You might have heard that we held a panel at San Diego Comic-Con last weekend full of exciting revelations. We also recorded the panel for posterity! If, like most of us, you were unable to attend but want to know what happened—or did attend but want to relive it—here is the video!

Here’s the SDCC panel video for everyone who didn’t get to attend (which is most of you).

Color Pie Friday: The Philosophy of Blue

Last week I established Color Pie Friday, a new weekly article here on Zebesian Safari. This will be a day devoted to talking about the five colors in Magic: The Gathering (White, Blue, Black, Red, and Green) and how they are portrayed in the game. To begin, I’m going to take a look at the overarching philosophies of each color. This will be done by asking and answering six questions: What the color’s goal is, how the color achieves that goal, the strengths of the color, the weaknesses of the color, the color’s negative attributes, and the color’s positive attributes. As this is the second article in this format, I will be talking about the color Blue.

What Is Blue’s Goal?

Omniscience

Of all the colors, Blue is the one that most values information. It seeks out knowledge about everything it can. Thus, Blue’s ultimate goal is omniscience. If Blue could know everything about everything, it would have all the tools necessary to achieve anything it wants. Core to this search is the belief that anyone can be anything that want to be. Blue knows that you have to know how to change and grow in order to do it, and that this change requires knowing where you want to end up. All of these intersect at Blue’s desire for progress. Looking to the future, gathering information, ensuring that each move is the correct one; this is the core of Blue’s goal.

What Does Blue Do To Achieve Omniscience?

Forbidden Alchemy

Obviously, the way to achieve omniscience is to learn everything about everything. Knowledge is acquired by patiently observing the world around you. Blue takes its time to understand what’s going on, as knowing the underlying causes of problems helps Blue better solve them. For Blue, this research can be solitary or communal; it’s up to each individual to choose what kind of person they want to be. Also note that Blue has no qualms about how it obtains this knowledge. If gaining valuable knowledge means stealing from someone else, Blue is fine with that. If it means trickery, illusion, deception, or lies, Blue is fine with that. If vivisecting your own species will make for a better tomorrow, Blue will do it. The pursuit of knowledge itself is more important to Blue than the consequences or intents of the research.

What Are Blue’s Strengths?

Inspiration

Blue’s biggest strength is planning. If Blue has time to understand a situation and gather the information it needs, Blue can solve any problem. In combat, this translates to Blue being able to outsmart its opponents. As the most self-aware color, Blue understands that it can’t win a battle with sheer force. Strategy, trickery, and stealth are Blue’s weapons of choice. Once Blue has control of a battle, there is little its opponent can do to win.

Since Blue understands how things work, it’s very good with technology. This can be physical technology like tools and machines, or magical technology like spells. Often times it blends these together to make magical machines that function on a level no other color can comprehend. Linked back with Blue’s predisposition to planning and outwitting, technology becomes an important tool for Blue in both combat and research.

What Are Blue’s Weaknesses?

Totally Lost

While planning can ensure Blue wins, it takes time. Blue is slow, and sometimes the search for the right decision prevents Blue from making a decision at all. In combat, this means that Blue can become overwhelmed if its opponent is fast enough. If Blue doesn’t have all the information it needs it has trouble taking action when it needs to. Since it’s always looking to the future, Blue isn’t always mindful of the past or present. This means that in order to solve tomorrow’s problems, Blue may let today’s problems get worse. In short, Blue’s problems are that it starts off weak and takes a long time to become strong.

What Are the Negative Traits of Blue?

Numbing Dose

As I hinted at earlier, Blue can be cold and disconnected from the objects of its research. This stretches to the extremes on both sides; Blue can be sickeningly cruel or zealously idealistic. Because the knowledge itself takes priority, Blue can ignore both the rights of individuals or groups. It can work around laws, morals, and the desires of others to gain information. These acts take many forms: thievery, mind erasing, destructive experiments. Blue also seeks control of situations, and this can become domineering if Blue doesn’t care about others. Since Blue is always looking to the future, it’s easy for it to even unintentionally cause any of these situations by not focusing on the current state of affairs.

What Are the Positive Traits of Blue?

