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!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Sense of the Underworld

I've hit the wall now; I have 62 cards in the deck because I want second Whelming Wave and I don't want to cut anything.

Ain't that a pain in the butt?

I have what I need and I am consistently presented with interesting board situations but I can't find the card that pushes the margin of victory more to my side than my opponent's.

So it's time to set Safe In Mind down for a bit.

I wonder if I researched enough; Safe In Mind seemed to click so easily that maybe I didn't really dig into it as hard as I should have? Maybe I wasn't as open-minded as I should have been, because (in a rarity) Safe In Mind really is a pretty lean deck: I knew what the concept was and I pushed that concept with every card I could. The card draw is solid, the countermagic is in theme, the removal is what I need it to be and I have good tutors.

What I've noticed is that this deck wants to have a solid opening hand: SIM is not the kind of deck where I can push through a questionable hand and make it work, unless I get very lucky. No, I have to have mana and something I can do by turn 2, period.

Nothing wrong with that; there are decks that demand the player look for a strong open to work-combo decks tend to fall in this category. However, combo decks often make up for it by having an Overwhelming Turn where if the game gets to turn 4 or 5, they outright win and there's nothing the opponent can do to stop it. SIM doesn't do that.

However, it does make for some interesting and cool games and if I keep practicing with it, I'm bound to get better. However, for the blog, it's time to move on. Final decklist:

4 Dimir Signet

4 Seizan, Perverter of Truth
3 Urborg Emissary

4 Dark Suspicions

3 Arcane Denial
4 Words of Wisdom
3 Rites of Refusal
3 Rushing River
3 Clutch of the Undercity

2 Bad River
4 Sunken Ruins
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
7 Island
9 Swamp

3 Sickening Dreams
3 Alms of the Vein
2 Whelming Wave


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Player Variance

I read this article on "player variance" at Channelfireball and liked it.

It's a good reminder to find goals that aren't strictly about winning, that are about process, because the process always happens.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Twist In The Unreal

One Whelming Wave, added.

Removed: nothing. There's no point. Statistically, the difference between 60 and 61 cards isn't enough for me to consider removing something from a deck that's been working pretty well when adding a card like Whelming Wave that could really buttress everything that Safe In Mind is doing.

So: how'd it work out?

Well....I've been running into some of the drawbacks of not being able to play as often as I would like.

In a multiplayer game against Matt and Caitlin, I lost one game, won the second and I am fairly certain that I lost that first game in part because I used Whelming Wave too soon-it was my first line of defense, actually.

It shouldn't be. Sickening Dreams exists for a reason and I should prioritize elimination of threats, rather than repetition of them.

Because the Wave is for creatures I cannot easily kill. Not exactly a "last ditch" card but one I need to use carefully. 

In games against Noah, then Fuz, Whelming Wave did good stuff but again I'm having trouble sorting out the variance. I would often get so close to the board state I needed but couldn't quite get there.

My games against Lauriel were skewed and now I'm running up against the need of a sideboard. She was running a B/G deck with Stalker Hag and with that on the board, the functionality of Urborg Emissary as a bounce/blocker becomes severely limited, especially when I'm also facing down a Noxious Hatchling.

With a sideboard, I can probably handle this but without one....

Maybe a second Whelming Wave is required but now I should think about cutting a card.




Thursday, May 11, 2017

Game Trail

Believe it or not, my goal is to make every deck that I build the best deck I can build. While it is true that some concepts are just too weak or don't have the necessary support to really be a contender, I still want to turn every concept into the best possible execution of it as time and money will allow.

I also have 233 decks built. All of those decks are Legacy legal, even if they aren't Legacy competative, which means that all of them need mana to function. Of those decks, 22 of them are Commander decks. So, if I use some rough math (23 lands per standard decks, 37 per commander) that means I've got 5,667 lands in rotation right now.

That is a lot of mana. Since mana is the foundation for any Magic deck, it's important to get that right and my recent experiences with Knives has been reinforcing this: I really like the mana for that deck and how it allows me, even on a budget, to play three colors.

This is one reason why I try to purchase dual lands whenever new ones arrive. They're always useful and they can be put in any deck that uses the appropriate colors, for as long as I play the game. Magic is complicated though and I've probably increased that burden by having so many decks, but the quest to make each deck better is still there.

Which brings me to why I was looking at Game Trail last night and starting to feel overwhelmed. I have no less than 22 possible 60-card decks that this card could go into. If I wanted to put Game Trail into Commander decks, there are at least 3 of those. I don't want to put these into Commander decks though, as that format is quite a bit more forgiving when it comes to allowing players to develop their mana.

Which brings me to the Standard decks. Four R/G/W decks, three R/G/U decks, four R/G/B decks, and another nine straight R/G decks.

How the heck do I decide where to put these? What's best?

I have to do this for Choked Estuary and Foreboding Ruins, too.

I must confess, I'm a little reluctant to add these cards to the "best" deck-in this instance, Mobile Shooting Gallery, a R/G big creatures deck-because I can replace some of the weaker lands with Game Trail. Which I know sounds crazy but I have a weird need for balance and symmetry and everything to be equal.

