Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tug on a thread the whole thing starts to come undone

The problem with removing cards in a deck like Wildrider is that parts are meant to be reliant with other parts: Mindstorm Crown is there to help draw, Wild Mongrel is there to facilitate those draws. Remove the Crown and Wild Mongrel is...what? It's still good, but is it actively contributing to my wins anymore?

Because that's the dilemma in a deck like this, which is so linear and direct that any card that isn't contributing to the goal has to be eliminated. Sure, cards like River Boa or Whirling Dervish may seem like they don't belong but they directly confront two of the biggest problems for a Stompy deck; blue and black. I've won so many games on the back of a resolved Dervish, I'm surprised that card doesn't hold more value.

As an example, I was playing a R/B vampire deck last night and in game one, he had a creature that could've traded with my Dervish and chose not to make that trade. The Dervish became a 3/3 and on the next and final turn, when I had five creatures out to his two, the only creature that he had that could kill the Dervish was black.

Not that long ago, a card like Wild Mongrel avoided a great deal of black removal because the restriction on black removal was that it could only take out non-black creatures. The synergy with the Crown meant that I could make it to the long game.

But the reality has been that the pieces have not shown up in time. Against a faeries deck I hurriedly put out two Mindstorm Crowns in an attempt to draw into what I needed to win. Unfortunately, I couldn't play my hand fast enough and never saw a Wild Mongrel: the Crowns did more damage to me than my opponent! Ever since I've added in the Geists and the extra Groundbreaker, the deck has been better. That's a good thing but it also means that there are four cards in the deck now that could be underperforming. Since the philosophies behind Stompy decks have been shifted to White, it might be a long, long time before I find a proper substitute.

Most Stompy decks have more pump in them and while I'm not big on replacing four threats like that, cards like Vines of Vastwood or Mutagenic Growth can be very useful. The former can act as countermagic, the latter can be used in conjunction with Talaria's Battalion in order to play that card sooner. Unfortunately, I don't have another Battalion so for the moment, the My Money rule kicks in.

I do have Jungle Lions and Garruk's Beasts, though...but this assumes that I need to replace the Mongrels at all! Sometimes I have extra lands in hand: Once Wildrider has three mana on the table it doesn't need anything else, so why not pitch them to the Mongrel to boost its stats?

Why not, indeed.

What I hope is that one can see how one seemingly simple change can result in having to make a dozen more decisions about what is best, so many of which could have merit that it's easy to get caught up in the minutiae.

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