Thursday, August 27, 2015

Commander: Gahiji, Honored one

It's been awhile since I've done a Commander deck, so let's get to it!

1 War Cadence
1 Fires of Yavimaya
1 Where Ancients Tread
1 Warstorm Surge
1 Darksteel Mutation
1 Witch Hunt
1 Mystic Barrier
1 Spawning Grounds
1 Primal Rage
1 Fervor
1 Mayael's Aria
1 Trace of Abundance
1 Hull Breach
1 Cultivate
1 Harmonize
1 Wrath of God
1 One Dozen Eyes
1 Rain of Thorns
1 Fireball
1 Savage Twister
1 From the Ashes
1 Tempt with Discovery
1 Explosive Vegetation
1 Boros Charm
1 Naya Charm
1 Slice in Twain
1 Street Spasm
1 Starstorm

1 Sarkhan Vol
1 Sol Ring
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Druidic Satchel
1 Behemoth Sledge
1 Seer's Sundial
1 Witchbane Orb

1 Boros Garrison
1 Boros Guildgate
1 Command Tower
1 Contested Cliffs
1 Drifting Meadow
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Gruul Guildgate
1 Homeward Path
1 Jungle Shrine
1 Khalni Garden
1 New Benalia
1 Secluded Steppe
1 Selesnya Guildgate
1 Selesnya Sanctuary
1 Slippery Karst
1 Smoldering Crater
1 Temple of the False God
1 Tranquil Thicket
1 Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree
1 Vivid Crag
5 Mountain
8 Forest
4 Plains
1 Forgotten Cave
1 Mosswort Bridge
1 Naya Panorama
1 Opal Palace
1 Gruul Turf
1 Krosan Warchief
1 Mayael the Anima
1 Drumhunter
1 Mold Shambler
1 Ravenous Baloth
1 Spellbreaker Behemoth
1 Rakeclaw Gargantuan
1 Deadwood Treefolk
1 Crater Hellion
1 Rampaging Baloths
1 Valley Rannet
1 Avenger of Zendikar
1 Krosan Tusker
1 Archangel
1 Eternal Dragon
1 Terra Ravager
1 Kabira Vindicator
1 Spearbreaker Behemoth
1 Paleoloth
1 Enlisted Wurm
1 Laccolith Titan
1 Mossbridge Troll

I was originally going to talk about my Karn, Silver Golem deck but with Battle for Zendikar having colorless...stuff, anyway, to add to the mix (but not yet available) and Tarkir's really terrible Formidable and Ferocious mechanics already available to add to what Gahiji wants to do, this seems like an opportune time to make this deck, ahem, beastly.

In the most recent "State of Design" article, Mark Rosewater says about the Tarkir block:
The mechanic that was least loved was ferocious, and I feel a lot of that was because it felt more like a repeat of Naya (the red-green-white shard from Shards of Alara) and thus not enough of a new thing.
And this is wrong. The mechanic was least loved (or in my case, hated, get this weak 'least loved' bullshit out of here) because it is a bad mechanic. Let's take a look at the cards with Ferocious.

It is a mechanic that cannot do one critically important thing: help you win under circumstances where you are losing. And it cannot do that because if you have a creature with 4 or greater power on the board, odds are you already have a commanding position.

This is also true of the younger (but larger) sibling of Ferocious, Formidable. In the subsequent paragraphs, just replace one word for another and the exact same problem exists.

If you look at most constructed decks today, they fall into two camps; control decks, which generally clean things up with one powerful creature, keeping everything else off the board, or aggro decks, which generally come at the opponent with a horde.

In the case of the former, it doesn't need anything Ferocious has to offer and in the case of the latter, the mechanic is inaccessible because most creatures with power 4 or more are outside the mana curve. This is even true in Draft or Sealed; creatures that are that big demand attention. So either you're winning with it already, or your opponent has removal and now you don't get the bonus. You essentially have to play as though Ferocious doesn't matter, which is the opposite of how a mechanic like Outlast works.

I'm hoping Commander might be a different story. Granted, I don't have access to the Blue cards but the possibility that I will have a creature of 4 or more power on the table is guaranteed by Gahiji. Plus, the games tend to go a little longer which means that getting to a board state where I have creatures with 8 or more on the board starts to seem more likely.

That's where I'm going to start, anyway, while trying to keep a soft Beast tribal theme. If the beasts don't work out though, the heck with 'em. Go with what works. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

So Maybe Chromanticore Comes Back?

After multiple matchups, some against Sascha and some against Noah, I feel like Die Die My Darling is coming to a good place to end this re-reboot.

