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  • posted a message on Current Modern Banlist Discussion (9/28/2015 update - No changes!)
    Quote from ktkenshinx »

    Awesome. Thanks for recording that. I bet most users ignore the post and keep talking about obscure rhetorical examples of how Bloom is broken, but some of us are paying attention to your work!

    Question: can you post a distribution of the win turns? Something like this (using made-up data).

    Turn 1: 0
    Turn 2: 10
    Turn 3: 20
    Turn 4: 40
    Turn 5: 10
    Turn 6: 5
    Turn 7+: 5

    Something like that would give us a good sense of both the average win turn and the distribution of those win-turns. Naturally, this data would only include wins (can you add in the overall Bloom win-rate in those games too?).
    No Problem

    Games on the play:
    Turn 2: 0
    Turn 3: 1
    Turn 4: 7
    Turn 5: 6
    Turn 6: 14
    Turn 7+: 7

    Games on the draw:
    Turn 2: 2
    Turn 3: 4
    Turn 4: 4
    Turn 5: 5
    Turn 6: 2
    Turn 7+: 18

    Turn 2: 2
    Turn 3: 5
    Turn 4: 11
    Turn 5: 11
    Turn 6: 16
    Turn 7+: 25


    Edit: I completely missed the second half of that request. I'll get to that in a bit.
    Posted in: Modern Archives
  • posted a message on Current Modern Banlist Discussion (9/28/2015 update - No changes!)


    Okay, so the last time I posted here (or times, if you're pedantic, which a lot of you (and me, admittedly) are), I presented a lot of goldfish numbers looking at exactly what turn Amulet Bloom (and the Griselbrand Deck) comboed off. The flak it received - justified flak, mind you - was largely centered on my not focusing on when the deck actually killed people. Then there was a small amount of time where goldfish results were ignored because interaction in modern is important.

    So here's my response: I started recording basic statistics for every game I played with Amulet Bloom. I also watched every coverage match mtgcoverage.com has on Amulet Bloom. Unfortunately, I didn't record how the deck won (and I'm not going back because if I have to hear another commentator not named Matthias Hunt cover the Amulet Bloom deck, I'm going to cut my ears off with a dull knife), but this still should give a clearer idea of the deck's "kill turns":


    (W/L/D): The result of the game, win, loss, or draw.
    #: What turn the game ended.
    (P/D): Whether the Amulet player was on the play or the draw.
    (*): Games starred with an asterisk are anomalous due to either a player making a grave misplay or a concession where there were still outs to be had. In games where either player had lethal, I added their half-turn to the game.

    U/R Twin:
    W5D; L5D; L9P; L8P; W5P; W7D;
    Grixis Twin:
    W3D; W8D; W6P; L7D; W5P;
    U/W/R Twin:
    L6D; L5P;

    GBx Midrange:
    L7D; W7P; L5D; W5D; W9D; W4P; W8D; W7D; L7D; L3P*;
    W6P; W5D; W6P; W7D; L7P; W6P; W11D; D6P;

    L4D; L6P; L5D; W4P; W4D; W6P; L6D; W4P;

    W3D; L4D; W5P; W7P; W2D;
    L7D; L3P;

    R/G Tron:
    W3P; W3D; L9P; L12P; L7P; W3D; W8D;

    W6P; L6D; W4P; W4P; L3D; W6P;

    W7P; W10D; W6P; W8D; L5P; W9P; L6D;
    L9D; W7P; W8P; L8D;

    L5D; W4P; W7D;
    Collected Company:
    W7P; L5D; W6P;
    Suicide (Super Crazy Zoo):
    L3D; W6P; L4D;

    Junk Company:
    W4D; W5D; W5P; W4D; L4D; L4P;

    U/W Control:
    W8D; W5D;

    Bring to Light Scapeshift:
    W5P; W6D; W2D; W7D; L7D; L3P*; L6D;

    W4D; W11D;

    U/R/x Delver:
    U/R Delver:
    W6P; W7D;
    Grixis Delver:
    L2P*; L7D;

    Esper Gifts:
    L6D; W4P; D13D;

    White Weenie:
    Death and Taxes:
    W7D; W11D;

    Doubling Season Control:
    W6P; W7D;

    Jeskai Ascendency (Fatestitcher):
    L4D; W6P; W6D;

    Junk Birthing Pod:
    W5P; L6D; L7D;

    Blue Moon:
    W6P; L18D*; L6P;

    That's 117 games, 70 of which are wins. Amulet Bloom's wins on average happened on average on turn 5.9, and its losses happened on turn 6.1.

    I don't know what else to say. I'm heavily biased in favor of Amulet Bloom, so trying to defend it any other way would likely not provide any relevant discussion, especially in light of all this data. So instead, I leave it to everyone else. I hope this proves useful.

