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By: LeagueGeek, J-P Voilleque
Dec 11 2007 8:34am
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Booster Day!  Kaloo Kalay!
Everyone comes to crack and play!
The weekend looms, the wife's away,
must be time to waste booster day!

Er.  Sorry.  I'm in the habit of trying to get all of my ducks in a row so that either the evening or afternoon of booster day I can get my counting matches in.  But before we do that, we need to reassess the pool, rebuild all our decks, and possibly play some test matches.

Let's open a booster!


Absolutely, but first let's review.  When last we left our intrepid heroes, the scaly merfolk and doughty kithkin had milled, mauled, and otherwise managed to get a 4-1 record:


1 Drowner of Secrets
1 Goldmeadow Stalwart
1 Inkfathom Divers
1 Judge of Currents
1 Kinsbaile Balloonist
1 Kithkin Greatheart
1 Kithkin Harbinger
1 Merrow Reejerey
1 Mulldrifter
1 Oaken Brawler
1 Paperfin Rascal
1 Springjack Knight
1 Stonybrook Angler
1 Turtleshell Changeling
1 Wizened Cenn

1 Broken Ambitions
1 Familiar's Ruse
1 Fathom Trawl
1 Moonglove Extract
1 Nameless Inversion
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Peppersmoke
1 Wanderer's Twig

8 Island
6 Plains
2 Swamp
1 Shimmering Grotto
Drowner of Secrets

I also talked about a dilemna I was having with the red, where promising elementals as well as a Smokebraider sang their siren song.  Well, I have infinite matches available, so I tested quite a bit with UR during tiebreakers.  I was unable to get there in any of a number of close matches against predominantly nine and ten point decks.  This vindicated my choice on Blue White, I felt, but there were definitely some broken interactions.  Being able to give all your guys trample, and then use the mana from the Soulbright Flamekin's triggered ability to feed Inner-Flame Igniter and give all your guys +3/+0 and first strike is, well, very good.  

Then I decided that Boggart Mob was a little lonely, and tried a Black Red deck that had very little going for it - it wasn't the classic aggressive goblins build.  Because it was now late in the week (on Booster Day Eve, in fact), the goblin/elemental awesomeness had few chances to shine; I was mostly only playing folks that were trying to amass colossal piles of tiebreak points with their actual decks, not some goofy test deck.  Although, again, there was promise - I have a Caterwauling Boggart, which seems really good when you can pump all your goblins and elementals to a bazillion.  The problem is, I really didn't have that many goblins, either for championing purposes or to, you know, attack.  Still, something to keep an eye on.

You'll find that "reassessing the pool" is a constant process, of course, and that you get the most information about what works and what doesn't by trying absolutely everything you can think of.  In that spirit, I trotted this pile out for some test matches:


1 Ceaseless Searblades
1 Cloudcrown Oak
1 Inner-Flame Igniter
1 Masked Admirers
2 Moonglove Winnower
1 Mournwhelk
1 Mulldrifter
1 Nath's Elite
1 Smokebraider
1 Soulbright Flamekin
1 Tar Pitcher
1 Woodland Changeling

1 Broken Ambitions
1 Lace with Moonglove
1 Moonglove Extract
1 Nameless Inversion
1 Needle Drop
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Peppersmoke
1 Wanderer's Twig
1 Weed Strangle

1 Fertile Ground

5 Forest
4 Mountain
4 Swamp
2 Island
1 Plains
1 Shimmering Grotto
Nameless Inversion

Maximum greed.  All the good cards and decent interactions, with some stalwart defense (Winnowers, Oak) to hold the ground.  Someone recently (and I apologize that I don't remember who) discussed the "all-in" approach vs. the safe build of a sealed pool when big prizes are on the line (say, a PE top eight or a blue envelope).  Leagues really don't compare, and so the answer to "should I play this goofy build?" is "how risk averse are you?"  I thought this deck played pretty well - it could almost always go long enough to find the right mana, and it had some cantrips (both conditional and not) to help out.  The plan was simply to go tramply bang bang over the opposing army, and in the absence of that, to be the last one standing after the attrition wars came to a close.  I felt bad that I couldn't include the Fathom Trawl, but that would give me double-colored spells in four colors, and even I am not that stupid.  That takes blue from being a "splash" color (and really this is a three-color deck with two splashes) to being something I need two of, and I just don't think I can justify that.

