Thursday, May 30, 2013

Slave To The Grind

More Blue decks! Only this time with Black. This one was built back in the day-the day being when Glimpse the Unthinkable was printed. The upside to not doing mill decks very often and them only really being viable in Blue is that I often have an abundance of tools to make it work. If all is well, as with Chop Shop, there won't be much to change.

Still, I have to do something to make it interesting and for me, this meant using Arcane spells in order to ensure that I wouldn't run out of steam. Hideous Laughter almost never gets spliced but Dampen Thought does. In addition, the use of Isochron Scepter means that I can either stall (via Boomerang) or mill (with Dampen Thought or Vision Charm), commit perpetual murder (Diabolic Edict) or do even weirder stuff (with Twincast. There's something awesome about using Twincast on Glimpse the Unthinkable.) The only thing that really screws me over are graveyard replacement effects, like Wheel of Sun and Moon, which can be bounced and countered, or Eldrazi

Small nuisances, trust me. Also; because I have said that, I am sure to play against those cards. Nature of the beast, right? I will report back with fifteen games that all end with; 'Emrakul triggered and I died.'

Finally; this deck plays a grindy game, hence the name taken from the Skid Row song.
3 Counterspell
4 Dampen Thought
2 Hideous Laughter
2 Enervate
3 Boomerang
3 Muddle the Mixture
2 Twincast
2 Diabolic Edict
4 Vision Charm

4 Isochron Scepter

3 Damnation
4 Glimpse the Unthinkable

12 Island
8 Swamp
4 Watery Grave
I don't think there's much more to explain about this deck: it's using the best answers it can to stall out until I can mill my opponent down to nothing. All I need is time.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Thief Is Cautious

Playing Chop Shop is an exercise in patience when playing vs other Blue decks. This is almost in opposition to the hurried quality that I need to execute when playing other creature decks; if I cannot get something online and rolling, I am in big trouble against Red or Green, for example.

But against Blue, I have to pick my battles wisely. In the photo, I've achieved a stalemate in that game because I managed to resolve a Veldaken Shackles whilst Noah was tapped out. I later had a second Shackles countered and soon after, I lost the game.

To my credit, I knew there was countermagic and I tried (and succeeded) in baiting it out with other cards. However, in the end Noah had more counters than I did and was able to save one last to keep a card that presented huge problems for him off the board.

Commandeer also continued to prove itself; in one game taking over a Ponder that allowed me to set my deck up while denying Noah the same and in a three player game, retargeting a critical spell that would have been bad for me to something that made it bad for someone else.

What's odd about Chop Shop is that I don't really feel like there are cards I should abandon. I haven't been terribly disappointed by the cards I've had in hand and unlike many decks I've been working with, I don't know that there have been qualitatively better cards printed for me to use than the ones I have. It's all about using the tools I have to make the best of it. I do that, I have a chance. It's just weird to play a deck and not want to make a whole bunch of changes.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thieves Like Us

I know that I said that I wasn't sure about Commandeer because it kept showing up against decks running creatures and for the most part, that card doesn't help me there. But against Fuz last night, playing a UW Runeflare deck, it was very useful.
Why? Because on my turn 1 Extract, I looked at his deck and realized that he wanted to fill my hand with cards, then use Sudden Impact or Runeflare Trap so I would take a ton of damage based on the number of cards in hand. Stealing his artifacts wouldn't help me, because the effects of those are global (card draw) and there were only four creatures in the deck: Shah of Naar Isle.

I set about removing the Runeflare Traps because they could do the most amount of damage to me for the least amount of mana. I tried to bounce or steal Mizzium Transreliquants wherever I could, again because recasting and using its ability cost Fuz more mana than simply bouncing the Font of Mythos. But most importantly, by game 3 I had realized that I should save my Commandeers for the Sudden Impact or Runeflare Trap. If I take control of that spell; I win. If I can't, then I am able to compel Fuz to use up his countermagic, which means landing a Veldaken Shackles or Keiga becomes much easier and I can ride those cards to victory.

Keeping 2 Commandeers in seems worth it for these odd situations.

Also, I noted the new Rules Changes today, including the one that says that you won't get a game loss for not doing a one-for-one swap between your main deck and your sideboard.

