The Drive Home | Post SCG-Worcester

The drive home from any tournament you don’t exceed expectations or perform where you want to is a weird event. Your mind is constantly replaying the matches, turns, and plays of the day, it’s flipping from frustrated, to upset, to hungry.

Driving home from SCG Worcester with a 5-3 record wasn’t the ending I had in mind. Going in, I didn’t expect to top 8, I didn’t expect to cash out and just wanted to play tight games and play like I knew I could. After winning two FNMs in the past 3 weeks, I felt confident in my GR Monsters deck with Rabblemasters, Polukranos, Stormbreath, Boon Satyr, Hornet Queen, Xenagos, Chandra and Purphoros (and of course Mystics, Caryatids and Coursers). It performed well for me against a lot of different decks; it could be aggro when needed or could switch gears and be more midrange against midrange/control decks.

It won me 5 rounds, against Jeskai Aggro, GU Devotion, Bant Control, GB Devotion and Abzan Midrange. But, I lost to 2 Abzan Midrange and a Mono-Red aggro. What was really frustrating was that these were the two decks that I thought I had the best match ups against, and ones that I tuned my sideboard for. 2 Magma Sprays, 2 Anger of the Gods, a Bow of Nylea and 3 Nylea’s Disciple for the Mono-Red, and 2 Ranger’s Guile, a Setessan Tactics and 3 Genesis Hydra for the Abzan Midrange.

But sometimes sideboard cards don’t find their way into your hand, you get out-played, or you just make some mistakes. I know I made 3 game-losing mistakes; keeping a questionable hand with 4 lands and then drawing 6 straight, messing up blocking Siege Rhinos with Hornet Queen, insect tokens and a Stormbreath, only to have the dragon Bile Blighted, and playing another Courser against Mono Red when I should have double Lightning Striked some creatures.

But that’s the point of grinding these tournaments, playing in FNMs and play testing; it’s all a learning experience. I’ve only been playing magic for a little over a year now and feel that I’ve come a far way. Only recently getting into competitive magic, I know that some, or most, of my opponents have years or a decade of experience more than I do. Well, there’s no way to suddenly get years of experience, so next best thing is to keep grinding away and playing tight magic. No matter how much more experience they might have, no one can affect your play other than you.

So the car ride was a relatively short one, under an hour, and I thought about all this. Replayed some good plays, shook off some poor ones, wishing I hit a third land in my last game, and really wished I had put 3 Hornet’s Nest in my deck.

Everyone has bad days, but you have to put your time in if you hope to excel some day. My tip? Shake it off and start the next week with a clean slate. SCG Worcester is over, but there will be plenty more PTQs, Trials and GPs to play at, and that’s the only thing I’ll be thinking about, the next tournament, not the last one.


Alter Artist Highlight: Nidia Sias

I’m proud to bring to our readers a new installment to or Alter Artist Highlight segment!

Nidia Sias is a great alter artist that I found on Instagram and I immediately fell in love with her amazing extensions.  I reached out to Nidia and she was more than greatful to be our nextt spotlight!

Without any further delay, here is my virtual sit down with Nidia Sias.

Sias Alter Cover Photo Cropped

-Chris @ Mana Burn: Thank you for taking the time to be part of’s Alter Artist Highlight series! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Well, My name is Nidia Sias. I’m 23 years old, located in Albuquerque, NM but originally from El Paso, TX. I’m married to a magic player who’s been playing for a long time.

-Chris @ Mana Burn: How long have you been altering?
I’ve been altering since June 2013 right after GP Vegas. That trip really made me enjoy Magic: the Gathering to a whole other lever. My husband introduced me to alters and thought I would do a good job on them because at the time I was looking for a creative outlet for myself.

-Chris @ Mana Burn: Is there any particular commission in the future that your excited for?

Currently I’m available for commissions. I don’t have any big commissions planned, however, I have a few personal project that I’m excited for and I’ll feature them on my facebook page once I finish them. Many of these ideas usually pop up in my head and I think “that would be so cool!”


-Chris @ Mana Burn: Do you currently play mtg or any other games?
I don’t currently play MTG but I have played before which was my first time playing, which was around late 2012-early 2013. I actually had no idea what MTG was until I met my husband in 2009. Can you believe that? Haha probably a typical story. The thing I do geek out the most on are video games! I seriously LOVE them. Any and everything! If I’m not altering I’m probably playing a video game.

-Chris@ Mana Burn: Do you alter full time?

Yes I do alter full time, but its harder than it sounds since life can get pretty hectic sometimes. I have my really good months, then I have slower months which happen around rotations or new set releases.

