Moment of Heroism: Drafting the Theros Heroic Deck

Hey all, and welcome to! Today we’ll be focusing on the Heroic mechanic, and what cards play out with it best while drafting the new Theros set.

First of all, we mentioned to our readers Theros has a unique set of Uncommon instants which target multiple creatures, and therefore multiple instances of Heroic being triggered – if you are drafting Heroic creatures!

Here they are!

There are also fantastically powerful Heroic bomb creatures in Uncommon as well.


Dragon’s Maze Spoiler: Blue Draft Picks

Lets evaluate draft order for the Mono Blue cards in Dragon’s Gate!

Truly channeling the spirit (not to mention the effectiveness) of its progenitor, Morphling, Aetherling will prove to be a destructive powerhouse in limited. If there was ever a card in the set to draft early, this would qualify immediately. With 6 mana on the turn after resolving Aetherling, you can make it unblockable, swing and pump for 8 damage, and STILL have a mana left over in case it gets targeted by removal.
Evaluation: First Pick.

Hidden Strings is Twiddle on Steroids. I really love this, and wish it had been around with Hands of Binding in Gatecrash to help give Dimir some leverage in the common slots. The Sorcery speed really hurts this card though, making it completely Offensive or Combo-oriented, and limiting its desirability for limited.
Evaluation: Mid Pick.

The Blue creature of the “Maze” cycle is far better than its White counterpart (Think about it if I had said “the Black creature of the ‘Maze’ cycle is far better than its White counterpart”… that might have caused some drama with the NAACP. I’ll be sure to post accordingly when I evaluate the Black cards of Dragon’s Maze in my next article.)
As it is, dropping this card has the potential to immediately create a fatal Alpha Strike, a la Saphire Drake in Gatecrash. Simply as a 3/5 Flier for 6, it isn’t bad either.
Evaluation: High Mid-Pick.

Nobody is ever going to pay 6, making this read 3U: Counter Target Spell. Late Game, this may be more relevant, but considering you can easily draft hard counters like Cancel or Psychic Strike, this falls lower in pick order. It is worthwhile mentioning that it does have a less restrictive casting cost in terms of color, but we are dealing with a set where drafting fixing is part of the gameplan.
Evaluation: Late Mid-Pick.

The Gatekeeper deck just got more obnoxious!
Evaluation: Meh.

There has got to be a way to make this card amazing. Perhaps with Voidwalk and Sage Row Denizen? That’s a disgusting (and difficult to assemble) combo…
Evaluation: Low Mid-Pick

Pump Spells defeat this card. However, it does address the direct problem that Paralyzing Grasp had of not tapping the creature.
Evaluation: Mid-Pick

Well, we’ve come a long way from Thoughtlace, haven’t we?
Evaluation: Late Pick

Diggin’ for removal. If it fits what you’re doing, gram it. Otherwise, let it be. There is too little consistency inherent in draft decks to make this reliable, even with the depth of its digging.
Evaluation: Late Mid-Pick.

He’s baaaaack!
Evaluation: High Mid-Pick

Join me again, as I explore what darkness Black has to offer!


Dragon’s Maze Spoiler: White Draft Picks

With the Dragon’s Maze Spoiler recently released, lets rate some cards!


Any time you can have a bear with the ability to become much better built in, it seems well worth playing. Without evasion, this guy will need to look to cards like Madcap Skills, Firefist Striker, or Ethereal Armor to maximize the lifegain this guy can produce before he dies.
Evaluation: Mid-Pick.

I really enjoy this card. First of all, it has a 1/4 body – something i’ve admitted to being fond of in this block for its survivability. Secondly, it effectively does what Court-Street Denizen does without fretting about topdecking. Its no bomb, but nor is it something I would have trepidations about maindecking.
Evaluation: Mid-Pick.

Predictable, that many of the single-colored cards of the format would be rather vanilla. However, this trick is really cheap and can be quite a blowout. Aggro decks are going to want this, I see it benefitting Boros tempo just as much as its affiliated guilddeck.
Evaluation: High Mid-Pick

I don’t know who designed this card, but my immediate reaction to them is: too expensive to cast, too little benefit.
Evaluation: Late Pick.

I won’t be renouncing this card early. No one wants to see a Rakdos Cackler on T1, followed by a Pursuit of Flight, or Madcap Skills on T2. There are so many early targets, that slower decks (like extort) will crave this, and crave it early. Its great when you’re behind.
Evaluation: Early Pick.

I rarely think of card value outside of limited, this may end up being a staple in a Standard Turbo Fog list someday. Anyway, for draft I am non-plussed. It’s an expensive Fog. Which means I’ll probably run it sometimes.
Evaluation: Late Pick.

