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Brian McCormick

is a Fantasy and Science Fiction enthusiast & Co Founder of Epicstream.com

    LATEST ARTICLES

  • 50 Underplayed Magic: The Gathering Blue Commander Cards
    Perhaps the most powerful of all the Magic: the Gathering colors is Blue. Be it taking extra turns, drawing cards, countering spells, or creating insurmountable card advantage, Blue has a plethora of ways to defeat even the strongest of opponents. Because so many of the most powerful Commander cards are Blue, there are a lot of hidden sleepers that are overlooked or forgotten. Today we are looking at the most powerful Blue Commander cards that you should consider running. Some of these cards do see Commander play, but they end up being cut way more than they should. For underplayed Magic: The Gathering White Commander Cards, click here! For underplayed Magic: The Gathering Red Commander Cards, click here! For underplayed Magic: The Gathering Green Commander Cards, click here!   Here are 50 of the most underplayed Magic: The Gathering Blue Commander cards that you should consider for your blue deck:
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    21 days ago By Brian McCormick By Brian McCormick - 21 days ago
  • Graveyard Decks Buried By Magic: The Gathering July Banned and ...
      In an unexpected move, Magic: The Gathering has banned Bridge from Below in Modern, effective July 12, 2019 in paper formats and July 8, 2019 at 12 p.m. PT on Magic Online. The next banned and restricted announcement will be August 26, 2019. No other changes to the B&R list were made to any formats.       The ban came as a surprise to many players, who were railing against the newly printed Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis to be banned instead, which is part of the Bridge from Below deck. According to Wizards of the Coast, the Bridge deck had “high overall win rate, fast wins, and few unfavorable matchups”. The deck even posted an overall win rate on Magic Online of over 60%. Here’s how dominant the deck has been according to WOTC: “In recent weeks, Hogaak Bridgevine has been the most played Modern deck on Magic Online and has earned over three times as many 5-0 League trophies as the deck with the next most. It has only two unfavorable matchups among the other ten most played decks and a high win rate against lesser played "rogue" decks. Especially telling is its Game 1 win rate of roughly 66%, requiring most decks to sideboard heavily against it.” Bridge wasn’t the only card that was considered for the ban. They also looked at banning Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis and Altar of Dementia. WOTC ultimately decided to ban Bridge because they believed it is the most likely card to become broken again as more graveyard synergy cards are released.   Personally, I thought Bridgevine was a pretty interesting combination deck and fairly well balanced before Modern Horizons was released. It seems like Hogaak was the real culprit that put Bridge over the top in a new powerhouse deck for the meta, so I’m a bit surprised they preemptively banned Bridge instead. Players have also been expecting a Stoneforge Mystic unban sometime in the future, but alas, nothing so far. There was no mention in the B&R update of any potential unbannings being looked at.   What do you think of the Bridge from Below ban? Leave us a comment below! You can view the B&R announcement here. READ MORE: Magic: The Gathering War of The Spark Originally Had Different Deaths  
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    131 days ago By Brian McCormick By Brian McCormick - 131 days ago
  • Magic: The Gathering Black Lotus Trading Card Auctions off for ...
      An incredibly rare and sought after Gem Mint 9.5 rated Black Lotus from the original Magic: the Gathering set was listed on eBay by PWCC auctions and reached a final bid today for a reported $166,100. Black Lotus is the most sought after card in Magic: the Gathering and a status symbol for any player who owns one. While the card was originally intended for use in a game of MTG, this one will surely be a display piece for whoever the final buyer is. There are less than a handful of Alpha Black Lotus in 9.5 Gem Mint condition in the game. The only other listing on eBay for a similarly conditioned card is for sale at an incredible $249,999.   Unfortunately, the listing has mysteriously disappeared since the auction was completed and we are no longer able to see the details of this incredibly rare card. This leaves us to speculate what actually happened to the sale of the card. It is possible that a reserve was not met and the card did not actually sell, or the buyer or seller backed out. PWCC also sold a 9.0 Mint Alpha Black Lotus this morning on eBay for $57,350. Here’s what they had to say about their mint condition listing: "The holy grail of all Magic The Gathering cards. The Black Lotus is the single most important MTG card ever printed and is widely considered the most valuable card ever to be released in a regular set. In fact, former professional player Zvi Mowshowitz has declared the Black Lotus as the best artifact of all-time and makes every deck simply better with this card in it. Due to its immense power, this card has been banned/restricted in all formats and