Thursday, December 14, 2017

Commander Licia, Sanguine Tribune

This...ought to be a little weird. We'll start with the unchanged list.

Licia, Sanguine Tribune 1 Kindred Boon
1 Blind Obedience
1 Black Market
1 Sanguine Bond
1 Underworld Connections
1 Outpost Siege
1 Curse of Vitality
1 Curse of Disturbance

1 Teferi's Protection
1 Crackling Doom
1 Return to Dust
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Go for the Throat
1 Skeletal Scrying
1 Mortify
1 Blade of the Bloodchief
1 Door of Destinies
1 Well of Lost Dreams
1 Heirloom Blade
1 Boros Signet
1 Orzhov Signet
1 Rakdos Signet
1 Skullclamp
1 Sol Ring
1 Worn Powerstone

1 Edgar Markov
1 Mathas, Fiend Seeker
1 Kheru Mind-Eater
1 Patron of the Vein
1 Bloodsworn Steward
1 Crimson Honor Guard
1 Anowon, the Ruin Sage
1 Bloodlord of Vaasgoth
1 Blood Baron of Vizkopa
1 Butcher of Malakir
1 Captivating Vampire
1 Dark Impostor
1 Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief
1 Malakir Bloodwitch
1 Sangromancer
1 Skeletal Vampire
1 Vein Drinker
1 Bloodline Necromancer
1 Blood Artist
1 Bloodhusk Ritualist
1 Falkenrath Noble
1 Pawn of Ulamog
1 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Rakish Heir
1 Stromkirk Captain
1 Tithe Drinker
8 Swamp
4 Mountain
3 Plains
1 Path of Ancestry
1 Akoum Refuge
1 Bloodfell Caves
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Boros Garrison
1 Boros Guildgate
1 Cinder Barrens
1 Command Tower
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Forsaken Sanctuary
1 Kabira Crossroads
1 Nomad Outpost
1 Opal Palace
1 Orzhov Basilica
1 Orzhov Guildgate
1 Rakdos Carnarium
1 Rakdos Guildgate
1 Scoured Barrens
1 Stone Quarry
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Urborg Volcano
1 Wind-Scarred Crag
1 New Blood
1 Disrupt Decorum
1 Kindred Charge
1 Fell the Mighty
1 Blood Tribute
1 Consuming Vapors
1 Damnable Pact
1 Merciless Eviction
1 Ambition's Cost
1 Read the Bones
1 Syphon Mind

So why Licia? Because she doesn't get a lot of attention. What am I going to do? Well, change things up because I already have a vampire commander deck.

Lauriel and Matt have both been working on what she called "spikey fort decks"; decks that want to steer you away through discouragement. I like this concept and will probably play it up a bit for now, as it gives me a star to steer the ship by. The vampire subtheme can stay: Edgar doesn't have anywhere else to go but a commander deck and Mathas can be fun. However, it means that for now, some obvious cuts should be made.

Teferi's Protection
Kindred Charge
New Blood
Door of Destinies
Bloodlord of Vaagoth
Kheru Mind-Eater
Rakish Heir
Patron of the Vein
Anowon, the Ruin Sage
Captivating Vampire
Malakir Bloodwitch

I'm not sure what will go in next, so that's this weekend's research project!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Now's Not Forever

It was only one match against Fuz, but after he mulliganed down to 5 cards, the board state eventually looked like this:

And I don't care what you think, this is pretty damned impressive.

After I made this attack, I was up to 43 life-he untapped, played three lands, and was able to swing for 48.

Sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you.

That said, I did end up taking the match: the lifegain, removal and additional Sunscorch Dragon made plenty of difference. I can tell that Hope is going in a good direction.

This streak sustained itself while playing Matt last night; again, I had some consistent, strong showings. I also found myself slowing down, trying to think ahead: what should my next move be if nothing happens? What should it be after he makes a play? What does it suggest about what he's got in his hand?

I don't know how well it's working yet: I've just started this process and there are still lots of decks to play and situations to encounter. It's working so far though, so I'll take that.

In the meantime, I think I'll call Hope Is A Passenger good. I feel like I've improved the deck in every way that matters. When I build a sideboard, Devout Witness might be worth relegating to it but in the meantime, it can stay. I still have Jason decks to beat and the Witness can always carry a Behemoth Sledge.

Here's the final list:

4 Well of Lost Dreams
4 Sunbeam Spellbomb
2 Behemoth Sledge 
3 Ageless Entity
3 Kavu Titan
4 Quirion Elves
2 Devout Witness
4 Essence Warden
2 Dragonlord Dromoka
2 Sunscorch Regent 
2 Armadillo Cloak 
2 Blessed Alliance 
8 Forest
2 Selesnya Sanctuary
9 Plains
2 Temple of Plenty
1 Blossoming Sands
1 Graypelt Refuge 
2 Solar Tide
1 Fumigate

Thursday, December 7, 2017

More For The Cube

Once again, back to the Garbage Cube. Updated additions are as follows:

From Hour of Devastation-
Fervent Paincaster
Tragic Lesson
Lethal Sting
God-Pharaoh's Faithful
Graven Abomination

Some of these are pretty obvious: glass-jaw creatures, overcosted effects, but in the case of Lethal Sting, I have an effect that doesn't play nice with the rest of the cube.