    Posted in: Modern Archives
  • posted a message on Current Modern Banlist Discussion (9/28/2015 update - No changes!)
    Quote from Lord Seth »
    When goldfishing, the victory turn should be evaluate as the turn of actual victory, not the turn you just did something powerful but not gamewinning.
    You're right. Using the word "kill" is disingenuous, when instead I should have been using something closer to "does something unfair." I wasn't looking for actual kills, I was looking for the point when someone who already negative associations with the deck complains about how they've already lost. In retrospect, I didn't mention this enough (and the original post by ktkenshinx only uses the words "win rate," which I took to mean my definition rather than yours).

    In defense of my data, this sort of goldfishing does in essence match similar tests done on other decks. The RG Tron Karn on turn 3 one that I keep linking to, for example. If you (or bill_zagoudis or Sheepz or anyone else) want more detailed results than that, e.g., actual kill turns and the like, we're going to have to delve into recordings of real matches. I play about 10-20 games of Modern a week, normally, so compound that with recorded matches (of known non-cheaters, preferably) and we can probably get closer to the type of numbers you're suggesting.

    Again, I see the disconnect here. It's definitely my fault, and I apologize for it.

    Posted in: Modern Archives
  • posted a message on Current Modern Banlist Discussion (9/28/2015 update - No changes!)
    Quote from Lord Seth »
    That turn 2 kill seems implausibly high. [...]
    On a pedantic level, yes. There's the good ol' double Amulet draw: Amulet x2 + Summer Bloom + Primeval Titan + land that comes into play untapped + non-Boros Garrison bounce land which results in either 20 or 32 damage depending on how sadistic the pilot feels that game.

    I have a feeling that's not what you meant, though.

    I mentioned my criteria for a "kill" in the previously unnoticed "on the play" posts (linked again here and here for Bloom and Griselbrand respectively), but I should probably mention my rationale as well. Many opponents of Amulet Bloom cite two major problems with the deck: the uninteractive-ness of Hive Mind + Pact as a key offender in the deck, and the ability to chain Primeval Titans together easily, making even one 6/6 trampler into a nightmare to deal with. With this in mind, when I use "kill" in terms of Amulet Bloom, I refer to either playing Primeval Titan or Hive Mind + any Pact.

    I included Through the Breach into Worldspine Wurm as a "kill" in Griselbrand/Tin Fins/Shoal Combo/JUST PICK ONE AND LEAVE ME IN PEACE for similar reasons. Does this inflate the numbers? Most definitely, but remember: the common goldfish cannot tell the difference between a 6/6 on turn 2 and being dead on their upkeep. Probably because no goldfish (yet) are able to play Magic, but that does not mean the analogy breaks down at all.

    (No, I didn't compare Bloom opponents to goldfish. That would be incredibly rude)
    Quote from Oopssorryy »
    Where [sic] these Goldfish numbers or matches against any particular deck?
    Just goldfishing. I will mention that the general "feel" of the data feels consistent with my actual play, i.e., one turn two kill about every three matches (with either deck), but I/we'd have to do a more in-depth analysis to confirm this.

    Perception, of course, is important (this is where my pro-combo-deck bias shows, for those chomping at the bit to criticize). I've linked to this reddit post before which details how often Tron gets a Turn 3 Karn on the play and on the draw, using Python as a medium. You'll notice that the top-rated comment humorously details his perception of RG Tron as a Jund player (for the reddit-shy: it boils down to "You meant to say, 'They always have it'"). I've had multiple opponents call me and/or my deck degenerate for drawing the nuts, which will in turn affect their perception of the deck. At the same time, I've called my deck a piece of garbage as I draw Summer Bloom after Summer Bloom after Summer Bloom when I could be drawing one of about thirteen outs, which in turn is used as a counterargument.

    Is it "disturbing" (as welcome_addiction puts it) that Griselbrand/Russel Brand/Brand X/Chemical X/Screw you, this joke is still funny appears to "kill" about fifty percent of the time at or before turn 3 on the draw? Sure, that's what happens when a goldfish doesn't have any discard/counterspells/graveyard hate/ways to make their opponent dead/etcetera. Let's be honest (this may be super condescending, but I don't really know a better way to put it. Accept my apologies), if your hand can't interact by turn 3 on the play, you probably shouldn't have kept that hand.

    Posted in: Modern Archives
  • posted a message on Current Modern Banlist Discussion (9/28/2015 update - No changes!)
    I'm derailing the discussion again with a post of my own that nobody will read.
    Quote from ktkenshinx »

    For instance, radio414 is a rockstar[...]
    Well, one person then. That's validating.

    Correcting the "play only" games from before, here's 100 goldfished games with each deck on the draw. I think this is closer to what the deck's opponents claim when they say "consistently before turn four."

