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.