Thursday, August 28, 2014

Continuing Agreement

This is me losing to Noah playing a BUG deck. Not Delver, more Standstill.

I also lost to a R/W/G (Naya) Zoo deck he  was playing.

When it was over, I told Noah: I've got the basic structure down but I think I need to attack the mana. He took a look at the deck and agreed; yes, it's an older combo but it checks out, you know? But the difference in mana is huge and cannot be understated. Noah is running Tropical Island in this shot and the Zoo deck had cards like Stomping Ground. I'm running basic lands and it's creating a slowdown in my deck that I'm not sure it can afford. Three color mana bases just need more attention and I'm not sure I can afford to make a deck like this work with basics.

So next up: Mana base fixin'!

Which I probably won't get to do until next Thursday. So: A week to next post!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Although I hadn't made changes to Joyful Reunion, when Fuz said he had time for a game, I took him up on it. He was playing a G/W Beast deck that he wasn't too familiar with and was certain "sucked" and I was playing a deck I knew was bad.

He smashed me into little pieces. In both cases, the killing stroke Overwhelming Stampede but he had the game well in hand before that.

So I show the deck to Fuz and he pretty much says what I said! Which is great: Fate Transfer and Vines of Vastwood are gone, with Death Grasp on the watch list.

He also confirmed the direction I was thinking; cards to get lands and some creature removal. So those cards came out and in went two Caravan Vigil and three Tragic Slip. I'm not certain how consistent they will 'go off' with the morbid trigger but considering that Joyful Reunion wants to sac my creatures, maybe there's a chance!

Then began the goldfishing, just drawing opening hands of seven and seeing what they offer me. And boy oh boy do I hate having Death Grasp in my hand. Why do this to myself?

So I cut them, added in a fourth Tragic Slip and two Silence. Why Silence? Because it allows me to boost the reliability of my combo, once I have it on board and it shores up what I'm doing with Abeyance, which I only own two copies of. I'm evoking the 'my money' rule here but only for a little bit: Abeyance isn't too costly, I just need to wait until I get paid.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Joyful Reunion

What a friggin' mess this deck is.
2 Birds of Paradise
4 Carrion Feeder
4 Heartmender
4 Juniper Order Ranger
4 Kitchen Finks
2 Scavenger Drake
2 Melira, Sylvok Outcast

2 Mirrodin's Core
8 Forest
1 Murmuring Bosk
6 Plains
6 Swamp

2 Safewright Quest
3 Death Grasp

3 Congregation at Dawn
3 Fate Transfer
2 Vines of Vastwood
2 Abeyance

On the upside, there's a great opportunity to turn this into something badass.

Joyful Reunion was named after the wonderful NoMeansNo song and templated after the combo between Carrion Feeder (sacrifice a Kitchen Finks), Juniper Order Ranger (put +1 counter negating the -1 counter that the Kitchen Finks gets when it re-enters play) and Kitchen Finks.

So what's the problem? First, there are eight cards that don't really fit: Death Grasp, Fate Transfer and Vines of Vastwood. Fate Transfer and Vines are especially out of place here. Death Grasp has the potential justification of serving as both a finisher and removal so may stick around for a little bit but I have so many decks that might suit that card better, it has to be on the chopping block. Magic decks need to have a tighter focus to be worth it. I will probably also tweak the mana base a bit too, because three color decks are incredibly difficult to run on mostly basic lands.

While I think about how that's going to work, though, I'm going to be traveling, which means no games. So: taking a week off, see you back here on the 26th!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Setback as Time Walk

Or, why I removed Simian Spirit Guide from Razorclaw.

Last Friday my opening hand wasn't great but it had potential: Simian Spirit Guide, Forest, Golden Hind, Gruul Guildgate, other cards. I could get something going pretty easily, I thought.

So my turn one play was Forest, remove SSG for R, play Golden Hind.

Noah's response was: Island, Vapor Snag, go. 

That's it. The game was over. My turn 2 was Gruul Guildgate, turn 3, play Golden Hind, Hind will meet an untimely end and Noah proceeded to run over me with his deck. Some blue/white/black thing I think. It didn't matter by then because he spend his second and third turns actually doing stuff that I couldn't interact with, stuck at one mana for two turns. He essentially cast Time Stretch for U. 

