Thursday, September 29, 2011

New World Disorder

A combination of the old Secret Force decklists and a Biohazard song. I give you a mono-G monstrosity:
3x Cursed Scroll
4x Tangle Wire

2x Garruk Wildspeaker

3x Natural Order

3x Eternal Witness
3x Fangren Firstborn
3x Fyndhorn Elves
3x Llanowar Elves
3x Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
2x Silklash Spider
2x Wickerbough Elder
2x Verdant Force
3x Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger

4x Wasteland
16x Forest
2x Gaea's Cradle
The plan: get a Verdant Force out early, make with the Overrun effects (Garruk, Fangren Firstborn) and overwhelm. Gaea's Cradle gives me a ton of mana if I need it, Wasteland and Tangle Wire keep the opponent tied up and Cursed Scroll is there to give a green deck some creature removal coupled with a bit of reach if the battlefield gets locked up.

Vorinclex seemed like SUCH an awesome idea when that card was revealed. It's certainly something that feels like it goes with a card like Tangle Wire but when casting Natural Order, it's never been the card I felt I needed. So time will tell if it's worth it but honestly there are so many big green nasties that Vorinclex might be better elsewhere.

The other twist is the Wickerbough Elder and the Firstborn clash. (I was trying to think of a word that was the antonym of 'synergy' and it just wasn't coming to mind. English fail!)

The Elder gets bigger if I use it on something (good) and it's fairly inexpensive (also good.) But if it has the minus counter and attacks with a Firstborn, that ability goes away (bad). I don't know if it matters yet but I'm keeping my eye on things.

I suppose that if I have a problem with this deck it's that I never feel done with it. When it wins, it wins convincingly, like Morgan Freeman as God convincing. But when it loses, it's 'Emperor being tossed into the reactor core' losses and I wonder what the hell is wrong with this deck. It's just so swingy! Consistency is what I need when I play these kinds of decks; the ones that are meant to stand up to the crazy milling evil ones.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

So Innistrad. That's a thing, right?

It is indeed. Visual list here and we'll talk about it.

I've decided that this set just isn't for me. Talking to Fuz about it, the issue has been distilled down to this:
They're letting common mythology trump Magic mythology and using flavor as their excuse for doing so.
Zombies eat brains, so it doesn't matter if the zombie is blue, it still eats creatures. Which flies in the face of what blue cares about: thoughts and will. So many cards in blue are related to the library and instants-even in this set, you see cards that want to interact with the library and blue's interaction with instants and sorceries can be shown throughout the game's history. The zombies of blue should eat instants, sorceries or even the library. Instead they are cliche and run roughshod into what black does. So flavor-a common flavor at that > blue's philosophy as a color.

Trample in White at common with Thraben Sentry. There hasn't been a white common trampler in Magic that didn't include green since 1996. With good reason: trample as an ability doesn't synch with white's philosophy very often. But instead of mining the rich history of the game, they're just brushing it away.

It is, of course, the Glory of Cool Things. Flipping over humans to reveal werewolves is cool. Changing an egg into an abominable lizard is cool. Sentries that alert the townfolk into a mob: cool. If I didn't admit that, then I really have no business playing this game. But it doesn't change the fact that it's a terrible idea, from any viewpoint of the game that doesn't think Flavor trumps Play.

It also comes at the expense of losing the elements that make Magic, Magic, instead of the never ending run of werewolf, vampire, zombie cliches that are now thrust at us in ways that break with the general philosophies set up by the colors throughout the years.

The bummer is that when I look at the set, the flavor really does stand out in good ways. The art and flavor text both frequently break with long traditions of Magic's generic fantasy world that tends to be overrepresented and it's done with the kind of skill that one could expect from people who have been working on this game for a decade or more. (Although dragons? In a goth scene? I mean, maybe not unheard of but...)

