When last we left our hero, he had just suffered his first loss in the land of Shandalar at the hands of a vicious Mandurang dragon; this loss not only meant that he’s lost his chance to win a treasure card (the strange pump spell/removal spell Berzerk), but he’d also lost one of his only two copies of the best card in Shandalar, the broken card-drawing spell Contract from Below.
How would our hero rebound from this devastating loss?
The loss of Contract from Below was heartbreaking, since I’d only found two of them so far. At one single black mana, drawing a new hand is incredibly powerful, making Contract the strongest card not only in Shandalar, but the entire game of Magic: the Gathering. One of my challenges today, while rebounding from my first loss, was to find the other three copies of Contract that I needed to complete my playset. I had also lost my third Hypnotic Specter, which was less devastating, but still unfortunate.
This was my deck going into today:
After losing the Contract in the dungeon of Azar’s Crypt, I headed immediately to the nearest city to edit my deck, and the above is what I’m playing as of today. The second Contract was replaced by a second Sengir Vampire, and the Strip Mines that were unnecessary in the dungeon have made their way back into the manabase.
What I’ll be looking for over the next few days to complete the deck will be: three more copies of Contract from Below, a third and fourth copy of Hypnotic Specter, 3 more Badlands so I can start running a red splash for Lightning Bolt and possibly Chain Lightning, and I’m hoping at some point to find some copies of Sinkhole, Juzam Djinn and Serendib Efreet. If I can find them, Juzam Djinn is the perfect creature to have as a 4-drop, since he’s much better than Juggernaut. Once I have the lands to do so, I will also finally be changing the deck from 40 cards to 60 cards, to make it a proper MtG deck.
As soon as I venture forth from the town I was in, a minion of the Blue Wizard immediately attacks a town, Windlass Temple, and puts it under siege. Naturally, this town is on the other side of the map.
Without a white gem to use my Sword of Resistance World Magic to warp to the town, I decide to just leave it be for now; I’ll go liberate the town later.
This is what the world map looks like as of today:
This map shows which towns have what; what I am looking for today is to hit the towns that have Sorceries and the towns that have black cards (since I am looking for three copies of Contract from Below, which is both). As well, to the north of the map is the World Magic Ring of the Guardian, which I want to pick up at some point.
I head south to the nearest town that has Sorcery spells, and on the way, a horde of monsters decends upon me. Little do these poor unwary bastards know that I’m out for revenge after my debacle in the dungeon, and we fight!
The first monster to feel my wrath today is a Centaur Shaman:
Centaur Shaman is a mid-level monster, who likes to put ‘bleeder’ effects on your cards (Auras like Wanderlust, Cursed Land, and Warp Artifact that slowly kill you to death). This is the board after the first few turns, after I’ve drawn several Dark Rituals to power out my creatures:
Centaur Shaman does manage to have a Paralyze, so he is able to lock down my first Erg Raiders, causing it to turn traitor on me. His hope is that this will kill me in conjunction with his Wanderlusts.
Eventually, though, my board of super-fast black creatures overwhelm him.
One monster down, many to go. The next monster to feel my wrath is a Beastmaster.
This particular Beastmaster has laid siege to a town, much like the Blue Wizard’s minion from earlier; unfortunately for the Beastmaster, the town he laid siege to was right next to me, so we fight!
This is not much of a game. I Strip Mine his first two lands in a row, and he stalls for a time on two mana. By the time he hits a third mana, this is my board:
His response to this?
Aswan Jaguar is an interesting card. As one of the Astral MtG cards (cards with random abilities, that can only be played in the Shandalar MtG game), it is a green creature that can kill creatures of a random creature type. In this case, the Jaguar chooses “Raiders” to destroy, which would normally be good against my board of Erg Raiders… but I have a Terror for it, and kill Beastmaster next turn.
This town is liberated, and the peasants rejoice.
One of the rewards I get from this town for liberating it is some information. The so-called Wise Man of the town has some information on one of Shandalar’s many dungeons, and it’s information that I didn’t have before this:
Soulchant Monastery sounds like it’ll be pretty easy compared to Azar’s Crypt. Small blue creatures? Pffft, I’ll smash through those easily with my Erg Raiders once I find this dungeon.
I move on, heading south once again to hit the nearest town with Sorcery cards. The monsters apparently haven’t learned though… A Vampire Lord attacks me immediately.
Vampire Lord is another mid-level monster, who wants to cast a mana accelerant (Dark Ritual or Mana Vault) into a big dude, either Sengir Vampire or something like Carrion Ants. Sadly for him, that is my deck’s major gameplan too, and I win the dice roll and cast Dark Ritual, Hypnotic Specter on turn one.
