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.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

An Update on Merfolk in Modern OR: Fishing for Compliments

I've been getting a fair bit of testing in with Modern Merfolk. Not nearly as much as I'd like, and almost none in paper, but I'd like to think I'm getting somewhere. I'm still trying to figure out a specific matchup analysis, but I'm going to need to play a lot more games to do that.

For now, let's talk basics. I've realized that it's been quite a while since I really worked on an aggressive deck, and that I've improved a lot as a Magic player since that time.

This is an aggro deck. Straight up, no nonsense. It's purely beatdown, and we want to run a LOT of creatures. Removal exists, and we need to keep the beats coming, instead of worrying much about stopping our opponents' plans.

Now, the countermagic in Modern is far more diverse [read: situational] than any other constructed format. In Standard, your options are limited, and you really only want Dissipate, a Counterflux here and there, and the occasional Dispel in the board. In Legacy, Force of Will exists. Daze is better in some situations, and sometimes you need Counterspell, but that's it.

In Modern, we have four widely-played counters: Remand, Spell Snare, Spell Pierce, and Mana Leak. Izzet Charm and Dispel also see play. My first instinct, as somebody who generally plays Tempo, Aggro, or Aggro-control, was to get a little of everything in there. After all, there are a lot of different threats in a such a diverse metagame, we'd need a lot of different ways to deal with various threats!

Except, no.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Modern Merfolk: Spread Your Seas and Swim Away!

So I'm diving headfirst into Modern.

Taking the initial plunge.

Uh... something something something.... splash.


Modern is an awesome format. The power level is high, but not silly. The skill and knowledgebase required is daunting, but not prohibitive. I basically love every single deck. The aggro decks are strong and synergistic, the midrange decks have tight control and strong finishers, and the control decks deck is pretty cool.

I could definitely see myself playing a top-tier deck in the future. They don't feel like the top Standard decks, which are more methodical and boring. When you look at the top 16 decks in terms of large tournament performance, it's all just cool. Affinity is a blast to play (until somebody casts Creeping Corrosion), turn 3 Karn is badass, etc. etc. The reason I play the decks I do in Standard is because nothing that's actually good satisfies that desire to do something crazy. The closest thing we have is Omnidoor Thragfire...

So I've picked something cheap and easy to get into the format and learn (and so I don't have to buy two playsets of Fetchlands before I can play the deck). Merfolk probably isn't the best choice for that, but you'll find it chilling comfortably on the aforementioned list at number 15. Modern is a big format, 15 isn't so bad.