Wednesday, August 28, 2013

One Year Anniversary Show!


That's right, bros. Almost one year ago, the Good Point Bros started streaming terrible Magic and solid jokes, and it's time to celebrate! On September 6th, we'll be streaming our Anniversary show on our Twitch channel, and we hope you can all make it. We're kicking around a few ideas for the show, but rest assured we'll provide all the fun that you normally expect out of the Good Point Bros.

Yes, that includes WWYD, Decent Point Bro, relax.

But more importantly, it will include multiple Magic drafts, multiple giveaways, and the same old witty banter between the three bros you've come to know and love. So get your popcorn, make sure you're stocked up on bourbon, and tell your friends. The Bros are throwing down on September 6th. And the gods only know what happens after that.

http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lw01ng38kX1qivvdso1_500.png

Friday, August 23, 2013

Top 5 Most Unplayable M14 Cards (Limited)

Every year, Magic gives us a new core set. And every year, we spend a bunch of time trying to determine the best cards in that set, in a variety of colors, in a variety of circumstances. But where's the love for the miserable? Where are the accolades for the cards that are just utterly terrible? When will the worst cards get their due discussion?

Right now.

It's now time for my list of the five cards you would steer away from in any draft, the cards you would most hate to see in your sealed pool. Here they are, the five most unplayable M14 cards in limited Magic:

5. Burning Earth

http://draft.bestiaire.org/images/m14/Burning_Earth.jpg

I put Burning Earth at 5, even though it should probably be more like 3, because it's got a definite use in Standard. So while you would never, ever play the card in a draft, it's not the worst thing to see, since it'll net you a ticket and a half in bot trades. But as far as actually playing? No, no sir. There are only three nonbasic lands in the set, so it's unlikely that you get any sort of play out of the card. Your biggest hope is that your opponent is trying to run a three-color monstrosity and he's got two or three Shimmering Grottos that you could burn him for. So, Burning Earth is a potentially sideboard-able card for the most rare of circumstances, but by and large, you'll want to play something else.

4. Encroaching Wastes

http://draft.bestiaire.org/images/m14/Encroaching_Wastes.jpg

Encroaching Wastes is one of those three nonbasic lands I mentioned above, but it's not one you'll expect to play against. Again, you're hoping to spike a Shimmering Grotto, but at what value? You're sacrificing your unplayable land plus spending four mana to destroy his somewhat playable land? Against a deck that's got Mutavaults (plural), I'd consider sideboarding in Encroaching Wastes, but really, so unlikely. Pass.

3. Shadowborn Apostle

http://draft.bestiaire.org/images/m14/Shadowborn_Apostle.jpg

In a constructed deck, maybe, maybe this guy has some value? Say, I wonder what the rules are in Commander, if his rules text overrides the limit of one-per-card? Probably not, that'd be kind of unfair. Anyways, in limited, no chance you get six of them, so it's a vanilla 1/1 for 1. If it was a sliver that'd be one thing, but a human cleric just won't get it done. I do like the flavor of the card, and its interaction with Shadowborn Demon, but as far as playing it? No sir.

2. Artificer's Hex

http://draft.bestiaire.org/images/m14/Artificers_Hex.jpg

Now we're getting into the really miserable limited cards from the set. Artificer's Hex is funny, because it actually feels really good. Not like, functionally, but the flavor is perfect for black. And it works pretty well in Commander, where equipment like Lightning Greaves gets used in almost every deck. You turn those Greaves into a curse, and you're back in the saddle. However, in M14 limited play, it's bad bad bad. There are only three equipment in the set, all at uncommon or above, and none of which is necessarily gamebreaker material. The Hex should go bottom 3 in every pack that holds it, probably above the basic land...probably.