However, I don't play my decks against me. I play them against other people and I need them to be the best they can be.

The issue really is that making this decision had me going down a rabbit hole of decks, looking at what I was doing with the mana, and I wasn't always thrilled with what I saw.

It was a little bit of a bummer, to see so many questionable decisions, to look at these decks and think, 'Do I have to start all over?'

That can feel really discouraging, especially since I don't want to just throw these lands into a deck. That's how I got into this mess to begin with! But I also don't want good cards just sitting in my binder when I could be using them to make my decks better. The foundation for any deck is good mana and these cards help that and shouldn't be ignored.

Still, sometimes I just want to throw my hands in the air and concede.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Breathing Down Your Neck

The replacements for Safe In Mind were initially easy; the familiars should become mana of some kind. Dimir Signet was an easy choice and I think a pretty good one, upping the consistency. It still allows me to play Dark Suspicions on turn 3, Seizan on turn 4, if everything lines up.

Next up was dabbling in the Sea of Madness; Alms of the Vein came in to replace Vex.

My first run of games against Fuz and Lauriel felt like I was on the right track. The extra mana from the Signets didn't put a huge dent in my ability to do things and Alms is a very good card to discard to Sickening Dreams or Rites of Refusal. It isn't much life but it's part of the chipping away strategy that Safe In Mind does while helping extend my own life total just a little bit against the ravages of opponents or Sickening Dreams.

Games against Noah didn't go quite as well. As you can see, my Urborg Emissary is facing down a gang of dudes and things are not going to end happily for me.

On the other hand, while I did not emerge victorious in most of my games against Noah, he told me that I frequently presented interesting board states for him to have to deal with. I take this as a very good sign! Getting my friends to have to contemplate a board, creating interesting situations, these things mean that I'm on the right path, I think.

I told Noah that I was having issues with really aggressive decks and was considering Aetherize as an answer to that. However, after games where I was transmuting Clutch of the Undercity, leaving me open to Noah's Cabal Therapy, I realized the issue with that: my opponents can see it coming and will just attack with one creature. 

"You know what would also go well in that deck?" Noah suggested, "Whelming Wave."

Hmmmmmm....


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Go To Turn Around

The first run with Safe In Mind felt pretty good. I had a couple games against Caitlin; the first one was especially brutal for her, because she was playing a U/G deck that wanted to draw a bunch of cards.

But future matchups also leaned in my favor, even games where I had to mulligan. Mulligans were occasionally a positive for me, because if I got a solid draw, I could get out Dark Suspicions and have even less of a hand than I did!

Caitlin was kind enough to look through the deck and she had a few suggestions starting with: Madness and Delve.

I have to admit, Madness wasn't something I had thought about but there are new cards to consider and Delve was a mechanic that came up as we were talking and I can't see a good reason why I shouldn't look into it. Sure the best cards are banned but there might be something worth having!

She also pointed out to me that the Familiars would ideally work best in decks of three colors, which is true.

This has lead me to look at the deck at large, wondering if and  how it should be revised. Because if anything, this blog has taught me that I can't afford to half-ass my deck ideas. I'm too far off the beaten trail to do so. I really do have to min-max things in my own way, so I need to let of those old notions.

I'll get on that next.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Amonkhet Survey

The link is here if you want it.

If you're new to the blog, these posts are ones that allow me to talk a little more about the surveyed cards so I can explain a little bit about why I like or dislike the card, instead of just giving WotC number data (or as they have it, Very Poor to Excellent). I feel as though there's a grain of salt element to all of this, because I haven't had a chance to play with the cards yet but these reviews are still fun for me. Let's get to it!

Hazoret's Favor: While my overall rating is Fair-this card needs a deck to be built with it in mind for it to be useful-the artwork and the flavor text were excellent, I thought. Although red-tinted art in a red border card.....sigh.

I should really ask about why they do that.

Because they even do it on (both parts of the artwork of!)-

Failure/Comply: The artwork on these cards is...just so cramped and difficult to see. I can't even really make out if it's good or bad; Comply being especially hindered by this card layout. However, F/C is cheap and useful, so it still gets a Good rating.

Scribe of the Mindful: A challenging card to rate, I felt. 2/2 for 3 mana is pretty standard and the ability is a useful one. Is it Excellent? No but Good, I think, yes. 

Oketra the True: Ah, one of the marquee cards! The art on this feels weird; I don't know why the head is turned away from the body. It's like a statue pose, instead of a living one. However, let's not mess about: the ability and stats on this card are really good and the drawback is minimal, especially in White. Excellent card is Excellent.

Shadow of the Grave: So, here's the thing about Shadow of the Grave: it's terrible. This isn't a good card for Limited formats-your ROI is too small for that to be relevant-and what deck wants it in Constructed?

A combo deck. Something very specific needs this card and will break it in half. Or at least make something interesting! So I'm rating this Fair, despite it being a Poor card, because I want to encourage these kinds of designs.

