Thursday, January 13, 2011

It's the Magic: Cage Match

New Hotness
Archive of Frustration (UWA)
I’ve been lamenting my lack of a basic UW control deck lately. I don’t know what UW control is exactly, but, I do like Blue and I’ve been warming up to White lately. So I pulled together a few nice white and blue cards and brought them with me to the boat to make a deck while I was in New Orleans.

I don’t post deck lists because I find them boring, but I’ve been happy with the results so far. While I haven’t tweaked it since I got back, the reactive, ‘play whenever I want’ theme is already doing quite well in matches.

Inspiration Card: Walking Archive (3)

Archmage Ascension: It capitalizes on the draw from my Archives, but I think I’ll be taking it out for Quest for Ancient Secrets.

Leyline of Anticipation, Scout’s Warning: Again, I only have the one of each, but they’re very good ones to have. Having a creature in play at the right time, saving mana for after an opponent’s play, and making every card a combat trick make this a no-brainer in any Blue deck.

Mistmeadow Skulk, Goldenglow Moth, Order of the Stars: Small and good. Initially pulled as early defenders to gain me some time, they work well whether they’re equipped, flashed into play, or bounced at the right time.

Equipment: Almost got the War Chariot from Rise of the Eldrazi so that my beefed up Walking Archives and Sanctum Plowbeasts could attack, but it felt better just giving them things that made them defend better like first strike, shroud, and flying.

Counterspells/Control/Finishers: The rest of the deck is just white and blue cards I had and was tired of staring at, either when placed on the other side of the field, or when browsing through my collection. This is just boring ‘win the game’ stuff, not flash effects and draw.

Vs One of Us – The AoF went down in the first match to OoU, courtesy of a Charge Across Araba (as many, many decks have fallen before), but managed to pull ahead in two close games that followed. Card advantage, as one might expect was a big edge, but the real edge was a weakness in my white weenie flagship. Without high-end finishing permanents, One of Us has a tendency to stall out versus good combat tricks and counterspells.

Vs Fucreen – Fucreen boasts moderately good cards, but it basically stalls out for Sphinxes of the Steel Wind, which are currently in another deck. Fucreen has yet to stall long enough to pull a sphinx from another deck, but it can crush green. Archive of Frustration was not green. While having some creatures bounced and Returned to Dreams was inconvenient, it just doesn’t stop the Archive. You can’t Excommunicate a Mistmeadow Skulk.

Vs Koshi-I only ran two matches out of three on this one. Both games were long and intricate, and it was hard for me to make any decisions objectively because there were plays that would’ve had irrelevant downsides and decisions in other matchups, but had major effects on the game in this one. I’ll be damned if I ever play these two decks against one another solo again. While I know Koshi is good, I’m surprised that Archive of Frustration held its own.

This Week’s Best Thing Ever
Since I did a lot of soloing this week, the only moments I have to share are me vs. me. Feel free to choose your favorite or put up one of your own.

-One of Us vs Archive of Frustration: Mass Calcify to remove a Hedron Crab.

-Koshi vs Dreams of Cloven Casting: 7 life versus 2 life, Spellbound Dragon versus Bloodchief Ascension with a Cloven Casting in hand.

-Fucreen vs Spore Haze: Playing a King Crab versus a Saproling/Paradox Haze deck.

-Archive of Frustration vs Koshi: I was worried for Archive of Furstration. Koshi runs Bloodchief Ascension, and runs it well. Archive has done well, but it’s hard to keep from taking any damage or ever putting a card into your graveyard. Sure enough, Koshi plays a turn one BA, charges it on turns two and three, and just when I begin to think that Archive of Frustration has been totally outclassed, I pull a Solemn Offering.

-Archive of Frustration vs Fucreen: Archive Acquired an Altar of Shadows. Fucreen plays another Altar of Shadows. Board clears. Archive of Frustration pulls out a Mistmeadow Skulk. Wins.

Any great moments I missed while I was away?
Huh, That's Funny
So I was looking at my card pull for this set and I re-noticed Ice Cage. Ice Cage is one of those cards that I look at (or misread), meh at, and move on. After that point, the Ice Caged cards get stuck in a limbo where I have to be hard up and looking for a corner case to make me reevaluate them. Usually. I was looking at Ice Cage because I meh-ed at it so vociferously when I first saw it in M10 that I actually felt bad for the card as I was leafing through my collection.

I then thought to myself, “Ice Cage, you’re useless so long as anyone has a spell or ability they wouldn’t mind using on their own creature.” Sure, some ping 4 1 ability can mess up your day, but since I play against a lot of removal and very few innocuous activated abilities, only equipment cards are going to be a real issue for it. It’s not maindeck, but it’s cheap, and fits into my sideboard. It’s a shoo-in for the mono Blue common deck I’m making and may find itself in some of my regular decks where I need to buy just another turn or two or only have two mana to gamble on stopping a guy.

Are there any other cards like Ice Cage? Cards that didn’t suck quite as much as you thought they did at first?

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