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By: Paul Leicht, Paul Emerson Leicht
Jun 27 2014 12:00pm
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Transformation

by Paul Emerson Leicht, June 2014.

Deuce of Coins -- from my most recent Tarot SetAce of Wands -- from my most recent set of TarotDuchess of Swords -- from my most recent set of TarotUnicorn Major Arcana -- from my most recent set of Tarot

 

Introduction:
My Dad's line of work makes use of the term 'transformation' a lot. After all he deals in conflict resolution and peace making. When you are angry you can't think or feel clearly, so you need to transform that anger into something that allows clear thought and feeling. When you want to achieve a nonviolent result with someone determined to be violent you need to find a way to transform their feelings and perceptions ... And so on. In my opinion, this is an admirable way of seeing things in general. This is a topic we have talked about on many an occasion. Transformation is a word/idea that is often at the forefront of my mind so when I began to think about the events of the past year naturally I started comparing how things have changed in many ways from previous years and how things will change soon. Particularly in reference to the online community and MTGO.

Black Lotus

Ccchanges:
Slowly, very slowly the summer of 2014 has crept up upon us and before my 49th birthday, the version 3 client will be no more. Version 4 will cease being the "Wide Beta" and become the default client. Many of us look on with bated breath or even horror. We wonder if we will have access to our collections, trade capabilities, and decks. We have invested so much in making V3 a home that to be evicted from it feels premature.

Particularly since we can't truly make v4 a home until we get used to it and we have for the most part resisted getting used to it. In fact though I have faithfully tried every major iteration, I still don't like it. It feels awkward, clumsy, unintuitive, wrong-headed and unfamiliar in only the way a sideways move can.

We may never really know the internal reasons for many of the "reinvent the wheel" approaches taken with the beta. In fact we probably wouldn't fully understand the reasons even if they were given to us. And the likelihood of that happening is low based on how bad at communication Wizards of the Coast typically is. A more bizarre organization is hard to conceive of. However we do know one thing. Software is not in their "wheelhouse" and it probably never will be. So that is probably the overarching reason. The rest are just technicalities. 

However the reality is that once we let the V4 be our home we will still have a (mostly) functional way to play magic. We may have to give up some frills like easily communicated deck lists and a comfortable viewing experience involving our overly large collections. Maybe this means we should tighten our virtual belts and get rid of excess digital dross we have held on to purely because we liked looking at our complete sets of commons in Odyssey and Kamigawa blocks. 

Standard Malaise:
However poorly the beta may seem to be executed in our eyes, the one thing Wizards does increasingly well is make sets. And yet even there I have felt less inclined to enjoy the fruits of their labors, at least in Standard. I really loved the conclusion to Scars of Mirrodin block in the form of New Phyrexia. Since then my joy in the new sets as they have arrived has declined. Sharply. Return to Ravnica was pretty good. Gatecrash grew on me. Dragon's Maze was not amazing. Theros failed to awe me despite having good ideas and Born of the Gods and Journey into Nyx both seemed lackluster in my eyes. 

I don't write these things lightly. I am deeply vested in wanting to enjoy every new set as it comes out. I try to find things to enjoy about sets I have generally Loathed (place example from Rise of the Eldrazi here). It is difficult for me to utter such criticism because I don't know why exactly I've felt this way. I can tell you I was hoping for Dragons in Dragon's Maze or that I despised the Annihilate mechanic of Rise. 

I can say that I enjoyed the mythos (flavor) of Theros faithfully (for the most part) matching that of post-Cretan Hellenic culture (but what the hey with the minotaur overload?? lol) but that the set itself left me a bit cold (maybe because Devotion is so forced throughout the sets without feeling very rewarding to builders. MBD ugh!) 

Maybe that is the heart of it. While WOTC has gotten better at balancing the power of sets and making them good for limited, the fun of constructed play has diminished under the strain of losing Johnny/Spike/Timmy hybrid attractors. (Attractors are those invisible things that seem to mysteriously influence our decisions in myriad ways.)

In Modern, there is much to be fiddled with and plenty of Johnny/Spike, Timmy/Spike, even Timmy/Johnny/Spike interaction to go around. BUT Modern is really pricey. So is Class--I mean Vintage (Rip Classic, the term has been expunged almost entirely from our collective conscious.

I won't discuss Legacy as I rarely feel inclined to play it outside of Tribal and frankly I think Tribal ought to be Vintage based. That is another topic though. Meantime I'd like to pause here to celebrate and thank WOTC for returning the filter Tribal Wars to the clients. Its many fans are grateful.