I was just ahead of the curve.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

That's Mine Now

I managed to get in a couple games with Chop Shop and I have to say; it's a lot of fun to play. Very hit and miss but still entertaining and maintaining enough deliberate choices that if I get wrong, can cost me.

I got in a match against stonethorn, who had mocked up a GRW Allies build (perhaps preparing for new Slivers?) because after the Modern event, this was his response: screw it, I'm having fun and making Allies to mess with you.
So yeah. In the photo, you can see how that's working out for him, as I've used Sphinx Ambassador to steal, among other things, his Sun Titan. This was game three which had him starting off slow and was probably won the moment I went all in on the dick move by Confiscating his (at the time) one source of white mana.

I don't always steal your lands, but when I do, it's because you're fucked.

I don't want to give the impression that it was all sunshine and roses though; Allies is a tough build and I lost game one to a beatdown that felt inevitable. My third game was won due to the fortune of mana screw, but I'll take it.

I played one more game against Noah, who was running an aggro version of Scapeshift. I was able to Bribery out his Primeval Titan, putting me one turn away from the win...and then he cast Scapeshift and was able to kill me off. Happens.

I have found only one glaring weaknesses in this deck yet. I mean yes, of course there could be 'stronger' card selections but that's almost always the case. That said, I've had multiple games with Commandeer in my hand and lacked a target for it. Creatures are just so critical these days that this spell often lacks targets so I'm wondering if this might be a better fit for a Commander deck. It's been years since I've updated the cards in Chop Shop so there is bound to be something that takes your stuff and is pleasantly effective. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Chop Shop

So if I don't want to play B/W, G/B, or G/R, what does this leave me with?

2 Desertion
2 Inspiration
2 Commandeer
4 Rescind
4 Impulse
4 Counterspell
2 Boomerang

1 Acquire
2 Mimeofacture

3 Vedalken Shackles

2 Keiga, the Tide Star
1 Sphinx Ambassador

4 Extract

1 Bribery
1 Treachery
2 Confiscate

23 Island
I think the theme of this will be pretty obvious to anyone who's played long enough, or to those who recognize who Chop Shop is. However, for everyone else; I want to make your stuff, my stuff.

I don't think I have much against combo decks beyond countermagic but against anything else I should have an interesting tension between taking my opponent's stuff and not dying to said stuff. The key card is likely Impulse, which is probably the most efficient card in the deck and one that will get me out of a whole lot of messes. Should be fun though and a nice way to get away from all the grinding of the past couple months.

I Need To Do Something New

I'm a little burnt out after all the Modern testing and I think I may be sick of decks running Black/White or Black/Green or Green/Red. Seriously. All that maximizing for value and hounding after the perfect play has left me a little worn out. Modern Masters is coming up, M14 is coming up and those are all very exciting but after the long stretch of writing and playing and work on Modern...I need more pizza and beer, at least short term.

On Modern Masters: I really hate that WotC is allowing this to be treated as some kind of money printing machine. $300+ for a single box of cards is extortion and leads me back to the my money > less of my money rule. To hell with paying that much for a box! That really is insane.

On M14, Slivers are back, yay! Wait, now they look different and dull. I got it and at first I was OK with it. Then it was pointed out to me that Slivers were just going to look I tend to agree with Evan Erwin's point on slivers here and there is a much more scathing overview of them here. And the more I think about it, the more I agree with those points.

Worse is the reason that Slivers have been changed, which is what I'm going to talk about. Because this kind of change has to be something that we should expect, is actually inevitable, I think, once we talk about the why, mechanically, this change had to be made: the need for everything to be all upside.

When I started the game and Juzam Djinn roamed the land, I remember staring at the card Armageddon and thinking, "Why would anyone play this?"

Then someone showed me (you add elves!) and it was a huge revelation! New pathways opened up in the game and new deck ideas, along with solid principles of deckbuilding were brought to light. Challenges to break symmetrical cards compelled genuine decisions about what was best for your deck and it was more difficult to throw in the kitchen sink.

Ditto with Slivers; how do I play a deck that helps my opponent, if they have Slivers? Well, you have to figure out a way to make your Slivers matter more than theirs. Then someone figured out how to make it work, (Muscle Sliver + Crystalline Sliver) and suddenly there was something interesting going on.

