All posts by Jason Alt

Jason is the hardest working MTG Finance writer in the business. With a column appearing on Gathering Magic in addition to MTG Price, he is also a member of the Brainstorm Brewery finance podcast and a writer and administrator for Brainstorm Brewery's content website. Follow him on twitter @JasonEAlt

Brainstorm Brewery #176 – Year in Review

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2015 was a wacky year for this Children’s card game. Jobs were gained and lost, cards were leaked, tournaments were won, Vegas happened and what happened in Vegas needs to stay there for the most part. 2016 will be full of diaper changes and a lack of a core set and leaks being severely punished. It’s hard to know for sure what the future will hold, so the gang takes a look back at 2015 and what it all meant.

 

  • Cease and Desist?
  • Leakers PUNISHED
  • 2015 retrospective
  • Support our Patreon! DO IT. You know this cast makes you more than $1 a week
  • We’re serious about the Patreon. Expect new perks.
  • Need to contact us? Hit up BrainstormBrew@gmail.com

 

Contact Us!

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Corbin Hosler – E-mail – Twitter Facebook MTGPrice

Jason E Alt – E-mail – Twitter FacebookMTGPrice

Marcel White – E-mail – Twitter

 

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Generic Finance Article

[Greeting]

  • [Acknowledgement of reader base]
  • [Reference to last week’s article]

[Paragraph detailing plans for this article]

[Body]

  • 1-10 paragraphs
  • [Images]

[Closing Paragraph]

I want to talk about generic mana versus colorless mana now that the two terms can’t be used interchangeably, and I wanted to do it by making the article itself generic, but while that seemed meta and funny to me, it wouldn’t have come across and would have served to amuse only me, like an Easter egg hidden a little too well. I didn’t manage to make it happen, but I’m sure you won’t mind moving on, because there is a point I wanted to make this week: the differentiation between generic and colorless mana, a brand new concept, is going to matter. It’s going to matter a lot. So while the article itself won’t be generic, the subject matter is going to be. If you want a generic article I have a few sources I can point you to.

600-03697886 © Jean-Christophe Riou Model Release: No Property Release: No Generic Canned Food

The Distinction

This is what it looks like when I dive right into the topic at hand without a lot of foreplay. Try and keep up, I guess. It’s foreign to me, too, but we’ll manage.

Why is there a distinction between colorless and generic mana now? It didn’t matter before. As I’m sure 100 percent of you know, we have had to make the distinction because of a new mana symbol that has appeared on some spoiled cards.

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endbringer

Look at Endbringer’s mana cost. Its converted mana cost is easy to suss out: it’s six. Endbringer costs six mana, five of which can be generic mana and one of which must be colorless mana; that is to say mana that originated from a colorless source. Generic refers to mana of any color used to pay non-specific mana costs like the little (5) in the circle we’re all used to. Like an Island putting a mana in your mana pool gives you a mana that can be used for blue or generic but not green, Island also gives you a mana that cannot be used for true colorless (non-generic) mana, which is denoted by the diamond mana symbol on this card in both the casting cost and two of the activated abilities. It’s not quite a sixth color, but it’s going to give you a little more trouble than you might imagine.  Planning for it is going to be important.

The Impetus

Why do we care about this distinction? Well, for starters, Endbringer is stupid. I love this card. I want it inside my decks. I want it inside me. I am not sure if I will be able to find room in all of my decks for this card, so I’m really trying to manage my expectations, but the more I think about how much I want to play this card and maybe some others like it, the more I realize it may be a little trickier than I thought. Colorless mana may not be as simple to come by as generic mana, and when the distinction matters, you need to really re-evaluate everything.

mirrorpool

Mirrorpool is a sexy, splashy EDH card that does everything I want a land to do. This plus a Crucible of Worlds is going to change the world. I was so doe-eyed over this card when it was first spoiled that I didn’t stop to consider how tricky this could be to activate. Five mana to make a clone is a bargain when it’s an ability on a land, but if we don’t have enough ways to make true colorless mana in our entire deck, we can’t play Mirrorpool at all. And I want to play Mirrorpool.

