Thursday, October 19, 2017

Supplemental Hits

The initial changes looked good when I played against Noah. I wasn't winning games but I felt like I had a fighting chance most of the time. With the addition of a couple Chained to the Rocks to help the removal suite, I thought I was getting closer, or maybe even had it locked in, just bad beats. A different draw here or there and I could win.

That changed when I played Matt and couldn't find my way out of a paper bag. One thing I hadn't foreseen when I picked Shelter was that I needed to have a creature in play to use it. I had a couple instances of having Shelter and no target which, admittedly, was a failure on my behalf to mulligan enough so that I had a proper start.

I gave Matt the deck and told him about the general theory: that the goal was to draw cards and keep the pressure on and he took one look at Goblin Warchief and said: "Is this what you need, then?"

No. No it is not. Making my goblins cheaper isn't what's required. His immediate suggestion: Goblin Chieftain. "But if you don't have that, Gempalm Incinerator."

Hm. Gempalm Incinerator does help the removal suite but it also falls prey to the same issue with Shelter. It doesn't really work unless I have some creatures out. And goblins are awfully easy to kill.

On the other hand, I own some Gempalm Incinerators and I don't own Goblin Chieftain. So for further testing, at least at the moment, I'm invoking the My money > less of my money rule and testing the Incinerators.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Card Crushing

As I revised Bonecrusher, I was fortunate enough to find a couple Battlefield Forges to help shore up my red mana. While not the ideal land for this it contributes to the colorfixing I need. I'll take it.

I also was having trouble really replacing any goblins after Krenko, Mob Boss.

So I didn't. Instead, I asked: how do I keep the aggression going?

The answer comes via Renewed Faith. I run Renewed Faith for two reasons: first, it allows me to gain life to keep me above 10 so I don't die to my own Skirk Fire Marshal, and second, I get to draw a card.

Why not draw more cards, then?

Enter Shelter. This card has been so cool to run. First, I get to draw a card. But second, and most importantly, Shelter transforms a battlefield where my 1/1 Goblin Lackey or Warren Instigator would be stymied and makes them useful again. Where Krenko survives another day to make tokens. Basically, as a solid answer to the inherent problems Bonecrusher will face.

I'm really excited about this and how it will help smooth the deck out.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

In Praise of Shatterstorm

This year was the year I finally noticed: non-creature sweepers are remarkably barren in Wizards' Commander products.

What am I talking about?

I'm talking about something that I have been confronted with in every Commander game I have ever played, especially multiplayer ones: The presence of multiple artifacts and enchantments that need to be taken off the board in order to advance the game state. Not just one and not just a single player.

Quick anecdotal example: last night in a four player game, there was a Fireshrieker, Mana Crypt, Ghostly Prison, Mystic Remora, Armillary Sphere, Gilded Lotus, Burgeoning, Coldsteel Heart, Talisman of Dominance and two Sol Rings on the table. Those are just the artifacts and enchantments but that's 11 targets!

Yet, playing my Yidris deck, I had no answers for this many of these permanents. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Take a look at the Commander decklists: 2015, 2016, 2017. Lots of answers for mass removal of creatures and a few 'destroy all things' cards but where are the cards to wipe the board of problematic enchantments and artifacts?

Artifacts are especially grievous in this regard; their colorless utility means that Commander decks can get a lot out of them, either as a way to double down on an effect that a color gives them (think Black's graveyard removal and Tormod's Crypt) or as a way to ramp up in decks that wouldn't have access to those: Sol Ring, Skullclamp, etc. Artifacts are everywhere and while I cannot deny the necessary space that they take up in the format, the fact of the matter is that in a multiplayer game, multiple artifacts will appear.

Same with enchantments. Although not as ubiquitous as artifacts, enchantments are a part of every game and they certainly are part of almost every Commander deck that WotC has produced for the past three years.
In total, there are 231 artifacts and enchantments across those 14 decks. And this isn't counting artifact creatures, which would raise the total considerably.
In those three years: Merciless Eviction, Bane of Progress, and Vandalblast are the only sweepers for such permanents. Where is Tranquil Path or Hush?

I could understand Back to Nature being too strong but everything else? Not even Root Greevil or Nova Cleric?

Artifacts, as an even bigger problem, are more glaring for their lack of mass removal: Creeping Corrosion, Corrosion, Meltdown, Fracturing Gust, Hammer Mage, Pulverize, Purify, Seeds of Innocence, Shatterstorm: where are the reprints of these cards?

Commander is a multiplayer format: where are the multiplayer answers? Why aren't there more ways to sweep artifacts off the table? Even cards like Shattering Pulse or Allay (for enchantments) would help.

Now, there is objection to be raised here and I get it: WotC designed this product to work within its own 'ecosystem'. That is; the Commander 2017 ('16, '15, etc) decks are meant to be played against each other. In some years, a card like Hammer Mage would be so dominant against a deck like Breya, Etherium Shaper that it wouldn't be fun at all.

Not every set can cover every contingency-nor should it, especially when players can have more fun without such coverage. Interactive games are important to create, especially for a format like Commander! Balance matters.

Nonetheless, I am hard pressed to believe that there is no place for these kinds of board wipes and I'm hoping that Wizards starts to give players some of these reprints-or find new ways to provide said board wipes of non-creature permanents.

For example: they've done well with non-basic land destruction, I think! I want to point that out because I believe that non-basic land hate should be a part of the game and is, honestly, more necessary than ever across the Eternal formats.

I don't want to get off track though. I want to point out; how many games of Commander are heavily influenced by artifacts or enchantments and how many targets exist in any given multiplayer game.

Give us our Shatterstorms, Wizards. We need those just like we need the Wrath effects.

Also: this will be the last post until Oct 12, as I'm in NYC for a few days!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The First Break

I ran Bonecrusher through the deckstats analysis and the first thing I got back was: I don't have enough red mana in this deck.

So that's going to be tweak number one. If I can't find R/W lands I like, I may just cut a Plains for a Mountain; I really need RR by turn 3 at the outside so making this adjustment is critical if I want to succeed.

I also got some advice from Reddit user BAGBRO2, to add Krenko, Mob Boss to the deck and that made perfect sense.

What was going to be more difficult was to find all the suitable goblins printed since I built Bonecrusher, way back in the Onslaught block era.

That's a lot of goblins. 147, to be precise-at least for that search.

But there are some strong possibilities, too: Bloodmark Mentor, Boros Recruit, Fire Juggler, Gempalm Incinerator, Goblin Bushwacker (a card that's proven itself in more competitive decks), Goblin Freerunner might be interesting, Mogg War Marshall could be used to boost my chances to tap for 10 damage, then leave me a creature in its wake, Mudbutton Torchrunner is expensive but plays into my theme, and so on.

This...is actually turning into a bigger problem than I thought.



Thursday, September 21, 2017

Grimlock, Dinobot Leader

I don't have many places to show off this kind of cool stuff but here:


A friend went to Hascon and picked these up for me. Just lucky to have friends who think of me, I am. Here's a link to some better shots, so you can read what they say.

