Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Kasimir, the Lonely man

 "People souls — perennial loners. They're loners like stray stars"--Antoni Lange, Lonliness 

Kasimir, hands down, is one of the strangest legends in Legends (which says something) and is also one of the worst. Both of these things are spectacular accomplishments, given legends track record. However, a card is more than it's usefulness, but the sum of it's parts. So I need to ask this, when factoring in art and flavor, is Kasimir a bad card?

Art: RKF can never disappoint, Kasimir is no different. A large, bulky barbarian with a wolf by his side. A small battle axe, and some vague mysterious background elements (is the sun setting behind a mountain, or just clouds?). Richard works well on this, showing off enough unique detail of his legends that they show they aren't the common rank and file, while leaving plenty for the imagination to fill in the gaps. Kasimir is no different, with his teeth necklace, his fur cape and his rune battle axe. The wolf is a nice touch as well, but probably the weakest part of the art, since it steals the limelight from Kasimir. Art: 4/5

  Playability: So, lets look at him objectively, he's a 5/3, same stats as a juggernaut, he doesn't have to attack each turn, but can be blocked by walls. He's in two colors (one of which is blue), and he costs 2 more mana than Juggernaut. I'm not going to lie, I use to really like this guys art (and still do), but he's clearly a bad card. No wonder why he's a loner, no one wants to cast him. Still, the white does allow him to be pumped by a large number of cards, and for that, I'll give him a point. 2/5

Flavor: Probably the strangest thing of the card. It's a w/u card, of a former holy man, who took up the sword (or axe). His art screams Red/Green, his flavor text shouts Green/White. He is a 5/3 which is good for a human, but I'm not sure if that also includes the wolf in the art. If one good thing to be said about Kasimir is that his flavor text is vague enough to bring curiosity to it. Flavor 1/5.

Total 7/15=(rounded up) 2/5.

So is Kasimir a bad card? Yes. Should you love it anyway, by all means, of coarse. It's the outliners like this that are nice to have, even if they stay home in your box.

"Popular indeed is the of how Kasimir was once in a deck. But this tale is no more likely than any other".

Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Northern Paladin; A story (part two)

"Wake up you lazy sissy" a gruff feminine voice said from the other side of the room. How long had he passed out, it couldn't of been a full hand of the clock, could it? "Hey did you drown in there!" it said with a punch on the door.

"I'm up, tell the lord I'll be at the table in ten...." he said rising from the water. He looked over his form in the mirror, threw back his long hair, grabbed his dagger, and started to shave. "You know, I don't know why you insist on bathing every day, it's not natural to wash of Gabriels dirt so often" the voice shouted from the other end of the door. "Even the royalty don't do it as much as you, are ya some kind of dandy!". The jests were one of routine that had come common between the two of them. "Of please, you Benalkin are just a bunch of street shitters who wouldn't know cleanliness if it was given to you by the sky!" A laugh was shared between the two, and the footsteps from her boots could be heard as she walked off.

"When this is over, I'm going to make you my wife" he mumbled as he finished his shave. No, there was no romance, no desire of courtly love from him, he had long since put such foolishness of youth behind him. No, this was much more logical then that. They got along well enough, she was strong, of perfect age. Any child she could produce would be worth it's weight in gold and silver. Plus, he didn't know much about Benalia, but he knew that another word for Hero was Hobo.

Benalia had an extremely complex esoteric caste system, that changed with the lunar calendar of the Pale Moon. This was set up through mechanization of the nations founder Torsten Von Ursus, to keep ruling powers in check, and it largely had worked very well. Benalia was one of the most powerful empires in Dominaria, and it largely was thanks to it's caste system keeping families from getting stagnant. However, the caste rank of Hero existed outside of that. It was an knight errant without the glory, a soldier without the pay. Though the caste was often glorified, and was suppose to come with the most respect, such ideals weren't always a reality. This didn't stop countless youths from attempting to achieve such a lofty goal, whom she was one who succeeded.

He figured she didn't have much to return to anyway, and instead, would offer a comfortable life up north. If she denied, well he could always arrange for a marriage after this, with no harm, no foul. 

