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By: Paul Leicht, Paul Emerson Leicht
Mar 01 2013 11:34am
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Self Portrait: Paul Leicht 2/28/13

Introduction

A while ago I wrote a section in one of my articles introducing myself and it seems appropriate that I should do this again once in a while. I am Paul Emerson Leicht, I live in NYC and am a musician, writer, artist, bon vivant and bum. I am 29 years in recovery and hope to reach 30 years of sobriety in September. I've been playing Magic:The Gathering since I was 29 (1994) and was a writer for Neutral Ground's website for over 50 articles between 1999 and 2002 under the column: A House of Cards. I have played MTGO on and off since 2002 first as Telir and then as Winter.Wolf.  I have been writing for Puremtgo.com since 2009 and I generally cover casual magic ideas in various formats ranging from Standard to Classic with Commander, Tribal Wars, and Modern in between. Usually I have a new piece of drawing/art to put up on top of these articles as a visual signature but I haven't been drawing lately.

Gate Crush?

Yes, I said I wasn't that intrigued by Gatecrash when it was first spoiled. Yes, it seemed to me like the standard middle set doldrums. On re-evaluation though many of the new cards really sparked some interesting, never seen before deck ideas. I guess you could say I have fallen hard for the set despite initial reservations.

Master BiomancerBoros ReckonerDomri Rade

There are some cards that are really obvious. Boros Reckoner: duh? Everyone should obtain 4 just so they can employ my favorite tactic in magic: Cast a Blasphemous Act for 13 to the dome. Yes Stuffy Doll enabled that already but it was a little slow. Reckoner speeds things up a little while just being a terror. Assuming it doesn't die to a Terror or the Standard format equivalent. Master Biomancer is also a big hit amongst the crowds of Simic fans.

A 2/4 is rather unassuming for 4 mana but the real meat of this card is in its triggered ability. It makes gigantic friends (cf: my elves deck below). Particularly in tandem with some other "Enters The Battlefield" effects. OK so we know those two are fun. But what about...Domri Rade? Biggest mythic in the set? Because it protects itself and gives card advantage and a limited scrying ability. (Suddenly you KNOW if you can turn on Delver). It is a bit buggy online at the moment giving ALL creatures hexproof which means you don't want to ultimate it and play another to cause your biggest guy to fight theirs. Doesn't work as implemented.

Also of honorable mention in the obvious build around me department: Biovisionary. This card says copy me. Infinite Reflection seems to be the way to do this of choice. Though I prefer other methods. (See the decks section below.) And then there is my personal favorite creature card of the set: Nightveil Specter. This card reminds me of (Praetor's Grasp) (cf: my articles on that card.) and yet it is also just a flying beater. It can block other 3cmcs with relative ease though it doesn't like blocking Vampire Nighthawk which is still quite prevalent among black decks these days. But the thing I like most about Nightveil other than its special ability is the fact that you can put it in decks belonging to either color without including mana from the other at all. Sure it is a Dimir card but it also fits well in Simic and loves being in Oros, Orzhov and Rakdos. It doesn't even mind doing some duty in Golgari.

Simic ManipulatorBiovisionaryNightveil Specter

Simic Manipulator is yet another Old Man of the Sea style card but instead of having a power requirement straight out it needs counters >= the power of its intended target. Manipulator is a build around me card that is likely to be ignored outside of limited because evolve while not hard to trigger is slow. The litmus of standard typically tends to be: does this card enable you to survive long enough for it to be useful? With aggro Boros decks being dominant at the moment the answer to this is probably "no". That is unless you include it in your Master Biomancer deck where it becomes fairly quickly deadly with the bonus counters. Also of note, there is no return clause with this card. So for it to be useful it merely has to be tappable once with your opponent having an eligable target. There are so many 1 and 2 power creatures out there that this is usually not a heavy burden.

Of all the fun cards that GTC introduces my absolute favorite is a non creature. Immortal Servitude rocks my world. I play magic to play with cards like this. It is "fair" in that it doesn't just bring back all cards nor is it particularly cheap. At a minimum of 4 converted mana cost (cmc) for your 1cmc creatures being returned to play from the graveyard it is a more expensive if slightly more powerful (Proclamation of Rebirth). I think 3-4 cmc is where it really shines though and I did build a deck to attempt to cast it for a full 10 mana to bring back a pack of game ending 7cmc monsters. (See below.)

So yeah while there are many more cards to enjoy in the set these are the ones that have my attention for the moment.

