Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How To Solve Advanced Challenge: Sliver Infestation in Magic 2014

How To Solve The Sliver Infestation Advanced Challenge In Magic 2014: Duels of the Planeswalkers

Sliver Infestation
Can you sneak past an overwhelming force and assassinate your opponent?  You must win by the end of your turn.
For this advanced challenge in Magic 2014: DotP we need to do at least 14 points of damage to our opponent, yet we only have a single 6/6 creature in play, the Tidal Kraken.  We need some way to do at least 14 points of damage and the solution is still hidden within the deck library.  Here's how you win the Sliver Infestation advanced challenge.

Sliver Infestation Advanced Challenge Solution

  1. Cast both Virulent Slivers from out of your hand.
  2. Cast Crib Swap and exile the opponent's lone flying defender, Darksteel Gargoyle.
  3. Cast Brainstorm, the Protean Hulk is what we are after, so put 2 other cards back from the Brainstorm and make sure to keep the Protean Hulk.
  4. Use the remaining 4 mana to activate the Quicksilver Amulet and put the Protean Hulk into play.
  5. Activate the top ability of the Culling Dias artifact to sacrifice the Protean Hulk.
  6. This trigger's the Protean Hulks ability to place more creatures into play, choose the Predator Dragon.
  7. When the Predator Dragon enters the battlefield, use the Devour option to devour both Virulent Slivers to make the Predator Dragon an 8/8 Flyer with Haste.
  8. Attack with both the Predator Dragon and the Tidal Kraken (who is unblockable).
  9. Deal the 14 damage to kill opponent and win the advanced challenge.
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Monday, July 22, 2013

Deck Tech - How Many Lands Should I Use In A 60 Card MtG Deck?

Deck Tech - Helping You To Build Stronger Magic The Gathering Play Decks

MtG Mana Symbols Mouse Pad
MtG Mana Mouse Pad

How Many Lands Should You Use For A 60 Card Magic Deck?

Having the proper amount of land in your Magic the Gathering play deck can greatly help to prevent problems with not getting enough land (Mana Screwed), getting too much land (Mana Flooded), or the wrong color lands (Color Starved).  Nothing can fully prevent land / mana issues from happening occasionally, but having a proper land to card ratio for your Magic deck will be a major factor in limiting those mana problems.

How Many Lands To Use In A 60 Card Deck?

The short answer is 24.  If you have no clue what you are doing, go with 24 lands in your 60 card deck.  There are many factors that can figure into adjusting your land ratio, but a common starting place is 24 lands.  You will learn the most about whether you have the proper amount of land and the proper mix, by simply playing with the deck.  As you play your Magic deck, you will better be able to tell whether you have too much, too few, or the wrong mix of lands in your deck.  

Here are some factors to consider when adjusting the amount of land for your deck:

  1. Mono or Multicolored Deck? - Is your deck all one color?  If you are running a single color, you can get away with few lands in your deck, because you will never be colored screwed.  On the opposing end, if you are running more than 2 colors, you may want to have a few extra lands in your deck.
  2. Mana Fixers - Mana Fixers are cards that allow you to pull out lands out of your deck.  These can include fetch lands (the lands that produce no mana and just tap and sacrifice to go hunt a land and put it into play tapped), spells that allow you to pull lands out of your deck and either into your hand or on the play field, or creatures that give you the ability to pull out lands as well.  The more colors you have in your deck, the more important it becomes to have these mana fixers in your deck to help pull out the colors that you need.
  3. Casting Costs Of Your Deck's Cards - If you are running a speed weenie deck that doesn't take much to cast anything in your deck, you can drop the number of lands in your deck significantly.  I've seen decks run plenty efficient on as low as 18 lands, but nothing in the deck cost over 3-4 casting cost and the deck was a single color.  I wouldn't go down below 22 lands without a deck that includes creatures that provide mana as well.  On the other end, if you are running a deck with a lot of high casting cost spells or are using a lot of spells that require 3-4 mana of a specific color within their casting costs, you may want to add extra lands in to lower the risk of getting stuck with a hand of cards you can't even cast.
  • So as a rule of thumb I would go with 24 lands in a deck.
  • If the deck is all one color, take out 1 land.
  • If the majority of your spells are over 3-4 costing cost, add a land or 2 (especially if multi colored and large casting costs).
  • If you are playing with multiple creatures that produce mana and have multiple mana fixers, then take out 1-2 lands.
  • Never go below 20 in a single color or 22 in a multi-colored deck.
  • Playtest your deck with practice hand draws until it starts to feel right.
  • Continually adjust your amount of land and color ratio as you play until you feel it is perfect.
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Friday, July 19, 2013

4 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Quit Your MtG Match Early

You Shouldn't Be Quitting Your MtG Match Early!

