Monday, August 29, 2016

Conspiracy: Take the Crown

Yesterday I happened to come to the LGS when a draft was supposed to start. After rather long debate about whether to draft Conspiracy or Eternal Masters it was decided that CN2 would be drafted. I joined because I wanted to draft this set at least once in my life and I did not feel like doing anything that day except play some ZEN/ZEN/WWK drafts.

I haven't really seen the spoiler so I didn't know what to expect. I knew what interesting Mythics and Rares were in the set but I did not really know what cards in general there were and knowing chase rares and mythics certainly wouldn't help me during the draft.

I went through the first pack and I saw 9 cards realizing I know all of them - the cards were simply reprints. Then I had to read few Conspiracy cards and finally I reached the rare - Charmbreaker Devils - that seemed to me as a killer card even though I wasn't really sure what that would do in multiplayer. I passed 2 very cool red cards though so I wasn't really thinking about drafting that color much. In the original Conspiracy I wasn't really drafting multiplayer cards much except those that really had a big impact on the game. This time I drafted the same or rather there wasn't even possibility to draft in another way.

Since I passed good white and red cards I wanted to avoid those colors and started soon picking black cards since there was removal and few creatures I liked - Custodi Lich, Carnage Gladiator and Blood-Toll Harpy. Green was obviously open from both sides since there were really good cards being passed. I did not want to switch though. I did not have anything 'cool' though or something that would swing the game in my favor when things would get bad for me. I had more removal than creatures drafted but in 5 player death match game this certainly wouldn't be enough unless Charmbreaker Devils would stick in the game and I wasn't even sure if I would manage to play the card. When it seemed I would just have to pick ANY creature coming my way being either red or black I got the chance to pick Capital Punishment! Voting Death or Taxes seemed cool even though I expected this to end up 1 creature sacrificed, 4 cards discarded. But even that seemed good enough to ruin some plans.

I put together my black-red deck and looked forward to the game. I was interested in what others drafted. Before the game started I remembered that I picked two Conspiracy cards that I could actually play since they were in my colors. One of them was giving the named card Firebreathing ability and the second one would replace the creature with a 2/2 Zombie which actually was relevant in the game later. I put the Firebreathing ability on Carnage Gladiator and the other one on Blood-Toll Harpy. Doing it vice-versa would have been way better but doing it this way made sense to me.

We were then seated and the game could start. Majority of the players started with Island except me and a Boros player. The Boros player drafted an aggro so it was him who was actually doing something early game. He played few creatures (and attacked us with them) and then he played Guttersnipe which made him the target of more or less everything. I tried killing Guttersnipe expecting the player to have God's Willing in his hand but not expecting him to have 2 God's Willing cards (I passed 2 though so it was likely). In the end that player attacked the player to my left for lethal thinking he would get his first point. Unfortunately for him the player to my right thwarted his plans by killing one of his creatures letting him stay at one life so he could claim the victory point for himself. On his turn he simply attacked and eliminated the first player. I was stuck on three lands and couldn't draw a fourth one so I just simply passed my turns waiting for a land so I could play a creature. When one of the opponents helped me and allowed me to search for a land I decided to try playing my Lich and see what the Monarch status would do. It wasn't a good idea. I could have played Garrulous Sycophant first and then the Lich which would allow me to drain life first and draw a card (which I forgot 3 times anyway...). When the Crown started to move from player to player I just waited for someone to eliminate me. My hand was full of removal so I knew I could survive an attack but simply someone else would kill me. In the end there was debate who would kill me. I went outside for a while so I didn't know how it ended but the game was over then.

In the second round I started with 3 lands in my hand once again and hoped to draw few more unlike in the previous game. In this game I was flooded but that was actually a good thing. I played few creatures and Blood-Toll Harpies - MVPs of my deck^_^. Later I even managed to get The Lich in play and the Harpies were really good at taking the Crown back always so I could let someone sacrifice a creature each turn. But what decided the game was Capital Punishment and another player's Illusion of Choice and his additional vote which pretty much destroyed everything except my creatures. He had Ghostly Prison in play and obviously some removal in his hand (and a blocker that could block everything) so it seemed that this was rather safe for him. This though meant that I could start eliminating all the players and since I played before the UW player I would be ahead no matter if I had some board presence or not.

My creatures started dying as well as it was me being the 'everyone's enemy no. 1' and the Lich received a nice 'upgrade' in the form of Followed Footsteps. But before the player could make a copy of it I still could eliminate someone else and I decided to eliminate the Boros player since he was making scenes during the first game and in the second game he also had some not really nice remarks. One of the players played Subterranean Tremors killing all my creatures except the Harpies and Gladiator. Anyway this was enough for me to kill everyone at the table since I had all the removal in the world and some power still in play (even though one Gladiator died and the other one ended up tapped for the rest of the game). My creatures in general were dismal and I never managed to trigger Melee correctly (even though I possibly could with the help of my flyers).