Immortal ServitudeHigh Priest of PenanceCartel Aristocrat

Thinking about Commander (EDH):
I have been thinking about this bit for a while. When I play Commander (EDH) online it is always a mixed bag. There will be guys who bring utility commanders merely so they can play good stuff.dec. There will be guys who play oddball strategies and play the political game adroitly. There are the Johnny wannabes who look for combo engines to break the game and you have the Spikish sorts who seek to end the game as quickly as possible. There are the newer players who go for a more aggro style when the format usually frowns on early aggressors in the form of backlash. Yet sometimes that strategy catches everyone off-guard and pays off. There are the archenemy types. They bring decks full of the most powerful cards/combinations they can fit and dare people to attack them. Sometimes the games can be very enjoyable with each of these types but I find some people get very annoyed when you build to prevent abuses.

  "Strip Mine? Land Destruction isn't very nice. Expect me to target you after you destroy my special lands."
  "Krosan Grip? Hey why didn't you target x's things instead? I hit you so you would know not to mess with me!" (Yeah I am stealing this from prior examples in the comments of other articles but it is so on the nose.)
  "Wrath of God? Oh you're that guy. Mr Sweeper!" (Newsflash, Pure Timmies hate sweepers. Guess what this format attracts in droves?)

The games that irk me the most are generally the iteration x decks:. "I cast Time Warp, Reverberate, Twincast, and double that with Chandra's 2nd ability..." Yeah OK enjoy that, off to play something else meanwhile.

Krosan GripWrath of GodStrip Mine


Another one that is high on my list of "don'ts" is the early turns win out of nowhere which may be exciting if you've never done it but generally feels like a wasted experience otherwise.

  e.g.: Play ramp/mana rocks, get a large token producer into play, play (Beastmasters Ascension), swing for lethal on the table.

This quote by Sheldon Menery keeps coming back to me when I start getting upset at these shenanigans:

 

"The secret of this format isn't breaking it. It's already way far gone if you want to play it that way. The secret is in finding the balance so that games are playable and interesting for everyone. Your mileage is welcome to vary."

 

TL;DR? Breaking the format is easy.  ANY idiot can do it. Don't be that idiot.

So why do so many insist on bothering? I haven't the foggiest except that everyone's mileage does vary to such a degree that they haven't experienced this ad infinitum yet. There are some players who never tire of this and do not give a fig what others think about them for playing it their way. Good for them, not good for me.

OK so this leads to why bother at all with the "Social Contract"? The answer I feel is because it makes the game better for you. Not for some altruistic do-gooder vibe. But because others of like-minds will start to notice and will keep you in mind when they are interested and you may have some truly great experiences. You may also teach by example. Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing someone emulate me doing something I think is good.

ReverberateChandra, the Firebrand


So what is the Social Contract?
See this article by my former clanmate and fellow writer here, Lythand: http://puremtgo.com/articles/social-contract-social-politics-and-other-commander-and-edh-goodies

My interpretation is as follows: "Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you." But with a twist. Using the implied empathy of the Golden Rule, imagine what it is like to sit across from yourself playing this game and experiencing how you play the game. Are you good with this? Does this feel like how you want others to feel? Sometimes the line is tricky to see between having fun and griefing.

Some people feel that the only way to play within the contract is to run nothing controversial. Play no grand removals. Destroy nothing significant. Simply hope to outlast your opponents. I think this is wrong. You need to be able to play a balanced game. You need to remove threats, produce threats, flow with the political grain and go against it occasionally. And sometimes you need to do something drastic to reset the equilibrium of the game. Wrath of God has a place. Anyone who has faced a board clogged with plant tokens can tell you they were likely relieved to see the next player come along and wipe the board. Also, you need to find a deck that suits your personality.

It doesn't make sense to play counters and removal if you are a Timmy who needs to play flashy big guys and win with style. The grinder approach simply isn't for you. Sure experiment outside of your comfort zone but come back to it regularly. If you play within your personality strengths you will enjoy the game more and so will your opponents.

The Beta, not the beta.

As many of you know Version 3 of our client is long overdue for a replacement. Version 4 is in the works, currently in beta testing. I have downloaded it at various times and my impressions have gone from "Good start!" to "Gawwwwd, I hope this isn't what we are forced to use in a few months!" My point being that while it has gained momentum by leaps and bounds it does not feel ready to be used regularly as the defacto client. KaraZorEl wrote a piece a few weeks ago with critiques on the beta so far. http://puremtgo.com/articles/evaluating-magic-online-version-40. Our opinions do vary but it is an excellent read that I recommend for you, if you are interested in the beta progress.

If you have worries about this, you should definitely get involved. The WoTC reps are listening to our suggestions even if they are not implementing them. Get yours heard. Also there are plenty of bugs needing to be reported. Bug reporting is like litter picking. Its a dirty job but someone has to do it. Because if we don't get involved we will be the ones who suffer when the beta is made official and v3 is discontinued. Yes that is right, I just compared bug reporting to litter picking.