It's fearless enough to bring back the devil creature type, one that hasn't been used with any regularity since Arabian Nights. That's over fifteen years. The set wants to make enemy-color pairings matter: perfect for a set that is supposed to be about the unnatural. 

When it goes wrong, it goes REALLY wrong, such as with Angel of Flight Alabaster (what does this even mean?) Or the flavor text on Furor of the Bitten (the name suggests someone has been bitten, the text suggests no.)

But the risks, from a flavor point of view, generally are outshined by the pluses. Mechanically however, the reverse it true, at least for me. Except for one: Tree of Redemption. That, I like.

But this set--and perhaps this block--is probably not for me.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Frenzy muted

So here we go again: me, Frenzy, him using a Magistrate's Scepter, infinite turn deck. My opening hand had 3 Island so I mulligan; my second hand had 3 Mountain and two Glacial Ray.

I don't draw any Islands in 4 turns, while he sets up the combo (Energy Chamber, Power Conduit, etc) and I don't have any disruption for it so...I wait while he takes an extra turn after extra turn and that's it.

So, onto game 2. Two lands, two Tezzeret's Gambit, not much else but I've got blue and red so I keep.

Six turns later, the board is stalled out and I finally stick a Wee Dragonaut--meaning, I have enough lands to play it. Fortunately for me, he's stalled out too, with three Coretappers an Energy Chamber and a Sensei's Divining Top.

I hit for 8 in one turn but I know things are getting dire so I need to pull it out as soon as I can because one Magistrate's Scepter and he's got the lock.

So: Seething Anger, Dragonauts is a 6/3. Then Glacial Ray: 8/3, hit for two damage, then I cast Psychic Puppetry to untap the Dragonauts; to make it a 10/3 and win.

Onto game 3. Hoboy.

I get out two Dragonauts to his two Sun Droplets. I hold back on the early swing because he's going to regain 2 life a turn and I have to make it big.

But Magistrate's Scepter reveals itself and counters start to build up on it-I may have one more swing...

I don't. Copy Artifact comes out, replicating Power Conduit and he can put 3 counters on the Scepter for free every upkeep. Game is over.

Sigh. Explosive, but I couldn't get the draws to be active enough. Tezzeret's Gambit might be too expensive for the deck or maybe I need an effect like Boomerang to give me more time. Clearly this deck is capable of doing amazing things but doing them consistently is the goal.

Next matchup: I have a opening hand of two Pyromancer Ascension and two Volt Charge, Mountain, Island, Gelectrode. I figure: This is as good as it's going to get to see how the Ascension works, so let's go.

Unfortunately, I stall out at three lands and am overrun by Varchild's War Riders. Suck.

Now I know I'm playing against a deck that uses the War Riders to give me creatures, cards like Fire Ants and Simoon to take them away and Dingus Staff to kill me.

Game 2: My opening hand has five lands, Reach Through Mists and Consuming Vortex. Jesus. So I play Steam Vents, go and it's land-go for the first three turns.

In this game, I draw three more lands and now I have to use the tokens he's giving me to try and kill him off. Mentally, it's hard to get around how to use these creatures, since I both need them and don't want them. But I attack where I can and then I have a turn where I cast Reach through Mists splicing Glacial Ray, then Lava Spike splicing Glacial Ray, getting him down to 3, while I sit at 15, preparing for up to 10 damage coming at me next turn.

But the 10 damage doesn't come: apparently being at 3 isn't good for him and I pull it out. Whew.

Game 3: two Mountains, two Lava Spikes, one Glacial Ray, one Dragonauts is the hand I mulligan into. What the hell; I can do something, maybe. But at the end of my second turn, he Worldly Tutors into a War Rider and I draw into a Volt Charge.

Eventually, with a War-Riders and a Fire Ants in play, I block, Volt the Riders, then Glacial Ray the Fire Ants, next turn use Tezz Gambit to draw...Mountain. I can't get an Island to save my life and it's probably going to kill me. Again.

