #46)
4 Amber Waystone (Set3 #51)
4 Praxis Banner (Set2 #171)

Praxis has been a consistent tier one strategy of past Pauper formats in Eternal, sporting the best Time units in tandem with Fire removal and Cannonbearer. Cannonbearer is a staple unit in this format just as pre-nerf Heart of the Vault was a staple unit in Throne; a six drop with warp, great stats and conditional removal attached is unsurprisingly great.

While Praxis Warp is fairly unchanged relative to previous iterations, Magnificent Stranger and Champion Grappler increase the deck’s overall power level. This might sound strange given that Praxis has historically been one of the most powerful decks in Pauper, but it’s worth remembering that every set brings with it lots of new commons specifically designed for draft. Hence, time usually gets some solid fatties at common, which explains why this deck continues to be a Pauper mainstay.

Aurelian Relics

4 Unearth the Past (Set5 #38)
4 Araktodon Egg (Set5 #41)
4 Cabal Scavenger (Set5 #150)
4 Calibrate (Set8 #31)
4 Lucky Prospector (Set3 #57)
2 Cryptic Etchings (Set3 #62)
4 Curator’s Spear (Set5 #157)
4 Lethrai Courtier (Set5 #220)
4 Tumbling Sloth (Set5 #234)
4 Wilderness Refuge (Set7 #50)
4 Consuming Greed (Set5 #174)
4 Wurmstone (Set4 #86)
4 Acantha’s Outrider (Set5 #142)
2 Amber Coin (Set6 #46)
4 Amber Waystone (Set3 #51)
4 Cobalt Waystone (Set3 #151)
3 Amethyst Waystone (Set3 #201)
4 Elysian Banner (Set1 #421)
4 Xenan Banner (Set2 #201)
4 Feln Banner (Set1 #417)

I’ll admit that this one is a bit of a brew, but alas I think the concept is very promising. Aurelian Relics is a synergistic midrange deck that looks to exploit the relic synergies at common rarity; we get our very own Ancient Stirrings (a MTG reference) in Calibrate, which helps us assemble a ragtag crew of under-costed units. In a perfect world, you’re getting a 4/4 for 1, a 3/3 with endurance for 1, a 3/3 with flying for 3, a 7/7 for 4 and a 6/4 + a 2/1 for 4.

With all that said, there is obviously a cost associated with those absurd stat lines. You’re forced to play Cryptic Etchings and Wilderness Refuge, which are both abhorrently below-rate cards, in order to maximize the power of your unit base. Furthermore, you open yourself up to extra angles of interaction by heavily relying on the relic card type, which isn’t as much of a downside in Pauper compared to other formats but nonetheless makes a difference. The deck is really sweet, but it might be a couple pieces away from realizing its full potential.

Spellcrag

4 Char (Set6 #3)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
2 Backlash (Set1 #200)
4 Kaleb’s Favor (Set0 #3)
4 Static Bolt (Set1 #194)
2 Torrential Downpour (Set4 #163)
4 Wizened Crone (Set7 #164)
4 Greed’s Reward (Set7 #103)
4 Spellstorm Stranger (Set8 #93)
4 Streets Aflame (Set6 #26)
4 Mortar (Set2 #194)
4 Double Helix Drake (Set8 #108)
2 Fiery Fissure (Set4 #38)
3 Shamanic Blast (Set4 #189)
5 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
2 Granite Coin (Set6 #1)
4 Granite Waystone (Set3 #1)
7 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
4 Cobalt Waystone (Set3 #151)
4 Skycrag Banner (Set2 #186)

We’re obviously missing Garden of Omens and Prodigious Sorcery, but it’s important to realize that many of this archetype’s core burn spells are legal in Pauper. This deck doesn’t play exactly like the Throne version of Spellcrag because we don’t have an immediate stabilizer to lean on and combo off with. Instead, we’re looking to play a longer game and maximize our removal suite until we’re stabilized and can pivot into burn mode.

This particular build is a rough sketch of the archetype, and with some refining the deck seems poised to position itself well in the Pauper metagame. Removal is worse across the board in this format, meaning that you’re relatively likely to stick one of your enabler units and start the engine. Spell-crag can facilitate some of the strongest turns of any Pauper deck, but it’s also fairly easy to disrupt if you bring the right tools; hence, preparation is the first step towards beating this deck. Pack your incidental lifegain (i.e. Vara’s Favor, Extract) and your unconditional removal (i.e. Eviscerate), or else you may pay the price.

