Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Limited Quadrant Theory

This article on ChannelFireball by LSV was one I found fascinating. I'm not a big limited player but good theory is applicable to any deckbuilding process, I think. Check it out.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Chain of Command

I'm here to tell you: Supreme Will is the real deal. Holding three mana up means that I always have an option and unless my opponent was really fast, I could dig my way out of a lot.

For some reason, both Jason and Fuz have come up with Bant wall decks for me to push up against and in both cases I've been able to stop their key spells and protect my combo to win.

It's not just the 'don't die' decks that I found myself in a stronger position against. Because of the Impulse and Supreme Will suite of draw and countermagic, I found answers when I needed them. Ixalan's Binding and Voidstone Gargoyle did great work in games 2 and 3 to help me cut off their lines of play.

And Ultra Magnus has been doing OK in multiplayer games too. I learned a quick lesson about being OK with letting a land enter the battlefield tapped, if I could hold up countermagic on turn two vs Thalia. But again: the soft lock assembly kept my opponents away from me and towards each other.

I even got a reminder that Reverence works on creatures with power two or less. I've been focusing so much on what Godhead of Awe did I just thought everything had to be set to one. Turns out, there are a lot of creatures with two power that find themselves stuck behind a Reverence, whether or not Godhead is out.

All in all, I feel really good about where this deck is at. A few mana tweaks and the addition of Supreme Will have set Ultra Magnus in a far, far better spot than when I started, so I think it's time to move on.

3 Meadowboon
2 Voidstone Gargoyle
3 Godhead of Awe
3 Thalakos Seer
2 Riftwing Cloudskate
1 Restoration Angel

3 Reverence
3 Ixalan's Binding

3 Counterspell
2 Absorb
2 Peek
4 Momentary Blink
3 Impulse
3 Supreme Will

3 Azorius Chancery
7 Island
6 Plains
4 Prairie Stream
3 Port Town

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Strange Visitors

The road testing of Ultra Magnus is going about how I expected, with new changes and old cards kinda-sorta meshing but maybe not?

Ultra Magnus vs new Dragons
It's the kind of experience I get a lot when trying new stuff, really hewing down to what works. Multiple games against Jason and I still wasn't comfortable with how certain lines of play should extend. That a deck needs to be practiced isn't a problem, however. I like it, I like looking for those interactions that I hadn't seen before.

Jason taught me a definite lesson about being able to interact. Godhead of Awe is pretty cool but it doesn't really do enough against Glorybringer if I don't have a Reverence out.

I was disappointed in my card draw effects, too. I think Mulldrifter is as cool as the next person but as a turn three play, it just wasn't doing what I hoped.

"But it draws you cards, man. You need it," Jason pointed out. "Plus, it's a flyer so you can swing for damage." And he's right on both counts. The problem with Mulldrifter doesn't go away, though. It's not a great turn three play, and I need to get Ultra Magnus online as soon as I can.

"I think I need to take out Hindering Light," I tell him. I don't want to: This card draws cards for me and protects my lock. It's all winner, right?

But it's too reactive. I need it after turn five, when, hopefully, I've set up my Reverence/Godhead lock. Before then, it doesn't help. In a deck with one and two drops, the Hindering Light could shine! In a deck with four and five turn plays, not so much.

So where to go? Well, thanks to my games of Battlebond I have a new collection of Impulses that need a home. And this might just be the time for a card I've been waiting to shine, Supreme Will.

With that suite of card draw effects that don't dilute (much) my ability to counter spells (three mana is usually a heavy enough tax that it functions like a hard counterspell), hopefully this will enable Ultra Magnus to assemble the pieces I need in order to push my gameplan forward.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

A Legal Take On The Reserve List

The Reserve List is always a contentious subject, which is one reason I found this article on the topic fascinating. By trying to break down what is at stake legally, I think reading this will give people a better understanding as to if or when Wizards will revisit the Reserved List policy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


After a checkup at Deckstats, the mana ratios looked pretty good-tilted slightly towards blue but given I wanted UU on turn two, I felt good about that. Even so, I thought I should update that base so I could more reliably have double blue on turn two, so I've added in Port Town to help with that.

I took the deck up against Jason for a day. It made for some interesting games but he said a few things at the end.

"I was least scared of Venerable Monk."

Well that's fair.

"And you're only running how many Reverence? Dude, your combo is Godhead/Reverence!"

Good point. OK. Let's evaluate: I haven't even looked into creatures that blink my stuff but there's bound to be some help in that area, too.

Restoration Angel and Deadeye Navigator both seem like solid possibilities-the Angel more than the Navigator. Deadeye is expensive to cast and, while abuseable via repeat activation, I'm not sure it'll be worth running.

Riftwake Cloudskate might be helpful solving permanents I can't get around, bouncing non-creatures. Ixalan's Binding should contribute to a space Jason said was sorely lacking: interaction with my opponent. Plus, it helps reinforce the control elements set by Voidstone Gargoyle. So that's the direction I'll take this in.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Ultra Magnus

Named after the great Autobot second in command, what...what was I doing with this deck?
4 Venerable Monk
4 Mulldrifter
4 Meadowboon
2 Voidstone Gargoyle
3 Godhead of Awe
4 Thalakos Seer 
2 Reverence
2 Counterspell
2 Absorb
2 Peek
2 Hindering Light
4 Momentary Blink
2 Familiar's Ruse 
3 Azorius Chancery
3 Skycloud Expanse
7 Island
6 Plains
4 Prairie Stream
I suppose it's worth admitting that it's a pie in the sky kind of deck. Get Godhead of Awe out, blink critturs for protection, use Reverence to keep my opponent's creatures off my back.