Soon, I'm facing a War-Riders and a Woodripper with only a Glacial Ray in my hand that can be played; everything else requires blue. I'm using Survivor tokens to chump block and swing where I can with a five Mountains out and a hand full of Wee Dragonauts, Reach Through Mists, Consuming Vortex and Gelectrode.

I'm going to fucking die because I cannot get an Island. Again.

But here's the thing: I'm not dead yet. I remember staring at the computer screen, looking at the board and thinking: Play like you can win this. You just need an Island, so you can splice Glacial Ray and then cast Glacial Ray. The mana is there, except for blue. Just play like you can win.

I keep chump blocking and at 4 life, I finally draw a Steam Vents. Play it, cast Consume into Vortex, splicing Ray, play Ray, win.

Ye gods. Better lucky than good.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bad PR

stonethorn let me know about this video with Aaron Forsythe, who's the head of Magic R&D. You can watch the whole thing if you want but the relevant moment, for me, comes about 7:50-8:04 when Forsythe says, "If they don't like drafting double faced cards, you know what? They're still going to show up and draft. I betcha they learn to like it."

Sigh. Look; he's talking more about pro players, if I recall right, but still, this feels like a nasty fait accompli moment. It doesn't matter if we like it or not, because not only is it done--You're gonna come and play anyway. And you're going to like it.

And when I hear that, I think: no. I am not.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Unfun vs The Glory of Cool Things

At Red Castle I saw this situation:

Guy playing Kaalia of the Vast, another playing Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund, the third Damia, Sage of Stone.

It doesn't matter what the other two players were doing, honestly, because the Damia player got out a Dream Halls and once that happened everything else was going to be a wash. This is precisely what happened as the Damia player bounced or killed everyone's creatures and forced opponents to discard their hands in one fell swoop. Short of countermagic, there was no way to interact with the Damia player.

Now, it should be noted that the Damia player also had: Leyline of Anticipation, Geth's Grimoire, Library of Leng, Megrim and another three artifacts or enchantments that I can't remember. The Damia player should not have been allowed to get as far he did and so in every important way, the other two players are to blame for their loss.

That said; Commander is supposed to be a more casual, fun format. Is Dream Halls really a fun card? Is this deck, geared to set its combo up, really about the glory of cool things or is it about doing something that people hate?

I don't think that question needs to be answered definitively, it's just one that I think ought to be taken into consideration. Yeah, yeah, you can't predict what will happen when you play with strangers because sometimes the soul crushing unfun decks are precisely what ought to be played. The environment rules the choices of the player.

But I've had people tell me that the most fun they've had playing at RC was against me with a deck that really wanted to do neat things. Set your priorities accordingly, I suppose.

Now, that all said, what can we learn from this situation about the Commander format?

Mass removal > spot removal.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

So far, so frenetic

First run with the new, improved Frenzy deck was vs a 'Wallfinity' deck.

Essentially, the Wallfinity deck is a R/G set that wants to play a bunch of very, very cheap walls to stave off the creature rush, then use creatures with defender to either generate a ton of mana with Overgrown Battlment in order to cast Ghitu Fire or use Vent Sentinel's ability to kill the opponent (me, in this case) off. The trick is to keep drawing cards fast enough to have the walls you need to accomplish the win.

It can be very frustrating to play against, because walls are cheap and generally nullify my cheaper creatures and by the time I get the larger ones out, smashing through the wall line is frequently too little, too late.

Fortunately, for reasons I still don't understand, those piloting the Wallfinity decks haven't addressed the weaknesses: 1) creatures with evasion (especially flying) 2) global resets and 3) non-interaction with the opponent.

They can't do much about #2: That's the price you pay when playing this deck. The third problem is difficult to manage because by its nature, Wallfinity is as non-interactive as possible. Their goal is to combo out before the opponent, anything that gets in the way of that-such as interactive cards-slows them down and makes the deck weaker. But as for the first...