But what this really means is that I need to make a Grimlock, Dinobot Leader Commander deck, as soon as Ixalan block is complete.

Because there is no way I'm going to miss out on that.

Also, I'm headed out of town this weekend, so I'm hoping regular posts will go up a week from today, Sept 28th. Cheers!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ixalan Overview

The new set has been revealed! Let's take a gander, shall we?

White
Even though it's been explained to me that 'white's vampires represent a knightly order of conquestadors so it fits', I'm still not a fan. WotC is basically story-handwaving reasons to give white some of the mechanical dabbling of black, using the payment of life for a benefit. Adano Vanguard is right up front and illustrates the point.

But weird Commander card Axis of Mortality is also there. Magus of the Mirror (which itself took the ability from an artifact) is in black and reinforced by Tree of Perdition. Is this a dealbreaker? No, I don't think so. I may not be particularly fond of this mechanic in white from a philosophical standpoint but giving White something to do with the life it gains is certainly better than leaving an underpowered and dull mechanic in the color.

Settle the Wreckage is something that has a lot of potential in my opinion, especially since it is cheap enough to find a home in older formats. If this can be played in Legacy, that would be bonkers-but it's likely not quite there.

Favorite Dinosaur: Steadfast Armasaur for its blend of function and flavor.

Blue
I really like the reprinting of Opt: I think it's a great tool and very fair. I also think that Blue has gotten some solid control countermagic too-albeit some that is contingent on Pirates but this is a tribal block. Deadeye Quartermaster is a sleeper; searching for two of the more powerful card types in recent memory seems pretty good.

The attempt to make mill a thing is interesting, since the milling cards-Fleet Swallower and Navigator's Ruin specifically-say "target player" not target opponent. So does this mean that we'll be looking at another set with graveyard interactions soon?

Favorite Dinosaur: fail! No dinos.

Black
With the creation of Treasures in U/B/R, I think that there's an odd thing happening in those colors: cards that are expensive but 'repay' you in some manner. Contract Killing is a fine example: here's something that technically costs 5 but when you get the Treasure tokens, it really costs only 3. You can tap out to play the card and still potentially have interactions to make during your opponent's turn.

The other thing I'm noticing: lots of two drops, and some solid one drops. Bloodcrazed Paladin, Blight Keeper, Deadeye Tracker, Dire Fleet Hoarder, Fathom Fleet Captain, Kitesail Freebooter... maybe there's an aggro black deck to be put together? With Sword-Point Diplomacy to help eat away at life totals/draw cards, I think there's a skeleton there.

Favorite dinosaur: Fail part 2! Why is there no zombie dino?

Red
This is the color I am least enthusiastic about. Some dino support, Enrage is a good mechanic I think though it's not pushed hard in Red, Charging Monstrosaur-despite having a duuuumb name-is a hell of a 5 drop.

After that though, the color is doing some of the quiet work: Demolish for those pesky crazy lands, Lightning Strike to keep the color viable, and when it goes away from that-Wily Goblin, for example is just bad as a one drop that costs two, or Trove of Temptation which doesn't have nearly the reward for the drawback and cost-it just doesn't have anything to pull me in.

Rowdy Crew is bad. A 3/3 where you have the option to discard two of your best cards? How is that a mythic rare??

Ugh.

Favorite dinosaur: Raptor Hatchling is pretty cute.

Green
Pounce seemed neat until I realized Pit Fight had been printed and didn't really make a splash.Enrage kicks up here and it seems like a neat way to get a death trigger on the smaller creatures like Ranging Raptors or Ravenous Daggertooth, while a way to seal the game with Ripjaw Raptor. Still, this has good interactions with the Fight mechanic. While I just can't get excited about the green merfolk, for similar reasons as the white vampires, it's not a dealbreaker.

The bigger sin, for me, is that it just doesn't do anything interesting with the creature type. With the white vamps, at least that color gets to explore something that it doesn't do often: you could replace merfolk with any creature type and it wouldn't change a thing for green. They could've boosted any number of under utilized Blue creature types: adding this to merfolk just seems like a whole lot of 'so what'.

Favorite dinosaur: Deathgorge Scavenger

Gold
Eh. These cards play into their respective tribal themes well enough-pirates especially seem to get a boost, which I have no problem with-and Hostage Taker is a great execution. Nothing gobsmacking but nothing awful. Even Tishana, Voice of Thunder will find a home in Commander.

Favorite dinosaur: have to go with Gishath, Sun's Avatar. Sometimes, the biggest bad is best.

Artifacts/Lands
I think they did something pretty clever here, having enchantments function as maps, or vehicles that convert into lands. The metaphor works for me, even though I still don't like double faced cards. I will never like double faced cards. I will use them because:

Growing Rites of Itlimoc is clearly bonkers but the Blue and Black maps have an interesting clause where you don't have to flip them, meaning that you could have the land and the enchantment out at the same time.

Lost Compass for the same reason as Growing Rites which makes me wonder how this is going to impact the larger game of Magic. Those kinds of lands are usually signals that something is about to get broken.

In the meantime, eh, the rest is OK.

I'm glad to see the allied lands return; I've always thought those cards were solid.The use of pirate ships as vehicles is a good sign, as they're quite distinct from their Kaladesh counterparts. And Sorcerous Spyglass will be a welcome addition to sideboards everywhere, while Vanquisher's Banner will become a boon to casual and Commander tribal decks all around.

My impressionsI'm digging on this so far. There's a lot to like in Ixalan and I think it will be a fun set, even if it is a little narrow in its tribal theme. The upsides for me outweigh the negatives so far but the proof will be in the pudding...which will show up in about two weeks.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Bonecrusher

Because I can't just make a goblins deck, oh no. I have to have a twist on things...
2 Goblin King
3 Goblin Legionnaire
3 Goblin Lackey
2 Goblin Matron
3 Goblin Ringleader
2 Goblin Warchief
3 Mogg Maniac
2 Siege-Gang Commander
3 Skirk Fire Marshal
2 Warren Instigator

3 Orim's Thunder
4 Renewed Faith
4 Angel's Grace
2 Lightning Helix

1 Dwarven Ruins
6 Plains
11 Mountain
4 Clifftop Retreat

Named after the awesome Constructicon, the basic line of play is to run over someone with goblins buuuuut with a Mogg Maniac, a Skirk Fire Marshal, and three other goblins in play, I can do twenty damage in one shot. Ten to all creatures and players, then another ten from the Maniac's triggered ability.

And how do I make sure I survive all this? Angel's Grace. How do I try to assemble the combo? Renewed Faith to draw cards, along with Goblin Matron and Goblin Ringleader to search and keep the pressure on, and Goblin Lackey to Aether Vial my stuff into play, especially expensive cards like the Fire Marshal and Siege-Gang Commander.


I feel like it's been a little while since I got to play a fun, all in aggro deck and I look forward to this one, while hoping that the extra win condition can give this deck some depth it wouldn't ordinarily have. But there are new goblins and new white anti-death spells; maybe those will help improve Bonecrusher-and there's only one way to find out.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Iconic Masters Overview

You can see the full gallery here, and as always, I have some thoughts.