Night of Souls' Betrayal has done precisely what I wanted it to do; slow or outright stop the weenie hordes of red, green and white.

Persecute has done exactly what I expected it to do: suck against control because a 4 mana discard spell won't actually ever resolve in a meaningful way against a deck that has Brainstorm. (This is the short version of what happened in my games against Noah's blue deck:
Me: Persecute naming blue.
Him: Brainstorm in response.
Everything resolves.
I look at a hand that has 3 Islands and a Ponder.
Him: Really glad I had that Brainstorm because my next three cards were Islands!
Me: seeeeeeeeethe).

I love Persecute and it's absolutely backbreaking if it resolves against a nonblue monocolor deck. I'm keeping it for now but should I take this to a tournament of any sort, it needs to be a much cheaper card, Hymn being the obvious choice but even Addle or Gerrard's Verdict could work.

Oooor. Pulling Teeth. Whoa. It works with the Top and could even act like a Temple of Silence. I think I may have to try that.

I'm getting off track. What I've really concluded is that Debtors' Knell is the Glory of Cool Things and not And Now I Win. It's just a card I don't see myself trying to find or hoping for in this deck. I've been trying to come up with a proper replacement for it and the best I can think of right now is Decree of Silence. Unfortunately, that card feels like a "win more" card as well.

I've been looking at cards with the "Constellation" keyword and Doomwake Giant is the only thing that really stands out. Everything else, aside from Underworld Coinsmith, perhaps, is really for  limited (which means that it just sucks).

But maybe that's the card to use. With Night of Souls' Betrayal, Doomwake Giant could be especially crippling.

Still. I kinda want Chromanticore....

Friday, August 21, 2015

I Really Wanted Chromanticore

Now that Omniscience is in Die Die My Darling, it's all about the little tweaks. Unfortunately, all I've been able to do is goldfish for the past two weeks.

Sigh. What can I tell you? Adulthood means having to really carve out your free time in ways that you didn't before. Still, I've been able to goldfish quite a bit and do some research so I don't make a fool of myself.

Temple of Silence? That card is stone cold awesome here. The interactions with Sensei's Divining Top have been quite helpful.

I've also put in Scoured Barrens alongside my Orzhov Basilicas and those cards aren't bad but they do slow the deck down quite a bit. A note to make should I decide to bring this to a tournament, since tempo is always a big deal. This is also true of Persecute, of course but until I decide to play this in the Big Leagues, Persecute is a lot of fun to cast and when it hits big, it's awesome.

The challenge with goldfishing is that you just never know what card your toolbox should dish up but one advantage was, I came across a situation where I thought; Hey, I could dial up Chromanticore and put it on my Phrexian Ghoul...or can I?

Turns out, I can't:

9/15/2013If a permanent with bestow enters the battlefield by any method other than being cast, it will be an enchantment creature. You can’t choose to pay the bestow cost and have it become an Aura.

So now the card is a whole lot less useful to me. That's a bummer because Chromanticore is awesome! I wanted a 4/4 flying trampling life linking crazy beast.

However, this works out! I've been pondering what else I need to do for this deck and it's got a pretty serious aggro problem. Night of Souls' Betrayal goes a long way towards fixing that problem without significantly impacting what I'm doing. Attacking for 13 instead of 14 has things still working out for me.

I'm also thinking that an Oblivion Ring should replace one of the Seals of Doom. O-Ring can target a Planeswalker and while it's true that a 14/14 trampling dude can also take out a planeswalker, this is a superior option.

I've also been thinking about removing the second Confiscate: what for I'm not sure but...wait. Chromanticore still exists...

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Chaos Draft: 4-0

Lauriel had a birthday event and her request: Chaos Draft.

There were packs of Magic: Origins, Weatherlight, Conspiracy, Homelands, Ice Age, Modern Masters, Planar Chaos: you get the idea.

I opened terrible rares: my first pick was Rix Maadi Guildmage, FFS! It didn't matter though, because about halfway through the round I realized that nobody was taking green or red in a serious way and went full on into those colors. I figured, when in doubt, go red/green beatdown.

This is the deck I settled on:
Gnarlid Pack
Drudge Beetle
Outland Colossus
Timberpack Wolf
Bloodrock Cyclops
Skitter of Lizards
Simian Spirit Guide
Pharika's Disciple x 2
Rhox Maulers
Borderland Marauder
Volcano Hellion
Sawtooth Ogre
Scab-Clan Charger


Madcap Skills

Lightning Javelin
Orcish Cannonade
Cone of Flame
Chandra's Fury
Nissa's Pilgrimage
Lose Calm
Titanic Growth
There were maybe 10 cards, maybe less, that I took outside my colors: Oblivion Ring (early on when I thought White might be viable), Moor Fiend (when I thought Black might be useful) but for the most part, I was able to stick to my colors-or deal with that last card chaff.

