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By: goat314, William Kirkwood
Oct 27 2011 9:45am
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Sorry I haven’t been around much lately.  I’m easily distracted by shiny things.

The Tick, 1994

 An amazing thing happened on this past Mole Day, I received a phone call from work with an offer of easy riches (translated: overtime midnight shift).  Needless to say, the start to my weekend was severely disrupted.  Visions of dollar signs danced in my head as I napped through the day.  As I enjoyed the easiest time and a half that a person can get, I was oblivious to the fact that I had neither tested, nor submitted a deck for Classic League 3.  Whoops.  I’m sure I’ll feel better about it when I get my paycheck.  The good news is that I should actually have some Magic play-related content next week, I have had leave approved for Saturday morning so I can participate in the Magic Online Judge Open (Innistrad Sealed) and then probably scrub out and play the Classic Daily Event if it fires.

I'm still working on the Toolbox deck, but before I get into some of my thoughts, allow me to share this little nugget of insight into my soul: I really dislike game-winning combos that don't win the turn they're played.  I hate passing the turn and wondering if the work I've done can hold up until I untap.  For this reason, I feel really uncomfortable playing strategies like Oath, Tinker, Hermit Druid, and even Kuldotha Forgemaster.  I'm not saying these are bad strategies, they aren't.  What I am saying is that bad things happen.  I've been on both sides of turn one Oath or Tinker on the play, only to lose to turn two Channel / Emrakul or Dredge.  I always felt like resolving an Oath was like saying "I am gonna beat you up... eventually."  Don't get me wrong, it's good and a vast majority of the time it works, but I prefer "Win Now" strategies. 

The search for a Win Condition that I actually like:

Metalworker and Staff of Domination is not a "Win Now" combo.  Yes, I can draw my entire deck and make infinite mana (if I have 3 artifacts in hand), but what's my win condition?  If I don't start the turn with a Goblin Welder, I can't weld Battlespheres, Precursor Golems, or Triskelions and the former two still don't win until next turn.  I feel like I need to find a "Win this turn" condition for the Toolbox deck and to do it using as few cards as possible. 

The first candidate is a singleton Lightning Greaves.  This allows me to play a Welder on the turn the deck combos out, even to attack with a Battlesphere, billions of golems, or an infinity/5 Steel Hellkite on that turn.  This is an improvement, but Lightning Greaves is not the most amazing card by itself, and it also adds a lot of time to actually carrying out the winning combo if you're using it on a Metalworker (Having to move the shroud effect of Metalworker to untap it).  So we have a possible answer, Lightning Greaves.  This is good, but I want better. 

I briefly experimented with Voltaic Key and Time Vault in the deck.  Voltaic Key serves a marginal role in the deck without Vault, so it isn't a terrible draw.  It untaps Worker once, or untaps a Golem to block, or Mana Vault to ramp.  These are valuable things, but not great against other things the deck can be doing.  Time Vault is a dead card by itself, especially without the Forgemaster.  At its best, a lonely Vault sacrifices to a Welder for something more immediately useful, this is not particularly good.  This does have its advantage that it does not require Staff of Domination to win.  However, I'm looking to streamline the combo portion of the deck so I can play as much beat down as possible for a backup plan.  At a cost of two cards, I am going to look elsewhere, but reserve the right to use it in the future or even the present if I see fit. 

The answer I've found is Mindslaver.  It is a "this turn" win condition, and doesn't require Worker and Staff to win.  It also solves the summoning sick Welder problem, since I can wait until my next turn to weld it back.  Mindslaver replaces Myr Battlesphere, possibly Steel Hellkite, Lightning Greaves, and Vault Key.  Mindslaver is a one-card Vault Key that no other deck has the ability to play reliably.  Mindslaver is easily freeing up two slots in the deck, this is the solution I have been looking for.

Re-evaluating the enablers:

Now that I have a win condition that I am comfortable with, I feel it's time to analyze the enablers.  Metalworker and Staff of Domination are the best option.  Metalworker is excellent without the Staff because it provides mana ramp for the Stax strategy and is capable of providing Mindslaver mana without the Staff.  A lonely Staff is not terrific, but does tap opposing creatures (Emrakul, Blightsteel Colossus) as well as providing a draw engine.  The draw engine is slow without Metalworker, but there isn't much alternative in the build.

Kuldotha Forgemaster gives a tinker-like ability, though at a steep cost.  On its own, it's five mana for a 3/5 body, which isn't terrible, but not great compared to alternate beaters like Precursor Golem and Batterskull.  The tinker ability is great and has seemed a good fit for the combo we're trying to piece together, but it has some flaws.  I need artifacts in hand to make best use of the Metalworker, but Forgemaster wants the less optimal artifacts in play to sacrifice.  This has been a source of trouble where I have to play a useless artifact to sacrifice and then come up short on cards to reveal to the Metalworker.  Also, when I don't have weaker artifacts to sacrifice, I have to lose the good ones to find the card I need.  My last concern has to do with the growing number of Null Rods showing up.  Metalworker is good against Cat Stax and it was only a matter of time before they turned to their solution.  Poor Forgemaster is a less-than-innocent bystander that can't tinker a Spine of Ish Sah to fix the problem. 

I confess that I don't know if the next thought is better or worse than Forgemaster.  I've done no testing yet and have my concerns, but it's worth a try.  As I was browsing through old Daily Event lists I saw a few lists with Bazaar of Baghdad.  It has its problems: counts as a land drop, wasteland, kills City of Traitors, reduces hand size, and only gets two cards per activation.  There is some considerable upside to the Bazaar: It's repeatable (Forgemaster rarely activated twice in a game) and it helps activate Goblin Welder.  It’s worth a try, so hopefully I'll get some positive results this weekend.