One of my biggest gripes when playing Magic 2014 Duels of the Planeswalkers is that many players rage quit when they think they have already lost.  When your opponent quits the duel, you are forced to play against the AI opponent in order to get the win for the match.  That's not so much of a big deal, except I'd rather you tough it out so we can play again!  Especially since in Magic 2014 DotP, you only play single game matches, when historically Magic the Gathering is played in Best of 3 Matches.  Anyone can win a single game with the right hand or favorable conditions, but winning 2 out of 3 is a little more challenging and is a more reliable gauge of judging how your deck performs.  Granted there is no sideboard allowed in Magic 2014 DotP like in tabletop Magic, but 2 out of 3 matches stills seem much better in my opinion.  I wish they would implement not only Best of 3 Matches, but also put sideboarding back into the game.

Back on topic:

Why You Shouldn't Quit Your Match Early Even When You Think You've Lost

Here are some great reasons why would should always play each and every one of your matches out to the games end.

  1. Sometimes the AI computer player actually pulls out the win! - Happens more often than you'd think.  Sometimes players quit too soon.  If the computer AI can pull a win out of the match you thought was unwinnable, odds are you aren't even a good judge at knowing win the match is truly lost beyond all control.
  2. Top Decking - Sometimes the match looks bleek and unwinnable, but then you draw something off the top of your deck that can save you from utter defeat.  If you've already rage quit, those top deck draws aren't going to help you.  I've seen white decks that quit thinking all is lost, then the turn after they quit, the AI player draws and plays Wrath of God or some other massive creature removal and turns the tide of the match entirely.  Even being down to 1 life isn't reason enough to quit since sometimes you can pull something that will change the entire game completely.
  3. Crunch Time Is Learning Time - Instead of bailing on the game when you think you have lost, you should stay in the game and fight to the end because those are some of the best times to learn.  Being pushed against the wall and desperate means you have to start thinking more critically and try to piece some tactics together to either prevent dying or start figuring out how to even the battlefield.  It's in these sessions that you think all is lost, then miraculously come up with a way to counter the opponents threat that you can learn new tactics and try new tricks and combos.  When you are near death and actually push through until the end and happen to full victory out of nowhere that you can experience some of the most fun and rewarding moments of the Magic the Gathering game.  If you quit early, you are already a loser with absolutely no chance to learn or win.
  4. Scope The Opponents Deck - Even if you can't pull out a miraculous recovery or steal back a victory from your MtG opponent, you can still gather some valuable information that will help you in your next match against the same deck.  This is very important in all formats of the game.  Playing until the final point of life is gone, instead of rage quitting, will allow you to see even more of the opponents deck.  You can learn about specific cards that are in the opponent's Magic deck and knowing more of what the opponent could possible do or play in the next match is always an advantage - an advantage you would not have, if you just rage quit.  Being able to see more cards within their deck is even more important in a Limited environment when the odds of being able to predict what an opponent is playing in their deck go way down.  

So the first step to becoming a better player is testing your limits.  Stop rage quitting when you think the game is lost and focus in and try to learn just how you can pull a win out of your ass.  You will feel more accomplished pulling a win out of a game you thought was completely lost, you might learn something new, and at the very least you will gather more information about your opponent's play-style and what cards are in their deck.  

