After months of anticipation, Conspiracy has finally arrived. We ventured forth to our local game store to find out if this experimental design was everything Wizards hoped it would be. Would multiplayer drafting bring the excitement and joy advertised, or would it just bring tedium and gimmicks to the table? Today we’ll walk you through our draft and the shenanigans of Conspiracy.

The Conspiracy Takes Root

The Conspiracy in north Brooklyn was taking place at the Twenty Sided Store. I signed up online for my initiation into the inner circle of a secretive group. The meeting was scheduled for 4:00PM on Saturday the 7th of June. This group included eight other enterprising planeswalkers, like myself, who were intrigued by what the conspirators on the plane of Fiora were offering.

What they were offering turned to be an incredibly enjoyable opportunity to battle each other within the impressive double-city of Paliano. The incentives were very enticing. There would be Misdirection, Pernicious Deeds, Ill-Gotten Gains, and perhaps even a rare opportunity to apprehend the elusive Dack Fayden.

Several of my co-conspirators were known to me from previous encounters across the multiverse. I don’t travel from my home plane to meet with other ‘walkers with as much regularity as I used to but the temptation this time was too great to refuse. The opportunity for sanctioned mayhem in a place as intriguing as Paliano comes very rarely.

But who was really going to be benefiting the most from the Conspiracy?

Welcome to Paliano, the High City

I reviewed the fascinating notes put together for me by my agents in Fiora. They mentioned very strange ongoings in the city among the council members. Among the most peculiar were a collection of artifice creatures that I was moderately interested in. They appeared to be all over the city in both overt and subtle places. Their influence seemed completely benign but my agents suspected that some greater task had been set upon them. The cogwork creatures, as they were known on Fiora, were responsible for a variety of everyday chores. Some were librarians, merchants, construction devices, hunting dogs, and research machines. However, some of them, it seemed, were spying on the smallfolk and perhaps even the aristocracy of Paliano. I was advised to be wary of these machines, but use them to my advantage when possible.

“They seem to be programmed for simple tasks, like librarians, but they must secretly serve some greater purpose…”

Upon my arrival in the city I arranged for some accommodations and reviewed the tools that would be at my disposal while plotting this Conspiracy. There, staring back at me were the conspiracies within the conspiracy. The Advantageous Proclamations, the Backup Plans, the Power Plays, the Secret Summonings, and of course, the Unexpected Potential of those aspiring to the higher rungs of Paliano’s political games. I knew if I was going to make my mark and succeed in dispatching of my co-conspirators, I would need to make the most of these inner-workings.

The Double Stroke

I decided early on that my strategy would be to attempt to assail all of the other ‘walkers in concert, instead of attacking them individually. This would mean I would have difficulty making allies among them, so instead I made attempts to curry favor with Brago, King Eternal. While I could not get a direct word with the lord of the realm, I was able to gain influence among many of Brago’s Representatives. So much so that when important matters were put to vote by the council, I was able to easily influence the verdict. Whether it was a menial chore like the deployment of new Council Guardians or the laborious task of granting titles to Custodi Squires, I made sure my plans fell into place accordingly. Perhaps my most successful influences came in the nature of the Bite of the Black Rose, or possibly it was the now-famous tortures referred to by the smallfolk as the Tyrant’s Choice.

Influencing the Black Rose herself was no easy task, but my strategically positioned representatives in the King’s court made sure my plans were carried out.

In my heart of hearts however I am embedded in the black magics of my native swamplands (New Jersey). As such I drew upon one of the legendary Phage’s most trustworthy spells: Syphon Soul. Combined with one of the conspiracies within the Conspiracy, the uncommon Double Stroke, I was able to employ Phage’s dark magic in ways I had previously only dreamed of. After successfully manipulating Brago’s council I set to work assembling this devastating plan and employed it immediately. In my first foray into Paliano I was thwarted by a ‘walker named Dana who had stumbled haphazardly upon another Conspiracy known as the Worldknit. When I returned however, I was able to dispatch of several other ‘walkers through my cunning council manipulations and dark magics.

The Drafting Experience

To sum things up, I drafted a very exciting black/white deck with a lot of synergy. Four copies of Syphon Soul played very well with a third-pack Double Stroke. I did, in fact, have four copies of Brago’s Representative in the deck, which made my three copies of Tyrant’s Choice and two copies of Bite of the Black Rose incredibly powerful. I was able to consistently wipe the board and then deal incredible amounts of damage or force my opponents to all discard. I played two three-player games with the deck. In the first I lost to a Worldknit deck that powered out a 17/17 copy of Ignition Team. In the second game I was taken down to 5 life before I got my first Syphon Soul and from there I stabilized and won the game.

