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  • posted a message on Jeskai Control
    Serum Visions is not strictly better than Opt. It's just our best tool for general consistency. I agree that Opt plays an important role in these Terminus decks, the question is what else we can do to improve our gameplan. I think people crap on Serum Visions too much, and I say that as a Legacy-cantrip aficionado.
    Posted in: Control
  • posted a message on Jeskai Control
    Thank you chaos021, that's exactly what I was trying to say. Scrying 2 cards to the bottom is pretty powerful, and most games come down to whether or not you find what you're looking for on time. There's a reason all of the successful UWx decks prior to the Miracles phenomenon played 4x Visions (and notably not Opt). People also seem to ignore that you can Serum Visions to set up a Terminus, and then Opt to cast it on the opponent's turn. Cantrips are some of the most difficult cards to evaluate because their impact on a given game is nearly impossible to accurately determine.

    I share your concern over going to time almost every round, and it's easily my least favourite thing about the deck (especially considering how common the mirror is these days). I'm trying 2x Clique main in an attempt to mitigate this factor.

    I think UW Miracles can afford to spin its wheels more than most decks, purely because spiking a timely Terminus is such a huge payoff. I'm of the opinion that 6-8 cantrips is the way to go, and I'm partial to playing Visions over the other non-Opt cantrips, though Hieroglyphic Illumination is certainly interesting and worthy of testing.
    Posted in: Control
  • posted a message on Jeskai Control
    I think the anti-Serum Visions people (while they make valid points) seem to ignore the digging power of SV, both in the context of finding a Terminus ASAP and just in general. While drawing the Terminus off Serum Visions undoubtedly sucks, Visions digs you potentially 3 cards deep towards whatever you're looking for. I'm not advocating for running Serum over Opt in UW; rather, I suggest you run both to maximize the consistency and power of your draws.

    In Jeskai Miracles, I don't think Opt is quite the glue that holds the deck together like Visions was prior to our experimentation with Terminus. Opt simply lacks digging power when you're casting it to set up for future turns. As I've said before, I think the mana is too ambitious to justify the added power over the loss of consistency vs UW. 4x Field of Ruin is a huge boon to UW that can't be overstated.

    Beyond this all, the more I play with UW, the less I feel the need to run red. Red spells are good because they're removal that doubles as a wincon, but in the Jeskai lists that play ~5 planeswalkers and 2 SfA, do you really need burn to close out the game? In these lists, the burn spells are much more removal spells than they are anything else, and you're already packing 4 Terminus and 4 Path for this purpose. Suddenly, the red splash seems a lot less appealing.

    UW certainly has some shortcomings, such as a lack of good spot removal options. It also does, however, have access to some decent tools to mitigate this weakness: Oust, Timely Reinforcements, and Vendilion Clique are all maindeckable cards that "fill in the holes" so-to-speak. Your mana is nearly painless. At the end of the day, even the matchups where the red spells make the greatest difference, like against Burn, the UW deck still comes out close to even.

    My vote goes to UW.
    Posted in: Control
  • posted a message on Jeskai Control
    My comment was purely in jest. Magic is definitely a game of variance, and the fundamental question is "how greedy do you want to be?"

    I am a very conservative player, and so I value consistency over power. A deck that skimps on lands definitely gains things elsewhere, and when that deck draws just the right number of lands/coloured sources, you feel like a genius. Flooding more than usual feels terrible, and is certainly a risk for playing a more conservative manabase.

    Cody_X has been posting here for a long time, and is one of the posters that I know always has something of value to share. I am simply less daring in my deck construction than they are.
    Posted in: Control
  • posted a message on Jeskai Control
    With all due respect, you are a madman Grin
    Posted in: Control
  • posted a message on Jeskai Control
    Regarding Jeskai Miracles; I came up with a nearly identical list (3/3 Bolt/Helix, 2 Fields) a couple of weeks ago in a middle-of-the-night "aha!" moment. On paper, the deck looks nearly perfect. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm shifted to confusion, then frustration.

    Simply put, the mana is terrible.

    The standard 25-land, 2 FoR Jeskai manabase is generally considered shaky as-is; factor in that you are replacing Serum Visions with Opt, and the mana falls apart noticeably in my testing. Serum Visions is MUCH better than Opt at digging for lands.