In game one I had two Gelectrodes out confronted by three or four walls. I'm pinging away as best I can, one or two at a time hoping I can get things going faster than I can get Ghitu Fired.

Then the Wee Dragonauts came and who saved my opponent from the Wee Dragonauts? Nobody: I was doing 7 and then 10 damage per turn and that was game.

In game two, I was slowly working towards victory but in the middle of it all, had my army hit with Lavaball Trap. That is precisely the kind of problem Frenzy has; without the creatures, how do I do enough damage to win?

Then I drew Pyromancer Ascension. My hand consisted of the Ascenstion, Glacial Ray, Glacial Ray, Volt Charge, Volt Charge.

So: play Volt Charge, play second Volt Charge and first put a counter on the Ascension, then Proliferate that counter. Next turn cast two Glacial Rays for 8 damage, win.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to get more games in so I'll be keeping this in the hopper for another week to see if my changes hold up.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Destined to lose

I'm playing a U/W/B deck with a Sword of the Meek/Thopter Foundry combo vs Hypergenesis.

My deck wants to use Thopter Foundry to generate a lot of flying tokens and win, his wants to cascade on turn 3 or sooner into Hypergenesis put down huge creatures and win.

It's game 3 and on turn three the Hypergenesis goes off. My hand has a couple lands but also a Sharding Sphinx, a Sphinx Sovereign, a Sword of the Meek and a Thirst for Knowledge so I think: hey, I'm OK. I didn't have the mana to play the Thirst; perhaps waiting for the Hypergenesis and casting that would've been wise. I don't know what I would've drawn but it probably wouldn't have mattered.

Him: Angel of Despair, target a land: I'm down to two lands now.

Me: Sphinx Sovereign.

Him: Angel of Despair, target the Sovereign

Me: Sharding Sphinx

Him: Angel of Despair, target the-

Me: Fuck that, I concede. Jesus.

Him: I also had a Bogardan Hellkite.


Because now it's bothering me: What could I have done in that situation?

Nothing. He could've just kept going and the best play was to keep going, until all three Angels and the Hellkite were in play, leaving me at 15 life with 20 coming in the air next turn. If I decide not to respond, he can stop adding things via Hypergenesis, keep the 5/5 Angel in play and kill me in 4 turns.

Sometimes, I just have to accept I'm going to lose.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I give you, the evolution of a deck.
3 Sleight of Hand
3 Lava Spike
1 Seething Anger
3 Reckless Charge

3 Psychic Puppetry
4 Reach Through Mists
3 Consuming Vortex
4 Glacial Ray
3 Unnerving Assault
3 Lava Dart 

4 Wee Dragonauts
4 Gelectrode

4 Steam Vents
9 Mountain
9 Island
To keep you from having to look up all the cards, here's a quick overview:

Wee Dragonauts get +2/0 when I play a sorcery or instant, the Gelectrode untaps every time I play an instant or sorcery. So the idea is to swing with a flying insane-o-creature while having pinged with the Gelectrode three times, do it again and my opponent is dead.

The deck can be explosive as hell which is good and it can also sputter and die like last night's Taco Bell, which is less good. Still, I always think of  Groundskeeper Willie and the wee turtles when I play this deck so even if I lose, I get a laugh. There may even be some unwritten rule that says when you play with the Wee Dragonauts, the wee turtles must be referenced. Maybe a judge could look into that for me.

Whenever I build a deck like this, there's the core of fisty awesome that I'm trying to pad around with spikey goodness and sometimes I get that and sometimes I just run out of steam, which is what happened here. Damage; good, drawing; good, being able to reuse spells with Arcane; good but then there's that last section of cards that I don't know what to do with.