Back in the day I volunteered more than once to be a litter picker at the Great Hudson River Clearwater Revival festival linked above. (I've got the T-shirts to prove it, moth-eaten as they are.) The activity was sometimes boring/tedious but it was also fun and listening to great music in the outdoors while doing it helped move things along. The main reason I did it though, was not for the free meals, t-shirts, or even the great music (though that was the big pay off), but because I believe in putting your money where your mouth is and I was, in my mind, active as a ecological supporter and wanted to do something positive other than write songs and talk. Litter picking fit the bill. Also doing it with my family was additional fun. Now what does this have to do with the beta? 

The Beta is this thing we have to deal with. It is inevitably going to be the program we use to play Magic Online. It isn't great yet. It is far from ready yet. But if we don't want to be left viewing a lot of junk later on we better start picking. If we don't want to be using a client designed to someone else's specifications we better start picking. In fact if we don't want to end up phased out technologically we better start picking. Yes it is possible some users with older machines or lower resolution monitors might find themselves unable to play if they don't make some noise while issues of this sort can still be fixed.

Get it here

Some changes to the client I would like to see :

  • Trading in general really needs a face lift but the following things would help a lot:
    1. A classifieds section that allows searching by boolean operators. This basic feature is in the editor already so we know it is possible.
    2. A moderated trade chat channel that new players can use freely without worrying about walls of purple text clobbering them every time they ask for a card.
    3. Classifieds should not have a random shift every 30 seconds or so. This is a terrible feature that causes much consternation when trying to click on a specific ad.
    4. Classifieds should instead allow users to uprate or downrate (for their own use only) ads to reflect their preferences. Blocked users should be downrated automatically so their ads show at the very bottom of the list. Buddied users should show first at the top of the list.
    5. No limit to the amounts of objects traded or an arbitrarily large limit. 75 allows for one minimally sized deck + sideboard to be traded but people may occasionally want to trade much more than that. It should be possible.
    6. Players should have the option to log each and every trade transaction from their account on their computer.
     
  • The Buddy List is chaotic and terribly organized once it gets past a certain size.
    1. We should have the option to subdivide our buddies into categories and add new ones as needed.
    2. We should be able to  add notes as needed to describe our buddies. This will help us over the long haul to know why and how some users are on our list.
    3. We should be able to mark or unmark notifications for specific categories and or individuals.
  • The Chat system is far from desirable at the moment:
    1. This needs to be manageable from a relatively low screen resolution. Assuming people will be able to take advantage of a wide screen or two screens is not merely wrong but unacceptable. As it stands now the beta chat system is actually worse than v3.
    2. Player created chat channels should be treated like IRC in regards to commands available, especially for controlling the channel.
    3. Channels you are in should blink when you are not in them and something other than an automated message occurs.
    4. In the beta client: In the chat tab individual channels should be removable by x or by right clicking.
    5. In the beta client: From the Chat pulldown > Buddies shows an unmanageably long list of all buddies online or not and doesn't scroll so if your list is longer than the height for the list it is cut off and full of red marked buddies (those that aren't online show in red.) This should be fixed.
    6. If someone is on your blocked list not only should they not be able to join games you host but their text should not appear to your account at all.
  • The Collection/deck editor should be separated and the collection should be viewable by binders. (RE: V3s binder view.)
  • Crashing. Until the MTGO beta client stops randomly crashing for no apparent reason it won't be ready imho.

 These are the most crucial aspects for me. Feel free to tell me what you think is important for you in the comments.

The Sky is Crashing (again)!

At the beginning of February I saw this thread: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75846/29760905/New_Redemption_Fee. I was alarmed. What was going to happen once Gatecrash was released? Would all the cards I was planning to obtain become worthless in a few weeks? Would stores start charging twice as much for rares since their margins on mythics would drop?

Well it has been 3+ weeks. Gatecrash has arrived. Players are drafting it like mad since the pack prices are cheap ($3.25 ish per) and the market is flooded with cards. Prices have steadily declined at a rather alarming rate and most of the cards have not climbed back up as clear winners have emerged. Is it because there are no clear winners? Is it because redeemers are bearish and refusing to overinvest in a market that may crash further? Is it because there are clear winners but since people love the set so much it is being overdrafted?

I don't have any answers. I am moderately concerned for the value of my collection so I hope the prices of the cards I own don't hit rock bottom. Part of me, however, wants people to be able to obtain them too and if cheap prices are the way to ensure this then this can't be a bad thing. Especially the dual lands. Yes they will be ubiquitous for some time because not only will people be drafting them in RGD drafts but Dragon's Maze packs randomly will have them inserted, along with various guild gates instead of the basic lands that are the usual 15th card placeholders.

It is my hope that this means many more players will have access to the "shocklands" so that they can build all these wonderful deck possibilities that come from a wide open mana base.

