Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Replacing Juzam in monoblack. How do alternatives add up?

It's not debate, that stat wise, Juzam is the mid-range beater in the format. With immunity to Bolt, Blast, Terror, and being a 5/5 for 4 with a realistically minor drawback, it's no wonder it's considered one of the most iconic creatures of the era.

However, due to a lack of availability and some less the savory issues with the game at the moment, it's realistically out of ones price range, which means one must come with an alternative, mainly for the Mono-black. Well I'm here to solve this for you!

Grading the cards:

Each card will start with a score of 5. I will then add a +1 for each advantage that card offers (evasion, cheaper or same CMC, durability), then reduce a point for it's weaknesses, for instance a card will lose a point for each mana it costs more then Juzam, each point weaker then then power (-.5) for each toughness, ect.



Sengir Vampire

Sengir is the most often said replacement for Juzam, both because it's iconic, and because it's powerful in its own right. With evasion, and a ability that discourages Alpha Strikes/Chump Blocks, it's understanble why it's cited so much.

  • Evasion.  +1
  • Bonus! Pumpable  +1
  • Immune to Bolt    +1
  • Power/toughness (4/4)   -1.5
  • Converted Mana Cost 5 -1
  • Dies to blast -1
At 4.5/5, this is a pretty good score, however, the additional point in no mana, and the reduction in p/t makes the difference. Plus, many could argue, while not strictly inferior, he plays different then Juzam. 


"Beep Beep MF!"

 Like many card, Juggernaut is a card that saw much fanfare in the early years of the game, but has since fallen out of popularity. Still a modestly powerful card in it's own right, even if it's weaknesses show.

  • Minor Evasion    +.5
  • Colorless            +.5
  • Immunity to The Abyss    +2
  • Major Drawback    -2
  • Converted Mana Cost (4)    +0
  • Power/Toughness (5/3)      -1 
  • Dies to bolt  -1
  • Dies to blast -1

At 3/5, on the score, Juggernaut is a lack luster alternative, but it's cheap, both in CMC and in dollars (even in Swiss if you go for white border). 

Clockwork Beast

 Another popular creature from the 'good ol' days', Clockwork Beast only fits into this slot due to the fact it's colorless, realistically able to come out as soon turn 2-3 (about the same as Juzam). 

In reality, it's drawback is minor, due to it swings for 11 before being even w/ Juzam. However, it does get progressively weaker, and it's ability can be very costly in the late game, however, I'm judging it as a minor drawback.

  • CMC (6)                    -2
  • Colorless                   .5
  • Bolt Proof                +1
  • Abyss Proof             +2
  • Power (X/4)               0
  • Minor Drawback       -1
  • Dies to blast              -1

In reality, this guy does hit hard, and with the ability to resist Abyss is just bonus points. However, it's 6 CMC, it's dewinding drawback, and it's lack of evasion keeps it from being amazing, but at 4/5, certainly an interesting proposal. 


Clockwork Avian 
This is some awesome art!

Clockwork Beast was so popular that it got a spiritual sequel in Antiquities, called Clockwork Avian. A flying 4/4 for 5 (then weaker). 
  • CMC (5)            -1
  • Power/toughness (x/4)       -2.5
  • Bolt Proof         +1
  • Dies to Blast      -1
  • Abyss Proof       +2
  • Colorless            +.5
  • Evasion (flying)     +1
  • Minor Drawback    -.5 (due to rewind being cheaper)

At 4/5, it's on par w/ the Beast, and while swinging for less, it's evasion makes it a bit more consistent then it's older brother.


Often the replacement to Juggernaut in the modern time, due to it's little drawback that isn't relevant in this time period. 

  • CMC (4)     0
  • Power/Toughness(4/4)     -1.5
  • Immunity to Bolt      +1
  • Dies to Blast             -1
  • Immunity to the Abyss   +2
  • Minor Drawback (in certain formats)  -.5
  • Colorless                                              .5

6/5, it's an amazing contender. While not Juzam, it makes a good contender for second place (with Sengir)

Fallen Angel

Fallen Angel

The black sheep of this family, Fallen  Angel is often better when built around, but it does have benefits. 
  • CMC (5)       -1
  • Power Toughness (3/3)  -2
  • Bonus! Pumpable   +1
  • Dies to Bolt -1
  • Dies to Blast -1
  • Bonus! Immunity to Control Magic +1
  •  Evasion (Flying) +1

Fallen Angel isn't a straight replacement to the big J, but she's solid when built around. Unfortunately when not built around, she's rather lack luster, though being able to pump her up to swing lethal is nice.  

Final Score: 3/5

Nameless Race

Nameless Race
Looks like a certain cartoon character.
One of the few rarities that in theory it can come out bigger then Juzam, even if unlikely. It also has the draw back of paying life upon cast, which can be more disasterous then losing life on upkeep. However, if being used in the board against mono-white, can ultimately be very powerful indeed. Plus Trample is always nice.