1. Darksteel Forge

http://draft.bestiaire.org/images/m14/Darksteel_Forge.jpg

Here we are, the #1 unplayable M14 card for limited. Let me be clear: I don't think this is the worst card in the set. There will be some constructed decks that find a way to get good use out of Darksteel Forge. Indestructibility is a useful effect, and there are a thousand different ways to ramp your mana to get to nine. But in limited, get serious. While M14 matches tend to go a little longer than M13 ones did, nine mana is still asking way too much out of a single card. Furthermore, exactly which artifact are you so hung up on that you want it to be indestructible? Millstone? Fireshrieker? Really, there's just not enough power in the artifacts of M14 to even consider playing a nine-drop to protect them. Finally, it's a mythic rare, so it blows your chance at a boss mythic like a planeswalker or Archangel of Thune. Just bad feelings all around.

Honorable Mentions
- Merfolk Spy
- Dismiss Into Dream
- Pyromancer's Gauntlet

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tales From Free Play - 8/20


I have a few basic online decks that I've created over the years, and I occasionally play online with them. They're generally underpowered, but as long as you're not looking at some elite standard deck, they've got a shot. Well, the other day I put together a very basic red/green slivers deck, using only cards from M14. It has no rares, and is decidedly underwhelming. Still, I've been able to put up a decent fight from time to time. I joined a 2-headed-giant game (which almost always means that your two opponents know each other and have built decks that synergize), and went about my business. Things were fine until one sequence made my partner quit. My draws were numbered at that point, but I figured I'd play it out. A couple minutes later, here was the board state:



Yeah, 1207 life, two Serra Avatars, and Akroma's Memorial. Obviously I did not come back.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Removing Magic's Barriers - New Player Drafts

Wizards of the Coast has recently been ramping up their efforts to attract new players. It's the right move, obviously; the more people who are using your product, the more money your company makes. So how does Wizards get people to start playing Magic Online, where people spend literally hundreds of dollars a month playing games? Well, you have to find a way to make the game accessible, both financially and as far as the gameplay. Magic is an insanely complex game; simplifying it for new players is vital.

This week's blog posts will discuss what Wizards has done to try to remove the barriers to entry for the game. Today's post will focus on New Player drafts.

In order to play the official Magic The Gathering: Online, a player has to pay $10 to set up an online account. This account gives you access to the online world of MTG, which includes the opportunity to enter drafts, purchase packs of cards, trade with other players, and develop your own collection, from which you can play recreationally with your friends, or with players around the world.


New players receive a starter kit, a sort of "welcome gift," which includes some cards from the current core set (Magic releases a new core set every year, and new expansion sets every few months) and some tickets, which can be used to enter events.

Previously, the welcome gift 2 regular Event Tickets and 4 New Player Tickets. An Event Ticket costs $1 to purchase from the Wizards online store, and is used for entry into all MTGO events. New Player Tickets are only available via the starter kit, and are used to enter special New Player events. A New Player draft costs 1 New Player Ticket at 1 Event Ticket. These are phantom events, which means that the cards drafted in these events do not go into your online card collection. Additionally, while a normal event would have several prizes of 1-8 Magic 2014 (M14) packs depending on the format, a New Player event offers only a single M14 pack to the winner of an event, and no prize to the other three participants. Still, the chance to play in the drafts and possibly get a little reward out of it was enough to draw me in; I ended up buying three different accounts so that I could get the New Player draft opportunities.


Well, things have changed...quite a bit actually. Now, each player who creates a new account gets 5 normal Event Tickets and 20 New Player Tickets. This means that a new user can play five drafts at no additional cost, and can pay one dollar per draft for up to fifteen additional drafts. This gives a new player the chance to get a LOT of playtime for a fairly reasonable price; if the player elected to play through all 20 New Player drafts, he or she would spend $25 between the cost of creating a new account ($10) and the additional tickets ($15).

Won't you take me to...VALUE TOWN!