There is a nice piece of flavor text to help build the world and that helps push the card up, too.

Final Reward: UGH. I get that Black shouldn't have exile level removal at the same level as White. But THIS? Too expensive and only useful in Limited formats because you need removal.  Play value Very Poor, value Poor, because the name and flavor text were nice. The art is Fair, because in a picture that shows so much depth, having so little contrast makes it all look washed out.

Winged Shepherd: White art on a white card...but, the flavor text does some good worldbuilding, the abilities don't suck and while six mana is pricey, being able to cycle it away for W means I'm rating the card Fair, overall. In Limited, this puppy is probably even better.

Hapatra, Vizer of Poisons: Now we're talking about something interesting: a card that wants to highlight one of the mechanics of the set. I think she's Excellent, quite frankly and it's an easy decision. Her first ability boosts her second, which still operates independently and is great regardless, while her base stats are very good. Hard to do better, I think.

Protection of the Hekma: Sphere of Safety this isn't. Heck, it's not even Urza's Armor. But the artwork is great, the flavor text does good by the plane, and the ability is a static one will stack with other Protections. It's fairly costed for what it does, I think, so a Fair card it shall be.

Brute Strength: This is the kind of card that needs to be produced because that sort of combat trick can be a hell of a thing in Limited. However, that doesn't mean that this is good. Just that it's necessary. Poor rating.

Benefaction of Rhonas: Green has been getting a few cards like this since Zendikar and I think they are good cards to add to most any Green deck. Sometimes you can only get creatures, sometimes it's lands or enchantments, sometimes a combo but I think these are always useful. Good rating-and I may have underrated it, neglecting the 'put the rest of the cards into the graveyard' part, which is relevant in Standard.

Hazoret's Monument: The Monuments are all interesting designs! Part Medallion effect, part color-specific effect, wrapped in a Legendary artifact so they can't stack. Nicely balanced. Also, I think Hazoret's ability, allowing players to filter through their deck for every creature spell they cast is a great one, so I'm rating this Excellent. Probably higher than I should, but I think this card makes a strong case for being in any deck of the appropriate color.

Hyena Pack: as with Brute Strength, this is a necessary card but not a good one. The art is solid and the flavor text helps boost the card a bit but a 3/4 for four mana is a Poor card. That doesn't mean it's bad so much as it means that the only real spot for this card is in a theme deck or a Limited one.

Faith of the Devoted: When I was writing my Amonkhet Overview, I said
'Now that WotC has given us reminders that cycling triggers discard effects, I wonder if some novel or previously overlooked interactions will bubble up?'
which Faith of the Devoted could be the poster child for. There is a lot of versatility in this card and I think it's going to be a plausible addition to a few decks. Excellent stuff.

Zenith Seeker: and this is the opposite of Faith of the Devoted. Expensive, easy to kill, with an ability that's pretty meh. In Limited, this is a Fair card-which was my overall rating-but Poor for playability.

All in all, I haven't changed my opinion about the set, yet. It's OK. That's all-for now. I'm hopeful that the format will develop and show me some cool tricks. How deep those tricks go, the interactions with previous sets: that I can't say. But I'm looking at it and I'm pretty hopeful that I'll see (and maybe even discover) some cool things.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Safe In Mind

I've got a double dose for you today! Because reviewing an old deck for the third time is kinda cheap, here's the new stack I'm working on!

This is an odd duck, I'll give ya that.Then again, UNKLE is an odd band (with some cool songs).
4 Seizan, Perverter of Truth
2 Stormscape Familiar
3 Urborg Emissary
2 Nightscape Familiar

4 Words of Wisdom
3 Rites of Refusal
3 Rushing River
3 Vex
3 Arcane Denial
3 Clutch of the Undercity

4 Dark Suspicions

3 Sickening Dreams

4 Sunken Ruins
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
7 Island
9 Swamp
2 Bad River
What the heck is going on here?

Dark Suspicions is what's going on here.

The plan is to use Blue bounce spells and some countermagic with the drawback of allowing my opponent to draw cards to keep my opponent's hand full, use stack interactions between Dark Suspicions and Seizan, Perverter of Truth to cause my opponent to draw cards and lose life, then suffer from the Dark Suspicions trigger as they will likely have more cards in hand than I do.

The familiars are there to make my spells cheaper, which comes in handy on multiple levels, allowing me to not only play spells cheaper but play more of them, in order to reduce my hand size. Sickening Dreams and Rites of Refusal allow me keep my hand on the slimmer side, as discarding a hand full of land can be beneficial on multiple fronts. Clutch of the Undercity is there to help me find Dark Suspicions but gets to serve double duty once I have Suspicions out by bouncing a difficult permanent, thus possibly increasing the damage Suspicions does. And who doesn't love Mikokoro? That and Words of Wisdom are there to keep me moving through cards.

With the new themes of hellbent (or 1-0 cards in  hand) rising up in Amonkhet, this might be a neat time to see if there is anything new to add to this deck. Bontu the Glorified could be a cool addition and a way to use familiars once they've lost value!

