Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Boys Got That Look

Way, way, way back in the days of old, when Dr Teeth ruled the Magic landscape, well before dredge was using the graveyard to strike fear into the hearts of players, Wizards took a risk on a very complex mechanic called Madness.

And someone figured out how to break it, cheaply. Because my money > less of my money, I ended up giving it a go, naming the deck after an excellent Wayne Kramer song and...there it has sat for years, getting minimal attention.

Madness is back though, so it's time to dust this off:
1 Wayfarer's Bauble

2 Kodama's Reach

2 Reckless Wurm
3 Magus of the Bazaar
4 Arrogant Wurm
4 Basking Rootwalla
4 Aquamoeba
4 Obsessive Search
3 Wonder
4 Wild Mongrel

3 Naturalize
4 Fiery Temper

8 Island
9 Forest
5 Mountain
The basic idea is pretty simple: get Wild Mongrel or Aquamoeba out by turn two, cast Arrogant Wurm by turn three for extremely cheap and 3 points of damage, and then you're off to the races! Once you get Wonder in the graveyard, all your stuff flies and it's almost certain that all your opponent's stuff does not, so you swing, pitch a Fiery Temper for an additional 4 points of damage all for R and by then the opponent is dead!

At least we hope so.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Keep Gatherer Handy

This person has decided to run a contest of the best Magic cards in history-up to this year. As determined by the voting public.

It's insane and awesome and you should definitely check it out.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Take The Crown Playthrough

If you can't get eight players to draft, screw it, do four. That's what I say.

So we did. And this is what it looked like.

I ended up with a R/B deck that had a lot of removal but not a lot of win conditions. My plan was to patiently wait as other players represented threats, and then step in after one or if I was lucky, two players had been eliminated.

And it almost worked. First, because as it turns out, Sangromancer is an absolute house in multiplayer. Holy cow that card is good. The first time I cast it, Noah stole it from me with Desertion (a card I passed to him because 'who plays countermagic in multiplayer?') and proceeded to go from 6 life to 27 life.

After Matt destroyed the Sangromancer, I was able to use Raise Dead and re-play Sangromancer, which took me from 7 life to 22 before being killed again, I believe this time by Caitlin.

While I didn't see anything too bonkers from my opponents in terms of card selection, the decks were varied and things got interesting specifically because of the Monarch mechanic. Attacking became very important because of the extra cards.

Matt had it worked out though, putting a Pariah on my Havengul Vampire.  As the Vampire got bigger and bigger, Matt had time to add in a Ghostly Posession on top of it all! At one point I had a 17/17 vampire that couldn't do anything for me and left Matt comfortably in the position of Monarch.


As the game wore on the extra card draw became detrimental to Matt, who saw his library run down to nothing and couldn't find an answer for the board. The aggressive nature of being the Monarch had a price and eventually it got paid.

Which is very cool, because multiplayer games often struggle due to people turtling up. They get laggy and boring, with nobody wanting to take any risks. The extra card draw is worth getting for a little while but multiplayer draft games means that A) It's harder to capitalize on those extra draws and B) if it goes on long enough the reward becomes a bad thing.

First test of Take The Crown: Approved.

Mission Completed, Commander Karn

(Sorry about the delay: I meant to have this up Tuesday and wanted to include the decklist-and just got preoccupied.)

Karn has started to knock it out of the park.

This was the end state of a game I played against Lauriel, playing Derevi, where I was able to get out a Darksteel Forge in response to the activation of a Nevinyarrl's Disk. Because I had a Vedalken Orrery out.

That's pretty bonkers. I think I may have screwed up and failed to remove my Kozilek, or she may have conceded in response as I was taking this picture. Either way, I had a pretty dominant board position at this point.

Games have repeatedly set out like this; slow builds but overwhelming deployment of resources. I'm actually pretty good with this. The deck has clearly improved since I started out and as a bonus, Kaladesh is there to provide some more toolbox opportunities.

I'm pretty pleased about it all, so here's the updated decklist.