Red: We didn't need a fourth reprint of Crucible of Fire, a dumb card to start with and we certainly didn't need it taking up a rare slot. I get that not all cards are for me but I cannot fathom the argument for that card and at that rarity.

Glad to see: Magus of the Moon, Thundermaw Hellkite, and Charmbreaker Devils return. The new art on Ryusei is pretty cool, though I favor the original. Kiki-Jiki has been reprinted three times so I find no reason to get excited about it, especially since I really don't like the current art.

White: The Archangel of Thune, Avacyn, Angel of Hope and Serra Ascendant reprints! So needed. Outlast is a pretty meh ability but the +1 counter theme of the set needs those cards. Serra Angel is in a weird position since it is iconic but with 25 reprints is it really necessary?

Blue: Ancestral Vision, Flusterstorm (long overdue), Mana Drain! coming back is nice-any time a card goes over $20 I think it should be considered for reprint. And I never expected to see Mana Drain get a reprint. That's a pretty big surprise! Consecrated Sphinx returning is nice, especially for Commander players and I like Illusory Ambusher as a blue combat trick crossing over from Commander. Windfall is weird to see because it can only be run as a one-of in Vintage and Commander but again, in draft/sealed it's not so bad.

Actual semi-iconic card from yesteryear: Phantom Monster. Though I prefer the old art.

Black: I like that they're bringing the Bogbrew Witch-Festering Newt-Bubbling Cauldron combo back. It feels weird to see Necropotence again but since this is going to be pushed as a draft set, I can't argue excluding it on power. Bloodghast is a fantastic addition to any set, so a reprint here is great and it'll be a cold day when I argue against a Thoughtseize reprint. Two printings and that card is still $14: keep bringing those critical staples down to affordable costs, I say! The game dies if the kids can't play.

Green: Curse of Predation feels weird here, especially since that card isn't nearly old or noteworthy enough to be called iconic. Ivy Elemental being shifted from rare to common makes perfect sense: meh card is meh. A reprint of Lotus Cobra is definitely something I applaud, along with the new art on Phantom Tiger.

And is anyone really going to make the argument for Carven Caryatid over Wall of Blossoms? C'mon. The Wall has actually been in tournament decks.

Artifacts: Aether Vial is great but the rest are pretty forgetable. Serum Powder was remembered because it was weird, so I suppose that works and Manakin...damned if I know. I think a pro player made that card his 'hell or high water' card to work into a deck, back in the Tempest days. But...so?

Multicolored:
Knight of the Reliquary and Glimpse the Unthinkable are good choices, as both are in demand. I don't know why Savageborn Hydra would make the cut-neither iconic nor good-which probably shows the weakness of G/R as color combo having iconic moments. Compare that to Supreme Verdict, right? The new art on Malfegor is ugly. Like, butt end of a centaur attached where the head should go. It's double-butted.

Lands: are a weird collection; the Ravnica bouncelands and then the allied color lands from Future Sight? It's a cycle at least so...I guess there is that. And the Future Sight lands are often requested, though what players really request is the completion of the cycle that each card represents. Of those, only Graven Cairns got that and I wonder why WotC hasn't explored those cycles.

Speaking of: reprinting the Praetors from New Phyrexia was cool. Reprinting the dragons from Kamigawa wasn't but the new art helps make up for the decrease in cool.

Nobody needed a reprint of Scion of Ugin and there is no actual argument for that card being here. Ugh. C'mon. Even at common, that card is boring and I refuse to believe they couldn't've done better.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Big Buzz

After a few matchups this weekend, one against Noah's current Illusionary Mask I think I'm set. Current list looks like this:
4 Aetherflux Reservoir

4 Martyr of Sands
4 Soul's Attendant
4 Rhox Faithmender
4 Aerial Responder
2 Ranger of Eos
2 Mikaeus, the Lunarch
1 Angel of Invention

2 Beacon of Immortality
2 Blessed Alliance

2 Windbrisk Heights
2 Forbidding Watchtower
19 Plains

3 Ajani Goldmane

3 Fumigate
2 Spectral Procession
Not bad, eh?

There's just enough of everything to give me something to work with and against aggro decks, I think I don't have to worry about much. Combo decks are a bummer and probably where I'd rely on sideboard cards like Abeyance or Orim's Chant to stall them out and against midrange decks I can see taking out the Fumigate for more Blessed Alliance, along with typical additions for Affinity or Graveyard hate like Stony Silence or Rest in Peace. Pithing Needle for the miscellaneous decks.

And that's it. I'm sorry I didn't get this up on Tuesday; total brain collapse on that one. I hope to be traveling this weekend which likely means no Magic games, so the next content should go up on one week, with a new deck!



Thursday, August 31, 2017

If He Should Live Forever

I might just have that final piece together. More testing will help, of course but this feels right.

I've gotten a chunk of games in, and I like where I've got I Hate It When That Happens To Me. Cutting a Fumigate for an Angel of Invention has helped improve the deck's reach and threat level, while shoring up it's win-from-the-side condition. Blessed Alliance gives me some flexibility that I didn't have, too, while providing me with some surprises for my opponents.

This has been apparent in multiple games and it's also put me in situations where I have to remember to play the board and to the situations I am presented with. I Hate It... is not the kind of combo deck that can afford to strictly ignore the opponent. I have to play smart or else I'll get blown out.

Sometimes, as with Noah's blue control decks, that's going to happen anyway. The above picture against Matt's U/R/W deck was also a rough loss, though I was able to come back and win game two.

But later that evening, against Caitlin's W/Artifact Assembly Worker deck (which has surprising resilience and the ability to just win from nowhere thanks to Mirror Entity) I was able to pull off convincing wins.

A few days later, playing against Fuz and his G/W Aura deck, and a mono-W Knights deck, I lost two games-one in each match-and in both instances, it was because I did not know what I was facing.

By the time I figured it out and put a strategy together, I couldn't find the cards to help me overcome.The Knights defeat was especially amusing, as I had the opportunity on turn 5 to cast Fumigate to destroy one Knight Exemplar, decided I'd wait for "value" only to see another Knight Exemplar appear, holding two now useless Fumigates in my hand.

However, in the other two games of each match, I was able to pace myself and use Aetherflux Reservoir at points, to win.

I was especially proud of myself in the last game, where I had been put down to ten life, but through the use of careful play, gained forty life in one turn and was able to set myself up for the win.

It isn't every day that gaining forty life is even possible, much less the win condition.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

DFsigh

The following article has discussion and links to the new Magic set, so: spoiler warning!

Welp, it looks like double-faced cards are coming back. That sucks some of the wind out of my excitement for Ixalan.

This is an interesting design, though; an artifact that turns into a land because the map has lead you to a place. I certainly can't fault the reasoning.

I just hate double faced cards. I hate the dexterity issues they create having to take them in and out of sleeves, I hate the 'hidden information' aspect that it adds to an already complicated game, I hate the additional pieces by way of extra cards that have to be kept track of in order to use them. I just. Hate. This. Mechanic.

On the upside, I can finally see why the vampire Commander deck was R/B/W instead of R/B/U. Apparently white-themed vampires are a thing on Ixalan...