Unnerving Assault, I'm looking at you. In theory, this seems great, of course; blunt the opponent's creatures while sharpening your own but there are only eight creatures in this deck and four of them don't want to attack. The Assault really is there to help the Dragonauts or maybe blunt an opposing attack just a little. But spells have to do a lot of the dirty work here and somehow I understood that, which is why the Arcane mechanic matters in this deck. Being able to graft a spell onto another spell and then play the grafted spell means that it's possible to kill someone very, very quickly, if Gelectrode is out to tap thrice, Dragonauts is swinging for seven and the grafted spell is Glacial Ray, that's four more damage. So why bother with the Assault?

The question is, how can I get more mileage out of my spells?

This question has plagued the deck for awhile and even though the card came out two years ago, the answer finally struck me: Pyromancer Ascension. I've been bouncing that card around in my head since it came out because it's just the kind of card nobody cares about-which nobody did for nearly two years. I think that this deck might be a good match for Pyromancer Ascension though and is worth testing.

Aside: this is why players ought to look for cards that seem interesting to them. A year ago, Pyromancer Ascension was the kind of card you could pick up for fifty cents, now it's two dollars. My Money rule. Sure, we can't always have our foresight caps on and certainly not every card-most, as a matter of fact-don't have price jumps like that. When they do, however, and you've been playing with the card for awhile already, it's pretty gratifying to have the experience of using that card/strategy under your belt. /Aside

So I'm replacing Unnerving Assault with the Ascension; how do I make sure I can put counters on it? With the Proliferate mechanic and a lot of duplication. So here's the new list:
4 Wee Dragonauts
4 Gelectrode

4 Steam Vents
9 Mountain
9 Island

3 Psychic Puppetry
4 Reach Through Mists
3 Consuming Vortex
4 Glacial Ray
3 Lava Spike

New cards:
3 Seething Anger
3 Pyromancer Ascension
4 Volt Charge
3 Tezzeret's Gambit
The main plain is still the same: Wee Dragonauts and Gelectrode get bonuses when I play sorceries and instants, so play those spells and use the bonuses to win. Re-use those bonuses by using the Arcane mechanic to help give the deck both speed and reach.

But now, in order to focus on the reach aspect of this deck, I've added in Pyromancer Ascension so I can double my spells for free. To get the Pyromancer online, I've tried to use more of the same kind of spell and I've enlisted the Proliferate mechanic so that I don't have to work as hard in order to get my enchantment active.

The one spell that sticks out is Seething Anger because, like Unnerving Assault it affects creatures. I kept that in there for two reasons: first, it's cheap to cast. I can let it go without buyback and get a huge bonus on the Dragonauts or worst case, even the Gelectrodes. I can cast it with buyback and if I've got an active Ascension then help set up an even bigger bonus. If I don't have an active Ascension, the buyback means that the spell is reusable until I can get an active Ascension. Maybe that's the Glory of Cool Things but what the hell, I accept that TGoCT is a good reason to add a card to a deck.

So now it's time to test it out and see how it works.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Garruk problem

So, now that we've seen the way Innistrad handles werewolves, how about how they deal with Garruk, undoubtedly a card that WotC wants to be one of the highlights of the set. Start here for the introduction to Garruk and then I'll give you my two bits.

Now if you'll just refer back to what I said about the Transform mechanic regarding the werewolves of Innistrad for just a moment--actually, I'll quote myself because it's not fair to make people wade through 4,000 words--

Players cannot force opponents to cast or not cast spells so this mechanic gives opponents control over or at least a say in how you use your cards and how you execute your strategy....The werewolf player has to gamble on what their opponent will do, instead of being able to control their own fate.....While it might take a little time I think that people are going to find out that they don't like having someone else take control of their stuff. 
OK. So that's me. Now, from the article at the Mothership:
...we also don't want Garruk's transformation to depend on the opponent doing something from a very narrow category of actions. Players like to feel that they have control over what's going on with their cards.
So if players like to feel like they have control, and you make a mechanic that takes away from their control, why are you hoping that mechanic will be successful? I realize that this critique isn't speaking to Garruk directly but rather Transform as a whole; nonetheless, I feel that it's extremely relevant to what I was saying since it echoes my thoughts but also comes from official sources.