Karn, Silver Golem

1 All Is Dust
1 Scour from Existence
1 Phyrexian Processor
1 Soldevi Digger
1 Worn Powerstone
1 Mind's Eye
1 Puppet Strings
1 Thran Dynamo
1 Darksteel Forge
1 Nevinyrral's Disk
1 Planar Portal
1 Lux Cannon
1 Jayemdae Tome
1 Vedalken Orrery
1 Predator, Flagship
1 Mind Stone
1 Voltaic Key
1 Golem's Heart
1 Power Matrix
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Guardian Idol
1 Unwinding Clock
1 Hedron Archive
1 Sol Ring
1 Spine of Ish Sah
1 Argentum Armor
1 Candles of Leng
1 Everflowing Chalice
1 Urza's Blueprints
1 Aradara Express
1 Bomat Bazaar Barge
1 Myr Galvanizer
1 Myr Battlesphere
1 Myr Mindservant
1 Myr Matrix
1 Myr Reservoir
1 Myr Turbine
1 Triskelavus
1 Palladium Myr
1 Bottle Gnomes
1 Lodestone Myr
1 Golem Artisan
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Artisan of Kozilek
1 Shimmer Myr
1 Colossus of Sardia
1 Ferropede
1 Ulamog's Crusher
1 Mycosynth Golem
1 Serrated Biskelion
1 Thopter Assembly
1 Soul of New Phyrexia
1 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
1 Kozilek, the Great Distortion
1 Bane of Bala Ged
1 Endbringer
1 It That Betrays
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Platinum Emperion
1 Myr Retriever
1 School of the Unseen
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Blinkmoth Urn
1 Blinkmoth Well
1 Zoetic Cavern
1 Blasted Landscape
1 Mishra's Factory
1 Mirrodin's Core
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
1 Quicksand
1 Dread Statuary
1 Stalking Stones
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Temple of the False God
1 Henge of Ramos
1 Urza's Mine
1 Urza's Power Plant
1 Urza's Tower
1 Urza's Factory
1 Desert
1 Crystal Vein
1 Darksteel Citadel
1 Springjack Pasture
1 Glimmerpost
1 Cloudpost
1 Gods' Eye, Gate to the Reikai
1 Miren, the Moaning Well
1 Tarnished Citadel
1 Petrified Field
1 Mirrorworks
1 Buried Ruin
1 Mage-Ring Network
1 Ruins of Oran-Rief
2 Wastes
1 Sea Gate Wreckage
1 Shrine of the Forsaken Gods
1 Phyrexia's Core

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Kaladesh Sealed 9/30

I went 2-1 last Friday at Red Castle's sealed event. I felt pretty good about my deck and was one game away from being 3-0. That's pretty sweet!

I also got a headache during the tournament. I don't know what it is about serious competitive events but I need to be able to physically move more or my body starts to revolt.

Here's the deck I played

Filigree Familiar
Cataclysmic Gearhulk
Saheeli's Artistry
Thriving Ibex
Aviary Mechanic
Inventor's Goggles
Bomat Bazaar Barge
Glint-Sleeve Artisan
Skywhaler's Shot
Iron League Steed
Weldfast Wingsmitih
Nimble Innovator
Cogworker's Puzzleknot
Veldaken Blademaster
2 Revoke Privileges
Herald of the Fair
Tezzeret's Ambition
Propeller Pioneer
Bastion Mastodon
Fairgrounds Warden
Eddytrail Hawk
Smuggler's Copter

In the first matchup, I played an exhausted gentleman who told me he'd been up since 5 AM. His pace of play was understandably deliberate but not slow, and our first game was a slugfest that took thirty minutes. At three life, I was able to come back into the game topdecking Saheeli's Artistry and using it to copy my Familiar twice. With the extra life cushion, I was able to freely attack for 11 two turns in a row, and that sealed the game. Our second game, my opponent was severely mana screwed and I won briskly, which was good because we had about five minutes to play.

In the second matchup, I made a critical game three error when I used my Skywhaler's Shot on Dhund Operative (which was attacking) instead of Ghirapur Guide and just blocking the Operative in a trade.

Because a few turns later, my opponent was able to make his creatures unblockable to my 1/x creatures and swing for lethal, after pumping one of his creatures with Engineered Might.

If I had used the Shot on the Guide, I would've taken away that ability and one of his best creatures to crew a vehicle. I underestimated that ability and it cost me.

The last matchup was another slugfest, with my opponent getting an Aetherflux Reservoir, which I thought was going to win him the game for certain. Fortunately, I am getting better at not panicking during these moments and despite the Reservoir, my opponent didn't have a lot else happening on the board. So I kept attacking while he kept casting cards like Woodweaver's Puzzleknot, keeping steady pressure on his life total while not overextending.

