Friday, October 30, 2015

The Path to Enlightenment is long and full of Belches

Take the words "Goblin Charbelcher" and tell me what you think of. Hastily put together by a team of half-wit Goblins, prone to misfires and maybe even backfires. Imagine laying siege on your enemies via belch. I'm going to welcome you into a strange and beautiful new world today. The world of Modern 8-Land Belcher.

credit to

8-Land Belcher

Win Conditions (9)

4 Goblin Charbelcher
4 Tezzeret the Seeker
1 Wurmcoil Engine

Land (8)

2 Breeding Pool
1 Stomping Ground
5 Forest

Land Search (10)

4 Safewright Quest
4 Caravan Vigil
2 Lay of the Land

Accelerants (6)

4 Chancellor of the Tangle
2 Simian Spirit Guide

Ramp (24)

2 Nissa's Pilgrimage
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Recross the Paths
4 Utopia Sprawl
4 Arbor Elf
4 Wall of Roots
2 Birds of Paradise

Cantrips (3)

3 Gitaxian Probe

Sideboard (15)

4 Nature's Claim
4 Choke
4 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
3 Leyline of Sanctity

So what's going on here? We'll go section by section.

Needless to say our preferred method of winning the game is by activating Goblin Charbelcher targeting our opponent. Tezzeret, conveniently, becomes a Goblin Charbelcher the turn we play him. If we have any ramp spell on turn one or two we can play Belcher on turn three and activate it on turn four. Hey, Modern's a Turn Four Format, right? Well, the tricky part is if you want to do that you have to play lands.

This isn't Legacy. We do not have access to Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox, Land Grant, Elvish Spirit Guide, or Land Grant. So the concession is we need to have enough lands to have at least one in most opening hands. I've found that number to be eight. You might want to try to get away with seven. After that, we use our land search cards like Safewright Quest to quickly pull the lands out of our deck both to make land drops and to power up Goblin Charbelcher.

Without a land in your opening hand, Chancellor of the Tangle can often make an unkeepable hand perfectly serviceable. It's not uncommon to spend your first turn casting (for instance) Caravan Vigil off of Chancellor to play your very first land. From there hopefully you have more ramp to start Belching away.

Now, some general notes about playing the deck:

Don't be afraid to activate Charbelcher with a couple lands still in your deck.

Especially if you haven't seen your Stomping Ground yet (which you should always search out absolutely last), activating Belcher with three lands in your deck will very often do the trick. Not always, but if you're put in a position where you have to roll the dice, just go for it.

But don't be stupid about it!

If you're under little to no pressure and your choice is to either cast Nissa's Pilgrimage or activate Charbelcher while you still have five lands in your deck, cast Pilgrimage! 75% of the cards you're drawing at this point are ramp, so if you take a turn off to go from four mana to five, that will usually allow you to start casting ramp spells AND activating Belcher. Remember that you're very unlikely to draw a land, so you have to spend mana to make mana.

Recross the Paths is a very complicated card.

Read it closely. You can hit any land, basic or non. It comes into play untapped (you have to pay two if it's a shockland). When you clash (which you will usually win, because you have no lands in your deck), both you and your opponent essentially scry 1. But most importantly, you put the revealed cards back in any order regardless of whether you found a land. In other words, if you have no lands in your deck (perhaps because you've cast the same Recross the Paths three times in a row), you simply get to rearrange your entire deck. Goblin Recruiter style.

In other words, Recross the Paths is how we get away with playing nine win conditions. You might find yourself casting it three times in a turn, and the third time you'll flip over your deck and start collecting all your Goblin Charbelchers, Chancellor of the Tangle, and Wurmcoil Engine to put on top.

Don't search for Stomping Grounds

Unfortunately, you'll draw it or get it with Recross the Paths sometimes. But keeping it in your deck when you can gives you some serious percentage points to kill with Belcher because it doubles the damage.

Sometimes, you have to embrace your inner green mage.

Chancellor of the Tangle is more than a bad Elvish Spirit Guide. If you're out of gas, play Chancellor! It attacks, it blocks everything, and it may buy you just enough time to rip a Goblin Charbelcher or Tezzeret.

Monday, November 10, 2014

I Tron, U Tron...

I've found myself writing at length about the Modern Mono-Blue Urzatron deck lately on reddit, which seemed to suggest I should probably get all my thoughts written down somewhere so I could stop repeating myself and just link to this. I'm not in much of a rhetorical mood today, so I'm just gonna lay out some information about the deck without my usual pomp and circumstance. I'll be starting to stream it soon on my Twitch channel, so look out for that.

Okay, so... yeah.

A Mono-U Tron Primer

I guess people generally start with the "why" of a deck when they explain it. You might be attracted to U Tron for a couple of reasons. The shallowest of which is how incredibly cheap it is without being some boring aggro nonsense. This isn't Burn; you get to play very interactive skill-testing games for like, 150 MTGO tickets (about $200 paper). That's always good.

So, there's that. Another appeal to the deck is the sheer power level of the spells you get to cast. Sundering Titan is a pretty good Magic card. I don't know if you guys have ever Mindslaver'd a Storm opponent and then played out their deck and made them Grapeshot himself for 20, but... it's a pretty good feeling. Don't have removal? Hey look, a Platinum Angel.