The Issue

Manabases in EDH are currently designed with accessing colored mana being pretty important. This may be a “basic land format,” where basics are just fine and cards like Burnished Hart, Solemn Simulacrum, Kodama’s Reach, and Myriad Landscape reward you for playing basic lands, and cards like Boundless Realms really reward you for playing basic lands, but we like access to the mana we need reliably. Players are so eager to make sure they get their colored mana that they don’t see a big issue with “risky” lands like Sejiri Refuge, Golgari Guildgate, and Gruul Turf. You notice players will play that last one, Gruul Turf, but aren’t super likely to play a card like Karoo which does the same thing but gives you a spare colorless rather than two colored mana, even in a mono-white deck? Players aren’t as in love with the Karoo effect as they are with having a land that taps for two colored mana every time they use it. This shows how important colored mana is to players. Whenever we need generic mana, Gruul Turf is good for two of them, helping us power out big spells like Genesis Wave or Primal Surge.

It’s trivial to generate generic mana, so we don’t think about how many sources we have, do we?

PopQuizHotShot

How many sources of true, non-generic, colorless mana do you have in your favorite EDH deck? Four? Five? Do you even know? Well, you probably have a Sol Ring, and maybe a Temple of the False God. Probably a few more. I’m going to estimate seven sources in a two-color deck, six for a three-color one, and maybe four for five-color lists. How close is this estimate?

The answer is a bit surprising. I started poking around online to find lists, mostly at random to try and get a decent sampling of what players are currently building. I found a Scion of the Ur-Dragon deck with one source (Maze’s End) right off the bat.  Some Oloro decks ran six or seven with sources like Pristine Talismanand some ran only three. I even found a few two-color decks that had zero ways to produce true colorless mana. Those decks were rare, but they exist.

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Granted, the more likely a player was to be a tryhard with only one deck and load it up with fetches and shocks, the less likely they were to have sources of true colorless. Anyone can easily build with generating colorless in mind, but I think the point isn’t how easy it might be to fit more colorless sources in, but how hard it will be to take good, useful lands out to make room. Sure, we can upend our current mana bases and build them differently so we can jam one new card, but we probably don’t want to. Are there unobtrusive ways to still get the mana we need, not disrupt our lives too much, and have access to the true colorless mana we need? I have a few solutions—and there is money to be made.

Solution – Run Some Wastes

In a three-color deck, we already have cards like Burnished Hart, Solemn Simulacrum, Evolving Wilds, Myriad Landscape, etc. Jamming a few Wastes in there to tutor for means we can keep the same number of basics but have access to true colorless in the deck. We basically remove a few color-generating basics for a few Wastes.

Effectiveness as a Solution

This makes it harder for us to get colored mana. We could take every mana-producing land out and run 40 Wastes. Is that going to help us cast most of our spells? I hate the idea of weakening a deck’s ability to get colored mana. Otherwise, we’d run Rath’s Edge and Dust Bowl and Wasteland and Strip Mine and all the other utility lands in every deck. Unless your commander is an Eldrazi or a silver golem, you’re not going to want to take out colored basics for Wastes.

Is There Money to be Made? 

Yes, actually. I feel like Wastes will be everywhere and under-valued initially, but looking at snow-covered lands and foil snow-covered lands, I feel like foil Wastes could be as much as $10 in a year if they become popular in EDH. They’re almost certain to be undervalued at peak supply and rotation, and those are the two times I’d start to look at them. I’ve harped on this in other articles, so I won’t belabor the point, but Wastes are a card for some situations, just not solving our Endbringer problem.

Solution – Colorless Ramp

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We have a few lands and spells we could run that are such efficient ways to generate mana that we forgive the fact that the mana they give us is colorless.