The cost of the game:
As I said Vintage is reputed to be expensive too. Perhaps more so than Modern and Standard formats combined for the dedicated player. However, Vintage Masters (VMA) just came along and tanked Vintage (formerly Classic) prices dramatically. I mean Force of Will, Lion's Eye Diamond, Dual Lands (Underground sea, Tropical Island and Tundra as the highest priced ones) Mana Crypt, Mana Vault, Strip Mine, Mana Drain, (notice a trend?), dozens of staple rares, are all within grasp of anyone with even a modest collection. Heck some of the rares that you see in regular lists are well under a ticket. 

If you are a casual player (as most of you surely are) there are dozens of rares in the pennies section. Even the poorest of MTGO players can usually scrape a ticket or portions of a ticket together to afford these. And better news for those who didn't sell out their reprinted cards early, the non VMA prices did not tank nearly as much. So for example I was able to sell a ME (Nevinyrall's Disk) for more than I paid for 4 VMA versions. Good times.

Classicism again?? Break out the Bully Sticks!
So that brings me to my favorite topic which is building. But first let's talk a little bit about the class war I mentioned a few articles ago. With power (Moxen, loti and big blue) online, there has been a resurgence among the vocal minority of impoverished players about players who build decks with good cards.  I don't necessarily mean the above listed power. I mean the 3 tix Time Vault or the 10ish tix Mana Crypt and the now equally inexpensive dual lands. I had someone tell me to "die in a fire!" after playing the god with a few dual lands out.

While I understand the frustration in feeling helpless against cards I haven't planned to face and or can't afford, this kind of attitude is just self-defeating. If you play magic, and spend your time feeling put upon and out spent by "money bags" players perhaps you are a) In the wrong game, b) dealing with some issues with reality.  The person is fortunate they said it to me and not to someone vindictive. They could have ended up banned or worse. I don't want that to happen to someone just because they lose their temper over a game. I wasn't financially or physically injured (and other than being slightly baffled) I was unharmed emotionally. What did strike a chord is others have blocked and or insulted me similarly since Vintage has become a thing online.

And I suppose with my sizable and well-formed collection I could be playing exclusively in "Getting Serious" or "Tourney Practice" but I am not playing tourney level decks. I do try to retain some sensitivity to my opponents plight but as someone said in chat the other day: "The people who complain about power are inevitably bad at the game. The good players shut up, take it and move on and eventually find ways to defeat their opponents." I paraphrased the quote because it is from memory but that is pretty close to it. And I really agree with this for the most part.

It is not incumbent on the builder to take into account who they will be playing as long as they are building within the expected norms of the format they are playing in. Yes there is a lot more fish-in-barrel syndrome with more broken cards to deal with. But it does not take much to build a within-budget deck that defeats full moneyed lists. The assumption that someone is a jerk or is otherwise unsavory because they play with powerful/broken cards is just as wrong as the assumption that poorer players are bad at the game. 

Both could be true and sometimes it is hard to resist the notion that some people just join queues so that they can see you QQ your way to a rage quit. And that is a really common event. I even had someone message me after I conceded a relatively long and difficult game, who thought I left in a huff. (Because I didn't say anything other than GG before conceding.) When he realized I was matter-of-factly stating that the game was inevitably over he became friendlier. Our next game went my way and I did the same thing (issued a GG) before the game ended. 

We exchanged some more commentary and compliments and part amicably. I could easily have blocked him instead for his snarky opening comment if I was sensitive to the implication. There is just not enough time to spend it exchanging negativity with people online. My point being, keeping my attitude neutral did a lot to ameliorate what could have been a volatile situation. 

I am clearly mellowing in my old age. Even five years ago I probably would have spouted some sort of vitriol in response to the initial comment. Slowly without noticing or knowing it I have transformed who I am. Some might claim I've grown, others perhaps not. I don't want to spin it. Just state the facts and let others figure out what they want to think about them.

Deck Technology and the newly implemented (online) Vintage format.

 

Take a deck I really enjoyed in Classic (Affinity or "Robots") when I was lent the cards by Keya (Gamemaster32) for Ham on Wry I, convert it to Vintage, then fit it to my collection. Then find out: It isn't the same deck at all. And Stax is an entirely different type of shops deck from Affinity. Combining them was tricky, however both have much in common. A singleton Ashiok is good times but could easily be Big Jace instead. I included it after facing a deck with him and deciding, it is good fun to sit back on him and just mill until something good comes up. Of course in Vintage you could wait a long time without running into a creature threat.