At this point, the cloth and armor was back on, and he looked at himself. The 'holy armor' he was gifted was terrifying, and had a horrible visage. It was a dark black, with two horns on the helmet. However, he took it up as part of a scare tactic, and it certainly saved his life more than once.

Suddenly, the alarm sounded. 'On the book of Tal!' the knight cussed to himself as he ran towards the dining hall. Inside, the Planeswalker, the Hero, and the three soldiers each stood, leaning over the table. On it, was a map of the grounds, with various table utensils as the forces. 'He's going to attempt a full on attack, currently he's about half an hour away, but he will be here soon.'

"Why are there so many?" the youngest soldier asked. A kid no more then 15, with bright green eyes and red hair. "You promised us his forces had diminished!"

"Yes, this seems to be the opposite of what I was lead to believe as well" said Freshwater as he walked into the room. 'Glad you can join us, well you see, I wasn't entirely truthful. Our dear enemy had summoned a great and powerful warrior, one who had retired some many years ago, Hazezon Tamar. When he was summoned, word got out across his domain, and warriors came from every corner, every small town and isolated woods, to join him in battle."

The paladin's eyes squinted, though angry, he understood why the secret was made. "So how many men do you think are coming?'

'Probably, between the sand warrior, the Calvary, and the dervishes, at least a hundred'.

"We should surrender!"


A tense few moments were had, before Lightbringer said 'I have a few plans left up my sleeves'. He walked to a cabinet, and pulled out three rings. 'Jewels, for an emergency, I can only use them once, but they will allow me some spare mana'. He polished the mox on his neck, showing the with pearl with a gleam. "Paladin, take the pikemen and go to the gate, Hero, come with me".

"We are going to die... we are going to die..." the young soldier said, pacing back and forth before the gate. The second soldier, simply looked at his feet, while the oldest looked through the gate, onto the horizon. "Where are they..." he said aloud, his hands gripping onto the cage. "They will be here when the arrive" said Freshwater. '"MEN! Listen up. I know it might seem like certain death, but we must trust the walker, he hasn't set us wrong yet. Trust him, and trust yourselves, for this shall be our finest hour!" He then noticed, they weren't looking at him, but looking at the horizon. There stood a force of about 100 men, all well fed and trained.

"Lightbringer! Surrender and convert, and I will promise mercy on you and your subjects!" a booming voice yelled from the other end of the battlefield. "Listen to logic, your mana is gone, your numbers are dwindling. Lets end this, it's late".

Al-Hajjar was a lean, old man. His eyes, a dark black, had a rather intense look, which complimented his long, dark grey beard, which hung down in a fine groomed fashion to his chest. He wore a crimson red robe, with green and white accents, made from fine silks and cotton. On his neck rested a necklace with three moxen, a ruby, an emerald, and a pearl, each one freshly charged and ready. He too, had a ring similar in style to the one on Lightbringers hand, along with another jeweled ring.

Next to him stood Hazezon Tamar. The warrior was ancient, the fact he was walking at all was amazing in itself, but the idea he could fight would be even less believable, if Freshwater hadn't known better. He carried a great tulwar, and with it, easily 30 men.

"Al! You fool! Your ignorance is only matched by your smell! It's you who will parish tonight!"

There was a tense few seconds, and then, a motion. The men moved into formation, getting ready for their charge. "Now hold the line, and keep them at arms reach, they can't pierce the walls..." and that's when the gate opened.

Suddenly the hero walked by them, not a word said, not even a passing glance. "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!?!" shouted Freshwater. 'My orders' she replied stoicly. She held in her hand, the Runesword, it's magical energy glowed, illuminating along side her. "You always said to trust the walker, I shall do it".

"I'm going to talk some sense into our crazy leader, you three, go out there with her, and do whatever she says, or you'll be lucky to die out there!" The three ran out without a seconds notice, pikes in hand, as he rushed up to the wall. "Freshwater! I was hoping you would come up here, I have a special plan for you!" said Lightbringer 'You will see something beautiful'. 'Lightbringer, I'm not one to question a Planeswalker, but have you lost your mind!? She will be raped and slaughtered out there!" "No, no she won't"

Just then, a scream was heard, and the ground trampled. Freshwater could look over the wall and see the three pikemen circled around the hero, each ready to die, and for what, because someone they looked up to threatened them if they didn't. Just then, a flash of lightning was heard, and the hero broke formation. Lightbringer continued to polish his jewelry, and suddenly, the overcast skies broke, and a beam of unnatural sunlight shined on her.