 

Strange Brews

 

 

Let me start off with one of my favorite cards: Zombie Apocalypse. I created this deck with Crypt Ghast in mind because it is usually overlooked as a lesser threat among the many this deck can field and out of the blue it can fuel the apocalypse after my opponent has spent their resources destroying my armies of undead. Or alternatively it can destroy theirs if they are playing humans. I added some thrull parasites to continue with the extort theme after discovering that they do nicely with undying and also fit the Havengul Lich plan. Blind Obedience slows down the super fast red/green and red/white aggro decks while allowing me to extort with other spells. Immortal Servitude which as one of my new favorite cards makes many appearances in these decks is mainly in to act as mid-game recursion once a few zombies have died.

Zombies Bloody Zombies
a Standard format deck by Winter.Wolf.
Creatures
4 Diregraf Captain
3 Havengul Lich
4 Geralf's Messenger
3 Evil Twin
3 Gravecrawler
4 Blood Artist
4 Cartel Aristocrat
25 cards

Other Spells
3 Faithless Looting
2 Unburial Rites
3 Blasphemous Act
3 Aurelia's Fury
11 cards
Lands
4 Isolated Chapel
1 Mountain
4 Drowned Catacomb
3 Swamp
2 Hallowed Fountain
2 Steam Vents
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Blood Crypt
24 cards
 
Cartel Aristocrat

 

This zombies deck was inspired by GrapplingFarang's zombies which he was nice enough to share with me prior to Gatecrash. I changed some aspect s of it to fit my quirky ideas such as adding in Aurelia's Fury and Cartel Aristocrat. This is pretty much my usual Bloody Acts shell with zombies as filler. The idea being get zombies out, hurt the opponent, play blood artists, then blaspheme. Pretty straight forward in execution and now that everyone suddenly loves Blasphemous Act not hard to figure out.

Priesthood of Extortion
a Standard format deck by Winter.Wolf.
Creatures
3 Rhox Faithmender
4 Skirsdag High Priest
3 Doomed Traveler
3 High Priest of Penance
3 Syndic of Tithes
3 Kingpin's Pet
4 Vizkopa Guildmage
4 Blood Artist
3 Crypt Ghast
29 cards

Other Spells
3 Immortal Servitude
3 Terminus
6 cards
Lands
4 Isolated Chapel
7 Plains
9 Swamp
4 Godless Shrine
24 cards
 
High Priest of Penance

 
I found myself loving the extort ability so much I wanted to build a deck around it and did so with this. High Preist of Penance doesn't help with extortion directly but it stalls like no one's business and enables extort triggers with its low cost. Again Blood Artist has an important role but this time as a support card. Vizkopa Guildmage is the real star of this deck as its second ability enables all kinds of nasty problems for your opponent. Do they block and kill your little guys and risk taking damage from lifelink and blood artist triggers? Or do they take nibbles from the little attackers and extortion artists. Rhox Faithmender adds to the mix by providing double the lifegain and innate lifelink plus a really nice body for blocking.

 

Soon after I came up with the shell of this deck I saw players in Juff talking about the very combine that inspired it. Namely Pack Rats with Illusionist's Bracers equipped. The rest should be pretty self explanatory. Everything is geared towards equipping the bracers on something and getting double activations. One interesting gotcha I found during game is you do not want them equipped to your Bloodline Keeper when you transform it into a Lord of Lineage. It will just flip back again.

Cackling Recusion
a Standard format deck by Winter.Wolf.
Creatures
3 Archaeomancer
2 Worldspine Wurm
4 Gatecreeper Vine
4 Nightveil Specter
3 Elusive Krasis
1 Sylvan Primordial
3 Deathcult Rogue
20 cards

Other Spells
2 Stolen Identity
2 Spelltwine
2 Unexpected Results
4 Cackling Counterpart
1 Stolen Goods
1 Urban Evolution
4 Farseek
16 cards
Lands
4 Forest
4 Evolving Wilds
8 Island
4 Breeding Pool
4 Simic Guildgate
24 cards
 
Nightveil Specter

 

I played someone with the archeomancer/cackling counterpart subtheme in their deck and thought it was rather nifty so I stole it and made this with it. This deck stalls so well I felt safe putting two Worldspine Wurm in and have cast both after starting with them in my opening hand of 5 cards. Nightveil does yoeman service here as it draws removal and or gives you a piece of your opponent's deck while revealing more of the strategy they are employing than they might be happy about. Spelltwine is funny late game in a variety of ways and Unexpected Results was unexpectedly decent here. Stolen Identity on a Wurm is "Gnight Gracie!"