Seriously. This new setup has two distinctly exciting aspects. First, to the player, you're getting a chance for a full draft experience five times from those first ten dollars spent on the new account. Five drafts should be enough for most players to find out if they like the idea. The second part is a little more sneaky, and a creative business move. This method creates multiple nudges for the user to make a purchase from the in-game store. If you win one of the New Player drafts, you get an M14 pack. If you want to play in a real draft, you need a total of three packs as well as two Event Tickets, all readily available for purchase from the store. Plus, if you liked the experience but you're not sure if you're ready for the real thing, you can always just buy a few more Event Tickets and use up some of your 20 New Player tickets to get into more drafts. Either way, you're pulling people towards making purchases from the store, and that removes one of the bigger barriers to entry for the system: that nervous feeling you get when you're spending money. It's a good value, so what's a couple more dollars? And boom, they've got you.

Let me be clear on this, though: I have no problem with Wizards' move here. First, as I said, I was already buying new accounts to get the draft time, so this just makes it way more reasonably priced for me to do so. Second, I think Magic would appeal to a larger audience of people if they just found ways to get past some of these barriers (hence this feature on the blog). And I really do want Magic to become more mainstream; my end goal is to eventually own and run a game store, and that's obviously easier if more people are playing Magic.

What do you think of the new system? Love it? Hate it? Don't care? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The "Epic" Uncommons of M14


So, as you may have seen earlier this week, I named and rated my top five uncommons from M14. That's all well and good, but we're in the realm of M14 now, so it's time to move forward. M13 had some ace uncommons, cards you'd often take over all but the biggest bombs in draft. Does M14 have cards of the same caliber? It's tough to say for sure this early in the format, but there are certainly a few early favorites. Here's my list of the top uncommons in each color, rated against each other. Enjoy.

5. Black - Doom Blade

http://draft.bestiaire.org/images/m14/Doom_Blade.jpg

Doom Blade might actually be better than some of the other cards on this list, but it doesn't have that "epic" feel to it. It's of course very powerful; it's a strong piece of removal that has a very manageable mana cost. But as far as a card with a broad enough effect to call "epic"...no sir. As far as other potential dark horses that might shine as the format advances, I could see Blightcaster or Vampire Warlord proving to be very useful in the right decks. But as far as something as strong as Vampire Nighthawk was? No way.

4. Red - Young Pyromancer

http://draft.bestiaire.org/images/m14/Young_Pyromancer.jpg

Flames of the Firebrand is actually back in M14, and, truthfully, I'd take Flames over Pyromancer in a vacuum. But it's no fun to re-hash the previous one, so let's talk about the new one. Young Pyromancer is part of a "theme" of this deck, which is basically, Chandra is going to mess you up. Having a mono-red deck or combining red with some effective blue or black removal/control cards, Young Pyromancer gets a ton of work done. Red is actually pretty strong at the uncommon level, with Battle Sliver and Shiv's Embrace also being very useful cards in draft. Flames is still the champion, but there's plenty of potential here.

3. White - Serra Angel

http://draft.bestiaire.org/images/m14/Serra_Angel.jpg

Serra Angel has been reprinted about eighty quadrillion times, but it's been good every time, and this time is no different. It's another repeat from M13, but this time there's no Oblivion Ring to take the crown. Banisher Priest has a similar effect, but it's limited to creatures and, more importantly, the Priest itself is a creature. A big part of the strength of Oblivion Ring (and Journey to Nowhere, it's creature-only counterpart) was that it was an enchantment, and drafters often don't have enchantment removal, outside of their sideboard. Creature removal is far more common. So, this time around, I'll go with the under-costed 4/4 flyer with vigilance. The only other uncommon that looks to be worth mentioning is Wall of Swords, another reprint. It can block all day with 5 toughness, and with 3 power, it can make your opponents very wary of swinging.

