Friday, January 29, 2010

M:TG thread

It was suggested by a reader interested in M:TG that a sidebar link be added so an ongoing discussion of the game's environment can exist without forcing those who have no interest to periodically scroll past Magic posts I put up. I've done that. I'm putting my thoughts on Worldwake up at the moment.


Audacious Epigone said...

Worldwake is obviously going to be good for vampires.

Having never played with vamps, my take is that Kalastria Highborn is a shoo-in.

Pulse tracker might come in as well, not because it's particularly good, but it's a 1 drop that makes the mana curve better.

I'm not sure about Anowon--at 5cc and only 3 toughness, he's pretty susceptible for how expensive he is (However, rdw is dead--more on that below), and he's obviously bad in the mirror. Seems like a decent board card, though.

Another question mark is Abyssal Persecutor. The thought seems to be that because he's so easy to kill when needed via Gatekeeper of Malakir or Tendrils of Corruption, he'll take a roster spot. If he was a vampire, it'd be a no-brainer. But I'm still inclined to think he'll get a lot of play as well.

When Smother was leaked early, it was irritating enough for non-vamp players. But Urge to Feed is just disgusting. It kills nearly everything that smother does (there aren't many creatures with 4+ toughness for 3cc or less), and I see it regularly resulting in 2 or 3 +1/+1 counters being added to the vamp player's field. Kill a creature and put a couple +1/+1 counters on your guys for 2cc, and to top it off, it's an instant.

Audacious Epigone said...

Red deck wins is dead. Kor Firewalker means it's time to scoop, and he only costs 2. There is nothing mono red can do to deal with it.

I'm not sure if Searing Blaze will get any play, but I can conceive of it working somewhere in jund.

Ricochet Trap is a red counter-counterspell, which is neat but probably dead (or at best relegated to a board spot, probably crowding something better out) because no one will be playing rdw anymore and swerve is still better, especially because the state of counterspells is so bad.

I suspect some neat landfall tricks will come out of the white offerings (in combination with Seer's Sundial, perhaps), but I've not digested them yet. For UW control, which I plan on continuing to make my primary deck, Celestial Colonnade is decent. I plan on running 2 and dropping 1 island and 1 plains.

Marshal's Anthem seems really good at first blush, but I'm not sure it works with white. Besides BSA (if WW's running it, which many are not), there aren't any big creatures to justify having to have 6 open mana sources for. The best WW I've played runs 18-20 land (w/ 4 Knight of the White Orchid). Getting to 6 or 8 plains is thus probably not realistic. And what do you drop? Keeping Honor of the Pure in seems too redundant, but I don't think you can drop Honor in favor of Marshal's Anthem.

The counterspell offering is a joke yet again. Dispel is theoretically okay against rdw and jund, but the former is dead and anyway flashfreeze is better against both. Spell contortion is just insulting. 5cc to counter a spell and draw a card? That's not even good enough to be played. But that it is shut down if an opponent pays a whopping 2 colorless makes it utterly awful. Mind spring, divination, and courier's capsule are all far better draw cards that find real counterspells if you're trying to play them.

I am interested in Calcite Snapper. I'm gravitating back toward my original shroud control idea, and 4x Deft Duelist, 4x Wall of Denial, 4x Calcite Snapper, 3x Sphinx of Jwar Isle is enticing, because it creates a control deck with some bite. Snapper is good against WW and Jund, and okay against vamps (better for gatekeeper to 'target' it than wall of denial) and the naya/bant creature crush decks. It's also solid against control--hard to remove and able to swing for 4 with a land drop (I'm running 26 or 27 land as is).

Also, Wind Zendikon strikes me as the best of the land enchantments. Stick it on a Kabira Crossroads and I have a 2/2 that essentially gives me 2 life when it dies. And it makes an Iona-morph deck more realistic, which is something I'm currently working on (lots of mostly white removal, Elspeth, conqueror's pledge, wind zendikon, possibly hindering light to protect tokens, and polymorph with Iona as the deck's only creature).