 

Simic Manipulator is one of the coolest little 0/1s I've seen in ages. Almost on par with Blood Artist in my book. Corpsejack Menace is his new best friend. The idea here is to use CJM to give everything more counters and in the process hopefully steal your opponent's dreams of victory out from under them. I have thought about adding Master Biomancer to this but he is in an unfortunate slot being a 4 cost card where I already have Yeva, CJM and Ghast. There is no doubt he would be good and I might squeeze a copy or two in just for the heck of it. Nimbus Swimmer is a great card and my only regret is that it is not a fish but a leviathan. I really wish the design team had made his type align with the other fish in the set to give them some serious members.

 

I keep seeing bad permission decks in juff and while I am not unhappy to play against them I keep thinking there must be better so I came up with this. It is certainly still half baked as the 16 counter spells are not the efficient spells we typically love to cast as blue mages. On the other hand with this many spells it is possible to completely control a game until you get a beater down or steal one of theirs. If one wanted to tune this up a bit some draw spells probably wouldn't be amiss. Particularly Think Twice but also Urban Evolution as a one-two of. This deck is fun to play but not very fun for the opponent so I haven't played with it too much. Just enough to get a feel for it really. Once again I included the Simic Manipulator/Corpsejack Menace synergy combo. If you can protect this, you have a good chance of winning.

 

Of course the GTC card that grabbed me by the Johnny bone was Biovisionary. It said to me: "What?? You don't want to win at the end of the turn out of the blue?? Of course you do! Get to brewing!" So I said how do I go about doing this? I have seen a few decks doing it with Infinite Reflection but that didn't strike me as particularly fun. Cackling Counterpart on the other hand is one of my favorite instants. And in this deck is the possibility of just casting it on a flipped mayor for real value. That by itself is justification for its existence. That it can also help win out of the blue is a bonus. Clone, Evil Twin and Stolen Identity make up the rest of the combo. This deck wins from multiple angles which appeals to me from a Timmy/Spike perspective. Look at me stylin' the alternative win con! :D Rootborn Defenses helps create Wolf tokens and can also be part of the combo.

 

Yeah OK simic was obvious for Biovisionary but what about Immortal Servitude?? I have a screen cap of a win with this deck:

A thousand words wouldn't suffice to describe the joy this created in me. My opponent was playing a fairly typical stall then win through the sky deck and he didn't seem to notice what I was doing by dumping all my biovisionaries with lootings. Not every day you can get that to happen. :) Normally this deck wins through the Angel of Glory's Rise Kessig Malcontents synergy but Immortal Servitude makes this possible too. 

 

Obviously this isn't THE way to build Boros.Reckoner.dec but it is a good example of what you can do with him. Probably needs more Blasphemous Acts and less Merciless Eviction. Planar Collapse might better overall as it doesn't exile creatures. Blind Obedience makes blocking less likely for your aggro guys and Boros Charm ensures any blocks that do happen occur in your favor. 

And So On...

I've been seeing variants of this all over the place so no more need be said. In fact, I could have written about half a dozen more decks in standard but they have started to become trite stereotypes of themselves and while stereotypes can be fun these generally aren't.

I mean sure, turn 1 vampire or champion, turn 2 burning-tree shaman, + searing spear, turn 3 flinthoof boar is cool if you haven't seen it many times already. But after a while it wears thin. Especially, since the cookie cutters seem in high fashion at the moment. I am not sure if that is attributable to this "fix" WOTC applied to the meta by eliminating Tourney information from the daily data feed we used to get from the mothership. But it sure seems reflected in JuFF where trends are perhaps exaggerated a little bit as players not quite grasping the reasons for such careful tunings as -1 burn spell, + exile removal card copy the decks and then minutely change them for their own pleasures.

And I think it is a good place to start if you are a budding deck builder. Take a known deck/archetype and make it your own. Then expand on that. Try new decks, and tweak them. Then maybe build one from scratch

Tribal Wars

I have been largely absent from the Apocalypse as a participant but I continue to create Tribal Wars Legacy decks on a weekly if not daily basis so here are some of my latest brews for your enjoyment.


March 2nd is the Underdogs week for the Apocalypse and the above deck might have a chance in such a tourney so I drew up this list. Since Arbor does double duty as both land and creature you can omit 4 creatures from the mandatory twenty (minimum 33%) which leaves the question: Which Dryads of the many remaining should be included? Quirion Dryad is an old favorite so in she goes x4 and same with Yavimaya Dryad. Oh wait no -1 Quirion, need a slot for Trostani. Trostani seems like a shoe in as a one of as she is a source of life gain and possible Token replication. Militant seems a little annoying to me but she does have value stopping opposing spell recursion. Not that there is a ton of that outside of Punishing Fire which answers the little treehugger's trigger with removal.