2. Green - Briarpack Alpha

http://draft.bestiaire.org/images/m14/Briarpack_Alpha.jpg

Late in the M13 life cycle, I realized that Yeva's Forcemage was better than I was giving it credit for. You almost always make some use of the +2/+2 he gives to a creature, and then he's still a 2/2 body. Well, Briarpack Alpha eats Yeva's Forcemage for a light afternoon snack. It's a 3/3 instead of a 2/2, which honestly would make it already worth the additional 1 colorless mana it costs. But the thing that makes it just blow everything else away is that one extra word on the card: FLASH. It's 2/3 of a Giant Growth that also gives you a 3/3 creature at instant speed. Kalonian Tusker and Enlarge will almost always have value in drafts, and I could see Voracious Wurm being a powerhouse if the deck lends itself to that. But Briarpack Alpha to me is ahead of the rest.

1. Blue - Opportunity

http://draft.bestiaire.org/images/m14/Opportunity.jpg

Blue's uncommons are ridiculous. There are six different cards I'd consider at pack one, pick one (though with varying levels of satisfaction). Air Servant is a big flyer with a useful effect, Warden of Evos Isle is a Wind Drake+, Water Servant does all the things I loved about Watercourser and just does them better, Phantom Warrior will always play in a blue deck, and Wall of Frost buys blue decks the time they need to work their magic/Magic. But my pick is Opportunity. Drawing four cards feels as strong as drawing an entirely new hand, because it's basically that much. Six mana is a lot, but here's the best part: it's at instant speed. So you can leave up the mana for a counterspell or Disperse, and then if you end up not needing any of them, you cast Opportunity for four more cards, and your opponent concedes. Seriously. The more I've seen Opportunity played in M14, the more I'm realizing I probably under-valued Inspiration when it came around in Return to Ravnica. Sorry about that, Inspiration.


As far as an overall feeling, M14 feels way weaker than M13 on a power level. My hope is that it's part of a grander scheme by Wizards, where the effects they're focusing on (enchantments, lifegain, slivers?) get amplified in the Theros block, creating a new style of deck for Standard play. I'm interested to see how things play out in drafts over time as far as color balance. One of M13's great strengths was that each color had enough strong, problem cards that you could win playing any colors. Hopefully, despite being a little less exciting, M14 will offer the same balance and excitement in draft play.

So that's my take on the M14 uncommons. Thoughts? Questions? Applause? Hatred? Feel free to light me up in the comments, for better or worse.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Epic Uncommons


One of the best parts of drafting M13 was that you weren't relying on rare cards to carry your deck. Obviously pulling Krenko, Mob Boss or Talrand, Sky Summoner was a nice moment, but there were just as many uncommon cards that got your blood flowing. So, this two-part article is going to list the top uncommon in each color from M13, and then estimate which uncommon might fill the same role in M14. And what the hell, we'll rank them against each other as well.

5. Red - Flames of the Firebrand

http://draft.bestiaire.org/images/m13/Flames_of_the_Firebrand.jpg

In a truly red deck, you'd take Arms Dealer over Flames of the Firebrand. But Flames fits in just about every deck, and Flames would be your first pick over Arms Dealer. In M13, there were a ton of useful creatures with 1 toughness that just get eaten by Flames of the Firebrand (the aforementioned Arms Dealer, Intrepid Hero, Knight of Glory, Knight of Infamy, etc). The flexibility of being able to kill multiple creatures with one spell, or even to kill one creature and burn your opponent for 1-2 damage, is what makes Flames such a good card. And at its worst, it still kills Centaur Courser or Faerie Invaders at sorcery speed. Epic.

4. Blue - Talrand's Invocation

http://draft.bestiaire.org/images/m13/Talrands_Invocation.jpg

Talrand's Invocation seems like one of those cards that just shouldn't exist. A 2/2 flyer normally costs three mana in blue (see Wind Drake). So you add another blue mana, and you get another 2/2 flyer? They're tokens, granted, but even still, the value is insane. This card also helped me understand the value of cards. That is, a single card that generates a single creature is "normal" value. A single card that generates two creatures has considerably greater value, because it means you don't have to draw another card to get that second creature. And when the creatures aren't little 1/1 soldier tokens but 2/2 flyers...get out of here.