I don't think they should be-unless they are somehow representing a White philosophy gone evil- but apparently Amonkhet made torquing creature types OK, so long as they can story it up. I don't approve though: vampires are not heroes. They eat and enslave people. Zombies, at least, have no real will of their own.

At the same time, with 'creatures matter' being a clear theme of Ixalan, I can also see some relevant connections to the Commander 2017 set that should allow players to shore up/boost/revision those Commander decks in a way that they want. That is some clever thinking, even as corporate synergy.

There are green merfolk too. No. No I do not like that, either. There have been blue-green merfolk before but if there's one thing the merfolk tribe do not need, it's support from the best creature color in Magic.

Still; there are dinosaurs and their mechanical ability seems cool! I can get behind dinosaurs.

With today's spoilers, I'm seeing reference to Battle for Zendikar's Awaken mechanic which is...meh, but what really concerns me is the potential for overstuffing the set with mechanics, something they've had issues with before.

We shall see. It's still early, so there's a lot to take in, from the mechanics to the art, and I'm still fairly excited about this.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Commander Design Handoff Doc

I find this document, setting up what Wizards had planned for Commander 2017 to be fascinating.

First, it's an interesting window into corporate life and the art that goes under it. Codifying the process is one that I find to have a lot of depth because of how much work actually goes into making something that, when we see it, may look effortless. This is especially true of tribal decks, which can appear to just have "jam a bunch of awesome dudes of that type" mirage, when in truth a lot of work has gone in to constructing and balancing that mirage.

Second, it will be interesting for me to see how well they executed on point number 3, "Create cards that can support other tribal decks" because tribal is an inherently narrow theme on what is Wizards most common (and frequently most popular) card type: creatures. Vampires work with vampires, not with cats. That leaves a very easy out in other card types but the question remains; how supportive and successful are those?

As an addendum to that, it would be interesting to see how these decks play against each other. Early word from fans is that the Dragon deck is a mess because the mana is just so bad.

Third is the recognition that abilities from the Command zone are problematic. Mentioning Oloro as being too powerful is a political move-one I wouldn't be surprised of as edited in, especially since it was Derevi who was the real problem from that set (although they weren't the only ones). However, as with many mistakes WotC makes, they seem to be fairly willing to learn that lesson and try a new twist on it in order to make a better mechanic.

It doesn't always work (Looking at you Untap mechanic {yay} vs "inspired" {no}) but you have to take risks.

Fourth is seeing them take from other games with the 'vendetta' mechanic, which is right out of Hearthstone. More of those is cool by me.

Finally, are the deck overviews. I'm quite curious to see how these decks play out, given what the overviewer has to say about them.




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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Gossip Tongues Wagged

When it doubt, go for removal.

I've removed the Ajani Sunstrikers for Blessed Alliance. Two of those three modes are always going to be useful to me. I also took out a

I've also been looking through the list of white creatures that have "life" in their text somewhere, and white really doesn't have as many useful lifelink creatures as I would've thought. Angel of Invention, everyone's new hot tech, is good and might just be what I need to boost both themes of the deck: the lifegain and the creature pump.

I've even taken a look at some of the vehicles that are cheap to crew, to give my one-drops something else to do in the mid-late game. I'm not sure about that tech though, nor what I would cut in order to make that happen.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Just To Bring Him Back Down

I had some fun a week ago, beating Matt with his Parfait deck using the power of Aetherflux Reservoir.

Buuuut, going up against Noah using two different base blue decks, well, I found out what kind of weaknesses I Hate It When That Happens To Me has: countermagic.

To be fair, a lot of decks I play seem to have this problem. However, another issue that rose up that evening was the drawback to Windbrisk Heights: there were at least two games where, if I had been able to cast a spell on turn 3 or 4 or 5, I might have had a chance. The delay the Heights forced upon me gave Noah and extra turn where I did almost nothing and he was able to advance his deck further into the game.

That's not good.

I don't want to give up on the card entirely-I've cheated cards into play as a result of it-but with five lands that enter tapped, I have to question if I'm hamstringing myself.

The other question is: what about turn two?

Ajani's Sunstriker seems like a decent thing but when is it good? On turn two. After that? Not so much. Especially when Martyr of Sands can be activated on turn two-and frequently must, as opponents know they need to get it off the battlefield.

I've started looking over a selection of instants and sorceries to see if there's a better option. Blessed Alliance stands out as does Bathe in Light, weirdly enough.Time to test those, too.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

No Such Thing

 I've been playing some Magic at the Tonic lounge when I get the chance, but the format is frequently Commander. Which means I haven't had much of an opportunity to test I Hate It When That Happens To Me, sadly.

What I am happy to say, though, is that the people at the Tonic have been pretty friendly and fairly decent players. I've been having a good time playing with strangers and sometimes that's really tricky.

In the meantime, I've come across this article at Channelfireball, which has me pondering how to play my best game.

If there is no such thing as a perfect game, then striving for a mindset where I evaluate my options for the highest risk/reward might help me see the game from other player's points of view.

That is an especially useful skill in Commander where the boardstate can look very different to me as it might to someone else. Measuring out my play in Commander has been a frequent challenge, where I find myself or my permanents targeted without understanding why-because to me, there is clearly a much bigger problem at the table. It's only later in the game as more information is revealed that I understand.

Although not always. Sometimes people just boggle me.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Curses!

The Commander spoilers are starting to go up and I believe the entire lists are published tomorrow.

Now, while I can't really say I'm excited about the decks, conceptually-tribal decks dragons, vampires, wizards and cats and I can't get excited about any of those redundant monsters, and only four of them...eh, ok-what I can say is that I'm happy to see Curses finding a home in the format.

I love Curses. I like the mechanical way they exist in the game, I like how they can be tweaked for multiplayer, and the flavor of them is so much fun.You play a wizard, it's long overdue that we should be able to curse our opponents, so having more options with that Curse type is cool to me.

WotC seems to be enjoying the way they can be used politically in Commander and I am all for it. Anything that helps break up the stalemates that can exist on the board. As with the Monarch mechanic in Conspiracy, I like the way they're trying to keep the game pushing forward.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A Man Who Was Going Insane

I think this deck is going to be one of those odd situations where I rarely win, but when I can pull it out it will feel really satisfying.

Now, some of the readers are aware of the Magic Bracket but if not: it's a massive vote to determine the best Magic card of all. And it was in a recent poll that I saw Mikaeus, the Lunarch up for vote. I had a little thunderbolt moment: Mikaeus can be searched up by Ranger of Eos!

Do I want this effect, though? It just seemed like I was pressing IHIWTHTM in the wrong direction-combat instead of Aetherflux Reservoir.

In my first run of tests against Noah, I was to find out: I lost the first game by overextending my board into a Wrath effect but in the second game, I landed an Ajani Goldmane and used it's -1 ability, which quickly tilted the game in my direction.

Alright, I thought, let's see what happens when I take out Soul of Theros for Mikaeus...

Noah approved of this idea.

He also proceeded to murder Mikaeus whenever it hit the board, so that I would never see it in action.