-Chris@ Mana Burn: How long does a commission take from start to finish?
It all depends. For example, a simple art extension can take up to 2-3 hours whereas character alters or complete altered art can take up to 2-3 days to complete.

-Chris @ Mana Burn: What kind of forums and groups do you find yourself in?
Right now I’m in the MTG Altered Art group on Facebook, I also have a lot of friends and followers who alter and we speak on twitter or Instagram as well.

-Chris @ Mana Burn: Is there a style of alter you prefer or find yourself enjoying more than the other?
I really enjoy doing character alters or complete altered art. They are a bit more challenging, but that’s what I like about them. Seeing the finished product is what really makes it for me.

Kaalia Animar

-Chris @ Mana Burn: What steps do you follow in order to create a flawless alter?

Patience is key. It can get frustrating at times trying to color match or do a mock-up for a client. But I noticed that patience leads to a better finished product. I also try to ensure that I’m using high quality paints, brushes, and really take my time on the details.

-Chris @ Mana Burn: What type of artists do you look up to for inspiration?.
I think Eric Klug just goes without saying. Fabian’s Magic Alters are also really amazing and there’s plenty more out there on the FB group, but these two just have me inspired all the time.

-Chris @ Mana Burn: How many hours a week do you find yourself altering?
This is another trick question, there’s no set schedule for me. It really depends on how many commissions I have going at a time. So it can be as little as 8 hours to as much as 60 hours.

-Chris @ Mana Burn: Do you have a favorite and least favorite card you’ve done?
I do a lot of Kaalia’s! It’s one of the most popular commission I do. It’s a little tricky to make each one unique after you do so many. My favorite alter I’ve done is the Watchwolf (Tex Avery cartoon) alter I did for a friend it came out amazing and I really worked hard on it!

-Chris @ Mana Burn: Do you have a lot of out of country requests?

I’m getting more now than I have when I first started. A few of my alters are out in the UK now.

-Chris @ Mana Burn: What is your full time job away from altering?
Altering is my full time job, but I’m also a housewife and a gamer!

Thank you very much to the Mana Burn team for this opportunity I really appreciate it! You can find me on facebook at and Twitter at @NeeDeeAhh as well as Instagram at @NeeDeeAhh!

brainstorm Bubble fettpokemon


Supreme Verdict

Delver of Secrets alter

So there’s another spotlight in the books!  I hope everyone enjoyed the works of Nidia as much as I have and remember to check her Facebook page reguarly for new products and other updates.  Thank for checking out Sias Alters!


What to Rabble With?

I’ve finally started rebuilding my Rabble Red deck for Khans (seriously, I’ve been so busy this week is the first week I’ll be doing FNM since Khans came out).  As a recap, this is what I’ve lost post-rotation:

3 x Mutavaults
4 x Legion Loyalist
4 x Rakdos Cackler
4 x Burning Tree Emissary
2 x Ash Zealot
3 x Firefist Striker
2 x Rubblebelt Maaka
3 x Boros Reckoner
2 x Mizzium Mortars
1 x Seismic Stomp
2 x Skullcrack

That’s a lot of creatures, a really good man land, and some decent support spells.  There’s nothing to replace BTE’s ramping in Khans, and a lot of the battalion mechanics will be sorely missed.  I’m trying to stay mono-red, so let’s see what’s good in Khans for mono-red:

Monastary Swiftspear is a decent opener.  Haste + 2 toughness means it has more sticking power than legionare ever had.  Prowess is interesting but not as useful as it might be in this creature-heavy deck.  Could provide the deathblow, though, if opportunity arises, and could be a nasty surprise with the array of burn spells this deck carries.

Valley Dasher is our Ashflame Zealot.  2/2 with haste with the minor drawback of having to attack each turn (which we will be doing anyway as an aggro deck).

Ideally this would be played morphed, but gives us a 2/1 otherwise.  As I’ve mentioned in other posts, this card is a harness by force that doesn’t go on the stack.  This gives us a little versatility in being able to be played in two modes.

The raid ability of this card makes it a phase 2 dream.  Since we are aggro and attacking every turn if possible, this should always come in as a 3/2.  Its secondary ability helps bypass pesky tokens too.

Mobs of goblins are fun, and for 3 CMC.  Especially when combined with:

So, attack with a creature, then cast these two spells and you have 9 goblin tokens on the field.  Suddenly Mr. Rabblemaster doesn’t look like such a weenie when he can attack at 12/2 (13/2 if his own token survived).

I like this card for aggro, but he’s so situational.  Its probably better if you just think of him as a creature version of stoke the flames.