I collected the most points (there was one Victory Point per player eliminated and 1 for being the last in the game) so I won the draft. This meant I would get three packs. I decided to crack them but unfortunately for me there wasn't anything worth mentioning. My feelings about the set from this one experience are rather mixed. What I can say though is that I liked the Monarch mechanic. Seeing it on paper did not seem appealing or anything but playing with the mechanic proved to be totally different. The Conspiracy cards seemed better to me in this set since they impact the game more. On the other hand the regular cards in the set did not really appeal to me much. I did not really see a way how one could build a funny deck without the use of the Conspiracy cards (not that I would be expert in building funny decks, my decks are usually pretty boring and not too much multiplayer focused). The politics in our games were good though so I can't say that the games were bad. I'm glad I participated in this draft.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Custom token - Spider

I tried painting a Spider token since Ishkanah is pretty cool card in Standard right now.

Friday, August 12, 2016

PureMTGO - Roon of the Hidden Realm

Do you like comes into play effects on your cards? I absolutely love them! They just only have one sad fact in a form that it comes as a one time benefit. I wonder what would happen, if there could be done anything about that little flaw. Introducing Roon of the Hidden Realm.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

PureMTGO - 100C Singleton is not dead!

If you ever thought that EDH (Commander) is the only 100 card format, let me tell you something about 100C Singleton known also as Highlander.

PureMTGO - Show and Tell: Lands

Here is a funny analogy my friend came up with: Lands? Lands are like friends: if they don't show up, you get sad. If there are plenty, you get annoyed, but if your opponent starts to mess with them, you get outrageous!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Standard - BUG Control

note: totally random post...

Not so long time ago a fellow Magic player asked me if by a chance I wouldn't help him with his UB Control for new Standard. I was reluctant to do so at first since I do not play Standard and did not plan to play it. On the other hand I like building decks or at least thinking about it and that is why I said that I would give him my opinion and possibly come up with some kind of a deck of mine so we could try playing few games.

The first thing I did was write a list of cards that caught my eye from the current Standard and upcoming new cards from Eldritch Moon. I only checked blue and black cards but then I started thinking about UB control with Eldrazi, be it Reality Smasher or Ulamog played earlier thanks to Storage Lands. Then I came across Emrakul and delirium cards and the first card to come into my mind was Traverse the Ulvenwald - 1 green mana creature tutor that killed me in a 100 Card Singleton tournament.

After I wrote down the list I saw 4 different directions the deck could take. UB Colorless Eldrazi, "classic" UB Control, BUG Control (midrange, with delirium) and BUG Dredge. I was certain that UB Eldrazi and BUG Control would work so I put those aside. I wasn't so sure about BUG Dredge so I wanted to try it and see what it could do. I was quite sure that Kalitas would see less play and that the only concern I could have is Languish/Radiant Flames/Kozilek's Return. I wouldn't be the only one to die to that. But Prized Amalgam can come back from graveyard and Deathmist Raptor as well. It could possibly be a deck that could play Gisa and Geralf, a card I fell in love after I saw it spoiled (but I was well aware that this card being playable in the deck was more of a wish).

Check this to see the list of cards
List of cards I was considering I could possibly play in UB based deck
take inventory

fortune's favor

grasp of darkness
ultimate price
ruinous path

foul-tongue invocation
to the slaughter

silumgar's command/ruinous path

confirm suspicions
convolute/scatter to the winds
clash of wills
void shatter

dragonlord silumgar

sphinx of the final word
rise from the tide

whirler rogue
wharf infiltrator

liliana, the last hope

jace, unraveler of secrets
ob nixilis reignited

self inflicted would
flaying tendrils
virulent plague
infinite obliteration
dead weight
reality smasher

transgress the mind
collective brutality

dark petition

blighted cataract
(mage-ring network)
lumbering falls
hissing quagmire


traverse the ulvenwald
den protector
hissing quagmire
lumbering falls
/sylvan advocate
vessel of nascency/dead weight/mindwreck demon/(lunar force)
grapple with the past

read the bones/painful truths

So I put together some kind of Dredge deck. It was just a concept but I was curious if it could possibly work. I knew that BUG Control/Midrange would simply work right from the beginning no matter what cards I would decide to put in, but a dedicated deck like this might not be the best when people have no idea what to play yet. I'd say many people would keep their Kalitases in their decks and I wasn't really willing to deal with them just yet. I tried the deck though against Esper Control and Grixis Control and it actually worked against both of these decks. Kalitas was a problem. When it hit the board all I could do was play my 3/3s, Mindwreck Demon and hope I would survive till I could land Emrakul. It worked but I was well aware I would need to tweak my deck to go through this card and decided to abandon the deck for now. I also needed to get Delirium more consistently. Anyway I liked what the deck was doing so it was worth trying it out (it usually won by one single swing with many creatures that came out of the graveyard or Emrakul).

