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By: SpikeBoyM, Alex Ullman
Feb 09 2007 1:00am
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            It has been a rough week for me and Magic.  Not only did I get a copy of the Burning Crusade (I know, I know, I’m not a purist), but this semester has kicked into high gear which has left me exhausted.  On top of that, I have been having some issues at work, so my attention has not been all that Magical.  However, I have been around PDC enough this week to glean some information for the topic I am about to tackle.  That topic is Greed versus Consistency.

 

 

Greed and Consistency are two different views of deck construction.  They deal primarily in the threats and answers available in any given sixty.  The reason these concepts are important in PDC is because of the “limited” card power.  Because of this perception (which is half falsehood, half truth), deck builders tend to veer in one of two directions.  One view is that of “I will fill my deck with synergy and redundant threats.  Doing this will allow my deck to function smoothly and let me win based on the back of steady draws.”  This is Consistency.  Greed on the other hand says: “I am going to cram as many great cards into my sixty as possible.  If some cards interact well, well that is just gravy.  I plan to win on the back of my game breakers.”  If you want examples, Consistent decks include Deep Dog (on the back of synergy), SnowRos (on the basis of redundancy), White Weenie (again, redundancy), and many others.  Greed based decks include Good Stuff Control, Green-White Cloak, and other decks that tend to win with the Big Play.  Again, as is my nature, I tend to ignore combo here since it wants to win with the Big Play, but needs to do so consistently.  What can I say?  I stink at combo.

 

   

 

            Consistent decks strive to win on redundancy.  Looking at the cards above they all have different roles.  One is a morph and a combat trick, one has blocking dis-incentives, and one is a fantastic gold creature.  Yet they all beat for two.  Filling a deck with these cards, and other 2/2 creatures that cost two mana will lead to very consistent draws where there will almost always be a bear down on turn two.  This is the principle behind SnowRos.  The PDC version of Boros Deck Wins relies on multiple Bears, and a few hasted, flying Gray Ogres (aka Skyknight Legionnaire).  Supplementing these cards are burn spells such as Incinerate, Rift Bolt, and (Kaervek’s Torch) which provide redundancy is the “oh my god I’m on fire” department.  The main support card in this deck is Molten Rain, which not only acts as a tempo boost, but also as a potential Shock.  In a given game, SnowRos will draw bears and burn spells.  It will do this at a pace that can often outrace slower decks or opponents with bad draws.  By having cards that all fill the same role, and yet each do something special on their own, SnowRos is able to have highly consistent draws which is a true key to victory.  However, if these consistent draws are disrupted through a poor stretch of cards, the strategy of pure redundancy can be hard pressed to recover.

 

 

            If you look at my last article on Madness in PDC, you will see my Deep Dog list.  This deck is also Consistent, but it does so more on synergy.  While many cards are redundant with each other such as Rune Snag with Prohibit and Werebear with Springing Tiger, they deck benefits more from an overall cohesion.  While each card has its own role in the deck, there is the goal of abusing the graveyard through Threshold, Flashback, and Aether Burst, to achieve victory.  This style of deck is not characterized as much by similar creatures as it is by an overall theme.  In this case, Deep Dog can often overcome a “non-redundant” draw through card drawing and tempo stealing (in the form of counterspells and bounce).  This style of Consistent decks foregoes overly redundant cards for powerful cards that fit the theme.  This is often supplemented with card draw or filtering effects to help achieve the desired outcome.  While these decks can often overcome the bad stretch of cards that plague redundancy based decks, they are more susceptible to focused strategies.  Since these tend to be a full turn slower than the “burn and bears” decks, they can often fall prey to being just a tad too slow.  Sometimes this can be overcome through tempo and card advantage, which is why threats here are often moved aside for extra answers.  Other times, this weakness can be overcome through card advantage, but sometimes even drawing cards is not enough.