Projecting future metagame changes:

  vs. Nihil Spellbomb

I'm sure people have noticed that there are about a million Snapcaster Mages in the Classic League Season 3 (give or take 999,970).  Everybody’s got their mind set to putting Tiago to the test, and with good reason.  He seems amazing and I think he'll succeed in all formats.  More importantly, players are already preparing to play against Snapcaster.  I counted five Nihil Spellbombs main deck and another six in sideboards.  The sideboard Spellbombs are not unexpected, but five in main deck?  Uh oh. 

This is bad news for Goblin Welder, but the deck has the tools available to combat both the Snapcaster and its complement, Nihil Spellbomb.  It seems that cheating on Phyrexian Revokers is not going to be an option in the future, as well as the Chalice of the Voids.  Chalice of the Void with two counters is worth two spells when an opponent can’t cast a Snapcaster Mage.  That’s value.  To round out some changes, I’m adding a Buried Ruin as a backup plan to the Goblin Welder, Crucible of Worlds to support the Buried Ruins, a second Staff of Domination since I won’t be able to tinker for it, and I've removed conditional mana sources (that aren't named Metalworker).  Here’s the list I’ll begin testing with this week:

 

I must say, I feel a bit out of my element branching out further on my own with the deck design, but I feel like it’s moving in the right direction for the way the metagame is changing.  Who knows?  Maybe next week will be videos and an article about how Snapcaster Mage is the greatest card on the planet and how dumb I was not to play it. 

Until then, stay classy and thanks for stopping by!

-Goat314

 

8 Comments

Hmmm by Clan Magic Eternal at Thu, 10/27/2011 - 11:27
Clan Magic Eternal's picture
3

To be honest I was dissapointed with this article even though I love classic - It felt rushed and lagging in the content department. Sorry I really dont understand this paragraph's logic -

"Metalworker and Staff of Domination is not a "Win Now" combo. Yes, I can draw my entire deck and make infinite mana (if I have 3 artifacts in hand), but what's my win condition? If I don't start the turn with a Goblin Welder, I can't weld Battlespheres, Precursor Golems, or Triskelions and the former two still don't win until next turn. I feel like I need to find a "Win this turn" condition for the Toolbox deck and to do it using as few cards as possible. "

You draw as many cards as you like and generate the infinite mana to cast them (yes lots of clicking). You might not actually win this turn but in all reality the game is over - how do you expect your opponent to come back when you have buried them in sphere, golems, etc not to mention gained enough life from the staff to lock out the game. You make it impossible for your opponent to win so rubbish like lightning greaves is pointless.

Sorry to sound harsh I have enjoyed your other articles with content at lot more than this.
The decklist at the end with little analysis is also disappointing - how is the testing, what matchups are good how can the deck evolve etc.
-Hammer

This was a hard article for by goat314 at Thu, 10/27/2011 - 21:34
goat314's picture

This was a hard article for me to write. Turns out it's hard to turn abstract thoughts into an article. That said, I'm committed to improving and do appreciate the feedback.

As for the Staff, I know what you're saying is true, but I can't help but think that there are corner cases where I could still lose. I am likely over-thinking it, but that's the way I am.

I haven't yet tested the new variant other than some rough goldfishing, and to be honest, don't like the Bazaars very much. I find they're turning off the Metalworkers and not digging deep enough.

Again, I appreciate the feedback. Hopefully, the next one writes a bit easier and more fluidly.

Corner Case by under_the_hammer at Fri, 10/28/2011 - 02:10
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Hi I really cannot think of a corner case where you will lose with active worker staff (remember you can also tap down all thier creatures). They are going to be unlikely to cast anything through 12 spheres. Plus strengthening the deck against a rare occurrence (even if one exists) at the expense of weakening the deck and reducing MU%'s against the field is not a good plan.

I like your previous work and love to see more classic content on PureMTGO. Good luck with the next article.

heres a corner case. it takes by whiffy at Fri, 10/28/2011 - 11:59
whiffy's picture

heres a corner case.
it takes 15 mins of your clock to assemble the right win. i find it hard to see this happining though, as once you start going infinate your opponent will most likely conceed. i would still gold fish the infi triggers though, practising mtgo infi loops can shave a lot of time .

The click time is a serious by goat314 at Fri, 10/28/2011 - 16:45
goat314's picture

The click time is a serious concern for me. It's why I didn't run the Staff at all to begin with. That said, digging for a singleton Mindslaver or Vault Key could be worse than just dropping all the spheres. It's definitely a worry.

I've been in TP room games by MMogg at Fri, 10/28/2011 - 18:40
MMogg's picture

I've been in TP room games where people haven't conceded and it's dreadful. They F6 and go grab a coffee and you're sitting there clicking like a fool for ten minutes. Makes me want to concede! I stopped playing it after that. I want this game to be fun, and that ain't it!

corner case by under_the_hammer at Sat, 10/29/2011 - 00:27
under_the_hammer's picture

In the interest of fairness. One corner case could be if your opponent has a laboratory maniac in play and just needs to reach his draw step to win. This would rely on you not having a duplicant in your deck. Still for tournement play I dont think the win more win faster approach at expensive of deck wins is good.

MMOGG - I agree this would suck in the TP - but i would be absolutely happy to make those clicks in a de etc.

Hammer.

Maniac was 1 situation. I by goat314 at Sat, 10/29/2011 - 04:36
goat314's picture

Maniac was 1 situation. I also considered things like Aura of Silence in play, though sculpting a perfect 7 card hand for the turn after is probably good enough. Other things like a Time Vault and key or Tezzeret with no artifacts in graveyard (or Welder not online).

These things mostly bring me back to the singleton Spine of Ish Sah, but a problem I do have right now is dealing with 2 permanents (If Welder is not active).