Check out The Magic the Gathering Store on Amazon where you can find boosters packs, individual cards, playmats, deck protectors, life counters, Magic clothing, and more!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Favorite Deck From Magic 2013 DotP

Magic 2013 Duels of the Planeswalkers - My Favorite Deck

Just the other day on Twitter, @formerruling requested that I "do some deck guides so we can see what ya run".  Well Anthony, I'm still in the process of working on unlocking all of the extra cards for the Magic 2014 release of the game, so I don't have any fully completed decks yet.  So I will take this opportunity to show you my top deck from the Magic 2013 Duels of the Planeswalkers for iPad.

You can also follow me on Twitter - @mtghelper

Reader Request For Deck Guides

My Top Magic 2013 Deck - Grim Procession

I absolutely love the versatility, speed, and harassing nature of the Grim Procession deck, which was added in the last deck expansion pack for Magic 2013.  The combination of flying creatures, lifelink, creature removal, and creatures that return to the board more than once was perfect for the aggressive style of play I prefer.  There are also plenty of opportunities for trickery and surprises, which I also really enjoy.

Magic 2013 Deck - Grim Procession

Grim Procession

63 Cards - Yes, I was still trying to find 2-3 more cards to remove from this deck to slim it down to the recommended minimum 60 card deck for constructed decks.  I love each and every one of these creatures, so I was still working on tweaking which ones to remove when Magic 2014 released.

  • 11 Swamp
  • 11 Plains
  • 4 Terramorphic Expanse

  • 3 Doomed Traveller
  • 2 Mourning Thrull
  • 2 Orzhov Guildmage
  • 2 Restless Apparition
  • 2 Vampire Nighthawk
  • 3 Bloodhunter Bat
  • 2 Falkenrath Noble
  • 1 Ghost Council of Orzhova
  • 1 Keening Banshee
  • 2 Voracious Hatchling
  • 1 Angel of Flight Alabaster
  • 2 Bloodgift Demon
  • 1 Deathbringer Liege
  • 1 Divinity of Pride
  • 1 Ob Nixilis, the Fallen

  • 2 Zealous Persecution
  • 4 Pillory of the Sleepless
  • 4 Unmake
  • 1 Vindicate

Notable Ommissions:

Stillmoon Cavalier Magic the Gathering
Stillmoon Cavalier

  • Stillmoon Cavalier - While pretty nice and very versatile, I'm not going to run this in my deck because I only have the 2 Zealous Persecution to remove the Stillmoon Cavalier should it be controlled by an opponent.  And given the popularity of the Jace Milling decks, I saw plenty of Control Magic and Clone, as well as Rise from the Grave in black decks.  And I definately do NOT want a Stillmoon Cavalier to appear on my opponents side because it can really hurt this deck, so I left it out of mine.
  • Damnation - With this deck, I am the aggressor.  I come out too fast and too strong for Damnation to be very useful.  It usually just sat in my hand and never got cast.
  • Any of the 6+ converted casting cost cards - These are just far too large of a cost for the speed of the deck I was after.  My goal was to have you already dead or very near death before these would even be cast and useful.


Which 3 cards would you remove from this Grim Procession deck in order to get it down to the 60 card deck minimum without sacrificing synergy or speed?

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Magic 2014 Advanced Challenges: Sliver Strike Team Solution

How To Solve The Sliver Strike Team Advanced Challenge In Magic 2014

I have already covered How To Beat The 5 Initial Challenges In Magic 2014, but the Advanced Challenges are a little more complicated so I will be dedicating a single post to each solution for solving the advanced challenges.

Sliver Strike Team Solution

"Your opponent is still strong behind a wall of creatures with first strike.  Find a way to defeat your opponent with your army of slivers."

First problem here is the 3 creatures the opponent controls that all have First Strike.  Without First Strike ability of our own the opponent would be able to pick and choose which creatures to block and First Strike, which could result in some of our slivers dying before they even deal combat damage.  This is a compounding problem as each of our slivers give advantages to other slivers.  Therefore, any slivers that die during the First Strike phase of damage dealing result in nerfing the remaining slivers as the buffs provided by the dead slivers are removed prior to the damage dealing of the remaining slivers, which would be even weaker than before the combat started.

So the solution to the challenge Sliver Strike Team requires that we have first strike on our slivers.  Even better, let's go for the sliver with Double Strike!

