Just in time for Halloween we have a ghoulish treat that taste as good a carmel apple without the hassle of making them yourself or risking life and limb by biting into a razor blade ridden apple.

Pop These in your mouth for a carmel apple

Test

ahhh

The family that “ahhhs” together stays together. 

jakey matt dolge 
Jakey doesn’t know how to say cheese yet but because he is learning how to brush his teeth he can say ahhh. Here the whole family gets into saying ahhh. 

This picture was taken by Carla on July 4th, 2015 (Independence Day) which is also Patrick and Meghan wedding day. 

Margie, Jakey, and I travelled to Mulkiteo and parked the car at the beach park and walked onto the ferry boat to travel to Whidbey Island for a wedding. We then took a shuttle to the wedding. 

dual lands magic the gathering

The most important part of any deck is the lands and dual lands are the holy grail of magic. Fortunately, dual lands are pretty cheap and you should be able to build a winning deck by spending less than $20 on lands. 

When Ice Age and Fourth Edition came out, old-time players were dismayed at the lack of dual lands. So beloved for their ability to let players cast their spells, their removal signified the dawn of a new era in Magical mana. Players would have to work to get a good manabase, and pay real costs to have something other than a mono-color deck.

But what if they had reprinted dual lands instead?

The precedent set would be completely different. Instead of wondering what the next set’s manafixing was going to be, there would always be the best the game had to offer instead.

seachrome coast mtg dual lands

There were several years in Magic’s history when, if you were playing Standard, there were only certain color combinations that were possible, due to how the mana worked. Going outside of that meant using terrible, slow lands against the nonstop aggression of monocolored red decks with no such restrictions. Early incarnations of combo decks, like Survival of the Fittest/Recurring Nightmare, or Mike Long’s Prosperous Bloom, would have been unfathomably stronger.

The irony in replacing all those inferior dual lands with real duals, though, is that we would miss out on what really defines Eternal formats: fetchlands. It would be insane to print them in a Magic where everyone has access to dual lands in every format; doing so would essentially dictate the end of color restrictions mattering for Standard.

There’s also the ugly side to printing dual lands: printing cards to hate out the dual lands. The game would still need a way to incentivize people to play their basics, so cards like Wasteland, Back to Basics, and Blood Moon would certainly be made more prominent, rather than placed in the sad bin of “things the game doesn’t do any more.”

Would Magic be a better game in this alternate reality? It would certainly be a less expensive one, if the hideously expensive lands were instead reprinted to saturation. But we’d also run into a lot more Standard decks that resemble things like Shadowmoor’s Five-Color Control: all the best cards in whatever color; shuffle ‘em up. 

Forward by: Matt Dolge 

Written by: Jesse “Easy Mana” Mason

Build your deck at card kingdom

Look forward to your comments below.

ross lake

The Youth Leadership Adventures has got to be one of the best youth
programs for empowering youth to be the next generation’s stewards of the
environment.

My morning started off at 4:30am on August 9th, 2014 with a 3-hour solo drive to Ross Lake in the North Cascades. I had a lot of time to think about the day ahead yet had no idea how much this day was going to change my life. A month earlier I had accepted the invitation to participate in a day trip with the Youth Leadership Adventures to which I had no prior knowledge of Youth Leadership Adventures. But the offer to hike the North Cascades and explore Ross Lake on a guided boat tour was a chance I couldn’t pass on and I am glad that I didn’t.

By 7:30am the sun was rising over the mountains peaks, which made the lake, sparkle like diamonds. At the trailhead an energetic group of strangers prepared for a hike down to the lake. The strangers were just friends that I had not met and they warmly welcomed me into their group. We tightened our hiking boots, stretched out the legs, and began to make our way down to the “mule”. The hike was an easy scenic stroll on well-kept switchbacks. We took our time to observe wildlife, take photographs, and learn about the history of the North Cascades Institute.

Once we reached the dam we could see that the lake stretched all the way up to the Canadian border. Being an avid hiker who has hiked 4 out of the Mighty 5, Utah’s National Parks I thought I had seen all the colors that nature could provide, but Ross Lake’s naturally blue-green color is surreal and the water is so clear that fish can be seen 10 feet below the water’s surface. This protected land is so pure and raw it cannot be reproduced through photographs.