One of the ways that Sliver decks became balanced was that the benefit went for all of them, so if your opponents outplayed you with the same creatures, then you had a real brainbender to work out.

One of the reasons I play Magic is to problem solve. If Wizards continually gives players cards that are always good for you and just you then they are removing an element of problem solving from the game. I'm not suggesting that Armageddon should come back (which would be awesome to me but wreak havoc on newer players and likely return a UW control deck that I'm sick of, after nearly 20 years) I'm saying that they are limiting themselves and the game by insisting that every mechanic or idea that now comes to light, always and easily be beneficial for the player.

Sometimes, I think we, as players, deserve more difficulty. I'd like to see those more challenging cards or mechanics at least once every two years; not as a mandatory thing but as something that doesn't get rejected because it isn't new-player friendly enough. It's not as if Slivers were incredibly difficult to understand though: they just didn't fit in the new paradigm of "Every mechanic should obviously benefit the user and only the user."

That's sad and even worse, I believe it's restricting. If they can't occasionally give us mechanics that are challenging then how much of the game is being cut off in order to make sure it appeals to the most people? I'd argue that a vital area is being cast as "Here Be Monsters" and it's going to bite the game in the ass, eventually.

More importantly, I'd like to see some respect given to the past. Slivers have been one of the most popular tribes in Magic's history! They've gotten respect from pro players and love from casuals since they debuted in Tempest, but now, likely in the name of marketing, the history and iconic features of a beloved creature type is being cut away.

Now, add this to Erwin's point that the new Slivers should just be Allies, given how distinct they've become coupled with an artistic direction that obliterates their distinct look, and I believe you have a recipe for ruining the thing that made what was cool, cool.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

4-3 or Advocate For Yourself

I went 4-3 at the GP and all in all, I have to say it was a pretty good time.

My wins were in:

Match 2: Tron-his game 1 he had to mulligan down to 3 cards. He still got the Tron but I cast Unmake on the Wurmcoil Engine and that was that.

Match 3: RWG aggro-where I learned how awful Gobin Guide is against me, drawing no less than six but possibly eight lands as a result. The critical moment in game 2 was when he swung at me with two Guides and a Tarmogoyf and after I resolved the Guide triggers (drawing two Godless Shrines), I cast Sudden Spoiling, blocking and killing 2/3rds of his attackers, taking zero. The response was "Oh you and your combat tricks."

Those combat tricks won me the game, baby. Why don't you have any?

Match 6: Elf Combo-I kept killing combo pieces until he used Summoning Pact and, unfortunately, forgot to pay for the upkeep. Game 2 my opponent was on tilt and did not give a fuck about the game.

Match 7: Merfolk. This was the only match that went to three games, but if there's one thing I can do with this deck it's kill tiny creatures. The games I won I managed to resolve a Deathbringer Liege and untap with it. Which lead to sushi. The game I lost I had Spreading Seas cast on two of my five lands, keeping me off black mana for a chunk of the game and allowing for unblockable attackers.

My losses went like this:

Match 1: RUW control, playing a list a lot like Brian Kibler's recommendation from his SCG article, gave me more than I could handle. My biggest mistake was not sideboarding out the Liege for cheaper discard. I was never going to land a 5 mana spell and I was foolish for thinking I could, even with 11 discard spells.

Match 4: Back in the day we called this deck Enchantress, though it goes by Boggles now. Whatever: they play something you cannot target, then Kor Spiritdancer and then enchant the heck out of a creature to swing for victory. The mistake I made in game 2 is understandable but clear in retrospect (retrospect being about two minutes after I made it); I cast Mortify on the Leyline of Sanctity instead of the Kor Spiritdancer, so I could use my Tidehollow Scullers.

Note to self: Kill the draw engine, always, unless the option is to lose instead. The draw engine is the machine that tears the bones from your muscle.

Match 5: Against R/b burn...this one was a heartbreaker. I had a solid game one despite losing. I figured I had a good game against this deck because anything I had with lifelink made his life miserable. So I sideboarded, shuffled, presented and then realized I hadn't done my pregame ritual of counting my sideboard!

So I asked my opponent to hold up a moment and he graciously did. Neither of us had drawn cards, we had merely randomized the other person's deck. I counted my sideboard...14 cards.