"You are about to witness the true power of the divine".

The hero, with unparalleled might and speed, charged into the entire force, striking down each Calvary Man and his horse, ten in total, before charging onto Hazezon himself. In response, and to his surprise, Al-Hajjar chanted a prayer and rubbed him emerald. There, Hazezon grew, muscles ripping through his cloaked clothing. The old man, now stood as a brute, towering over the young woman. However, she did have the divine on her side, and the two clashed, one swift blow from each. Hazezon fell, the Runesword glowed, and he had disappeared before he hit the ground. His sand warriors looked at the soldier, and stopped in their tracks, retreating.

'Cowards! You'll burn for this!' yelled Al-Hajjar as they fled. The threat did little to persuade them otherwise. It would appear for a second that the hero was victorious, but the Dervishes flanked over, trampling the woman, and while the Pikemen fought valiantly, they to were bested.

"How dare you! A soldier without a family, fight and kill my legendary warrior! I will have your head on my mantle!" 

"I have only one knight left! Come and take it!" he looked at the Paladin "go down there, and when I say the word, charge him, trust me, just this last time. We are both down to our last spell, he can't possibly have something to win"

The knight skulked down. He was going to die, he was certain, but he would fight. He made a vow to fight evil in this world, no matter it's form. He stepped out of the castle, there he saw the middle pikemen. A young man with blonde hair. He reached up, but then, he was cut of the mortal coil, and his death rattle was heard. "disgusting..." he mumbled to himself. He closed his eyes, he could hear the hooves charge, their foreign tongue yelling at him in cusses he never heard. He thought of those who died around him, the young men, the woman he had grown to enjoy the company of, the foolish prideful planeswalker. He could smell the dry dirt beneath him, and feel the sweet roll down his face. As if time had slowed down for this moment.  Then suddenly, from behind him he heard the words 'HOLY DAY'.

A flash lightened his eyes, and the words, only words he could hear said 'Now Freshwater'. With this, he charged, running straight towards Al-Hajjar with a maddening swing. In a moment, he saw a flash of red, and so did the planeswalker. Blood dripped from his mouth, and he smiled, before realizing what was happening.

It's been said when a planeswalker dies, the multiverse gets revenge. Not for the crimes against reality it had committed, but all the crimes that will be committed because of it as well. The knight took a step back, uncertain how to preceive it. The man slowly was ripped into Æther, each brief second more of him faded, starting with his eyes. The knight could feel any of it, but he knew, it was extremely painful. Slowly the one powerful being broke, piece by piece, into nothingness. It only took a few seconds, but it felt like a lifetime. With him where the artifacts he had, but the dervishes were left behind, wondering. "You are free now, be gone!" yelled the Paladin, and as such, they left, their fate unknown to even the gods themselves.

"Freshwater, we did it, it was all according to plan" said Lightbringer as he walked into the barren field

"Plan, you knew they were going to die like that!?"

"Why yes, well I didn't anticipate the giant growth, I thought she would be able to die taking them all out, but it all worked out in the end, right?"

"Those were people, they had dreams, hopes, aspirations"

"Hey, you told the pikemen to go out, not me, I just gave her what she wanted, a heroes death, plus it's just a game, you're a man of war, you understand!"

"A game?!" with that, a simple thrust happened, and a second planeswalker died.

"I could... have... given you... anythi...." the walker slumped, as his body started to disappear. With it, the armor Freshwater had been given, along with the cloth underneath it, and the castle behind them. It wasn't nearly as slow this time, and he realized it in real time.

Now he stood alone. The Castle, wasn't entirely a fake, but was a ruins that had been enchanted. The magic made for most of the stuff. The farmstead, the people, none of it appeared to be real. It was all gone. He felt a cold breeze on his back, and he realized, he was alone, and naked. The walkers gifts had gone with him. He entered the ruins, to find his original platemail and clothes sitting on the floor. The armoure was gone. He dressed himself, did some exploring, and certainly enough, found a barrel of gold hidden in the basement. It was impossible for him to possibly take it all. However he burlap bag he had found. He then rested for the knight.