Lordy Lordy Lord. I love this card. Let’s spam Birds, Knights, and Centaurs to our hearts content.
Evaluation: Early Pick.

Well, 3 power in the air for 5 is just fine, but the ability to win offensive battles with Isperia’s Skywatch, Vassel Soul, Skyknight Legionnaire, as well as play the defense against most anything might make this worth more. However, any 5 drop that can be absolutely decimated by something as shitty as Bomber Corps deserves a second thought.
Evaluation: High Mid-Pick.

I really hope the “Gate” deck is viable. That way you can fill it with bad cards like this, and Crackling Perimeter. I would never pick this high unless I was high, in which case I would pick it high. Just not early.
Evaluation: If I were drafting Mono Green, I still wouldn’t pick this early.

The populate deck gets another trick. Although cheaper, this one I dislike more than its more expensive iterations in Return to Ravnica, like Druid’s Deliverance or Rootbound Defenses. THOSE tricks actually have relevance outside of populate, and can actually win you the game off a topdeck. Wake up and reflect on the fact that you probably don’t want this card clogging your deck.
Evaluation: Late Pick, variable if already drafting Populate.

Stay tuned for my evaluation of the Blue cards in Dragon’s Maze!


The Top 10 Keyrunes: Value Countdown for Dragon’s Maze Limited

Hey folks. Today while draft practicing on bestiaire, I began reflecting on which keyrunes had made the largest impact in limited. This is important, as with the coming of Dragon’s Maze, all of the keyrunes will be on the table (and potentially in your deck). So which keyrunes have made the largest impact thusfar, and which should you be picking the highest while drafting?

“Which is your favorite?”

10 – Simic Keyrune

There is no question in my mind that out of the cycle, Simic Keyrune is by far the worst. The value of Jade Idol, Chromatic Idol, etc. was their resistance to creature removal. Instead of providing an active benefit, Hexproof makes the cards value redundant and is more useful when paired with Dimir’s cipher mechanic- too bad Dimir Keyrune’s built-in unblockability is way better!
Nor is 2/3 crab what Simic decks look for, especially if it takes up a valuable 3 drop spot (and failing to evolve your creatures once resolving). I’d rather a Drakewing Krasis any day in this slot.

9 – Boros Keyrune

Certain archetypes can’t afford a turn 3 keyrune. Unfortunately, the most successful iterations of the Limited Boros deck fit this archetype.
However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Boros Keyrune finds success in tricolor Borzhov and Naya decks packing pump. As I mentioned earlier, one of my dream plays is swinging with Boros Keyrune and then bloodrushing either Skarrg Goliath or Rubblehulk for 20. Yeah. You heard me.

“Yes, it most certainly is.”

8 – Gruul Keyrune

Boom. Come on, Gatecrash. That’s three Keyrunes in a row now in the bottom 5.
It’s no secret that the artifacts in GTC were markedly worse than those in RTR. Gatecrash is a format ruled by bears, lowering the value of a 3/2 creature that will not become active before turn 4. Of course this is nitpicking, since they main function of the Keyrune is to ramp you to 5 mana on turn 4.
Trample is what makes the Gruul Keyrune shine – bloodrushing onto this Keyrune can be explosively detrimental to your opponents life total. However, were it Skarrg Goliath that I intended to bloodrush, i’d much rather cast it onto the Boros Keyrune than onto Gruul.

7 – Izzet Keyrune

Ahhh, the pseudo looter. The value of this card has either been epic (in the Stealer of Secrets/Teleportal deck, for instance), or humdrummingly pitiful. Izzet was a deck that thrived under the early protection of Frostburn Weird’s huge ass – following up a T2 weird with this Keyrune was a legitimate play. The problem with the card is it doesn’t help you come back from behind. While filtering your draws is a huge benefit, its lack of versatility combined with the creature’s pitiful 2/1 body means that Niv Mizzet’s Keyrune can score no higher than 7th in our Top 10.

6 – Selesnya Keyrune

Dare to Compare? The 3/3’s of Ravnica!”

Vanilla as they come, Watchwolf (or Call of the Conclave, for that matter) have never sucked. Especially in RTR where the base creature size to contend with was a 3/3. Selesnya Keyrune was never a bad pick. My guess is that it will actually become better after Dragon’s Maze (Unlike Gruul’s keyrune) because it wins against all the Zendikar-esque 2/x creatures for 2cmc in Gatecrash. Plus, Selesnya was arguably the strongest guild in Return to Ravnica: why not Courser’s Accord on turn 5?

5 – Orzhov Keyrune

Scroll down: time for some Q & A about this card.

