Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Conspiracy Draft and The Diversion

Noah got a box of Conspiracy and was willing to draft a 4 person pod so we broke packs and went after it.

Drafting with four people is a different animal, since you really can go mono-colored if you want to; Noah ran a pretty strong mono-Green deck that had just enough color fixing via Secrets of Paradise to run the occasional powerful offshot like Fires of Yavimaya. The other two players both went B/W but only one of them understood that the format was a multiplayer one. This meant that he let cards like Syphon Soul go, while she snapped them up.

I went U/R, because I had a couple Volcanic Fallouts passed my way, and while one player was collecting a ton of artifacts, I was getting Torch Fiend. Eventually, I was able to cast Fact or Fiction and turn a Dack's Duplicate into a Terastodon and that solidified my position for the game.

I think I would have preferred the eight-player draft though, just because it would have made deckbulding decisions a little more challenging. That said, the Conspiracy format has legs and I think will enjoy playing the box that I bought, especially if I can get a full group together.


I got in a game with the Legacy deck, losing 1-2 to a Hypergenesis/Show & Tell combo. I foolishly sideboarded in Pernicious Deed instead of Diabolic Edict in game 3 and lost because of Blazing Archon.

There were also a few test games against Fuz; he piloted WW and Delver (R and B based) and I got trounced hard in the WW games. I've cut Garruk Wildspeaker and Duress for a Progenitus and Inquisition of Kosilek but I think the Sideboard really needs to do bad things to White Weenie. Namely: I need the global reset of Pernicious Deed to appear. It just absolutely has to show up. 

That may mean cutting the Pithing Needles for another Deed, to maximize my chances and perhaps putting in another Thragtusk to give me time and negate the power of Swords to Plowshares.

Another likely necessity? Silklash Spider. The ability to block fliers and kill small nasty creatures like Aven Mindcensor is probably worth the price right there.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

M15 Begins

The hype train for the Magic core set has begun and I have to admit: I like what I'm seeing.


Warden of the Beyond is my; 'No, no don't do that', card of the week and here's why:

Magic needs a place where cards go and are never heard from or interacted with again.

Now that the game is twenty years old it's changed quite a bit and by now, a place like the graveyard just isn't the graveyard anymore. Many decks have interactions with it, from very small ones, like Threshold or the power/toughness of Tarmogoyf to being based wholly around it, as the Dredge or Reanimator decks are.

The two other zones in Magic where cards go to be excised from the game are the Command zone, used for Planeswalker emblems, Conspiracy cards and Commanders. Commanders are the only ones that really interact with the Command zone, being able to re-enter the game at will from there (assuming you can pay, of course). Wizards has recently experimented with having creatures that have abilities that are relevant to the Command zone and from what I've read at the Reddit community, many (like me) are not fond of what cards like Oloro or Derevi do to the Commander format. The impact that cards you cannot interact have on the game is generally considered to be a negative one and with good reason: decreasing interactions makes games boring.

And then there's Exile. Cards that are put into Exile are meant to be absolutely gone forever. Then they printed Misthollow Griffin.

Sigh. I get that there are very few absolutes in Magic but this should be one of them. Cards sent to Exile should no longer interact with the game.

I'll give Wizards this: Warden of the Beyond is in the appropriate color, because White has more Exile effects than any other color I am aware of. However, the doors have been opened, now. We have cards that are interacting with what should be a dead zone and I'm going to argue that this is bad for the game because it is another step towards turning the Exile zone into another Graveyard. Since we already have the Graveyard, we don't need another and while they can mock the idea all they want, if Wizards continues to become more hands on with the Exile zone, the more they are going to need to establish a fourth zone.

We don't need a fourth zone.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

To Duress or Not To Duress

Played against Fuz last night with the Diversion deck and he was rolling a W/R/g aggro thing. I won the matchup last night 2-1 but it definitely revealed the limitations of Duress as a discard agent.

I like Duress; I think it's a fantastic card and I think it's always going to have a target. Even against Fuz's deck-a creature heavy one-I was able to knock a Naturalize out of his hand that could have destroyed my Tangle Wire. I need Tangle Wire. Despite Duress's usefulness, I may be holding onto it's power level from a time in Magic when hitting a non-creature spell in their hand was going to be backbreaking. Creatures just weren't as threatening in the time of Urza's Saga.

These days Legacy discard agents that are able to eliminate a problematic creature before it hits the board (think Mirran Crusader or True-Name Nemsis) have just as much value as being able to knock Show and Tell out of their hand. The common denominator: those spells all cost 3 or less, which suggests that Inquisition of Kozilek might be the better choice. Sure, I'm weak to something like Sneak Attack but I'm weak to that anyway and if I can eliminate their acceleration instead, then cards like Tangle Wire can do the rest.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Diversion

Noah asked me if I wanted to play in the Legacy part of the StarCity Games Open series, late this month.

Why not?