The problem with this deck in JuFF, despite its less than completeness is that most people will concede to a turn 2-4 Smokestack even if they are fully capable of beating the deck. People hate being imprisoned. And they hate being forced to sacrifice permanents. I do too. I understand. However I needed to start by making this deck to remind myself of what I enjoy about Eternal Formats. And talking about largely despised decks brings me to Dream Halls:

Dream Halls Combo
a Vintage format deck by Winter.Wolf

Creatures
3 Archaeomancer
3 cards

Other Spells
1 Mana Vault
1 Ponder
1 Time Vault
4 Cruel Ultimatum
3 Force of Will
3 Counterspell
2 Diabolic Revelation
2 Flusterstorm
1 Mana Crypt
2 Mana Drain
1 Brainstorm
1 Sol Ring
1 Voltaic Key
1 Tinker
1 Lotus Petal
4 Conflux
4 Dream Halls
33 cards
Lands
4 Badlands
10 Island
4 Temple of Deceit
2 Vesuva
1 Library of Alexandria
3 Sulfur Falls
1 Maze of Ith
25 cards
 
Diabolic Revelation



For the uninitiated, the combo is simply: 1. Play Dream Halls, 2. Cast via DH: Cruel Ultimatum or Conflux if you lack a Cruel Ultimatum. 3. Discard something you don't need or can get back ((Archeomancer) works here as it comes back with Cruel Ultimatum. The reason I chose Archaeomancer over Eternal Witness is purely color related. It is fuel for a Cruel Ultimatum where Eternal Witness is not.) 4. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. It is possible to go off and still lose, particularly if your opponent finds a way to get gain life past your ability to drain them via CUs. But that is unlikely. Usually after CU or Conflux is on the stack the concession rolls in.

This list lacks Ancestral Recall, Mox Sapphire and Mox Jet, Black Lotus and Time Walk (though the latter is probably just unnecessary since extra turns are usually unnecessary.) It plays like any Vintage control deck where you have a combo to protect. You stop your opponent from winning if you need to and then protect your Dream Halls when you cast it. 

A small comment on the tutor choices. I decided against Vampiric Tutor and Demonic Tutor because Diabolic Revelation is better when you aren't able to find enough pieces of the combo to go off. Fetching Dream Halls and Conflux together is needed when you don't have them. So you get an inferior cost for more impactful effect. I should point out that people will hate on you for playing cheese in JuFF if you run this combo. However with the plethora of choices available this one is just as fun as any other.

Recsur & Me.

 

Back in 98 or so RecSur became a thing. Before that plenty of us were tinkering away with various forms of the same idea. Just different amounts of cards and more Living Deaths, No Oath of Ghouls or Druids and no Recurring Nightmare. Toolbox was born as an archetype. After RecSur became a thing, Toolbox building became my obsession for a while. I tried variants from using Rock bases, to (Tradewind Riders) and Avalanche Riders. I built decks using Conspiracy and Rebels (see below for more!) Since then so many creatures have been developed and printed that our choices are nearly limitless in terms of how we want our toolboxes to work.  

When VMA arrived I felt it necessary to convert my Classic deck to Vintage. Because I wanted to get out my combo more consistently I relied on Lotus Bloom as a cheap alternative to Moxen. You can take this a step further and include a couple of (gargoyle that returns artifact to hand from graveyard)

Next up: my flirtation with Land Destruction in the form of Wildfire. Well really not Wildfire so much as its functional reprint.

 

With Burning of Xinye, I wanted plenty of creatures and lands that do stuff when they die or just don't die. Rectors fetch Assemble the Legion (which is immune to Burning) Reckoner adds to the total damage dealt to the player, Swans gives you a draw outlet and flying defenses/offenses. The one offs are mainly for variety's sake. Selvala can be a good early lifegain, mana pump and draw effect, Purphorous is added damage over time. 

Knight brings in special lands as you need them. Flagstone was much much better before 2014 rules changes (the legendary replacement rule in particular) but still allows you to play Boom (of Boom/Bust) on it to fetch a land while hurting your opponent's mana development. I faced a deck very similar to this while playing my Naya Pod deck where my opponent had Pillage, Stone Rain and other dedicated land destruction, sadly for him he missed the Boom (Bust) trick with Flagstone, and his land destruction ended up availing him little since I kept drawing into lands. This is the downfall of a dedicated ld strategy. Burning hopes to ensure that when you cast it you are either ahead on the board or at least have put your opponent close to death. 

Before I made any of the above lists I was set on finding a way to use Oracle of Bones and after discussing it at length with AJ_Impy I came up with this list:

 

 This deck has lots of singletons so it also somewhat resembles a toolbox despite not really fitting that description accurately. Oracle of Bones is either a 5/3 beater (which is plenty fine because our goal is to win) or an instant or sorcery. Typically this means my opponent chooses beater if he thinks he can deal with taking 5 a turn or can field a blocker. But occasionally (more often than not) I get to cast something evil. And by evil I mean things like a turn 3 Ultimatum. Unexpected Results is the other half of this deck's synergy allowing early casts of anything from Oracle to Progenitus to an Ultimatum. I am known for my wacky builds so this should be no surprise for my regular readers but it is definitely a twist with Oracle providing some incredibly broken interactions with the other spells in the deck. Without a counter suite in vintage it is somewhat prey to control and combo but seems to steam roll aggro and can surprise any deck and win in unexpected ways. 