Now let's move to the card itself.

I have to say: there's some really cool things about this card. The fight ability on it is...pushing things a little but it's an ability that should have been in green for over a decade. That it's on a Planeswalker pretty much cements that ability's place in the color pie, so now, after a long, long time, green finally has a way to deal with creatures that is in theme with the color's philosophy. That's a good thing.

The justification for this, that Garruk has been shown doing more of the dirty work himself in the comics is something I'm a little less eager on because that explanation feels like nobody is in charge. Garruk is a main character, a Planeswalker and one of the company's mascots, so to be even remotely interesting, of course he's going to take actions for himself. In the comic, before he's even corrupted, he's smashing and bashing and generally wreaking havoc all by his lonesome. Characters who do nothing are not good characters--and green cannot have a character who does nothing. It's against the nature of the color.

It's just that when the justification is put the way it was: hey, I saw it in the comic, it strongly hints that nobody's really thinking these things through. That may not be the case, it just feels rather weak, which I'd have to say is what my problem with Innistrad is as a set, so far. The flavor justifications for doing what they're doing sound unconvincing and half-assed, as though they aren't sure that this is the right thing. If you're going to break the rules like this, you'd better be 100% certain. They don't sound like that, hence I don't have much confidence in the mechanic and I certainly don't see it being a desirable one to play.

Still; the fight ability IS green. That the method used to justify Transform is all out of whack is problematic but it's also something I'd accept more if things like: Look, we know we're on the fringe here but making a playable, fun game is still paramount and this is the way to do it, instead of 'hey, I saw it happen in the comic.'

Making creatures: also green. Because they are zero cost actions, both abilities exist to do one thing: Transform the card so let's look at that, because there's were things get weird.

The flipped Garruk is meant to represent a Garruk corrupted by black magic. He's not himself anymore and should have some hint of black to the abilities, right? He's sick but he's still a Planeswalker so he should bring the kick ass, somehow.

Garruk summons creatures and that makes sense: All previous versions of Garruk do this. However, Garruk summons wolves with deathtouch.

There isn't a single wolf in Magic previous to now that innately came with deathtouch. If you do a search for deathtouch, there is one and only one creature that provides deathtouch to wolves, Wren's Run Packmaster. The wolves themselves are just 2/2s: it's only the Packmaster that gives them an ability.

Garruk summons creatures and there are many in green-oozes, spiders, archers, basilisks and black-vampires, scorpions, humans-who all have deathtouch. Spiders, vampires and humans all have a place in Innistrad so could have been used, though spiders make the most sense in this case.

How does a wolf get deathtouch? This is about the flavor of the card: why isn't Garruk summoning something that is sickly, even mythical, something that demonstrates his corrupted nature instead of a wolf that happens to have deathtouch? They certainly don't suggest it on the card's art: Garruk transformed looks frenzied but there's nobody else in the picture. Oh sure, I could make the case that maybe the wolves have rabies and are ill...but why should I have to? Isn't the whole point to the Transform mechanic to show both the before AND after in slick new ways?

They're the professionals; why does it feel like they haven't they done their job?

Moving on, the next ability, searching for a creature and putting it into hand is totally in line with a Green/Black card. The third ability, ties in set themes of the graveyard, as well as Green's Overrun and Green and Black's attachment to the graveyard. I'm good with that, even if it is a little wonky.

What someone might notice at this point is that there's no way for Garruk to transform back. It's a one way event. From a flavor view that's pretty cool but from a functionality view, it violates something. Let me remind you what:
...we also don't want Garruk's transformation to depend on the opponent doing something from a very narrow category of actions. Players like to feel that they have control over what's going on with their cards.
You don't have control over your cards. If you want to just make wolves or use the fight ability, or go back to that, tough noogies. For some cards, of course that's fine because who's going to want Ludevic's Test Subject back after doing all the work to get Ludveic's Abomination? But my point is still there: do you, as a player, have the most control over your cards? If the answer is no then the mechanic is crude and needs to be fixed.