I guess if you want to talk about the competitive side of things, the actual reason why Blue Tron can be the "correct" deck choice is your top-notch inevitability. Your one weakness is man-lands, which you need Dismember or Tec Edge/Ghost Quarter for. That aside you have the best Inevitability in the format. In other words, when the game starts to go long, your win percentage skyrockets. Not only do you have Sundering Titan, Mindslaver locks, and occasionally Platinum Angel to win the game on the spot, you have a LOT of countermagic to land those as well as Spell Burst to hard-lock your opponent out of the game.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Veil

Blows the dust off the tubes.

Boy, it's a been a while.

Well, it's been about two months. That's not that long, when you think about it. Hell, people disappear from blogs or podcasts or whatever for years, and then come back and pick up right where they left off. But to me it's seemed like forever.

When we last left our hero, he was struggling for topics.

My tastes in Magic change pretty rapidly. One week I'm aspiring to be a Pro Tour Champion, the next week I'm playing Burn at the Stake combo at FNM. For a while there, though, I was stuck on this whole competitive thing. Reading articles, playtesting constantly, checking the MTGO daily decklists multiple times a day. I couldn't get it out of my head that I wanted to get better and better and go pro and change the world of Magic forever.

It all came to a head when I went to a PTQ with my Merfolk deck. I wrote a detailed article about it that'll be going up on some time later this month, but the short version is, I just barely fell short of a 6-2 finish. Given my expectations going into the event, I was floored. It was an amazing experience, and I felt what it was like to play competitive Magic. As the day went on I learned a lot. Not just about the game itself, but about being a Magic player.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Power 5

Snapcaster Mage, Stoneforge Mystic, Tarmogoyf, and Dark Confidant. Four creatures, in four different colors, that are all very, very good. They also all happen to cost one colorless mana and one mana of their respective colors. I'm not the first person to point out that there's no equivalent red card. It's probably a safe assumption that Wizards of the Coast did not do this on purpose. Stoneforge Mystic was not, in my opinion at least, very good at all until Sword of Feast and Famine made it strong and Batterskull made it unthinkably broken. But what they ended up with was an incomplete cycle that red mages everywhere are begging them to complete.

So, the question is often asked (I've counted about four times so far on Reddit, the fourth of which made me decide to write this), what would that creature look like? People run out all sorts of crazy ideas about two-drop goblins that have haste and first strike and firebreathing and tap to deal three damage and make everyone Wheel of Fortune when they die. But what I'd like to look at today is how the process of creating a card that fits in with the rest of the "cycle" would actually work.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Modern Goblins: Deck Tech and Videos

I've been hoping to do some videos for a while now, but I'm pretty MODO-poor and definitely can't afford Merfolk. So when I saw a mono-Mountain Goblins list 4-0 a daily, I figured I'd give it a shot, considering the whole deck costs about 35 dollars. It's going pretty well so far, and I like the fact that newer players who are interested in playing online can see this and just go pick up the deck pretty easily and try it out.

I recorded a deck tech and three two-mans in the best quality my computer could manage. You'll see some pretty bad plays and I say some pretty nonsensical stuff, but I hope you'll bear with me as I get used to doing these. I'm 10/11 overall with the deck since I started playing it, and with some better plays and some tuning I'm sure I can easily hit a 50+ percent winrate. The deck is a lot of fun and can have some crazy nut-draws. It doesn't topdeck well, and it's very all-in, but some of my favorite decks are the ones where you get to take big risks and they often pay off. Fun shit!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Brewing in Modern: Nega-Storm, Lost Omniscience, and Freakin' Mill!

*Big Inhale*

You guys know I love weird decks. I'd really like to be a competitive player, I really would. I'm always striving to improve my play, and I'm really hard on myself when I lose. My friends know not to ask me how I did in a match; if I won, they would know it, if I lost I don't even want to talk to people. The thing is, I act that way despite never playing optimal decks. A lot of it is budget, but sometimes it's purely for being weird.

Now, that's probably for the best, because nobody would read this thing if I tried to tell you how to play Jund. I'm not all that good at this game, why should I tell you how to play? Instead, I try to propose deck ideas that are interesting without being too horrible.

Okay, Standard Storm was horrible, but it was way too fun. And I'll remind you once again that it was a matter of days before the 4-Color one showed up on MODO Dailies. Just saying.

The problem is, now I like Modern. The only reason I've been playing Magic nonstop for as long as I have is because I float around between formats to stay interested. Right now, I can't get enough of Modern. But the thing is, you can't durdle in Modern. You actually have to win fast or try really hard to stop them from winning fast. Which is not easy. So for now, let's call these "sketches". They're not tuned (some more than others), but they all have central ideas to work upon.

When I brew something new, I start with a card or idea I really like. I have entire page in my binder of Sphinx of the Chimes because I just think it's sweet. Unique ability, cool art, one of my favorite creature types. Storm decks are awesome, so I wanted to see if I could make a good deck that did that in Standard.

Well, in EDH, being the sociopath I am, my favorite thing is taking extra turns.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tribal Upbringings and Goblins in Modern

I've always liked the Tribal aspect of Magic.

When I was a kid, I first picked up the game during the Odyssey block. I had no concept of good deck building or card evaluation, nor any kind of competitive mindset. These days, I simply cannot comprehend playing a Magic deck that actively tries not to win as fast possible. I'm always trying to get my more casual friends to build competitive decks, and can't understand why they would keep playing their mono-red Dragons deck. The casual Magic psyche has escaped me.

But about a decade ago, my favorite tribe was Cephalids.