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Treasure Cruisin' Gifts Storm
The Role of Ecosystems in Fantasy Worldbuilding
Life's Legacy: Delving into Delver
  • posted a message on Modern Esper Draw-Go
    To be perfectly clear, I don't intend to be on six discard/no countermagic to really speak of for very long. This is just what I'm jamming while I suss out what impacts jace has on matchups.

    I don't think this is a time for theorycrafting (ironic, I know). The format is in a huge state of flux and the vast majority of decks online right now seem very inbred to Jace. Theorycrafting about a mix of removal or combo matchups etc is pointless unless you have a serious tournament on monday, in which case I'd say to jam burn with the spell mastery burn spell as a four of in the board and be done with it.

    The reality is, wr know how to beat combo with our colors and we know how to beat most of the linear decks with the colors we have available. We've all invested a lot of time and reps into that. For all of those matchups, just think of jace as a lantern control minigame we get to add to the deck to frustrate our opponents.

    The real question is where we shake out in the new order of fair decks. To figure that out, we need grindy reps against those decks, in order to really get a feel for how our tools play against their new builds.

    If you want to ensure you get to slam some haymaker spell barrages back and forth with fair decks, you'll see that's what my list does. Lots of discard and removal to ensure I don't fall too far behind on board before I can cast some more impactful spells.

    We can tune it back later. For now, I just want to learn how jace matches up in practice against the new reality of our opponents.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on Modern Esper Draw-Go
    I think draw-go is probably not where you want to be. JTMS is significantly better with a board presence to protect him. I absolutely agree that discard + removal + jace is where you want to be in modern right now. This is what I'll be playing in a 4-rounder sunday (yes, my shop is switching a day early. It'll just sanction as casual).

    Deck obviously will need mb and sb tuning, but this is where I'm starting for the new format.

    I expect to gradually fall back to more countermagic and less discard, but at least initially I want to stick walkers cleanly to see how they hold up and gradually dial back to the right mix of enablers and power spells.

    It's a brave new world gents. All the rules are obsolete; it's time to rewrite them ourselves. Lantern broke the format starting from here. Now that we have jace, it's our turn to shine.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on Modern Esper Draw-Go
    I played miracles from 2013 until the top ban (the ban was the impetus to rebuy a tabernacle and return to my greatest love).

    I played Jace the entire time he was in standard, and I jammed him briefly in thopter-depths extended.

    Some of you are seriously overestimating jace. Couple of things to keep in mind:

    1. Jace is not a healthy planeswalker. He comes down squishier than literally every other walker except liliana of the veil if he has to protect himself. Unlike all of the gideons or other jace/new lilly/nahiri, jtms does not come down on turn four against two creatures and live for you to untap and clean up.

    2. This is not legacy. Casting jtms with protection is doable on turn four, with a cb, preset top of library and force available. In modern, that's like having seven mana and two interactive spells plus the jace.

    3. This is not legacy. Everybody in modern puts you under immense pressure. In legacy, this is not really the case because everyone slows down to interact with combo. In modern tapping out on turn four will just leave you dead against most combo AND most aggressive decks if you aren't wrathing them.

    4. This is not legacy. Lingering souls is the biggest nightmare for jtms decks in legacy without terminus, and is hard to fight through with terminus. In modern, every aggressive deck can go that wide OR big enough to smash jace pretty easily if they aren't already on lockdown.

    5. Bricking out on jace is a thing. The biggest selling point on jace heavy builds in legacy was that your win cons were blue for better force of will handling in combo matchups and easier fetching around moon/back to basics plans. In modern, outside of blue moon you aren't worried about the mana, and we don't look for "blue" as an objective benefit to a card.

    6. Modern has bolt. Very few legacy decks (comparatively) have bolt. This applies both on the "jace on 3 is not safe even on an open board" side AND on the "your life total is so pressured you can't afford to slow down to win with jace, you have to stabilize at a real life total" sense.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on Modern Esper Draw-Go
    I'm currently in a military school as one of the few civilians that get sent here-- FA49 14 week school for those of you in the service--so I'm busy with 10-hour class days.

    My quick thoughts:

    1. White sun's zenith is gone. Probably also the double revelation, though one rev and/or one secure could probably still make the cut, just not as a primary gameplan. I was already on 25 lands, this probably means 24 or 23.

    2. The best jace shell is probably blue moon: bolt, remand, blood moon, jace bounce your dude is backbreaking against non-red decks.

    3. Jeskai probably picks up two copies over ajani or whatever with few other changes, and gets a good % boost in a few matchups.