So I suppose I'm on the right track!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

I Hate It When That Happens To Me

I Hate It When It That Happens To Me is named after a John Prine song. Not my usual reservoir for titles but it's a pretty good song. I blame my Dad for introducing me to it.
4 Aetherflux Reservoir

2 Soul of Theros
4 Martyr of Sands
4 Soul's Attendant
4 Rhox Faithmender
4 Aerial Responder
2 Ajani's Sunstriker
2 Ranger of Eos

2 Beacon of Immortality

3 Windbrisk Heights
2 Forbidding Watchtower
18 Plains

3 Ajani Goldmane

4 Fumigate
2 Spectral Procession
Readers might recognize the skeleton of this deck; Soul Sisters is a long standing Tier 1.5-2 deck in Modern and just over a year ago, I helped a buddy build a budget version of it. The big question was: What's the win condition, given Serra Ascendant is out of the price range?

I don't remember what my answer was, then but I think we built the best deck we could, while keeping in his budget.

A few months later, Aetherflux Reservoir comes out and I immediately email him with a link to the card saying "This is it!"

Which inspired me to build my own version of the deck...eventually. I don't know that it'll be great, but paying 50 life to do 50 damage to an opponent seems pretty sweet to me. Having a backup plan of attacking with creatures pumped by Ajani Goldmane isn't a bad thing as these notions go, so I'm running with it.

There's a few placeholder cards in there: Soul of Theros is the most obvious one and Windbrisk Heights is likely to be cut. Beacon of Immortality is expensive but the effect is too good to ignore and the ability to win at instant speed isn't a bad thing.

Now to see where this takes me.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Perfect Practice

It was Noah who suggested that I should swap Swords to Plowshares out for Path to Exile.

I should've seen this before but I suppose it does speak to the raw power of this build: I've been able to overcome the lifegain drawback from StP and still have a chance to win.

Noah also pointed out that Path has positive interactions for me with Unexpectedly Absent, where I could potentially get rid of a creature without Path's drawback, because my opponent wouldn't want to shuffle his/her deck.If they do decide to shuffle, then odds are they are hoping for something better than they have and that's also a good sign.

Unfortunately, none of my games with Noah provided me with an opportunity use Unexpectedly Absent.
My games with Matt, however, were another story. A little bit of a bummer for him, since he suggested that tech, having to be on the bad end of it.

I had a difficult decision early in a game against his mono-white control deck: he'd played a Mox Diamond and my turn two had just started. I decided to take a risk cast Unexpectedly Absent for zero to put the Diamond back on his library.

My thinking was that if he didn't have another land in hand to discard, I've just seriously impacted the early game and I can take advantage.

If he had another land to discard, odds are he wouldn't have a second land to play and again, we'd be in the same place.

Unfortunately, the worst case happened; He had two lands in hand, so my attempt at setting him back was for naught. After the game was over and I'd taken my loss, Matt said I should've held back and waited but I thought I had an opportunity to jumpstart my game over his and I'm just not sure that I made the wrong choice.

That said, I've played against Fuz a bunch over the last weekend-my game versus his mono-b zombie deck is pictured-and Triggerhappy overperformed. I won far, far more games than I expected to, and that was without replacing Swords with Path. Unexpectedly Absent was good and even usable with Kari Zev's Expertise for zero. That's pretty sweet for an X spell.

So I think that's the final chapter. I've been running this deck for a long time and I think it's as good as it's going to get.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Busy busy

Sorry, everyone, I'm super busy this week with a friend in town and two beer festivals. I'm playing Magic where I can but I haven't had time to write up a solid post, so today I'm taking off.

Back on track starting Tuesday. Cheers!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Round 2

Fight!

The link actually takes you to the first batch of voting for round 2 of the Magic Bracket-the vote to determine the best Magic card ever.

I have found out that the person running the bracket believes Hex is one of, if not the, best cards ever.

No. No no no. But! There's plenty of time for your voice to be heard, too. Check it out!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Multiple Calibers

I spent most of Saturday night doing one thing; playing Triggerhappy against whatever Jason threw against it.

In the end, he suggested that four Hazoret was too many and maybe splitting the selection between that and Ogre Battledriver and Bedlam Reveler was wise.

So now I mix and match. The strength of Triggerhappy is still the Young Pyromancer/Monastery Mentor engine, but with the new additions, hopefully I can shore up the card draw and make going wide a stronger possibility.

One very weird thing has been the mana: it seems like I usually get a lot of land! I am still reluctant to cut them any further, though. It just feels like pushing a button that leads to a door with an unhappy tiger in it, instead of wins.

However, after a series of games against Matt, he had a really intriguing suggestion: Unexpectedly Absent.

Being pinned down by Humility in several games, or just found myself in a board stall from a non-creature source, Unexpectedly Absent might just be the trick I've been looking for.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Really Limited information

This is a fantastic post at MTGgoldfish about WotC's recent decision to continue limiting data to players. It's long, it's thorough, and it's worth the read.

I've never, ever liked how WotC used "market research" as a justification for their decisions-be it the dismissal of Llorwyn and Kamigawa (both sets that had poor deckbuilding environments yet are cited as being 'too cute' or 'too esoteric' for players for WotC to go back to), that 40% of women play Magic (and I don't think that's a bad thing-just wondering how that number exists...) to the justification for double-faced cards, which people apparently love, or worse, the meld mechanic which people apparently looooooove. (I despise both of those things, and the meld mechanic especially).

One way to combat this? Transparent data, where available-and decklists should be one of those places.

The flimsy justification that formats get solved too quickly because of the volume of data feels more like a way to cover their ass when the Standard format goes wrong because of poor design and poor development decisions, rather than a way to actually increase the diversity and interest in Magic. It also seems like a way to give pro players a huge edge, as they will work together, and thin out the possibilities for up and comers who have to work solo.

I don't like either of those things.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Divine Option

Stone Quarry was replaced by Temple of Triumph. You knew that was coming.

But Hazoret; that might've been new. Oketra the True isn't a terrible option, since she leans into the "go wide" aspect of the deck but I'm starting with Hazoret the Fervent first, because if the creature game stalls, Oketra can't close the game out. Hazoret can.

So instead of Bedlam Reveler, we have a heavenly option.

My tests haven't yielded much, just yet. I was able to play Fuz two matches: one against a G/B deck using Darkest Hour and Elephant Grass with pro-black creatures. I lost that match, and felt a bit dumb doing so. Not because the deck idea is dumb; because if I had one Disenchant, I can with that game.

But I couldn't get going fast enough and now, more than ever, I am convinced that a general sideboard would be great. Wear/Tear, if I have to. What would Fuz bring in? Would it be enough to make this a truly bad matchup for me? It just seems pretty stupid to die to that combo-but, creature decks being prevented from attacking is an old standby.

My second matchup didn't tell me much either, unfortunately. This was against a U/G milling deck and it didn't have-or didn't find-any mass creature control. One resolved Monastery Mentor meant that I could usually overwhelm him.

Our decks were just operating on different planes and my angle of attack was more efficient than his.

