Friday, January 28, 2011

It's the Magic: Analyze Weakness

New Hotness
Deadpool-Deadpool is my most casual of casual decks. It is designed for multiplayer mayhem and loads of fun. To that end, I’ve removed the Traumatize and Haunting Echoes, the Roiling Terrain and the Mind Funerals. Instead, I’ve added Hive Mind. I’ve added Mirror Sheen. I’ve added Drastic Revelation. Especially with Hivemind (but even without) Deadpool’s Burning Inquiries, Delirium Skeins, and Dream Salvages make it even…wackier now. Though I’d have to play a few games to see if it really can ‘do mayhem’ as well as I’d like, it looks promising already.

Eye of the Storm is back. It pained me to remove the Black from it, but the white blue combination was pretty nice and it accelerates pretty nicely now (for a white/blue deck).
Grixis Spellkiller is no more. It had my Turn to Mists and two Murderous Recaps. The Unearth/activated ability theme was nice to avoid counterspells, but it never had the octane to make it really work.

In fact, Grixis Spellkiller was the first casualty of classic decks to pave the way for a new tier (Mike Tier, if I’m not mistaken). Big, Dumb Bant, True Power of Darkness, Low Curve, Finally Zombies, and a few others round out the seven decks of this new, disturbingly predominantly Black tier. I left them at home this week, but once I get back home and fashion a final, eighth deck, expect to see a lot of Black and Blue in the near future.

This Week’s Best Thing Ever
I played Poly Plus, so I got some double-digit Annihilate. That I domesticated (then exiled via Mass Polymorph) an enemy Pelakka Wurm for some of that Annihilate is all the sweeter.

I bounced and replayed a Marshdrinker Giant vs both Blue and Black decks. It was…fun.

Better Know a Tier
Still working on the Bravo Tier, and I’m learning a lot.

So far, the vulnerability of individual elves has been offset by their ability to summon up large creatures. Burn and mass burn are effective against hordes of creatures, but in a deck with a number of lords, you see a slight linear increase in difficulty to remove with red as more lords enter play. Sadly, the addition of mana acceleration means that Elf Chicks can make non-incremental increases in toughness, either individually (in the cases of massive Protean Hydras) or as a whole (in the case or Joraga Warcaller). These non-incremental increases (hereafter known as ‘dropping fatties’) pose a big threat for red burn in an elven acceleration deck, the elves will win the mana battle between X as toughness and X as damage.
My two removal decks (The Hunt and Close Air Support) suffer from two different problems. While The Hunt can kill and burn in equal measure to remove creatures, getting the right mana at the right time is a persistent problem. Close Air Support, on the other hand, rarely has mana problems, but just doesn’t pack enough wallop to deal with larger threats. Its greatest defense is offense, and whenever the opposing deck gets tough enough, Close Air Support begins to fatally stall out, leaving it defenseless. It also tends to run out of cards, which might warrant a Mindstorm Crown. Both of them need more of something, whether that’s mana, draw, simplicity, or complexity.

Green, Creatures Lands and Tastes Like Death are both very similar decks, combining Enters the Battlefield effects with playing a lot of creatures. While TLD makes those one and the same by using ETB recursion, GCL opts to mill itself a bit to front-load its lands and shit out Howl of the Night Packs and Bestial Menaces and to retraced Savage Conceptions. The technical aspects of both are minimal, but effective: discard for TLD and bounce for GCL. Both can get creatures onto the field and keep them there, but neither one has a clear win condition (though they are both effective decks).

TLD doesn’t dig enough, recovering creatures that weren’t that effective the first time in lieu of new assets. GCL is terminally linear. It eventually uses up its library and no matter how much it plays with Mnemonic Walls, it will simply mill itself out without accelerating into an appropriate threat.
Huh, That’s Funny
So I’ve been playing a lot of games against low curve collective decks; decks that use low-cost cards to supplement each other for some big effects. One features vampires with Blade of the Bloodchief to boost them up and swing with one (or more) giant vampires. The other features plentiful elf lords with mana boosts into Genesis Wave.

Low curve decks work because you always have starting plays and with a little bit of card draw you can overwhelm the board. Even if your technical finisher can’t do the job, you can still overwhelm with bodies. Bounce doesn’t work well because you can just replay your creatures and targeted removal is minimal at best when it might only take out one body in a sea (see also ‘Pistol vs Zombies’).

Dropping defensive creatures is good, as well as discard; you empty their hand and until they topdeck a win condition, you can hold back hordes of attackers, provided those attackers aren’t too big. A ‘defender’ tribal deck with good discard and some counterspells might be able to establish itself quickly enough to cause an early-game stalemate until you can get your win condition.

The best answer is, obviously board sweeping, but board sweeping isn’t all that common. A turn-by-turn lockdown is better; these decks run on combat phases and a fog effect can stop one of those cold…for a turn. That really leaves my Ping 4 1, Age in Rebellion, and Sundered Veil to take care of these decks. Sadly, none of them are well-tuned right now. There is another deck, Bring ‘em On (a reference to the 2003 Bush quote and not the cheerleading movies), but no…that would be madness.

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