Thursday, December 29, 2011


Named after the fearsome Dinobot, Sludge is a deck that wants to muck up the most precious part of any deck: mana.
4 Limited Resources

2 Monstrous Hound
4 Benalish Emissary
2 Firebrand Ranger
3 Faultgrinder
3 Pangosaur
2 Thornscape Battlemage
3 Farhaven Elf\
3 Lash Out
3 Graceful Reprieve
3 Rith's Charm
2 Naya Charm

1 Decimate
2 Implode

6 Plains
5 Mountain
3 Jungle Shrine
3 Naya Panorama
7 Forest

A deck that tends to be crushing in multiplayer and a bit too weak for 1v1, I don't play Sludge that often. Sure, it has my usual selection of questionable creatures choices (looking at you, Pangosaur!) but the use of Limited Resources and land destruction in multiplayer wreaks havoc on most any deck. Conversely, it doesn't have as great an impact on 1v1 because most decks can function very well on only five mana.

The problem is that in 1v1, its functionality is questionable and in multiplayer it can rapidly become unfun. Nonetheless, this is about science! We must study it!

Or not; I really just want to know if maybe, just maybe, it's time to dismantle this deck. It's got a solid game to it, why shouldn't I play it? Every so often, opponents can deal with the unfun, right? So let's roll the bones here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Is There A Ghost? still has some issues.

In my first matchup, vs a U/W/r wall deck, I probably played a bit too slowly; I was getting greedy and though I had two Chameleon Colossus on the table and the mana to boost them both, along with a Kodama of the South Tree, I didn't have the mana to cast a spell, making them 5/5s and then boost them.

In short, I should've been playing to win, instead of playing to win overwhelmingly. I got worried because my opponent (stonethorn) had 4/4 and 5/5 walls but I should have been more concerned about how much time I was giving him to set up and win. He didn't but he could have and the point is: I should've made the best play.

The Angel of Flight White did its job very well though, returning to me many a spirit and keeping this deck going when other tricks were failing to arrive. Eventually, that was the key to winning: the fact that I just kept getting creatures back.

My next game was against against a G/B birthing pod deck. We played two games; both of which had me getting out a Chameleon Colossus and riding it's protection from black ability to victory. I think there was a slight miss by everyone with Primordial Hydra, as I seem to recall it being cast for 1 and staying at that power/toughness until I ran over it with Colossus beats.

That said: I managed to cast Enshrined Memories once and it got countered, so at least I know that it was important enough to counter. I had plenty of mana thanks to the Elder Pines and as a method to refill my hand with creatures, stonethorn felt it was a big enough problem to stop. Plus, the manlands were effective as a consistent threat I could bring out if everything else went awry and I could easily activate them without feeling a mana pinch.

Still, this deck feels like it's lacking a big push, the element that makes it scary. Perhaps it doesn't need that but with spirits being one of the tribes in Innistrad block, I am going to keep my eyes open for other spirits that may help this deck. As it stands, the Changeling Titan might come out for more Flight Whites because of the evasion and durability they bring to the deck.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ghost Tweak

After the last tweak to Ghost, the stage was set for further improvements.

-1 Mosswort Bridge. This card made sense when I could dig up an Avenger or Molimo and reliably get creatures with 10+ power on the board. Now, who knows?

-1 Elfhame Palace. Removed to make room.

-1 Forest. Removed to increase threat density.

The additions were as follows:
+1 Gavony Township. This was added because the engine that lays lands in this deck are two small creatures. The opportunity to make them large should not be avoided.

+1 Stirring Wildwood. If I had two Wildwoods I would have removed both Palaces for them. I do not and while they are cheap, the My Money rule kicks in because I have a:

+1 Treetop Village. O.G. manland baby!

With these three cards, the manabase becomes part of my threat count and having to overlook creatures because I'm drawing lots of lands becomes less of a drawback.

I still need creatures though and now I need them in multiples, since I ditched the big guns.

Enter Enshrined Memories. This is one of those cards that I look at and think: How did I not know about/use this card before? It's scalable, it gets me what I want in a green deck: more creatures and I have five copies of this card. Five!

That's why I love the weird cheap rares that nobody cares about, pulled from the .50 bin. Suddenly I find the perfect fit for the card and anyone who plays me has to read it twice to remember what the hell I'm doing.

That feeling is sometimes more satisfying than winning.

So, -2 Worldly Tutor and +2 Enshrined Memories. Now to test it out!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Is There A Ghost

This should be an interesting bit of fun. First, the deck, title taken from Band of Horses (the video is something I also dig on.)