  1. Cast Predatory Sliver (Our Slivers get +1/+1)
  2. Cast Bonescythe Sliver (Our Slivers get Double Strike)
  3. Our Slivers already get Haste from the Slivers in play, so attack with all Slivers to kill off the opponent.
Combined with the number of attackers and their Double Strike abilities, we will have plenty of damage to kill off the opponent and solve this Advanced Challenge.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Magic 2014 How to Solve All 5 Initial Challenges

How To Solve The 5 Initial Challenges In Magic 2014 Duels Of The Planeswalkers

Here are the step-by-step guides to solving each of the 5 Initial Challenges in the Magic 2014 single player game.  I must admit.  These challenges are far easier in Magic 2014 than the challenges that were used in Magic 2013.  

Magic 2014 Initial Challenge #1 - Command The Dead

"Your Grave Titan has assembled a monstrous army.  Use it to crush your opponent."
  1. Cast Lightning Blast to kill one Runeclaw Bear.  (Make sure to leave 1 Forest untapped)
  2. Attack with all 3 of your creatures.
  3. After blockers are declared, cast Titanic Growth on your unblocked Zombie to make it 6/6, which will kill the opponent.
Magic 2014 Command The Dead Challenge Help

Magic 2014 Initial Challenge #2 - Gird For War

"Your opponent has poweful defenses.  Use your equipment to win this turn."
  1. Cast all 3 of the cheapest Artifact-Equipment cards; Golem-Skin Gauntlets, Trusty Machete, & O-Naginata.
  2. Attach all 3 Artifact-Equipments to a single Silvercoat Lion, which will make him 10/3 with Trample.
  3. Attack with all 4 Silvercoat Lions.  There will be enough Trample damage to spill over and kill the opponent for the win.
Magic 2014 Gird For War Challenge Help

Magic 2014 Initial Challenge #3 - Battle Tactics

"Your opponent has put you on the ropes with an angelic host!  Find a way to win this turn"
  1. Attack with all 3 of your creatures.
  2. After blockers are assigned, cast Might of Oaks on whichever creature does not get assigned a blocker.  This will give the creature +7/+7, enough to kill the opponent.
Magic 2014 Battle Tactics Challenge Help

Magic 2014 Initial Challenge #4 - Blood Is Life

"You are being attacked!  Survive this turn, then counterattack the enemy."
  1. When the opponent attacks, block each one of the attacking creatures with one of your creatures.  It doesn't matter which creature the Child of the Night and Markov Patrician block, just make sure they each block one attacker so that both attackers are blocked.  Even though the Wurm has Trample damage, both of your blocking creatures have Lifelink, which will heal you enough damage to survive the attack.  Both your blockers will die, but that doesn't matter.
  2. Attack the opponent with your remaining Gloomhunter to finish her off for the win.
Magic 2014 Blood Is Life Challenge Help

Magic 2014 Initial Challenge #5 - Defeat The Troll

"You've almost defeated your opponent, but Cudgel Troll stands in the way of victory!  Find a way to win this turn"
  1. Cast Doom Blade on the opponent's Cudgel Troll.  This will destroy the Troll, but the opponent can use Regenerate to save it from destruction.  When you Regenerate a creature, it is forced to tap, which leaves no blockers to for the opponent to defend.
  2. Attack with your creature for the win.
Magic 2014 Defeat The Troll Challenge Help

I hope these help you solve any of the Magic 2014 Challenges that you may have been stuck on.
Stay tuned for the solutions to the Magic 2014 Advanced Challenges.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

MtG Deck Tech: How Many Cards Should I Use In My Deck?

MtG Deck Tech 

"How Many Cards Should You Use In A MtG Deck?"

One of the most basic necessities of Magic the Gathering is building your play deck.  Whether you are playing tabletop Magic, Magic 2014 Duels of The Planeswalkers, or Magic on iPad or another tablet, you still have to tweak and tune your play deck to make it competitive.  This starts with the first lesson on Deck Size.

There are 2 minimum deck requirements depending on what format of MtG you are choosing to play.

Constructed Format - In the Constructed format you build your deck from your card pool of cards you own, or in the case of Magic 2014 Duels of the Planeswalkers, from the base deck of cards and the cards you have unlocked for possible addition to your deck.  This format has a minimum requirement of 60 cards per deck.