 

  pic=(Kaervek’s Torch)  pic=(Faith’s Fetters)

 

            Greed based decks go about their route to victory in a very different manner.  Rather than build a deck based around redundancy or synergy, these decks are often based around the big play.  They tend to take longer to set up (often falling into the category of Post-Turn Five decks*).  If they are aggressive or aggro-control decks, they often have a hard time winning if they do not draw a specific set of cards.  If these Greed decks are control oriented, they tend to be very slow and grinding, often packing in so many “good cards” that the win condition is painfully slow.  I should know- in one match against a Greedy deck, I lost to Stinkweed Imp beatdown.  How embarrassing.

            Like Consistent decks, Greedy decks fall into two main categories.  The first was described above, as the aggressive deck that is focused on drawing a particular set of cards.  The perfect example of this is Green-White Cloak.  The goal of this deck is to get a hard to kill creature, such as Guardian of the Guildpact, Phantom Tiger, or Silhana Ledgewalker out and then attach either an Armadillo Cloak or Vulshok Morningstar to it and swing.  Without these fancy pants, the decks often sputter out and can suffer from stalling draws.  These decks are also very vulnerable to specific trump cards.  While this style of deck can perform serviceably as a poor GW beatdown deck, running any form of enchantment removal can often be debilitating.  This is because they run perhaps the Greediest card in PDC: (Faith’s Fetters).  This card is Greedy because while it does something very well, people put it in decks where it does not belong.  Yes, the life gain is nice, but do you really need it?  Instead, this card comes down and stops a threat, until game two when Leave No Trace comes in and neuters this strategy.  In the future, this deck might want to run Sunlance when it becomes available.  Moving back to the point, this decks are basically combo decks that do not “go off.”  The way to beat them is with trumps or simple countermagic.  One reason I tend to favor Prohibit in two color builds is because in its kicked form, it can stop a Guardian of the Guildpact and an Armadillo Cloak.

            The other style of Greed is to simply force as many “Good Cards” into a deck as possible.  Like Fetters?  Put it in!  Want to play Torch?  Go right ahead!  Feel like running Exclude?  That is okay, we will also be running Green to get mana-fixing.  After all these fun cards are in, this style of deck will focus on achieving a win condition through speed bumping.  There might be spot burn and chump blockers to take care of the threats on the other side of the table until the Good Stuff Greed deck can cast back to back Torches for ten.  Good game.  These decks tend to add tutors and card drawing to better find their Good Cards.  There tends to be a lack of tight cohesion and rather a looser set of interactions.  Any sort of focused interaction, whether it is countermagic or discard is often enough to disrupt this strategy.  Taking out their Good Card lands is often key as well, as they tend to run few red sources for their Torch.  However, these decks are grinders and as the game goes long their chances of obtaining a consistent draw increases.  Being able to take them out before they get online is perhaps the best path to victory.

            Consistent decks get their name because they are the opposite of Greed decks.  Greed decks strive to have as many Good Cards as possible.  Because of this, they often have spotty draws.  Given a sufficiently long play session, Greed decks will experience more spotty draws, more mana screw, and more missed opportunities to win due to drawing the wrong cards.  Consistent decks will win more matches based on smooth draws and redundant threats.  This is not to say that Greed decks cannot do well at all.  There are many skilled control players in PDC right now who are refining the way control plays with Greed. Perhaps the best example of this is KingRitz’s Grand Entrance deck, a UBR control deck that wins through a dominating board position and a Death Denied/Izzet Chronarch lock.  Is this greedy?  Yes.  Does it work?  Yes.  However, by his own admission, it has issues with aggressive redundant strategies, like SnowRos.  It is much more likely for SnowRos to draw six bears than it is for Cloak to draw Guardian and Cloak in the right order.