Lat-nam's legacy is a very quirky card I admit. However it is an instant speed way of returning to the deck a card I didn't want to draw. And it gives a (albeit delayed) draw of 2 cards to replace the two cards you are losing. Of course I would much rather have 4x Brainstorm but WOTC in their infinite wisdom restricted that card in paper Vintage long ago and so we suffer.

Gorilla ShamanDwarven Miner

Other options in Vintage:
I gave a shot at developing a Vintage Dredge deck but to be completely fair I don't like the deck and I ended up dropping it without playing any games. I realize it is very popular and I highly recommend it if you have a limited budget. It is largely landless, works very well vs a wide variety of the field and does quite well vs hate, post sideboard. On the other hand it is rather frustrating to face it and does not bode well for fun times unless you enjoy negativity. 

One more deck to talk about because it is real and an OK option for the budget conscious fellow is Goblin Burn or RDW. Gorilla Shaman is 100% necessary in such a deck if you only put it in the sideboard. As it was not reprinted this is a relatively expensive card but it is well worth it to be able to eat moxen and the like. Other cards to consider are the newly cheap Goblin Piledriver and Goblin Lackey both of which are hyper-aggro. Also of interest is Dwarven Miner (tap and to destroy a nonbasic land) which is a good cheap answer to greedy land bases.  

Combo Elves is also an option. I wouldn't bother with either since they are typically cutthroat (not a lot of fun in playing them to be had), but if you feel outclassed in JuFF playing Vintage then try one of them. You can always customize the deck to be more how you want it to be. The worst that can happen is you lose and have to start again at the building stage. I highly recommend googling vintage decks and at least looking at what you can expect to face in the format.

Force of WillTrue-name NemesisMana Drain

Viability:
There are probably some of you gasping at the thought of  me offering advice to players to play such "easy button" canned tribal decks in Vintage. But a) they aren't all that easy button in terms of competition. Most of the powerful decks in the format can deal with the early edge that aggressive decks get and many have early turn combos themselves. Learning how to fight against such decks is an education every magic player should acquire. And b) If you have budgetary concerns you will have them in all formats except maybe Pauper. And even there the cards can be pricey. 

I was talking with Chris Wynes (RexDart) (who STILL hasn't gotten back to me about cohosting a Tribal centered Pod Cast) about True-name Nemesis. And his comment was that he feels it isn't Vintage worthy. Because it does nothing to disrupt your opponent's plan. Disrupting your opponent's plan, he feels is a necessary evil for most creatures because the format can be so powerful and fast. If you aren't stopping your opponent with a card that you tapped out to pay for, you may just be conceding the game to him. 

I don't agree with Chris's contention. Only because I know TNN is often backed up by Mana Drain and Force of Will and other counters. Daze, Misdirection, Flusterstorm are just a few of the vintage quality counters to be had. And TNN provides a hard to stop clock on your opponent's life total. 5 turns is a long time for sure but if you have duplicates on board, or equipment (Umezawa's Jitte comes to mind) this process may be quite fast indeed. On the other hand it is a good point in general. Creatures that do nothing to disturb your plans are generally not to be feared. Those that do must be dealt with and quickly. I can see a Fish type deck doing well in Vintage, especially if it goes the traditional route and actually includes some merfolk.

Qasali PridemageKataki, War's WageEthersworn CanonistAven Mindcensor

Bear with me:
And of course there is "hate bears" (a deck Rexdart mentioned in his commentary about TNN) which is a common archetype that loosely clumps all the cheap creatures that make your opponent's plan difficult to carry out while providing their own little clocks. Gaddock Teeg, Meddling Mage, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and others are an option if you want to play something within a budget without putting out for power, forces, or other staples. The problem with these options and why I didn't bother with lists is they are all within the "Net Deck" category of known lists. Google will be your friend here. 

And I do recommend using Google (as bad as it is these days) if you intend to play Vintage. Knowing what you are up against is a valuable tool that is difficult to replace by just being a savvy and good player. The format is new to online but there are years of play and building experience to draw upon in the paper world. As far as I know the format has never become "solved". Some tourneys one deck becomes ascendant and everyone plays it for a while. And then another comes along and upsets everything. Read up on currently vogue archetypes, sideboards and strategy.

There are plenty of plans which aren't particularly viable but experiment anyway. I have seen Mono Black and Mono White builds which can have explosive starts. I wouldn't try Mono Green in Vintage without serious contemplation because Green lacks the obvious tools to disrupt your opponent. However I am certain with some help from the colorless brigade, MGC could be dangerous. Eureka, Natural Order, Sylvan Library, Regrowth, various Land Destruction cards (Ice Storm, Creeping Mold, Acidic Slime, etc), and more provide a place to start. Also Berserk is a thing. As is Rancor.