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Effectiveness as a Solution

These do the trick, however a lot of these have restrictions. Whether you can only spend the mana on spells like with Shrine of the Forsaken Gods, have to sacrifice the land like with Crystal Vein, or having to wait like with Temple of the False God, these lands come with strings attached. However, we play with a lot of these cards already, because the restrictions aren’t so great as to keep us from playing them in decks that don’t require the colorless mana to be non-generic. If we want to jam a Kozilek or Endbringer (and I do want to jam Endbringer), that just makes these lands even better.

Is There Money to be Made?

Eh. The problem is the cards that are good enough to be played already are already expensive. Repeated reprintings has crushed the price of Temple of the False God to around $0.50, but the foil is $25 and seems safe but not poised to go anywhere but glacially upward. The cards that are the least obtrusive new inclusions have the fewest financial opportunities. The cards with the most room to grow are not played much now for a reason, and we’d need a huge increase in adoption to move the needle. My desire to play with a Staff of Nin that’s also a 5/5 isn’t enough, I fear. These cards do the trick, but they’re kind of doing the trick already. Sol Ring isn’t going to spike because it helps us draw a card with a bulk rare Eldrazi, it’s going to go in decks because it’s Sol Ring.

Solution – Lands That Do It All

Do you want to summon and activate Endbringer with the same lands that can help you play the Prophet of Kruphix that makes him even stupider? It’s pretty simple, really.

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Sexy, right?

Effectiveness as a Solution

Perfection. These give us two colors of mana and can also tap for true colorless, and don’t give us damage to boot. These can’t be tutored up with Burnished Hart like a Forest, fetched with a Misty Rainforest, or divined for with Cultivate, but these solve our problem and solve it good. If you have a Simic Guildgate, Thornwood Falls, or some other land that’s not super exciting but is in the deck because it’s cheap, taps for mana of two of your colors, and doesn’t deal you damage, you have a card to take out. Pain lands deal damage to you, but that rarely matters. The number of times I’ve lost games of EDH to my life total being reduced to zero pale in comparison to the number of times I’ve been milled, killed by commander damage when I had over 100 life, been hit with a quadrillion copies of Zealous Conscripts, or lost to Laboratory Maniac.  A pain land is “calibrated” for a 20-life format, so when you think about it, Yavimaya Coast deals about half a damage in EDH terms. I’ll pay half a life to get an entire mana any day.

Is There Money to be Made?

Yup. These were already a pretty good buy and these are a cheap solution for EDH decks. For a while I thought “check lands” were my go-to non-basic, two-colored land. The problem there is that there is a wild price divergence going on.

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It’s a little difficult to tout this cycle as the “answer” when there is such a price divergence going on. One has been reprinted much, much more often than the other, but you see my point. Jam a Sunpetal Grove all you want; I used to buy these for a buck cash from players before they stopped selling at all on TCGplayer for me. Enough players are fine playing guildgates and gain lands that come into play tapped that the fact that these sometimes don’t come into play tapped seems trivial.

Guildgates are durdly. Karoos don’t tap for colorless (except for actual Karoo). Shocks are expensive, and if you have them you’re playing them already and know they’re worth it. Too many utility lands like Alchemist’s Refuge dilute your ability to produce colored mana reliably, and even gold-star lands like ABU duals can’t get you the true colorless you need. Pain lands are perfect here. If only you could run more than one in a Vorel deck.

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This is the graph for an Origins foil. It’s under $3 with a lot of potential. There is the risk of even more reprints, true, but with core sets being a thing of the past, it’s less likely that we will see another printing. Most likely, the mana needs of each individual set will be covered by something new. For now, these cards are the cheapest they’re ever going to be and there are a lot of them in binders. If you can get these for buylist (cash is king no matter where you go), it’s pretty tough to lose. There is very little downside to adopting these in EDH and the number of lands each deck wants goes up precipitously depending on the number of colors it is. A two-color deck can only run one pain land, but a three-color deck can run three, and a five-color deck can run ten. Will it want to? I guess that all depends on how badly it wants to activate Mirrorpool and not Maze’s End.