Nothing too special here, but its a cheaper overloaded Dynacharge.

This is a nice burn spell, but more expensive without the ferocious counter than an equivalent stoke.  Without a lot of big creatures, this is probably a no.  The Ferocious ability being based on power rather than toughness is a boon for red decks though.

In non-khans cards, I think I need to have at least one more 1 CMC creature, so I like Frenzied Goblin.

-Marshall Todt

Deck Profile: Abzan Midrange | Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir

Let’s just get this out of the way now; wow, is Siege Rhino good. Like really, really good. And Ari Lax and his team figured out the best shell for the beast.

Lax piloted his Abzan Midrange deck to a first place finish at Pro Tour KTK, riding on the backs of Siege Rhino’s and Wingmate Roc’s, as well as bringing superfriends Sorin, Elspeth and Ajani to the table.


In the past 6 hours, Siege Rhino and Wingmate Roc have already shot up $3.oo+ in price, and will likely rise a few more dollars, at least. While these cards were his MVP’s, we can’t over look the other spells in the deck.

Thoughtseize, Hero’s Downfall, Utter End and Abzan Charm are all great removal/disruption spells, and took down opposing Siege Rhinos or other problematic creatures or planeswalkers. And of course, which Pro Tour winning deck wouldn’t be complete without the full 4 Sylvan Caryatids and 4 Courser of Kruphixs.

What made Lax’s deck so overwhelming during the top 8? The lifegain and removal. In a race situation, which most of the standard decks seem to try to do in this standard, producing big creatures that gain you life is a huge problem for opponents. In the semi finals, Lax and his opponent both had a pair of Siege Rhinos on the table, but with a Sorin activation, Lax was able to turn his 4/5’s into 5/5’s to out class both of his opponent’s creatures.

While his win-cons are Rhino and Roc beat downs, Elspeth and Sorin ultimates, he doesn’t run a lot of creatures, only 16, in fact, and 6 of those are mana rampers. His plan is to land a few Rhinos and stabilize with Coursers before removing his opponents permanents and being able to chip away at life totals.

We will likely see a new deck to come into standard soon, one that attacks this deck. But for now, this is the $40,000 deck.

What do you think of the deck? Would you change any card? Add Polukranos? Fleecemane Lion? Change the sideboard?


Deck Profile: UW Control | Khans Standard

Well for the last deck profile, we took a look at Mono Black Devotion, and along the same vein, today we’re looking at another deck archetype that was prevalent during the last standard block, UW Control;


A UW Control deck with no Sphinx’s Revelation, Jace or Supreme Verdict? Well it does have Jace’s Ingenuity, Dig Through Time, Prognostic Sphinx and Elspeth as powerful cards. While it lacks the lifegain and huge draws that Revelation allows, Prognostic Sphinx lets you scry to hit the perfect cards you need, and with Divination, Dig Through Time  and Ingenuity, chances are you’ll find the Disdainful Strokes, Dissolves and End Hostilities that you’ll need to stabilize until you ultimate Elspeth.

The main weakness of this deck is that it only has 2 win conditions. Unlike the UW Control decks of RTR/Theros Standard, you can’t ultimate Jace, attack with Arhcangel of Thune, deck someone with your Elixir of Immortality, or get through with an Aetherling. The only way to kill is 7 attacks with a Sphinx or by ultimating Elspeth and attacking with tokens.

Devouring Light can pave ways for Prognostic Sphinx to not die to a block from a Stormbreath or Arbor Collossus, and in the sideboard, we have access to Wingmate Roc to add some more pressure.

Would you play this deck? What about playing Esper for Hero’s Downfall and Thoughtseize? Would you want another win con?


Deck Profile: Mono Black | Khans Standard

Good riddance to Pack Rat, Nightveil Specter and Desecration Demon, but don’t say goodbye to Mono Black just yet. This past weekend at TCG Player States in Washington, a Mono Black Deck top 8’ed the event with a new take on the archetype;


With the decks removal suite, its hard to land a threat for more than a turn or two, despite losing Doom Blade and Ultimate Price. With access to cards like Hero’s Downfall, Thoughtseize, Bile Blight, Murderous Cut and Silence the Believers, there are more than enough cards to answer opponent threats.

Gray Merchant is a must in Black devotion decks and the choice of other creatures are interesting. Pain Seer gives card draw, but can also cost you a lot of life, up to 5 in this deck, unlike most Mono-Black Aggro decks that run the Seer. Squelching Leeches is an interesting card, one that provides two devotion and can get really huge just by hitting land drops. The lack of Temples surprise me, but with Leeches in the deck, it’s understandable. Herald of Torment escapes Reprisal effects and gets under Elspeth’s ability, and can turn any creature in this deck into a big flying threat.

