Inexorable taxes in Standard

I’ve been enjoying this deck a lot lately in best-of-one Standard on Arena:

It’s basically Orzhov Death-and-Taxes in Standard (meaning a WB deck packed with aggression and disruption). The deck has a fair amount of obnoxious recursion, too, and Kaya herself is a total house and can act as a one-woman offense/defense team in supporting your little dudes as they kill the opponent.

I sprang for this alt-art Kaya on Arena because it rocks:

Mostly Kaya does her work with the first two abilities, but hitting the ultimate is hilarious since you can then (inexorably) cast Kaya over and over again from everywhere.

Inner Sphere Omnis in the IlClan era

I was curious, so thanks to Master Unit List I compiled the Omnis available to each major power in the IlClan era except for the Republic (who have a ton, but…).

Capellan Confederation

UnitTonnageTech Base
Gún20Inner Sphere
Strider40Inner Sphere
Firestarter45Inner Sphere
Avalanche50Inner Sphere
Blackjack50Inner Sphere
Men Shen55Inner Sphere
Ebon Jaguar65Clan
Vandal65Inner Sphere
Grand Summoner70Clan
Sunder90Inner Sphere

Federated Suns

UnitTonnageTech Base
Blackjack50Inner Sphere
Centurion50Inner Sphere
Inferno75Inner Sphere
Templar85Inner Sphere
Sunder90Inner Sphere

Draconis Combine

UnitTonnageTech Base
Raptor25Inner Sphere
Arctic Cheetah30Clan
Owens35Inner Sphere
Strider40Inner Sphere
Firestarter45Inner Sphere
Shadow Cat45Clan
Avalanche50Inner Sphere
Blackjack50Inner Sphere
Centurion50Inner Sphere
Ebon Jaguar65Clan
Sunder90Inner Sphere
Tenshi95Inner Sphere

Free Worlds League

UnitTonnageTech Base
Owens35Inner Sphere
Strider40Inner Sphere
Shadow Cat45Clan
Avalanche50Inner Sphere
Blackjack50Inner Sphere
Sarath50Inner Sphere
Perseus75Inner Sphere

Lyran Commonwealth

UnitTonnageTech Base
Arctic Fox30Inner Sphere
Ice Ferret45Clan
Firestarter45Inner Sphere
Centurion50Inner Sphere
Gauntlet55Inner Sphere
Sunder90Inner Sphere
Hauptmann95Inner Sphere

Frontline Omnis, circa 3050 – a record sheet book

After my earlier post about choosing faction-specific Clan force compositions, I did that and made custom configurations for each Omni (available in 3050) for each Clan.

It’s attached here as a PDF (click below to download), and contains some background notes and about 60 new Omni configurations as deployed by the four invading Clans in early 3050.

Let me know what you think!

Faction-specific Invasion-era forces

Cool cover mockup taken from Rick Knox

I’ve returned to one of my earlier (much earlier!) gaming loves, getting back into Battletech. There’s a ton of new content from Catalyst Game Labs, including their fantastic new miniatures kickstarters (if you’re into that kind of thing – the minis are spectacular).

I am not into that kind of thing anymore, but I love access to all the rules and technical readouts in PDF form, and the modern BT community it’s introduced me to.

I also like thinking about parts of the setting and how you’d make them more distinct. Like, it makes sense in terms of letting gamers have access to whatever units that there’s always a justification for every force having every ‘mech – but I think it’s more fun if they don’t. Back when I played a lot of Mechwarrior in grad school, we ran faction-pure forces even though the rules didn’t require it. It was fun!

So I’ve been thinking that it would make a lot more sense if Invasion-era Clan forces (so 3050-era) were more focused, with each Clan deploying units it was actively building or had a lot of in reserve. I based the actual choices on what’s discussed in the fluff and notes in the TROs, and I like how it gives each faction more flavor (and, most fun to me, each faction ends up having an entirely distinct Heavy ‘mech component, which I tend to think of as the MBTs of the BT universe).

Here are the four early Invasion-era Clans and the units they start with in this model. Units marked with an asterisk are not actively produced by the Clan, but are present in large reserves (e.g. the Nova, which everyone has but no one makes anymore).

