Thursday, October 29, 2015

Genesis Device

Not only the name of the MacGuffin in Wrath of Khan, also a pretty good song by Cloudkicker!

This all started off with my desire to use Birthing Pod in a way I hadn't seen before: with Slivers. 
4 Sliver Hive
17 Forest
1 Mana Confluence

1 Magma Sliver
1 Blade Sliver
1 Bonesplitter Sliver
1 Two-Headed Sliver
1 Striking Sliver
1 Metallic Sliver
1 Mnemonic Sliver
1 Shadow Sliver
1 Shifting Sliver
1 Sidewinder Sliver
1 Sinew Sliver
1 Pulmonic Sliver
1 Ward Sliver
1 Essence Sliver
1 Frenzy Sliver
1 Mindwhip Sliver
1 Toxin Sliver
1 Vampiric Sliver
1 Brood Sliver
1 Horned Sliver
2 Manaweft Sliver
4 Gemhide Sliver
1 Predatory Sliver
1 Harmonic Sliver
1 Necrotic Sliver
1 Sliver Hivelord
1 Sliver Overlord
1 Sliver Queen
1 Galerider Sliver

4 Birthing Pod
2 Bone Harvest
I thought that using Bone Harvest would be a neat way to reload the deck after Birthing Pod use, as well as being a nice defense against mass removal. Synergies are neat! A whole lot of mana fixing to enable the casting of every sliver ever and I'm good, right?

The biggest problem I was having was this: I couldn't use Birthing Pod the way I wanted to, which is as an instant. I want to surprise out the awesome creatures, bringing them into play at the end of turn instead of leaving them vulnerable to my opponent's removal.

So I thought: Why not add Collected Company?

I've tweaked the deck and come up with this list:
4 Sliver Hive
16 Forest
2 Mana Confluence

1 Magma Sliver
1 Blade Sliver
1 Bonesplitter Sliver
1 Two-Headed Sliver
1 Striking Sliver
1 Metallic Sliver
1 Mnemonic Sliver
1 Shadow Sliver
1 Sidewinder Sliver
2 Sinew Sliver
1 Ward Sliver
1 Essence Sliver
1 Frenzy Sliver
1 Vampiric Sliver
1 Brood Sliver
1 Horned Sliver
2 Manaweft Sliver
3 Gemhide Sliver
1 Predatory Sliver
1 Harmonic Sliver
1 Necrotic Sliver
1 Sliver Hivelord
1 Sliver Overlord
1 Sliver Queen
1 Galerider Sliver
1 Venom Sliver
1 Leeching Sliver
1 Crystalline Sliver
1 Winged Sliver

3 Bone Harvest
3 Collected Company
I see now that I'm not alone in this. Although that deck is Modern I don't see why a Legacy version shouldn't be viable and I can even learn from it.

Initially I was going to ignore the newer slivers because "Old School Represent!" but that's silly. I can play the entire range so I'm going to do that. More importantly, I think this deck has some legs and I don't want to ignore this concept because I'm relentlessly adhering to an unnecessary restriction. With that said, there are probably a few creatures that could be subbed out in order to improve the deck, like Mnemonic Sliver for another Predatory, a Vampiric for...well, probably another Predatory.

Or, some disruption since nothing but lands and creatures probably isn't going to cut it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Graveyard II, It's STILL a bad idea

So there's this.

It's a long column by Rosewater and we don't have all day, so I'm going to cut to the meat & bones of it. From the article:
Erik then came back to me with another request. Having to keep track of an extra zone was logistically a pain. What if when you "ate" the exiled cards, instead of being super-exiled, they went back to the opponent's graveyard. My gut response was a strong dislike, because I've worked so hard to keep exiled cards from returning, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn't affecting the issue I cared about most: the ability to get back your own exiled cards. The original version of what we now call Processors was you paying a cost to get an effect, a small part of which was returning exiled cards to your opponent.
 So, credit where due: Erik is right and another zone would be incredibly difficult to keep track of. As it is, there are six (library, hand, battlefield, graveyard, exile, and command) and while two of those zones don't get much use, adding a seventh serves no purpose.