And we'll see how this stacks up!

Re-Revisiting

In some ways, I can't believe I have to look at this deck again. It was so fun: Temples + fetchlands + Sensei's Divining Top to make sure I didn't get Omniscience in hand....

Buuuuuuut.

So, now what?

First, my opinion is that the wrong card was banned. Top served as a huge boon for non-Blue decks and allowed for a lot more variety as a result.

What should've gone? A lot of people who are far more versed in the format say Terminus. I'm inclined to agree here, because of the a) instant speed, b) mana cost and c) unique interaction. C) is relevant because Terminus shuts off graveyard interactions and in Legacy, that's a big deal.

However, the bitter old man in me wanted Counterbalance, because fuck your free countermagic.

Either way, opinions that the splash damage was overmuch from Top being banned are, I believe, correct. My hope is that something is coming up in Hour of Devastation or Ixalan that would've made SDT oppressive will arrive, justifying this ban.

For me, though the question is, what do I do with Die, Die My Darling?

The Black and White scry cards are pretty underwhelming, aside from Read the Bones. The Artifacts aren't as awesome as I would like, either. Darksteel Pendant seems like a decent fit and being indestructible means that I don't have to worry about removal effects.

However, the Pendant doesn't do as much for me as Top does, given the shuffling interactions I have. In this case, Scroll Rack might be the droid I'm looking for.

I'm not going to make a series out of this-I've already done it twice-but it's definitely weird to have to make an adjustment like this, in order to keep a deck in tact that I rather enjoy playing.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

You Can't Save My Life

Knives is in a pretty good place, I think.

In some final matches, I experienced the good and the hard limits of Wave of Reckoning. Even with six charms to help me with spot removal and versatility, Wave being unable to take out a Deathrite Shaman is problematic, as that kind of creature is a beast in every stage of the game.

That said, ten cards to act as removal generally goes a long, long way and I've been very happy with the team of Treva & Bant.

One of the big surprises is Ajani, Mentor of Heroes. However, in the spirit of My Money > less of My Money, I discovered that I had an Ajani, Caller of the Pride. I may still get a second copy of the MoH, but CotP serves as a similar tool for making my previously unintimidating creatures more formidable.

No, I won't be able to cast CotP on turn three but that's not the requirement in this deck. It's the incremental push that'll make things work.

I still may get a second Mentor of Heroes-the card is very difficult to ignore and in a game with Noah, I was even able to gain 100 life off it, effectively negating his endgame plans-but I'm pleased I've found an effect that really suits this deck well.

Still, you can see from the picture in a matchup against Lauriel, I have been able to start generating some impressive boardstates with strong positions.

All in all, I feel that I have come away from this with good lessons about mana, and positive ways to shore up some weaknesses. Knives is still fun to play and offers a lot of possibilities both as a 1v1 deck and in multiplayer. It's got some nice flexibility with a nice late game powerhouse capability.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

On Planeswalkers

I think this article at MTG Goldfish presents an interesting take on the problem Planeswalkers represent for Magic.

Because I typically ignore the throughline of Magic's story. I know a bit about how stories work and I have really, really gotten bored with Planeswalkers as primary plot-drivers because those characters haven't, in my awareness anyway, undergone any changes.

Each plane used to have its own stars and own narrative. They still do but now that narrative is, somehow, tied into what the Planeswalker does, and it's been this way since Return to Ravnica. That's five years of these characters doing not a whole lot, while the planes they are on tend to undergo some significant changes!

However, I usually tackle the issue of Planeswalkers from a gameplay perspective, so seeing a very specific angle on what Planeswalkers do to Magic from that gameplay view and why is cool.

I also think it's going to become a bigger problem as Magic moves forward, if cards like Desiccated Naga and Companion of the Trials are any indication.

I really, really do not like where those cards indicate Magic is going. Having a card only be good-a 3/2 for 3 isn't terrible so WotC is totally padding the stats there to make this medicine go down-but having a card that is only good if you have a Mythic rarity out there-Liliana of the Veil and Liliana, the Last Hope being sold for $80 and $30 each, respectively, the most recent Gideon, considered to be one of the best cards in standard right now, $17 and the new Gideon will likely go higher-suggests that they are tying to move players away from a sense of place and more into character.

Now, from what I understand, those two cards are tied into the Planeswalker deck boxes, making this a little more palatable but...I don't like it. Having cards be so parasitic is bad, having them be parasitic with mythic rarities is really distasteful to me. It helps increase the reliance on luck (will you or won't you get the Planeswalker you need) in a game that already has plenty of variance.

But that's a very big aside.

When I talk about Planeswalkers I usually talk about how players don't have enough tools to deal with them, so they're positioned to take over any game (or format) where they are pushed.

What I hadn't thought of is how Planeswalkers are pushed in order to be the face of the story, and how that push will exclude other deckbuilding options due to their power.

And people might say, 'so what? Good cards always push out bad cards.' and they would be right.