So I called a judge over. And got a game loss. So that was that.

Two matches later, a man named Michael Simon would call a judge over in Game 1, admitting to his horror that he had been playing with an illegal deck for the past six rounds. He had a deck of  61 cards, writing only 60 on his decklist.

His penalty was downgraded upon appeal and he went on to post a 10-0-0 record, and losing in round 11.

I didn't realize that this was the kind of penalty I could or should appeal. After checking in the Monday judge thread at Reddit, it was confirmed: I should have appealed, especially if I "didn't understand" or "thought something was off".

The next question is: How the hell am I supposed to know if something is off? I certainly understood what was happening so that wasn't an issue. Moreover, I really feel like I got screwed for being honest. I caught my mistake before we'd started the game! If we had begun play, then there's no way to remove the doubt of cheating and I would accept that as my fate. Since I caught the issue before, shouldn't that have mattered?

Apparently yes, but only if I had appealed. 

Still, my ego will recover from that bruise and my integrity matters more. I can say that I learned from the experience and next time will appeal decisions I feel are too rigorous, knowing that it's an option and that judges won't have an issue with it.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Modern Nightmare Redux

The cat pissed on my iPad. This lead to a situation last night, where, after letting the iPad sit in rice for 24 hours, I had to leave it plugged in overnight to see if the machine would power up and if the Home button would work. Signs were pointing to No but research suggested this might fix the problem.

A Limbo state existed, where both possibilities were true: Schrodinger's iPad, if you will. And this Limbo did nothing but make me anxious. I can't afford another iPad but at the same time: I need it in order to blog. I slept poorly.

Which leads me to this, which is what I'm going to run on Saturday:
6 Swamp
4 Fetid Heath
7 Plains
2 Bojuka Bog
4 Godless Shrine

2 Mortify
3 Unmake
3 Zealous Persecution

4 Nightsky Mimic
4 Nip Gwyllion
4 Tidehollow Sculler
4 Deathbringer Liege
3 Stillmoon Cavalier
2 Tithe Drinker

4 Edge of the Divinity

3 Duress
1 Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
And the reason I'm running this deck is because I feel my sideboard options are stronger than my GB deck.

4 Castigate-for control matchups, more discard is better.
3 Sudden Spoiling-vs aggro matches I can shut down the offense for a turn, block the worst offenders and give myself time
4 Oblivion Ring-against Tron and Jund these should be helpful planeswalker removal
4 Suppression Field-this is the big questionmark

Suppression Field seems like it would be helpful against Pod, Jund and Karn-based Tron decks. I know Tron will be there. However, I've been playing against a lot of RUW control decks and some RU Splinter Twin and Torpor Orb does a number on them, whilst also being good vs Pod decks. 

I don't have a proper answer and I've run out of time to reasonably test. Experts are saying that cards like Blood Moon and Stony Silence don't really matter vs. Tron because those cards dilute the deck (and I think we know how opposed to dilution I am) leaving the Tron deck with enough time to win. All I can think of at this point is that if Deathbringer Liege is allowed to resolve, then every spell I play kills all the creatures and I can win.

That's a big if.

So now I wait to see if this is going to work out, a state of working and not working, where I get no data to tell me anything. Schrodinger's Deck. It's leaving me anxious and I think this leaves me with two appropriate options: have a beer or go walking. I'm going to walk for now, as that always gives me good ideas.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dragon's Maze Review

I hate to say it, but I think this set is one of the weakest sets in years. I feel that Dragon's Maze is an unfocused mess with largely uninspired cards that don't really complete the guilds or add to the environment. The attempt to make it work without the key pieces of the previous blocks, coupled with direly boring characters, a woeful lack of focus on what should matter and cramming in ideas that shouldn't be there, has made this one of the weakest finishers to a Magic block in years. Here's where I think they went wrong:

1) Forcing 3 color to work in draft. Apparently WotC wanted to ensure that three color draft decks were possible. To that end, they added in no less than twenty cards to make it work: ten Cluestones and the ten Guildgates. The shocklands were also thrown in, which I do think is pretty cool, because it gives more players a chance to open them.