    3. UW doesn't benefit a ton from this. JTMS is good in their already favorable matchups and specifically weak against the cards that were good against UW beforehand. I honestly would still split with jace AOT, heavy on AOT.

    4. Grixis is in an interesting spot. I think that it'll be good at resolving and defending jace while fighting over opposing jace, but I'm not at all sure that it isn't better to just play 18 or 19 land grixis shadow and play a pair of jaces in the 75, for much the same effect.

    5. I think the way forward with esper in the light of JTMS is tapout. I just picked up my foil inquisition of kozileks and fnm promo lingering souls, and I'll probably pick up foil pushes soon. I don't know if the build is gideons and jace to bury the opponent, or if it's still grinding snapcasters and creature land beats, but I think that regardless it's discard spells, lingering souls, and jace for esper.

    6. Please don't jam four jaces. The correct number is probably two, with an optional third copy in lieu of other win cons, but be mindful that everyone and their brother is going to play dreadbore or needle effects and diversifying your win cons is important.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on Modern Esper Draw-Go
    To be honest... Come the PT, I'm honestly hoping that two things happen:
    1. Control does poorly. Like, zero top 64/32/16/8 slots.
    2. Big manan dominates: Eldrazi tron, normal tron builds, and valakut decks.

    Why? I want the lack of good interaction for lands (and the brokenness of SOL lands) highlighted on a stage WOTC can't ignore. Preferably, some kind of tron player getting Crumble to Dusted on camera with an empty board on turn four, and still winning the game.

    Why? I want them to take a good hard look at two things: Firstly, whether eldrazi temple is still actually a reasonable card for the format, and secondly, because I want them to seriously consider giving modern a hatebear of some kind that prevents decks from making additional mana, or prevents players from casting spells ahead of curve in some manner.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on Modern Esper Draw-Go
    I certainly agree that typical builds of this deck are not the place to play opt.

    My experience with search has actually been that it's nuts. Like, I've lost less than 5% of matches where I got it flipped and it wasn't immediately ghost quartered or something, and in my book if it fixes 1-3 draws then turns into an extra basic it more than pulled its weight. I certainly found it to be better in postboard games--things are naturally slower most of the time, and the cards you find are higher-impact. One thing I have noticed--if you have any other mana sink available, I'd rather use it before azcanta unless I'm digging for a particular spell. The exception being a blue mirror in which you don't want to commit actual cards to the stack obviously.

    I don't tens to think of company matchups as bad, just not favorable (if only slightly). What I hate about company decks is that they get so much of their strength from all these dorky green card advantage spells, yet they get to bring in all sorts of crap like rhonas and pharika in games 2/3 and there isn't a ton we can do.

    I really really really want containment priest in modern for so many reasons.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on Modern Esper Draw-Go
    I'm home for a couple of weeks over the holidays before shipping out in January for another 14 week school at (another) military base.

    I've played some smaller (4-round) events with some very skewed lists to get some data about how some cards play. This is what I'm going to run with for a few events to see how it goes.

    1. Search for Azcanta has been powerful. In more than two dozen games where I flipped it in various configurations, the only game I lost while it was active was a very late flip in a control mirror where I was already extremely behind. I don't feel I can cleanly play more than two however.

    2. 25 lands. I've been playing 26 forever, but with search being basically half a land, I'm comfortable shaving the 4th colonnade. Having a single UW cycle land is nice, because if I would otherwise get a tapped shockland early it can substitute, and in long games it can be cycled. I wouldn't cut below two hallowed fountains because there are a lot of sequences that leave you wanting access to two of them in the first four turns of the game. With Fatal push in the mix, two watery graves are staying for now.

    3. Fatal push has finally made it into my maindeck as removal spells 7 and 8. There are enough decks in the meta now where I want the extra spot removal. Consequently, I cut a think twice for a third logic knot--ideally azcanta fills some of the filtering duty late, and more spot removal powers up more knots. There is some tension with search, but honestly I expect it to play out just fine.

    4. Sideboard duress. With the extra spot removal, I'm fine with duress for the combo matchups, backed by extra countermagic. Where I'll get punished in particular is against the company decks--their value engine is good against piles of spot removal without a clock, and there isn't much to do about it.

    5. Considerations for tweaks:

    Torrential gearhulk was an absolute house in the various shells I jammed it in, but it doesn't play well with azcanta and snapcaster mage. It's on the sidelines for now, along with friends crucible of worlds, academy ruins, and engineered explosives.