Minamo, School at Water’s Edge

As the color of progress, Blue can be a great force for change. As long as it doesn’t get bogged down in the process, Blue can make more efficient machines, design safer buildings, create more powerful medicines, and many other beneficial things. Because it believes everyone can be anything they want, Blue fosters excellent institutions of learning. Educating future generations can better prepare an entire society for the problems it will face down the road. Seeking knowledge also gives Blue the ability to best determine truth. Whether it’s solving a murder investigation or identifying the underlying causes of a mysterious metaphysical phenomenon, Blue is the color best situated for finding the right answer.

An Undetermined Path

As you can see, Blue is the color with the most potential for tremendous good or terrifying evil. Even within Magic we have the law-abiding, make-the-Multiverse-a-better-place Jace Beleren and the ambitiously cutthroat Tezzeret. For many people in our own world, a Blue path means playing the game we love. It’s no mistake that Jace is the most popular character, as the majority of Magic players (at least partly) identify as Blue. Join me next week when I talk about the philosophy being the color Black. Until then, planeswalkers, the future is what you make of it.

Reblog this if you’re a Magic blog

servantofphyrexia:

I’ve just made an ask blog (askhousedimir) and I want to make the dash for it purely Magic blogs.
So reblog if you:
Are an ask/rp magic blog yourself
Post magic stuff
Are a fan of magic

Basically I want blogs containing Magic the Gathering!

I’m known to do things of the magical nature.

zanmor said: If I managed to enchant a planeswalker with totem armor and that 'walker would take lethal damage, what does totem armor do? Does it still lost loyalty counters, or does removing damage prevent that?

tabakrules:

Totem armor doesn’t affect loyalty counters in any way. If the pw/creature had toughness greater than or equal to its loyalty, then when it hit 0 loyalty it would be put into the graveyard. Totem armor won’t help. But if it has toughness < loyalty, totem armor would remove all the damage and prevent it from being destroyed. Totem armor won’t put back lost loyalty counters though.

As much as I enjoy weird rules interactions, all I could think when reading this was a player going, “Get back in your crab, Jace.”

Command Zone: Kurkesh Kombos

mtgaddicted:

zebesiansafari:

There are a ton of exciting new cards for the Commander format in Magic 2015. As with any set, the new legendary creatures are one of the first things Commander players scrutinize for new ideas. I think one of the most interesting of the bunch we got is Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient. I love…

i bought one for my Bosh EDH, but i thought someone could play it in a Super Friends EDH with the new The Chain Veil, and the Rings…

Oh yeah, Bosh is definitely one of the marquis cards for this kind of deck. With him and Kurkesh on the field, you can sac your Spine of Ish Sah for 3RR to deal 14 damage as often as you can pay for. It’s quite and explosive play if you ask me.

Get Murderous on Purpose

Today’s Commander article by Adam Styborski talks about play experiences against certain decks that just beg to be the target of the day. These are the commanders we hate to face. Our nemeses in the format. It’s a fun read, as any sort of rivalry in Commander often leads to a lot of fun experiences and exciting games. Enjoy!

Arbitrary Card of the Day 7-31-14: Famished Ghoul

Today’s Arbitrary Card of the Day is Famished Ghoul. I imagine a good joke tastes super sugary. And it wouldn’t surprise me if a depressing memory tastes like soggy cooked veggies. And the anger of stepping in baloth poop probably tastes like poop.

Command Zone: Kurkesh Kombos

There are a ton of exciting new cards for the Commander format in Magic 2015. As with any set, the new legendary creatures are one of the first things Commander players scrutinize for new ideas. I think one of the most interesting of the bunch we got is Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient. I love artifacts, having already build Sydri, Galvanic Genius; Kemba, Kha Regent; and Kozilek, Butcher of Truth decks. Kurkesh puts a twist on traditional artifact deck design, forcing the archetype into a mono-Red deck. I’m excited by the challenge of making such a deck work and to see how much of the old artifact decks can make the transition to a new color. Today I’m going to look at a few two-card combos that would work great in a Kurkesh deck, each one featuring artifacts. Hopefully I can inspire you folks into getting your brain-cogs churning out new deck ideas!