is atop the coveted 'Power Nine' list. Designed by Christopher Rush, the Black Lotus is a truly remarkable piece of artwork which could be classified in the same realm as a Picasso or Van Gogh painting. To date, there are only 7 mint Alpha Black Lotus's that have received the coveted quad + mint subgrades, and Just 4 that are graded quad ++. That means this is easily one of the nicest mint 9's in existence. This card possesses exquisite surfaces which show eloquent color and tremendous clarity. Beautifully centered with blemish free borders and MINT edges around. Displays well formed corners with fabulous print and registration. With a print run of just 1,100 of each rare card being produced, and the vast majority being played/damaged; there is no wonder the demand far out weighs the supply. Like an exceedingly rare piece of beautiful art, this card will surely yield a fantastic rate of return and could easily be a $100,000+ card in the coming years. We are proud to offer this world-class investment commodity to the Magic community, free of reserve. Comes highly recommended by PWCC. Part of an ultra impressive run of high-grade Magic The Gathering examples on the auction block this month. One of over 16,000 cards, lots and sets up for bid in our 1st Auction of 2019. Click on the link above to view the other PWCC auction lots.” I knew a mint or better condition Black Lotus was incredibly rare, but I had no idea that there were only 7 of this quality in known existence. Congratulations to the lucky buyers of these cards! Although the price is incredibly steep, there are so few in existence that it is hard to put a price on something like this. Do you think these rare and powerful cards are worth the cost? Leave us a comment below!
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    261 days ago By Brian McCormick By Brian McCormick - 261 days ago
  • Magic: the Gathering Releases Celebrity Advertisement for New Arena ...
    Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro just released the above big budget advertisement for their new Arena Singleton event this week. The ad stars notable actor, Danny Trejo. For many players in the MTG community, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen a big budget commercial advertising the game. This ended when Wizards of the Coast went big with an advertisement for Arena and E-Sports in December of 2017. The new ad from Magic: the Gathering features Danny Trejo and a Magic player on a Valentine's date. Trejo is trying to decide what meal to order, while his friend promotes the new Singleton Arena event which will be taking place between February 14 and 18th. The event will be free. Winning once in the event will give you an alternate art copy of Duress. Winning five times will reward you with an alternate art copy of Ghalta, Primal Hunger. It’s clear with this ad that Hasbro is committed to giving resources to Magic: the Gathering to advertise and promote Arena and the E-Sports division of the game. It’s surprising they nabbed a notable actor for a commercial for something as ordinary as a free limited time event, instead of a pre-release or large release announcement. Perhaps more celebrity and big-budget advertisements are in store for Magic E-Sports. Did you like the commercial? Are you excited for the Singleton event this Valentine's weekend? Leave us a comment below!
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    276 days ago By Brian McCormick By Brian McCormick - 276 days ago
  • Guide: How to Curve the Perfect Magic: the Gathering Draft Deck
    Are you a beginner at Draft? Do you find yourself having trouble in limited format events? You’re not alone. In Standard events, many players can succeed by mastering a deck already developed and tested by other players. One of the struggles of Draft is that you have to build the entire deck yourself. This means you need to choose the number of lands, mana curve, number of creatures, and spells. I’ve constantly noticed players make rookie mistakes in Draft, such as running too many high converted mana cost cards, which leads to them being out tempoed by opponents. In order to help players better understand what makes a good Draft deck, I’ve analyzed Top 8 Draft decks from many recent GPs to see what characteristics they have in common. Here’s what I’ve found:
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    289 days ago By Brian McCormick By Brian McCormick - 289 days ago
  • 5 Things Magic: the Gathering Online Still Does Better Than Arena
    Magic Arena has been killing it for the Standard format. Twitch streams for Magic: the Gathering has been at an all-time high and growing every day, while Magic Online streams have been declining. Many have started ditching their Magic Online collection in fear of declining card prices. While Arena seems to have cemented its place among players as their Magic software of choice, it can’t do everything better. Magic Online still offers a superb experience in a few ways that Arena doesn’t and won’t be able to for a long time (if ever). Here are 5 things Magic Online Still Does Better Than Arena:
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    292 days ago By Brian McCormick By Brian McCormick - 292 days ago
  • Local Gaming Store Game On Suffers Major Blow from Burst Pipe, All ...