2 Shining Shoal
2 Unchecked Growth
4 Crib Swap
2 Worldly Tutor

3 Forked-Branch Garami
4 Loam Dweller
3 Kodama of the South Tree
2 Suture Spirit
3 Changeling Titan
4 Chameleon Colossus
4 Elder Pine of Jukai
2 Kataki, War's Wage
1 Oversoul of Dusk

3 Sungrass Prairie
7 Plains
9 Forest
 2 Elfhame Palace
1 Mosswort Bridge

2 Terashi's Grasp

A deck wanting to use the Soulshift mechanic, this original list went from that, to -1 Oversoul of Dusk, -1 Changeling Titan +1 Avenger of Zendikar and +1 Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer. Here's why: the combo between Loam Dweller and Elder Pine of Jukai meant that I always had more lands than I knew what to do with. Avenger and Molimo meant that I could cast some real problems for my opponents.

This lead to the addition of the Worldly Tutors, because as great as this deck can be at getting lands out, it tends to overlook creatures and I don't win the game with lands, I win with creatures. Since there are two very frightening creatures, the Tutors allow me to bring them up when I want them.

But then Innistrad happened and in the spoiler at mtgsalvation there was the worst-named card in the set. In the comments, someone even wrote 'Isn't this just soulshift?'

It still took me two months to get around to this deck. What can I say? I've been busy. 

However, now there's an opportunity for the whole deck to change. So now there's - Avenger and Molimo and +2 Angel of Flight Alabaster. The question is; now that I've opened the box up to change it, what else needs to be fixed? Are cards like Worldly Tutor still useful, now that the most terrifying creatures in the deck are gone? Are manlands an appropriate threat for this deck? We shall soon see.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Missing a trigger

Travelling, so I'll be away. Hope to post next Tuesday but it might be Thursday before I can get stuff in.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Defeat by Dragons

I managed to play Push The Fader in three different matches, two multiplayer and one 1v1. The 1v1 matchup was against a newly built deck, a GW beast thing that was still in the testing stages. I blew that one out but on the plus side, was able to give some advice on how to restructure that deck for the better.

The two multiplayer games were interesting, however. In one case, I was up against a GW Knight of the Reliquary deck and Groove.

Here's where I made my mistake: the Groove player had a morph creature in play, the GW deck hadn't really gotten going yet, and I have a Parallax Tide, Spellbound Dragon and a Wildfire in hand. So I decide to play the Dragon, then I can Tide, then Wildfire and it's all good!

No, it isn't. The Groove player morphs his Chromeshell Crab--which I know is the only morph creature in the deck because I built that deck--and steals my Dragon.

Now I'm getting desperate, because a Zedruu comes out and the Reliquary deck is starting to drop creatures. But instead of slow-rolling this until I had options by say, stunting my opponent's mana with Tide, I just stuck to my game plan, cast Wildfire clearing the board...except for the Dragon. Which isn't mine anymore. And I lost to.

In the back of my mind, I'm figuring that I will draw into another Wildfire and a Shock; there's plenty of time, I have eight draw spell cards, I've blunted my opponents in a pretty severe way, I can do this.

No, I can't; I'm relying on drawing into a two card combination AND having 7 mana to make it work. Fader can do a lot of things, to stay in the game but once I Wildfire with that deck, I really need to have an advantage at that moment.

The game swings a little bit, with the GW player loving being able to cast an 8/8 Knight of the Reliquary, but it's too little, too late. The Dragon does us in.

Last night, I was up against a mono-U Illusions and UB deck that wanted to mill itself for neat effects. I didn't get to see it in action much because, with six mana up and a Spellbound Dragon out, I cast Wildfire. Now, with the only other problems on the board being a Phantasmal Image, copying my dragon and a Phyrexian Metamorph doing the same, this seemed like a good idea. Kill everyone's lands, wipe out the Illusion player's advantages, and with the rest of my hand consisting of two Shock, lands, a mana artifact and a second Wildfire, I could re-establish board position, the Image is easy to kill now, ditto the Metamorph. I knew the Illusions player had a Wurmcoil Engine in hand so keeping him off six mana was critical. I also knew that the UB player had a Cancel-but everyone was tapped out, so now was the time.

No plan survives contact with the enemy. The Metamorph player, while not getting much else, had a Khalni Gem out, and this meant that he would recover faster than I would like. Still, I wasn't worried until he topdecked Into the Roil, bounced my Dragon and started swinging at me for 8, then 6. I managed to get my Dragon back out quickly, but then the waiting game began. The UB player didn't press an advantage with an unblockable illusion, so I didn't mention anything and the Illusions player was stone cold dead in the water, not drawing anything to help him out.

The board went into stalemate for a little while, until use of Prophetic Bolt brought me a Parallax Tide. I decided I should press my advantage and cast it; I had enough mana to cast Wildfire and Shock, killing the Metamorph (Dragon), the Illusions player would be out of lands and out of creatures and I could wrap things up.

But when I go to cast Wildfire a funny thing happened: the UB player's Cancel-which I let him have, oh so long ago on turn 4-reminded me that I'd let him have countermagic.

Drat. Still, I dropped two Burning-Eye Zuberas, a Covetous Dragon and figured I could make a game of it, killing the Illusions player off. Then Phyrexian Ingester came out, nomed my Dragon and that was that.