On the other hand 2/1 for isn't to sneeze at. The Guildmage was the least controversial pick here, though I did consider running Chameleon Colossus in place of the Militants. In the end I chose the lady since Green Sun's Zenith isn't canceled by her and fetches her early on. The noncreature spells are pretty much the result of many tunings and retunings. 4x wrath might be advisable but I am running a couple of token producing sweepers instead. STP and Helix take care of the early game removal contingent. Reach is probably unnecessary as I don't have a lot of high cost cards to play here. Could be Life from the Loam if I changed out Militants for Changelings and put in Wasteland x3.

 

Some of you may remember when AJ built Praetors for the first week after NPH was released. I certainly do and it inspired me to create this deck when  GTC was published and the 20 primordials were the 1st GTC cards I obtained. As I was building this I was discussing it with AJ the nefarious mad scientist and he suggested running Progenitus and then I started adding in other 1 off Avatars. The only primordial I decided I wanted 4 of was the green one with its never useless trigger. The rest of the deck is focused on ramping up to 7cmc to cast the gigantic avatars that do fairly strong things when they come into play, not the least of which is leave a huge body behind.

Simic Elves
A Tribal Wars Legacy format deck list by Winter.Wolf
Creatures
4 Birchlore Rangers
4 Coiling Oracle
4 Master Biomancer
3 Simic Manipulator
4 Elvish Archdruid
4 Deranged Hermit
23 cards

Other Spells
3 Control Magic
3 Saproling Burst
3 Parallel Lives
4 Genesis Wave
13 cards
Lands
7 Forest
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Misty Rainforest
4 Hinterland Harbor
4 Island
4 Breeding Pool
2 Tropical Island
24 cards
 
Master Biomancer

 

Last but certainly not least is the Elves deck inspired by Keya's and AJ's talk on their podcast Freed From The Real as they evaluated Master Biomancer this last week. I decided that not only would I build an elves deck with him but I would abuse him as much as I could possibly figure so in came Genesis Wave. That left me wanting no other nonpermanents. Deranged Hermit is a given, Oracle and Birchlore were pretty obvious for mana/ramp and Archdruid gives the deck that extra mana punch but it could just as easily be Priest of Titania. The Three Simic manipulators are to add to the control other creatures theme. I did consider Gaea's Skyfolk briefly but decided this wasn't so much about aggro beats. On the other hand it would be nice to have an evasive guy.

Podcast Time?
I have been thinking about doing a podcast for the Tribal Wars format for a long time now. Unfortunately the first person I would consider for cohost already has a long term (indefinite?) commitment as a podcaster and his time is fairly limited. The second person I wanted to do this with begged off due to language difficulties(accent mostly). I don't want to do it alone but I think it could be a fun thing to do either as a limited series or as an over time (monthly) discussion of how trends are running in the format. Anyone who has an interest in joining me for such an endeavor should talk with me in client. I am thinking 2 other cohosts would be the right number.

Conclusions:
It seems that I have hit a rhythm in my life where I no longer write a monthly column but I still try and squeeze an article out now and then to keep you guys and gals entertained as well as informed as to my goings ons. I think a monthly pod cast will be great as a way to keep up with things and at the same time give me a deadline that I do not have at the moment. Without one I seem to procrastinate until I can't stand myself anymore and kick my own butt.

As we head into year 20 of MTG and year 11 of MTGO there is much that is different about our game and much change in the air. The beta will soon be our new client and we best be ready. Hopefully Wizards of the Coast will be heeding our advice, complaints and wisdom such as it is as they shape how the game proceeds in our future. I look forward to the changes as they come though I dread them at the same time. This is a part of living. Change is the only constant we can count on. And if that were not so the stagnation would eventually drive us to make changes of our own. (Still playing those old MMOs that everyone used to waste years of their lives on? Me neither.)

Meanwhile if I offend or cause joy or irritation or love or happiness or sorrow it is only because this is how it is to be human. We feel, we grow, we wither and die. Hopefully along the way we bring something different into the world than what was here when we arrived. So is my hope with this game. I hope to have an effect beyond the mere moments (enjoyable as they have been) of gaming with virtual cardboard and electronic figments.

Until next time,
Magically Yours,
Paul Emerson Leicht aka Winter.Wolf and Telir on MTGO.

13 Comments

Regarding your tribal wars by RexDart at Fri, 03/01/2013 - 13:05
RexDart's picture

Regarding your tribal wars Naya Dryad list, I would likely consider going a bit more aggro with it and running Dryad Sophisticate (nonbasic landwalk), maybe in place of the guildmage or the Elder in some numbers. And with a GSZ build, it may be worth a single copy of Heartwood Dryad, to block Soltari and Dauthi creatures which are both popular in endangered week events in the Apocalypse PRE. Of course, that version of the deck probably wouldn't really want so many sweepers, so maybe that makes it a different deck entirely.