But damnit, why doesn't Mark stick to his guns here? Since the graveyard is now functioning as a second library for so many decks, having cards put back into it from exile is just asking for trouble. Here's his reasoning:
The system could not easily be abused, because it was your opponent who chose whether or not to bring it back to the game, and even then, it was put back into the graveyard where it's not as easy to access
That's an error: the system is now it's now abusable, because it's a system that exists!

There is one thing that people do very, very well: Find ways to manipulate (or abuse) systems. We won't pay that price this year or next year but eventually someone is going to find a way to abuse this new exploit and it's going to happen because the door is now open. Mechanics can now be designed that interact with Exile and eventually someone is going to come up with a neat and seemingly innocuous idea that gets blown up.

Sigh. Yeah, the choice to interact with Delve is a good one but these doors are now open and they won't ever get shut. That they interact differently isn't the point: they now interact with active zones of the game, thus becoming an active zone. It's going to create the necessity of another zone where players cannot interact with cards.

That isn't a good thing.

I'm headed to Nevada tomorrow, so there won't be new content up until next week, but come Thursday let's take a new deck on. Plus I can tell you how badly I did with the Desolation Row deck!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Desolation Row

Double post because I forgot to finish up Tuesdays Latulla post!

This time though, I'm headed back to Doomtown with a new Sloane Gang deck. For reference, the Doomtown card database.

Allie Hensman
Maria Kingsford
Jose Morales
Angelica Espinosa
Jake Smiley
Jonah Essex
Lawrence Blackwood
Silas Aims
Milt Clemons

Outlaw Mask
2 Mirror Mirror
2 Faithful Hound
4 Corporeal Twist
2 Quickdraw Handgun
Doyle's Hoyle
Legendary Holster

2 Make 'em Sweat
2 Establishing Who's In Charge
4 Back Ways
2 Swinford Finds Trouble
Hiding in the Shadows
3 This'll Hurt in The Mornin'

2 The Town Hall
1st Baptist Church
4 Hustings
4 Shane & Graves Security
Pat's Perch
St Anthony's Chapel

The nice thing about entering this deck into a database is that it showed me I had too many 3 of Diamonds in the deck.(Hustings and 1st Baptist Church)

The goal is to try and use some of the lower values to create a solid draw structure between A-5, and use Hucksters to provide curses to tilt showdowns in my favor.

It's probably all wonky: the Dudes in this deck that aren't starters don't really fit the draw structure so a little tweaking is in order. Jonah Essex is coming out and in went Cookin' Up Trouble, a second Bunkhouse and a second 1st Baptist Church, removing two Hustings.

The nice thing is, I'll get a chance to play it tonight and see how that helps!

Back To Your Room, Latulla

Or: Card disadvantage is a thing.

I did run the deck through one last match against Fuz, who was sticking with Sedris as his commander. I won that match yet I never felt good or comfortable about it. In game two, Fuz never saw a source of red mana, and in game three I used Tectonic Rift to cut him off of blue long enough to establish my board presence and Chandra Ablaze.

I won, so that's good, right?

Except it really isn't. I'm having trouble putting my finger on it but even in victory, I felt like my deck was limping towards it, like an amputee zombie.
In the end, I have to recognize that Latulla is a deck that just doesn't come together as I've built it. Too slow to get going in 1v1 play, asking to eliminate cards in hand for fragile if useful board effects and just not quite enough oomph to be great.

That's OK. In a deck where I don't want to play Subterranean Spirit, Goblin Bomb, or Fiery Gambit, a stronger theme or greater focus on powerful effects might be worthwhile. But I like having weird cards in these decks and so I'm going to accept that this is what it is, with a few exceptions to help mitigate the card disadvantage.

Conquering Manticore seems awesome. Reiterate gives me some tactical opportunities that I didn't have before, especially late game when these spells may count. Finally, Blasphemous Act as another sweeper and a card I can play out of the graveyard with Chandra.

It's time to shelve this deck for now. It's been grinding me and when that happens, it's usually a good idea to take a break.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Latulla's Castle

I played some matches against Rider: he went with Erebos and Riku in his games and I am not going to lie to you:

I got blown the hell out. Nothing was effective at all, everything died and I definitely had to turn a corner mentally from: 'Man, losing sucks' to 'OK, what's wrong here?' Analysis is always better than wallowing but I still had to work through the discouragement of having everything suck.