Some tribal for the fans

 

 

The first deck is merely a recap on Rebel Conspiracy with more emphasis on rebel and less on conspiracy. Academy Rector does the fetching for Conspiracy as Birthing Pod fetches and sacrifices it. Thus proving that I am still 15 at heart, rebelling against the notion that we can't fetch a Sun Titan with Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero.

The next deck is a retake on Sphinges again using Birthing Pod --- and yes this article is filled with the little transformer. But I blame AJ_Impy at least partially for this idea as he was the one who spoke of how good Muzzio is and didn't I have a deck with him in it already? Yes I do now. Thanks AJ!! The Skill Borrowers sit in as Muzzio proxies occasionally and Grand Architect helps out as he can. Living Death rounds out the deck as a way to recur what has been sacrificed, killed or discarded. Patriarch's Bidding is my token nod to the older Sphinges Bidding decks of yesteryear.

Conclusions:
The plus side to an Eternal format like Vintage is as many have stated: Once you buy in, you're in. Very little will be printed in the future that [em]forces[/em] you to change decks. Most of the competitive decks are on par with each other in terms of power and skill replaces cost as a factor when this is mostly true.  

While the client changeover is frightening because of how blind the WOTC staff seem to be it is inevitable. And once you come to grips with that, stress becomes irrelevant. Get over it and embrace the change. Accept that the world brings us change daily and if we balk at each one we don't like we will end up bitter and disappointed often more than not. It is possible that good things will come of this, like upgrades to service that were impossible with two clients being served. Perhaps bug crushing will become better and it is possible they will release the other skins they introduced last year once the beta is the official client. 

If not at least we will still be playing magic if only in not quite as comfortable and fun an environment. I hope fervently that WOTC finds the criticisms many players have issued as relevant and important and prioritizes them. At least give us the options to change things to how we find them to be more comfortable. No one likes being left out in the cold and ignored. Especially the player base.

About that Beta label...
Personally, I need the editor to be more deck builder friendly. I need the collection screen to be separate from editing and to be displayable with a binder view so I am not engulfed (and drowned) by the hopelessness of trying to view my very large collection in a gigantic card pool (ocean). It might not be so bad if you have 100 cards or even 2-3k but when you have over 22k cards you need to be able to impose order on them in a visually pleasing manner. Preferably without too much fuss. If I get those things the others will be much less irksome. 

I expect the majority of players to continue playing even if people sell off in the short term. It may be that we will experience the equivalent of a depression in MTGO where card prices stay low for a long period. This wouldn't be a terrible thing unless you view your collection as a short term investment. In which case you probably already sold off your money cards in anticipation of the crash. Already the highest priced cards are on a continuing downward trend as Return to Ravnica block and M2014 get ready to rotate post summer.  

I will continue playing on and off and writing on and off. I don't expect that to change. The changes in my personal life have kept me busy and I don't expect that to change much. But I do expect the details to change and I can only hope that while I transform into my more mature self that MTGO will be with me. 

Magically, 

Paul Emerson Leicht, aka Winter.Wolf and Telir on MTGO. 

12 Comments

First off, anyone considering by TheKidsArentAlright at Sat, 06/28/2014 - 05:06
TheKidsArentAlright's picture

First off, anyone considering taking up competitive Vintage should do it. I've been having more fun playing Magic the past few weeks than I have since the first time I killed someone with a ChannelBall back in the 5th grade. The games can be swingy and broken, but that's what makes it so much fun. Oddly enough, the format is quite well balanced at the moment, and there's at least one viable deck in pretty much every archetype one can imagine.

Aggro: G/W Hatebears
Control: Landstill, Blue Angels
Combo: Storm
Aggro-Control: Fish (BUG or Noble/Bant), Merfolk
Aggro-Combo: Dredge
Combo-Control: Oath, Tezzerator, Welder
Aggro-Combo-Control: Bomberman
Prison: Espresso Stax
Aggro-Prison: Martello Shops
Aggro-Combo-Prison: Metalworker MUD
Toolbox: Survival of the Fittest (It's making a comeback)

Simply put, there is no other format with a metagame this diverse. Also, for anyone looking to get into Vintage, www.themanadrain.com is going to be by far your best source of information. Beware, though, that is is a strictly moderated forum. The players who run it have a high standard of quality when it comes to posting and a clearly defined set of rules. Bad ideas or posts with little thought and effort put into them are quickly and often harshly criticized. It may come off as elitist, but it is their method of maintaining productive discussions, and it works. My advice is to take the time to read over their forums and especially their rules before registering an account ans posting.