3. Black - Vampire Nighthawk

http://draft.bestiaire.org/images/m13/Vampire_Nighthawk.jpg

Vampire Nighthawk is too good. To prove this, Magic came out with Deathgaze Cockatrice in M14. Deathgaze Cockatrice costs 1 more colorless mana, has 2 toughness instead of 3, and doesn't have lifelink. Anything with deathtouch and either reach or flying is tantamount to a pacifism. Anything with flying and lifelink is a potential win condition. Vampire Nighthawk has all of that. Ridiculous.

2. White - Oblivion Ring

http://draft.bestiaire.org/images/m13/Oblivion_Ring.jpg

I know James will call me insane for not putting Oblivion Ring first, which speaks to how strong it can be. He refers to O-Ring as "the mythic uncommon" because it's never available after the first pick. It's perfectly splashable, which means it fits into most decks. And it's removal for, well, everything. It can't kill Primal Huntbeast, and Knight of Infamy's protection prevents you from being able to target it, but that's it; everything else yields to Oblivion Ring. That makes it almost as effective as Murder at creature removal (because it's sorcery speed), and it can also be used to remove enchantments and artifacts. It's a broad, strong piece of removal. It's worth first-picking in just about every pack.

1. Green - Rancor

http://draft.bestiaire.org/images/m13/Rancor.jpg

It's a razor thin margin between Oblivion Ring and Rancor. Interestingly, that exact situation has happened to me, choosing between Oblivion Ring and Rancor, and I hemmed and hawed for the full clock before finally taking Rancor. My thinking was this: while Oblivion Ring eliminates just about any problem you're facing, Rancor creates problems anew for your opponent, over and over again. Oblivion Ring can eliminate Rancor, it's true, but I take bombs over removal, and to me, Rancor is a bomb. It would be a playable card even if you didn't get it back; +2/+0 and trample for one mana is still good value. With the graveyard bounce-back action, it's unconscious. It's my pick for the best uncommon from M13.


But as exciting as these cards are, they're all in the past now. These days, it's all about drafting M14, and we've got a whole new list of potentially epic uncommons to choose from. On Thursday, I'll post my initial impressions of what's the best uncommon in each color, and compare them to how strong M13's were. See you then.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Commons of M14 - Green

This is part of a series of posts about drafting our brand new set, Magic 2014. I'll discuss each of the five colors, and rank each common card from that color as I would expect to take them in a limited format. Check my recent posts to see the other colors.

Green

Tier 1 - Potential pack one, pick one:
1. Rumbling Baloth
2. Rootwalla
3. Deadly Recluse
4. Verdant Haven
5. Elvish Mystic

Rumbling Baloth isn't exciting at all, but a 4/4 for four mana is a big advantage. Rootwalla can be a dangerous creature, attacking or blocking. Deadly Recluse isn't much of an attacker, but as a blocker, it's basically a piece of removal. Verdant Haven is ramp, fixing, and a little health bump. Elvish Mystic sounds more appropriate flavor-wise than Llanowar Elves, though obviously they're the same card. Regardless, the speedy ramping is very useful.

Tier 2 - Potential pick one in pack two or three, after my colors are established:
6. Giant Spider
7. Predatory Sliver
8. Hunt the Weak

Giant Spider is a really nice card both in flavor and balance...which explains why it's been reprinted a billion times. Predatory Sliver is like Timberpack Wolf except pretty much exclusively better. Hunt the Weak is the standard green removal this set. Sorcery speed, creature-based, but it often works.

Tier 3 - Solid cards to fill out the color:
9. Giant Growth
10. Trollhide
11. Advocate of the Beast
12. Gladecover Scout

Giant Growth is one of the prototypical green cards, and I'm always glad to see it. Trollhide gets a bump over a normal enchantment because it gives you a way to avoid the troublesome two-for-one situations. Advocate of the Beast seems good, but there are only a few beasts in the whole set, so mostly it's a 2/3. Gladecover Scout is an unassuming 1/1, but in an enchantment-heavy set, there are ways to make it a real problem for your opponents.