Twenty plus cards that are taking up space that could have (and should have) been used to make a stronger set. There are two reasons why they shouldn't have done this: first, there is a ton of mana fixing in Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash and second, three color decks should be risky. Going out of your way to ensure that a three color deck in Limited environments is just as viable as it is in Constructed means that you've diluted the card pool and in a small set, you can't dilute the card pool. That dilution led to the next problem.

2) Flavor was severely weak. For example, there are ten maze runners in the set and they are the face of that set, the lure that WotC was using to hype the audience up. Those runners ranged from OK to 'Why are you doing this to us?' and none of them really thrilled players.

I don't envy the position of the designers in DM: the runners had to be legendary worthy but not game breaking. Good enough to be a rare, not so great as to warrant Mythic Rare status. It's a tough line to walk and they erred on the side of weakness. That disappointment hurts the game, though perhaps not as badly as being in a situation where cards must be banned.

One thing that could have helped was the presence of guild mechanics. This should have been a no-brainer, right? Those mechanics were all carefully thought out to be thematically representative of their guilds! Yet in the monocolor section things are incredibly unbalanced; white has three different mechanics represented, blue only Cipher, Green, Black and Red all get two mechanics each but two of those mechanics are duplicated, for example: Bloodrush appears on two Red cards, Overload on one. Why doesn't each color get two mechanics?

Worse, there are only six other cards that use the guild mechanics. I count a total of 19 cards using guild mechanics and this is barely over 10% of the set! That is not a number that shows an emphasis on flavor. My preference would have been to have close to 40 cards, with each guild getting 4 more. That ties things together.

3) Serving too many masters. Although I just said that the guild mechanics weren't represented enough I think that the is only half the problem. Instead of using the guild mechanics, they attempted to have these 'stand in' cards that would represent what the guild is about. For example: Progenitor Mimic. Copying stuff is blue! Creature creation is green! But token propagation is...Selesnya, the GW tribe, in Ravnica. Now, on the one hand: this is a clever way to suggest White for your GU deck. The card IS in theme for Green/Blue...but is it in theme for Simic?

I'm going to say it isn't, because the mimic is a propagator. Again; this creates a dilution of the card pool because there are cards that are trying to play up their respective guild while missing the key thing that players understand that guild to be about. They aren't bad, necessarily (except for Feral Animist, which sucked then and sucks now) and may have worked fine if the mechanical emphasis had been there but as it stands, they are thinning out a set that can't afford to be thinned.

On top of it all, there was a NEW mechanic, Fuse, which is thematically brilliant but lead to some of the dullest cards I've seen in years. Fuse is a weird case, because WotC has repeatedly said that if your signature mechanic isn't at common, then it shouldn't be your signature mechanic. Yet there are no common Fuse cards. But it's the new mechanic, right? Doesn't that make it the signature mechanic by default? If we're just getting split cards because they were printed in Dissension, then WotC is pushing a mechanic on us because of the echo of the old set, not because it serves the new one.

As flavorful as Fuse is conceptually, it doesn't work as well as the old split cards like Fire/Ice because you cannot just balance the card in relationship to the set, you have to balance it with this whole other card too. This is different than abilities like Kicker or Entwine where the bonus is smaller or even Splice, where you had to a) pay a different splice cost and b) draw the card, two impediments to that mechanic being too dangerous. Fuse cards have to be viable both by themselves and together. So we have garbage like Armed/Dangerous, where half of that card -a weak half to begin with- has to be overcosted in order to keep the Limited environment from being overrun. Although it is fun to note that R/U got the best one. Again.

The rare Fuse cards are even worse, because the expensive half again has to be balanced enough that you don't just build up 7+ mana and win the game. However, the effects they settled on are so weak that there's really no reason to try. Beck/Call might seem to be the exception but it isn't because nobody cares about Call, it's merely Beck that is exciting.

And to top all of that off, the Fuse cards took away the mono-colored uncommon slot, which means that there were no mono-colored singleton uncommons in Dragon's Maze. The problem is that good uncommons are the bread and butter of any Limited environment. Think Vampire Nighthawk, which is may be too good but illustrates the point. Opening a Vampire Nighthawk is a good reason to run black. If all of the uncommons are skewed down for balance reasons then the environment becomes stale and about whatever bomb rares you can get.

4) This is a weird one: the failure of the Guildgates. Players have been told that the Guildgates were a big deal, that there were plans to make them relevant to the game. Dragon's Maze was the set that was supposed to deliver on that promise and it succeeded on one note only: flavor.

