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.