From Ixalan-
Sailor of Means
Dive Down
Ancient Brontodon
Emergent Growth
Glorifier of Dusk
Bright Reprisal
Spreading Rot
Blight Keeper
Trove of Temptation
Rowdy Crew
Elaborate Firecannon

Some of these cards aren't as obvious and I think it's coming from, in part, the improvement of the quality of cards. Sure, I haven't heard raves about Ixalan as a draft set, but that doesn't mean the card quality hasn't improved, just that the synergies in this set aren't as robust as Llorwyn, another tribal set, was. (Personal theory: 4 creature types isn't enough to make it work and even then, tribal generally works best in constructed).

Other cards, like Trove of Temptation, are clearly just awful and need workarounds to be good.

I may have to shift some of these cards; evaluation isn't my strongest suit. But for now, this is what I'm adding. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Thinkin' That You're Big

After playing a few games against Matt on Monday, he took a look at Hope.

"I like what you've got going on here," he said.

So what do I have going on here, exactly?

Well, I think it's got a nice curve happening, with the deck nicely front loaded to the 1-3 CC spot, but some nice bombs going at 5+.

Against Matt's deck that wanted to give opponents creatures and make them suffer via Batwing Brume, I actually won out, something I don't often do against that deck.

I've also been testing a single Sunscorch Regent, for similar reasons. The card that has been standing out as unhelpful: Sword of Light and Shadow.

It just never seems to be useful when I need it. Plus, my creatures don't have much in the way of "enter the battlefield" effects, so returning creatures to hand isn't as awesome as I'd like. I'm thinking another Regent might be in order.

I've also added one Fumigate, because after the lessons learned with I Hate It When That Happens To Me,  know that a Fumigate can be REALLY awesome.

Still, I want to keep the Solar Tides in, because they can take on the decks that go wide with a lot of tokens, and leave me with some giant monsters.

Or, if all there are are giant monsters, I can destroy them, equip a tiny elf and go to town. Either way, I like my options.

But what to do about the Sword....

A second Sunscorch Regent is an obvious choice and probably wouldn't be a bad idea. It wouldn't disrupt the curve much and another threat is always a good thing.

Part of me, though, wants to run Deathgorge Scavenger. Because dinosaurs.

I know, I know: consistency is better than power in most of my decks. But dinosaurs!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Show You The Score

When I play Jason, this is often what I deal with. Look at this insanity. Karn, Silver Golem, Mycosynth Lattice, Howling Mine. He's about to drop a Hellkite Tyrant and steal all my stuff.

And the only thing standing in the way of all that is Devout Witness. Even then, I didn't get my play right, hitting Karn instead of the Lattice. Jason just ran me over with 6/6 woke artifacts.

Still, practice makes perfect, right?

Now, I got some excellent suggestions from Reddit user Pumatyger, who went so far as to re-imagine Hope Is A Passenger as a mono-W lifegain deck. You can see his revision here-buuuuuut as interesting as that deck is, I already have one of those that does interesting things and the keys to Hope are Well of Lost Dreams and Ageless Entity.

The suggestions of Blessed Alliance and Serene Steward were especially interesting. However, the Steward just wasn't quiet as helpful as I would like, at least as a replacement for Pulse of the Fields. Especially since what it wants to do (pay W for counters) runs against what Well of Lost Dreams wants to do. Blessed Alliance gave me some options that opponents were surprised by and that was nice. I haven't used it for the lifegain yet: Blessed Alliance might be one of those cards that I really have to play with a lot in order to get used to the options. I tend to lock in on one-the removal aspect in this case-and neglect the uses of the other parts of the card.

I do this a lot and it was even something I brought up to Jason while we played: How to get better and really focus on making the best decisions.

It's going to take some practice. However, there's no time like right now to get on that.

There are a few white cards with lifelink that I should consider as well: Knight of Meadowgrain was a fine suggestion but Bishop's Soldier might make it because the mana requirements are less.

The thing that really has me interested? The replacement for Windbrisk Raptor: Dragonlord Dromoka.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

As It Could Be

This article at ChannelFireball posits an interesting question about how to reinvent the color pie. The companion piece about how Magic has never been balanced, is also worth a read.

What I think is missed in the reinvention of the color pie-the solution to which is 'just don't let the colors do all the things well'-is that WotC is already implementing said notions in small ways. Most notably and recently, moving the Fight mechanic to Green and making it a way for Green to have creature removal.

However, to pull from an even more recent example, let's talk about Adanto Vanguard and Glorifier of Dusk.

You have to go back to Mercadian Masques in order to find another mono-white card that will let you do something for a life payment (Righteous Aura). The earliest card I could find with this kind of ability: Order of the Sacred Torch.

However, WotC found a place for White to justifiably break the color pie for story reasons, and they took it. It's likely only for a single set, (until they can find a way to justify it again) but they found a way to take a mechanic typically reserved for Black (life payment for an effect) and crossed it over. Sure, it doesn't do a whole lot but it does shake up how people think of the color.

So I think that WotC is at least a little ahead of the curve in their attempts to create dynamic playing environments. Sure, Mark Rosewater might complain a bit about the color pie being broken-and he should. The color pie being 'boring' means that the color pie is the standard.

That standard is critical to Magic: if you do not have a baseline to deviate from and return to, then what you have is simply chaos. Magic is too complex a game to endure or worse, generate, chaos. Someone has to vanguard that standard and it would seem that part of Mark's job is to do just that.

But I've come around to the notion that offering colors different options as appropriate-especially with story justifications-help keep the game dynamic.

I still don't like white vampires. But I like the mechanic there.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Unstable Spoiler

The Unstable full spoiler list has been released.

I have to say; this set looks like a great deal of fun. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!