    I want to find space for a copy of disenchant in the sideboard. Build should still be great against affinity, but KCI might throw some curveballs and lantern control could prove... difficult.

    Burn matchup will be tight for sure. I think at this point the plan switches to cutting wraths entirely.

    Settle the Wreckage is insane when it's good and very mediocre when it isn't. Honestly not sure if it's better than verdict 4, or a better sideboard card than wrath of god.

    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on Modern Esper Draw-Go
    Quote from Cipher »
    I imagine if you Teaching into Hurkyl's Recall, you'll untap hellbent and pass turn while they replay everything. But maybe I'm wrong, here.

    What are people hitting with Surgical that makes it good v. Storm? Are you removing Empty or Grapeshot after they cast it already? I can see Thoughtseize -> Surgical if you manage to set it up, but if Surgical is only happening once they've already tried to go off I'm just not seeing how that's worth it.

    The things I've cast an extraction on against this latest iteration of storm include all of the following:
    empty the warrens
    lightning bolt
    thought scour
    desperate ritual
    past in flames
    echoing truth

    It honestly depends on what else you have to board in, what else you have main, what you have in hand/on the table, and what their plans appear to be. There really isn't a "good" way to explain how to choose what to target, it's very much a case-by-case thing.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on Modern Esper Draw-Go
    Not gonna lie. I've been playing this and hating my life. Unfortunately, it's also winning A LOT:

    Yeah, not proud of it.

    I really don't like esper or control at all in this metagame. Esper has been generally successful at going generally bigger than all the midrange decks and then targeting a small number of linear aggro decks and riding grave hate and cryptics + charms to victory against combo.

    In this metagame, that doesn't work. With death's shadow on the decline, and eldrazi tron squeezing out bgx, we don't have our "easy" matchups often anymore. Eldrazi always felt like an unfavorable matchup simply due to the fact that their best draws had no answer from our side, and their mediocre draws required everything else to go right for us to have a shot.

    The problem is that eldrazi and fatal push have "pushed out" most of the normal linear aggro decks because they fold to one removal spell plus a fast clock. This is why we see infect and affinity performing well: they can ignore the clock and easily eat a removal spell or two.

    That's why I've gone over to the dark side for a while; small zoo is blisteringly fast to crush storm and otherwise laughs at opponents who think a removal spell into a 6/6 is enough to stabilize the board.

    Until the metagame shifts, I'm not on esper. Conditions for hard control just do not feel favorable with the way the format is squeezing now. If the PT in a few months mucks up the metagame a bit I'll re-evaluate, but I feel much safer playing the metagame lottery with a deck that can frequently attack for 12 on turn two.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on Modern Esper Draw-Go
    Jumping in on the storm topic.

    My win percentage hasn't changed much against storm almost no matter what configuration of extractions vs rip, discard vs counters, leylines and halos vs whatever else.

    My win % is static in about the 75% range in a best of 3. Why? Basically, boils down to losing the matches where they have the cheese and winning the rest of them.

    Why do I say that I win the rest of them? Because I understand the difference between playing against an engine combo with malleable routes to victory vs binary combo decks. Modern hasn't really had this style of combo deck since seething song was banned and it hasn't been good since 2014.

    There is no "right" or "wrong" sideboard plan for storm in the matchup. There are at least four very different reasonable lines of thought about how to board the matchup. I've always been big about having a plan for matchups, but you can't do that with storm. You have to understand how to read what they're doing and respond to it. You have to understand what's important. What they do will show you what they think matters, and managing what they perceive as important is not necessarily the same thing as making your objective best play.

    spell snare is the MVP here, by the way, because no matter how they sideboard it's great.

    Cryptic command on the other hand is garbage. Lots of people keep it in here and it boggles my mind. It doesn't do anything. It's the first card I reach for to cut.

    People don't board out lands often enough. I play 26 lands (still). I boarded down to 22 lands against storm last night.

    There are a lot of small edges that people give up against storm and they add up to a huge gap, as Emma Handy wrote an article about on SCG a day or so ago.

    And before anyone asks--I don't believe the quality of the storm pilot makes a big difference in the matchup. Sure they can do dumb things, that end the game sooner, but by doing those dumb things, they were generally just making different decisions about what was important.

    They may have been bad decisions about what was important, but we're the reactive deck. We don't get to decide what's important, they do.

    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on Modern Esper Draw-Go
    For what it's worth, I think it's likely that there is a *good* 4 snap, 4 push, 4 path, 4 opt build of Esper that is a viable draw-go deck.