If you went with a Loam plan in that deck, the Dryad spellshapers from Masques block might be a consideration. I had a G/B Dryad deck that used Loam, the spellshapers, and some Vengevine action to grind out opponents, was so-so, but pretty decent for Dryads.

I've also tried and tried and tried to make a Miracle-Gro version of Dryad tribal work, but even now that I own FoW it just doesn't work right without Gush.

Regarding your Commander by Leviathan at Fri, 03/01/2013 - 14:35
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5

Regarding your Commander thoughts, I recently played against someone who's deck was geared around getting out some variation of the Kiki-Jiki/Pestermite combo out, with Splinter Twin, Zealous Conscripts, the Blue Exarch included for redundancy. He searched it up on turn 5 or so, and I called him out on it. His response was that there are times when he needs to combo out early to beat other combo players. When I pointed out that there didn't appear to be any combo players at the table (I was playing Jor Kadeen), he then said that people need to play more interactive decks, and that the combo is easy to disrupt. I was able to stop him the first time with a well timed Path to Exile, but couldn't stop him the second time. My argument to him was "why play this?" And his final response was essentially "because I can."

So "fun" means different things to different people. I think you generally have to have a thick skin if you aren't interested in breaking the format, or else you aren't gonna have much fun at all.

As for the Beta... I tried it when it was first available, then ran away screaming. Unfortunately I know the time is coming to get back on it, but I'm dreading it. I just need to man up and get used to it I guess.

Anyways, good stuff man. I love your articles.

My first paper EDH deck was by RexDart at Fri, 03/01/2013 - 16:56
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My first paper EDH deck was built basically to show off my foil angel collection, and I quickly learned I had to run Linvala as the general just to stop everyone else from doing gross broken plays and try and have a fair game. But, like the reaction Paul was talking about when he plays a Strip Mine and they complain that he has an answer to thier special land, I would get no end of hate from the players with the broken recursive combo decks when I ran Linvala. They seemed to act like making them play fair was inherently un-fair.

To the combo players: If you want me to keep playing with your group, I'm going to obviously try to stop you from doing those shenanigans you love. When you have that spergy little 10 minute turn making 50 tokens and drawing 50 cards and moving things all over between the yard and the battlefield and whatever, I'm sitting there bored out of my mind while you announce every single game action in smug self-satisfaction and never take your eyes off the board. Heck, even the other combo guys aren't watching or caring, they're all just "waiting their own turn to speak" as they say. I realize you think that's fun, but fun for me is hitting you in the face with shiny Angels carrying shiny swords, so don't blame me for trying to keep things under control. Hell at least the Kiki-combo guy can win on the spot and isn't wasting my dang time.

Thanks for the mention with by grapplingfarang at Fri, 03/01/2013 - 15:47
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5

Thanks for the mention with the Zombie deck :) I like the Simic Elves deck a lot too. I wonder if either Joraga Warcller or Gyre sage would work with them getting bonuses from +1/+1 counters?

Thank you for the comments so by Paul Leicht at Fri, 03/01/2013 - 18:34
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Thank you for the comments so far guys! :D I forgot to make a plug for Hammybot this time but this is something we need to pay attention to. Hamtastic meant a lot to this site and to many of us and it is only meet that we show this as tribute in the form of buying cards or simply leaving credit on Hammybot. This is mostly a matter of getting more sold so that MTGOTraders can cut Tami & Bruce a check. So time is of the essence.

In re Elves: Grap I did forget those two when brewing though I have no real love for the Sage. Warcaller could just end games after Biomancer. (As Keya and AJ mentioned.) Thanks for thinking about it. :D

In re Commander: Rex, Linvala is universally hated because she shuts down not just the combo players but many answers to combo that come in the form of creatures. I wouldn't recommend playing her unless you expect to be the ArchNemesis for the session. But I agree with your point about the combo players wasting time. This is mainly why I posted Menery's quote. Also, it is really important to recognize when someone is following the contract by preventing something broken as opposed just being a griefer/spoiler. I suppose telling the difference takes experience and time.

In re Dryads: I tend to lean a bit more towards the control end of the RPS spectrum, so I ignored some of the more aggro choices in favor of running sweepers and doing it the way I did. I appreciate your analysis.

In re Kiki: I've run into that deck myself Levi. If someone is of the attitude "because I can" that translates to me as "I don't care what anyone else is doing, and I don't care how they feel about this." Which is a clear denial of the contract. So all bets are off with such an individual.

Wow, so many alluring by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 03/02/2013 - 00:43
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5

Wow, so many alluring Standard decks here! (Your "monthly or more" schedule is resulting in an overflow of good stuff.) I should start playing Standard more consistently in this era.