Hazoret did make appearances; the one game I won in the G/B matchup I did so in part because I could discard spare cards to it to do damage, and because Fuz let the upkeep on the Elephant Grass slip.

The opening allowed me to use Boros Charm to bestow double strike, and Burning Shoal to provide +2, leading to an attack for 14.

I would say that this wasn't encouraging or discouraging, at least for now. What gives me hope is that Fuz said that he liked that addition. So there's that. We'll see how it pays out.




Tuesday, July 11, 2017

What Makes You Tilt

I saw this Reddit thread and gave it a browse. I saw myself in there, with other people also getting in a bad headspace when they don't play well.

On the other hand, I was happy to see that I've gotten to a space where a lot of the variance issues that happen in Magic generally don't get to me. Mana screw/flood? Meh. That happens.

It used to: one of the things that sent me on tilt frequently was having my cards milled into my graveyard. This was especially bad in the days before the graveyard really became the kind of resource that it is now and all I could see was the potential I had being denied me. "But I could've cast that!" was what my brain kept yelling, especially when an out to a bad situation would be denied to me.

No. You couldn't because you can't. It took months for me to get to that headspace but once I did, I started to simply ignore the graveyard, except in circumstances where I needed information from it. It didn't help me, why feed that demon?

I recall hearing or reading words to this effect: Only pay attention to what matters.

It's a lot harder for me to tilt when that's the case and I need to keep remembering that as I go forward, especially since I'm hoping to play more often at Tonic's Magic night!

Playing against strangers opens up new challenges and learning opportunities for me and I have to admit, I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Hour of Devastation Overview

The full spoiler is out and here.

I have to say, I'm a bit more intrigued with this set than I was with Amonkhet, although I think both sets have some gems in them that are being overshadowed by Kaladesh block. Time will tell but I think this is going to give us some cool things to enjoy.

Let's start with the new mechanical stuff:

Eternalize: Really underused. The ability itself isn't a bad one-extra mana to get a creature back from the dead? Not bad. But the only time WotC decided to do something interesting with this ability beyond "pay huge mana costs" was with Sunscourge Champion and Sinuous Striker.This makes the ability pretty weak; I'm seeing six mana on average as the cost and it feels really inappropriate. Why would you pay six mana for a 4/4 nothing creature? What's the logic behind paying five mana and discarding for a 4/4 creature with a +1/-1 pump ability?

Why is that? The more I look at it, the less I like it.

New Exert stuff: a reasonable spin to keep the old mechanic interesting. Nothing crazy but at least some respectable turns on the mechanic to make compelling decisions.

Afflict: this seems interesting! It's definitely there to reward players for attacking and I don't object to that. Making blocking decisions and the when/where to use your removal seems like a decent gameplay enhancement.

New Cycling stuff: why is the only really interesting cycling card Nimble Obstructionist? Did they use up all the other "when you cycle" this triggers in Onslaught?

The Desert matters subtext; from a storytelling perspective, this is pretty cool. From a gameplay perspective I'm not as high on it. Similar things were attempted with Snow lands and they never really went anywhere. They were wise, however, to include cycling on the deserts and allow cards to trigger on deserts in the graveyard. 

More -1 counter antics: I can't say that they did a lot with this and while that's not surprising-WotC has said that -1 counters are a narrow field, mechanically- I'm still a little disappointed that they didn't shake it up just a touch.

Specific cards I find interesting:

White: First, there's the continuation of the zombie creature theme from Amonkhet. However, what's also interesting is the mechanical extension of that theme with Disposal Mummy.

That's really it: Overwhelming Splendor is going to bring the Humility headaches to the modern audience so...that's exciting?

Blue: Kefnet's Last Word is going to be better than people think. Riddleform is a clever implementation of that characteristic in Blue.

Black: Ammit Eternal has some nice stuff happening and is probably really good in a discard deck. Scrounger of Souls for the rarely seen black lifelink effect. Torment of Hailfire is probably a 'win more' card but I do like it.

Red: Birth of Blades is an ok start but the lion's share of interesting stuff is in this color, I think. Hazoret's Undying Fury, Hour of Devastation and Imminent Doom make a hell of a set of interesting cards, Neheb, the Eternal and Wildfire Eternal also go a long way towards sprucing the color up.

Green: is a bit dull. Majestic Myriarch is probably the card with the most text in the set. Rhona's Last Stand might find its way into some old school green stompy decks.

Multicolored: Refuse/Cooperate and Driven/Despair are both under the radar, I think. The other cards are more obviously flashy, though the enemy God cycle is pretty solid.

Artifacts/Lands: Only Mirage Mirror really looks different. There are fifteen deserts, so at least cards with that subtheme will be able to take advantage.

The disappointing stuff:
The Planeswalker "defeat" cycle. This is not what I mean when I say we need better tools to control planeswalkers.

Green didn't get an Aura-Curse. Which would be fine if White didn't get one; the story themes would suggest that Red/Blue/Black would get curses (and they did) because those are the antagonist's colors. What gives?

Doomfall/Supreme Will/Abrade: I really like the modality of these cards and wish it had been a complete cycle. I would understand why it wasn't because Nicol Bolas is B/U/R except the curses got something?Also, white seems to be awfully complicit with B/U/R and green not so much. Perhaps a story thing?

Chaos Maw-couldn't have dealt 4 damage? Or cost six mana? Seven mana is pretty absurd. Also, Resilient Khena and Earthshaker Khena are pretty meager for their effect and rarity.

Djeru, With Eyes Open; WotC, we do NOT NEED PLANESWALKER PROTECTION. Those stupid cards already create a subgame while adding X to the controller's life total where X is the planeswalker's loyalty.

Creating a Demonic Tutor for planeswalkers that also protects planeswalkers above and beyond what a creature already does, is just so unnecessary. Ugh. I guess I object less that Djeru exists and more that there aren't effective ways to manage planeswalkers.

Ah well. I'll know more once I get my hands on it and I'm already looking out for cards to fit the Garbage cube.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Strike the Cartridge

After over a week of testing, I'm starting to think it doesn't matter if Ogre Battledriver or Bedlam Reveler is the card.

They both do something and do it well. Battledriver is more beneficial in multiplayer situations, where having multiple, hasted, boosted creatures is a good thing. It's terrible on it's own, however.

Reveler is both a great way to refill my hand if the game stalls and a useful "gotcha" card combined with Burning Shoal. But it doesn't help me "go wide" like Battledriver does. Going wide isn't necessary in 1v1 situations, though.

So maybe the answer is: Neither?

The obvious way to make Triggerhappy a better deck is to add blue. That's a good way to make most decks better though, so what does that really say?

However, testing has not been without uses. Against Matt's mono-white prison deck, I was able to glean that the sideboard for this should have artifact and enchantment removal, and perhaps a little graveyard control.

So that's good to know. I think that I'm going to start creating those "generic" sideboards. They won't always be necessary but when someone has a deck they want to test, they should come in pretty handy and help me get and provide more information.

In the meantime, it feels as though Triggerhappy doesn't quite have the right card that it wants and I need to do some more exploring.