Q: Do Corpse Blockade and Basilica Guards blow your mind?

A: No.

Q: When Gatecrash was spoiled, would you have guessed that these would be Super Effective in limited?

A: No.

Q: Are they actually?

A: Yes.

Q: Will they be relevant, come Dragon’s Maze?

A: Most definitely.

We should have known that. Especially since the entire discussion around RTR was the base creature size being a 3/3 token. And what has all the Gatecrash discussion been about? Why, Zendikar (of course, I mean the deluge of 2/1’s for 2, and the possibility of extraordinarily fast tempo decks). These 1/4’s come out early and effectively neutralize attacks with their huge asses, while the fact that they have dangerous damage dealing sources (deathtouch and extort, + their 1 power) make them incredibly useful, just like another friend proved to us in RTR, after a couple weeks of early neglection.

Obviously the Orzhov Keyrune matches the other early 1/4’s in terms of it’s power and toughness, but it’s most important aspect is in the role it plays in it’s namesake deck. While Borzhov has become such a Tier 1 strategy because it successfully combined Boros’s early aggro with the long-game inevitability of extort, meaning that opponents were always left off-balance and behind, Orzhov’s keyrune (while nothing flashy or mindblowing) fits Orzhov’s turtle archetype perfectly. The facts are: it cushions – netting you little gains in life while providing extra mana for extorting, it is impervious to all removal (but for instant speed, like Grisly Spectacle and Homing Lightning, and it shrugs off RTR’s Annihilating Fire), and it has the 4-butt, meaning it can take on Selesnya’s centaurs. The longevity the card provides is definitely reason enough to squeeze Obzedat’s thrull firmly into the Top 5 of our countdown. Expect to see this maindecked often in RGD2.

4 – Dimir Keyrune

On paper, Azorius and Dimir both have Keyrunes that appear strikingly similar. Both are plopped onto a slightly fragile 2/2 body, and both have evasion. However, the roles filled by each are very different.

Flying v.s. Unblockable. Detain v.s. Cipher. Keywords v.s. Keywords.

Put yourself in the minds of R&D when they created these. Many of the Keyrunes were built to enable guild abilities: this is obvious with Dimir’s Keyrune and Cipher because it triggers every time.

The card truly gets its value from the impossibility of combat and spell interaction. In a format where much of the premium removal is in combat tricks (Giant Growth was never better than it was in RTR Limited), Dimir’s Keyrune may rule supreme for its unstoppable destructive capability once Ciphered. It cannot be Mugged, it cannot be Smited, it cannot face Angelic Ediction (I know that isn’t a real word, deal with it). In fact, the only thing it really can be done in by in Gatecrash are cards like Grisly Spectacle, Devour Flesh, Homing Lightning, and Killing Glare – three of which you should be running if you’re playing Black, and 2 of which are uncommon.

But what about RTR?
Arrest? Soul Tithe? Paralyzing Grasp? Assassin’s Strike? Psssssh. There, the only things causing worry in common are Annihilating Fire (duh) and Trostani’s Judgment.

As far as Flying goes, its conditional evasion. It affords you an opportunity to block other fliers, making it slightly more versatile. And while it is their versatility that makes Keyrunes so valuable, becoming a Jack-Of-All-Trades does not allow you to master one. Dimir Keyrune exemplifies precisely what the Cipher tech desires, while providing protection for your investment during your opponent’s Main Phases.

However, the Magic community have largely eschewed Dimir strategy as being Tier 2. I wholeheartedly disagree with this as an improper assessment of the guild’s viability. The Dimir deck is not Tier 2. Blue and Black, as colors in GTC, are – they are not deep enough to support as many drafters as Green, Red and White, meaning that the Dimir Keyrune finds less use, and misses out on the top 3 spots in our countdown.

3 – Azorius Keyrune

Remember your first time drafting? I do. Two of the most valuable pieces of draft strategy I ever received were taught to me on my very first foray. I share them with you now:

  • Draft as much removal as you can.
  • When in doubt, just draft U/W fliers.
  • Whoever told me that, you were, and always have been, right on the money. Yes, it may sometimes not be a tier 1 deck, but for the most part, a decently drafted low cost U/W Skies will earn you a 2-1 record… at worst. So now you ask: why is the Keyrune relevant? Well, after the format becomes RGD (again) in May, U/W will once again become truly viable and synergistic. Cards like Daring Skyjek, Cloudfin Raptor, and even Drakewing Krasis will pair with U/W cards from Return to Ravnica like Azorius Keyrune, Sunspire Griffin, Lyev Skyknight and Skymark Roc, to make a brutally evasive deck. Another 2/2 Flier that can only be hit with instant speed removal will be well valued.