For green, which I never play, Joraga means Eldrazi Elves might become a top-tier deck again.

Slingbow Trap seems like a strong board option for vamps, especially GW decks for which Malakir Bloodwitch is a real pain in the arse.

Wolfbriar Elemental may be better than Master of the Wild Hunt in aggregate. It certainly is late game, but is weaker early game.

Omnath, Locus of Mana looks fun, but because it's easy single-shot removal, I'm not sure it gets any play.

Audacious Epigone said...

For Jund, the other of my two decks that still have life, Raging Ravine looks great--I'll probably drop a few Crags for it, and also Oran Rief for forests so as to keep the tapped/untapped balance as is.

Also, I wonder if Abyssal Specter will make an appearance in Jund. With terminate and pulse plus cascading, killing him when necessary isn't much of a problem. Unlike Broodmate, whose biggest selling point is that it creates two targets, he's a single target. But it's vicious flying trampler for four. I'll probably toy around with it as a broodmate replacement and see how it goes.

I'm going to pre-release Sunday for sure, and possibly tomorrow (Saturday) depending on how things shake out. I'll have a better feel for the set after that.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Kor Firewalker singlehandedly destroys Red. It's not that much worse than Burrenton Forge-Tender. It does put a damper on the random bolt-to-the-dome decks that seem to be en vogue.

Audacious Epigone said...


If it doesn't do rdw in, red is probably going to have to splash something else. Black seems like the obvious choice to me--it gives blightning and terminate main, plus doom blade or death mark in board to deal with the firewalker.

As a UW control player, I'm terrified of basilisk collar. Equipment generally doesn't get any play, but this thing is really good. I'm already thinking about how to make sideboard room for 4x Kor Sanctifiers.

Anonymous said...

RDW overcame the Forge-Tender by going up top with Demigods. I don't see anything similar in the current Standard, so you're probably right about splashing. The Collar doesn't even approach anything like Jitte or Warhammer, so it's probably too niche to garner serious play unless you think shroud control is a significant force in the meta. If there are a lot of Tezzers at your shop, Sanctifiers might be worth it but otherwise it seems like a narrow solution to a minor problem.

Give us a decklist, by the way. It's hard to comment on what you should be running if I don't know what you're running.

Audacious Epigone said...


I don't see how WW, with all it's first strikers (especially those running exalted), doesn't derive a real benefit from basilisk collar. I'm going to try 3x in jund, dropping 4x bolt/jund charm (also +1 terminate).

Shroud Control

Creatures (11)

4 Deft Duelist
4 Wall of Denial
3 Sphinx of Jwar Isle

Planeswalkers (3)

3 Ajani Goldmane

Spells (19)

4 Spreading Seas
4 Cancel
4 Mind Spring
4 Oblivion Ring
3 Martial Coup

Land (27)

4 Glacial Fortress
4 Sejiri Refuge
4 Kabira Crossroads
4 Plains
11 Island

Board (15)

3 Hindering Light
4 Mind Control
4 Celestial Purge
4 Flashfreeze

Ajani is what I've been searching for to handle massive creature decks. Beatstick GW used to clean me up, especially with Thornling+Oran Rief mainboard (enough to run over WoD). But a couple of 2/10 or 3/11 Wall of Denials are disgusting. It also allows Sphinx to become bigger than BSA. Against cruel control, which seems to be gaining steam, duelist with ajani lets me apply some significant early pressure. Ajani following martial coup for 5+ can be lethal, too. Further, he shores me up against rdw (though that's already a pretty easy matchup for me).