All of that said; I do think that this is a pretty well executed card. If it was just a one-sided card, I'd totally dig it. The abilities are interesting and they push the Planeswalker card type out in new ways. It just grates on me that clearly jarring elements exist on this card and that the justifications are feel so undercooked.

I get that not everything can be brilliant but so far, Innistrad is not impressing me much.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Addendum to the Transforming problem

I have been told that in the finals of booster drafts, judges actually do open the packs and check them before the players get the cards, in order to prevent cheating.

So that ludicrous scenario I was pitching? That the very end in a tournament. So my concerns about cheating at the top levels is much abated.

It's still hard to imagine doing this before every booster draft, impossible to set up in casual settings and doesn't take away from my other comments about how the checklist card presents memory issues, etc, etc. But with new information, I feel that I'd best pass it along because my credibility rests on acknowledging new data and accepting where it takes care of the problems I bring up.

The Honor of Assassins

My first set of tests with Killed By Killers... had me playing a W/B deck that wants to fill my graveyard up in order to kill with Guiltfeeder.

Game one, I had three Propagandas in hand but I only cast one, discarding the others to Oppression, thinking they would give me time to get things going. And while I had Megrim and the Tyranny, no kill condition arrived and he had the mana to swing with both the Guiltfeeder and a Chimeric Orb.

Game two, I had two Tyrannys out and cast Wheel and Deal. "So that's 14?"
"No, 28," I told him.
"Oh, well I'm dead then."
When it works, Tyranny + Wheel is just a monster.

Game three I let a Wheel and Deal go to Oppression instead of a Demolish. My reasoning was: my opponent had just Dark Ritualed out the Oppression, I can use Demolish on his only source of White if he doesn't draw a land or on a Chimeric Sphere if he does. 

But...instead the lands get drawn, I don't use Demolish and then when casting the Tyranny, I let Disintegrate go to the bin instead of the Demolish because I wasn't sure I'd get the mana to cast Disintegrate if Guiltfeeder got up anyway.

But Guiltfeeder did come up and I did get to five mana. I died with Tyranny, Propaganda and Megrim on the board, having let go of the two cards that could have saved me or won the game.

Practice. Also; play like you're going to win. I know the Guiltfeeder is the primary win condition and know my opponent wants to play the feeder so keeping Disintegrate is going to be the better choice, most of the time. There's a difference between playing in the now and being confident my deck will give me the cards I need and trying to project future plays without that confidence.

Another game had me against a mill strategy; both of us dumped our Propagandas pretty early because neither of us had creatures that were going to attack. However, my 'you lose life' strategy trumped his 'I prevent damage' strategy. This had to do with two factors: first, Megrim vs Anvil of Bogardan and Crumbling Sanctuary. When I'm removing 4 or more cards per turn, including the stuff that might let him shuffle his graveyard back into his library, it starts to add up, fast.

Second: Crumbling Sanctuary vs Phyrexian Tyranny. There's a weird logic here so bear with me: Damage causes loss of life, but loss of life is not necessarily damage. So I'm getting damage through with the Tyranny despite the Sanctuary.

Still, I won that matchup 2-0 as well, because my deck worked faster than his, in a situation where neither deck wanted to interact with each other.

Finally, I played a match that I didn't take much notes on but remember seeing Propaganda and a Powder Keg but not getting any action after that. My opponent simply paid the 2 mana a turn and swung and I couldn't do anything about it.

So the changes to Killed By Killers is going to involve -2 Powder Keg and +1 Well of Discovery (for consistency) and +1 Kaervek's Torch, for the same reason as the Well. Knowing what you're going to get and that you're going to get it is a big deal in Magic, so upping the odds is always a positive.