Caitlin suggested changing the lands up; at 22, I may have too many but with the addition of cards like Temple of Triumph I could help smooth things out better while getting a "free" spell.

And that is one place I haven't explored much; mana base tweaks, so I think that's next.


Friday, June 30, 2017

Every Time

As someone who grew into the game with a lot of these adages, I found this article to be particularly helpful.

Bolt the Bird is the one that has stuck with me but I haven't had to externalize the meaning of it in a long, long time. That is to say; one destroys the acceleration of the opponent's deck in order to force them to play on your terms.

But if destroying the acceleration doesn't do that, then there isn't any point is wasting resources there, as that forces you to play on theirs.

However, that second sentence rarely goes said.

On the other hand, I recently played a game against Lauriel where she had me down to one life while she was at sixteen-all she needed to do was draw a spell and the game was over. I didn't see a way out of it and was about to concede but she insisted I play on.

And I won that game. Which was the second time in as many months that this had happened.

There are a few interesting things about this for me-one of them is that when I concede in person, I am almost never incorrect to do so. The body language of my opponent often tells me I should move on. I don't have that knowledge online and I need to both play accordingly and pay attention to my own cues when playing in real space.

I am starting to wonder how often I challenge what I "know" about Magic and what baseline rules I really can keep in mind, in order to play a better game.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Absent Bedlam


So I took Triggerhappy to other people in order to get suggestions and recommendations. Kari Zev's Expertise is still awesome.

The thing is, nobody really had any strong opinions. Sure, the Reveler could be great. Sure the Ogre Battledriver could be great. However, there wasn't a clear "yes, that is better and what you should do" argument.

Which means that there's nothing else to do but try Triggerhappy without Bedlam Reveler and see what happens.

However, if I'm going to remove Bedlam Reveler then some adjustments need to be made. Accepting that there is a loss of Burning Shoal interactions, (hopefully made up by the bonus Battledriver gives) what is next?

1) I need to go all the way up to four Battledriver. The threat count is too low for my comfort and, if Fuz is right, having one show up is critical for my win condition. Four also means that testing will be more fruitful, as the card will show up frequently.

2) I need a way to draw cards. In white this is practically nonexistent and in red this is...difficult. However, Faithless Looting exists and is probably my best bet. Four mana to see four cards and pick my best ones is hard to top.

I'll start there and see what happens. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Suggestion

I've been experimenting. That's a good thing but I haven't really seen how it pays out yet.

First, I tried Collective Effort. It looks cool, right? Those tokens created off the Mentor or Pyromancer aren't immediately useful (hence Ogre Battlemaster) so why not take out their best creature and boost my team? But it just didn't play out very effectively. I would consider giving it more time but given what Triggerhappy wants to do (go wide with lots of creatures) I'm not sure that a simple +1 counter is really amazing.

Kari Zev's Expertise was next up and I liked this card more. The "Traitor" effect is frequently useful and I have enough cheap spells that the second ability comes in handy. This lead to trying out Boros Charm over Make a Stand, because free stuff is free.

Sram's Expertise, on the other hand, felt like too little, too late. That test didn't last very long.

Fuz took a look at the deck and, after some thought said to me:

"I don't see why Bedlam Reveler is in there."

"Because it helps reload my hand," I told him.

"But it doesn't come out until turn 4 at best and if you get an Ogre Battlemaster that isn't dealt with immediately, you win," he replied.

Removing the Reveler is not what I want to do. It feels like a bad idea: Reveler doesn't just refill my hand and provide a decent body to attack with, it also has some fantastic interactions with Blazing Shoal. Trust me, you only have to hit an unwary opponent for 10+ once to see how useful that is.

These arguments were not convincing to Fuz. As we spoke, I had to admit that I might've been falling into the Glory of Cool Things trap. He thinks Reveler is "win more". I think it does something critical-refills my hand while providing a board presence.

There's only one way to find out.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Bang-Bang

Oh, MAN am I behind. Sorry!

So let's start with this image from a game I played against Lauriel.

Here's what I learned: I cannot beat both a Ghostly Prison and a Propaganda.

With a deck that wants to swarm the opponent and goes low on the mana in order to do it, having the protection of those enchantments just blows me out.

Which is OK, actually. First, it means that I know my sideboard material: Orim's Thunder.

Second, there are a pretty limited number of these kinds of taxing effects and not too many decks run them. And while Wall of Denial is a pain in the butt, it can be nullified via swarm tactics.

It is for this very reason, though, that I built decks with Disenchant in them. In the years when Jason was my primary opponent, having a Disenchant in my deck was often the difference between winning and losing. Being able to follow up on such an effect was often where my deckbuilding skills faltered. But I was certainly prepared for my opponent!

Now that my opponents offer a greater range of decks to play, I don't auto-include those cards anymore.

It's giving me an idea, though: what if I built a "generic" sideboard? I have five-maybe more-R/W decks. Why not set aside fifteen cards that could fill in the gaps? I could streamline the maindeck stuff, while having that backup plan. And until I take a deck to a tournament, having a general purpose sideboard could be far more useful than just having to grimly accept every Achilles' Heel.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The First Round

Some good, some bad.

I've managed to play a couple multiplayer games piloting Triggerhappy and the results will probably not be a big surprise:

It's very draw dependent.With only 17 creatures and few card drawing effects, sticking a threat early is important.

Unfortunately, going down to five or fewer cards in multiplayer is incredibly unwise, so I don't do that. It's not good to do down to four or less in 1v1 games, either however the curve on Triggerhappy is so low that if I can cast a threat turn two, I can get away with it.

However, this is the choice I find myself frequently confronted with regarding this deck: needing to get that threat out early so the deck can work.

I almost took a picture of the last game I lost, to prove the point. In this case, I had six lands and zero permanents.When you're the low man on the totem pole in multiplayer, people take advantage of that. I don't blame 'em, I just know it doesn't give me much to work with in terms of improving the deck.

On the other end of the spectrum, when I can play two Monastery Mentors and have them go untouched, everyone else is pretty much screwed. Again, this is such a "well duh" moment that I don't get a lot of information out of it.

What does this all mean?

It means that, at least so far, Triggerhappy is stuck with one of my least favorite qualities for a Magic deck: you have to aggressively mulligan.

It also has one of my favorite qualities for a Magic deck: resilience. If you can get a threat-even one-Triggerhappy can grow faster than grass and turn a game around.

Still, I just have a feeling that there's some sharpening of this edge to do. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Core Sets Are Returning

There's a lot of information coming out this week-Aetherworks Marvel was just banned in Standard, Tuesday (which is what happens when you don't have enough artifact destruction)-but the first big news is how sets will be released in the future.

I have to say that overall, I think these changes are good things. Good Core sets can be great training grounds for new players as well as allowing for interesting reprints, a la the Commander sets, and cool new cards, like M15 had. In addition, it lets WotC put in necessary answers to situations that wouldn't fit thematically in any of the 'world' sets. That kind of flexibility seems like it will be good for the overall health of Magic

Plus, it means that my expenses will go down as I don't have to buy all new cards every three months. I can pick and choose from the Core sets the things I want, and there is always something cool.