The biggest issues was, again, mana and the mana required for a red deck to really take out large creatures. Game one vs Erebos had me taking massive beatings from Delraich. I mean. Yeesh.

I had a Flowstone Overseer out in a couple games and while he's very good at killing small creatures, the cost to do so pretty much ends everything else I do that turn.

There are two things that come to mind at this point.

First, maybe Latulla isn't a 1v1 deck. Maybe it's really geared to multiplayer scenarios and I should react accordingly, tweaking the deck for a more defensive posture.

Second; maybe I should just overhaul the entire thing. Walls, protection, get Latulla out and just fireball the heck out of 'em. It would be different, that's for sure.

Honestly, I don't know what to do and it's a little frustrating. I've taken some time to look at creatures with defender in red and that is is thoroughly underwhelming, not to mention lacking in density to make a worthwhile Commander deck.

What's a drag at the moment is that I feel as though the energy I'm putting towards this deck isn't being rewarded with knowledge or victory. Just: Oh, I'm not doing this right.

Well, that's not very awesome. Maybe I need to shelve this for a little bit? Hard to say a the moment but something isn't working out.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Latulla + the Destroyers

I've practiced with enough decks to get a feel for them now. Sometimes I can tell when I'm on to something and sometimes I feel like it's just not coming together at all. This is what Latulla has felt like.

I played some games against Noah on Saturday; he was running the Mimeoplasm and it was readily evident that Latualla has no way to deal with massive creatures. Grimgrin arrived, a giant Mimeoplasm was created and I had very little to react to it and couldn't find a way to get into the game. Also, I had real problems dealing with Lightning Greaves.

That's right, playing mono-Red I was having trouble with artifacts. 

Goldfishing on Sunday I felt the same way: this deck just didn't do anything. I wasn't experiencing much in the way of mana issues, I just never felt like I was leading to something. I'm playing red and I am not blowing up as much shit as I would like. And let's face it: if you aren't blowing up enough shit in Red, something isn't right.

So I've tried to add more of that: first, Myriad Landscape, because if you have a mono-colored Commander deck why shouldn't I have that?

Next up: Oxidda Scrapmelter, because this will eat the triumvirate of artifacts that are found in nearly every Commander deck (Sol Ring, Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots), Seismic Mage, because when I played Dwarven Blastminer Noah said, "That's bad.(for me)", Perilous Vault because blowing things up is what we want to do and finally, Foriysian Totem.

When I did an analysis of Latulla at deckbuilders, the mana curve skewed fairly high. Having an artifact on turn 2 or 3 to play that ramps my mana up seemed more important than playing Chaos Warp and the creature density felt light so the Totem felt like a great fit. Good in every stage of the game, I've got a good feeling about this-and if it performs well, the other Totems from Time Spiral should be worth considering.

After a day of wrestling with these changes, the goldfishing aspect felt better. I don't know if the deck is better but at least I'll go into the next few tests feeling more confident. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Latulla + the Tweaks

I started off with the usual research at reddit and found...nothing. People just don't want to use Latulla as a commander. On the other hand, when I posted the deck, I got some nice responses and ideas!

Some of these I just need to do some digging around for: Dwarven Hold or Mercadian Bazaar, for example. Others I'm not quite sure how they'd fit into the scheme, like Reforge the Soul or Dictate of the Twin Gods but others, like Chaos Warp, I was eyeing already.

So it's good to know that I've got some overlap with the suggestions.

Unfortunately, I've only managed one match with Latulla and that was online against Fuz.

Game one, I got out Koth and Chandra. Fighting off two planeswalkers really isn't anyone's idea of a good time and I won that game pretty handily. Games two and three, I was mana screwed and this really doesn't teach me anything.

Hell, look at that pic: I don't even know how Joven got out there! Although I will say: Dominus of Fealty in games two and three was pretty boss.

If I experience many games over the next testing phase with mana screw then it's time to fix that. But two games in a match? That happens and I can't hold it up as serious data. 

I'm removing Koth for now, and the Rock Slide, for Inferno and Fissure. If I can get some more games in, that might tell me what I can cut for a Dragon Mage. Because, c'mon: Who doesn't want to run Dragon Mage if they can?