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.