Sealed / Draft Formats - In the Sealed and Draft formats you are only allowed to use cards from the provided packs allowed for the event.  In the Sealed deck format you only use what you open in your own packs. In draft format you open a pack, pick a single card out, then pass that pack to the player next to you and continue picking one card from each pack passed to you.  There is no Draft format in Magic 2014 Duels of the Planeswalkers, but the 2014 edition of the game did just add the Sealed format to the game.  In both Sealed and Draft formats you have a minimum requirement of 40 cards.

Choosing The Correct Amount Of Cards For Your Magic Deck

Regardless of which format you are playing in, you should always use the bare minimum of cards required to build your play deck.  That means no more than 60 cards for a normal Constructed deck and no more than 40 cards for a Sealed or Draft format deck.  

Why only use the bare minimum of cards for your deck?

You only want to use the bare minimum requirement for MtG deck size because of two simple concepts - Consistency & Probabilty  When building a deck to be competitive, you want the slimmest, most efficient, leanest deck possible so that it will perform consistently.  The more cards you add to a deck, the less efficient and less consistent it will become.  

Having a slim deck means that you have a better chance (or Probability) of drawing a nice opening hand, better chance to prevent getting mana screwed (not having enough lands to cast your spells), and a better chance at drawing what you need when you need it!  The more cards you add into your deck the less probability you will have of drawing what you need, thus your deck will suffer from what I like to call "Deck Bloat".  You deck is bloated when it has more cards than needed to run consistently as your deck probability suffers.

So remember when building or tweaking your deck - Run Slimmer & Run Stronger!

If you are playing on Magic 2013 or Magic 2014 Duels of the Planeswalkers, the game is set up to automatically bloat your deck!  As you unlock cards they are automatically added to your deck, so be aware and slim that deck back down to 60 as you unlock new cards.

Check out The Magic the Gathering Store on Amazon where you can find boosters packs, individual cards, playmats, deck protectors, life counters, Magic clothing, and more!

Friday, July 12, 2013

What Is Magic The Gathering Helper?

What Is Magic The Gathering Helper?

Magic the Gathering Helper is a new blog I am starting to discuss strategy, tips, & tricks for Magic the Gathering.  This blog will mainly be geared to focus on the Magic 2013 / Magic 2014 Duels of the Planeswalkers games (Magic for iPad and other tablets).  I have a friend just starting to play who is need of help learning the game, so I decided to put my tips and tricks into written form here on the blog.  By posting my Magic the Gathering tips and tricks and training tutorials online, I can help reach more players who are wanting to learn more about improving how they play Magic the Gathering.  Even though I will be focusing on the tablet versions of MtG, these tips and tricks can carry over into playing the tabletop version of Magic as well.

Who Am I?

I go by the name Cold, which is actually a shortened version of my main character in World of Warcraft and the name behind my World of Warcraft site, Cold's Gold Factory.  Over on Cold's Gold Factory, I write about making gold (the in-game currency) in World of Warcraft, have a successful column on Gifts For Gamers, and I also co-host for our successful and very controversial Warcraft podcast, Eviscerated Gaming.

As far as Magic the Gathering goes, I've had a lot of experience with the game.  I think I bought my first Magic the Gathering cards all the way back when The Dark expansion had just released and I played pretty hardcore as a tournament player until around the Mirage expansion block ended.  During this time I played in many tournaments, including many as part of the traveling Team Lubbock while I was in grad school at Texas Tech.  Back when they had the original format for player rankings and tournament scoring I was ranked as high as 17th in the World in Type I, which was the old school version of Magic the Gathering.

I got out of the game for a long time and sold all of my paper MtG cards, but have had some fun with MTGO (Magic the Gathering Online) as well as Magic 2013 on iPad.  I've picked up the newewst iOs version of Magic 2014 and am happy with the changes to the game.  The addition of the Sealed Deck play is a great addition and helps to allow for more variety in play decks as well as in what you see an opponent playing.

So I will start getting posts up on tactics, tips, tricks, and how to be a better Magic the Gathering player very soon.

Stay Tuned Planeswalkers!


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