I'm constantly told Mind Spring is a bad play, divination is better, etc. Maybe it's the old schooler in me, but I don't recall people ever asserting that Brain Geyser was a bad card, and Mind Spring (minus the milling ability) is identical. It makes a land glut just fine (running 27 without sacs+spreading seas draw means I run into it a lot) and lets me stomach a blightning without too much angst. Last week I beat vamps in game 3 despite being Mind Sludged for 5 when I had 6 cards in hand. I kept a mind spring of course, and drew 5 cards the following turn. Divination is a decent top decking card late game. In contrast, Mind Spring is a game-winner in top decking mode.

With worldwake becoming legal on Friday, I'm probably going to drop the Sejiri Refuges for Celestial Colonnades. Save for that, WW doesn't seem to offer UW control much of anything. If bask collar gets play, I'll drop the hindering lights and a mind control out of the board to make room for 4x Kor Sanctifiers.

Anonymous said...

I was going to suggest experimenting with Ajani or Elspeth. Planeswalkers always find a place in midgame and control decks.

Braingeyser was strong for a while, but it's been outclassed since. Mind Spring isn't junk by any stretch of the imagination, but I'd wager that a combination of Ponders, Treasure Hunts, and Halimar Depths would serve you better in close matchups. Celestial Colonnades is definitely a potent manland.

Is Spreading Seas working for you on its own? O-Ring is versatile but not terribly efficient. Cancel is the red-headed stepchild of counters. These inclusions seem vaguely schizophrenic and noncommittal. Aggro decks can afford a certain degree of "oops, I win" randomness thanks to their default win conditions, but control decks need to be more consistent.

Audacious Epigone said...


Played a 20 person tournament on Wednesday with the decklist as is, the first time I've played it competitively as such. My first matchup was against jund, and BOTH games were done with 36 minutes left in the round. I opened with two spreading seas g1 and two again g2--and drew into a third a card 3 of g2! When he finally hit a red source g2, he was at 6 lands and went broodmate. I followed up with coup for 7 (running 27 lands plus draw ability, I rarely miss a drop until 8 or 9 turns in).

Round 2 was jund splashing white for Baneslayer and Wall of Reverence. He got up into the 40s in life count as two separate BSAs banged against Wall of Denial, but I dropped a protected Ajani, cleared the board with martial coup at 6, swung the following turn for 12 and the turn after that for 18, all vigilance. He pulled the second pulse off a cascade, but by then it was too late, as I had a 7/7 sphinx with vigilance in play. He got g2 by ruinblasting my only glacial fortress--I had 5 islands out as well. I got g3 by mind controlling two bloodwitches in a row. He'd taken out all his removal but pulse and couldn't find one in time.

Third match was against Obnixilis, something I've not played before. First game I couldn't quite stabilize--had it held down for a half a turn, but then he pulsed my O-ring on Obnixilis with a sac land on the board and that was game. G2 he caught me by total surprise, throwing Identity Crisis at me on t4 (via second turn Lotus Cobra and a t4 sac land drop). He got 2 purges, a Sphinx, a Martial Coup, and a Mind Spring. I couldn't recover.

Round 4 was rdw, my easiest matchup. He got me in g1 off of heavy dead card draw on my part (Coup, 2 O-rings), but after board rdw really has no chance against me, and I got the next two easily.

Round 5 was white weenie. Pulled it off in 3. It's a tough match and one I probably wouldn't have won against a better player, but my opponent was so excessively weary of overextension that he consistently would only drop one more creature than I had on the board, allowing me to coup followed up with Ajani and Sphinx for the win.

Round 6 was the same jund splashing white for top 8. I got it 2-0. We split in top 4, the other decks being Cruel Control (which I would've loved to play), Vampires (which is probably my worst matchup in the entire environment, because the two Malakirs wreck me), and standard jund.

More than half the time, O-ring ends up targeting creatures. It's more expensive than path or journey to nowhere, but less rewarding than path and more versatile than journey. But it also hits other O-rings, PWs I can't get to, etc. I'm sold on it.