This was a fun little excursion, and it evoked some really interesting reactions from opponents (from incredulous to giggly to borderline pissed).  It's gotten me some tiebreaker points, but I don't know if I'd risk this in a counting match.  However, maybe as we add boosters, something like this will open up.  Sometimes, if you can fix your mana to your satisfaction, you can skim the cream off all the colors.  Not as easy as Ravnica block, certainly, but possible.

So you want to add a booster.

Of course you do!  What is life for if not opening a Mirror Entity?

Bear with me, though, for a note on housekeeping.  You are on the verge of digital untidiness, which is not only unsightly in the eyes of the shuffler, but an actual hindrance to playing good Magic.

There are people who are far more scientific about their deck filing systems than I am.  I'm sure some are worse, but not many.  I have a subfolder called "leagues" that's packed with all kinds of crap, including one rogue CBS league deck that has somehow escaped several purges.  I tend to have too many things all named "LOR league" or whatever is playing at the time.  So one thing I can suggest with full confidence is that you NOT organize your decks like me.  Reasons why this is true:

  • One of the best ways to sideboard, especially in later weeks, is to have "pre-sideboarded" whatever decks you feel are viable/better matchups against X/whatever.  Then you can simply load that deck into the deck editor during sideboarding.  However, let's say you've opened a booster.  You changed your main deck, but you forgot to update the "sneaky ninja anti-blue" deck that you made in week one.  During sideboarding, an attempt to load that deck will result in an error message, because the card pool is not the same and the program thinks you're a cheatyface.  To hammer home the point that you only get to play with the cards in your pool, the program resets your deck editor, moving everything to the sideboard and leaving you with 0/40 cards in your deck.  Unpleasant.  If you are properly maintaining your saved files, this will never happen.  You will also never accidentally load a file from an old league (which has much the same results).

  • Clans like mine thrive on examining sealed pools, arguing about colors, and generally gabbling endlessly about league decks.  Proper maintenance of deck files is imperative for anyone asking for help, because odds are good that they will have received suggestions, tweaked builds, changed one card on someone's advice, etc.  When you download four files that all bear the same name as your original upload, you need to be meticulous about what is yours and what ain't.

  • It doesn't really take that much time to delete old league decks so that you don't end up with clutter.  I run MTGO on a tiny partition of my Macbook, and every free bit is important, so really I should be scouring my draftdecks, sealeddecks, and decks folders on a regular basis. 

Don't be a Messy Marvin.  Come up with a system for organizing your .dec files so that when you need that killer anti-red build with the Hydroblast and Flashfreeze already loaded, you can find it.   And UPDATE all your builds, every week.  All you have to do is load the deck into the Deck Builder, make any changes seem good, and then hit save.  That'll ensure that you can quickload during sideboarding, rather than having to scrabble around and forget something vital. 

Seriously, can I open a booster now?

Well, not quite yet, actually, you see, it's Thursday at 9:59 am and the league started last Thursday at 3:58 pm, so...I have six hours.  Must be time to play some more tiebreaks with that wacky five-color monstrosity...and even win some!  Wee!

And I gotta say, this deck is starting to be my little friend!  I don't know if it's people trying new things themselves, or if I'm just getting good draws, but this sucker has been pretty ambitious in the last few matches.  I've gotten the Nath's Elite/Lace with Moonglove beats, as well as several tramply finishes with whoever was handy plus my Elementals.  If I open a second Twig or Fertile Ground I might seriously consider four-or-five-color for the remainder of the league.  Probably not, really, but it's fun to dream.

By the way, for a while the system clock on my Windows partition was constantly resetting itself to a time that had nothing to do with anything.  This was irritating, but it also had the interesting side effect of allowing me to open boosters early in the league that I was in  - the system clock thought that it was X o'clock but it also thought that it was in the Pacific Time Zone, which meant that I would log onto MTGO and it would think that it was time to open a booster.  Stuck in this time warp, I was able to open a booster an hour-ish early.  I didn't try to join a PE in the future, though - it was befuddling enough trying to figure out whether I was cheating if I played a match before the hour when I was legitimately allowed to open a new booster.