That success was because players found raised letters in the flavor text of every Guildgate in Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash, letters which spelled out a secret phrase, prophetising doom for Ravnica. The new Guildgates similarly had raised letters, completing the phrase, showing how doom could be averted.

Pretty cool!

They don't do anything else that matters. And I feel insulted that they used Maze's End as a Mythic Rare, to try and force the Guildgates' relevance. That alternate win condition is awful, though I will say that if one can generate nearly 40 mana producing 10 different lands over the course of a game, then yes, you deserve to win. Spoiler: the times that this will happen will not erase the decades of losses from the times when it did not happen.

After that, there are only 5 other cards in Dragon's Maze--commons, and not really good ones at that--which care about the Guildgates. Hell, in the entire BLOCK there are only 13 cards that care or interact with the Gates. This is not indicative of making something matter.

I could be wrong; Dragon's Maze might be just the thing to make a draft environment work as a block, but it certainly doesn't seem to be a very interesting environment to me and it's a horrible environment by itself.

You can't hit home runs all the time. Hell, most people don't even manage to hit singles and it's not like this set is going to sour me on Magic. You have to have some failures in order to get successes and if the hot mess of Dragon's Maze leads to better stuff in the future, then occasionally that is the price that is paid.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Once More

Here we go again:
5 Swamp
7 Forest
4 Overgrown Tomb
3 Bojuka Bog
4 Twilight Mire
3 Duress
4 Putrefy
4 Rancor
3 Distress
4 Doom Blade

1 Thrun, the Last Troll
3 Troll Ascetic
4 Great Sable Stag
3 Thragtusk
3 Predator Ooze
2 Strangleroot Geist
3 Vault Skirge

SB: 3 Underworld Dreams
SB: 4 Torpor Orb
SB: 3 Pithing Needle
SB: 3 Sudden Spoiling
SB: 2 Rootgrapple
I don't want to give up on Predator Ooze but perhaps I should. It seems like anything that gets bigger and is damn near invulnerable would be good, right? But between Path to Exile and Karn, it just seems silly.

Then again, I am considering Massacre Wurm in my sideboard. This is an awful idea, merely because I have no reliable way to cast the card on turn six, which if I need it, I absolutely have to be able to do. One issue is that Rootgrapple just isn't cutting it at all. My thoughts for secret tech? Aether Snap. Stonethorn has been thinking that BW tokens is going to be big, while I keep running into planeswalkers. This kills both of those. The trick, as always, is getting those spells to resolve and I just don't know that I've got enough discard to ensure that happens.

This deck also might suffer from being a bit off theme. Hypnotic Specter fits in better than Vault Skirge, but Vault Skirge turn one, Rancor turn 2 is pretty amazing. Getting in early beats and gaining life is very important when facing aggressive decks, which I still believe will be out there.

I'm feeling desperate. Maybe that shows? I don't have the resources to play an 'established' deck, nor do I want to. I want to play a deck I like and am reasonably comfortable with, because I feel that those things might be the only edge I really have. And damnit, money shouldn't be the defining characteristic of a good Magic deck...but I accept it is part of the game.

While I have been practicing and testing and I feel my gameplay is getting better, I am not a pro Magic player. This is not to say that I'm going to just cut my losses, this is about being realistic about what I need to do to win.

And I would like to win. Stonethorn and I had a brief conversation about that last night, when he questioned running Ulamog, because it felt like 'win more'. I responded with: when it's just us playing, it's fine to be suboptimal. In the tournament, you're there to win, and you can cast Ulamog and win of him. Do it.

I fear I may be too attached to my 'ideas' to actually make those cutthroat decisions about card selection. But damnit, these things don't seem bad. I've had people choke on Predator Ooze because their removal wasn't enough. Plus, it blanks out most destroy effects. Same with Thragtusk: I run that because it creates such problems for anyone running removal. I love Blood Moon but as Noah pointed out: I don't want to run a deck that's 56 other cards that support Blood Moon. That's a terrible deck.

No deck can do everything though: that's impossible. My goal is to eliminate all the decks that I don't think will be played and focus on what will be played and how to beat that. Choose wisely, as they say.