Except: WotC has said that printing Lightning Bolt in the Modern era was a mistake because it removes deckbuilding decisions. If you can, you run Lightning Bolt because it is better than any other red removal card in the format. It's one of the reasons they don't want to reprint Counterspell.

I think the article makes a very good argument for how Planeswalkers make for a worse Standard by decreasing the decision tree for deckbuilding-just throw a Planeswalker in there, that solves problems.

I've done it myself-most recently with Knives (as you will soon see). So I think this trend bears a lot of consideration and watchfulness.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Amonkhet Overview

The spoiler is out! So, you know...spoilers ahead.

Mechanics:

Embalm is a pretty interesting thing to me, from a flavor perspective. White zombies just don't happen unless Black is involved. From a plane where death is considered a positive though, this makes sense. Aside from that, however, it's just Flashback for creatures. Nothing wrong with that but nothing super exciting either.

Although I will say that having a way to get a creature despite countermagic is a positive. It could mean some better countermagic is coming (a positive for control players who have been complaining for a decade now), as well as an opportunity for older formats, too. We shall see.

Cycling is an old classic making it's 4th appearance. Cycling is always a good thing. It's well balanced and offers a lot of options to players at every stage of the game. Now that WotC has given us reminders that cycling triggers discard effects, I wonder if some novel or previously overlooked interactions will bubble up?

-1/-1 counters I am excited about! I've always liked this mechanic and believe that there's more room to develop or play with than one might think. Partly because of the interaction between +1 counters (a + and a - will, just like in math, cancel each other out) so there's some fun to be had with mechanics from other sets, partly because there is an opportunity to do some powerful cards with a drawback players have to be clever to work around.

I liked it in Shadowmoor/Eventide and I like it here.

Aftermath is an excellent marriage of split cards and flashback. Nothing too fancy, mind you but definitely something I hope continues in Hour of Devastation* (which is the next Magic set, just in case you hadn't heard). Solid ideas don't have to be flashy, they can just be solid.

Exert...is...meh. It just is. There isn't anything clever about working around the drawback (untap your critturs or give them vigilance) and the only time to really use the ability is when you're already winning. There isn't going to be some kind of trap set up by your opponents causing you to say "oh, if only I hadn't exerted!"

Smaller themes I noticed:

Enchantments matter again. Seems like the gods of Amonhket manifest their powers through enchantments and I am digging it.

Tapped creatures matter. Yeah, yeah, this is there to make exert more interesting but it's also a fallow area of the game that I'm surprised WotC hasn't looked into before. Creatures tap to do almost everything, why not explore themes that reward us for using them?

The graveyard matters. Again. I'm very, very dubious about this, even though it isn't a big theme, because of what Shadows Over Innistrad had. On the upside, this could bring in some new decks, or revive old ones. On the downside, too much focus on the graveyard without any legitimate hate cards raises a red flag for me.

Cards in hand matter. Blue wants cards in hand. Red/Black don't.

You know what would thrill me? If there was a legit excellent R/B deck that came out of this. What's also interesting? This is a spot where Blue/Black don't get along.

Zombie tribal is getting a big push. I'm OK with that...up until Fuz realizes how much he can upgrade his zombie deck.

Minotaur tribal might finally become a thing, too.

Specific cards of interest:

They're going to do something with Oracle's Vault/Pyramid of the Pantheon and the brick counters. Just a matter of time. I suspect Hour of Reckoning will have some fun cards for it.

Approach of the Second Sun + Fork is a neat win condition.

I suspect Cryptic Serpent might be the new Gurmag Angler. But Slither Blade is better than it has any right to be.

Bone Picker is going to make a friend with Blood Pet. If I can create a 3/2 flying deathtouch creature on turn 1, that's cool.

Shadow of the Grave is going to create a combo deck of SOME kind.

I think Harsh Mentor might be one of the best red cards I've seen in awhile.

Manglehorn is very interesting and I wonder if it might have some impact on Vintage. I don't know Vintage very well but if it's possible to drop that on turn one, you could put a real hurt on a lot of Vintage manabases.

I think Sandstorm Convergence is going to make a splash in Commander: it's great protection and a creature generator is never a bad thing.

And that's about it. It'll be interesting to see what comes of Amonkhet. I can't say I'm thrilled by it, but I'm definitely interested by the possibilities and the interactions that might arise with older sets.

*Edited because I thought the next set was "Hour of Reckoning". My bad.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

That I'm Confused

Let's get to it, yes?

Ajani, Mentor of Heroes took over the spot from Tamiyo. I only had one but it showed up in two different matches, against both Matt and Caitlin and it did a LOT better than I had hoped and while it might seem obvious to anyone-duh, making creatures bigger is a better thing-it works specifically in Knives because 1) my global removal still doesn't hurt me, no matter how big my creatures get, and 2) my inability to take out a problematic creature sometimes matters a lot less if I'm able to attack for four or more a turn.

Essentially, Ajani allows me to put the pressure on my opponent, whereas before that I was playing defense and hoping I could turn the tide.

