Thursday, July 21, 2011

Get slammed

The first matchup I played w/Slamdance was against a U/B milling deck. Fair warning; I will have to endure a lot of milling decks because one of my metagame people has as hard-on for them and other weird win conditions that are frequently non-interactive. See my reference to Confusion in the Ranks below.

Ensuring I can win through that kind of combo and weird interaction is one of my bigger challenges as a deckbuilder and occasionally as a player. At some point-there's bound to be a slow week eventually- I'll write something on metagames and formats, just to give readers an idea of what I'm dealing with, and an upcoming post has a tale of my brain locking up.

Returning to the problem at hand: the milling deck and the LD deck do not want to interact with each other and as a result, the match is about who can enact their weird vector to victory more effectively than the other.

Spoiler alert: Mine did not want to interact very effectively. The milling deck was far quicker and I was never able to gain a proper foothold and establish an advantage.

The question when faced with an 0-2 loss is; what could have been in my deck that wasn't, that might have helped me make this match one I had a possibility of winning?

There are two likely answers here; first, to speed up the deck so that I'm destroying lands faster than the game wants to allow this (turn 4 for the most part but in the early days, turn 3) or stall things out further so that my win conditions become inevitable.

The thing about Land Destruction as a strategy is that making your win condition inevitable via stall is really difficult because eventually, players will have enough land to overcome your roadblock and win, so the win condition needs to be really, really good. The edge that LD gives me as as strategy is a small one so once I decide to turn the game around, it has to be an absolute event.

This means that cards like Veteran Brawlers, as noted earlier, completely suck.

However, what might not be as apparent is that cards like Inferno actually put me in a pretty awkward position too. The game goes on until someone is defeated and Slamdance wants to use the resources available-life, really- as much as it can so eking out every last point of life matters. Because the game doesn't care if I'm at 1 point when I win, just so long as I win.

Cards like Inferno, while seemingly cool, insist on doing six points of damage to everything so if, for any reason, I'm not able to stabilize before I get to six life, Inferno no longer helps me. In comparison, Earthquake is scalable, so if I'm at 5 I can do 4 points of damage and still remain in the game. Choices are generally better than non-choices.

This happened against a Confusion in the Ranks deck; I held onto Inferno because it would kill me to play it.

So what's going to help? Because once that question has been resolved, the next one is; if I replace X card with Y card, does this improve my overall matchups, or just my efforts against one deck? Win conditions that are difficult to handle were good in both the CitR match and the Milling one. The Glasskite makes sense because it's hard to target and hard to block. What else will help me?

In a brief brainstorm with Jason, it came to me; Frost Titan-a card he was playing in a different deck that actually didn't want it. It's the kind of Aha! moment I really love in Magic, when I can see pieces come together in a near-savant manner.

Except I'm using those in another (bad) deck.

And here's the thing about me: despite a deck being bad, I hate taking apart any deck that's got a strong theme and potential and the current Frost Titan deck, named Frost Hammer has a theme (and in part because of the Titan, potential) in spades.

This brings me to the basic dilemma that I always face when constructing decks: What else do I have that will work, so I don't have to spend more money or break down a deck? Or do I just say; screw it, the Frost Hammer deck is cute but we've got a winner on our hands! Let go of that old crap and get after it!

This is the part that always gets me into trouble; I have three Inferno Titans that need a home. And lookie there, I have three slots (2 Veteran Brawlers, 1 Inferno) that need to be removed. It's just so perfect, right?

Lesson number 456: everybody must behave in accordance with their nature. So because it is my nature, I have to at least test the Inferno Titans.

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