FTS Shift

4 Calibrate (Set8 #31)
4 Cloak of Moments (Set1006 #5)
4 Muck Crawler (Set6 #184)
4 Devotee of the Sands (Set6 #55)
4 Displaced Oryctodon (Set6 #56)
3 Mob Rule (Set5 #160)
4 Crooked Alleyguide (Set6 #197)
4 Nimble Conscript (Set6 #23)
3 Rally (Set1 #33)
4 Submerged Titan (Set6 #72)
4 Mining Team (Set6 #31)
4 Stonescar Outfitter (Set6 #216)
2 Tremorshocker (Set6 #87)
2 Direwood Lurker (Set6 #225)
2 Granite Waystone (Set3 #1)
4 Amber Waystone (Set3 #51)
4 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Praxis Banner (Set2 #171)
4 Stonescar Banner (Set1 #419)
4 Xenan Banner (Set2 #201)
3 Token of Destruction (Set8 #181)

Brody138 and I took this archetype to the Tuesday Night Eternal Pauper event a while ago, and at that time we believed that this deck was right on the border of busted territory. Although Echoes of Eternity didn’t give us any new Shift units, it did give us a crucial consistency piece in Calibrate. While Calibrate can’t find us a Shift unit, it can find us Cloak of Moments. Cloak is by far the best card in the deck because its cost reduction leads to some truly broken sequences. I dump my entire hand on turn 2 or turn 3 very frequently, and there aren’t even any board wipes to keep me honest!

While the wheels can sometimes fall off, I believe that the power level of FTS Shift is so high that it’s worth taking the risk of registering it. I’ll definitely be jamming it in the mini-event this week, and I hope to see you there!

ECQ: Aftershock

ECQ: Aftershock was another big success for Team Misplay. A staggering 80% of the playing-group (8 of 10) made the Top 64.

We expected the three dominate decks going in to be Dragons, Strangers, and Unseen. The majority of the team played one of the three while sopayelo, chicityshogun, and gatosujo were on FTS Sacrifice. Locopojo who strolled into Discord at the last hour asking “Is there still time to play?” played Argenport Midrange and absolutely crushed it.

Deedub qualified playing Argenport Unseen. He has made the cut in three straight Expedition ECQs with a near 80% win percentage.

Doc28 set out to build a “lean midrange” Skycrag Dragons deck in opposition to some of the more aggro versions. He nearly put three people into Stage 2. I had a heartbreaking final two games with the list to finish 17-11. Piereese and Doc28 both advanced.

colacoma and imsobad played 4F Strangers with colacoma posting an impressive 22-6.

The story of the day belonged to soapyelo who played FTS Sacrifice into the Top 8. As mentioned, we expected to see a lot of Dragons, Strangers, and Unseen and about two-thirds of his matches were against those three. “I had extremely close three game matches in the Top 64, Top 32, and Top 16. In the Top 32 match, my FPS Dragons opponent was swinging for lethal and I lived at two life thanks to Crack the Earth and a token blocking both parts of a Silenced Berserk Crimson Firemaw then Devouring followed by cracking back for the exact 19 life my opponent was at.”

Sadly, his match against Magikarp (A.K.A. The Misplay Slayer) in the Top 8 was not very competitive and both players traded off not drawing power. soapyelo had a “fantastic time” and looks forward to the next ECQ in April.

We see you Magikarp.

ECQ: Echoes of Eternity

ECQ: Echoes of Eternity was an impressive debut for Team Misplay. Four members – of the eight that registered – played well enough to reach the Top 64 and compete for a Worlds spot.

Early testing indicated Even Elysian presented the highest percent chance to qualify against the field. In particular, Piereese’s variant with Grodov’s Stranger and Maul tested well. This is the deck imsobad piloted to a 20-8 record.

There ended up being 26 Even Elysian decks that made the Top 64. Expect Evenhanded Golem to cost three next balance patch. It’s also a very interesting number if you listened to the latest Misplay podcast. (Haha Mark!)