I'm quite thankful that we will get less Gatewatch focused cards. Not much to add there.

I'm disappointed about the Masterpiece series becoming intermittent, although I understand the reasoning, in a big picture sense. However, the bit about "the audience never quite warmed up to it (the Amonkhet invocations)" because they felt they had to change those  "to a flavor-based theme built around the Gods, but it required explaining", is absolutely false.

Look at this. This is bad visual design. This isn't the audience needing an explanation, this is the audience telling you that there was a massive failure and it's WotC's cock up of design that has us down on these cards, not the Masterpieces themselves.

A reddit user articulated my fears: "Masterpieces will just go in sets they (WotC) aren't confident about."

Right. They'll use this as a carrot to sell packs. I would've been happier if they had kept the series and instead printed fewer cards. Of the 30 reprints, only 5 are from Amonkhet and 25 cards to elevate to Masterpiece each time is too many, even with Magic's long, interesting history.

Still, I'm glad that this will continue to go forward. Reprints like this are useful tools to help both reduce the prices of expensive cards while still boosting the secondary market and I see it as a win-win.

Finally, the Play Design group is a very interesting notion but until the Friday article goes up, really explaining what it is they do, I don't feel comfortable commenting on it, yet.

Finally-finally, this image of Ixalan? Hits all my buttons. I want pirates and dinosaurs.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Best Worst Card

I like this fellow's thoughts on One With Nothing.

Magic is a lot of things to a lot of people and I try to keep that in mind when I'm talking about the game. There are a lot of perspectives out there and while a great many of the most prominent voices concentrate on the "pro" aspect-that is, how to best arrange decks to win the game-there is a great deal to be said for those people who just ignore that aspect.

I have to admit, cards like One With Nothing also help fuel my (mildly) obsessive card collecting. You never know when something that looks terrible might be awesome! Or find the deck that makes it shine...or just inspires me to do something weird.

Which means that I hope that designs like One With Nothing keep making it through R&D. It's frequently in the weird places that Magic can really blossom into the great game that it is.

Finally, I'm sorry I didn't get this up last Thursday; I should be back on track now. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Garbage Cube & Amonkhet Selections

OK, sorry everyone but after coming back from California, I just haven't had the opportunity to get many games in.

So instead, let's talk about what I'll be adding to my Cube.

Here's a link to the latest Garbage Cube list.

For those of you who don't know; my cube is an attempt to assemble the worst Magic cards from every set I own, Highlander style (so one card from each color) and make a playable Cube.

This is offset by a ton of mana fixing, which is also bad but those are the cards where I break my "one-of" rule. The other spot is that in big sets, I usually add in an extra card in order to keep the creature ratio high.

In the sets that are highest rated for limited play, Ravnica, Rise of the Eldrazi or Innistrad, for example, the creature density was higher than sets like Mirage or Invasion. I needed more creatures and the bigger sets are the best place to find them.

While the card is supposed to be bad, it's supposed to be bad because it's a crappy Magic card, not because it's got an inherent disadvantage. For example; Break Open, while a crappy card, is completely unplayable in my Cube as there are no targets. That's not what I want.

Nath's Buffoon, however, that works juuuust fine. So does Phytotitan.

So what from Amonkhet should go in?

White's offerings are Sparring Mummy, Rhet-Crop Spearmaster, Winged Shepherd and Compulsory Rest are my candidates. Compulsory Rest is a definite winner because it gives the opponent something.

The creatures are trickier as they all suck for different reasons. The Mummy has a one-and-done ability, the Shepherd is expensive (but cycles so that's a ding against it) and the Spearmaster has Exert, which is a lame ability, made lamer by what exerting the Spearmaster does.

So I think it's Rhet-Crop.

For Blue, Floodwaters makes a strong case, despite being cycleable, as does Lay Claim. The creatures I'm considering are Tah-Crop Skirmisher and River Serpent.

While River Serpent is bad, it's bad in a very traditionally Blue way: overcosted dude who doesn't so what you want unless a condition is met. I've got a lot of those already. Whereas the Skirmisher is overcosted in a way that actually allows for early plays. In order to try and give Blue that sometimes-turn two play, the Skirmisher wins. Similarly, Lay Claim is an effect that isn't in the Cube much, so for seven mana, I think I'll let this one in.

Black is next and it's a bit more difficult. Final Reward is expensive for what it does and so is Blighted Bat. Dune Beetle could provide some interesting options for the color, defensively and it's a vanilla creature on top of that.

I think Final Reward and Dune Beetle make the cut here, though.

Red has Consuming Fervor, which isn't terrible but does have a relevant downside. Warfire Javelineer could have some interesting interactions without being overpowered and Ahn-Crop Crasher is another exert creature that sucks.

In the end I went with the Crasher and, in a surprise move, By Force is going to get a shot. Red should have some mass artifact destruction and this isn't as efficient as many others so I'm sleeving it up.

Green's offerings are easier: Oashra Cultivator is an easy include. 4 mana for a basic land that enters tapped? Yeah, that's the kind of suck I want to see. Picking a spell is a little more difficult. Stinging Shot is calling out, due to the narrowness of uses but so is Dissenter's Deliverance.

Because of the artifact density of my cube, the Deliverance will get the nod. I may have to swap it out, but for now I think it's OK.

The gold and artifact cards are all just too good. I thought about the Monuments for their cost reduction affect but no, the added ability on each makes them too strong.

Cradle of the Accursed looks like a good addition: 4 mana for a 2/2 is a bad deal.

That's what I picked-should I have done something else?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Trigggerhappy

I had some fun with the name of this deck because while Triggerhappy isn't one of my favorite Transformers, any deck that is using Monastery Mentor and Young Pyromancer pretty much lends itself to triggered abilities. Here we go:
4 Bedlam Reveler
4 Monastery Mentor
4 Young Pyromancer
2 Seeker of the Way
1 Sun Titan
2 Ogre Battledriver

2 Lightning Bolt
3 Gut Shot
4 Gods Willing
3 Make a Stand
3 Blazing Shoal
1 Shining Shoal
3 Pyrokinesis
3 Swords to Plowshares

9 Mountain
9 Plains
3 Stone Quarry
The basic premise (for those of you who don't see it): cast Young Pyromancer and/or Monastery Mentor, cast a bunch of spells (some hopefully for free), make tokens, swing. Bedlam Reveler helps refill the hand, and Ogre Battledriver gives those tokens haste and a damage bonus.

First thing is first: 4 Inspiring Vantage need to go in there. An aggro deck like this needs easy access to its colors and with the mana base being so tight, dual lands like the Vantage will help.

After that; I have to admit that Ogre Battledriver might be difficult to cast given the mana base and a single copy of Sun Titan looks a little silly.

But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't interested in the interactions that Gut Shot or Blazing Shoal can provide as free spells. Along those lines, Sram or Kari Zev's Expertise might be cool choices but first I'll need to run this deck through some paces.

However, it's going to have to wait for a bit: I'm headed out of town tomorrow and won't get to play Magic until I return on Tuesday. So I hope to have an update in one week, on the 1st of June, and resume regular posting from there. Cheers!