Did you consider RexDart for your podcast? If I'm the guy with "bad accent" (more like non-existent, that's because all my English was picked up along the way by reading/translating, I never properly studied it, so I don't actually know how to pronounce a lot of the words I use!), I may give it a try, if you don't mind some awkwardness. My listening skills greatly improved in the last few years. I'd need some test run, though, it might not be worth the effort if I can't actually express myself coherently enough to have meaningful thoughts on the topics at hand.

Speaking of which, from now on I'll be quoting you saying "Breaking the format is easy. ANY idiot can do it. Don't be that idiot" during the opening speech of the Commander PRE I run (which so far has been pretty balanced, with some nice semi-casual decks reaching the final round, but the one time a Helm of Obedience combo managed to win, there were a lot of frowning faces.) An interesting thing I noticed running that event, and that didn't actually occur to me before and I'm not seeing mentioned that much, is that 3-man Commander and 4-man Commander are very different beasts, almost playing like entirely different games (as 1v1 Commander very obviously is.) For starters, 3-man tables are often lightning fast, 4-man tables are sometimes endless, since they start way more cautiously and end up carrying all the players into late game. And those combo strategies like the Helm are very hard to pull off in 4-man, very easy in 3-man.

Re: the Beta, I'm preparing an article where I show videos of me deckbuilding with both versions. As I wrote in the past, I build more than I play (and I'm not the only one, someone else said the same around here recently.) The V3 gives me deckbuilding tools that I'm beginning to think not every player knows about, since most of the people I talk with are actually surprised to hear about them (due to the current client being still mostly a mysterious object with no clear or unified instruction manual.) If I already have 60 cards in my mind, I can assemble them (with the purpose of endlessly tweak them afterwards of course, but you need a base for that) in a couple minutes or so, without using any search or filter activations. In fact, you should NEVER use the search function in the editor if you aren't doing actual research, but even in that case, you better use Gatherer instead, since it's faster and more accurate and versatile.
Now, none of the above is possible with the beta, where the same deck would require 10 times that time for me to assemble in the editor. I want for more players to know that, so that they can ask for those functions to be ported into the V4. I couldn't call an "upgrade" something that forces me to spend 10 times the time I'm using now to do the same exact thing.

Yep you're the culprit who by Paul Leicht at Sat, 03/02/2013 - 05:08
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Yep you're the culprit who said no the first time I asked you about this but I am glad you've changed your mind. Rex would be good too, tentatively since he is clearly also interested in talking about the format. You all should contact me in client for a confab.

I suspect a lot of things we take for granted in the V3 client are going to be sorely missed unless WOTC takes heed of numerous complaints about their lack. As much as people liked kicking the dead horse of "V3 failed!" it wasn't a failure in the aggregate.

Also to the people who keep saying things like "the game looks like it was programmed by 5 year olds" or "it looks like it was programmed 15 years ago" boohoo! It has been functional despite a huge increase in users for the time that it has been live.

We are a critical bunch, us MTG players. I expect we will hate v4 no matter what. I know I do. I want to like it and it IS functional more or less but it seems like it is, as you say a sidegrade. That is why it is so crucial we get the word out and people speak up on what they like/don't like and most importantly on things that do not work or functionality that is missing.

I always say that V3 looks by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 03/02/2013 - 08:47
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I always say that V3 looks like it came through a wormhole from 1998, but somehow endearingly. :) Truth is, I don't care that much, it's just ridiculous that something from the major game company in the world looks that out-of-date. But if fixing this means we're going the Microsoft route and getting a lot of stupid, useless flourishes (like the freaking customizable deck containers - for freaking digital cards!), then I take 1998 all the way.

You've never studied English by AJ_Impy at Sat, 03/02/2013 - 06:34
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You've never studied English formally? I'm amazed, your English from your writings is more fluent than several of my countrymen can manage! Kudos.

Yeah, my by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 03/02/2013 - 08:18
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Yeah, my academically-sanctioned second language is French. But I always had a knack for written languages, I was the best of my entire school in Latin and never really studied all the grammar rules. I'm just really good at picking up constructs and deduce meanings and so. But I'm essentially tone deaf, so that doesn't work with spoken languages unfortunately. :)

Standard by Elbinac at Sat, 03/02/2013 - 00:40
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5

I've been messing around with a RUwb build that is pretty fun and reasonably powerful if you'd like to grab some juff games some time.
I'd welcome some tinkering input.

Sure sure though I warn you I by Paul Leicht at Sat, 03/02/2013 - 05:00
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Sure sure though I warn you I hate losing :p Seriously though just talk to me in client.

But I wasn't in the client. by Elbinac at Sat, 03/02/2013 - 06:09
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But I wasn't in the client. :O
And 2hg is always an option.
Also now you won't have to ask if I read the article yet. :D