In both losses, my inability to draw into something else seemed to be part of my downfall. I could establish board position but I couldn't press it forward hard enough. Inattentiveness factored into both losses for certain and maybe a little touch of panic in the first case, where I just got worried about what I wasn't drawing instead of focusing on what I had. I may make this deck a bit more consistent but I'll probably go for underpowering it it than amping it up (Shock over Incinerate, for example) in order to enable spellcasting post Wildfire. For now though, I like it, even if the deck is causing my own death.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Push the Fader

 Born from the sexysex Girls Against Boys song.
3x Burning-Eye Zubera
2x Covetous Dragon
3x Rushing-Tide Zubera
2x Spellbound Dragon
3x Surveilling Sprite

3x Shock
1x Incinerate
1x Magma Jet
2x Opt
3x Prophetic Bolt

4x Seat of the Synod
5x Island
4x Cascade Bluffs
2x Izzet Boilerworks
8x Mountain

2x Mind Stone
3x Izzet Signet

4x Parallax Tide

1x Ponder
4x Wildfire
The premise here is to build up mana rapidly, then lay down a cheap big creature and cast Wildfire, to clear out the tiny ones/cripple everyone's mana and win. Based roughly on Kai's World Championship, I messed with it because I couldn't afford the cards everyone wanted for Kai's deck and Parallax Nexus came along.

I thought: why not just remove my lands from the game, Wildfire, and get them back next turn? Brilliant! So the deck morphed into a drawing, Nexus-ing, Wildfire thing. And years passed, with changes small and large, tweaks here and there until Saviors of Kamigawa game out with the two big Zuberas.

Four damage to make them trigger. And Wildfire does four damage so...

(insert your personal image of awesome)

And in they went. Since then, the deck has remained more or less in it's current form, with me trying to pull solid R or U creatures that have a toughness greater than 4, or pulling them out when the ideas didn't mesh too well. As a result, there are a few strange choices, like Ponder or Shock, which fit in just fine but are left over from other ideas and thus the original motive for including them may seem obscured.

Nonetheless, I don't think that one has to have all the same cards to make a good deck; just stick to the themes and all should be well.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Data incomplete

Last night I went up against a U/B Illusions deck (the aggro one with Phantasmal Bears, Dragons and evil, Oh my!) with 0+2=1 and though I was subject to early pressure, I was able to get five lands out by turn 3 and drop a Dirtcowl Wurm, followed next turn by a Sunder.

After the Sunder, my Wurm became a 5/6 and the Illusions player started to get a lot more timid, not playing lands: I don't blame her, because despite getting me down to 8, I was able to cast Meloku and start pumping out 1/1 flyers next turn. The options were difficult: Does she press on trying to get me down or does she have the tools to take me out and so holding back is the best option?

Unfortunately,  her unfamiliarity with the deck (she was borrowing it) meant that she didn't press her advantages as much as she could have and I was able to swing for 17 in a turn, including 11 in the air.

The evening was getting late, so we didn't get another game in and that's too bad. Testing out this particular deck hasn't given me enough data to figure out what's working or not, merely: I either stop or die to The Big Spell. There's got to be more to it than that, so I think I'll be keeping this deck in reserve to get more info from.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Decisions, decisions, decisions

I'm playing 0+2=1 against Zx at Baileys, a favorite haunt for beers and gaming. Admittedly, it's more for beer geeks than gaming nerds but it all works out, I promise.

There's all kinds of plays being made but here's all you need to know:

He cast Teferi and I lose. Sure, I cast Sunder (thrice!) but it didn't matter, because in a control v. control matchup like this one, the one who cannot cast Counterspell loses.

Now there's two issues here: First, I know how Zx works and I know you have to keep Teferi off the table. Second: I had two counterspells in hand (Counterspell and Divert) and I failed to use them. Why the hell did I do that?

I've been thinking about that situation a lot and there are two reasons for it: First, I am hasty. I'm not used to playing blue, whose reactionary nature requires a slightly more measured play or consideration. It's a different mentality than the 'I'm doing it; can you stop me?' one that I tend to use and that requires me to Pay Attention (one of the big rules of the game.) Second, I'm very, very hard on myself.

I could have said: 'Wait, I have a response for that,' once my mammoth brain kicked in and realized I had a response to that because the game hadn't advance beyond my opponent thinking Teferi resolved...but I didn't. And I didn't do that because I believe that there's no way to get better at this game unless I live with the mistakes I make.

But I need to cut myself a little more slack, I think, because the people I play with tend to perform like countermagic doesn't exist, which can be a hard mindset to break free of. If I can do it, though, I think my play will improve. On top of that, I don't have to crush myself every time I make a mistake, especially when that mistake is so easily correctable.

Speaking of decisions, I've decided that the appropriate card draw spell for Thingy should be Visions of Beyond. I look forward to testing this since I have a feeling it'll net me three cards instead of one more often than not. The other card I was considering was Flux but this card is subject to one of the Rules: Only use symmetrical effects if you can break them. In the case of Flux, I think bad players will make bad decisions but good players will make ones that will cause problems for me.