Monday, August 20, 2012

It's the Magic: Red and Green Make Poo

In order to best use my Magic resources, I'm trying to take the two dozen standard decks I have and narrow them down to fifteen decks with an even distribution of colors and color combinations (White, White/Blue, White/Black, White/Red, etc.). 

However, I'm rubbish at Red and Red/Green decks, so three weeks ago, I thought I'd publicly work on the Red and Red/Green decks so that readers, friends, and random passers-by could offer input on the deck creation process. My rules for the decks are in that post.

Three weeks ago, I made a short-list of cards I had that I wanted to build a deck around. This week, I'm going to outline some cards that have been cut and the threats that my decks will need to address.

Skid Row

Archwing Dragon: I toyed with running green and cards like Thunderbolt to clear the airspace while this dragon swings through, but there's no upside to casting a 4/4 flier for four every turn. I'd have to control the airspace constantly from turns 4-8 without my opponent gaining life or killing me first while I essentially reset my mana base.

Aggravate: I just can't find a way to make this one work. With two fog effects in standard (the titular Fog and Terrifying Presence), you'd think it'd work, and I'm sure it'd work against most human, white weenie, poison, and saproling decks, but it doesn't clear the board or put me in a good situation otherwise. 

Blasphemous Act and Scourge of Geier Reach: I mentioned that both of these cards need you to fall behind before really being useful. Scourge of Geier Reach requires that you fall behind and doesn't really address that, and though Blasphemous Act does, it's more a utility card than a "build around" card. If I'm keeping Jar of Eyeballs and/or Harvest Pyre, then Blasphemous Act becomes a pretty good idea there, but not on its own.

Wild Defiance: I like all the options, I even like that I can even cast Searing Spear on one of my dudes in a pinch to essentially give them +3/+0. However, I'm not sure if I can drop this, keep creatures on the battlefield, and keep cards in my hand to make it useful. There's not a lot of "target my own creature for 1 mana" cards out there right now. At least, not ones that are still good before I get Wild Defiance out. Maybe with a Jar of Eyeballs deck, I can razzle-dazzle enough cards up and put it in as support, but it's unlikely.

Otherworld Atlas & Grimoire of the Dead: I really wanted these two to work, but they make a complicated, slow, not-very-effective combo. Otherworld Atlas might work with something like Scourge of Geier Reach, or even Blasphemous act, but not enough to make a sure team with it.

Wolfir Avenger: A stain that's as hard to expunge as it is to use. No.

There are plenty of threats in Magic's standard format right now (standard usually being the last six sets to come out and the latest core set) and if I'm going to be making a standard deck, it has to be able to respond to them. A good rundown is here, but I'm going to take a second to talk about the six most dangerous cards I have to look out for:

Birthing Pod -This is a whole archetype that uses the "enters the battlefield" abilities of creatures to disrupt the opponent, tutor up the answer for whatever is plaguing it, and kill, kill, kill. Luckily, artifact destruction like Ancient Grudge and Afflicted Deserter deal pretty well with it. In addition, burning away the diverse creatures that chain up to larger, more dangerous dudes works pretty well too.

Sword of War and Peace & Sword of Life and Death - Just when you thought killing creatures would solve all of your problems, in comes equipment to make your burn feel truly small in the face of artifacts. Luckily, dudes like Manic Vandal and Torch Fiend are decent cards worth swinging for. Oh, and if I include Green, I've got Naturalize and Ancient Grudge to lean on.

Gravecrawler - The banner-bearer for the one-in-every-set black creature that just won't stay dead, every Harvest Pyre, Incinerate, and Brimstone Volley pointed at this guy is just time wasted, as he'll be back next turn. Pillar of Flame is about the only Red answer for this right now, aside from using a whole slot on an artifact like Nihil Spellbomb or Tormod's Crypt.

Mana Leak/Ponder/Snapcaster Mage/Delver of Secrets - I don't need to get into these guys. Suffice to say, either you've been on the bad side of these cheap, effective Blue staples of counterspell, card manipulation, more better card manipulation, and conditional beat-down creature enabled by card manipulation or you would be if you played against them. Red's only real defense is to either A) Start making your own counterspells at home, B) Burn everything and exile all the graveyards with artifacts, and C) Play a Blue deck. Wait, did I say "either"? I meant "do all of the following." Green can try to overpower and use cards like Garruk, Primal Hunter and Garruk's Packleader to almost-but-not-quite-meet that card advantage.

Predator Ooze - I believe its original flavor text reads "does not give a fuck." If Red has a way of dealing with an indestructible ooze that only gets bigger, I haven't seen it. The upside is that I don't have to plan around him because there's fuck-all I can do about it. Except for swinging another Predator Ooze with Green.

Silverblade Paladin - Especially dangerous when armed with one of the swords (because the aptly-named double strike), I've seen these guys and a bonded angel swing for sixteen damage. Fortunately, they're one of these threats that Red can deal with more easily than the colors I usually work with. A one mana Pillar of Flame can turn that badass paladin into The Twilight Zone's newest resident. Small favors.

And many more. There are a lot of cards in standard that can hit before you're ready, take too much damage and drop too many bodies, and wreck your battlefield with little-to-no preamble. Red's strategy of fighting removal by losing cards just doesn't seem very effective in these cards, but this is the point where the analysis sort of dips into self-pity, so I guess I'll call it and get back to this in two weeks.

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