Wednesday, November 09, 2005

How To Master Ravnica Quickly And Easily


If you’ve checked out Magic’s newest set, Ravnica, you might know how I feel when I say ‘wow.’

I’ve been playing Magic for over 10 years now and I’ve never seen such an exciting flow of creative deck possibilities featuring such interesting cards.

I felt like Magic peaked in terms of consistency of play—where deck building and play mastery mattered most— during the Mirage block, 8 years ago. But I’ll bet 90% of the people who played during Mirage would admit it…

Mirage block was a little on the dull side.

It’s hard to say where Magic’s excitement peaked—perhaps Tempest, maybe during Urza’s Saga…

…But so too with Tempest and Urza’s blocks came an age of games that often didn’t last beyond turn 3 or 4-- a time repeated emergency bannings by the DCI where a $25 dollar card became ‘useless’ overnight.

(what do you expect when Tier 1 Standard decks could win the game before their opponent took a turn?)

When was the best time to be a ‘card dealer’ or ‘master trader?’ Well that’s a EASY one—if you take out to possibility of speculating on Black Lotus that now sells for $1000 and more and Beta Packs that you can now sell for hundreds each that in 1994 probably cost ten and three bucks respectively, then by far the best time to be a dealer was 5 years ago, during Invasions.

How do I know? I had an ebay business that served over 50,000 different clients during the time of Invasions and Gold Cards and desirable Foils like Urza’s Rage, Absorb and Undermine—all floating on a big ravenous market…

…And then Invasions cycled out and cards like Foil Urza’s Rage that USED to sell for as much at $60 EACH plummeted to one tenth it’s previous value in months—because the cards of the invasion set, while interesting were hard to cast with the lands and mana resources available and many power cards just didn’t stand the ‘test of time.’

(who wants cards that you just can’t use?)

Which isn’t a big deal until you realize that the devaluation of those cards generated what could be termed as pretty much the equivalent of a Magic Stock Market Crash.

And never has there been a time that people have discussed in Magic where everyone from the old days came back to play—and stayed. There’s no one time in Magic’s now going on 12-year history when everyone agreed Magic was at it’s best.

There’s never been a Magic Golden Age…

Not yet.

There’s no way to predict the future, and you may soon find yourself saying:

“Now is both the most exciting time in Magic and it’s also a time where there’s a real opportunity for anyone to learn to really shine as a deckbuilder, player and even master card trader.”

I’m betting that the next two years are going to be looked back on as perhaps the two best years to play Magic.

Dual Lands. Awesome creatures. Sick gold cards.

The quality of the art has dramatically risen. The frequency of retarded cards that have to be stopped with a banning has slowed. And now that Affinity and Tooth and Nail are out of Standard and have been replaced with an ever increasing realm of cool possible decks.

In short: Ravnica is Fun, Ravnica is Exciting, and above all…

Ravnica is Different.

You can’t get by on the old way of doing things. With the rise of the duel land driven Guild system we’re probably going to see at least one SERIOUS deck from every 3-color combination—not to mention 4-color combinations.

Did someone say 4-color?

Because Insider David Williams played our Ravnica-powered 4-color weenie-beatdown deck, Zoo Too at Pro Tour LA. Shaking off some early luck and a crushing 3-mulligan 3rd game defeat in the 15th round that kept Dave from a 1-match shot at his first top 8 in over 5 years, Dave Walked away with 22nd place.

You can watch a 3-minute win-zip video with Poker Superstar Dave Willams at Pro Tour LA

Or 4-color could refer to ‘Bugs’ 4-color Standard deck for states that Insiders used to gobble up a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and a 5th place finish at various State championships.

Here’s an email I got this Annihilation Report from Adam Stickney on ‘Bugs’ at States:

Hey Mike,

I just wanted to thank you for your work on that G/W/B/R bugs deck. I ended up placing 2nd in my state championship and I had a great shot at first place. My opponent in the finals was playing a G/W control deck and vitu-ghazi was a crucial card in the matchup. The main deck creeping molds really helped game 1. in game two I got probably the best turn 3 play I could hope for when I cast sowing salt on my opponent's vitu-ghazi, revealing that he was stalled on 3 mana while I had a vitu-ghazi in my hand that would come online next turn. Unfortunately my vitu-ghazi was pithing needled and I drew about 10 lands in a row. Game 3 didn't look quite as good for me, but I still felt I was a favorite until I mana flooded again. I can't really complain though, because I got some amazing draws in previous matches and pulled games out of nowhere. The deck just worked great. I decided to play the earlier version with loxodon hierarchs because I expected a more aggro heavy metagame, and they helped tremendously in my three straight matches against white lightning while playing for top 8. The store than ran the state championships is also running the first ever PTQ in Maine, which is a couple of weeks away. Hopefully you'll have another great deck for us in the extended season.

Thanks again,

Heck, we’re even running a 4-color ‘UD strategy’ in Draft right now—here are some comments Dave Bass made after playing in a 4x Pre Release event in Magic online:

“Dude. You’ve got to get in a pre-release and get some free packs.”

“That’s what it feels like right now—I’m playing in as many pre-releases as I can and I’m drafting in between rounds—the 4-color is SICK.”

“Oh and did I mention it works even BETTER in sealed?”

“I just WON a pre-release event and took 2nd in another. I missed the top 8 of a third! Amazing!”

”Gotta run, games starting.”

And against the backdrop of all of this (and even more) excitement, David Mills and I have been locked away testing like maniacs—always staying one step ahead of the ‘net.’

And now we’ve finally ‘cracked the code.’

How do you think we managed to build a deck for Pro Tour LA that Dave Williams could walk in cold off the street after watching a few hours of video and then go on to place 22nd despite some really awful luck?