Before boarding the mule, which is a more of a barge than a boat we discussed the activities for the remainder of the day. Amy Brown from the North Cascades Institute leads the conversation and let’s us in on why we are here. “The YLA is a hands-on outdoor leadership program focused on mentoring students in field science, communications, and public speaking. It is our goal to listen, learn, and support them in their passion for the conservation”.

After about an hour on the boat we arrive at the campsite where the youth leaders have called home for the past ten days. Their campsite is primitive with no running water or restrooms, but has an incredible view that sits on a bluff, which overlooks the lake. I mentally add this as a place to camp to my bucket list. We pick up a number of youth leaders and return to the mule to troll northward to a secluded shoal. This remote area is heavily shaded with overgrown trees and lichens are thriving. It’s lunchtime and we break into small groups to learn why the youth have chosen to participate in YLA. It is at this point that I learn why I made the three-hour drive…

These youth leaders felt empowered to take responsibility for the environment and hearing them speak about conversation, sustainable practices, and stewardship was truly awe-inspiring. Standing before us were the next stewards of the environment. What they needed from us is support, leadership, awareness, and access to resources. What they already had was the determination to protect the environment; they just needed to know how to do it. Thanks to the Youth Leadership Adventures these passionate environmentalist now have the leadership skills to make an impact in their local communities.

grixis

Grixis Delver might be the best deck in modern as it is one of the most consistent decks to win. It can apply pressure when needed and is a world-class deck able to compete at the pro level.

Legacy U/R Delver has undergone a terrifying metamorphosis since the loss of its beloved Treasure Cruise. It already often harbored a black splash, the lust for power over the combo decks too easily satisfied by the synergy of Pyromancer and Cabal Therapy. But this is something darker.

In the Treasure Cruise era all of this stayed in the side board and you might never know it was there, unless your opponent naturally drew their Underground Sea. Now, even the threat base has dipped into Black. We’ve seen Tasigur everywhere, in every format. He’s just good. But perhaps good doesn’t belong in this deck. After all, it’s no fun to pay four mana to activate his ability and get back a Daze. Maybe you thought Gurmag Angler was a joke? I assure you that when you’re opponent casts it for one mana and you look down at the Lightning Bolt in your hand, you will not be laughing.

grixis delver mtg of secrets

Dig Through Time isn’t Treasure Cruise, we know. Still, even if you have to pay an extra mana for it, the effect is often better. While other Delver variants have been shy about incorporating the Delve draw spell that requires a whopping TWO mana to cast, Grixis, ever the ruthless pragmatist, has recruited Dig into the fold.

It’s clear that something unseemly is transpiring just below the surface. A once lighthearted, format warping superpower, has fallen from grace and taken on a darker aspect. While BUG lists are working in a different direction, it is Grixis Delver that has taken up the mantle and may be the heir apparent to the Delver throne.

 

Cards in the Grixis Delver deck:

1 Island
2 Flooded Strand
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Polluted Delta
4 Scalding Tarn
2 Underground Sea
3 Volcanic Island
17 lands

4 Delver of Secrets
1 Gurmag Angler
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Young Pyromancer
1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
14 creatures

4 Brainstorm
4 Daze
2 Dig Through Time
1 Fire//Ice
4 Force of Will
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Forked Bolt
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Ponder
29 other spells

Sideboard
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Null Rod
1 Pithing Needle
1 Sulfuric Vortex
1 Echoing Truth
2 Price of Progress
3 Pyroblast
1 Rakdos Charm
1 Vendilion Clique
2 Cabal Therapy
1 Sudden Demise
15 sideboard cards

Forward by: Matt Dolge 

Written by: Jordan “Ruthless Pragmatist” Short

 

Build this deck at card kingdom

crystal shared book cover

If you aren’t familiar with Robert Anthony Salvatore first book The Crystal Shard: The Legend of Drizzt, Book 4 spend a weekend and give it a read and you’ll be surprised out how many Magic cards that Salvatore inspired through this book.

crystal shard magic card

Sometimes a deck can be a brilliant innovation, fun to play, have seeming strategic dominance over the field, and be completely the wrong choice to play. This is Crystal Witness, from Matteo Cirigliano in 2004’s Mirrodin Block Constructed.