    Amulet Bloom Kills on the Draw:
    Turn 2: 16
    Turn 3: 32
    Turn 4: 33
    Turn 5+: 19

    Griselbrand Kills on the Draw:
    Turn 1: 0
    Turn 2: 17
    Turn 3: 34
    Turn 4: 29
    Turn 5: 20

    Lists used (really should have provided these earlier, eh?):
    Amulet Bloom

    I'm more than a little biased in favor of both of these decks, so I'll just keep the rest of this objective by talking around it. I'm still working on refining the "goldfish tournament" scenario from before. I don't personally have enough coding experience to simulate all 15 rounds of a major tournament, but I should be able to ask around. I -- and I can't believe how tacky this sounds when I type it out -- know a guy who should be able to help with that.

    In the meantime, are there any other "degenerate" decks people would like for me to goldfish? I'm certainly not wading into Stoneforge Mystic.flame (especially when Extratraz seems to be doing just that), so... other options?

    Posted in: Modern Archives
  • posted a message on Current Modern Banlist Discussion (9/28/2015 update - No changes!)
    I hate to derail the talk of Stoneforge Mystic in Modern (or whatever you guys are talking about; I'm not really sure anymore), but I did another goldfishing session, this time with the Griselbros/Grishoalbrand/Griselshoal/The Griselbrand Deck/Griselcannon/Just pick something that doesn't make me sound like Sean Connery, guys. Here are the results of 100 goldfished games:

    Turn 1 Kills: 0 -- I've achieved this exactly once ever.
    Turn 2 Kills: 7
    Turn 3 Kills: 30
    Turn 4 Kills: 38
    Turn 5+ Kills: 25
    "Kill" here meaning getting Griselbrand or Worldspine Wurm into play. There's a small percentage chance that Griselbrand fizzles, but I ignored that for the time being as I've found the chances of fizzling only matter once the combo player gets below 15 life, which seldom happens while goldfishing.

    As with last time, this means over the course of a 30-45 game tournament, 11.1-16.65 -- a little more than a third -- of the goldfish you play are going to complain about how degenerate your deck is. However, since my last post, I've realized a problem with this conclusion:

    All of these goldfish games -- these as well as the Bloom ones previously -- were performed on the play. Being on the draw against a goldfish obviously gives the combo decks slightly higher percentage chance of drawing what they need, though it also inherently puts them behind in tempo. With Griselbrand specifically, being on the draw also provides an additional discard outlet to seven card hands if necessary. So that's something I (or anyone else) will need to do when I (or they) have time.

    Posted in: Modern Archives
  • posted a message on Current Modern Banlist Discussion (9/28/2015 update - No changes!)
    Quote from ktkenshinx »
    What I'd really love to see is 100 Amulet Bloom goldfish games played out, ideally by 3-4 different players in 3-4 different tests. That would give us 3-4 independent runs of 100 games, and we could probably get a good idea about the win rate then. I'm currently working on an AV in Twin project though, so I don't have time myself to do this.

    Ask and you shall receive, I guess. I figured I had some time to kill between nighttime and sleepytime, so why not boot up Cockatrice and go fishing? Here are my results:

    Turn 2 "Kill": 11 games
    Turn 3 "Kill": 21 games
    Turn 4 "Kill": 37 games
    Turn 5+ "Kill": 31 games
    "Kill" in this case means casting Primeval Titan or Hive Mind into a pact.

    This means that if you enter a Grand Prix or SCG Open against a field of goldfish, 9.6-14.4 -- about a third -- of the 30-45 games played will be "won" before turn four. Personally, I find these percentages a little higher than my personal play, which is likely a direct result of not living with a school of goldfish. I don't think that the deck should be banned in its current state and environment, but I'm clearly biased in that regard.

    Does anyone have similar percentages for other decks? I know there's code on reddit that finds out how often Tron had turn 3 Karn, but I was wondering about other "controversial" decks like Griselbros (I can do this one too, probably), Infect, Affinity, etcetera.

    Posted in: Modern Archives
  • posted a message on [Primer] 4C Gifts
    Quote from BatHickey »
    Have you thought about taking the bloom/amulet engine and applying it to gifts? turn 1/2 gifts seems pretty sick and I'm missing the cards to brew it up myself. Trust that you'd pull off something cool.
    You're not the first to think of it, and I'm not going to be the first to dismiss it. I think the problem is once you've decided that Tolaria West into Pact is one of the best and most resilient plays you can make, the question becomes "why is <such and such cool thing> better than Hive Mind. The answer, as far as I can tell, is that while Gifts packages can make the deck able to beat nightmare matchups (Infect and Living End are the woooooorst things possible), it also A) opens up a new avenue of hate cards and B) Slows the deck down enough to make 50/50 and other marginally good matchups worse.