    2 – Golgari Keyrune

    Well, we’ve broken into the top 2. Here is a bulleted list of the Perks and Twerks of the Golgari Artifact.

  • All decks would love access to more mana.
  • Scavenge is especially mana-intensive
  • Deathtouch is ridiculously relevant at answering large bombs
  • Deathtouch is ridiculously relevant in coercing your opponents not to block
  • Deathtouch offers your opponents the opportunity to make combat mistakes
  • … It has Deathtouch. Trades up or down, its all about value-town with this.

  • 1 – Rakdos Keyrune

    Rakdos Keyrune is the exact opposite of Dimir Keyrune. And much to the Devil’s chagrin, the two will almost certainly never meet in combat. Which is exactly what the controller of the Rakdos Keyrune will want to do. It wins exchanges with nearly everything in this format (with perhaps the exception of the 1/4 crowd), and is effective on offense or defense. In case you’ve been living on the moon for the past 20 years, First Strike is one of the best keywords in Magic. Centaurs fear it. Aggressive soldiers cringe. And pump spells become ever the more effective during exchanges. Pump (like Martial Glory) + First Strike/Double Strike is extremely powerful in both RTR (with Splatter Thug, Ethereal Armor, and Fencing Ace), and in GTC (with Viashino Shanktail, Wrecking Ogre, Boros Keyrune, and Boros Charm). Unlike Boros Keyrune, this Black/Red artifact comes packed with a very serious 3 power, requiring no additional pump to be perceived as a legitimate threat.

    Defense is also to be considered. The Unleash Mechanic has sometimes left Rakdos decks at a disadvantage when it comes to midgame, as early B/R creatures do tend to become outclassed. First Strikers, like Rakdos Keyrune and Splatter Thug, have been effectively mitigating the midgame threat since September 2012, trading up in combat, if they end up trading at all. Don’t forget the added bonus of being able to tap for mana while on the defense! Paired with pump spells and in color with some of the best C/U instant speed removal in the format (Annihilating Fire and Homing Lightning), Rakdos Keyrune will continue to thrive through Dragon’s Maze, leaving no question that this 3/1 Devil has earned the top spot on our list.


    Return to Ravnica Drafts

    Hey all, once again a reminder to check out my recent drafts of Return to Ravnica. Each decklist is posted at, complete with synopsis, thoughts and results. Best of all, new draft decks are added twice a week, so check em out!

    Click to See The Greatest Decks Imaginable


    Return to Ravnica – Is it in you?

    Return to Ravnica is not about guilds.

    To my fellow Trolls, Nymphs, Loxodons, Demons, and Soldiers, this is the thesis I pose to you. For the more I’ve drafted and cracked sealed packs of this set, the more this fact has begun to make itself clear. Like a beautiful brooke…

    Wait, not that Brooke!

    …Okay, maybe that’s exactly the Brooke I had in mind. Regardless, the Magic is still Magic. With all of Wizard’s promotional jank fading away with the release, it is a great time to jump back into fundamentals of limited formats (especially in preparation for Grand Prix San Jose this coming weekend.)

    After a rather disappointing performance (and player turnout) at Mythic Games on Sunday for the actual release, following disappointing results in the two RTR drafts I’ve been a part of, this weekend was a great chance to take some time for personal reflection, to maybe see what I’ve been doing wrong. Because Sealed is such a vacuum in terms of what a player is truly able to play (and not my preferred limited format), I spent a lot of time focusing on drafting – however, my realizations encompass all formats.

    So, Fool, what did you come up with?

    For starters, don’t call me fool. There are archetypes in Magic. They aren’t Shards, they aren’t Guilds, and shoot – there aren’t really even colors when it comes down to it. They are deck styles – decks bent on winning through a particular tactic. Certain tactics do amazingly in individual formats: think the 2/x for 2 deck in Zendikar, or cheap infectors with proliferate in Scars. Those were great examples of functional aggro decks. However, Zendikar was sort of flawed in it’s speed, or perhaps it flawed me into thinking every format could be dominated in that way because of the heavy removal and cheap evaders. Eldrazi was a great format because it expanded the possibilities of what was… possible beyond Zen. Combo was a real archetype, with Vent Sentinel/defender, Raid Bombardment/tokens, and Kiln Fiend/Distortion Strike all working wonders when they came together, and bringing that extraordinary sense of joy to the pilot when they worked.

    Return to Ravnica makes me happy because it has the possibility of fueling all archetypes – Aggro, Control and Combo. The mistake many (including myself) will make, or have made, is assuming that because you are leaning towards a color pairing that you will be precluded, as if my destiny, to follow a certain deck archetype. Conversely, if you are drafting cards (or have the goal) of playing a certain archetype, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to be playing a certain guild.