      The community gaming store Game On, located in Augusta Maine, suffered extensive water damage earlier this week when a pipe broke above their singles inventory room. The damage was enough to flood the store with over an inch of water and caused damage to the walls according to a post on the store’s Facebook page. You can see the damage here: Game On was originally scheduled to have a Magic: the Gathering Appreciation Day as well as a Pokemon Prerelease event and a 2-Headed Giant tournament this weekend. Sadly, all of their events are postponed until further notice, as the damage was more extensive than originally thought. According to Game On, they will be closed for a minimum of 3 weeks in order to recover and clean up as well as tear down water soaked walls. Although it is a tough time for the LGS, they posted yesterday that they indeed plan to reopen as soon as they can and are thankful for all the messages of support they have received over the past week. I hope they are able to open back up as painlessly as possible without further issues. Local gaming stores are a pillar of Magic: the Gathering and other card communities. Without them, we wouldn’t have a common place to enjoy some of our favorite games.
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    296 days ago By Brian McCormick By Brian McCormick - 296 days ago
  • Epicstream Comic Book Reviews for the Week: 01/02/2019 - Featuring ...
    BOOKS OF MAGIC #3 Written by Kat Howard Art by Tom Fowler Timothy Hunter finally turns his yo-yo into an owl, his magical companion. Other than that, there isn't much going on this issue. Howard explores Timothy's restlessness and school life. This issue might read better in trade format, but for a single issue, it's a bit thin. Rating: 5 out of 10   CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1 Written by Jason Aaron Art by Mahmud Asrar The rights to Conan have finally returned back to Marvel! Conan the Barbarian represents the first new Conan comic from the publisher in almost 20 years. Jason Aaron begins the series with a thrilling gladiator fight with the title character pitted against a formidable warrior who outclasses him in gear. After he fights his way to victory he is captured by a mysterious witch who intends to kill him in some sort of dark ritual. Asrar's artwork is impressive. It captures the essence of battle and torment of both Conan and his enemies as they fight to the death. Jason Aaron and Mahmud Asrar have put together a spectacular comic that should excite old fans and new readers alike. Rating: 9 out of 10   CROWDED #6 Written by Christopher Sebela Art by Ro Stein Charlie and Vita attempt to escape an elaborate reality video spectacle finale to the Reapr campaign on her life. Will it succeed? Crowded ends the first arc of the comic, but don't worry, the series doesn't complete here. Crowded #6 gives us some interesting revelations that make us question why Charlie has such a large Reapr campaign on her head. For instance, bots are making a large sum of the Reapr donations instead of actual people. And then, there's a mysterious hitwoman following Vita and Charlie's trail from a distance. I'm beginning to wonder if Charlie was ever the target all along, or if somehow Vita is the one that someone is trying to nab? Rating: 7 out of 10   DEADPOOL #8 Written by Skottie Young Art by Nic Klein Just when you think Deadpool can't get any weirder, it does. The merc with a mouth journeys into an animal farm-themed amusement park. This time he has been contracted to kill a cute little pig who has been running drugs and guns on location. Someone gets in Deadpool's way through and prevents him from carrying out his mission. Deadpool #8 brings the outrageousness and ridiculousness you could only ever read in a Deadpool comic. Rating: 7 out of 10   HEROES IN CRISIS #4 Written by Tom King Art by Clay Mann Clay Mann continues to deliver some of the best artwork in the industry with Heroes in Crisis, although he does use some paneling tricks that result in less art actually being drawn. King distracts readers a bit by letting Mann's artwork tell most of the story, which results in a quick read, but with sparse relevance. I'd like to see King turn up the pace a bit and deliver a crisis instead of empty panels. There are 20 panels in this issue with absolutely no caption at all! Rating: 6 out of 10   IMMORTAL HULK #11 Written by Al Ewing Art by Joe Bennett Eleven issues in and Al Ewing is on track to write one of the best modern Hulk stories of all time. The Hulk arrives "below" to a landscape of lost souls and rubble cityscape where he comes across an old friend. Meanwhile, a stranger approaches Creel and tells him he is the key to closing the gate of "below". Colorist Paul Mounts does a fantastic job bringing this hellscape to life with the perfect palette that resonates with an eerie horror to it. This is the Hulk that we all deserve! If you've ever wanted to jump back into a Hulk comic, you won't want to miss this run! Rating: 10 out of 10   MARVEL KNIGHTS #5 Written by Matthew Rosenberg Art by Niko Henrichon Rosenberg and Henrichon create some great frictional chemistry between the Kingpin