It's not a bad plan, really: there's a notion to control the board and win by making my elements thrive under that control by reusing Meadowboon's leave's play ability. I have cheap thematic countermagic in Familiar's Ruse, Momentary Blink to both save my creatures and take advantage of Thalakos Seer or Voidstone Gargoyle's abilities, Hindering Light to protect Godhead of Awe.

Effectively, I feel a lot better about the skeleton of this deck than I did when I started reviewing the last deck, Longshots. Putting this one through the wringer should be fun.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Silly Dream

I think I'm ready to set Longshots down.

Playing against a smorgasboard of decks on the 4th (thanks, holiday!) piloted by Jason and then Fuz, I was able to put up some solid results.

Part of this was realizing one very important thing: I'm usually the control player.

In multiple matchups, it was right to play Grenzo on turn two, if I had it and I was going first but aside from that? It was better to hold off, let them play their creature, burn it to the ground, and wait.

This mentality was especially useful in the Enchantress matches, where Savage Alliance was incredibly helpful against Argothian Enchantress.

Tibalt, the Fiend Blooded also put in heavy lifting. I know what the conventional wisdom is but Tibalt is way better than they think. In creature matchups that stalemated, as with the zombies game, the fear of Tibalt making it to six loyalty put pressure on Fuz he didn't want. Against Jason, the -4 ability did some great work, again keeping pressure on him while my creatures were stuck under a Humility.

I also had to make some clever moves under a Humility, with Purphoros, God of the Forge alowing me get damage in when my creatures were otherwise useless.

However, I was again playing a more deliberate, waiting game so that I could find or generate my opportunity to win. Even in games where my opponent was drawing cards, Tibalt was keeping me in it.

I know this deck isn't ever going to be perfect or even tier 1.5. But I'm happy with the progress and think I'm ready to move on. Here's the latest decklist.

1 Tenza, Godo's Maul

2 Tahngarth, Talruum Hero
3 Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
3 Urabrask the Hidden
1 Purphoros, God of the Forge
1 Squee, the Immortal
2 Etali, Primal Storm
2 Grenzo, Havoc Raiser
1 Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh/Chandra, Roaring Flame

3 War's Toll

4 Kindle
4 Seething Song
4 Savage Alliance

3 Ghitu Encampment
1 Hammerheim
1 Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
18 Mountain

3 Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded

3 Rift Bolt

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Almost Ruled The World

This is, as always, more challenging than I thought.

More games, this time against Fuz and later Matt and each time, the swarms were the problem. Admittedly, Matt was playing a tuned version of Death and Taxes but so many creatures with so little toughness and I just couldn't do much about it all. Phyrexian Revoker, Thalia: I kept asking myself: I have 11 spells that do damage, why aren't they keeping the board clear?

I start talking about removing Fated Conflagration, since it costs 4 and using on my turn isn't really the best use of my time, except that I really want to use it then, to get the scry effect.

"Fiery Confluence?" Matt suggests. I tell him that I can't run that because the CMC is 5.

OK, so what else could work here? Off to the Gatherer!

(This is where I find out that I'm wrong about Fiery Confluence and it's only 4 mana, which is perfect-so let's see how much that card is!

$20.Oh, no.

My money > less of my money. )

It seemed obvious to try and put in a card like Anger of the Gods, but I thought I'd run a query through the search engine anyway. If I didn't have to kill the few creatures I run, I'd rather not, and options are good, because sometimes I get something cool-in this case, Savage Alliance strikes me as an excellent card with a lot of flexibility. I'd prefer it if one of those modes destroyed an artifact, but apparently one of the most obvious red things to do ever wasn't something that red should obviously do.

Still, it's a way to wipe out hordes and maybe even punish the cheap blocks that happen against my larger creatures. Since I can cast it from turn three on, this might just be a Very Big Deal.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Vultures Are Killing In The Sky

"Grenzo is really good, man."

Longshots vs token generation
That was the biggest take I got from a guy named Tom, who was watching Matt and I play at Tonic. With an early Grenzo and a slow start from Matt, I was able to really take advantage of Grenzo's 'play your stuff' ability.

A similar thing happened when I was able to attack with Etali in game two. Although I eventually lost that game, the effect was a big enough of a deal that the advice I got from Tom and Matt afterwards was the same: "Cut Kari Zev and Kumano, add Grenzo and Etali."

So I did that...and got properly stomped by a white aggro deck Fuz was piloting.

I guess Jason was right: I really am vulnerable to aggro decks. To address that, I'll have to think a little differently. I don't want to cut Seething Song; ramping into my legends is important but I certainly considered it. When I draw Song on turn eight, it really doesn't matter. However, the ability to drop a legend into play on turn three is too strong to ignore.

So, maybe Staggershock needs to go. I love the idea of getting 4 damage in over two turns but without the Ruby Medallion, it's not as efficient as it once was. Doing damage on turn 2 is a way to  help keep things from getting out of control so I can get to turn 3.

Kindle is the card that has caught my eye. The pluses: hits for two or more, isn't a complete loss if Tibalt forces me to discard it. The drawbacks: getting to a place where I'm doing 3 (or 4) damage for two mana isn't something this deck is geared to do. Still, the possibility is there and it helps blunt Tibalt's drawback.

Still, I'm going to go with it for now and see what the utility of Kindle provides.