In the pictured matchup, Ajani eventually appeared and helped me take down a Soul Sisters variant that I made and Matt was piloting.

Because Ajani shoves that tide back and it does so without creating more of a strain on my blue mana. Which brings me to another point-one I'm really happy about.

While I'm actually very pleased with the way the mana has worked out for me, especially since I tweaked a Botanical Sanctum for a Forest, Tamiyo was pushing a little hard on the availability of Islands that I might have. However, considering I am not running really expensive dual lands or fetches, my ability to get the colors I need has been consistent! I'm pleased with this result.

Unfortunately I only have one Ajani so for now, I need to stall. One more would be pretty helpful, although I have two slots. The Mentor of Heroes is around $14 a piece though and that's a little high. One more I can justify but two is a lot harder, so the third slot is going to be claimed by Matt's suggestion of Arachnogenesis

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I'd Be Better Off Dead

So I'm just going to throw us right into it:

Rite of Passage isn't good in this deck. I spent a chunk of games trying to see if it would work and the issue comes down to this: the only card that interacts with Rite is Wave of Reckoning. I'm better off trying to find another way.

I also incorporated Bant Charm in lieu of Dismantling Blow. Between Bant and Treva's charms, I have artifact and enchantment destruction, as well as a way to deal with creatures that survive a Wave.

But it didn't matter. Because as it turns out, there are a LOT of creatures that are really problematic and can survive a Wave of Reckoning. In this picture alone, we have Deathrite Shaman, Felidar Guardian and Juniper Order Ranger. Rite of Passage doesn't help me enough to deal with situations like this so it's time for me to let it go.

My first thought: Tamiyo, Field Researcher. I've liked this card for a long time and think it's a sleeper, one that hasn't been exploited yet.

Unfortunately, things didn't play out that way and I'm not sure if I'm to blame because I don't know how to use TFR yet, or because she's just not right for this deck. I'm thinking the latter, at the moment. It's even possible Planeswalkers might not be right for the deck, which is weird to say.

Which means I may need more creatures, or more inventive ways to push my agenda forward.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Here's how you make a bunch of Magic players angry

In response to the question, "Is it OK at a competitive REL event to riffle shuffle an opponent's deck?", tell them the truth.

It's legal and is one of, if not the most efficient way to sufficiently randomize a deck.

Because man do people get really upset by the notion that you might shuffle their deck.

But you can and I personally believe that at competitive events, you should.

I also believe that people should shuffle those decks with care, being considerate of other people's property.

Finally, I think that if you're at a competitive event and you don't have your deck in really good sleeves to prevent wear and tear and to help them stand up to shuffling, then you are the one who is being a fool, not your opponent.

I realize that this notion isn't popular. However, WotC has already agreed that riffle shuffling is legal and the math has been done on the riffle shuffle proving it's the one of -most likely the- best ways to randomize a deck. If you have an issue with that, take it up with WotC and the laws of mathematics. It isn't my problem.

Now all that said: three things.

First, a perfect mash shuffle can replicate a riffle shuffle. However, you have to perform it more times in order to get the deck randomized because odds are you aren't doing a perfect mash shuffle, and in a timed match that's important. It also means more wear and tear on those cards, just from a different angle. Again: good sleeves, people.

Second, it was pointed out to me that most of the studies and research I found used the riffle shuffle because it is the most common way to shuffle cards, at least in America. I will admit that there might be a space for research into mash shuffling to see exactly how many mashes it would take to get the same kind of randomization that seven riffle shuffles do. From what I understand, it's definitely more but how many more, I couldn't find.

Finally, it is worth pointing out that randomization is the goal here but it must be done with consideration of the investment that players put into their decks. Do I want my opponent's deck randomized? Absolutely. You should too. Do I want to put a crease in their Gaea's Cradle to do it? Hell no. I don't even want to put a crease in their Island.

So: respect people's property and their desire for an honest game. Sleeve up your cards, shuffle them properly but gently.

Seems pretty reasonable.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I Need Help

(As with most deck-related posts, that's a line from the song, not a direct plea. Although help is always good).

I got a few games in with Knives and, though it grates on my weirdo sensibilities, I have to admit that it's pretty likely that Rite of Passage will have to come out.

This makes me sad. Making creatures bigger via what I want to do with Wave of Reckoning really seemed like the way to go. However, I'm not doing anything else with +1 counters so there is very much a "cool" factor happening. I'm not going to give up on it just yet but it's on the chopping block.

In contrast, I knew I wanted to cut Acridian because there's no need for the echo cost and I figured 2/4 creatures come in better flavors. I did a search though and it's hard to find a replacement. Most creatures have Defender or zero power or both, or just don't quite fit. Two mana isn't much and I suppose I'm asking for a lot.

I ended up with Druid of the Cowl as my replacement, because I kept seeing a logjam of cards at the 3 mana spot. Making sure I can cast those 3 drops seems like a solid idea, as well as potentially making Wev of Reckoning castable on turn four. Yes, I am aware that Noble Hierarch would be a perfect card for this deck but that card costs $65 despite being reprinted and I'm invoking the "my money > less of my money" rule.