Also, I have to respectfully disagree with you about TNN in Vintage. The reason it's such a powerhouse in Legacy is that it's a very creature-centric format. TNN meaningfully interacts with those decks by either crippling their ability to attack or punching through a gummed up board. The vast majority of Vintage decks, however, can just go over top of the infamous Merfolk Rogue. Blightsteel, Tendrils, Vault/Key, Steel Hellkite, Zombie Token swarms, or even a hoarde of Islandwalkers: none of them care about TNN being in play and all of their decks have a way to punch through counterspells, whether it's their own permission, mana denial, or the ability to flat out ignore them. The only decks that actually have trouble with TNN are Hatebears and Fish.

First of thanks for the by Paul Leicht at Sat, 06/28/2014 - 07:41
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First of thanks for the obviously well thought out comment. You present us with a lot of information to absorb. Those forums sound like several forums run for Roguelikes that I frequent.

You may know more about TNN's impact on the format. I haven't seen enough vintage games in recent years to be a good judge though I played a fair amount of Classic. I have seen quite a lot of creature based stuff in Juff so maybe that is where TNN shines in the format. (Casual Play.) I imagine without having to worry about facing a .5 tier deck (better than the usual tier 1 stuff :p) there is a lot more freedom to be creative with creatures and thus having a nutty one like TNN is more advantageous. Particularly in something like Auras.

Interestingly Ive seen no toolbox other than my own, no landstill, no blue angels, and few of the combo decks other than Storm. Lots of Aggro white, black, white & black, green + other, blue red, lots of control and tempo control, a whole lot of good stuff control (take a bunch of win cons (timevault/key for example) and put it in a control shell.

Turn 1, Lotus, mox, mox, fetch (getting Underground Sea) is almost a song by how regular you can encounter it in JuFF.

Admittedly, I do not frequent by TheKidsArentAlright at Sat, 06/28/2014 - 09:29
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Admittedly, I do not frequent the JuFF room, and by that I mean I avoid it like the plague. My philosophy has always been "if it's legal, play it". I have never had a problem playing against counters, land destruction, discard or whatever you want to throw at me. If I'm a good enough deck builder and player, I'll figure out a way to overcome it, if not, I've learned something and will be better prepared next time. I've even come to appreciate the skill in playing around Wasteland and knowing how to sequence my spells against permission so that the one I really want resolves. In turn, I refuse to constrain my decks to strategies deemed "fun" by Joe Casual. It was my experience that most of the JuFF folks do not share my perspective, and many can be quite abusive when you counter their Bogardan Hellkite or wipe their board with Pernicious Deed then Hymn the remainder of their hand. I made the leap from casual to competitive play in large part because I was tired of the griefing.

That said, my opinion on TNN's viability is from a strictly tournament player's perspective. Against the vast majority of top decks, he's essentially a blank piece of cardboard that pitches to Force of Will. If, however, you're playing against mostly creature-based strategies, he's an all-star and I'd be hard pressed to play a blue deck without him. And you're 100% correct that he's insane with Auras and Equipment, which is why you'll see him side-by-side with Stoneforge Mystic quite frequently in Legacy.

I'm also not surprised that you haven't seen the Landstill, Blue Angels, or Survival decks. A large part of the appeal of Vintage is going broken, and those are some of the most fair (by Vintage standards anyway) decks that you can play. A lot of people play because they want to be able to combo off on turn 1, take infinite turns, or pop Emrakul/BSC into play by turn 2. In contrast, the decks you mentioned win with cards like Faerie Conclave, Restoration Angel and Vengevine. They're effective, but not what Vintage is known for.

Heh I guess I am a "fair" by Paul Leicht at Sat, 06/28/2014 - 21:17
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Heh I guess I am a "fair" player then. :p I don't agree about the nature of Juff players. You do get spoilsports and sore losers but Ive seen those guys in TP and in tourney too.

Many JuFF players do set rules before they start. And adhering to those rules changes the formats they play. And there are jackhats who feel they are justified in going off on their opponents when they experience "bad" magic. (See my examples above.)

But there are just as many who will face whatever without complaint. The one thing about Juff that you don't get in TP as much are the singleton games. Most players do not seem to want to play matches. Sideboards are a sophistication for their decks that they don't care for. Again as a generalization this isn't entirely true but it is more so than the abuser/complainer/rage quitter ones.

Btw I have certainly conceded games that were lost and had my opponent think I was complaining about the harshness of their deck. It is sometimes just prudent to not waste time when you know your deck isn't built to handle a broken strategy.

That is the thing. It is one thing to be savvy about LD and Counters and Hand destruction but if your deck doesn't recover then the game is over, regardless of personal attitude. I applaud those who concede in the light of wanting to have fun playing more games.