I don’t want to take anything away from this brilliant blue-green concoction. It has creatures with comes-into-play abilities. It has card drawing and permission. It reuses those creatures with Crystal Shard until you’re happily bouncing and replaying and destroying everything your opponent has over and over and over. Somewhere around turn fourteen, your opponent might realize they can’t possibly beat your Eternal Witness when it comes into play for the eighth straight turn.

But… let’s be real for a second. Is this deck Affinity? No, it is not. Affinity was totally legal in Mirrodin Block Constructed at the time (well, not Skullclamp), and this deck has zero cards with Affinity or that kill the opponent for one mana. Instead, it has eleven maindeck artifact removal spells and more in the sideboard.

Is it going to beat Affinity most of the time? Well… let’s focus on how cool it is, instead. Let’s block their guys with Solemn Simulacrum, activate Triskelion before bouncing it back to our hand, and draw more Viridian Shamans than our opponent has overpowered artifacts.

But somehow, someway, things come together in favor of coolness over power. This deck debuted with a 13-1-1 record at a Grand Prix, the only loss coming in the finals because of… the incredibly overpowered Affinity? Tooth and Nail easily winning on turn four? Its own lack of powerful cards? Nope. It didn’t draw enough lands.

Cards in this Deck:

12 Forest
12 Island
24 lands

4 Eternal Witness
4 Solemn Simulacrum
2 Triskelion
4 Viridian Shaman
14 creatures

3 Annul
4 Condescend
3 Crystal Shard
4 Echoing Truth
4 Oxidize
4 Thirst for Knowledge
22 other spells

Sideboard
1 Annul
2 Duplicant
4 Last Word
4 Tel-Jilad Justice
4 Troll Ascetic
15 sideboard cards

Forward by: Matt Dolge
Written by: Jesse “CAN I GET A WITNESS?” Mason

Looking forward to your comments…

food chain

This year I began buying and selling Magic cards like stocks so if you want an insider tip on a hot “stock” card to buy then Food Chain should be in your portfolio. According to TCG Player Food Chain’s price has relatively been stable since April 2014 but appears to making stable gains and is expected to reach new highs before the end of the quarter. Alright enough investor babble, let’s dive into why this card is so fun to play.

food chain mtg card

The best thing about Legacy is the sheer diversity of the format. On any given weekend there are a lot of archetypes capable of spiking a tournament. Last weekend it was Food Chain’s turn, in the hands of Jeffrey Chen. Now, maybe Food Chain isn’t the best deck in Legacy, but it is fun, customizable and capable of winning without the combo.

If you’ve never seen this deck in action there are a lot of moving parts. You’ll need a Misthollow Griffin, a copy of Food Chain and one of your win conditions in hand. So let’s say on turn one you play a Deathrite Shaman. Turn two you ramp into a Food Chain, and on turn three you play a Misthollow Griffin. Now you can exile your Griffin and net a mana. Since you can play the Griffin from exile you can repeat this process to gain infinite mana. Now with your infinite mana you can cast an infinitely big Genesis Hydra to find the one-of Tidespout Tyrant, exile and play the Griffin a bunch more times to use the Tyrant’s ability to bounce all of their permanents and beat down at your leisure.

This game plan has some holes in it. Against fast combo decks that don’t need a bunch of lands in play, the combo doesn’t really do much besides give you an impressive board. Even if the combo is relevant it’s often tough in Legacy to put together a combo with three pieces. The strength of a strategy like this is that if your opponent has a way to prevent you from comboing, you can just play the midrange deck and cast some creature and attack. It’s a lot like Splinter Twin plays in Modern. You just put out some threats and start attacking and your opponent has to respect your ability to kill out of nowhere.

This deck has a lot of different win conditions that people have found. You can run Fierce Empath to tutor up Emrakul. You can even kill with Maga, Traitor to Mortal. I like the Genesis Hydras that Jeffrey played. You can even set a Food Chain on top of your deck with Brainstorm, then cast a Hydra for five to put an uncounterable Food Chain onto the battle field. Neat.