I talked it over with Noah and although it wasn't explicitly said, what I think we were getting at is that my deck was fragile. A card like Simian Spirit Guide has some very particular uses, specifically in very aggressive or combo decks, where it can represent that extra oomph of speed.

Razorclaw is not that kind of deck. It's slower, grindier, moving to midgame and throttling mana bases and cheap artifacts and enchantments to eventually overwhelm. More importantly, it's not a great deck but it should be the kind of deck that can play through an early game, otherwise irrelevant setback like having a turn one mana generator bounced. I need to play up the edges as much as possible and not make the mistakes everyone else is making with mana starvation, unfocused play and unjustified card selection. That it couldn't means I have to make changes.

So it's time to remove the Spirit Guides and put lands back in. The compliment they add to Primitive Etchings just isn't enough to justify those possible early game setbacks.The soonest the benefit of that combo wouldn't happen until turn 5 and by then either Cream of the Crop is out (filtering the card I want on top anyway) or Cream isn't but it doesn't matter because there are still 29 creatures in the deck which puts the odds highly in my favor to get extra cards. Let's play the best odds.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Shove it

Someone's always got to push the buttons and in this case, it was Fuz.

That's four, count 'em 4!, Hover Barriers. How the hell am I supposed to get through all that madness?

I didn't: Fuz milled my library to goo so I started talking to Fuz about this deck.

What is slowing this deck down? Lands that enter the battlefield tapped and creatures with echo. Of the creatures with echo, Pouncing Jaguar is the only one that doesn't have an additional effect and probably needs to be replaced. It's such a strong turn 1 play though and with so many ETB tapped lands, I often don't have a turn 2 Golden Hind ready so I'm reluctant to let it go.

It was Fuz who suggested something from the Evoke school. Spitebellows can be played for very little and so can Briarthorn. Spitebellows felt like a no-brainer: kill a thing and look at the top six cards of my library for 3? Yeah, let's do that! So out came a Mitotic Slime and the two Flametongue Kavu for three of those. Why the Mitotic Slime? Slime's purpose is to give me resources against Wrath of God effects and I have Wrath defense in Hound of Griselbrand too. Since five mana is expensive, I feel that taking out the redundancy for mana is wise. I also swapped a Forest for a Mountain because of the RR needed to Evoke Spitebellows, tweaking the manabase just a little more toward red but not too much.

Briarthorn feels less obvious but the more I think about it the more awesome I think of it. The ability to play it as an instant is a big deal, and getting a 6/6 blocker as a surprise, plus looking at the top 3 cards of my library? That could be huge for two mana and still a really good deal for 4. It plays nicely with my smaller creatures and could be an acceptable substitution for Pouncing Jaguar. Time to give that a go.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Passive Aggressive

I took Matt's advice and added in three Simian Spirit Guides to Razorclaw.. I removed two Mountains and decided I wanted to go to 61 cards rather than remove another land. I went to three Spirit Guides in order to aggressive test the idea. If I just add one I'm afraid that I won't get the opportunity to see them in action and it won't tell me enough.

Tests against stonethorn let me do (a very little bit of) that.

I went 1-2 against this white weenie-ish deck. The first game I lost because I went down to four cards in my opening hand. It's just never going to work out when that happens.

The other two games were slugfests and I'm pleased to say that my compliment of Acidic Slimes and Wickerbough Elders were very effective in keeping me in the game, win or lose.

But. But. What I'm discovering is that this deck is very, very mana hungry. Five mana is what is needed to play cards like Acidic Slime, Mitotic Slime and Wickerbough Elder and I really want to be able to play them as soon as possible. I need more data to find out if I have enough land or if I just need to bite the bullet and cut one of my Slimes for another.

In the match after this, I played against Pod, and I lost because I couldn't hit 5 mana, even though the game went long. Despite having two Acidic Slimes and two Mitotic slimes, I sat and did nothing while stonethorn executed his plans. The Spirit Guide mana isn't a bad thing but I don't feel like it's the problem either: I just didn't have enough land in two games.

That is a problem and it's not a small one but I need to know if it's a fluke.