Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Can't > Can

That's one of the baseline rules in Magic when it comes to figuring out how cards interact with one another.

It's also one of the most powerful strategies in the game and Blue has the lion's share of that mechanic. Testing Eraser this week has been an exercise in butting up against this problem, the problem that Blue represents as a whole as a matter of fact, and failing. It finally came together for me last weekend, playing against stonethorn's U-Tron-Karn deck. Cards like Wildfire didn't matter, because they would be countered. Even Obliterate didn't matter! Because Gifts Ungiven would be played in response and he could recover faster than I could do anything about that.

And so many of the decks I've been testing against are running some Blue; Remand is an especially popular spell and Snapcaster Mage is still the best 2/1 creature ever. In a format like Modern, Snapcaster virtually guarantees the extra use of cards like Path to Exile and Lightning Bolt-a card that should be 'difficult' for Blue to access but because mana bases are so powerful, a lot more is within reach. On top of all of that, the card draw in Blue allows it to reduce randomness and boost the timetable of it's win, while finding answers to any problem.

Seriously: there is not a permanent in Magic that Blue cannot handle, which coupled with the stack tricks-specifically countermagic which is all but exclusively Blue- and the affinity for artifacts Blue has, all but doubling the possibilities for the color, presenting a very steep hill to climb.

Eventually, the whole exercise became moot last night while testing with Fuz because I could not beat Affinity. In the image on the left, I knew the game was over on turn 2, when my Sudden Shock was Thoughtsiezed. If I can't win versus blue and I can't beat the best aggro deck in the format, it's time to change.

So where does this leave me? The first possibility is to go back to aggro-either RG or Affinity or anything that can get set up before turn 2, cast multiple spells in a turn, or cast creatures as instants so I can force my opponent to do things on my terms instead of theirs.

The second is to tweak Eraser into cards that always present problems, that can never be allowed to resolve, because I can win off them. That is: cut Wildfire for Gaea's Revenge, Great Sable Stag or something similar. Use them to force over committing to the board then Obliterate and enjoy anything I have left over that they do not.

Finally, I can run discard. Discard has two benefits: it is cheap enough that I can cast a discard spell and then another spell in the same turn and it trumps not just countermagic but anything that isn't an instant. I'm running out of time and I need to pick something soon.

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