It remains to be seen whether the few “true colorless” cards are going to be a significant price  driver in EDH. What is known is that with the pain lands being historically affordable and historically available and less likely than ever to be reprinted soon, these are a great target. Pain lands are generic. But that’s what we want.

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Brainstorm Brewery #175 – Instances of Sorceries

Corbin starts us off by regaling all of us with a tale of his pocket getting “picketed” and we’re off to the races with a great episode where clearly we know there isn’t a lot to talk about Magic-wise until we start discussing it and, holy crap there’s actually a lot to talk about. The episode goes a little long. These things happen. The important thing to remember is that we’re your favorite Magic podcast and Corbin getting robbed is hilarious. There’s time to discuss spoilers, why it’s terrible that we have so many spoilers, and why this set is going to be a real financial curveball.

 

  • Corbin’s picket-pocket story
  • SPERLERS! Sperlers galore!
  • Expeditions are discussed at length
  • Potential new fair dual lands?
  • Support our Patreon! DO IT. You know this cast makes you more than $1 a week
  • We’re serious about the Patreon. Expect new perks.
  • Need to contact us? Hit up BrainstormBrew@gmail.com

 

Contact Us!

Brainstorm Brewery Website – E-mail – Twitter Facebook RSS iTunes Stitcher

Ryan Bushard – E-mail – Twitter Facebook

Corbin Hosler – E-mail – Twitter Facebook MTGPrice

Jason E Alt – E-mail – Twitter FacebookMTGPrice

Marcel White – E-mail – Twitter

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On Clerics: The Article I Said in the Spoiler Coverage I Was Going to Write

I’m helping with the Spoiler Coverage for Oath of the Gatewatch. Well, I mean, am I helping, or am I just doing it and DJ is helping me? I’ll let you be the judge. Unless you think I’m helping him and not the other way around. Then I’m never letting you be the judge again. Usually you have to go to law school first, and you suck at it.

I said in said coverage that DJ is helping me with that I was going to write about one of the cards at length, because while I expect it’s probably going to be a bulk rare, I also expect it’s going to make an entire deck playable that people have wanted to play and have not been able to. I’m talking, of course, about Mono-Black Splash White Kor Tribal™.

The Coming Tide

aylieternalpilgrim

Real talk, though, having a black-white legendary cleric is something that people have wanted since EDH was a thing. We want four-color commanders, we want an Izzet-colored Commander that deals with artifacts, and we want a cockadoodie black and white cockadoodie cleric so we can build a COCK-A-DOODIE CLERIC DECK.

cleric

We’ve waited for long enough. Ayli and Daxos have made me seriously consider converting to Orzhov, and this is after Simic basically gave me everything I ever wanted in the form of the new Ezuri. Infinite turns with Sage of Hours? That’s cool. What have you done for me lately? Lumping myself in with Orzhov people who have waited patiently for this momentous occasion aside, what would the deck play and what can we even make money off of?

The deck would play a lot of back and white clerics cards, and those cards are old enough to be scarce, yet new enough to be available in foil. This pleases me. There’s gold in them thar’ hills, and we can mine it ahead of the coming gold rush if we’re canny enough to know where to start prospectin’. So let’s prospect.

EDHREC is a great resource for us, but without a commander to plug in, it’s hard to know where to start. It’s time to strap on our gumshoes and do some old-fashioned detective work. I googled “BW Clerics EDH” and looked at a few decks to see if they had anything in common. This gave me my first lead.

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This card will go in 100 percent of Ayli decks. It’s a way to gain life to make sure you switch on her last ability. It’s a way to kill people. Can you imagine having a ton of clerics and just one-shotting an opponent by saccing Doubtless One to this land?