Ghost Bear

  • Fire Moth (20)
  • *Mist Lynx (25)
  • Adder (35)
  • Viper (40)
  • *Nova (50)
  • Stormcrow (55)
  • Mad Dog (60)
  • *Hellbringer (65)
  • *Kingfisher (90)
  • Executioner (95)

Jade Falcon

  • *Mist Lynx (25)
  • Kit Fox (30)
  • Adder (35)
  • *Nova (50)
  • Stormcrow (55)
  • Hellbringer (65)
  • Summoner (70)

Smoke Jaguar

  • Mist Lynx (25)
  • Arctic Cheetah (30)
  • Adder (35)
  • Shadow Cat (45)
  • *Nova (50)
  • Stormcrow (55)
  • Ebon Jaguar (65)
  • *Hellbringer (65)
  • Warhawk (85)
  • *Kingfisher (90)
  • Dire Wolf (100)


  • *Mist Lynx (25)
  • Adder (35)
  • Ice Ferret (45)
  • *Nova (50)
  • Stormcrow (55)
  • *Hellbringer (65)
  • Timber Wolf (75)
  • Gargoyle (80)
  • Dire Wolf (100)

Some observations from this setup:

Everyone has leftover Novas and Mist Lynxes, and most Clans have leftover Hellbringers.

Everyone is actively producing Adders (the Clan Cloud Cobra opfor ‘mech) and Stormcrows.

The Ghost Bears favor the lighter, faster units, suggesting they’re fans of a more maneuver-warfare oriented style of fighting. They are also the only Clan with a dedicated battle armor APC ‘mech (the Fire Moth).

I was a little mystified by the Falcon’s heavy choices until Darthhorse on Riley’s BT Discord pointed out that they’re great Zellbrigen ‘mechs, and the traditionalist Falcons are the biggest Zell proponents. Otherwise, why would you still be producing the “all guns, no armor” Hellbringer as one of your key heavies?

The Smoke Jaguars make some of the objectively toughest, fightiest units. Their forces clearly lean heavier and slower.

The Wolves bring the heaviest MBT to the table in the Timber Wolf, and also lean heavier generally with the Ice Ferret as their main scout and the Dire Wolf in their ranks as well.

One edit – I pulled the Fire Falcon from the JF list. It wasn’t present for the initial invasion wave.


Wow. I haven’t written anything here in quite a while (2014!).

Since Zaiem asked, here’s the Dredge list I played at the CFB Game Center today. I went 3-1, up against Miracles (w), Lands (l), Dredge (w), and Miracles (w).

The deck

4 Golgari Grave-Troll
4 Stinkweed Imp
4 Golgari Thug
4 Ichorid
4 Careful Study
4 Breakthrough
4 Putrid Imp
2 Hapless Researcher
4 Cabal Therapy
4 Narcomoeba
4 Bridge from Below
2 Dread Return
1 Ashen Rider
1 Flame-Kin Zealot

4 Cephalid Coliseum
4 Mana Confluence
4 Gemstone Mine
2 City of Brass


4 Chain of Vapor
4 Faerie Macabra
1 Realm Razer
1 Ancestor’s Chosen
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
3 Ashen Rider
1 Iona, Shield of Emeria


Yup, no copies of Lions Eye Diamond. Not a strategic choice – I just didn’t feel like buying them. The deck seems to do quite well without them. I suppose it makes it slower, but I think it ends up being more resilient. I beat a LED-ed Dredge deck in the mirror. Hapless Researcher was fun there, de-Bridging my opponent at least once.

The mana base is actually needlessly hurty right now, since I have no actual need to cast other than blue or black spells. That would change if I bothered to pick up copies of Firestorm for the sideboard, which I’ve been considering.

The Realm Razer almost got me my second win against Lands today. It freaked out the Lands player, who’d boarded out all his removal and had to board it back in when he saw me flip the Razer in game two (sadly, it got Bogged out of existence before I could use it).

I like having one Ashen Rider in the main because it lets me clear out problematic locks in game one, and it’s a good backup plan to just outright killing them with Flame-Kin. Dread Return the Rider, make zombies, exile their threat or a land, Cabal Therapy off of Rider, make more zombies, screw up their hand and exile another permanent.

Modern PTQ season!

It’s about to be new PTQ season time. Now we know that it’s going to feed into Pro Tour: Khans of Tarkir, which is pretty sweet.

This is a Modern PTQ season. I’m hoping that my work schedule will allow me to hit up some of the PTQs in our area, especially since (1) I’m a fan of Modern and (2) it’s way more realistic to tune up my Modern skills than to try to pick up a new Standard deck in a format I’m not familiar with.