    Though I did see a Bloom deck at day two of SCG Columbus playing much heavier blue (Dimir Aqueduct(!) and Academy Ruins(!!) levels of heavy) base, so I can only assume it also had some Gifts Ungivens (plural check?) somewhere.
    I also think we're as a thread undervaluing thoughtscour into angler/tasigur as a proactive mainboard option to win games outside of gifts. Chapin build what I consider a perfect 'control' deck for the current meta, but we're trading crytpics for 'locks' and some great options at the expense of not being able to snap-bolt and ending up higher up the curve.
    That's been the problem with all my Grixis Gifts brews, is that Gifts cuts into the "blue four mana instant" slot, and every time I look at whatever iteration I come up with, I keep asking "How does Gifts come from behind and win me games that Cryptic Command doesn't? I haven't even gotten to full-on testing because I'm still trying to answer that question. Maybe the answer is splashing white for Rites // Norn. Maybe some Lingering Souls. Just have to keep working at it.

    Posted in: Modern Archives - Established
  • posted a message on [Primer] 4C Gifts
    You rang?

    My, uh, Magic related activity over the past few months has been largely devoted to playing Amulet Bloom (please don’t kill me), brewing Grixis Gifts (no splashes, most piles are Snapcaster Mage // Kolaghan's Command // X // X – I’d write more about it but it’s nowhere near ready to share with the class yet), and lurking (as I tend to do, although being specifically called out feels nice).

    There are some developments with 4CGifts that I’ve liked. Serum Visions is one such improvement, and I wish I wasn’t stubborn enough to reject it off-hand when I first read the suggestions. Similarly, I’m still not sure where I stand on cutting Loam // Crime yet, but I might just be too stubborn. I guess I like it in theory though.

    On the other hand, Iona has reared her head again. I thought the purpose of cutting Loam // Crime was to minimize chaff, and what is Iona but chaff? I’ve said this before, and I’ll say this again: What does she beat that can’t be beaten by Elesh Norn, Thragtusk, or Sigarda – you know, actually castable cards?

    Or the Wrath package, I don’t think I have the words to describe how impossibly bad it is. I’m fine with Damnation main-deck. Hell, I run a Damnation main. I can tolerate a second Wrath effect in the sideboard. But the full three (or – god forbid – four) just doesn’t work like you’d want it to. Ever.

    The lessons to be learned here have been mentioned already, and I’m sure they’ll be mentioned again: Threats in Modern necessitate generic answers. “Destroy target nonland permanent with converted mana cost three or less” is still a good catch-all, even in a world of six-drops and seven-drops*. Lingering Souls still blocks forever, especially now that we’re seeing a decline in cards with Trample. Celestial Purge is incredibly good right now. And so on.

    Sure, combo decks are a pain (again, I’m sorry I’m part of “the problem”). They’re always going to be. Bad match-ups are bad match-ups [/lame excuses]. And to be honest, I’m probably not the person to help deal with that (CF: my posting habits, topics of interest, and, once again, current deck of choice). Maybe, in the combo-centric metagame that everyone claims exists, the deck is just bad.

    I promise though, as long as Gifts is legal in Modern, I’m never going to stop trying.


    PS: So I'm looking this over before posting, and to me it reads like some self-aggrandizing poseur decided to write a lot of paragraphs about a deck they don't play very often anymore without contributing much to the discussion at large. Apologies for that, but I wanted to say something and didn't know what else to say.

    *Gurmag Angler is my current “untested card to think about” for the deck. I won’t ask for thoughts because I myself barely have any yet, but I’m going to be considering it for a bit.
    Posted in: Modern Archives - Established
  • posted a message on [Primer] Amulet Titan
    Quote from daviusminimus »
    [...] don't be shy in removing both your pact of negations in the faster match-ups. I know you said you don't like doing it, but it's a very rare case where the right play (in a fast game) is to fetch pact of negation. [...] All I would add, an opening hand with pact of negation in these fast match-ups always feels a bit crappy, unless your other 6 are perfect. That's why I drop them pretty fast.
    I get that, it's just that I've noticed occasions -- both pre- and post-board -- where I'm working towards Hive Mind and they already have four mana, two of it green. I guess any combination of pacts would do it at that point though, so I see where you're coming from.

    The other reason for my stubbornness to keep a Pact of Negation in is just sort of an anecdote. I was going for the thirty-two damage kill (is there a nickname for that/better way to phrase that?) and found myself with an extra Tolaria West in hand and mana to use it. The only way he could prevent his demise was double removal spell, so naturally I wanted a Pact to close that line off. To my "horror," I discovered that I had boarded both of them out for that game. It was kind of a wash because he didn't have _any_ interaction, but I still often prefer one just as a hedge. If you couldn't tell by my report, my LGS, despite being fairly competitive, also has a lot of weird decks. Even established decks play random one-of card choices (One of my friends who plays Twin always runs a pair of Trickbinds in his sideboard). So I'm sort of hesitant to open myself up to those.