and Doctor Doom, but how could these egotistical maniacs possible work together? The answer is, they can't, and the Kingpin and Doom get into an altercation that results in potentially the demise of one of them. That demise seems highly questionable and if there isn't more to this story in a future issue, it is rather out of character and beyond belief. Artwork by Henrichon is a mixed bag. We get some great action sequences, but some scenes are awkward. For example, Elektra's face looks proportioned strangely throughout the book. Rosenberg gives us an unexpected twist ending that might upset some who aren't patient enough to see where the story leads. Rating: 6 out of 10   TONY STARK, IRON MAN #7 Written by Dan Slott with Jeremy Whitley Art by Valerio Schiti Dan Slott has created a unique run on Iron Man that showcases the engineering and high tech endeavors of Tony Stark and his company rather than the typical military industrial approach. In Issue 7, Tony Stark finds the eScape in mortal peril, as innocent civilians become trapped inside for the highest stakes game of their lives. Will Tony save the day, or will his company and reputation lie in ruin as a result? Schiti continues to create a jam-packed sensation of colorful artwork that compliments the playfulness of the eScape and Tony's digital escapades. Rating: 8 out of 10   WINTER SOLDIER #2 Written by Kyle Higgins Art by Rod Reis Thanks to not paying attention to dates, I thought I was getting a retconned version of the Winter Soldier's childhood that didn't make sense, which I later learned was the introduction of a completely new assassin. As the story flashforwards, this assassin attempts to take down Bucky and does so with incredible efficiency, but the Winter Soldier has more experience and ultimately wins. By the end of the issue, this assassin turns into Bucky's own sidekick or at least alludes to such with the next issues cover reveal. The sidekick story is cliche and too convenient. I found the characters flat and uninteresting with a vague and dreamy art style that is unmemorable. Rating: 4 out of 10 Pick of the Week: Immortal Hulk #11
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    311 days ago By Brian McCormick By Brian McCormick - 311 days ago
  • Magic: The Gathering Ironworks Combo Surprises in Grand Prix ...
    Krak-Clan Ironworks dominated the Top 8 at Grand Prix Oakland yesterday! KCI managed to secure 4 of the Top 8 decks at the tournament. Here are the Top 8 decks: 1st Place - Izzet Phoenix by Eli Kassis 2nd Place - Ironworks Combo  by Hunter Cochran 3rd Place - Azorious Control by Alex Olsen 4th Place - Ironworks Combo by Matt Nass 5th Place - TitanShift by Marshall Jankovsky 6th Place - Hardened Scales by Garth Dracoulis 7th Place - Ironworks Combo by Sam Black 8th Place - Ironworks Combo by Steven Haker Ironworks combo ended up losing in the finals to Izzet Phoenix, but we didn’t get to see a full match. The Ironworks player conceded the match after only 1 game in order to catch an airplane flight on time (read more here). It’s not surprising to see Ironworks in the Top 8, but it's unusual to see so many copies of one deck in a format as diverse as Modern. Perhaps Ironworks success at GP Oakland shouldn’t come as a surprise. During GP Atlanta, the MTG community came together to report wins/losses of matches to analyze the Modern metagame (click here to view). At the time of that survey, KCI was more of a fringe combo deck, seeing only 1-2% of the meta according to sites like MTGGoldfish.com. With 98 matches recorded, KCI had the highest reported win rate at GP Atlanta with a 59.18% win percentage. After this data was shared, more pro players have started piloting KCI decks at large events. Now, just two months after GP Atlanta, MTGGoldfish lists Ironworks as the 2nd most popular deck in Modern (Izzet Phoenix has first). It’s clear that KCI isn’t in the shadows anymore. Despite being a more difficult deck to pilot, players have become willing to learn its intricacies in order to take advantage of a supposed higher win rate. You can watch a replay of Grand Prix Oakland Day 2 on Twitch here.
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    313 days ago By Brian McCormick By Brian McCormick - 313 days ago
  • 50 Underplayed Magic: The Gathering Red Commander Cards
    Today we are taking a look at the most underrated and underused Red Commander cards in Magic: The Gathering. Red has some of the wildest and most diverse abilities of any color and typically have land and artifact destruction, direct damage, combat tricks, mana production, and randomness. Red has such a diverse and long history of powerful cards, that many of them are overlooked and see little play.   For underplayed Magic: The Gathering White Commander Cards, click here! For underplayed Magic: The Gathering Blue Commander Cards, click here! For underplayed Magic: The Gathering Green Commander Cards, click here! Here are 50 of the most underplayed Magic: The Gathering Red Commander cards that you should consider for your green deck:
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    316 days ago By Brian McCormick By Brian McCormick - 316 days ago