How much did Dave like his deck? This is from’s coverage of Pro Tour LA:

(Pro Tour Champ) Osyp Lebedowicz was paired against Dave Williams in the final round this weekend, with a Top 32 seemingly on the line for both players. Lebedowicz was looking for the Pro Tour points a Top 32 appearance would yield, while Williams is currently unqualified for Pro Tour-Hawaii, and a draw would guarantee that for both of them. Dave scoffed at any thought of a draw, however, choosing to let his whole tournament and possibly a trip to Hawaii ride on the result of the final round. As Dave put it, "I got money, I came to play. There was no way I was taking the draw there." As it turned out, Dave made a great choice and smashed Joe Black with due haste, making him a lock for Hawaii and forcing Osyp to be content with 41st place.

Dave’s a great strategist. He knows that when you’ve got an edge, that’s the best time to push your luck.

David Mills and I have an ‘edge’ to offer you.

Starting in one week, you’ll have the opportunity to cash in on the fruits of mine and David Mills’ frantic search of Ravnica for the edge to deck building, play and trading in the Ravnica Magic setting.

MTG Secrets Ravnica is a truly different Magic Experience with a truly different power and appeal.

Oh sure, you’ll get the decklists we’re NOW playing and exactly how we play them down to the last sideboard card (what, you didn’t think we’d LEARN a thing or two from States and PTLA?)

You could fill more than 25 DVDs with the hours of Magic Training Videos that are dedicated to helping you quickly gain a big edge in Ravnica Magic and then push you well over that edge on your way to Magic Mastery.

We’ll also be including our newly updated 270 page Magic Master Strategy Guide. The guide breaks everything down, step-by-step—and the one thing that our clients probably like the most is that we don’t leave steps out.

We tell it like it is.

You’ll also get the Underground Encyclopedia of Magic, where we go card-by-card through every single card in Ravnica (the Encyclopedia now dates back to Betrayers of Kamigawa and includes 9th Edition).

Then you start getting into the real meat of MTG Secrets: hours of Master Strategy Interviews where David Mills takes me one-on-one and helps me break down Standard, Extended, Draft, and the one that FAR AND AWAY the most insiders DEMANDED we include: Trading.

I even reveal the ‘master-foil-method’ that my team used 5-years ago to literally suck entire events dry of every ‘extra’ card in every trade binder. It still works today, and what’s better is that there are MORE of the Foils needed to leverage these powerful trades and MORE ‘target cards’ for you to grab up than ever—and the Ravnica ‘Gold Rush’ is just getting started.

Imagine what this kind of information could do for you in just one day of trading.

MTG Secrets Ravnica will officially go on sale November 15th at 12 PM eastern time (you might want to make a mental note of that exact date and time—there are going to be some shocking benefits for those who act first)

Why the wait?

David and I are still putting the finishing touches and feeding in up-to-the-second data from events around the world—we want to make sure that MTG Secrets Ravnica gives you the biggest edge possible when it comes to providing decks that are different and still WORK (in many cases much better), Strategies that win, and a community that’s terrific—and all along we show you exactly how we do it.

We’re going to be releasing the details on some of the bonuses we’re going to be including (I’ll give you a hint—one of those bonuses flat out gets you a ‘live’ personal coaching session with me on how to quickly and easily take your Magic Game to the top)

There’s also going to be a way for you to WIN a FREE COPY of MTG Secrets Ravnica and to learn a lot more about what to expect out of Magic for the next two years…

I’ll be back soon with all of that and much more.


Mike Long

PS MTG Secrets Ravnica will be ready in 1 week—check back to find out more about the amazing bonuses that we’re going to be offering AND to find out how you can get your copy FREE.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right about this being an amazing time to be involved in the world of Magic.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Mike -

You are absolutely correct. I can't wait for Secrets: Ravnica to be released. I drafted the most recent Insider Rav bomb deck yesterday. Although I didn't win the draft, this 1470 player defeated a 1738 player 2-0 in the first round and nearly defeated an 1800+ player in the second round (1-2). I accidentally misclicked past the attack phase that would have secured victory against his super fast R/w haste/burn deck with Brightflame.

Keep up the good work!!!

3:26 PM  
Anonymous KYT said...

Hey Mike!

I have to say I am greatly anticipitating the arrival of MTG Secrets: Ravnica. I agree that, finally, Wizards of the Coast is giving people more room for creativity. This is an exciting time to be an MTG player and I am willing to bet this will be the most exciting installment of MTG Secrets yet. Like the rest of the Insiders, I simply cannot wait for all the tips you might possibly have for trading.

Good luck,

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Ken Krouner said...

Wow Mike,

You are right as usual, this is easily the most exciting set to come out since Apocolypse for very similar reasons.

MTG Insider and MTG Secrets are crucial tools in developing your game if you want to rise tot he top level. With access to proven pros such as Mike, David, Dave Wiliams, Andrew Pacifico, myself and many others.

I haven't gotten a peak at the new videos or reading material yet, but I am truly excited at the prospect. I look forward to adding as much value as I can to this process and bolstering the new superteam, MTG Insiders.

Ken Krouner
KK and KartinKen on Modo

5:31 PM  
Anonymous Rick said...

Hey Mike, can't wait to see what you have in store for Ravnica. Doubt you remember me from back in and Will Flurry (R.I.P.) hung out constantly.


2:00 PM  
Anonymous KevinX said...

I agree, With the duals, there opens up a whole bunch of deck possibilities. With each set being released, expect to see more and more creative decks. Battle of wits is a serious deck again. That alone should tell you something. Hurry up with MTGS:Rav...

5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rock on!

Thomas Scott

10:04 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home