    I'll work on this at a less competitive, but also more aggressively-tuned LGS this Friday.
    Secondly - on the Dromoka discussion. [...]
    I have pacted for Dromoka twice: The first was because Thragtusk, while the five life was relevant, wouldn't have actually stabilized without zero interaction from my opponent and running Thragtusks off the top (this was Game Two against Jack, when he had multiple Siege Rhinos and an assortment of other creatures). So, since I was relying on zero interation anyways, I went and got a Dromoka for the lifelink instead. He had the Path.

    The other time was to lock game three against Shreyas. By all rights he was dead anyways - I had Titan + Ruric Thar + Pact of Negation in hand, and he was at seven, but like I said about Pact, I've seen a lot of random one-ofs, and I had no idea what he was playing, so I went and got Dromoka just to be sure.

    These are just anecdotes though. Like I said before, nothing substantial yet.
    Third - the Oracle of Mul Daya [...]
    I don't currently value the extra lands over an impulsive player slamming a Kolaghan's Command or Electrolyze (both of which will almost certainly be brought/kept in), but I mean, I guess that works. Nice to know I'm not (too?) crazy, though.
    Fifth - you asked if you over-sideboarded a couple of times. [...]
    Sure. I don't mind trimming numbers, it's just that I sometimes goldfish interlocking combo decks (Doomsday, The Epic Storm, et al.) and I'm terrified of diluting my decks too much. With the other decks I actually play, it's not a problem because there are five or six bad/mediocre cards in each matchup and the deck is modular enough to deal with that, so this is my first time in non-Casual REL otherwise.

    Posted in: Big Mana
  • posted a message on [Primer] Amulet Titan
    Quote from TheNoob »
    I guess what I am trying to say is; DLD does not have the impact I want from my sideboard cards. If we were not limited to 15, than sure, DLD would easily have room. But as of right now, my sideboard is so tight I can not justify giving her a spot over other options. Sigarda, Thragtusk, Elderscale Wurm and Melira are all much better at their specific match ups and have more general application than DLD.
    It's weird. I agree with all of your points, but I still like the card. I think it's because it specifically replaced Batterskull in my sideboard as the "Lifelink Fatty with Resiliency" (Batterskull's obviously better in the "Just try and destroy me", though of course it's smaller and isn't green for Pact. Maybe I just overvalue Summoner's Pact then?). The only real reason I can give for even having a slot like that is because I don't run Leyline of Sanctity, so that's two to three free slots I have for random silver bullets and other potentially dangerously cool things (see: Ruric Thar).

    Again, I'll continue testing Dromoka (the good one) and see what I think. I think it's a bit too early for me to be drawing conclusions just yet.

    • • • • • •

    Speaking of cards that people have started playing, all the lists that Star City Games articles use for examples have this one-of Oracle of Mul Daya main-deck. From what I can tell, Chris VanMeter is spearheading this change citing the fact that Oracle can be pacted for as a primary reason (I'd give a link, but I'm lazy). The only result I could find was Micah Greenbaum's second place finish last week at the Premier IQ in Worcester. Does anyone here know anything about this? I understand partly why it's there, but almost any other card in that slot seems better. I'd rather someone explain it in more detail. Is this just normal SCG nepotism?

    Posted in: Big Mana
  • posted a message on [Primer] Amulet Titan
    Quote from TheNoob »
    Grats on the finish and welcome to the thread. Don't worry about any missed lines of play or being a "noob" with the deck, I dont think its is actually possible to play 100% through a whole tournament with the deck; there are just too many lines of play and most often none are obviously correct over the other.

    Yeah, it's mostly because I'm a little stubborn when it comes to Gifts Ungiven decks, so I don't really know how to respond when new people come over to the 4CGifts thread. Especially now that there's actual discussion going on, and I have to struggle to remind people that just because bad cards are good against certain decks doesn't make them any less bad [/rant] [/hypocrisy]
    How do you find DL Dromaka? I still dont see how it is better than some of our other options, but more and more people are playing it so maybe I am missing something.
    I didn't play against any decks where I would want the silence half, except maybe Tezzerator in round five, where she protected a lethal attack from double cyclonic rift or something stupid. The other times I boarded her in, it was because she's another big dumb beater with lifelink and sometimes you need those. She replaced the Batterskull I had in there, so that much didn't change.

