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?