Food Chain is just one of the endless possibilities Legacy has to offer. Even within oddball archetypes like this there is a lot of room to make your own deck building choices. So congrats to Jeffrey “the Chain” Chen for finding the sweet spot; playing to win and playing for fun!

Cards in this Deck:

1 Bayou
4 Misty Rainforest
2 Polluted Delta
3 Tropical Island
3 Underground Sea
4 Verdant Catacombs
1 Forest
1 Island
1 Swamp
20 lands

2 Vendilion Clique
1 Birds of Paradise
4 Deathrite Shaman
2 Genesis Hydra
4 Misthollow Griffin
1 Tidespout Tyrant
4 Baleful Strix
18 creatures

3 Manipulate Fate
3 Abrupt Decay
4 Brainstorm
2 Dig Through Time
1 Dimir Charm
4 Force of Will
1 Misdirection
4 Food Chain
22 other spells

Sideboard
2 Grafdigger’s Cage
2 Relic of Progenitus
1 Abrupt Decay
2 Disfigure
2 Golgari Charm
2 Umezawa’s Jitte
1 Venser, Shaper Savant
3 Duress
15 sideboard cards

Forward by: Matt Dolge
Written by: Jordan “Off The Chain” Short

Build this deck at Card Kingdom.

Looking forward to your comments…

spacecraft bunny zumiez rocktober

Each year Zumiez hosts a giant costume party called Rocktober which is the climax to a daylong training event. The costume party always takes place the last week of September (named Rocktember) or more often than not the first week of October appropriately named Rocktober. The party is typically open bar and hosted at an undisclosed bowling alley that also has roller-skating and karaoke. If any of the brands that Zumiez carries participates in the training exercises then they also attend. In the past industry pros and vendors have attend like Danny Kass. This year’s theme is Headbangers Ball; so expect to see your favorite 1990’s MTV personalities and big hair bands present. The event is invitation only and is mostly reserved for Zumiez employees only. If you can get your hands on a VIP wristband or a media pass you’ll be sure to have fun. Check out photos from past Rocktober parties.

 

jared hanks

zeke bradley jimbob hume

urza block mtg

The fact is the Urza block is horrifically broken but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t some cards that should be in your UrzaTron deck. Enter the “UrzaTron” lands. On their own they each tap for a single colorless mana but by assembling Urza’s Mine, Tower, and Power Plant the deck can easily cast creatures as large as Emrakul. You can either patiently wait to naturally draw the Mine, Tower, and Power Plant or you stock your library with cards like Condescend, Remand, Thirst for Knowledge, and Expedition Map ensuring that you enable Urza’s “Tron”.

urza mine card

So… what if Urza block hadn’t been horrifically broken?

A bit of history: Urza block had… let’s call it “a few” cards that were too good. If this isn’t enough to jog your memory, check out the Legacy banned list: bits of fun like Tolarian Academy, Yawgmoth’s Will, Windfall, and the so-good-it-had-to-be-emergency-banned-in-Standard Memory Jar. Basically, what happened is that a small group of people rushed the designs on the set, and there was no time to find out in playtesting that Grim Monolith goes rather well with Voltaic Key.

But what if those cards hadn’t gotten printed in their final forms; if the designers had been a bit more conservative with things like “making spells free to cast”? The fallout from the Urza block debacle shook Wizards to its core. They completely revamped how they playtested sets, by hiring a team of former pro Magic players to tell them when they made cards that were unprintable. In the meantime, they shipped out an underpowered Masques block to tide things over.

Urza block ended up being one of Wizards’ most important teachers. Their devoted fans, the people going to Standard tournaments every week, got fed up with losing to a turn two combo kill and found other things to do with their time. The Urza block experience (a.k.a. printing things way, way too powerful for tournaments and suffering for it) seems like an inevitability. There was no one who could find out beforehand what all the powerful, unfun cards were. Even if they did find some, there was no Future-Future-League to test things that would happen two years down the road, with enough time to go back and change (or remove) those problematic cards.

The fallout from all these broken, un-playtested cards gave us something else, though: a whole ton of cards that define Legacy and Vintage. Sure, Gaea’s Cradle might have been a bad idea to print… but Legacy is a more interesting format with the Elf deck running around. The same goes for Sneak Attack, Show and Tell, Exploration, and even Yawgmoth’s Will in Vintage.