BUG Dredge
by STsung, 365 tix
4 Deathmist Raptor
1 Emrakul, the Promised End
4 Den Protector
2 Gisa and Geralf
4 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
4 Mindwrack Demon
4 Prized Amalgam
3 Wailing Ghoul
26 cards

Other Spells
1 Dead Weight
1 Gather the Pack
4 Grapple with the Past
2 Liliana, the Last Hope
2 Traverse the Ulvenwald
1 Vessel of Nascency
11 cards
4 Evolving Wilds
4 Forest
4 Hissing Quagmire
1 Island
1 Llanowar Wastes
4 Sunken Hollow
4 Swamp
1 Yavimaya Coast
23 cards

2 Aerial Volley
1 Dead Weight
2 Dragonlord Silumgar
2 Lumbering Falls
3 Negate
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
2 Lumbering Falls
3 Negate
2 Whispers of Emrakul
15 cards

There was a GPT in Standard that I was thinking about going to but I did not have a deck. My friend offered that I could play Ali Aintrazi's deck (SCG Open Columbus?). I have no idea who that is but I liked his deck.

BUG Control
by Ali Aintrazi, 469tix
2 Den Protector
1 Dragonlord Silumgar
1 Emrakul, the Promised End
1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
4 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
1 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
4 Sylvan Advocate
14 cards

Other Spells
1 Grasp of Darkness
2 Hedron Archive
4 Languish
2 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Murder
2 Oath of Jace
1 Oath of Liliana
1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
2 Ruinous Path
1 Scour the Laboratory
2 Traverse the Ulvenwald
1 Ultimate Price
20 cards
3 Choked Estuary
4 Evolving Wilds
3 Forest
4 Hissing Quagmire
2 Island
2 Lumbering Falls
4 Sunken Hollow
4 Swamp
26 cards

2 Dead Weight
1 Dragonlord Silumgar
1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
2 Lambholt Pacifist
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Painful Truths
2 Pick the Brain
3 Summary Dismissal
15 cards

When I finally got to play Standard I forgot to take 2 Languish with me and I was missing Lilianas. Instead I put in 2 Grasp of Darkness, 1 Oath of Jace, 1 Ultimate Price main deck and 1 Dark Petition in the sideboard.

After some matches I noticed that I'm 1 Forest short usually, that Grasp of Darkness in multiple copies is not bad actually (seemed better than 2 additional Languish) and that Lambholt Pacifist is just a very bad card. I always sided out Scour the Laboratory, I had need for Ruinous Path/Negate and Pick the Brain was simply awful. Transgress the Mind and Duress were the cards to be played, not this one. Anyway I did not change main deck for the time being and tried playing in another event, this time with Lilianas (I actually swapped Island for a Forest, but I did not cut Estuary just yet, because I had nothing to prove that the card in 3 copies isn't actually ok). I changed the sideboard though. Pick the Brain and Dismissal had to go being replaced by Negates, 1 Dark Petition and 1 Aerial Volley. During the tournament I had the very same feelings though and for that reason I sat down and decided to ponder about few changes and the mana base (since I was immediately upset when I drew Choked Estuary and it even cost me a game and would prefer a Swamp instead). In the meantime I spent 50.8tix to buy the remaining cards I was missing along with some of the cards I expected to want to play (Gilt-leaf Winnower and Painful Truths).

The tables above show the steps needed to create a manabase. I wrote a short post about this 5 years ago. I just wrote it so I could link others there so they could understand my process. There was a table attached but since my awesome google broke all my links it is gone. The above sheet shows the same process. It is not for Domain Zoo and Solar Flare I used as an example at that time but Ali's BUG Control. With this I do not want to say that his mana base is wrong but that the way I see the deck and play it I simply need additional green source and I don't need that many blue ones. A black/green land that comes into play untapped would actually work as well but cannot be fetched so that is why there is additional Forest (and Swamp) and cutting Choked Estuary makes the mana base better.

Oath of Jace is really cool with all those awesome Planeswalkers. BTW Nissa joined the team a turn later^_^

When I was playing with the deck at some points I was like 'I really need something like Putrid Imp in the deck'. I needed a creature that could Fly and have an ability with 'discard a card' cost. Since I needed the card primarily for blocking, the Imp wouldn't do since with Threshold it loses the ability to block. But then someone noted that there is a card that actually meets my conditions. It is Noose Constrictor. It doesn't fly but has Reach and it's ability is even better than Imp's one. In some games I would really like to discard the cards I have in my hand and play Emrakul as soon as possible! Not to mention that Spirits and Spell Queller are a problem and this helps a lot with that. And BTW Dead Weight is pretty cool removal once again.

Since our local meta is more UR Thermo-thing based in the end I just cut blue and started playing BG Delirium. No matter how much I like Jace I just ended up siding the card out more often than not so cutting blue in the end was better. BG Delirium mirror matches are way worse than when playing with BUG Delirium. So now equipped with Caustic Caterpillar, Call the Bloodline and Kalitas I can finally beat those red decks.

I even had some funny moments with Emrakul! I controled my opponent's turn while he had Demonic Pact in play for example^_~.

Anyway...this was just some utterly random post. I just want to say that it was fun to think about Eldritch Moon and new decks and I fell in love with Aintrazi's deck. I need to make some changes and see how Pro Tour will end but I like it so far. So I'd like to thank Zdenek for asking me for help and then later providing me with the paper cards for Ali's deck so I could try it out at few events. Now it is time for me to buy them^_^. Even though upcoming PPTQ is Modern, hehe.