    Yes, she can be Terminated or Pathed, etcetera, and that can make you sad, but I'd rather interpret that as, "Does the value you get when you untap with Dromoka outweight the tempo loss of a removal spell?" I haven't tested it enough to determine the answer yet, but I'm hoping the answer is "Yes."
    Posted in: Big Mana
  • posted a message on [Primer] Amulet Titan
    I like to think of myself as being decent enough with search effects and the decks that play them. I like to think that my weaknesses are in other areas – like not playing around Blood Moon, or playing too much around Blood Moon, or having a large Johnny-inspired attraction to the most complicated decks in a format. The third one is what inspired me to put down Four Color Gifts for a bit and pick up this deck. I’ve practiced for a couple months with mostly positive results – highlighted by a PPTQ Top 8 – none of which I commented about because I felt I was still playing largely sub-optimally and had a few lucky topdecks, things I didn’t feel were worth sharing. Also lurking's pretty fun.

    This time, it’s a little bit different. I still had the occasional lucky break and I can’t say I was perfect or pressed into making a clutch play, or even that I made any clutch plays. But no matter the stakes, a 5-0 at a mostly-competitive LGS is still a 5-0, so here are my thoughts on that:

    I. The Ever-Important Decklist

    It’s not much to write home about, I suppose. The lack of leylines in the board are mostly budget reasons left over from assembling the deck. I mean, I have one, but that’s obviously not enough.

    Some other notes:
    • Like kannister, TheNoob and others before them, I am also considering a switch from three Turf / 1 Sanctuary to two and two for similar reasons that they mentioned.
    • The lone Spellskite in the sideboard was supposed to be a second Pyroclasm, but the full-art one I ordered didn’t arrive in the mail in time and I wasn’t about to buy another for a Regular REL tournament.
    • I have a Ghost Quarter over the second Cavern of Souls in the main-deck mostly because I have been expecting more Tron decks than blue decks. Also, like Leyline of Sanctity, I don’t have more than one.

    II. The Matches

    Match One: Joeseph with U/B Mill

    I recognize this guy’s face, but only from prereleases, so I have no idea what he’s on. I lose the die roll (0 for 1).

    This “not knowing” continues into the first few turns as he plays Creeping Tar Pit into Island. Then he starts casting Surgical Extractions on my cantrips. Annoying, to be sure, but it doesn’t stop me from casting Hive Mind and killing him. He does get the “last laugh” as he reveals a hand of triple Archive Trap, so we mill each other for thirty-nine, but he still can’t pay double green or force me to draw three more cards, so we move on to game two.

    +1 Ruric Thar, +1 Swan Song
    -1 Azusa, -1 Slaughter Pact

    My reasoning was that I didn’t need to kill him quickly, I just needed to kill him, so I boarded in some marginally better cards, shuffled up and presented.

    He was a little bit faster out of the gates this time, with Shelldock Isle into Glimpse the Unthinkable into Extraction targeting Summoner's Pact, but none of it stops me from landing Hive Mind and setting up a Pact of Negation kill.

    2-0 (2-0 total), 1-0

    Match Two: Scott with Infect

    I’ve played Scott before with other decks, all of which have sub-par Infect matchups. This one, though, is probably the worst. I’m already dreading this match, though it would allow me to test out Melira, as others have done before me.

    I lose the die roll (0 for 2)

    Fame one, Scott is “helpful” enough to mulligan to four, which makes him just slow enough to lose to Hive Mind.

    Side note: Even after this game and Cohen/Bursavich in Washington DC, I’m still amazed at how close Infect can make a game with very few resources.

    +1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast, +1 Firespout, +1 Pyroclasm, +1 Spellskite, +2 Nature's Claim, +1 Ghost Quarter
    -1 Azusa, Lost but Seeking, -1 Radiant Fountain, -1 Hive Mind, -1 Pact of Negation, -1 Cavern of Souls, -2 Ancient Stirrings

    In retrospect, this is probably a bit over-boarding, especially if I keep a lot of Inkmoth Nexus hate and he plays any other creature. Thoughts?

    Game two starts off with more of the same, this time a mulligan to five and a remark that this is the first time he’s ever led with Breeding Pool tapped, go. I stall at four lands, Amulet in play, and three Primeval Titans in hand, though after he pumps a Blighted Agent to get in for six poison, I top-deck the Summoner’s Pact I need for Melira, and he can’t really do anything after that.

    2-0 (4-0 total), 2-0

    Match Three: Erik with Collect Call/CoCo/That One Junk Deck/Whatever

    I recognize Erik from earlier tournaments, so we spend our shuffling chatting about that. I lose the die roll (0 for 3).

    In game one, he ramps up with creatures while I manage two Amulets. Erik’s turn three consists of Collected Company. Mine consists of swinging for thirty-two.