The next thing I did was run this through deckstats.net and that's when I noticed the mana color problems. There just isn't enough blue. But at 42% lands I don't think I need to add more, just adjust the lands I do have to represent the colors I need. Fortunately that's an easy tweak, as I can adjust both my green and white mana without much impact on their availability.

Time to see if Rite of Passage really, truly sucks here...




Thursday, March 30, 2017

Knives

What happens when you look at Wave of Reckoning and think: hey, that should anchor a deck?
2 Acridian
3 Canopy Spider
3 Court Hussar
2 Skyhunter Prowler
2 Rhox War Monk
4 Saber Ants
2 Ancient Spider

3 Rite of Passage

4 Wave of Reckoning

4 Accumulated Knowledge
3 Treva's Charm
3 Dismantling Blow

3 Treva's Ruins
8 Plains
3 Island
2 Bant Panorama
9 Forest
While I named this deck after the excellent Therapy song, this deck is really about butts. Which I also like, however that isn't quite as relevant to the discussion, except for how I'm solving the Wave of Reckoning problem. Also, I know, I know: I should've called this deck 'Baby Got Back' but I just didn't make the connection at the time.

Now, there is some ancient tech in here with only the slightest tweaks done during Alara block for mana. That was long ago, though and it's time to get this sucker tweaked!

What's the plan? Draw cards. Play creatures with big butts. Cast Wave of Reckoning and benefit because 1) my creatures won't die, 2) Rite of Passage is cool. Swing for 20.

That's it. Simple, right?

One thing I will say about the mana base is that WotC has really dropped the ball by not making wedge dragon lairs, a la Treva's Ruins. I'm not sure why they haven't made more of these-I think they're really cool and go a long way towards solving these kinds of problems-but Planar Chaos came and went (the perfect time!), then the whole Khans block came and went and...no wedge liars.

For the longest time, those Ruins were the best fixers I had and they are still pretty good. But the base as a whole may need to adapt, depending on what changes get made. Time to get to it!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Pyrrhic Victory

During the testing for Need Machine, someone came in a little late to the Reddit thread and suggested Metallic Mimic.

This is great! I didn't see that card in my searches because I just wasn't looking. It's an artifact so it has interactions with Scarecrone, it's a two drop, so I can play it early and help with my other creatures, it's an "as you play" trigger so Reaper King will benefit, and it's a creature, which increases my threat density.

All in all, Metallic Mimic seemed like a great idea so I made the decision to cut the Barbed Sextant to make space. That was a hard decision, because extra cards are good but Worldly Counsel has been such a rockstar, I thought the creature density mattered more.

This had times when it worked out, as with my match against Lauriel.

And times when it didn't go as well, as against Fuz.

Because, against really aggressive decks, I need to draw Collective Restraint and I didn't get one, not a single one, against Fuz.

Which means it's time for me to let go of the Glory of Cool Things that is Eerie Interlude. I like this card, I have cast this card and had it be fun! But I need to have a Ghostly Prison effect out by turn 4 and without the extra draws from the Barbed Sextant, I want to ensure that Worldly Counsel gives me a shot.

As for the matchup pictured? Weeeellll...this is why sideboards are made. Destroying most of the lands so my opponent cannot attack is a very good strategy against anything but decks that want to mill me or decks that don't care if they have lands.

These are, admittedly, very narrow strategies and I shouldn't run into them very often. What's more likely is that I would run into countermagic and there isn't a ton I can do about that. Like a great many decks I build, playing around countermagic will take patience and, again, a sideboard to help me resolve spells that I need resolving.

Nonetheless, I feel like I've got this deck in a better place and until there are more scarecrows, I think I've got to let this dog lie.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Break

Hey, everyone: it was my birthday yesterday and I didn't get much gaming done so today I'm taking a pass. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Kick You In The Shins

I think it's safe to say I've hit Stage One. That means: against other weird casual decks, Need Machine has got some legs and I'm taking it in the right direction. I'm not sure this can hit the level of being a good Jason deck or even a solid deck but at the very least, I can hammer away at other odd decks well enough.

I got to play the Need Machine against Matt's new, weird, Equipoise/Sands of Time deck and did pretty well against it: the slow combo lock it presented gave me plenty of time to get things set up/draw into a Reaper King.

At that point, if I destroy one of this two lock pieces-

Aside: the lock works because Phasing happens at the untap step, which Sands of Time has you skip. That means that if Equipoise can phase out a permanent, it will be gone forever.

-the combo is merely annoying. Because I've been dealing with weird and/or obscure stuff for a long time now, I've learned how to be patient and hit combos like this where I can. Having a gameplan is always better than not having one and in this instance, my brain doesn't freak out. I just play things out until it's clear I can smash what I need to smash to win, or I'll never have another land in play again.

That feels good, mentally.