When he had a bunch of stuff on the board and looked like he could stabilize, I was able to put down a Cataclysmic Gearhulk and my opponent made some bad decisions about which permanents to keep. As a result, I was able to finish that match with a win.

So far, things are looking interesting!

I'd like to do more sealed events, as a way of improving my Magic game, so I hope to have some more posts like this in the future.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Kaladesh Overview Review

Now that the full set is available to view, I can weigh in on what I think about Kaladesh.

The Big Stuff:

Energy seems neat but it's a workaround of the mana system and that means it's breakable in potentially unpleasant ways. Whenever WotC does things that ignore the mana system, the potential for problems shoots through the roof. Just something to keep an eye on; if the energy deck isn't there now, when Aether Revolt arrives, it certainly will be.

Vehicles are a good twist on artifacts and I think the flavor of the implementation is very cool.

Fabricate is boring. Yeah, yeah, it offers "options" but I don't think it represents choices. I think that the correct thing to do is always going to be obvious and that doesn't really interest me. Is it bad? No, but is it something I want to try and make a deck for? No: I already have a million ways to use and manipulate +1/+1 counters.

The Gearhulks are all pretty badass, except the Green one. Yes, an 8/8 trampler for five mana is good but there's nothing protecting it from Smelt. It's not terrible, not at all-but the other 4 are strictly better.

In White, the card I actually find most interesting is Authority of the Consuls. A Kismet for the most releveant card type that comes out on turn one is going to be a massive boost to control decks, I think.

For Blue, I see both the Energy theme at a high level (it seems to have the most along with Artifacts, with G, R, W and B in order after that) and once again, it's "affinity" for artifacts showing up. I'm not sure why people fret about the state of Blue in Magic; the color is almost always represented at high level events and this continued partnership with artifacts will almost certainly keep it there. The only difference? Cards feel appropriately costed for their effects.

But the card I find the most interesting is Paradoxical Outcome. The ability to save your relevant permanents and draw a card for the escape seems like a really, really cool thing to me.

Black is a bit narrower this time: I was struggling to find compelling stuff there. I'm happy to see Aetherborn Marauder's effect again but even cards like Gonti, Lord of Luxury aren't getting the gears turning. I suppose Midnight Oil could be cool: I really dig the name but the effect seems so damn weak. Plus, the drawback of the card exists even when it runs out of counters! Two drawbacks, actually: the ping for discard and the permanent setting of your hand to zero. At certain points in the game, this is going to be excellent though: file this under "potential gem".

Red should be particularly interesting in this set, right? It's Chandra's homeworld: let's see some love! But, while I think the introduction of the Gremlin creature type is neat, I'm just not feelin' it this time. It's cool that Red is getting an in with artifacts using Vehicles in a similar way that White does with Equipment, so hopefully that will be an added dimension for the color long term.

I'm not sure how Fateful Showdown is being regarded but I feel the card has potential. A madness enabler, card draw, the ability to get rid of cards that aren't helping you, possible interactions with graveyard mechanics: that's a pretty long list of upsides.

That Green has a lot to do with Energy surprises me, but it shouldn't: resource building is a staple for the color. Dubious Challenge is almost certainly going to go into my Cube. (Which is where I keep terrible cards, for the uninitiated). After that, I'm just not seeing much to run with. Nature's Way looks cool, since it allows a potential 2 for 1.

Multicolored stuff has Rashmi and let's face it, that's kinda amazing.

The Artifacts are where WotC put some of the big, flashy stuff and it shows: Aetherworks Marvel, the Vehicles, Deadlock Trap is the kind of card that's long, long overdue, and I wish was an Uncommon instead,  and Filigree Familiar, which will possibly become the most expensive Uncommon in Magic history. It'll certainly rank amongst the most adorable. Skysovereign is crazy good-Noah told me he went 5-1 over pre-release weekend with that in his deck-and everyone already knows how good Smuggler's Copter is.

I clearly need Inventor's Fair for my Karn Commander deck, and Ghirapur Orrery is waiting to be busted.

That's all folks! I'm looking forward to seeing what cool ideas people come up with.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Kaladesh Survey impressions

Survey here.

