Magic Arena is still holding up well in my daily repertoire of games. I’ve had my ups and downs with it, have uninstalled it a few times, but have always crawled back to it like a sinner before the gates of Heaven.
In general, I have some trouble with the matchmaking, which makes it hard or impossible to consistently play formats like Pauper or just normal casual decks. Drafts also fail to live up to the real thing because you draft against bots, and if you rock an aggro deck and end up going second three times in a row… well, you just wasted those gems, buddy.
It’s a work in progress, one destined to get better someday. Today, we’re focusing not on the problems with the game itself… just the cards I REALLY hate to play against. This is probably true of any and all Standard players, but in Magic Arena, I find these cards exceptionally annoying to appear against me.
Just… ugh, stop playing these cards!
I have nothing really against playing this card. Jadelight Ranger is super popular right now, as it should be with all of the graveyard shenanigans it allows, and it’s a three drop in my favorite color.
What’s wrong with it though? The animation for explore twice… ugh, it just takes so long! On it’s own, an opposing player has to look at a card, decide if they want it, toss it or put it on the deck… then do it all over again!
With a Wildgrowth Walker in play, my patience really wears thin. We have to go through the animations twice, then the lifegain… twice… then the counters… twice.
After that… if a Path of Discovery is in play, we have to go through through this process a third time! Rip my eyes out at that point. You just win! I can’t take it anymore!
Hardly deadly in any sense, but Fanatical Firebrand is the most recent iteration of the one-drop Red haste creature. If your opponent goes first and plays one of these annoying cards, you’re taking early damage… and there is nothing you can do about it. You didn’t even get to play a land yet! That just never feels good.
Granted, Fanatical Firebrand is no Goblin Guide or Monastery Swiftspear. Those cards can and will blow you out, which is why they appear in Legacy. Firebrand isn’t that good, but its added ability stands up very well in Standard. Sacrificing and dealing a damage makes blocking all the more infuriating. A single point of damage can ping any creature you drop in the path of a charging monster and finish off what otherwise would have been a successful block.
What’s worse is that you see it all happening before your eyes. You have to block a creature, but you also know that if you do, that goblin is going to mess things up. I think I would rather have a burn spell finish off my creature since I know they at least had to pay mana for it to happen. If they’ve gotten three points of damage in and trade for a bigger creature, pure value!
On top of being helpless to block it… infuriating!
Cackling Drake, Engima Drake
I love these cards. I’ve loved Enigma Drake since Amonkhet, and now that it has a companion to fly alongside it, I’m more than thrilled than ever that it got a reprint in Magic 2019.
But man, I sure hate facing against this tandem. Granted, I now use the Izzet Drakes deck a lot since abandoning my Boros Mentor deck, but small creatures simply can’t plow through these guys. 4-toughness is a LOT in the current standard, and anything outside of a rare bomb will get swatted away by their power with little to no consequence.
All the while, they sit back, get stronger and stronger with each spell being cast until they are big enough to close out any game. I had two of these at 7/4, and even after taking a direct hit from a Gigantosaurus, I was patiently able to put away the game on the very next turn with some well-placed spells.
Flight helps a lot too since wimps in the air won’t be able to tangle with these drakes.
Cackling Drake is clearly the better of the two since card draw is an easy trade-off for a more difficult casting cost, but in tandem, these two make a tough pair to beat. Lava Coil beats them… all Black removal beats them. But if you have neither, winning will be very tough.
The only thing worse than having to face down a bomb creature or Planeswalker in Magic is having to do it twice. This guy allows that, and more besides.
Golgari Findbroker is very recent addition to the ranks of Standard from Guilds of Ravnica. The emergence of Goglari Black/Green decks as the dominant force in Magic is large in part to this creature, one that both buys back almost whatever an opponent is looking for… while leaving a 3/4 behind. What’s worse is that these guys can chain off one another, constantly buying each other back as a recurring threat until they are ready to buy back something of more value.
Something like Ravenous Chupacabra, a creature that was already good and is now excelled into overdrive by this card. He’ll be chewing on your biggest threats time and time again. Or Vraska, a Planeswalker that will have to be taken down yet again unless you want to lose the game. Or Merfolk Branchwalker, Seekers’ Squire, or Jadelight Ranger, now that explore has a place in Standard.
Cheap threats or card draw… again and again and again.
Recursion spells don’t usually have much impact on Standard though, but we have an exception here because of the body this guy also leaves on the battle. As we stated before with the Drakes, 4-toughness is a lot in this format of Standard. Lava Coil can bring the Findbroker and cast him aside for good, but that’s more of a sideboard card… which casual play in Magic Arena doesn’t allow.
If you are playing Red and you see a Findbroker, you and your burn spells are actually the ones that are toast.
Settle the Wreckage
Playing a spell when your opponent has Blue mana open has always been a trap for Magic players since the dawn of time, but as of Sept. 29, 2017, attacking into open White mana can be just as unforgiving.
Settle the Wreckage has been the bane of all creatures decks for over a year now. Ever since the original Ixalan expansion , attacking with all your creatures to ensure that last little bit of damage gets through has been a gamble each and every time. Sure, you get mana back for your losses, but by that point in the game, your army has been entirely dumped from your hand on the board and you have nothing left to recover with.
Meanwhile, any control player who wipes your creatures with this card is sitting happy with a loaded hand and plenty of ammunition to cancel out any attempt at a comeback.
Playing around Settle the Wreckage is a must against any and all white decks. How do you play around such a devastating card? Well, while it might be tempting to go for the easy win, make sure to send the bare minimum of creatures necessary into four open mana to close the game. Even if your opponent has Settle the Wreckage in their hand, it will feel like a waste if they are forced to use it against just one or two creatures.
I once won a game against two Settle the Wreckages in a row because I took my time. I lost two Goblin Bannerets in the process, but they were totally worth getting those Settle the Wreckages out of my opponent’s and. Afterwards, my Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice and other closers that safely held back were able to easily close the game when my opponent was out of mana and cards.
Another tip… Don’t get hasty with your clicks. I had a game totally wrapped up one time with two 5/4 Enigma Drakes on the board attacking into 5 life. You can imagine the facepalm I gave myself when I confidently clicked “Attack All” instead of sending in just one to finish the job. Boom, I lost my two Drakes, faced down Nicol Bolas, the Ravager on the next turn, and my opponent never looked back. I had a Shivan Fire ready to burn that Nicol Bolas to ashes, but I sadly had no Enigma Drakes to close the game at that point.
Also, and never forget this, Settle the Wreckage is the best top deck an opponent can pull. Never assume that an opponent won’t top deck it. Again, I had a game wrapped up, and my opponent had just one card in their hand. I sent in the troops thinking “If that’s a Settle the Wreckage, I’m going to be pissed.”
Needless to say, I was pissed.
Always prepare, always fear, this card will ruin you and your gameplan. This card will be around until the end of 2019, so it won’t be leaving us any time soon.