Click here for the PTQ season schedule so far (you need to scroll down the page to get to the Khans of Tarkir season info.

PTQs in California (so far):

June 14 – River City Comics and Games, Sacramento
July 26 – Eudemonia, Berkeley
August 9, 2014 – Rubidoux High School, Jurupa Valley (near Riverside)
August 17, 2014 – Oakland Convention Center, Oakland
August 23, 2014 – Game Empire, San Diego (wow – is Game Empire big enough to house a PTQ?
Date TBD – Costa Mesa

I hope I get to see some of you at a PTQ during the Khans of Tarkir season.


So…spoilers. 🙂


That is a neat piece of equipment. Also, a pretty evocative legendary sword – it perma-vaporizes one creature per fight, punching a hole in the universe so that no more of them can be summoned.

I like it. Like the name, like the effect.

Quick little killers

I’ve been on a bit of a Battletech kick lately, enjoying some of the older Technical Readouts and checking out the new ones as well. After reading this neat little nostalgia piece by Abe Sargent about your five favorite ‘mechs from the 3025 guide, I realized that I’m a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to my affection to the Battletech universe.

I was introduced to the game by the 3025 era and have a lot of nostalgia for it. TR 3025 is definitely the most read of the TRs for me – not surprising, given how chock-a-block it is with stories about the units.

However, the bulk of my play came a little later in the early Clan era – think TR 3050 and the Kerensky books. I’ll write more about my affection for the look and feel of those early Clan units in another post.

But…my strongest period of Battletech-related play is really those years in grad school when I played Mechwarrior: Dark Age. I’m confident I played more Mechwarrior than I’ve ever played Classic Battletech. So I have huge affection for many of the units in Mechwarrior, as well as the look and feel of the game.

All of that brings me to this guy:


The Gyrfalcon, a “totem ‘mech” for Clan Jade Falcon.

This is where I find the compare/contrast between Classic Battletech and Mechwarrior kind of fun. Pretty much everything that appeared in Mechwarrior has been statted out for Battletech as well. The Gyrfalcon’s stats appear in Battletech: Technical Readout: 3145 The Clans (that is an unwieldy title).

In Mechwarrior, Gyrfalcons were amazing packets of long-range, high-endurance death. They were highly mobile, outranged most other ‘mechs, and like all the Jade Falcon “winged” totem ‘mechs, could cool like nothing else. The upshot was that while every other ‘mech had to really give it a rest every few turns, you could race a Gyrfalcon around with minimal downtime.

In short, they were brutal.

In Battletech, the Gyrfalcon is fast enough and cools better than average, but it just doesn’t feel like it would be as mobile (or as brutal) as the Mechwarrior Gyrfalcons were. Are LB-2Xs and ER Large Lasers going to rack up as much harm in Battletech as the Gyrfalcon’s guns did in Mechwarrior?

…and, of course, this is the point. They’re just very different games. The games model key factors (like heat and maneuverability) differently, so at the end of the day some units just won’t translate over well. That said, I haven’t actually played Battletech with these guys yet, so who knows?

Just some musings as I look through Technical Readouts published over the past three decades or so.

By and about Chandra Nalaar


Chandra art by Jason Chan

“Which do you think is a better deterrent: a moat of water or one of fire?” – Circle of Flame

“‘Utterly’ is my favorite way to destroy something.” – Craterize

“You’re in luck. I brought enough to share.” – Flames of the Firebrand

“Spontaneous combustion is a myth. If you burst into flame, someone wanted you to.” – Incinerate

“Who’d want to ignite things one at a time?” – Pyroclasm

“Lighting a fire needs kindling and heat. You be the kindling. I’ll bring the heat.” – Magma Rift

“Those who wish to invade our monastery, please take it up with my servant.” – Inferno Elemental

“I like it here. You always get a little more for your mana.” – Rumbling Aftershocks

“The land here seems go out of its way to kill you.” – Seismic Shudder

“I asked if they wanted to do things the easy way. I meant easy for me.” – Chandra’s Fury

“I’ve lit most everything on fire—trees, rocks, even the water. Now it’s time to burn the clouds.” – Chandra’s Spitfire

About Chandra…

After the fourth time Chandra left a place engulfed in flames, she decided to just go ahead and make it her thing.Seal of Fire

Chandra never believed in using her “inside voice.”Chandra’s Outrage

“So many have died in search of that map. And now it appears in the hands of the arrogant child Chandra Nalaar.” – Anowon, the Ruin Sage