    If you just consider and compare the structure to Jeskai control circa 2015, we have most of the same tools available.

    electrolyze->esper charm
    mana leak->logic knot
    lightning helix->blessed alliance
    serum visions->opt

    I don't think it's the same as current draw-go lists (certainly not decks styled in a similar manner to my current and probably outdated build), but I think it might actually be very good.

    Something along these lines: Not "proactive" per-se, but much more *aggressive* than most builds. I know at some point I'll take this list, or something similar, out for a spin. Probably with a better mana base, but i'm on mobile atm and don't have my tools. Obviously not the greatest against spell-based decks, but most of the format is playing to the board right now, and the sideboard options in esper are good against anything.

    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on Modern Esper Draw-Go
    Sorry I've been absent. I've had a lot of travel for my job recently and been quite busy. I still don't have the time to contribute meaningfully to testing again (yet), but here's my 2c on opt:

    This card doesn't revolutionize our deck. What it DOES do is open up a new build option: emulate UWR control. Where they have bolt, we have fatal push. where they have electrolyze, we have esper charm. Where they had serum visions, we now have opt. What do I envision? snapcasters + gearhulks, academy ruins instead of celestial colonnade, remands and possibly even mana leaks to back up a quick clock on the board in a nearly pure flash-game.

    Now, the other thing I'm going to actually test first is a midrange build. Rough sketch:

    meme-worthy? yes. But, with path/spell snare/mana leak/remand/opt, getting to turn three without the opponent having more than one or two dudes on the table is do-able. Gideon emblem + pacts on turn three is a pretty brutal way to take over a game. I can't imagine losing any game where I cast a gideon on turn three and have both a slaughter pact and a pact of negation. This might be the way of the future for those of you who want a more proactive deck but don't want to play grixis or jeskai because of the weaker late games.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on Pro Tour Hour of Devastation/Kyoto - Standard/Draft - 7/27-30
    For myself, I went to bed at the end of round 2 of standard (round 5) and haven't found anywhere that gives round-by-round descriptions of coverage--if there's no interesting matchups, i don't want to bother watching the rest of the day 1 stream.
    Posted in: Standard (Type 2)
  • posted a message on Speculation, Wishes, and Hopes for the MMO
    However they do the mechanics of combat, what I really want to see is the customization be good:

    1. Pick a species. Different species have different stats and maybe one or two unique traits or abilities--small things.

    2. Pick a class: warrior/ranger/paladin type/mage etc. 3-6 options. These set your available spell trees.

    3. Mana loyalty. For a given class, the balance of "loyalty points" or something adjusts the spell list available--a red heavy mage might have a lot of blaster spells, a green mage might get to summon big dudes, a green fighter might get huge steroids, a black ranger might get tons of on-hit debuffs.

    This gives the feeling of "I am X" but with the option for player growth and evolution over time.
    Posted in: MTG MMO
  • posted a message on Modern Esper Draw-Go
    Quote from pzeper »
    If I recall one of Amalek's posts correctly, I'm pretty sure the "best" argument against playing lots of maindeck cantrips isn't that doing so is inherently crazy--legacy decks plays loads of them--it's that the modern cantrips mostly suck. But whether or not you think the cantrips actually suck is a subjective call, which is what Cipher is saying.

    To answer Teferi's hypothetical, the cutoff point is when you think the power of the next cantrip you are adding is worth less then the next most powerful card you could add. It just looks confusing because it's difficult to quantify how powerful the card selection is- obviously Mystical Tutor or even Brainstorm has a lot more selective power then Reach Through Mists. If your opinion is all the modern cantrips are bad, then you end up with a 26 land deck with no cantrips. If you think some of them are good, you end up with a different looking deck.

    Not quite. My argument against SV in most decklists is that you can't play both cantrips and the 10 card draw suite while still packing enough answers, and you can't cut the card advantage spells or the deck doesn't function.

    If we got ponder back tomorrow, you better believe I would re-tool and be playing a deck that was not designed to just cast x-spells. But serum visions isn't strong enough of a cantrip for me to rely on to do that.

    Spell snare is the best card in our mainboard against death's shadow short of blessed alliance. It hits goyf against the jund and 4c versions and it hits snapcaster against the grixis versions. Spell snare in general is the best g1 answer you can have against affinity, snapcaster mage, tarmogoyf, and storm. If your opponent isn't playing one of those decks, then whatever they are playing is very weak to wraths, grave hate, land hate, or some combination thereof. Or your opponent is Jeff Hogland because nobody else plays kiki chord.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
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