Foils are under $2, and that seems insane but also easy to fix. There just aren’t a ton of copies of this land out there, and EDH players aren’t really socking these away into collections and decks because there really wasn’t a way to build this deck unless you did what some people did and built around Teysa or an Esper-colored creature that served to occupy your command zone while you played the clerics you wanted to play. With an actual commander, this land will be the first card to go, and with as cheap and rare as it is, I see real upside. Not only was identifying this card a leg up, it also gave me something to search EDHREC for.

How many decks that weren’t running a ton of clerics were going to run this land? Very, very few. This gave me a list of cards that were frequently paired in decks with Starlit Sanctum. So which cards are likely to go up based on the abundance of new clerics decks built around Ayli?

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Now here’s a real card. This can go in other decks, probably, but if we’re going to be sacrificing a ton of clerics, this gives us a way to replace them with bodies, and it has crossover appeal with zombie decks. Kinda. The point is that this has been pretty steady, had a recent brush with arbitrage, and is generally in low enough supply that it could easily jump over $5 and beyond if people give it any attention. How do I know a ton of people aren’t paying attention? Easy.

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The foil is has a multiplier of only two. Casual players are making Rotlung Reanimator a $2.50 card with a $5 foil, and Ayli can really drive both prices up and make the foil multiplier diverge. A foil cleric deck is doable right now with only a few cards like Auriok Champion being prohibitively expensive to foil out. I feel like the foils cost now what the non-foils could cost very soon if people start to build around Ayli.

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How about that Tiny Leaders format? I am not going to sit here and say, “I told you so,” but I did refuse to write about Tiny Leaders as a format before it really established itself as something other than a flash in the pan, and every subsequent “next hotness” that comes along like 1994 and Canadian Highlander I vow to stay out of for a year to give myself time to learn about them and for the formats to fizzle out. Now that the price of this cleric is returning to earth, be cautioned. The copies of this card are concentrated in the hands of speculators who couldn’t sell them, dealers foolish enough to jack up their buy price, and store display cases. When a card spikes after not really being a real card, copies come out of the woodwork. Speculators hit every LGS in the area to scour bulk bins and binders. People buylist them because they were junk and now they are worth something. Loose copies all get concentrated. If this card spikes again, even a little, the market will get flooded with copies. This is still too expensive for what it is, and I don’t see financial opportunity in trying to bank on this card going up based on clerics being popular. It’s a good card and good in the deck. It goes in the deck. But you’re not going to make money on this, I fear. There are too many people looking to undersell you to dump their hella copies and a much bigger shock will be needed to move the needle.

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Tapping five clerics may look a little steep, but gaining 10 life is a reusable way to keep your Ayli switched on and keep yourself from dying to regular damage. This is also a very old foil that’s under $2 and will go in every Ayli deck that’s built with victory in mind. This card’s fate, like so many cards in this article, is directly tied to Ayli, but with Commander players clamoring for a black-white cleric and finally getting their prayers answered, there is real upside. This card fuels several clericy win conditions, as well as making sure you can keep nuking non-land permanents with Ayli. This is a must-include.

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So many foil staples under $2. This is making me really want to just build this deck. A recent arbitrage opportunity and dealer behavior showing they are willing to come very close to the retail price, repeatedly, shows that dealers have a tough time keeping the relatively small number of copies in stock, but are willing to get these in and sell them for a small margin. This card is biggity-bonkers in a clerics deck and can make you friends at the table and keep your life total high enough to keep Ayli switched on. This is dumb. Under $2 is dumb.

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If this card were older, it might be closer to $2 in foil instead of the $1 in foil it is now. Protecting your life total is important, and this card can keep you from dying to a token swarm or cards like Goblin Bombardment, which happens more often than you might think. Expensive mana-wise, this is worth it. And it’s cheap money-wise, so I’m even more inclined to just build a foil clerics deck. The foil Debtors’ Knell will suck, but the rest of the cards are like a damn dollar. For now, that is.

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Conversely, casuals are already very aware of this tough-to-destroy creature who can get very large and very formidable very quickly. With foils at $13, there is room for divergence. It looks like this card will go up over time anyway, so it’s hard to lose here.