Initially poised to play Reanimator – the same deck he won ECQ: Promises by Firelight with – colacoma ended up brewing a Combrei Mid-Range deck to target agressive decks like Even Elysian. The deck featured Alluring Qirin to shut off the Golem and take opponents off curve. gatosujo played the deck to a 20-8 while colacoma piloted it to 22-6.

colacoma gives “full credit to LocoPojo” for discovering the best shell for Qirin. colacoma was very happy with his deck choice “and would run Combrei again, but [he thinks] it was over-tuned against Evens” and would probably make some changes to make it better against the field.

chicityshogun put a lot of reps in on FJS Sacrifice in the leadup and also posted a 22-6 record for his 3rd-consecutive Top 64 finish. “While I’m still making plenty of misplays to maintain team branding,” chicityshogun says, “I’m also proud of my strategic and patient gameplay, but there’s still a gap between myself and my Eternal heroes: NotoriousGHP, LightsOutAce, camat0, and Paradox.”

“The whole thing was a great experience,” chicityshogun said, “and was enhanced tremendously by being able to share it with my awesome teammates.” His spirits weren’t even dampened when LSV called him “chickety shogun.” He loved it.

Three of the four (chicityshogun, gatosujo, and imsobad) won their first round matches and moved on to the Top 32. Unfortunately, we did not advance to the Top 16. Congratulations to those that did and to twanbon for taking down ECQ: Echoes of Eternity and securing a Worlds spot playing Combrei Aggro.

The remainder of the team who finished their games posted a 60% win rate, but shy of the 67% needed to make Stage 2. Additional shoutout to soapyelo who made himself available to help others test and put a lot of work into Even Elysian.

More than anything I think we all just wanted that crazed Teething Whelp alt art.

 

Giving Hunter%

“Yes! Yes! Yes!”

This was the cheer Hunter Pence popularized when he was with the San Francisco Giants and perfectly encapsulates how Mark and I felt this week when we had Hunter Pence on our podcast.

This is the behind the scenes story of how that happened. Hopefully you’ve listened already.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

I follow this principle. Goals should be lofty. Goals you can easily reach aren’t goals. When we started the show last year, there was one person I wanted to talk to about gaming: Hunter Pence. I live in San Francisco. I watched him win two Worlds Series. I play baseball. I coach baseball. And more importantly to us, he has become an ambassador for gaming.

The idea to end every show with, “On the next show, future Magic the Gathering Hall of Famer Hunter Pence” came from the reverse of the Matt Damon bit on the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show. Did I think we could ever really have Hunter Pence on the show? Yes!

We didn’t get any traction until December and then it all happened so fast. In November, I started tweeting this:

On Christmas Eve, we announced on Twitter that we would be donating our Patreon proceeds for the month to NoKidHungry.org. This of course was a little strategery [sic]. It was also a pretty cool thing to do and an excellent cause to support. Hunter Pence “Liked” this tweet. Yes!

And on our “Eighth weekly tweet to formally invite Hunter Pence…” he commented and gave us his email address. Yes!

The next day – you don’t play it too cool when Hunter Pence tells you to email him – I sent an email pitching our show. I was pretty skeptical. But Ryan (remember him from The One With Ryan?) told me, “Nah, Hunter Pence is the kind of dude who would follow through with that.”

The person I ended up emailing was Mallory, who works with Lexi and Hunter. She was awesome. Full of the same energy Lexi and Hunter have. After a couple weeks of emails, she said, “Yes!”

I reached out to Dire Wolf Digital and asked Scarlatch if there was anything we could give, anything extra they could provide to encourage Hunter to try Eternal. They very graciously set up an account (HunterPence) with a couple of viable constructed decks, cosmetics, and gems for him to jump into Draft.

Mark and I spent about a week refining the questions and flow of the show. Initially, we didn’t have a second half planned because how do you follow Hunter Pence? We came around to the idea when we realized we would probably have a lot of new listeners who had never played Eternal.

I should say Mark rescheduled his flight to be here – in the studio – for the interview. Otherwise, he would have been on Skype and presented a whole host of potential technical issues. We were already about to have two…

First, I remembered five minutes before the call I had “silence unknown callers” on on my phone. Then the first time the phone rang, Hunter couldn’t hear us very well. I solved the issue by changing how my phone connected to our RØDECaster Pro and he called back. We dodged Jekk’s bullet there!

