Thursday, November 30, 2017

Show You The Score

When I play Jason, this is often what I deal with. Look at this insanity. Karn, Silver Golem, Mycosynth Lattice, Howling Mine. He's about to drop a Hellkite Tyrant and steal all my stuff.

And the only thing standing in the way of all that is Devout Witness. Even then, I didn't get my play right, hitting Karn instead of the Lattice. Jason just ran me over with 6/6 woke artifacts.

Still, practice makes perfect, right?

Now, I got some excellent suggestions from Reddit user Pumatyger, who went so far as to re-imagine Hope Is A Passenger as a mono-W lifegain deck. You can see his revision here-buuuuuut as interesting as that deck is, I already have one of those that does interesting things and the keys to Hope are Well of Lost Dreams and Ageless Entity.

The suggestions of Blessed Alliance and Serene Steward were especially interesting. However, the Steward just wasn't quiet as helpful as I would like, at least as a replacement for Pulse of the Fields. Especially since what it wants to do (pay W for counters) runs against what Well of Lost Dreams wants to do. Blessed Alliance gave me some options that opponents were surprised by and that was nice. I haven't used it for the lifegain yet: Blessed Alliance might be one of those cards that I really have to play with a lot in order to get used to the options. I tend to lock in on one-the removal aspect in this case-and neglect the uses of the other parts of the card.

I do this a lot and it was even something I brought up to Jason while we played: How to get better and really focus on making the best decisions.

It's going to take some practice. However, there's no time like right now to get on that.

There are a few white cards with lifelink that I should consider as well: Knight of Meadowgrain was a fine suggestion but Bishop's Soldier might make it because the mana requirements are less.

The thing that really has me interested? The replacement for Windbrisk Raptor: Dragonlord Dromoka.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

As It Could Be

This article at ChannelFireball posits an interesting question about how to reinvent the color pie. The companion piece about how Magic has never been balanced, is also worth a read.

What I think is missed in the reinvention of the color pie-the solution to which is 'just don't let the colors do all the things well'-is that WotC is already implementing said notions in small ways. Most notably and recently, moving the Fight mechanic to Green and making it a way for Green to have creature removal.

However, to pull from an even more recent example, let's talk about Adanto Vanguard and Glorifier of Dusk.

You have to go back to Mercadian Masques in order to find another mono-white card that will let you do something for a life payment (Righteous Aura). The earliest card I could find with this kind of ability: Order of the Sacred Torch.

However, WotC found a place for White to justifiably break the color pie for story reasons, and they took it. It's likely only for a single set, (until they can find a way to justify it again) but they found a way to take a mechanic typically reserved for Black (life payment for an effect) and crossed it over. Sure, it doesn't do a whole lot but it does shake up how people think of the color.

So I think that WotC is at least a little ahead of the curve in their attempts to create dynamic playing environments. Sure, Mark Rosewater might complain a bit about the color pie being broken-and he should. The color pie being 'boring' means that the color pie is the standard.

That standard is critical to Magic: if you do not have a baseline to deviate from and return to, then what you have is simply chaos. Magic is too complex a game to endure or worse, generate, chaos. Someone has to vanguard that standard and it would seem that part of Mark's job is to do just that.

But I've come around to the notion that offering colors different options as appropriate-especially with story justifications-help keep the game dynamic.

I still don't like white vampires. But I like the mechanic there.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Unstable Spoiler

The Unstable full spoiler list has been released.

I have to say; this set looks like a great deal of fun. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 20, 2017


Traveling for the holiday but I should be able to have regular posting come next Tuesday. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mental Prep

Last night during a game against a B/R dragon reanimator deck, (I was paying Rize of the Fenix), I failed to understand my role.

Though my opponent had nothing on the board and I was at 8, I decided it would be a good idea to cast Demigod of Revenge, keeping one in my hand, and attack with it and a Flamewake Phoenix.

My opponent took 7, untapped, cast a Zombify to get a bunch of creatures out and killed me with a hasted Dragon Tyrant. The data was all there: the cards in graveyard, the equipment that would give haste. I just didn't think things through.

Same night: Caitlin beat me because I rushed my plays, this time while playing Hope Is A Passenger, thinking I had to do the thing instead of assessing the situation and making a plan. A plan that, the turn after she beat me, I saw, would have given me a little more time, maybe just enough to win.

Reading this, then was a reminder about how to improve my game.

Staying focused, and choosing not to hurry are both good things and I really want to get better at that. How? By making a plan.

So often I rush headlong into plays and I don't take into consideration changing data like the boardstate or even the card I just drew! I've got to start taking my time and really examining what's going on, otherwise I'll continue to drop games for no good reason.

