Thursday, March 30, 2017


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 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


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.


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.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Combat = Time

When it didn't work
I remember the moment pretty clearly: Noah, Matt and I were playing and while I don't recall what Matt was doing, Noah had a RUG Temur Battle Rage/Become Immense thing happening and I went in one turn from 20 to 6 life.

I was dead the next turn.

All I would think of was: I need a way to get more time.

So how the heck can I reliably do that? Card draw in Green, the dominant color, is too slow. Tweaking the mana base so I can use Blue seems very unwise. What to do?

Arachnogenesis. That's right, I'm taking the best Fog ever out for a spin. As a function of time, Arachnogenesis should provide me with two full turns of things to do and maybe that's all that I need. I certainly need to do something: the answers aren't coming and it's getting frustrating.

When it did!
Hell, I was considering Worldly Counsel for a bit. But the answer has to be in green or else I run the risk of having dead cards in hand and with a combo deck like this using redundancy to give it consistency, dead cards are already a problem.

In games against Caitlin and Fuz, the Spider Surprise did what I hoped; gave me minimum two turns to work things out. In one game that wasn't enough-Vigor on board blunts what Arachnogenesis wants to do-but in my other games the spiders did great work.

In the case of most aggro decks, the spiders can take out their most potent threat, enabling a decent stalemate, or against others, blunting the "all in" attack and giving me more than a turn to get things going.

I would still prefer more card draw, or another Show & Tell but for now, I think I'm in pretty good shape.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Learning Via Losses

This is a long one and it tends to focus more on the Commander format for its examples but I think it's worth the read.

I'm happy to say that doing the post-game debrief is pretty common amongst people I play with, as we're always trying to make the game better for each other. Suggestions for alternate cards and questions about different lines of play come up all the time.

I think that it's pretty cool that we're trying to help each other out.

In contrast, here's an article on dealing with wins.

I find it interesting, in that both things want to focus on process. Forget outcomes, look at how you are doing what you do.

Which is an interesting notion to ponder the next time I find myself winning anything. I am wondering if I focus more on process if I will be able to stay calmer and perform better.