The Whip of Erebos seems like a must with Pain Seer and Herald, and is incredibly powerful against any Rabble or Burn strategy; and lets not forget that Whipping back a Gray Merchant is just awful to play against. Without Underworld Connections, Liliana Vess and Read the Bones are the only sources of card advantage in the main board. And with the amount of removal spells, Empty the Pits can likely be a strong finisher for the deck.

The sideboard packs mostly cards for aggressive decks, 4 Pharika’s Cure and 3 Drown in Sorrow, as well as a Despise. But it also has some good cards for a creature heavy deck with Despise and more removal spells. Stain the Mind is likely for control decks, or midrange Planeswalker-based decks.

I think this deck seems situated fairly well, as of now, but who knows what kind of decks that the Pro Tour will unleash. What would you change about the deck? Master of the Feast? Blood-Soaked Champion in the sideboard? Temples or Fetch Lands? Would you splash a second color?


Can Burn Still Burn? | Khans of Tarkir Standard

The short answer is, yes. Jeskai Tempo has proved that a burn strategy is completely viable in the new standard format. However, as the name of the deck says, this is more a tempo oriented deck, than a straight burn, like R/W Burn of the last standard.

With the loss of Chandra’s Phoenix, Boros Charm and Warleader’s Helix, we have lost arguably the three best cards in the deck (note: losing Mutavault is big too, but still isn’t a burn card). What have we picked up?


There are some other Khans burn cards, like Arrow Volley, but lets just look at the efficient ones for now.

Arc Lightning is great against aggro decks, and can usually 3-for-1 opponents, especially Rabble Red and Mono Black Devotion. Mardu Charm can only burn creatures, and Jeskai Charm can only hit opponents, so the versatility isn’t really there, but I think Jeskai has the upper hand because burning to the face of your opponent is usually a stronger play than taking down creatures. Crackling Doom takes care of their strongest creature, and deals them two damage, which is menial, but turns the tables if you can remove a threat on their turn and play one on yours.

Besides these cards, we still have Stoke the Flames, Magma Jet, Searing Blood and Lightning Strike as the mainstays in the burn slots. But which cards are we going to play alongside these ones? Which colors are we going to run? Jeskai? Mardu? Mono Red? How about sticking to R/W?

Monastery Swiftspear is a deadly card in a burn deck, with the ability to trigger Prowess and hit for a lot of damage early in the game. And what red deck isn’t complete without Goblin Rabblemaster? The Rabblemaster gets out of hand quick if you don’t have an answer, and only gets harder to deal with in multiples.

Best draw: Turn one Swiftspear, attack for one. Turn two, Magma Jet to set up draw/Searing Blood away an early creature, attack for two plus burn damage/attack for one, leave up burn spell for removal. Turn three, Goblin Rabblemaster, attack for two again.

I think a deck with this kind of plan could do well, with the limited lifegain available. However, Nylea’s Disciple and Seige Rhino do get problematic without a Skullcrack in your deck.

So what does the deck look like? Here’s a start:

4 Monastery Swiftspear

4 Goblin Rabblemaster

4 Lightning Strike

4 Stoke the Flames

? Magma Jet

? Arc Lightning

4 Ride Down

4 Deflecting Palm

2 Chandra, Pyromaster

Ashcloud Phoenix? Stormbreath Dragon?

I haven’t playtested or figured out the right numbers for the deck yet, and with the Pro Tour this weekend, I’ll wait to see what decks are the stand out, or if players use a burn strategy at all.

Ride Down is a huge incentive to play R/W because with all the Courser and Nyx Fleeces going around, removing them are crucial. With 3 and 4 damage spells, removing creatures like Polukranos and Seige Rhino is difficult. Deflecting Palm is a great answer to them, and can usually be a 5 damage burn spell for RW.

Nyx Fleece Ram, Chained to the Rocks, Banishing Light and Devouring Light are all good sideboard cards for a creature and planeswalker heavy environment. Satyr Firedancer could be really powerful in a deck like this, especially with a lot of two mana removal rotating out of standard.

Dictate of the Twin Gods is a card that I’ve always wanted to play, and I think could be a huge sideboard card in this deck. While is it terrible against large creature decks, it can also turn Deflecting Palm into a straight win on the spot.

What would you play in a burn strategy? Would you play the Jeskai Tempo deck? What about straight mono-red? Any cards that I’m missing?