Basalt Monolith and Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient

Now, this combo isn’t exactly new, nor is it necessarily better than the existing version. You see, Basalt Monolith and Rings of Brighthearth combo out to make infinite colorless mana. Here’s how it works:

  1. Tap Basalt Monolith for 3 mana.
  2. Use the 3 mana to activate Basalt Monolith’s untap ability.
  3. Pay 2 for Rings of Brighthearth’s ability, putting a second copy of the untap ability on the stack.
  4. Let the copy of the untap ability resolve, untapping the Basalt Monolith. You can now activate its mana ability again to add 3 to your mana pool.
  5. The original untap ability resolves, untapping the Basalt Monolith again. Tap it for 3 mana.
  6. You now have 6 colorless mana in your mana pool and a tapped Basalt Monolith. Use 3 of it to untap the Basalt Monolith, and 2 more to use Rings of Brighthearth. You’re left with 1 colorless mana.

Each cycle of this combo only takes 5 mana but creates 6. Kurkesh takes the place of Rings of Brighthearth, although it works a little differently since his ability requires Red mana (which Basalt Monolith doesn’t produce). With Kurkesh, each cycle takes 3R to use, but yields you 3 colorless mana. So rather than get infinite mana, you get 3 for every R you want to spend. Still good, and you can certainly run both. Kurkesh, however, has the advantage of being your commander. This means that you can always recast him if he dies and will have access to him in every single game. This makes the combo much easier to pull off, especially because Red lacks options to tutor up the Basalt Monolith.

Spine of Ish Sah and Phyrexia’s Core

One of my favorite cards in the entire format is Spine of Ish Sah. I run it in almost all of my decks, as it can deal with almost every threat for colorless mana. It also deters mass artifact removal, as your opponent may not want to risk it going back to your hand. Of course, you can always have this happen yourself. My favorite way to do this is with Phyrexia’s Core, as it can’t be countered due to being a land (the ability can be countered by cards like Stifle, but that rarely happens.) This allows you to recycle your Spine of Ish Sah again and again, nuking a permanent each time. Of course, this works with any card that lets you sacrifice an artifact. Thankfully, a Kurkesh deck has plenty of Red card options that do that. My favorite is Goblin Welder, who can rebuild a lost artifact while you’re busy blowing up the world.

Mycosynth Lattice and Vandalblast

There are a lot of cards that combo with Mycosynth Lattice. The most bonkers is probably Vandalblast, which will destroy every single permanent you don’t control for only 4R. That’s really mean, so don’t expect to keep friends for long with such plays. This combo does highlight a solution to Red’s creature and enchantment destruction woes, however. Mycosynth Lattice and the related Liquimetal Coating turn other permanents into artifacts, a card type that Red is very good at destroying. Into the Core exiles any two permanents. Shattering Pulse repeatedly Vindicates at instant speed for 4R. Not to mention all the Red creatures that destroy artifacts when they enter the battlefield. Red loves bashing things to bits, and a Kurkesh deck gives ample opportunities to do so.

New sets bring new cards, and new cards bring new deck ideas. Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient is just one of the Magic 2015 cards that is inspiring Commander players, and I’m one of them. He brings a new spin on an old archetype, and today shows some of the exciting tricks that a Kurkesh deck might pack. Until next time, planeswalkers, keep your eyes peeled for that next thrilling card you want to build a deck around.

AW YEAH SHARKNADO 2 TIME

The Art of Garruk

mimkana:

zebesiansafari:

If you attended the Magic 2015 prerelease or currently own Duels of the Planeswalkers 2015, you may have noticed that there are some pretty whacked-out things going on with Garruk Wildspeaker. Today I’m going to examine the treacherous path Garruk has walked by looking at the art on the cards…

Question! The player isn’t canon, right? Jace DOES go and help out Garruk, but that he recieved help from a nameless planeswalker isn’t canon, is it?

I don’t see why not. Games have carved out narrative space that sets them aside from other forms of media: interactivity. As the player, we become part of the canon by affecting the story in our own ways. The net result is always the same: Garruk gets beaten down and the hedron is bound to his body. The “how” of the beatdown is in a state of variance, however. Was he overwhelmed by a dark mind mage, or was he pummeled into submission by swarm of Goblins? That’s up to each player as they interact with the canon.