One of the nice things about playing weird cards in constructed decks is that I have worked with very strange (or bad) cards that I might've overlooked otherwise. Madcap Skills, for example, is a pretty sweet deal in a format that is so creature combat driven and I know that because Fuz plays a deck with it. Retribution as removal is another sweet deal. I'd played enough of Origins that I knew Pharika's Disciple was going to be a problem. Volcano Hellion was a surprisingly useful card-I had hoped but this was my first time really using the card.

My first matchup was against a BG deck that was trying to use some lifegain and discard to extend the game. My creatures were just better though, and she played a little too aggressively: attacking me for 3 and taking 6 isn't as good as chump blocking and living to see another turn.

My second game was against a UW flyers deck. Game one I was on the GR swarm plan but in game two, I stalled out on finding a second Mountain and I had a hand full of cards that cost XRR. Game three had me capitalizing on the advantage of my opponent mulliganing to five cards. Madcap Skills on a Borderland Marauder did some heavy lifting for me in this game.

By game three, I was starting to get antsy. My opponents was a fellow I'd played a few times in League last year; a good player who knew how to build solid decks. Plus, I was winning. For whatever reason, winning creates some anxiety in me and I haven't figured out how to manage that without going for a brisk walk or having a stiff drink.

Still, I sat down against a WBR control deck and, in game one, found myself overrun by my own forests. It wasn't an easy game for him but I never really felt in it. Game two, however, was more of a contest. I'll let my opponent sum it up: "You had one more creature than I had removal spell." I'd also like to give Retribution the nod for MVC there. Game three had me storming out of the gate quickly with my bears and by the time he could stabilize at three life, I was casting an Outland Colossus.

My final matchup was against a UR artifact deck. I was very surprised to see this archetype available, considering the chaos draft format but she had all the basics to get it going! Unfortunately, she didn't have much removal and without removal, lots of 2/2 creatures will get the job done.

I wish I could translate this kind of general skill into play more often. 4-0 is a good record, no matter how you cut it and I feel like I should be able to leverage this kind of experience into better play.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Sick Day- Dragon Age: Inquisition

I sat on my couch this week trying to recover from illness, I got to engage in some serious game time with Dragon Age: Inquisition.

There's a lot to like about DA:I, and one of the interesting mechanics of the game is the "war table" where you go in and assign your three advisers, a diplomat, a spy, and a general, to different tasks throughout the empire. The time it takes to accomplish that task will depend on who you assign: for example, in matters of negotiation, the diplomat will often take less time to accomplish the task than the general. The player is left to go on other adventures, some of which mandate the Big Cheese to step in, others are just there because reasons but having minions running around doing things while I have adventures adds to the sense that I'm managing an empire.

From a castle, no less! It has a stable for horses or god only knows what kind of mythical mounts, shops, kitchen storerooms, labs for the creation of potions, hell, there's even an architect to rebuild the castle. And for the most part, I don't have to build that stuff: I just claim the appropriate resources and then tell my person-in-charge-of-things, "Do that."

Which is why, for the life of me, I cannot understand why the blacksmith section is so tedious. Because if you want armor or weapons of your own, you can't just provide raw materials to your two blacksmiths, one of whom is a dwarf who specializes in adding magical runes. No, you have to put all those things together. Yourself.

Why? Why do I have to do that? I already have to drag my ass around the entire empire and collect resources. Just make the awesome thing. Or, fine, tell me; Hey, this is what I need to make the awesome thing (flowcharts, baby laughter, blueprints, my virginity back, whatever!) and I'll go collect it and then the blacksmith tells me: It'll be done soon!

But no. I have to micromanage this weird shit. And for the most part, I'm not even getting better armor out of it than I am by just stumbling across armor in the field!

Good thing I'm sick. Otherwise, who would put up with this crap?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Four Color Misery (League)

After looking over what I opened last week, I've come to the inevitable conclusion that I don't have enough creatures to make a three color deck out of last week's packs. I barely have enough to make a four color deck. But you need creatures to win, so this is what I'm looking at shuffling up, at least for now.