    +1 Pyroclasm, +1 Firespout, +1 Hornet Queen, +1 Dragonlord Dromoka
    -1 Hive Mind, -1 Azusa, Lost but Seeking, -1 Simian Spirit Guide, -1 Cavern of Souls

    I’ve yet to have this match-up come down to anything but a resolved Pyroclasm/Firespout, and it’s not like they have much other interaction.

    In game two, I lead with Ancient Stirrings instead of Serum Visions, which sends my Pyroclasm to the bottom of the library. That plus the his timely Reclamation Sage into Thoughtseize lets the rest of his two-toughness-or-less creatures clock me until I die.

    Game three he doesn’t do anything of importance as I land a second turn Azusa into third turn Titan.

    2-1 (6-1 Total), 3-0

    Match Four: Jack with Five-Color Aggro

    Not Tribal Zoo, mind you. It’s closer to Liege Rhino/Wilted Junk/That Other Junk Deck, except it splashes for Mantis Rider and Rhox War Monk. It’s been working well enough for him at this level, especially when all the Lightning Bolt decks lose in rounds one and two.

    I lose the die roll (0 for 4).

    Jack, like Scott, is kind enough to mulligan to four in game one, though Jack gets the style points for announcing his intention to keep before actually looking at his four. His Ancient Ziggurats do little to pay for the Hive Mind into Slaughter Pact.

    +1 Dragonlord Dromoka, +1 Hornet Queen, +1 Sigarda, Host of Herons, +3 Thragtusk
    -1 Azusa, Lost but Seeking, -1 Simian Spirit Guide, -1 Cavern of Souls, -2 Pact of Negation, -1 Hive Mind

    I don’t normally like boarding out both Pact of Negations, but I couldn’t really find space otherwise. Probably another sign of over-boarding, but I think I’d rather the third Thragtusk over a single Pact here.

    In game two, I have a large number of fatties in hand, and set up a Summer Bloom while his clock is small enough to be manageable. He Abrupt Decays my Amulet, and suddenly I’m left without a green source next turn. Multiple Siege Rhinos make sure that I don’t get a second chance.

    On the play for game three, I manage an early Summer Bloom this time, which turns into an early Hornet Queen, and he never really catches up after that.

    2-1 (8-2 total), 4-0

    Match Five: Shreyas with Tezzerator

    In essence, Shreyas’ deck is the old artifact deck from Zendikar/Scars Standard, except updated a bit to better suit Modern. I had seen him go Ashiok into Tezzeret and Wurmcoil Engine into Cyclonic Rift in earlier rounds, so I knew kind of what to expect.

    He says, “High roll?”
    “Actually, can we do low roll? I haven’t won a die roll all night.”
    He rolls a three.
    I roll a ten.
    0 for 5.

    In game one, he gets a Tezzeret out on turn four, while I struggle to get anything going. I die to a Darksteel Citadel and a Torpor Orb.

    +1 Sigarda, Host of Herons, +1 Dragonlord Dromoka, +2 Nature’s Claim, +1 Ghost Quarter
    -1 Hive Mind, -1 Azusa, Lost but Seeking, -1 Simian Spirit Guide, -1 Radiant Fountain, -1 Slaughter Pact

    The Ghost Quarter is for some number of Blinkmoth Nexuses (Nexi? Blinkmoths Nexus?) I saw in his previous matches. Everything else I hope is self-explanatory.

    Game two sees a Cavern naming Angel, and he durdles around a bit too much to deal with the resulting Sigarda and the follow-up Primeval Titan.

    -1 Nature’s Claim, +1 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed

    I remember that he’s mostly noncreatures, and that he’s more likely to target something indestructible with Tezzeret.

    Game three sees basically a repeat of game two, as I jam threat after threat. He doesn’t have any interaction of note (If I remember properly, there was a Cyclonic Rift on Primeval Titan, which I just recast), and I had a Pact of Negation to deal with any that he had, so he dies in short order.

    2-1 (10-3 total), 5-0

    III. Aftermath

    Overall, I’m happy with how I did – it’s hard not to be. There are still some mistakes I need to iron out, and I’d like to be able to remember to pick up a land without prompting a bit more often, and also just play a bit quicker when executing a known line, but only my fifth match went to time, so time doesn’t seem to be that large of an issue.

    I enjoyed having mostly good matchups, with the bad matchups and other Blood Moon decks either losing to other people or starting with a small enough hand for me to make a game of it.

    In the future, I’ll be replacing a pair of Ancient Stirrings with Sleight of Hands (Sleights of Hand?). I don’t think I want to cut the Stirrings entirely – sometimes you just need that karoo, but I’ve noticed multiple occasions where it would have been much better to have the cards on top of my library stay on top.