Cultivator's Caravan: Is just excellent. I wasn't as excited about the art-it's not bad but that's OK. A good card is a good card.

Combustible Gearhulk: another very good card. I like how the red in the picture is subdued, and not the dominant color. The rating is just good though because the opponent's choice is almost always going to be obvious (milling for damage) and that could be big, could be nothing.

Saheeli's Artistry: The art first: again, I like how the blue seems subdued for a blue card. The effect is excellent as well, though I think the flavor text is a bit bland.

Toolcraft Exemplar: continuing the theme of solid art here, too. This is a fair card I think. It doesn't take much to make it good but it takes a lot to make it excellent.

Thriving Turtle: I think this is a good card. It can be a 1/4, or it can be an energy battery and blocker for one blue. That's solid. Everything else about the card was merely fair but it'll do.

Longtusk Cub: I'm going out on a limb to say it's an excellent card. Repeatable energy battery plus the ability to grow at instant speed? This reminds me a little bit of Jitte and that's a good thing. It's always going to be a threat and that makes for a very solid card.

Ruinous Gremlin: I really like the flavor text here, because it gives me a sense of Kaladesh. The card is a good effect too: solid early as a "rattlesnake" effect, useful late when they have you up against the wall with a Skysovereign. 

Aerial Responder: Little too much white in this picture for me. Contrast still matters! But the flavor text adds to the plane and calling this the White Vampire Nighthawk is not out of line. It's great.

Smuggler's Copter: so good. The art is a little weird and it obviously can't carry much for smuggling but I have a feeling that this card is going to show up in decks the entire time it's in Standard.

Sequestered Stash: While I like the art and the implications of the name, the ability really isn't all that. Marginal card. If it didn't require a sacrifice it would move up considerably...and it would also make dredge completely broken in Modern. Still, a marginal card is marginal.

Brazen Scourge: Washed out pink art! It's like an attack of Pepto Bismol. But 3/3's for haste are good. I don't know if this will help the R/B aggro deck that WotC thinks is there in draft, beyond the draft format but who knows? I would very much like to see R/B at the top tables for awhile: it's the only color combo I can think of that has never really had a day in the sun.

Highspire Artisan: I don't like the artwork and I don't like this card. Washed out green tones everywhere, and the option to get a 0/3 and a 1/1 or a 1/4 just holds zero interest for me. Sideboard card in limited, if that.

Contraband Kingpin: I think this card is excellent. Slides well into a U/B artifact deck and does precisely what you hope it will to give you: time. The artwork is very cool, too and I'm excited to see a new creature type with this kind of style.

Demolition Stomper: boy that artwork is drab and brown against a dull green backgrowd. For a plane that is supposed to have slick, lively vehicles, this sticks out in an ugly way. The card itself is marginal, since 10/7's that can't be

I may have misevaluated this card. A 10/7 will probably take out anything that's put it its way and opponents can't just hope that their 1/1 tokens will give them time. I should test this one.

Rush of Vitality: This is a weird card to see in Black, so I rated it good. Indestructible isn't something I think fits the color often but since they're using Indestructible to replace Regenerate I think it'll happen more often. Thematically, it doesn't work but mechanically it's probably better so I can't argue with that decision. Indestructible is also better than Regenerate for the most part and the artwork feels a lot more colorful and dynamic than what I often see on Black cards.

And that's it! Overall, I'm still pretty interested in this set and want to see how it interacts with the rest of the game. I'm hopeful that it'll be a very solid set, even if it doesn't introduce anything incredibly game changing.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Karn Works The Format

The lastest games with Karn, vs Matt & Caitlin, went pretty well. It helped to have a slower start and thus get ignored for a few turns while I just built up mana, for the most part.

But the haymakers worked: I built up mana slowly and was able to use Unwinding Clock to build up an overwhelming amount of resources. Lux Cannon was particularly helpful and it didn't hurt that Caitlin's demon deck removal had a weakness to artifact creatures.

A similar scene played out in the second matchup, with giant Eldrazi saving the day.

So I may be coming to the end run with Karn, having truly tuned it up for the better.

But...Kaladesh is out now and I picked up some cards at the release event. I think I'm going to remove a couple cards that aren't really doing much and add in a Bomat Bazaar Barge and Aradara Express. The Barge replaces itself and the Express could be a 5/5 with Menace using Karn.

I can't wait to check them out.