Of course, things go in cycles. The tension builds and builds after a broken block. Designers push things more and more, things get changed closer to the absolute deadline of printing a card, and people naturally become riskier after a long period of time without getting punished for it. Magic had been building up to this point for five years since the game began, and Urza block was the dam breaking. Then, the tension builds for five more years as Urza block fades slightly in memory, and Mirrodin happens. Yet again, a lack of playtesting and too many last-minute changes leads to a bunch of bans in various formats.

The lesson here, then, is to be ever-vigilant about repeating one’s mistakes. Don’t get so confident that past lessons are forgotten, or you’ll find yourself wading into the same waters that pulled you under years back.

Now onto an incredibly fun deck to play…that will allow you to cast Emrakul.

Cards in this Deck:

4 Celestial Colonnade
1 Eye of Ugin
3 Hallowed Fountain
1 Island
3 Seachrome Coast
1 Tolaria West
4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Power Plant
4 Urza’s Tower
25 lands

1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
4 creatures

4 Azorius Signet
1 Condescend
1 Day of Judgment
3 Expedition Map
4 Gifts Ungiven
1 Oblivion Ring
4 Path to Exile
4 Remand
1 Repeal
1 Talisman of Progress
4 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Timely Reinforcements
1 Unburial Rites
1 Wrath of God
31 spells

Forward by: Matt Dolge
Written by: Jesse “Horrifically Broken” Mason

Build this deck at Card Kingdom.

Looking forward to your comments…

angry hermit mtg

Is that Eddie Vedder with his shirt off peaking out from behind the trees?! Oh wait, that druid has way too many tattoos to be Eddie Vedder and also Eddie isn’t a hermit nor is he angry.

hermit druid mtg card

Combo: Hermit Druid. The second part of the combo is untapping with Hermit Druid.

Being able to cast Demonic Tutor is pretty good, seeing as that card is banned in Legacy, restricted in Vintage, and worse versions of it have become cornerstones of various archetypes. But if your entire library goes into your graveyard… similar things happen. Krosan Reclamation becomes double-Tutor. You suddenly have all these Cabal Therapies to cast. And, better yet, they’re probably dead on the spot, which is somehow even better than casting Cabal Therapy (well, slightly better).

This graveyard deck is, of course, a Reanimator deck. Some games are fairly straightforward: you Exhume a big guy into the dead place, then bring it back to the land of the living where it kills them in short order. Boring. What the cool kids are doing with this deck, though, is returning Sutured Ghoul to play, exiling 20 or more power worth of creatures from the graveyard, and attacking with haste due to the Anger in the graveyard. Angry… Hermit.

In retrospect, this graveyard strategy just seems adorable. Awww, look, it has to jump through hoops to get creatures into play from the graveyard because Dread Return didn’t exist! How precious is that Krosan Colossus, the biggest creature available to it at the time? And don’t you just want to nuzzle the deck and coo to it that one day it’ll grow up big and strong with Dredge cards?

For those of you wondering why this is Angry Hermit pt 2, the original Angry Hermit had Deranged Hermit and burn spells. That is, it had none of the same cards. Great job with the deck names, guys.

Cards in this Deck:

4 Bloodstained Mire
4 City of Brass
2 Darigaaz’s Caldera
4 Forsaken City
4 Llanowar Wastes
1 Mountain
2 Reflecting Pool
1 Tarnished Citadel
1 Underground River
23 lands

2 Anger
1 Avatar of Woe
4 Hermit Druid
1 Krosan Colossus
2 Sutured Ghoul
2 Verdant Force
12 creatures

2 Cabal Therapy
4 Duress
4 Entomb
4 Exhume
1 Krosan Reclamation
4 Mox Diamond
2 Reanimate
4 Vampiric Tutor
25 other spells

Sideboard
1 Addle
3 Chill
4 Defense Grid
1 Engineered Plague
2 Naturalize
1 Phantom Nishoba
1 Ray of Revelation
1 Seal of Removal
1 Swamp
15 sideboard cards

Forward by: Matt Dolge
Written by: Jesse “Double-Tooter” Mason

Build this deck at Card Kingdom.

Looking forward to your comments…