Suppression Bonds

Blood-Cursed Knight
Destructive Revelry

Fleshbag Marauder
Aspect of Gorgon
Viper's Kiss
Feast of Dreams
Weight of the Underworld
Fetid Imp

Pharagax Giant
Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass
Lightning Diadem
Titan's Strength
Satyr Rambler
Fanatic of Mogis
Fall of the Hammer
Smash to Smithereens

Raised by Wolves
Nessian Asp
Might of the Masses
Bassara Tower Archer
Agent of Horizons
Market Festival
Woodland Bellower
Nissa's Pilgrimage
Fade into Antiquity
Setessan Oathsworn
Nessian Courser
Pheres-Band Thunderhoof

Veteran's Sidearm
Sigil of Valor
Traveler's Amulet
Springleaf Drum

Mana Confluence
Temple of Enlightenment

This the first draft of the deck and I suspect I'll try and tweak it further with white if I can. That it allows me to play creatures like Daxos of Meletis isn't a bad thing if the mana can work. I'm adding the white for one reason: I have two rares that can produce the mana for it.

If that's the signal that I should be adding some white, then I may as well follow it. Between the Market Festival, Traveler's Amulet and Springleaf Drum, it's possible I can work around the mana issues and have a deck worth playing. I don't really like this option but playing to the mana isn't a bad strategy under the circumstances. Everyone else will be having similar problems, at least for a little while and until I can solidify the colors this is as good an idea as any.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Note To Self

"I just don't feel like I'm getting better," I told Fuz.  "I keep playing decks that are losing, you know?"

"You have two hundred decks, man," he replied, "your power level is really diffused, in comparison."

And this is true. Plus, I like to build decks pushing a single concept or around cards that aren't really meant to tentpole a deck. It makes for interesting questions (How can I use Ashling's Prerogative) but it often makes for weak decks.

However, as I was filing away the cards I got from Origins, I kept looking at all these solid, powerful cards I had in the binder and I realized that I wanted to be a bit more active in my use of these cards, incorporating them into my decks. I have some great cards! I should be more proactive in my use of them. Not having cards gather dust in the binder is precisely why I'm playing with cards like Spectral Bears.

Nonetheless, there's no point in spending money on awesome cards and then just letting them do nothing. It's time to bring those big guns into the light.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

League 2015

We've started a League again, made up from packs of the current Standard. This time it's going to be much shorter though: Day 1: Mini masters, (sort of) where every round has you adding a pack, until 4 rounds have passed.

I...didn't do so well. I think my record was 1-3. But mini masters is a silly format anyway and everyone had fun. That's what mattered.

Now we move on to Day 2: Sealed deck construction. Of the packs I opened, I now have to make the best 60 card deck I can. Every round: I'll add another pack from the current Standard pool, and tweak the deck as best I can.

The packs I opened were Magic:Origins and Theros block. Since I wasn't a fan of those sets, perhaps that's why my results were so poor? Cards with a * next to them signify my rares.
Mana Confluence*
Temple of Enlightenment*

Destructive Revelry
Daxos of Meletis*
Blood-Cursed Knight

Springleaf Drum
Traveler's Amulet
Sigil of Valor
Veteran's Sidearm

Retraction Helix
Riptide Chimera
Screeching Skaab
Pin to the Earth
Lost in a Labyrinth
Cloaked Siren

Fall of the Hammer
Pharagax Giant
Cyclops of the One-Eyed Pass
Lightning Diadem
Titan's Strength
Smash to Smithereens
Satyr Rambler
Fanatic of Mogis

Fleshbag Marauder
Aspect of Gorgon
Viper's Kiss
Feast of Dreams
Black Oak of Odunos
Weight of the Underworld
Fetid Imp

Glare of Heresy
Suppression Bonds
Mortal Obstinacy
Healing Hands
Great Hart
Observant Alseid
Lagonna-Band Trailblazer

Raised by Wolves
Nessian Asp
Might of the Masses
Bassara Tower Archer
Shredding Winds
Agent of Horizons
Market Festival
Woodland Bellower*
Nissa's Pilgrimage
Fade into Antiquity
Setessan Oathsworn
Nessian Courser
Pheres-Band Thunderhoof
Man, is this bad. Half of my rares are lands and only one (Woodland Bellower) could rightly be considered a good card. You know what? This is what happened last year, too.


So, Green gives me the most depth and some targets for Woodland Bellower. Daxos is potentially really awesome but I'm not sure about my White or Blue. Red seems to be next best-ish and Black is...I don't know. I've got a little time to mock up some ideas so I'll start there, and I know it's going to be Green/X/x which means I have a place to start.