Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Nothing satisfies but I'm getting close

My first run with One By One had me playing the deck without making changes. Against a token deck Noah was piloting, I did pretty well, and Martyr of Ashes actually had a relevant ability. But against a blue deck he has running Chasm Skulker, I couldn't get enough traction to win.

I began to notice a trend; in games where I experienced mana flood, I lost. Which is a really, really strange thing to experience because this deck only has 17 lands! That any kind of mana flood should happen seems impossible but it was happening.

Cutting more lands really isn't an option. I already have opening hands that I have to mulligan because there will be only one land: Boros Garrison. One thing about really good decks is that they often provide really good opening hands and One By One can do that but I'm unwilling to risk going down further on mana just to avoid the occasional flood.

Noah had a very good suggestion though; Banisher Priest. I was originally thinking Fiend Hunter, but the aggressive nature of 1x1 means that I want the extra point of power.

So I tweaked the deck:
- Martyr of Ashes
- Weathered Wayfarer

+2 Banisher Priest
+2 Boros Reckoner (this was a Good Idea)
+1 Vexing Devil
+1  Frontline Medic.

I wanted to keep the CMC of my additions low but Boros Reckoner was too solid of a card to pass up. Vexing Devil offers me either a hasted creature (which is great) or four damage.

Things...didn't quite happen the way I hoped.

Lauriel and I went a match against her Modern B/W tokens deck. I once again found myself flooded for mana and without enough removal. Frontline Medic, as good a creature as it is, was a 'win more' effort.

My games against stonethorn were a little better; Ashling's Prerogative is handy against Stoneforge Mystic, and against his Tron build, I was able to create enough early pressure to win in the midgame.

But there was still something wrong. Paging through my deck it finally stuck out at me: Retribution of the Meek.

I really like this card and in today's Magic scene, it feels like it would be incredibly powerful. Yet, it's a card for when everything else has gone wrong. I already have a solution for when things have gone wrong: Proclamation of Rebirth.

So I needed something else, because I was finding that Retribution of the Meek was sitting dead in my hand. The only card I can really allow that clause on is second copies of Ashling's Prerogative.

So I finally cut them and added in three Boros Charm. These proved to be pretty useful in my games against Matt's RBG Legacy homebrew.The games were close but I was able to pull them out thanks to the existence of Boros Charm and Sonic Burst. Direct damage is a pretty nasty deal.

For now, I feel like this deck is in a pretty good place. I'll leave a decklist for the history books but I've also been tickled by a thought, recently: What if this was Red/Black?

Black has efficient removal and a great deal of aggressive creatures at both the one and three spot that would suck without haste but with it? They could be scary. White/Red seem to want to share haste in their creatures-Skyknight Legionnaire is a decent example- Red/Black not so much.

Of course, I may end up with a worse deck, having bad black creatures when I don't have a Prerogative out.

And there are some cards in Magic Origins that might be worth considering, like Goblin Glory Chaser or Bonded Construct. Heck, there might even be a place for some of the Soulbond cards from Avacyn Restored. Something should probably replace Orchish Conscripts...

Thursday, June 25, 2015

One By One: Notes

I did this with Monster Man and it helped give me a handle on what I should with that deck. Since I was gone for a week, I didn't have much opportunity to play but I did have some time to do some goldfishing while I was in the airport. There isn't much; being brainfried and trying to goldfish seems like a good combo but it really isn't so great for writing.

So here it is:
Weathered Wayfarer and Martyr of Ashes don't really do much for me. Martyr is a solid enough card but it needs to be maximized. Wayfarer gets land but so what?

Need more white creatures with 2< and 1cmc.

Also; mana fixing. More of that. The insertion of RW lands so I can reliably play Glorious Anthem or Pianna is a necessity. Miiight be worth replacing Anthem with Curse but I am not sure yet.