Tier 4 - Not exciting, but playable cards in color:
13. Sporemound
14. Brindle Boar
15. Ranger's Guile
16. Naturalize
17. Plummet

Sporemound makes you hate drawing lands late less, but, only a little bit less. Brindle Boar would be miles better if the life were awarded upon the Boar's death, and not just when you sacrifice it. Still, a 2/2 creature has a use. Ranger's Guile is a limited kind of counterspell ability, but you'll almost never use it for the +1/+1. Naturalize, again, in an enchantment-heavy set, might be a reasonable main-deck choice if you're lean on cards. Plummet fills a similar role, though like Naturalize, it's a better fit for a sideboard.

Tier 5 - Cards I have a hard time seeing myself play:
18. Lay of the Land
19. Groundshaker Sliver
20. Fog

Lay of the Land can help with mana-fixing, but doesn't ramp, so it's a marginal card. Groundshaker Sliver is dumb outside of a slivers deck; seven mana for a 5/5 trample is too much, especially in green. Fog might be the best worst card in any color. If you have a gimpy deck and want a trick to try to sneak a win, it's not the worst.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Baseball's Suspension Rampage

The more I'm reading about the complex situation regarding Biogenesis and the several players who may or may not be suspended as a result of the information obtained from the clinic, the more nauseous I'm getting.

Baseball is obviously very concerned with their checkered history when it comes to drug suspensions. Even before the sport tested for steroids, Steve Howe was famously suspended seven different times for drug use. His usage was not "performance-enchancing" though; he fought a battle with alcohol and cocaine abuse, substances that we know absolutely do irreparable and dramatic damage to your body. Baseball found its way to forgive Howe seven different times, but it now appears resolved to forgive Alex Rodriguez roughly zero times.

Alex Rodriguez was discovered to have been using steroids during the 2003 season, the first season that baseball tested for steroids, during a "survey" season in which players' tests would remain anonymous, and whose results would be used to determine whether or not mandatory steroid testing would ensue. That season, 104 different players tested positive for steroid use. Of those 104, I can find news of seven actual names that have been confirmed: Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa, David Segui, Larry Bigbie, and Jason Grimsley. None of those players were suspended/fined/had a finger wagged at them for those test results, presumably because A) they were supposed to remain confidential forever, and B) baseball didn't have a true anti-steroids policy at the time.

But there's something in that list that should give you pause. Look at it again. I'll wait.

Did you find it? It's Manny Ramirez. Manny tested positive in 2009, was banned for 50 games, and returned. Then he tested positive again in 2011, was banned for 100 games, and chose to retire rather than face the suspension. Eventually he decided he wanted to return to baseball, and was able to negotiate the second suspension down to 50 games. He's played in the minor leagues a bit, and likely won't return to major league action ever again, not as a result of discipline for substance abuse, but simply because he's 41 years old and can't really hit anymore.

So here's the information we have:

Manny Ramirez
Tested positive in 2003
Tested positive again in 2009, suspended 50 games
Tested positive again in 2011, suspended 100 games (later reduced)

Alex Rodriguez
Tested positive in 2003

Found to have been receiving illegal treatments from a clinic
Potential lifetime ban

What in the ever-loving shit is going on here?

The evidence suggests that Rodriguez should be treated the same as Ramirez, but that's not what's happening. A-Rod is getting railroaded because he's not well-liked, and because baseball really doesn't want him to hit enough home runs to bypass their precious records. It says something when baseball would rather let Barry Bonds hold onto a record than risk letting you overtake him.