Fun Fact: This creature currently has no creature type.
No Score (due to variance)

Non-Swiss Formats

Probably the weakest on this list, Derelor unlike some of these guys actually saw major tournament play in 96 in a deck called 5 color sligh (where a set of twins of this saw play as the only black card in the deck). 

  •  CMC (4)   +0
  • Power/Toughness (4/4)   -1.5
  • Dies to Blast                  -1
  • Immunity to Bolt           +1
  • Severe Drawback           -2
  • Bonus: Tribal Relevant (Thrull)   +1

At 3.5, he's the weakest choice on the list, but also one of the most cheapest to actually own.  Again, his draw back is severe (as someone who's actually run him in decks), but at a 4/4 for 4, he's not all that bad. I can understand why he'd see play in a 5 color deck.

Ihsan's Shade

Ihsan's Shade 

The last creature on my list (sorry Dread Wight), Ihsan's the quintessential 95 black legend in my mind. With a combination of durability, strength, and awesome flavor, who doesn't like Magic's own fallen Paladin.

  • CMC (6)     -2
  • 3 black       -1
  •  Power/Toughness (5/5)         +0
  • Minor Drawback: Legend                 -.5
  •  Immunity to Bolt                  +1
  • Immunity to Blast                  +1
  • Bonus! Immunity to StP        +1
  • Minor Evasion (Protection from White)     +.5

According to my math, Ihsan gets a 'perfect' score of 5/5. However, I feel, he's not perfect, and as such, I decided to save the best for last using the "5/5" system.

Juzam Djinn

Juzám Djinn
  A card that needs no introduction, Big J himself.

  • CMC (4) +0
  • Power/Toughness (5/5)     +0
  • Immunity to Bolt             +1
  • Immunity to Blast             +1
  • Minor Drawback (Upkeep)             -1

In reality Juzam got 7/5, which means this grading system isn't amazing, is it?

Well, that it, and it took me way to long to type this out, but if you have a request of something I accidently (or deliberately) missed, send me a message on here, write on the inevitable twitter thread, or send me a message, and I'll add it in the sequel article. I also hope, this inspires you not to spend a few grand on a set of this badass. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Twiddle: The Swiss Army Knife.

"Twiddle doesn't see play because you touch yourself at night"-Gary J Steffen Jr.

Cards with multiple forms I call modular cards (not to be confused with the Mirrodin Block mechanic). Before the charms existed, cards with a wide variety of use and versatility was actually kind of rare. No one Bolt's there Fungusaur to give it +1/+1, it's almost always used offensively. The same could be said for Swords, though I at least seen that used to keep someone alive before (against creature less burn).

Twiddle is one such card, it's a simple, deceptively complicated card, that has almost infinite applications, much like the Swiss Army Knife I compare it to.

In all it's simple elegant glory.

I will get lots of flack, when I dare say, Twiddle is the most underrated card in the entire format. It's name, which means to change something minor, or to fiddle with something pointlessly, does exactly that. This card does exactly that, which for the cheap price of a blue, taps or untaps and artifact creature or land.

Here is a list of the things Twiddle can be used, both offensively and defensively.


Tap down a would be attacker/blocker (especially Colossus of Sardia)
Tempo disadvantage from tapping a land during the upkeep
Tapping down a 'cost rock' like Vault or Monolith
 Untapping a value land, such as Tron/Workshop
An Extra Draw off of Library
Makes Factory a 4/4 defender for one turn
Untapping a Time Vault (the best use)
Getting a second creature off Rubinia/Sea Singer

Saving a creature from Royal Assassin
Turning Off/On an artifact like Howling Mine/Winter Orb
Untapping a creature as a combat trick (plus Leviathan)
Second Maze Effect
Tapping a Erg Raider

It also synergizes with the following cards really well:
Siren's Call/Nettling Imp
Sirens Call
Disc (allowing you to use it in a pinch)
Royal Assassin

Sure time hasn't been as good as it use to be, you can no longer fog a blocking creature with it, and it doesn't turn off every artifact anymore. However, I feel it's still absurd that it doesn't see any play.

Playability: 5/5.


The art of Alexander is always breath taken. This is no exception. It's pretty amazing, however the best part is the debate on what is going on. Is the Island tapped down, out of mana, or is it the jellyfish? Is the Jellyfish simply being untapped? It's the perfect art for such a metaphysical effect.

In reality, the art was commissioned as a land, but got put on this instead.  (


Flavor: The idea that it's a 'small change' works well with what it does. It does something extremely minor, changing the state of a permanent, but it's such an important and amazing effect. I'd dare say, this card views what magic was intended to be, a card of small effect with numerous application.


Conclusion: I hope you all try out this gem, whether it's in casual brews or tournament uses. I promise, you won't regret it.