Removal is a question for this reason, along with the Proclamation of Rebirth--I don't know how useful or needed these are until I see them.
Now, despite acknowledging the weaknesses, I'm going to get a few matches in as is so I can confirm against an actual opponent if I'm on the right path but those are my ideas for now.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

One By One

I'm going to New York for six days to attend a wedding and that won't leave a lot of time for playing Magic. However, this is the deck that I'll be thinking about while I'm there:
2 Glorious Anthem
4 Ashling's Prerogative

3 Retribution of the Meek
3 Proclamation of Rebirth

4 Sonic Burst

3 Martyr of Ashes
2 Orcish Conscripts
4 Mosquito Guard
4 Laccolith Whelp
2 Pianna, Nomad Captain
3 Weathered Wayfarer
4 Boros Recruit
2 Hell's Thunder
3 Goblin Guide

5 Mountain
5 Plains
1 Battlefield Forge
4 Rugged Prairie
2 Boros Garrison
 "What would happen," I said, "if I made a deck around Ashling's Prerogative?" For some reason, I especially love that there is reminder text that tells players that "zero is even".

The original concept had me picking creatures that only had a converted mana cost of one. It was the song lyric that inspired it and it was a pretty cool deckbuilding restriction. But it's a little too limiting so I expanded the list to include CMCs of three so I would have flexibility. Also; a chance to win.

There's some pretty cool creatures there though: I've always thought that the Laccolith beasts were underused in Red, Pianna is awesome, there's a neat combo between Sonic Burst and Proclamation of Rebirth to help mitigate the discard drawback.

This deck may benefit from the Battalion mechanic in Return to Ravnica, so that will be something I'll be pondering while I'm away. Martyr of Ashes especially feels like a card that's a solution in search of a problem and that's not what this deck wants to do; those slots are definitely up for grabs.

There will be some time to have think about it in the next few days and maybe even test it a bit. I hope to get posting again on the 18th although it might be time for Magic: Origins discussion first. And Origins as the last core set looks to be very exciting! I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Realest of the Real

Fuz hit me with a tribal spirits deck that sent Monster Man scrambling, until I activated Recurring Nightmare and realized I had forgotten to update my list with Massacre Wurm. That was grumbly.

I played the match out anyway but the fact of the matter is, I have trouble with swarms and fliers. Wall of Roots is meant to help with the swarms problem, as would Satyr Wayfinder, but the flying part? Not so much.

Of course the games afterward were a different story, as you can see below. Turns out, Massacre Wurm is bad for tiny creatures.

This was also a matchup where I was testing Sidisi, Undead Viser and I felt fairly underwhelmed by the card. Fuz was similarly unimpressed and while we didn't have much more in the way of ideas beyond: fourth Recurring Nightmare or a second Body Snatcher, they did seem marginally better. More testing should be done with Sidisi but I'm not too hopeful.

Which is a bummer, because I was really hoping Sidisi could serve as that all-purpose tool. It doesn't seem to be paying off just yet but I'm not giving up on it just yet.

I'm in a very nitpicky stage with Monster Man right now. Yes, Carrion Beetles could be Withered Wretch. Is it worth keeping Wickerbough Elder when Acidic Slime does what I need it to do? So many little decisions and tweaks to make in a deck that is supposed to provide an answer to everything. I need to let go of the idea of doing everything and remember to focus on doing one thing.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Little Comedy

I came across this blog via the Magic subreddit and as a player and someone who respects language, it's a gleeful website to read.

It also reminds me-and should remind anyone who reads it-how difficult Magic design really is. All of these designs go wrong in some manner and many of them are pretty basic; spelling, templating issues. Others are just power fantasies in card form, disregarding game balance and any of the subtleties that make Magic work in order for that player to have the kind of experience they feel they should have.

To actually serve the game and the three biggest formats it has right now, Standard, Draft and Commander, a whole lot of creation and refining to cards has to be done. While it's amusing to see people flail making their own Magic cards, it's obvious to me that actually making a game that is still vibrant and worth your time after 20 years takes a great deal of skill.