    The Evolution of the Color Pie

    Some great thinker once said; “to learn something, you must forget everything.” Now, I have no idea who that was. And if nobody has said that yet, logically it means that I am that great thinker who said that. Bearing that in mind, listen up because this is where I rescind everything I just said in the previous paragraphs.

    Certain colors are GOING to pair better with others – Mana fixing and Gold cards in this set are insane. Absolutely INSANE. But since the guild distribution isn’t as simple as allied/enemy, neither are pairings. This chart I found on is really useful for illustrating this point:

    Within the constraints of the mana fixing available, the “shards” for RTR are G/W/B (Selesnya-Golgari), R/B/U (Rakdos-Izzet… or just Grixis), U/W/G (Azorius-Selesnya… Bant), U/R/W (Izzet-Azorius), and G/B/R (Golgari-Rakdos, AKA Jund). Each have their own pulls and strengths – Golgari gives the Rakdos deck a little more late game longevity, Azorius gives the Izzet deck more fliers and synergy with enchantments, Black gives the Selesnya some excellent removal (and Pack Rat to populate!), etc, etc.

    Drafting often enough to practice these RTR shards is a goal of mine to determine which archetypes have more success than others. Selensya, being the dominant force it is, has successful pairings with W and B for great midrange decks. I’m sure the possibilities have barely been touched, but as the format evolves, more revelations shall be ascertained.


    Return to Ravnica Prerelease Limited

    Hey there, all you elves, soldiers, rats, homunculi, and goblins! I know some of you can’t read, but I’m still not making a video for you!

    Today I’m going to talk about my experience at the prerelease – what worked, what I loved, and what I didn’t.


    This prerelease was very different from any other sealed event because you actually had to CHOOSE which guild you were going to play as (or at least the base cards in it) before you even cracked a booster. To any of you who followed my weekly Zendikar/Worldwake/Rise draft posts over on TappedOut, you will remember that this is a color combination not often drafted, nor enthusiastically supported by yours truly. However, after a few hours of set analysis and practice drafts online it seemed apparent that the massive token generation, quality removal, bomb rares, and general theme support of the Conclave might be one of my smartest bets for 5-0′ing the sealed.

    What I Cracked

  • Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice
  • 2x Grove of the Guardian
  • Loxodon Smiter
  • Detention Sphere
  • Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage
  • Savage Surge
  • Azorius Keyrune
  • Fencing Ace
  • Arrest
  • Centaur Healer
  • Azorius Arrester
  • Rootborn Defenses
  • Vassal Soul
  • Knightly Valor
  • Eyes in the Skies
  • Druid’s Deliverance
  • Hussar Patrol
  • Selesnya Guildgate
  • Avenging Arrow
  • Gatecreeper Vine
  • Faerie Impostor
  • Voidwielder
  • 6x plains, 5x Forest, 3x Island

  • I also cracked a Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord. That meant two guild leaders in one sealed. Rad, but he was useless in my colors. I affectionally referred to him as “JAAAAREHHD”. You know, just like Fat Bastard says:

    What Worked

    While the guildgate and Keyrune helped me on my mana fixing, and despite the ridiculous consistency of Grove of the Guardian, drawing those in my starting hand was a real pain, since so much in Return to Ravnica requires double mana costs. When my lands DID go my way, however, the Guildmage would single handedly win games on her own. Populate is a ridiculous mechanic whose power level matches that of the tokens it copies. From a 1/1 Bird, a 2/2 Vigilant Knight, a 3/3 Centaur (whose tokens I’m STOKED to have for my cube!), a 4/4 Rhino (which I never abused, since Horncaller’s Chant was basically my 24th card, and didn’t see play), or an 8/8 Vigilant Elemental, populate was amazing. How could I forget the game where I was getting badly abused by Rakdos Shred-Freak’s, and with 7 lands dropped my Grove of the Guardian. He still out-creatured me, but since all of his dudes were either hasty or unleashed, he had to go for the kill and swung in with everything, at 16 life. That’s when I cast Druid’s Deliverance, prevented all damage I would take, populated my 8/8 Elemental, and smashed his face to death next turn. Sweet, sweet satisfaction :)

    Other notable combos included Faerie Impostor with any ETB trigger. These included the Life Gaining Centaurs, Gatecreeper Vine (which together worked as amazing mana fixing by turn 3), Azorius Arrester, and especially Voidwielder. This combo, while requiring 6 mana per turn, worked wonders against other Selesnya decks, wrecking their token armies with impunity, and abolishing their existence entirely.