Vampire Lord does not have a mana accelerant, and can only muster a Vampire Bats to try to stop me.
I swing in with the Hypnotic Specter on my turn two, and knock a very important card out of his hand:
Vampire Lord does miss his land drop, which is good for me. This is the board on my turn, after I Strip Mine his lone land:
Sadly for Vampire Lord, he does miss another land drop, and my deck easily puts him away from here. My deck is truly hungry for vengeance against the monsters of Shandalar today!
I hit up the town that has Sorceries for trade, only to learn that they are only for trade for white amulets, of which I have none. Curses! Foiled again! My quest for Contract from Belows will continue.
This town does have more information for me, though, about another dungeon that I did not know about yet:
I head back out into the wilds, heading north to the next town that has Sorceries for trade. Immediately, I am again notified that another city is under siege, this time by an Archangel. I am lucky once again, as this city is right beside me. I head to the city to battle!
Archangel is a mid-level monster who has a Wrath of God-based deck. All of her creatures are ones that are based around being good with Wraths (Onulets to gain life, and Osai Vultures which gets bigger when things die), and her spells interact well with Wrath effects as well (ie. Soul Net). Ordinarily, this would be a tough sort of fight for any creature-based deck like mine, but I have a playset of Mishra’s Factory that should make it pretty even.
Archangel’s turn two play is a classic one; the mighty theme card Osai Vultures, which gets bigger when creatures die multiple times. I have the aforementioned Dark Ritual into two Erg Raiders on my turn.
This is what the board looks like after my turn two:
Unfortunately for the Archangel, she misses her third land drop, so I’m able to start attacking without fear of Wrath of God. I draw Strip Mine a turn later, and put her very far behind. I kill her handily with Erg and Assembly Workers a few turns later.
My deck is just out for blood today, looking for vengeance after my devastating loss in the dungeon.
I get lucky here; as part of what I win from the Archangel, I get a white amulet, which will let me use my Sword of Resistance World Magic if another monster attacks another town.
Ironically, I immediately get a notification that a town is being attacked by a Goblin Lord on the other side of the board. I use Sword of Resistance, and warp to the other side of the board. We fight!
Goblin Lord is a low level monster sporting Shandalar’s premiere tribal theme deck, a Goblin deck. His deck has such hits as Mons’s Goblin Raiders, Goblin Balloon Brigade, and the classic Goblin King to pump them. His deck is fast, but mine is just as fast (and with better creatures!) I also start with far more life than him.
As the monster besieging the town, Goblin Lord gets to start with a Mons’s Goblin Raiders in play. He wins the dice roll, and immediately casts a second copy, putting me under some pressure, and attacking me with the first.
My hand is a fine one against his deck. I have the important Erg Raiders (who is basically unkillable against his deck unless he draws one of his four Lightning Bolts), two Strip Mines, two Swamps, Paralyze and a Juggernaut. Knowing that the computer tends to keep a lot of mana-light hands, and that the Goblin deck doesn’t have many lands as is, I Strip Mine his only Mountain.
He does also have his third Mountain, so he’s not quite mana-screwed. He bashes me with his trio of Goblins, putting me finally under 20.
On my turn, I draw Dark Ritual, which is excellent here. It lets me play my first Swamp, and Ritual into Erg Raiders and Paralyze on his Goblin Balloon Brigade. So long as Goblin Lord does not have a Lightning Bolt, I’m in the driver’s seat here.
Goblin Lord indeed does not have a Bolt, and also misses his fourth land drop, stuck on only one land. This is good, since I was trying to keep him off of three mana (three lands lets him cast Goblin King, the only card in his deck I don’t want to see). He casts a much-less potent Helm of Chatzuk, threatening to have banding later in the game to ruin my combat math.
Unfortunately for the tribal deck, I draw my lone remaining Contract from Below here. This lets me Contract to draw a new hand, into double Dark Ritual into Sengir Vampire — a sizeable creature against his deck indeed!
Sadly for Goblin Lord, his deck again gives him no land, so I’m able to put the game away after a few swings from the Sengir Vampire. Yet another town liberated, and another monster crushed!
I head into the town to see what the town has for sale, and I get lucky. This town is trading enchantments, so I’m able to pick up a pair of these beauties:
Oubliette is a fantastic removal spell in Shandalar. It kills pretty much any creature short of White Knight; something that my Paralyzes cannot do in the late game. I immediately add the pair of enchantments into my deck, making my deck the following:
I am in a pretty good position after this fight with Goblin Lord. The town that has been taken over by the Blue Wizard is right above me on the map, so tomorrow the first thing on the agenda will be to retake that town. I did not find any of the cards I was looking for today, but I’m still on the lookout for them.
My deck is out for revenge! All of the Shandalar monsters, beware!