    Anyways, thanks for reading 1845 words of beginner dreck. I hope it was at least a little entertaining, and if you’re going to Columbus for the Open/Invitational, I hope to see you there!

    Posted in: Big Mana
  • posted a message on [Primer] 4C Gifts
    Quote from dull »
    This Friday, I will try to attend a tournament at a different LGS than the one I normally go to. This store has a very high prevalence of UR Twin. What would you guys consider to be the optimal build to beat Twin?

    I don't want to jam a list down your throat because it will end up having Caryatids over Birds, and you don't like those. Instead, have some general advice:
    • Run (or, looking at your previous list, continue to run) Slaughter Pact Main. One of my friends knows Splinter Twin pretty well (so he claims, but whatever), and says that the absolute worst thing he's come across is game 1 Pact. Not because it almost always two-for-ones him, but because he then has to spend the rest of the match trying to play around it.
    • As an anecdote, I Pact-ed game 1 against him once. and in game two I tapped out on turn three for some three-drop. He cast Pestermite at the end of my turn, but just played Land-Go on his turn - no Twin. This allowed me to topdeck the Abrupt Decay I needed when he decided to go for it with Dispel backup the following turn. Granted, tapping out in the first place was in all likelihood a misplay (one I make more often than not - I'd rather make them have it on turn four with a threat on board than play draw-go though), but I still think it's a fine example of what that sort of one-of can do.
    • Speaking of tapping out, it's easier to tap out games two and three after they side out some or all of their Twins. That doesn't mean you shouldn't immediately tap out on turn three - Blood Moon is a card that even three-color decks run now, but you don't have to be as scared of the combo.
    • Pestermite is less of a combo piece, more of a threat, while Deceiver Exarch is more of a combo piece, less of a threat. In general, I'm more likely to go one-for-one to get rid of a flier than I am a ground creature, and will seldom actively try to get rid of a lone Exarch.
    • That being said, don't remove it immediately unless not doing so means you can't do it on their turn. Make them tap mana on their turn - control mirrors work both ways. It's tempting to be mana efficient and use that white mana they're tapping down to Path their dude, but it's almost always not worth it.
    • Unless Elesh Norn will get strict value (two-for-one or better), I'd much rather get Loam//Crime. This way, you can keep them off of cards while also dredging into Souls/Manlands for your clock or the Rites/Fatty pieces.
    • In the words of Alec Baldwin, A-P-L: Always Plus Liliana(or something like that). Almost no matter what you discard, she will hurt them more than it will hurt you. Only minus if she's threatened or you need to get rid of a problem permanent (Keranos, Blood Moon, etc). You don't lose access to her plus after seven loyalty.
    • Stirring Wildwood is randomly amazing against a Twin player taking the tempo route. If those players are anything like those I play against, they will forget it has reach nine times out of ten.
    Also, what's the strategy for beating little kid Junk? Norn doesn't seem good enough in most situations.

    The ones of times I've played against Little Kid, Elesh Norn worked fine, but I can see how a Liege could negate all of that hard work the praetor put in. So clearly you should prioritize hitting those with your discard spells removal. Other than that, I'd try to land more Lingering Souls, if only to have a much faster clock post-Praetor. From what I've seen, they only run two ways to get rid of her once she sticks.

    Post-board, I'd try and play bigger creatures. I've been toying around with Grave Titan recently, which seems (and, against other decks, has seemed) pretty good, though because of my lack of experience, I can't be sure. Sorry I can't give you more than that, but I hope it helps.

    Good luck on Friday!

    Posted in: Modern Archives - Established
  • posted a message on [Primer] 4C Gifts
    Quote from DragonGhola »
    Been a while, but I managed to top-4 a 14-person GPT for Vegas on Monday. My List. I went 5-0 in the swiss rounds, defeating Infect, UWR Control, Jund, Mono-Blue Delver, and Tribal Flames Zoo. I lost my first top-4 round to Merfolk. I really liked my list, but was a little sad to not see many of the decks that I had sideboard cards for (that was likely a good thing though). Best part was never playing against Tron. Any comments or criticism of the list are more than welcome and greatly appreciated!

    From what I could tell, the meta at that event was:
    • 2x Four Color Gifts
    • 2x Infect
    • Splinter Twin
    • Tribal Zoo
    • Jund
    • UWRb Control
    • Merfolk
    • Storm
    • UW Polymorph
    • Mono-Blue Delver
    • 3x Unknowns I didn't catch.
    I think I commented enough on your list when we met. Sorry if I came off as a little acerbic about it - that's a character flaw I'm trying to get rid of. Also, I was busy making misplays and keeping bad hands like the scrub I am (I went 2-3, one of which was, for all intents and purposes, a bye). It was nice to meet you, and congratulations on your finish!
    Posted in: Modern Archives - Established
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