I also went up against Caitlin's improved scarecrow deck and went 2-3 in our games. What it came down to? Who cast Reaper King first.

She also revealed some pretty spicy tech in our final game, showing Call to the Kindred and dropping a Reaper King for free. I couldn't hide behind Collective Restraint as a result!

But dang, if I didn't like Call to the Kindred there. I don't think I have the creature density to make it work but I really wish I did.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Drums of Conquest

Lauriel brought a U/R cantrip deck with Nivix Cyclops to test. This is one of those weird UR decks that doesn't look like an aggro deck on the surface but actually is, due to the interactions between the Cyclops, Young Pyromancer and Guttersnipe with all the cantrip effects.

I had a couple slots available and was trying out Chameleon Colossus and Woodland Changeling to see if their Changeling ability would come in handy with the Reaper King. I didn't want to buy more Scarecrones and I didn't have more Collective Restraints, coupled with not a lot of creatures, made me want to lean into more creatures.

We had about four, maybe five matchups and one thing became very clear: Collective Restraint is a Very Big Deal against aggro decks. If I got one down with 9 or more life available, I could grind out a win. If not, I died under a wave of UR beats.

Worldly Council proved itself to be a champ here. I came away from these games convinced that I should be running four. While that puts the deck to 61 cards, the opportunity to dig into my deck that far is too good to ignore.

The duds were the Changelings. While great under Reaper King, they didn't do much else. I should just find more Scarecrows to add because these just didn't provide enough synergy. The Changelings trigger Reaper King and I can sacrifice them to Scarecrone-but I can't bring them back with Scarecrone.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Buckshot Methodology

So, the first thing to do is figure out what changes should be made. In the last post, I noted that yeah, the protection-bears needed to be cut but, then what?

2 Wild-Field Scarecrow, because it's a scarecrow and helps fix mana.
Eerie Interlude, but only one of because it's a glory of cool things moment.

And, well, this is a little embarrassing, because...

Not that long ago, I was mocking Worldly Counsel. I mean, who runs that card?

Turns out, I do.

Yeah, yeah: look, I'll just admit that I threw it in on a lark. I needed a card to fill slots, card draw is traditionally good, instant card draw is better so why not? I was certain I would find something better pretty quickly. And with only two copies of Collective Restraint in my deck, I was pretty sure that having a way to dig for those cards would be very, very useful.

So I ran two.

Whoa.

Seeing three cards for two mana at instant speed isn't bad but if you get to look at four or five? That is pretty dang good.

I'm going to have to run more. I also think that this card should get some more attention in any Eternal format deck that runs blue. Three or four color decks are commonplace there and good, instant speed card draw drops off rather quickly after Brainstorm.


I'm excited about where this might take me!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Need Machine

While I was testing Overkill, Caitlin brought a new deck she was working on to try out.

"It's casual," she said, "and I just built it," so I would know that this was an 'in progress' build. You know how it is; mock the concept up, see what happens, take it from there. Her build: tribal scarecrow with Reaper King.

"I have a deck like that," I said.
4 Global Ruin
3 Tribal Flames
3 Exotic Disease

2 Llanowar Knight
2 Shivan Zombie
2 Scarecrone
3 Galina's Knight
2 Heap Doll
1 Pili-Pala
2 Tatterkite
3 Reaper King

2 Collective Restraint

4 Harrow

4 Barbed Sextant

9 Forest
2 Swamp
2 Mountain
3 Terramorphic Expanse
3 Plains
4 Island
Originally, the Need Machine (named after the punchy Foetus song) was a kind of protection-bears (2/2s with pro-{color}) deck with Domain-related spells (cards that got better for every land type I had in play) to overwhelm opponents. Global Ruin is the kind of card that can really wreck unprepared decks.

That shifted when I opened a couple Reaper Kings in my box of Eventide and thought, "well, this is a great creature for a five color deck!" But, I kinda one-bun'd it when I went scarecrow. I just didn't want to get rid of the most relevant pro-protection creatures.
There are new scarecrows to consider, but also the Shapeshifter creature type and the rise of "blink" related spells in Blue and White, like Displace.

While talking about her deck, Caitlin told me that there weren't more decent scarecrows to add and she was right: the color matters themed scarecrows from Shadowmoor block find no kin elsewhere, and the scarecrows printed in Shadows over Innistrad's block seem to carry no theme to them at all.

Special note to Wizards; I like the untap symbol. Bring that coolness back on something!

So there may not be much wiggle room when it comes to adding creatures; that's a bummer but there are clever workarounds like changelings to help. It's also possible that through some clever recursion tricks, Scarecrone might be a path to take-although whoa, that card is pricey!

The spells offer less opportunities: Global Ruin and Collective Restraint will keep pretty much any creature deck away; Exotic Disease, while expensive, provides quite a bit of breathing room while pairing with Tribal Flames as a reasonable win condition. Cutting those seems like a Very Bad Idea.

But at least six creatures can go, Galina's Knight, Shivan Zombie, and Llanowar Knight, so I've got a place to start.