I've thought about dropping cancels (maybe for Jace, although I think I'm just going to go 3x Jace for -1 O-Ring, -1 Mind Spring, -1 Cancel), but that means an almost certain g1 loss to cruel control--I'm not fast enough to deal lethal before he can start firing off ultimatums--whereas if I'm disciplined enough to hold the cancels even in the face of blightning, cruel control has a very tough time facing me down. It also means I take mind sludge, a Sorin or Iona drop, etc. Only running 4, I won't hold just to keep open for the counter, but late game especially I'm more than happy to pay an extra U for an all-purpose counterspell, instead of the frustratingly restrictive essence scatter and negate.

I'm playing the same thing at FNM this week, in an attempt to gauge whether wednesday was just a fluke. But I'm definitely satisfied with what it delivered for its first showing.

Also, I can't believe I forgot to mention Jace earlier in the thread. Seems like he's the best PW to date. UW gets colonnade and Jace. I think the play will be +2 to get out of bolt/burst range, and then 0 as the default(unless loses loyalty via damage, at which point he goes +2 again) and -1 for the unsummon as needed.

Anonymous said...

Interesting mechanics predicted for ROTE:

Totem armor (If enchanted creature would be destroyed, instead remove all damage from it and destroy this Aura.)

Annihilator 3 (Whenever this creature attacks, defending player sacrifices three permanents.)

Rebound (If you cast this spell from your hand, exile it as it resolves. At the beginning of your next upkeep, you may cast this card from exile without paying its mana cost.)

All of these mechanics are "confirmed", but it seems like an awful lot of new mechanics for an end set.

Audacious Epigone said...


It does, especially in addition to the heavy dose of colorless spells that are being realized in RotE.

I'm not keen on annihilator--I already feel like the game has moved too far in the direction of mass effects that are exceedingly difficult to recover from. But totem (because it might actually make auras other than Control Magic variants playable in constructed) and especially rebound (because it adds yet another new dynamic to the game) strike me as very promising.

Btw, my shroud control has been enormously successful--I am 48-10 with it (match record) since the addition of Goldmane (Worldwake was released shortly thereafter, and I of course added Jace immediately, so that record largely reflects the build post-PWs). I'm now knocking at the door of a 1900 rating and beginning to consider competing in pro tour qualifiers.

Anonymous said...

First off: WOW, congrats on your rating! Best of luck going forward. Decklist welcome.

On a side note, I asked before if you read "Top Decks". This article is more history lesson than anything but check out the deck he mentions at the end! One of the coolest decks I've ever seen.

Audacious Epigone said...


I think much of jund's tournament dominance has to do with how much of the field it occupies. I was in a 60-person tournament today (finishing a disappointing 4-2 and not making top 8; now sitting at 52-12 with my rogue), and it was probably 25% of the field.

The massive manland deck is frustratingly neat. I guess as an opponent you have to find an armageddon and fast!

My current build:

4x Spreading Seas
3x Sphinx of Jwar Isle
4x Deft Duelist
4x O-Ring
4x Jace, Mind Sculptor
3x Cancel
3x Day of Judgment
3x Mind Spring
2x Ajani Goldmane
2x Martial Coup

4x Sejiri Refuge
4x Celestial Colonnade
4x Glacial Fortress
3x Tectonic Edge
7x Island
6x Plains


1x Cancel
2x Flashfreeze
4x Mind Control
3x BSA
1x Ajani Goldmane
4x Luminarch Ascension

Audacious Epigone said...

The standard UW control deck is already a good matchup for me, and patriotic, esper, and grixis (cruel) control all look to be moribund. Their performances in recent tournaments have been nothing short of awful. Mill continues to suck. So I think I'm going to drop the ascensions. I'm not sure what to put in, though. I'm thinking of 3x Celestial purge, 1x Telemin performance (to kill mill and runeflare trap, as well as hit the jackpot against ionamorph). 4x firewalkers are really tempting as well--4x duelist, 4x firewalker, and 3x ajani = game over for the rdw+black variant that seems to be surging. One more flashfreeze probably wouldn't hurt, either. Thoughts?