            The question is yet to be asked though: which deck performs better?  At this time, I have to say that for all of their shortcomings, Greed decks perform better in the short term.  They are akin to the Glass Cannons of Extended, as Richard Feldman calls them.  They are dogs in certain matchups, but if they can avoid those games, they can breeze through the field.  Additionally, in such a short event as PDC (usually three-four Swiss rounds, and then either a Top 4 or Top 8 playoff, for a minimum of five rounds, a maximum of seven), these decks can often use their more powerful individual cards to overcome the shortcomings of bad draws.  If one of these decks can hit a stride of draws, it has a good chance of hitting the elimination rounds.  Conversely, on an off day these decks are just as likely to go X-3.  If PDC events were longer, say between six and seven rounds, I feel that Consistent decks would perform better and Greed decks would perform worse because of the nature of how the decks play.

            I do not mean to advocate one strategy over the other, even though I believe that Consistent decks are better.  As I said above, Kingritz has proved that Greed based decks are often very strong, as he has put up numerous good finishes with his build.  However, I still am of the belief that over the course of numerous events, Bears will trump Big Plays because Big Plays depend on drawing the Card, but there will always be Bears (if you build the deck right).

 

Alex

 

*This makes reference to an article published on paupermagic.com.   I recommend checking it out, under the title of Turn 5 Theory.

 

PS: For this article's music choice, I am very torn.  I have been listening to a whole bunch of great music recently, but I feel I am going to have to give the nod this week to A Wilhelm Scream.  This band really walks the fine line of Melodic Hardcore Punk and does so very well.  Each song is blisteringly fast and intense-even the slow songs feel as if they are set a touch too fast.  These guys definitely have a distinct sound.  Hope you enjoy.

0 Comments

Nice Article by MagicalTrevor (Unregistered) 66.74.47.57 (not verified) at Sun, 02/25/2007 - 12:14
MagicalTrevor (Unregistered) 66.74.47.57's picture

This article has led me to rethink cloak decks. I think BDW stripped down with out suspend cards will take the lead.

by Kingritz (Unregistered) 207.172.82.177 (not verified) at Fri, 02/23/2007 - 21:48
Kingritz (Unregistered) 207.172.82.177's picture

Hey, no worries, I'm just flattered that you mentioned me. It's a stupid name for a Magic deck anyway ;-). Thanks for an excellent article on Magic theory.

Deck names by Evu at Wed, 02/21/2007 - 19:34
Evu's picture

Minor point: the UBR control deck you're referring to is called "Parlor Tricks". "Grand Entrance" is my UW aggro deck. Understandable mistake, though, since they actually have similar strategies in the long run (card advantage and recursion of creatures with comes-into-play abilities).

I think I feel the same as you: I prefer to play Consistent decks, but there's no getting around the fact that Greedy decks sometimes just beat you with better cards.

Re: Evu by SpikeBoyM at Thu, 02/22/2007 - 10:16
SpikeBoyM's picture

Thanks for the correction Evu. I felt foolish when after the article went up, I was speaking with KingRitz and he kept refering to his deck as Parlor Tricks. Oh well. Thanks for reading.

darknes by Anonymous (Unregistered) 58.105.110.106 (not verified) at Sat, 02/17/2007 - 09:21
Anonymous (Unregistered) 58.105.110.106's picture

the dark rules

bugs! by Mitchy at Wed, 02/14/2007 - 14:42
Mitchy's picture

Great article, alex. I see theres a bug or two in there with card linker... I'll take a look into it

Whoops by SpikeBoyM at Wed, 02/14/2007 - 12:30
SpikeBoyM's picture

Whoops, the article I reference is called The Rule of Five, and refernces Turn Five Theory. Way to self edit Alex!

reply to anonymous by SpikeBoyM at Tue, 02/13/2007 - 19:00
SpikeBoyM's picture

You're absoultely correct. In personal preference, I would much rather run out a Consistent deck- anyone who has listened to me in the room/boards knows this. My word choice was also poor in that instance. I can see the merits of both playstyles and how certain players would feel more comfortable with Greedy decks and can perform with them. In fact, I provide examples of why you should run Greed decks (they tend to do well in short events).

Perhaps I did let my own personal bias influence this article too heavily, but I do beleive that Greed can win, just not in my hands.

by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 02/13/2007 - 18:55
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

I like the part where you say you dont advocate one strategy over the other(no one believes that )