    I play a lot of GBx, and I'm currently on a 25-land Jund build. Playing a 25-land deck without cantrips highlights how vulnerable you are to variance with regards to flood/screw. Jund can kind of get away with it because it can operate on 3 lands reasonably well until it eventually hits #4. Control decks can't do this, especially when your 3-colour deck plays 2 colourless lands and needs R, U, RW, UU, UUU in the first 4 land drops.

    TL;DR: Jeskai Miracles mana is terrible because the colour requirements + playing Opt over Visions.

    Addendum: Helix is much better than Bolt in this type of list; recouping life helps to mitigate the cost of adding a 3rd colour, and you have Terminus to catch you up on tempo compared to Bolt. Another big point is that T1 red mana is tough in this deck. As someone also mentioned above, your plan isn't winning with burn when you play 5 walkers + 2 SfA.

    P.P.S. One tenable solution is to cut Fields altogether for actual coloured mana sources, but that sucks for obvious reasons. Another is to sacrifice Terminus equity by playing Serum Visions over Opt. *shrugs shoulders*
    Posted in: Control
  • posted a message on Death's Shadow Jund
    I have often wondered whether it's better to try to grind or just cheese out wins against the fair grindy decks. If anyone wants to test on Cockatrice, we can play specific matchups to test different postboard configurations. As an aside, I have been playing something very similar to the OG Spooly Manamorphose lists but with 1x Snapcaster Mage (see below). I know Spooly isn't a fan, but the card has been nothing short of amazing so far, and I think that having it as a Traverse option adds a lot of utility and power to the deck. I had been playing 1x Grim Flayer instead, but I didn't like it much; I almost never want to Traverse for it because it's generally worse than getting a Shadow or Goyf, so it's pretty much only good when you naturally draw it as a threat. Even then, I find it to be generally low-impact. The trigger upon dealing damage is nice, but it doesn't generate any actual CA, and a 4/4 just doesn't present enough of a clock for me. The best use of Grim Flayer is acting as Goyf #5 when we don't have anything else to deploy on T2, but then it's often a 2/2 that dies to Bolt or Brutality. Ouch.

    Problems 1x Snapcaster Mage helps to solve:

    1. Gives us a powerful Traverse target when we're making a bunch of land drops. Because of Manamorphose (and the 8 other free cantrips), I make my 3rd land drop in the majority of games. One of the greatest issues with the deck is having very strong turns 1-3/4, and then fizzling out due to drawing excessive lands. Snapcaster Mage gives us access to powerful lines when we start to flood out in the midgame. It essentially allows us to Traverse for a spell, which is very useful in a number of situations. Snap -> Traverse -> Shadow is a great way to get multiple bodies into play in racing situations where we need to insulate our board/life total. Snap -> discard spell is a great line to have access to, as is Snap -> removal.

    2. It's a grindy card that's good in both fast and slow matchups because it plays to the board, as well as acts as additional disruption/removal depending on what we need the most (and it flashes back Traverse to get Shadow).

    3. As mentioned previously, I think Grim Flayer is best when we draw it naturally, and in most of these situations I think Snapcaster Mage is better. The biggest exception is when Flayer is our T2 threat, but outside of this I would generally prefer Snap.

    Snapcaster has been so good, in fact, that I am tempted to play a second copy. But alas, I don't think there is anything to cut!



    P.S. Spooly you were right, I had to mull a 5 last week and my 4 was better Grin
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Death's Shadow Jund
    I struggled with mulligans a lot with this deck, but playing a bunch of games has helped a lot. The following are my general criteria for keepable hands (if anyone disagrees, feel free to chime in):

    1. Ideally be able to deploy a threat by turn 2/3. Traverse + land(s) + at least 3/4 delirium enablers = keep for me.
    2. Mull just about any hand with 0, 4, 5, 6, or 7 lands.
    3. Always keep your 5.
    4. I believe you are more often rewarded than punished for keeping speculative hands filled with cantrips IF you only have 1-2 lands. If you have a 2-lander with 4 cantrips and 1 discard spell, I would keep it in the dark. Bauble tricks also compel me to keep more borderline hands.

    Do this experiment while you test Manamorphose: keep track of all the occasions it allows you to achieve delirium, and also keep track of all the times it would give you delirium if you were to draw it. It wasn't until I did the latter that I really began to appreciate how much it does for the deck. And to think it has so much other utility, too!