I'm not sure exactly how to do this, but being aware of what the problem is has got to be a start.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Smoke & A Blindfold

Before I did any examination of Hope Is A Passenger, I did a little road testing against Noah, Matt, and Caitlin. The deck did...badly.

That was OK. To be expected, even. Matt and Caitlin had some suggestions though: Essence Warden and Venser's Journal. I liked both of these lines of thought but had some concerns about the high converted mana cost of the Journal.

Enter: Ivory Tower.

So, what else?

Well, I put this deck through the online analysis and I have to say, I like the stats. 38% mana is definitely solid and means I should have enough to do what I need to do, like cast Ageless Entity in a reasonable timeframe.

However, the available mana has changed since I built this deck, too. I'm not sure Horizon Canopy fits as well as I'd like. The Canopy would probably go better in some kind of draw engine, either via Life from the Loam or maybe with a Crucible of Worlds. Oddly enough, it's Graypelt Refuge that works well here. Gaining a life for playing a land isn't bad and if I have a Well out, I can draw a card, too. Plus, it can synergize a little with the Selesnya Sanctuary.

Next will be to find replacements for Windbrisk Raptor. That card costs eight and doesn't win me the game on the spot. Something that can show up earlier is in order or something that wins when I play it at that converted mana cost is required.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Hope Is A Passenger

I don't even have the CD anymore but I liked this song by Kite-Eating Tree and considering what the theme is, I felt the title made sense for this deck.
4 Armadillo Cloak

3 Staunch Defenders
3 Ageless Entity
3 Kavu Titan
4 Quirion Elves
3 Devout Witness
2 Windbrisk Raptor
1 Warrior Angel

3 Pulse of the Fields

2 Solar Tide

1 Sword of Light and Shadow
4 Sunbeam Spellbomb
4 Well of Lost Dreams

2 Horizon Canopy
2 Selesnya Sanctuary
9 Plains
10 Forest
The idea? Gain life, draw cards via that life gain with Well of Lost Dreams and win out with a massive Ageless Entity. Or just awesome trampling dudes via Armadillo Cloak. That works too. Don't be afraid to use Solar Tide to wipe the board with Sword of Light and Shadow to bring creatures back, and don't be afraid to drop a Kavu Titan on turn 2.

Things have changed a lot since I built this deck, especially in regards to lifegain mechanics, what they can do and where they can come from. Hell, the mechanic has bled into black!

I am not going to add black to the deck.

But I am going to revise this puppy to see how it can be improved. Red decks, be afraid!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Sometimes, This Is Dumb

Take a look at this hand:

I mean, this is just nonsense. Four Angel's Grace should technically be three more than I need.

Now, I get there is variance and sometimes things happen and and and

To which I say: OK, fine but do I really need four copies of Angel's Grace.

Because what Bonecrusher wants to do is flood the board with goblins and win via that horde. It's the secondary plan of using Skirk Fire Marshal/Mogg Maniac that I need Angel's Grace for.

Well that's the long game. Or at least the long game as played into a middle game because I don't want the game to go long.

Basically, it's a trick and I know it's a trick but it's also a trick that doesn't need to be pulled off until after my opponent has stabilized the board. If they don't stabilize then I'm in the clear. If they do, hit 'em on the roundabout.

So, -1 Angel's Grace, +1 Chained to the Rocks.

After multiple games with Noah, I have come to realize something: this deck just doesn't quite have what it takes. It isn't bad-and in aggro matchups, the game can be very interesting.

But game after game I found myself without a way to get ahead against non-red decks. Sometimes it was due to misplays-going for the glory of cool things instead of looking for the best play. Sometimes it was just not having an answer to a turn one Deathrite Shaman.  Sometimes, countermagic foiled my plans. One memorable game, I was in need of two sources of red by turn 3 and I had, instead, two Plains and a Battlefield Forge. This is despite retooling the manabase.

Bonecrusher is a deck that is on the edge: certainly an investment in more expensive mana would help. So might the use of Aether Vial or a little more removal, although I'm not sure what to cut.

I think it's time to move on. Got a couple interesting decks lined up that I've been meaning to have a go at, and there aren't interesting goblins happening in Ixalan so now is as good a time as any.

Current list:
2 Goblin King
3 Goblin Lackey
2 Goblin Matron
3 Goblin Ringleader
3 Mogg Maniac
3 Skirk Fire Marshal
2 Warren Instigator
2 Krenko, Mob Boss
3 Goblin Chieftain 
3 Chained to the Rocks 
4 Renewed Faith
3 Angel's Grace
2 Lightning Helix
3 Shelter 
4 Plains
11 Mountain
4 Clifftop Retreat
1 Boros Guildgate
2 Battlefield Forge
Final note: Hey, I meant to get this up last Thursday but I wanted to included the decklist and just had some scheduling snafus. Sorry about that!