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I don’t know if you jam this in the deck, and if you do, how many, but just remember these were sitting on draft chaff piles for free and they’re approaching $2 and $5 in foil. Just thought this card was worth revisiting.

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This only tacks on $3 to our foil cleric deck price and it does WORK. A recent brush with arbitrage shows at least one dealer has confidence this will get somewhere some day. Personally, I just think it goes in the deck and probably just the one deck, but there is real upside. This is good in the deck.

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“Hey guys, remember me? Well, I make clerics. You need to sacrifice a cleric? Use one of mine. Can I make the game get out of control? Yep, sure can.”

Heliod seems to have bottomed out and is starting to creep back up. He’s a much more useful card in EDH than he was in Standard, and I expect to see him pass a few lesser gods on his way up. He makes enchantments and clerics at the same time. So many decks want that. Foils are only $8 for now, which seems super reasonable.

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I am seeing a lot of recent arbitrage opportunities on these $2 foils, and all around the same point in history. I wonder what happened that crazy month. Probably an article like this one. Am I creating false hysteria? I don’t think so—we’re getting a CLERIC COMMANDER.

its-happening

There are a few other creatures that are probably shoo-ins, like Eight-and-a-Half-Tails and Auriok Champion, a card that costs as much as the rest of the deck at $50 in foil. Those are fairly obvious. Put basically every cleric creature in the deck. Heliod, though, is less obvious, and I think you read my column because I come up with some things you might not have thought of on your own. How does this pile of clerics become a deck?

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This should take some of the sting out of sacrificing your clerics all day long. Getting them back for value all the time and being able to use Ayli a lot will feel good, and this card goes in lots of other decks. It’s not going to go down in price much, if at all, and any bump in demand should send the price up a bit. This is a solid place to park some money. I may even spring for the foil at $21. This foil clerics deck will be fun.

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This $6 card is available for $9 in foil. A 1.5x multiplier tells me that casual players love this card, and foil nuts like I’m gradually becoming aren’t as keen yet. But as cheap as it is, I’m springing for the foil, as there are so few copies that people paying attention to this card should see that multiplier grow even if the non-foil price grows more slowly. This card says “win the game” on it and rewards you for gaining life like you already planned to. Deal.

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The reprint at non-mythic rare threw this card off a cliff. You can pretend this is a $4 card all you want, but Battle for Zendikar copies are bulk. BFZ foils are $2. Will this card recover? Yes. Just not this year.

This used to be a $30 foil. I almost bought one, and I’m glad I didn’t, but even if I had shelled out like $25 for this, I would have been able to use it for a year before its price took a dump, and winning games with this would have made it worth it. BFZ foils at $2 seems interesting, but remember, it’s not mythic anymore, and that sucks. Now I know how Yu-Gi-Oh! financiers feel.

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Do people just not know about this card? How is this not more expensive? In any case, this does work in a deck where you are sacrificing your guys and want them back to sacrifice them again. This card is from Urza’s Saga, meaning it’s old enough to vote, and we’re not getting more of these printed because it’s so busted that Wizards saw fit to include it on the Reserved List. With the cards in Battle for Zendikar that reward sacrifice, this seems like it has upside to me.

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This could get reprinted, but until it does, why not Grave Pact them and make them not want to cast removal spells on your stuff? This card is growing very steadily because it’s busted, and clerics decks where your commander is a sacrifice outlet won’t shy away from this card by any means.

I went way over my word count and didn’t  even jam in my usual space-wasting rhetoric this week. This is a topic that could have easily yielded another full article full of picks. What I suggest is looking at how the deck would be built and getting ahead of the people who will likely want to build around Ayli when the set is released. Forewarned is forearmed, so be armed with the info from this article or I will forearm you in the throat. You know, with my forearm. That word means two things.

Did I make a clerical error and forget to include an obvious cleric card? Leave it in the comments below. Until next week, nerds. Smell ya later!

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