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Apocalypse, The Awards Show

     So I just got done with a weekend full of Magic thanks to the Apocalypse pre-release this weekend, and after going 11-1 in three flights, I think I have a better feel for this set as a whole and am ready to start really hashing it out.  The 11-1 included one of the most ridiculous sealed decks ever, which you will hear more about later this week, and was a lot of fun either way.  So I could sit here and tell you which cards I think are the best, but that wouldn’t be any fun.  So instead, I’ll present, the first ever…(drum roll please)….Wakkies!  Recognizing the   best and worst in the new Magic sets!

     What, Wakkies is a bad name?  Well get your own column and give out your own awards then.  Anyway, on to the cards….

Best Reason to Play a 2/4 for Four Mana

     Coalition Honor Guard.  With an honorable mention of sorts to the Standard Bearer.  Wow are these guys nutty or what?  My first deck on Saturday featured an Atalya, Samite Master, and my little 1/1 flagbearer repeatedly took bullets for her all day.  At one point an opponent had an Ana Sanctuary in play with a Vodalian Zombie powering it.  Then I dropped the Standard Bearer and now I was given a free 6/6 wall every turn who sat there protecting Atalya.  Oh and did I mention when I played Yavimaya’s Embrace on my opponent’s Coalition Honor Guard, only to drop an Armadillo Cloak on it the following turn and swing?  From screwing up cards like Quicksilver Dagger and Armadillo Cloak, to drawing fire from other critters in play, these guys were absolutely fantastic.

Worst Ever Flavor Text on an Otherwise Really Good Card

     Jilt.  “You’re not my Hanna!”  HUH?! 

Best Fattie for Sealed/Draft

     Anavolver.  Yeah yeah yeah, Spiritmonger is great and all, but this Anavolver is an absolute beast.  Fully cranked up with kickers, he is a 6/6 (the largest of the Volvers), flies, and regenerates for three life!  He faces down any Dragon and crushes them, and serves with the best of the lot.  He can be picked off by black removal, but I’ll take my chances, thanks.

Best Fattie for Constructed

     Spiritmonger.  Yes, this guy is as good as advertised.  The only thing he needs is trample.  Armadillo Cloak anyone?

Worst Excuse for Cutting Down Trees

     Tahngarth’s Glare.  Ok, someone tell me where the “Draw a Card” line is on this?  Someone?  Please?  Yeesh.

Best Bear (i.e. a 2/2 for two mana)

     A tough call actually.  On straight card abilities, Goblin Legionnaire takes it, but R/W wasn’t shiping up to be nearly as potent of a combination of colors as U/G is, which puts Gaea’s Skyfolk ahead of the pack.  All the bears are good, at least, but I think I have to give my nod to the 2/2 flyer.

Worst Attempt to Counter the Effects of Reprinting Duress and Persecute

     Dodecapod.  A 3/3 for 4 is an ok deal for limited, but in constructed, the two main discard spells around can’t even touch this guy.  Try again.

Worst Chump Blocker Ever

     Haunted Angel proudly takes this title away from the vaunted Jackal Pup.

And You Thought You Would Go an Entire Block Without a Fireball

     Helllooooooo Illuminate.  Although the kickers are somewhat gratuitous, it is still an old-fashioned red X spell. 

Worst Grey Ogre (A 2/2 for three mana)

     Tundra Kavu.  The least he could do is have an ability that makes you want to tap him for something other than attack.

Best Grey Ogre

     Necravolver.  Ok, you’re never going to play him as a 2/2 for three mana, true, but that is all the qualifications for a Grey Ogre.  The fact that he brings his own Armadillo Cloak to the party is just funny.

Best Artifact

     Emblazoned Golem is pretty decent.  Usually a 3/4 for four mana, sometimes more, this guy is cost efficient and slips into just about any deck.  Personally I didn’t play the one I had in a flight on Saturday, but I didn’t give this card enough credit.

Best Split Card

     A tough call, but I’ll give the nod to Order/Chaos.  All of the split cards except Illusion/Reality are very playable in their respectable color combinations, but Order/Chaos gives you the ability to control the battlefield earlier in the game, then the ability to finish the game when you are close.  A potent combination for limited.

     Finally, the last two categories, the ones everyone has been waiting for…

Best Card (Limited Play)

     This is a really hard call, and you really can’t choose a rare, because rares don’t show up often.  Even the commons pack regular bombs like Coalition Honor Guard and Jilt.  However, after this past weekend, I think my nod has to go to Consume Strength.  This card often allows for a ridiculous shift in momentum, and, at worst, kills a bear.  Carefully played, however, it turns one of your creatures into a potent blocker, and picks off an opposing creature at the same time, or just makes one of your creatures into a big attacker to take down whatever is in its way.  I saw several games totally shift after this card was played, and I expect to see more of the same in the future.  The only reason this gets the nod over Jilt is the B/G color combination, which I personally consider slightly better than the U/R of Jilt.  B/G is easy to bring in Blue, creating the best color combination I saw this weekend, and since you’re in green, it is easier to have the off-mana available. 

Best Card (Constructed Play)

     It is waaaaaaaaaay too early to call this one definitively, but I’ll go ahead and say, at least early on, the nod will go to Spiritmonger.  An environment-defining creature, this guy is cheap, huge, and hard to kill, but you knew that.  What will be interesting is to see what decks emerge both to counter the effects of this guy, and to take advantage of his massive bulk.  Honorable mentions include Pernicious Deed (Hey look!  It is the same colors as Spiritmonger!), Death Grasp, and Vindicate.

Tim Stoltzfus



Name: Tim Stoltzfus

I'm a genetic mutant, spawned from government experiments on monkeys and blowfish that resulted in a new form of human being that can climb trees and breathe underwater. Sadly, I also have a paralyzing phobia of being wet and I can't stand heights, so I was sent out into society to attempt to live a normal life. Your tax dollars hard at work.

Unfortunately, the attempt at a normal life was thwarted when I was introduced to the game of Magic:The Gathering in the spring of 1994. From the first day I got my head bashed in by a Force of Nature that trampled over my Ironroot Treefolk who I played third turn by tapping the Dark Ritual I had played on the first turn, I was hooked on this goofy game. (Don't ask, we had no idea what the rules were, and I suspect neither did WotC at the time.)

I've played almost continuously since then, taking a six month hiatus from the game to move from Pennsylvania down here to Dallas, Texas in January of 1996.

I've played in way too many PTQs to count, been lucky enough to attend Origins for a few years when Nationals was held there, and I've even qualified for two Pro Tours, finishing 136th at PT Dallas with the first (and only) NecroHaups deck, and finishing 46th at PT Secaucus (Aka PTNY 99).

Over the past year or so I've regressed a little as a competitive player, not being quite as eager to travel to PTQ's, but still being very active in my local tournament scene.

I enjoy the card interactions in Magic, and love to build odd decks that try to captialize on those unique interactions. I'm not always successful, but I always have fun, and enjoy meeting people involved with the game.

I've been writing about Magic for a few years now, getting my start doing a column about rules for The Dojo back when Fank Kusumoto was the Sensei there. Later on I started Techsas under the watchful eye of Chris Senhouse, with the name of the column coined by the brilliant Al Tran. After The Dojo went the way of the dodo, Scott Gerhardt contacted me in a panic, desperately pleading with me to write for the new Pojo Magic site. I think his exact words were something like, "If you don't suck, I'll let you do it once a week."

Apparently I don't suck, although that could change at any moment.

Techsas. Enjoy it while it doesn't suck.




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