He would spend the next day digging four graves, each body buried with their weapons and their clothes. He didn't know the traditions of the dead of their respective lands, he wasn't even sure were the pikemen had came from. However, they would make the Church of Tal proud. They each got a little wood carved tomb with a simple engraving, as well as a message about what happened here, before he headed north.

It would take him a year, he found a town, used some gold to buy a wagon and two good horses, and went back to collect the rest. He then simply headed north, and in that time, no one dared bother him, and he spoke very little, only when necessary.

When he reached the borders of his land, he was however, met as a hero. Every small town he stopped in, young women swooned over him, people bought him drinks, and asked for stories about the War he went on. It turns out, more then a few people had left after the Armageddon, but spoke highly of the sweet knight, and well, gossip became tall tales, and before you know it, he was larger then life. He was even given a Duchy in the northern lands, with a nobles daughter. He sired several healthy children, and would have a retirement anyone could dream of.

However, he couldn't calm the rage in his heart, and he would often be quick to anger. One night, after an minor incident, he struck his wife, and while that wasn't uncommon, he had realized how far he had fallen. Even old friends were keeping their distance. He was certain he had been cursed, as he remembered seeing red, and went to the local apothecary.

There a samite healer found powerful magic did threaten his soul, but he couldn't possibly heal it. With this new mission, the now Duke Freshwater left everything to his oldest son, kissed his wife goodbye, and vowed to return when his soul was healed. It would be the last time his family would ever see him.

What happened to the noble knight is something for debate. Some stories say he became a blood knight, looking for a never ending challenge he could never find. Other's claimed he joined the paladins of the east, a evil order who believe all life must be extinguished. One romantizied tragic tale says he found a Planeswalker who cured him, in exchange for his service, but that planeswalker died on another world, leaving him trapped there.

However, one other story, and one that has possible proof to it, says he found the hidden island of Madara, and trained in the Tsunami-nito school. This is supported by the report that one day, a nearly naked man of great stature showed up at the school, after proving himself by killing three warriors, he was allowed to join, where they taught him to focus his rage into the way of a new breed of warrior.

What ever happened to Sir Freshwater, they still tell his tales of fighting darkness on every corner of Parma, from campfires, to pub halls, to children bed time stores. His family still lives on as well, each male honing his skills in diplomacy or the blade, to try in an effort of futility to match his greatness.

Memory Lapse: The importance of tempo. (OS 95)

Tempo is one of the most complicated, and interesting strategy tactics in Magic. Basically, it's slowing down your opponent, without actually stopping them. When you tap down a land, that is tempo, when you bounce a permanent, that is tempo.

Memory Lapse, is one of the strongest counterspells in Magic, because how disruptive of a tempo advantage it is. I recently played a 95 mono-blue deck, and made the risky inclusion of a play set in the deck.

I never made a smarter deck building decision in my life. As one player said "I hope to never see a memory lapse again in my life".

My mono-blue tempo deck.

It's board, or as I to call it, fuck red.

However, my evaluation of the card goes back further, to the early days of Modern. You see, there is a card in modern called Remand. It works similarly to Memory Lapse.

Both of these cards are similar to each other. They are both tempo based counterspells, which don't remove the spell entirely, just delay it. The argument I've heard that makes Remand better is it cantrips. However, if I may, Memory Lapse delays a draw, which is much more powerful than drawing a card. A turn 2 Memory Lapse can be almost a mini Time Walk (especially in Old School 95) since not only are they losing the spell they cast, they are losing a draw as well.

In addition to this, it's extremely splashable. Something most counterspells have an issue with in the format.

Sure, it's not Mana Drain, but that one isn't a fair comparison. It's easily comparable to Power Sink and Counterspell though. Plus, playing three of them in a row is a feeling you can't describe. Trust me.

Fun Fact: Originally Memory Lapse was on the 'Meanderings' design sheet, which would become Mirage/Visions. When one of the designers saw the card, he liked it so much he asked politely if he could include it in his set Homelands, which they said yes. So that, is that.

Homelands art is better.