So I started to tinker with my New World Disorder deck (fun fact, I wrote about it twice and didn't seem to miss a beat there so...I think we can extrapolate something about me there). There were other decks but they would've taken a whole lot more reworking and I wasn't really interested in playing a Sneak & Show variant so why not play something I want to? Just with black.
2 Fangren Firstborn
3 Eternal Witness
3 Fyndhorn Elves
4 Deathrite Shaman
2 Woodfall Primus
3 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
1 Hornet Queen
1 Craterhoof Behemoth
1 Primeval Titan
3 Great Sable Stag

2 Garruk Wildspeaker

4 Natural Order
4 Hymn to Tourach
1 Duress

4 Tangle Wire

4 Wasteland
1 Forest
1 Wamp
4 Bayou
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Verdant Catacomb
2 Khalni Garden
1 Bojuka Bog
2 Gaea's Cradle

The Sideboard:
3 Pernicious Deed
3 Krosian Grip
2 Pithing Needle
2 Choke
4 Diabolic Edict
1 Thragtusk

The two big decks at the last SCG Legacy event were BUG/RUG Delver and Death & Taxes (white weenie). They took up 8 of the top 10 slots, with Sneak and Show and Belcher making up the other two.

So the hope is to stack against blue (a bit) by adding in uncounterable spells/pro blue stuff, while using the Sideboard for Pernicious Deed to sweep away hordes, if needed. Diabolic Edict...maybe isn't necessary for the Sneak & Show matchups, which is the only ones I can think of it being there for. Perhaps they should become 3 Duress and add in another Thragtusk, which is a beating against weenie decks.

The Krosian Grip is good against Blood Moon (which I expect to see) Sneak Attack and Aether Vial. Choke is because Blue Decks Suck, but sometimes I think Skylasher and Witchstalker might be interesting choices because one blocks Delver bugs and the other cannot be targeted by White Weenie's removal.

But we shall see. This is what I'm going to run for now and I'll have to hope for the best. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

This day (won't) last forever

Here we go.

Not the best picture due to sunlight but hopefully you can see that there is a Liliana of the Veil and a Web of Inertia on the board.

I lost the games I played against stonethorn with this deck and it has a great deal to do with inexperience. In this instance, the killing stroke was to come when he cast Vraska the Unseen and I didn't use the Dissolve in my hand.

I am not used to having countermagic and I am clearly not used to playing this deck. I've made this mistake before and it's happening in part because in an attempt to radiate calm when I play, I will look at my hand and then place it down in front of me. This is good, if I focus and remember what my lines of play are but if don't focus, or forget what's in my hand then I'm late to the party and cannot respond to my opponent as I should.

So this is going to take some practice. Both in remaining calm, as well as focusing on the game in order to play the best game I can.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

One Shot At Glory

This is possibly one of the purest combo decks I have ever designed/ripped off. I built it a few months ago, when I was inspired to put together some new decks, including Ephemeral and Skalor. In an effort to not ruin the surprise, I'll just leap to the decklist and talk about it afterwards.
4 Laboratory Maniac

3 Thought Lash
4 Planar Void
4 Web of Inertia

3 Force Spike
4 Catalog
4 Tolarian Winds
4 Dissolve
2 Foil

3 Doomsday
2 Read the Bones

2 Shelldock Isle
10 Swamp
10 Island
1 Polluted Delta
Because this is an all or nothing deck, I named it after the Judas Priest song. Here's what it does:

Draw from an empty library while Laboratory Maniac is on the table and win. That's it.

Everything else is there to a) whittle the library down: Doomsday, Thought Lash, b) protect me while I do that: Planar Void and Web of Inertia for the creature lock, Force Spike, Dissolve, Foil for everything else, and c) draw into what I need: Catalog, Tolarian Winds, Read the Bones, Shelldock Isle (to an extent).

And that's it. One Shot is an exercise in patience, because to get this to work I have to hold back on everything until I can just win. This is a very different mental exercise than most decks want me to engage in, so I look forward to taking it on the road.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Curse You Virulent Sliver! or RTFC

What a hot mess this game was for me. I'm playing Lauriel who has Sliver Queen as her commander and that means rush deck with lots of synergies. Going in I think I can handle it but I am wrong and I am wrong because of Virulent Sliver.

Game one went well: I was able to cast Ashen Rider, then Life's Finale to remove both her Civic Saber and Chromatic Lantern. From there, Karador became cheap to cast and Ashen Rider got to be used for a third time. Removing three permanents from the game in as many turns hurts. 

Game two, pictured, found me having mana issues and up against a Virulent Sliver coupled with a Bonesplinter Sliver, and thus eating 10 points of poison damage from +2/0'd slivers.

In game three, I realized that we'd been misreading Virulent Sliver. I only had to see the card three times to recognize that the ability was a triggered one! Of course, by the time I figured that out, I'd taken 3 poison damage in one swipe and was soon confronted with a horde of slivers, the Virulent protected by Crypt Sliver, which I can handle with my Dark Hatchling, and Swiftfoot Boots which I can't do a damn thing about.

In the end it didn't matter because I didn't draw a sixth land to cast Dark Hatchling anyway but push comes to shove, I have to admit that I lost both of those games because I was playing too quickly, letting my mind wander away from what it should have been doing and more on what I needed to do later.

I need to prepare better. I take nothing away from Lauriel and her victory, I merely accept that my mind was less on my process and the running of the game, and more on the 'what next?' question. That question took my attention away from what I needed to focus on-specifically, How Does Virulent Sliver Work?-and my game suffered as a result.

Next time, I will be ready. For now, Karador stays the way it is.