It was an awesome call. He was funny, gracious, had poignant comments on gaming, and was very appreciative of us. While I was editing the show, I noticed how excited I sounded. I was taking breaths between every phrase like a swimmer turning for air:

In honor of the Oscars last night, Mark and I would like to thank our Patrons for their unwavering support and their donation to NoKidHungry.org, Mallory for giving two kids with a dream the opportunity, our partners for the time to chase our passions, and Hunter Pence who is Hunter% headed to the Magic the Gathering Hall of Fame.

If you listened to the show, he said he would love to come back. My guess Hunter Pence is a dude that would follow through with that.

Shavka’s Lute

Behold! The Lute of Shavka. The instrument Endra used to vanquish their foes and banish Lord Combrei and his army to the Void of Eternity.

And Mark says I’m not a lore guy.

The Misplay courtesy of our friend and Patron, yistout, present the newest Eternal spoiler: Shavka’s Lute.

I asked Team Misplay to share their thoughts on Shavka’s Lute:

LocoPojo

It’s solid enough with tokens and flexible in cost. It’s removal late and buffs early units. Aside from Grenadin, I kind of like it with Unseen, they get a lot of benefits from having battle skills and are more likely to pair it with Berserk or Quickdraw. Rate is obviously low, but the total punch it packs if you access two or three of its modes could make it worth it considering how easy it is to slam early.

Piereese

Yah, what he said.

mlntn

It looks like it could fit well in the market of a go-wide aggro deck. The passive doesn’t seem very strong but the Spellcraft can clear a blocker and/or deal face damage. Meanwhile, you get to pay five and two sub-optimal units become a strong flier, which could close a game. This could combo well with Rat Cage which you could swap out for big dragons.

soapyelo

I’d run it in a Grenadin type deck with ramp cards and Kaleb. You get Warcry triggers off tokens that turn into Dragons and if you have extra power Obliterate stuff. Realistically, I’m pretty sure it’s not a very good card.

crylorenzo

Potentially just jank, but it is beautiful jank. As for the competitive side, I think it fits Praxis tokens well. It seem like something I will quick craft four of just because it fits a number of things I love: Warcry, burn, relics, and late game shenanigans.

Deedub

This looks too slow to be in a standard mono Fire deck. It could definitely do some shenanigans in a Stonescar or Praxis shell. A big question is what units will you be running where the Warcry matters?

gatosujo

The card asks a lot. I’m skeptical of meeting all of the things it asks for: units on board, extra units to burn, a ton of power for a dragon without charge. It all seems quite win more. I’m skeptical, but I would run it in draft and am willing to lose to it a few times in constructed before revising my stance.

chicityshogun

It makes me wish that there was a better sacrifice/Aristocrats deck in Eternal. Xenan is doing the most sacrificing but you certainly wouldn’t splash Fire for this. I remember Patrick Sullivan made a super fun Stonescar sacrifice deck during a DWD creators event. Finding a way to maximize the value from the sac outlet is the most interesting to me since it’s repeatable.

Special thanks to yistout for the spoiler. Tell us what you think on Reddit.

Welcome to The Misplay

“Hello and welcome to The Misplay,” as I have so often said.

Before going any further, we need to thank our Patrons who helped us get this far. The monetary support is helpful and covers our web hosting but the “belief in what we’re doing” support that drives many of you to donate is invaluable.

Special thanks to Mark for just simply wanting to “spend time with a friend”, Jared who created our web presence from thin air, and our friend, Todd, who creates the comic.

Our goal has always been two-fold: to entertain and make us all better players. “The game”, for now, is Eternal. I can envision a world where we’re content creators for other games or more than only Eternal. A lot of the articles we write on the site will stem from the podcast or spark podcast conversations. I can write for days on being power stuck, in fact, I did. The next article you see will encapsulate my feelings on being power stuck. Mark says I can’t say “power screw”. We’re a PG production house.

We want to encourage you to join the growing Misplay community in our Discord. We discuss Eternal, share our misplays and decklists, Patrons have access to our show docs, and someone has been registering fake accounts to vote in Mark’s favor in our Mark Can’t Possibly Disagree polls.

We usually end the podcast with an outtake. I’m not sure how to end an article. I will tell you it took me at least three tries before I spelled “encapsulate” close enough that spell check knew what I wanted.