TCGPlayer and SCG States Fall Tournaments

Looking for a place to play your new Khans deck? Want to try out Jeskai Tempo or Mardu Midrange? Want to compete to be the best in your state? Well you have two chances in the coming weeks!

scgstates             tcgplayerstates

TCG Player States are on October 4th and 5th, and SCG States are on October 11th and 12th. Both events are Standard and you can win some sweet playmats, booster packs and Open Series/TCG Player points!

To find out more about your state tournament, check out here for SCG and here for TCGPlayer.

Which state are you going to try to take down? I’ll be at the Massachusetts and Rhode Island ones!


What’s The Pick? | Khans of Tarkir Draft

Well Khans of Tarkir is out now and the first week of drafting is about over. While Standard allows splashing for 3 colors pretty easy with all of the available mana fixing and lands, drafting/sealed is different. However, Khans does add a lot of mana fixing with lifelands, triplands and banners, so let’s see what our first pack looks like;


There are a lot of solid cards in this pack. War-Name Aspirant can usually get value off of Raid to take down another creature, Stubborn Denial and Disdainful Stroke can counter big threats, and Heir of the Wilds is a good 2/2 deathtoucher for 2cmc. But I think we can all agree that Savage Knuckleblade is by far the best pick of the pack. a 4/4 for 3cmc? That’s well above the curve. 3 relevant abilities? We windmill slam this card fast. I’d be happy to wield the War-Name Aspirant, Heir of the Wilds, or Stubborn Denial, but that seems unlikely. Getting the Tormented Voice or Disdainful Stroke would also be solid, and even a Sagu Archer or Cancel could make the cut. Next pack is;


This pack is a little tough; the rare and uncommons aren’t too strong, though Briber’s Purse is really strong in an aggressive racing match up, which most draft matches turn out to be. The best cards in our colors are Arrow Storm and Valley Dasher. I think the pick is Arrow Storm, because there’s no great removal for stronger creatures in the format, and being able to hit your opponent is a big plus. The Valley Dasher would probably be gone before we get a second chance at it, but Scaldkin would be playable in our deck, and so would Mystic of the Hidden Way. Again, Disdainful Stroke is a strong card and can take care of large creatures in the middle game, and even Canyon Lurkers would be okay to play.

What would you have picked? Which clan do you usually try to go in Khans? Any limited favorites?


Deck Profile: Jeskai Tempo | Khans Standard

With the first big tournaments of the new standard come and gone, we have seen a lot of new cards and new decks. Somewhat surprisingly, we saw Jeskai (UWR) Tempo take down SCGNJ, piloted by Kevin Jones;


More or less a burn strategy than a tempo deck, this Jeskai deck packs a lot of early pressure with a flurry of burn spells to finish off the opponent. Goblin Rabblemaster, possibly the best red aggro card is a must answer, and synergizes with Stoke the Flames very well by convoking the tokens so they don’t suicide themselves into larger creatures. Here, Rabblemaster has found some new friends;

mantisrider                                      seekeroftheway

Mantis Rider acts as a reoccuring Lightning Bolt and can usually just go over the top of most decks, which tend to rely on large creatures on the ground. Seeker of the Way can be buffed by burn spells, and provide a big swing in life totals with its lifelink.
Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker is a good source of creature removal, or a source of repetitive damage if allowed to attack.

Unlike Burn decks in the last standard, this deck provides a lot of card advantage. Dig Through Time and Steam Augury are both very strong ways to sift through cards and add them to your hand. Also, Chandra, Pyromaster is a good way for pseudo card advantage with her exiling ability.

Keranos, God of Storms and Narset, Enlightened Master are very interesting cards from the sideboard. Again, both of these cards can provide card advantage, and with the amount of burn spells in this deck, Keranos can add an extra Lightning Bolt to many spells, and Narset can cast a few for free.

As with most blue-based decks, there are a few counter spells in Disdainful Stroke and Negate, which can answer Planeswalkers or large threats.

Another take on the Jeskai Tempo was taken on by Jadine Klomparens, who also piloted it at SCGNJ;


Jadine removed the card advantage and focused more on the creatures in her deck. With Titan’s Strength and God’s Willing, she was able to buff Seeker with Prowess and buff or protect another creature as well. She chose Magma Spray over Magma Jet to remove blockers to go all in on her creature plan, also putting Stormbreath Dragon and Arc Lightning in the sideboard. A card that really did a lot for Jadine was Deflecting Palm, which could easily be a 5 damage burn spell by redirecting a Polukranos or other large creature. I think Deflecting Palm fits well in Kevin’s strategy and could easily be slotted in the sideboard.

What are your thoughts on the deck? What is is weak to? What would you change about it?