All-in-all the draft is a ton of fun. We had two copies of Worldknit, one Lore Brooker (Mirrodin Beseiged), two Cogwork Librarians, and a few other exciting draft effects at the table. Almost everyone had some hidden agendas and it was a real blast. That said, it is not a format for the very competitive Spikes. And that’s fine, because not every Magic product is for every Magic player.


Pro Tour Update

Top 25 Update

Get used to this

Get used to this

Without a North American Grand Prix tournament last week there wasn’t a whole lot of movement in the rankings. Most of the movement comes in the lower rung of the rankings, and can largely be attributed to small changes either from not playing or from a few of last week’s results. With three more North American GPs before Pro Tour Magic 2015 (Chicago, D.C., and Boston) we can expect some movement to continue in these rankings. Tournaments in Moscow, Milan, and Taipei will also likely have a small effect, like the one shown above. Still, the top players on this list are not likely to change significantly over the next two months leading up to the Pro Tour.

The Quick Hits

  • Magic player and community member Mariah Pagliocco was severely injured when struck by a car earlier this month. Please donate if possible to help with her recovery. [Gathering Magic]
  • Eurogamer landed an interview with “Magic‘s reclusive creator” Richard Garfield talking about his role in Magic and good game design in general [Eurogamer] (h/t to Quiet Speculation)
  • Brian Demars has a new casual cube-like format called “The Danger Room” that he’s been touting for a while, and Ben Stark calls it better than cube drafting [StarCityGames]
  • Dave Shedden tackles the increasingly important issue of misogyny in the Magic community including this gem: “Put simply, I am a white, straight, middle-class, western man – which means that I get to play life on the easiest difficulty setting” [Manaleak]
  • Melissa DeTora made the top 8 of a PTQ in Florida and there was a small coverage team to record her draft and some of the top 8 matches [Gathering Magic]
  • The Magic Online Community Cup returns for 2014 and hopefully there will still be a Magic Online community to compete this year [Magic Arcana]
  • Speaking of Magic Online, meet the people who’ve been hired to handle critical customer support and fire-control when tournaments crash [DailyMTG]
  • Daryl Bockett thinks Conspiracy is a blast, but that Wizards’ new mechanics don’t really address what multiplayer Magic is actually about [Gathering Magic]
  • Jamie Parke raps his report of Pro Tour Journey into Nyx. Seriously [ChannelFireball]
  • Frank Skarren puts together some great advice for how to win at Magic and have fun doing it as well [StarCityGames]
  • Wizards will be holding qualifier tournaments to award a one-round bye at World Magic Cup Qualifiers and top 8 competitors get a sweet playmat and promo card [DailyMTG]
  • I’m still shocked at what people will accept as “good satire” but at least this piece is funny and unoffensive. Still, comparing it to The Onion is an insult to The Onion [Quiet Speculation]

Wallpaper of the Week

This would look great spray-painted in the background of one of the dioramas at the Natural History museum

With Kruphix, God of Horizons, we come to the end of the series of Journey into Nyx gods as desktop wallpapers. This also brings us to the end of Theros block god wallpapers as all fifteen have now been given their five minutes of fame on our computer screens. Ultimately I think the artwork for the gods was interesting but repetitive. Wide landscapes with massive creatures made completely out of stars gets a bit old after the first few iterations. While some of them have action or mystique to them, most of them were very bland. Kruphix falls in the latter category, despite being the god of secrets and mysteries. I’m looking forward to moving on from this series to something (hopefully) more interesting.

Grade: C

The Week Ahead

This weekend I’m turning 31 years old. Also there’s a Grand Prix in Moscow. Only one of these celebrations has a non-zero chance of featuring Vladimir Putin. The format for the one and only Russian Grand Prix of the year will be Standard constructed. Impressively, this is the first major event featuring Standard since GP Phoenix back in early April, a full two months ago. Since then, Journey into Nyx was released changing many things. It will be exciting to see the new face of Standard.

What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. Each week we will take a look at the past seven days of major events, big news items, and community happenings so that you can keep up-to-date on all the latest and greatest Magic: the Gathering community news.

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