    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Death's Shadow Jund
    Regarding the need to be more aggressive: Manamorphose is the truth. I would not play the deck without it, and trust me when I say that it took me a while to fully appreciate it (you need to play enough games to feel the difference it makes in consistency). I highly recommend you try Spooly's list; I'm personally playing an older iteration of it.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Death's Shadow Jund
    I'd be very reluctant to cut the 2x Decay from the main. The card is just so freaking flexible-- just yesterday, I used it to blow up Rest in Peace, Phyrexian Unlife, Chalice of the Void, Ratchet Bomb, and a bunch of creatures. Having maindeck outs to random stuff is nothing short of awesome.

    I am largely conflicted with regards to Traverse vs Friedman GDS. The gap in speed between the two decks is closer than ever, but GDS undeniably has better staying power into the mid and late game. It is able to interact on the stack better (Denial + Snap Denial), and has more flexibility in the gameplan it can enact. For example, you can board in a whole bunch of removal spells and grindy cards to become a control deck, whereas you can't make that many cuts with Traverse Shadow because of the need to leave in a sufficient density of delirium enablers.

    GDS also doesn't suffer from drawing a few extra lands compared to Traverse, largely due to it's ability to scale into the mid game with Snap, and cards like Looting (and Visions, if you were to play it). This is all without even comparing the threat suites of both decks; though to be fair, I do think that Angler's immunity to Fatal Push is not a significant factor in the current meta, though it is definitely something to consider if the format were to shift in the future.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Death's Shadow Jund
    Postboard we tend to have a lot more red spells, so it's less of an issue. I hate making that gamble mainboard, especially when I'm not convinced that I prefer Bolt to Push/Decay against the meta at large.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Death's Shadow Jund
    Manamorphose is great, and primarily functions as a delirium enabler that also fixes your mana at times (and gives you game against mana denial). However, it does contribute a great deal to the awkwardness of the deck. To illustrate what I mean, consider that you are now playing 2 Bolts in the maindeck. Previously, the entire deck was BG with the exception of TBR and Stub. When you are cycling Manamorphose to find action, you have to be able to predict the colours you need. Making BG allowed you to play just about anything that you might draw off the top with Manamorphose; when we add red cards like Bolt, you risk drawing them without making the right colours. For this reason, I actually think adding non BG spells to the maindeck is somewhat problematic. If anything, this factor alone makes me lean away from Bolts and Looting in the main.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Death's Shadow Jund
    @Spooly Awesome to hear you're planning on testing some different configurations! The more I play with the deck, the more I return to the original Manamorphose list with Stomping Ground; it isn't without issues, but I believe it's the most well-rounded in an open field. I'm personally not too interested in tuning the maindeck to beat Humans because my experience with Modern is that you can play against anything at any time.

    If I could describe my perfect Shadow list, it would be your Manamorphose 60 + the 3rd Denial, 2 Faithless Looting, and 1-2 more Pushes/Bolts main. I realize we're talking about a 65-card maindeck, and so I've been trying to cycle through different configurations that play with some of these elements. The list is just so tight-- especially so with Manamorphose, so it comes down to making a lot of tough decisions about what to cut.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Death's Shadow Jund
    What do you think about my suggestion of moving the blue package to the board and replacing the last mainboard Stub with the 3rd Battle Rage to preserve speed? Obviously it doesn't always work as well as Stub, but there is something to be said for being 3 colours g1. Not to mention we get to combo kill more consistently (and I know from your articles what a fan of Battle Rage you are-- I am, too!).
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Death's Shadow Jund
    Very well reasoned, thank you for replying. The only point I'm going to challenge is that Looting is more air-- I believe the card functions in the exact opposite capacity as an air-compressor by reducing the overall volume (number) of the cards in hand to increase the density (quality) of said cards.

    How many games have you flooded out? Or drawn Bauble when you needed a card now? Perhaps you're playing against Lantern control G1 and draw all of your Fatal Pushes and a Dismember (happened to me yesterday). What about when you're stuck on 2 lands at 13 life with 2 unplayable Shadows in hand? It's turn 5 and you have discard spells in hand, but they're not holding any cards. Traverse but no delirium...the list goes on.

    I am just dipping my toes in the Looting tech, but something I have noticed is that Looting ranges from being a bad card (when your hand is perfect) to the best card (when your hand is trash). As such, the context of when and how you use it has a lot of bearing on its value.

    As I have explained in previous posts, having 12 free cantrips that don't provide selection (Bauble tricks aside) leads to a lot of unpredictability in how hands shape up. I believe that an effect like Looting does a lot to push back on the needle of variance.
    Posted in: Midrange
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