    What Didn’t Work

    The biggest disappointment was never casting Trostani the ENTIRE tournament. EVER. Double Grove’d multiple times, Detention Sphere’d, and Loxodon Hammered, but never got to gain absurd amounts of life and populate at the same time. Poor draws also led me to game losses to a mediocre Rakdos deck which just outtempoed me, and insane amounts of removal (along with a liter of beer from Woodstock’s Pizza) spelled another match loss versus my buddy Paul, who went on to 5-0 the entire prerelease, 15 boosters, and $30 in credit. However, the silver lining existed… traded my anti-omnipresent Trostani, my trusty Loxodon, and some bum rare for two Hallowed Fountain, Cyclonic Rift, and a foil Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage for my common/uncommon cube.

    Well, I suppose that will wrap up my tournament report. Hope you had run reading, learning, and knowing, for I had fun writing, linking and sharing!



    Peasant Cube Draft #1

    I suppose this marks my triumphant return to Magic: The Gathering, after my European/Santa-Barbarian hiatus. That being said, I have been doing extensive cube updates with only minor updates from M13, as I have now drafted the set about 4 or 5 times and have found very few cards truly interesting to play with. However, before I drop the skinny about last night’s awesome cube draft, here are the updates i’ve made to my 420 Card Peasant Cube from M13:

  • Crimson Muckwader
  • Arctic Aven
  • Augur of Bolas
  • Knight of Infamy
  • Knight of Glory
  • Talrand’s Invocation
  • Flinthoof Boar

  • So scratch what I said before… I guess there were some major updates with M13. While I don’t find drafting the core set very invigorating in itself, these cards have actually made quite a splash within the cube already, with several even making it into the deck I drafted! Oh, wow, how serendipitous! That is the perfect segue into sharing what I really wanted to: the night of cubin’! Here’s my deck:

    U/W 2-1 9/26/12

    Whenever Crystal Shard makes it into my 23, I am a very happy man. Even with only 2 or 3 abusable targets, the card is preposterously excellent. I ended up going 2-1, dropping in the second round to Ian, who went on to win it all.

    Some notable moments included:

  • After discussing Predatory Nightstalker, and its mediocre “edict-on-a-stick” performance (which generally haven’t shone as brightly as targeted removal), Ian topdecks it to remove my freshly cast Jetting Glasskite
  • Of course the only two players to draft heavy countermagic at the table get paired for the last round. My props to Nathan for an epic 40 minute tinking-man’s duel. One of the funnest games of magic I’ve played in recent memory.
  • Losing the dice roll (as usual) and buying 4 monster Big Daddy IPA’s for Ryan, Logan, Joseph, and myself. Hey wait, drinking and playing Magic? Nobody lost!
  • My boneheaded drunken Miraculous Recovery on my Azorius Herald. A new addition to the cube, he made such an awesome impression that he won’t be leaving any time soon. Unfortunately, he just sucks when being reanimated. Thanks for your compassion, Logan. And your understanding that drunken hyena sex with a witch is far more bearable when deaf. For whatever reason.

  • That's all I have to say about that...

    Well, that’s all I have to say about that… thanks to everyone who made it out. Keep those comments flowing!
    -West Lockwood


    Taking Over The World: with Solitaire

    Preface – Its no secret that I play card games. As many of you could guess, my ADD tendancies inspire me to alway be doing something with my hands. So in the freetime that has been accumulating in my apartment ever since my computer’s power cable broke, I’ve been indulging in the self-degenerating ritual of Solitaire. Gruß Gott!

    This time playing Solitaire was different, though. Always having considered myself a good player, I decided to actually do some Laboratory work and record my results – measuring what my averages actually were, and evaluating my strategy.

    Not the way I play

    The Experiment – In a sample of 73 games of Solitaire (non- electronic, always playing with the 3 card flip, and with no limit on tries going through the stack) I recorded a score of 20 wins to 53 losses, or a win percentage of around 27%. This seems low, but consider that in my first 10 games I only recorded 1 win, and you might understand that 27% is actually a few percentage points HIGHER than what my true average should be (throughout the test, I stayed fairly consistant, winning just a little over 1/4 of all games. However, later on I started undertsanding that dropping cards from the stack should only be done if the ratio of cards dropped were proportional to the cars being flipped from that action (1:1 was my base goal).