After reading your response by TheKidsArentAlright at Sun, 06/29/2014 - 05:25
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After reading your response and re-reading what I originally wrote, I think the memories of a few particularly bad experiences were preventing me from being completely rational. Most of the people in JuFF are decent human beings, and I've had fun matches with some really cool people. A lot of opponents did not have a problem with my decks, and some even complimented me. The thing is, if you're playing a dozen or so games in a night, you are very likely to run into an abusive opponent when you play the type of decks that I prefer.

I play most of my Magic after work. I'm often exhausted and stressed when I sit down. All I want to do is relax and unwind. Bad experiences get to me more than they should when I'm like that; often times enough to ruin my night if things haven't been going my way for a few games already. I know that it shouldn't. I tell myself to just block that person and move on with my night, but for whatever reason I can't let it go when I'm already in a bad mood.

It has also been my experience over years of playing MODO that the absolute most abusive behavior is found in JuFF, and the Casual Decks room before that. While there are undoubtedly some bad apples TP and tournaments, it is mostly limited to stuff like "OMG what a sack", "you only won because i got flooded/screwed", etc., and that's the end of it. Whereas in JuFF I actually had someone go on a tirade about how he was going to report me for playing Flametongue Kavu when he specifically said no control.

I think the root of the problem is a combination of 2 things. First, everyone's definition of casual is different. To me it's any deck that is not tournament worthy and any card that is not reasonably capable of dominating a game on its own. To others, anything that will disrupt the opponent is not casual. There is, of course, no official definition nor widely accepted unwritten one. This is a situation that inevitably leads to disputes, which are magnified by the Greater Internet Jerkwad Theory (normal person + audience + anonymity = total jerkwad). There are few if any ramifications for acting out, and some people take full advantage of that.

Actually while I tend to be a by Paul Leicht at Sun, 06/29/2014 - 06:54
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Actually while I tend to be a softy in terms of Jerkwads, there are serious risks in acting out on MTGO. Considering the value of some digital collections, acting that way just seems borderline idiotic. Sure, sure when we get mad and have no impulse control or self discipline or any strong parental influences in our lives, saying awful things to people who literally did nothing to us is very tempting. But losing your ability to play completely is a real consequence.

And you are right that people do tend to be jerkwads more online than irl because fear of physical retribution is probably a stronger conditioner of social behavior than threats of financial ruin. However, the Nth time someone behaves that way it becomes passe. At some point you accept it as a fact of online life. If it really bothers you then you can use the tools for reporting to make sure they don't do it again.

I've seen people totally go off not only in TP but in Tourney where they just would not stop the abuse.

Also Rofl @ FTK as Control. Someone was having a really bad day...

You may be right about the core of the problem being that people have different perspectives but in general most people on MTGO accept certain givens.

I don't know if you remember "Gent Rules" that was a thing for a while in 2.0 and earlier. It was an agreement by some fairly well known players (whom others aped) to only play certain kinds of decks (no massive ld, excessive counters, boardwipes, hand destruction, etc). Sort of the precursor to the "social contract" stuff that came from EDH. Eventually "Gent Rules" disappeared. I am not sure why it ended but I suspect because a number of players who supported it stopped playing altogether or took long breaks as I did.

And possibly because in the end it was impossible to enforce and led to idiotic arguments over what and did not constitute "fair" and or "gents".

I played both with and without Gent Rules and while I must say some of the Gents were both good players and nice, many were just as jerkwadish as the tongue-in-lips-squint-eyed-kill-you-at-costs guys. In fact the latter at least didn't mind when you totally smashed their plans. Usually. Play a Myojin of Night in a Gents game and youd be bbqed.

I am sorry your experiences in Juff/CDCP was so negative. It does happen unfortunately. Law of the internet and all. There are still people who behave that way. And some are pretty old timer and or well known. Thankfully most are pretty nice or at least keep their yelling on their side of the screen.

The problem with JFF vs the by RexDart at Tue, 07/01/2014 - 12:29
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The problem with JFF vs the TP room is that it leaves no place for playing Tier 2 or 3 decks. If you play them in TP you get complaints from people who only want to practice against the current top tier. If you play them in JFF, you get complaints about your money cards and power cards that happen to be in the deck. Budget players just love to complain about money cards, even in sub-optimal decks, somehow all their losses are because of your money cards. This is not limited to MTGO, I've had players in paper Legacy tournaments (local, semi-casual ones) act like they can't possibly beat me when a piddly 1/2 Tarmogoyf hits the field, as if its price was going to make its board presence more relevant somehow.

So if you want to develop a new deck with the goal of making it competitive, or even just the goal of having a 2nd tier deck that's fun and you want to tune it up well enough to take to your FNM, you have to put up with the fact that neither audience wants to be playing against your deck. If you have tix to burn, you can run it through 2-mans, but that gets expensive quick if the deck can't cut the mustard.