But it's all garbage. Baseball is trying to do something that U.S. law prohibits, which is to punish Rodriguez for attempting to exercise his collectively bargained right to defend himself. From this article on Yahoo by Ronald Blum of the Associated Press:
Major League Baseball is threatening to kick A-Rod out of the game for life unless the New York star agrees not to fight a lengthy suspension for his role in the sport's latest drug scandal, according to a person familiar with the discussions...Whether Commissioner Bud Selig would actually issue a lifetime suspension was unclear and a permanent ban could be shortened by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz to about 200 games, the person said.
Now listen. Nobody really likes Alex Rodriguez. He's a Yankee, he's wealthy, and he's a cheater. That trifecta is going to net you an awful lot of disdain. But he's entitled to be treated the same as his peers. Major League Baseball set a precedent with Manny Ramirez. He was a big name player who'd had a prolific career and was still productive, he tested positive, and he was suspended for 50 games. You can't force Rodriguez to be suspended for four times as long just because you don't like the guy.

I've never had a vendetta for steroid users. A couple of steroid users pretty much saved baseball after the strike that cost us a World Series (and may have cost Montreal their baseball team). They're committing a crime, so I'm on board with them getting punished, but after you establish the punishments, you can't just change them willy-nilly. It destroys your credibility and creates uncertainty for players/owners/teams. But more than anything else, it's distasteful and vindictive. I hope that's not what 21st century baseball is about.

The Commons of M14 - Red

This is part of a series of posts about drafting our brand new set, Magic 2014. I'll discuss each of the five colors, and rank each common card from that color as I would expect to take them in a limited format. Check my recent posts to see the other colors.

Red

Tier 1 - Potential pack one, pick one:
1. Shock
2. Pitchburn Devils
3. Chandra's Outrage

Shock is immensely useful. As a one mana card, it's almost always available to blast away some creature. Pitchburn Devils is like Goblin Arsonist on acid, so obviously I think it's fantastic. I like Chandra's Outrage; four damage is going to get rid of the most common problem creatures in the set.

Tier 2 - Potential pick one in pack two or three, after my colors are established:
4. Blur Sliver
5. Marauding Maulhorn

Blur Sliver is just a really solid card; 2/2 with haste just gets work done. Marauding Maulhorn is very useful even if you haven't got Advocate of the Beast. Dropping 5 power on turn four is a huge advantage.

Tier 3 - Solid cards to fill out the color:
6. Regathan Firecat
7. Goblin Shortcutter
8. Act of Treason
9. Striking Sliver
10. Lightning Talons
11. Canyon Minotaur

Red in this set seems to get a lot of power at a reasonable price; Regathan Firecat gives you 4 power for three mana. Goblin Shortcutter can give you a very useful effect sometimes, but is always good enough to play. Act of Treason is a hit-or-miss, but sometimes it can hit really, really big. Striking Sliver is similar, really strong in a slivers deck, kind of blah in a deck without slivers. Lightning Talons is a powerful enchantment; 3 power plus first strike is an offensive and defensive house. Canyon Minotaur is Canyon Minotaur.

Tier 4 - Not exciting, but playable cards in color:
12. Dragon Hatchling
13. Academy Raider
14. Thunder Strike
15. Lava Axe
16. Wild Guess

Dragon Hatchling is a card that relies heavily on exactly how red your deck is. Academy Raider is I guess about as good as Rummaging Goblin was, but I'm not wild about relying on intimidation to get my card cycling. Thunder Strike reminds me of Mind Rot; you don't want to play it, but you don't want to see your opponent play it either. Similarly, you want to have Lava Axe late game, but you don't want to make room for it in your deck. I'd like Wild Guess alright if it were instant speed, but as is, it sits pretty low on my list.

Tier 5 - Cards I have a hard time seeing myself play:
17. Smelt
18. Seismic Stomp
19. Cyclops Tyrant
20. Demolish

We all know what Smelt is, sideboard. Seismic Stomp can be useful for some extra evasion, but you have to already have a decent board for it to be useful. Cyclops Tyrant has a forbidding cost and a considerable downside. I'll avoid it most of the time. I guess in the rare situation where your opponent lucked into a ton of good artifacts or one or more Mutavaults, you might want to play Demolish. But that's about it.

Top 500 Songs - Dave Matthews Band

This was always going to be the hardest of my band lists, because I like so many of DMB's songs, and have liked them so differently over...