    Here is the breakdown of the number of aces on the table in the games I lost:

  • 0 Aces – 2
  • 1 Aces – 5
  • 2 Aces – 9
  • 3 Aces – 20
  • 4 Aces – 17

  • What Happened? – The results show that there were very few games where the board presented me with no options. My notes show that only three of my games were “No Flop” upon starting, and that only one was a complete shutout with absolutely no plays whatsoever. For the lost 2 ace games, most were from board clogging – low numbers like 2’s and 3’s would stall up piles because the lack of aces ensured that they couldn’t be removed. For the lost 3 ace games, it was a mix of not being able to dump high cards, and the low number jam. Consequently, the 4 ace games were the mixed bag: some were really close to having been won, but some combination of stack drops had put cards in bad combinations. For example, one game I needed to dump a 8 of clubs, but the only red 9 available to me was behind it in the stack. Without stacking cards on the aces, there was no way to remove the 8 and get a reshuffle, and the game was doomed…

    Give a f°°° yet?

    “But I Ain’t Done Yet!”

    Strategy – Let’s look at the obvious one first: Aces. They add a whole new way to remove problem cards from the board, thus the more you have out, the more options are available. 2’s cannot have any cards stacked on them, so obviously should be plopped on their corresponding ace immediately (although I see a lot of players forget to do this, and stick themselves with low cards preventing flips: this should never be.)

    Foresight – One of the better strategies I can reccomend is “foresight” – effectively planning your stack drops by looking at the next cards, and analyzing which will help you best. There is only so much this can do to benefit you (since flips cannot be predicted), but sometimes sandbagging an early ace drop is worth it for the reshuffle – especially if you do not have the corresponding 2 to stack on it. Sandbagging is especially useful if the next card in the stack won’t help the board (or even worse, set up a condition where the cards after the sandbagged card become inaccessable). I know this borders on cheating, since “Foresight” is really just looking at the next card in the stack. But really, the card order isn’t a secret after the first time through the stack. Therefore, in order to remain fair, I never use “Foresight” during the first runthrough.

    Another regards flipping cards. Since the win is guarenteed by all cards on the table being flipped, the flip takes precidence over all else, dropping cards from the stack, clearing to aces/kings etc. This should be obvious. However, there are a few things that can help keep your stacks clear, and flipping often:

  • Dont stack low cards when their corresponding aces are missing! – Definitely a no brainer. If you put a low number (2 or 3) without its corresponding ace onto a larger number, you run the risk of blocking the amount of cards you can stack on that ace. When the low numbers are late in the stack they can be dropped any time, so leave them there! BUT BE CAREFUL: if you make the 2 inaccessible, you run the risk of neutering the ace when it does flip/drop in the late game. So here’s my suggestion: if the ace is just buried in the stack, drop the 2, because the ace will come sooner or later. If the ace is unflipped though, wait on dropping the 2 (preferably sandbagging for a reshuffle), and leave an open three – just in case.

  • Kings – This is contentious, because many times they will be available in multiples. Here are my tips for order of preference: The first empty space should be for kings on stacks, no question. If multiple kings are on stacks, there are two options. 1) Gamble: take the one from the smaller stack – its removal might get you a chance to clear the king from the larger stack. 2) Play it Safe: take the one from the large stack, since you don’t want it to stall you late game if there are no cleared spots for it.
    Kings from the stack should not go down unless there is a queen to go on them, creating a flip. Same goes for most larger cards in your stack.

  • Conclusion – Solitaire is a ridiculously deep game. I hope you enjoyed this nonsense. To be honest, I can’t really believed I spent so much time doing this: both playing so much Solitaire and finishing this ridiculous write up. My goal is 100 games by the end of the week, so I will update the statistics as they come in. Remember to bookmark West for your best source of ridiculously excessive information regarding what you can do when bored.

    West Lockwood

    *Update: On March 26th, I completed the project of 100 games. My final record was 32W – 68L, or a win percentage slightly under 1/3 of the games I played (32%, obviously). I had many more wins in my last few games, and I have to attribute that to the strategy I adopted.

    Whenever I had a choice of cards to flip, I always chose the largest pile – even with kings on the table. My entire strategy was based on flipping big piles, and not laying down cards from the deck unless they yielded a direct flip result. It worked.


    Guide to Clubs and Nightspots in Berlin

    Hey, here’s a brief, honest, and unbiased guide to some of the best and worst nightclubs, clubs, bars, parties and general night life that I have been to so far in Berlin.

    Berlin Nightspots

  • 40 Seconds – This nightclub has one of the coolest venues in Berlin, playing American top 40 music on the top floor of a highrise. Amazing view of Potsdamer Platz, and a huge bar. nfortunately, the patrons are usually snotty, the cover is 10 – €, drinks are mindblowingly expensive and its fairly exclusive (meaning that none of my non-white friends got in.)