When I'm playing in TP, I view it as we are all helping each other get better. Last night I had a guy on Turn 1 get off a 4-point Mind's Desire that kind of whiffed, and he Probed me and saw a Stony Silence he didn't think he could beat, and said as much. He had a Vamp Tutor and I suggested he get Duress to strip the Stony Silence, which he did and survived to make a game out of it. That's the kind of experience I'm looking for there, players helping players learn good plays and how to deal with cards and situations that will appear, commonly or uncommonly, in the format.

I stopped going to JFF at all anymore when the Tribal Wars filter was disabled, that was pretty much all I was playing in that room anyhow, and only because that's the only place you'd ever find a match.

Ah that explains why I never by Paul Leicht at Tue, 07/01/2014 - 13:39
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Ah that explains why I never see you there. And why there are never any open tribal games. :p

The point about complaining over the money cards is really an irksome thing. When I concede (and I do regularly) I try to base my decision on the board state, what I know my opponent is likely to do next and how likely I am to have answers. I do get upset sometimes when I am playing a "neat idea" deck and I face xmillionth copy of xnet deck that has a high end value because it is well known and used. But that upset is mine and not my opponent's fault.

They are doing what they want to do and are within their rights to do so. Just because they are shooting fish in a barrel is not reason for me to lacerate their egos. I may and have pointed out the futility in randomly facing bad decks with a tried and true list, but the response is invariably either mute or slightly hostile. They probably get that (and a lot worse) every time they bring that deck out and have decided to play it anyway so whom am I to try to change their minds?

Also When facing money/top tier it is true that often you will not have the right answer. Particularly in one off games with no sideboarding. Sideboard construction is something of a lost art in juff and few players bother. Which incidentally makes the forced default in v4 of Match vs single game a bit hysterical. New player joins via v4, starts a match game, loses (or wins) round 1 and then sits there for 2 minutes, then concedes because they didn't realize it was supposed to be a match.

Happens every day.

Helping players learn is awesome. I try to do that when I can but MTGO players can be a prickly lot and rarely talk much if at all. I wrote a few articles on how I feel about THAT issue but honestly the opposite of having players ask for help or be receptive when you give advice is pretty much the nut. That makes losing to broken combos turn 1 totally worth while.

I would not take my decks to the 2mans (though its possible they could fare ok. I see the two man queues as straight up gambling and so won't do it no matter how good my deck may be. (Full disclosure: probably not very.)) I have taken them to TP and there is actually a fair amount of respect given by players when they recognize that someone is playing a rogue deck. But there are always the antisocial sorts who complain incessantly about you not bringing something they have a reason to want to practice against. Mostly I've seen that when watching other games.

That complaint is hardly valid though. After all if they want to really practice for tourneys against decks they have to be prepared to face all kinds of unknowns. Heck some people just show up to FNM or even bigger tourneys with untried rogue builds because they are hoping to steal a few games from the tried and true.

The better the player becomes the less legitimate those complaints become and the less appealing they are to make. A really good player will learn what they want to learn regardless of what their opponent does.

Thanks for sharing Chris, I appreciate a tourney player's input.

I was playing in the JFF room by Rerepete at Tue, 07/01/2014 - 17:06
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I was playing in the JFF room a few weeks back, and my opponent was playing a tier 1 Standard deck. I commented that his deck was a little overpowered for the JFF room. His reply was an honest apology, he was on Shiny and didn't know he was in the JFF. I responded that it was no problem and we finished the game. He thanked me for letting him know. That was a person with class, all too rare these days.

I like playing against top tier decks, because if I win (which does happen from time to time), it is just that much sweeter.

I stay in JFF, because my decks would be the ones complained about in TP. Maybe not top tier, but usually complex.

Heh I guess the beta doesn't by Paul Leicht at Wed, 07/02/2014 - 04:07
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Heh I guess the beta doesn't exactly make it clear where a player is. I remember a few months ago starting a game in the beta and then having someone accuse me of trolling because it turned out I was in the Just Starting out room by default. Because that's where everyone goes by default on the beta even if their account is a decade+ old.

I agree, top tier decks can be a really good exercise for you if you enjoy the challenge. I guess the problems come in when you get a bad draw and your opponent gets the typical nut draw for their top deck. Then it's all downhill with no fun in sight. But that is the oddity of MTG. In reverse, you playing your odd concoction getting a decent draw vs a bad one where your op is playing a top tier deck can be educational and fun. (Assuming you don't just roll them.) Thanks for commenting.

if you don't have money.. . by Joe Fiorini at Wed, 07/02/2014 - 17:31
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If you want to win on a tiny budget play boss sligh. It'll do the trick for twenty tix or about that.

Or really any RDW modeled by Paul Leicht at Thu, 07/03/2014 - 18:24
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Or really any RDW modeled deck will do but I do suggest having some Gorilla Shamans just in case. :)