  • The basement of Tresor looks like this, minus the smoke, darkness, cigarettes and a skullthrashing bass

  • Tresor – I’ve been to this notorious club in Kreuzberg twice, and each time it has been an epic experience. They say it is the birthplace of modern Techno, and the place is enormous. There’s a upscale dancefloor and bar with a wood floor upstairs, a larger more electronic/house room on the ground floor, and a smokey dungeonesque techno club in the basement. So epic that the 15 – € saturday cover is almost worth it.

  • Adagio – The inside of this club has vaulted ceilings and is cavernous inside, with an attempt at seeming upscale. The illusion doesn’t succeed, as the dance floor is as grimey and ghetto as a downscale bar in LA. They fail at getting uper end patrons, so be prepared to mingle with some Potsdamer hoodrats and bouncers who think too highly of themselves.

  • Tube Station – Probably my favorite venue, this place has a fairly low cover, friendly staff, and a really fun top 40 dance atmosphere. All the cab drivers know how to get here, too. One thursday night, an employee in lingere was handing out hamburgers to everyone dancing, but unfortunately there was no veggie alternative! Minus 10 points from Gryffindor.

  • Kit Kat Klub – Made famous in the musical Cabaret, this place is famous for its “Swingers Parties”, and has (I’m told) an extraordinarilly debaucherous basement scene. You won’t get in without outrageous attire, but proceed with caution regardless.

  • Steinhaus – DON’T GO HERE. The place is always empty and for good reason, its out of the way, unfriendly, and artificially creates a line to make it look like something is going on (and multiple doors and lack of windows prevent reconaissance).

  • Weekend Club – On the 12th and 15th floors of a highrise in Alexanderplatz, the place isn’t cheap and the music didn’t blow my mind (very whomp-whompish). However, the people who go there were a blast, and the drinks (although teuer) are amazing. The 8 – € Whiskey Sour was the best I’ve ever had.

  • Gretchen – Reasonable prices for amazing concerts, and great customer service. My friends and I saw Master P and Flux Pavilion there in January, and it was quite the live show for only 12 – €. Not as conviently located near an Sbahn or Ubahn station though, and also could be a substitute for Currywurst in terms of the amount of sausages there…

  • Qdorf – Apparently better on the weekdays, this club is cantina style and has six seperate bars, dancefloors and stages. I didn’t have an amazing experience here, but it was fairly inexpensive for Berlin, and was quite lively – if lower end.

  • Heart of Gold – Ok, ok, this isn’t a club. But the bar in the bottom of this Hostel is a great place to meet international kids looking to have fun. Close to Friedrichstraße, it has pool, fußbol and wifi.

  • Madame Claudes – Its an upside down bar, which is a cool concept, but really poorly implimented. Every time its been tried, it has failed the fun meter. Perhaps if trivia night was more of my jam I’d go, but not on a thursday night.

  • Matrix – This place was fun, with a standard cover, but a fairly young clientelle. Not extraordinarilly classy. The redeeming factor for this club is its availibility as an alternative for Club Watergate (discussed below), so bear that in mind when you don’t get into the latter.

  • Maxxim – What else can I say about a club with a website tackier than the club itself? Oh, yeah, bear in mind that the club is completely tactless. Yeah, go here if you really want to skim the bottom of the barrel with the women, and pay obscene amounts of money for mediocre drinks.

  • Maria at Ostbahnhof – This is a really awful party at a really awesome place. Right on the river, big interior, but high prices and covers for incredibly lame dancefests makes this one place worth skipping.

  • Check the Hours at:

  • Sage Club – We have tried this place twice and neither time was anything happening. At least Tresor is a close alternative…

  • Cookies – I heard it’s actually only open on Tuesday and Thursday, but my experience suggests its actually open less than that. Tube Station is a close alternative, go there instead.

  • Be Prepared NOT to get into:

  • Berghain – Personally I didn’t have trouble getting in. Then again, I saw people who did, and it has a reputation for turning people away. Standard 10 – € cover, 1.50 – € coatcheck that I’ve been seeing at most elite clubs in Berlin. But for one of the most famous, its drinks were quite pricewert and the staff were super cool. Friday the main floor was closed, but it hardly mattered, very cool industrial venue.

    My scouts report that Berghain is at its best when they have famous live DJ’s spinning, so make sure you check dates for the concert that fits your style best.

  • Watergate – I’ll just say that I tried to get into Watergate on a really packed night, and was in a highly comical mood while in line, loudly convincing some Irish girls that I was from Belfast (with success!) Unfortunately none of us got in, despite the plethora of attractive women in our group.

  • That’s all for now. Come back for more European guides and travel tips. Remember to bookmark for your best source of honest information from actual customers and clubgoers around the world.

    West Lockwood

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