All right, I'm clean out of diversions.

*Whimper* I can has booster?

What I usually do is move all my cards back to my sideboard before I open the booster.  That way, I have a fresh look at all the new cards and can move stuff around as if I was building the deck for the first time.  Last time, y'all didn't get to see the whole pool, partially because I wanted to highlight the Blue White vs. Blue Red debate, and partially because I really didn't think it was all that interesting a pool to talk about in terms of green and black.  This time, though, we'll do it together.  New cards are in italics.

White:

1 Cenn's Heir
1 Goldmeadow Stalwart
1 Judge of Currents
1 Kinsbaile Balloonist
1 Kithkin Greatheart
1 Kithkin Harbinger
1 Lairwatch Giant
1 Oaken Brawler
1 Plover Knights
1 Springjack Knight
1 Wizened Cenn
1 Entangling Trap
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Shields of Velis Vel
1 Soaring Hope
1 Triclopean Sight

This is turning into a pretty good stack of white, with the addition of Plover Knights.  Cenn's Heir is no great shakes, in my experience, but on the other hand it's a good guy to add to the mix if you need to be faster than your opponent.  The Oblivion Ring is the real powerhouse here.  No Summon the School, though.  Boo.

Blue:

1 Drowner of Secrets
1 Fallowsage
1 Inkfathom Divers
1 Merrow Reejerey
1 Mulldrifter
1 Paperfin Rascal
1 Ringskipper
2 Stonybrook Angler - One new
1 Tideshaper Mystic
1 Turtleshell Changeling
1 Aquitect's Will
2 Broken Ambitions - One new
1 Faerie Trickery
1 Familiar's Ruse
1 Fathom Trawl
1 Glimmerdust Nap
1 Whirlpool Whelm

Blue gained some great cards for a milling merfolk deck.  Two Broken Ambitions is very nice, and the addition of some bounce is good as more and more champions get opened and folded into the mix.  With Drowner on the table, winning the clash on Whirlpool Whelm means that your opponent will never see the card again.  Fallowsage is also nice, and keeps cards in hand.  In moments of calm I can always target it with my Reejerey or Anglers, so it's definitely going in. 

Black:

 

1 Boggart Mob
1 Exiled Boggart
1 Facevaulter
3 Moonglove Winnower - One new
1 Mournwhelk
1 Nath's Buffoon
1 Spiderwig Boggart
2 Squeaking Pie Sneak - One new
1 Warren-Scourge Elf
1 Boggart Birth Rite
1 Faerie Tauntings
1 Footbottom Feast
2 Nameless Inversion - One new
1 Peppersmoke
1 Weed Strangle

Black gained a second copy of Nameless Inversion, and a couple more goblins to potentially support the Mob.  The absolute best cards are the removal spells (and, as one commenter pointed out, Footbottom Feast).  Adding some more playable goblins to get us to critical mass might mean that the red goblin superstars have enough support to roll down the hill.  We'll have to revisit the black pile (ooh, foreshadowing!), but I wish we had a Tarfire or a Lashout in...

Red:

1 Axegrinder Giant
2 Boggart Forager - One new
1 Boggart Sprite-Chaser
1 Caterwauling Boggart
1 Ceaseless Searblades
1 Flamekin Harbinger
1 Ingot Chewer
1 Inner-Flame Acolyte
1 Inner-Flame Igniter
1 Lowland Oaf
1 Smokebraider
1 Soulbright Flamekin
1 Tar Pitcher
1 Heat Shimmer
1 Needle Drop
Heat Shimmer


WHAMMY!

Here's our rare, and it's not awful.  It's not awesome either, but it's tricky and doesn't get seen very often.  If nothing else, it's removal for legendary creatures, and there are definitely situations where it could have some sick interactions with Ceaseless Searblades.  Sadly, red missed out on burn, but as I said, the Caterwauling Boggart and the Tar Pitcher now have adequate fodder to make this a worthy consideration.  My BR goblin/elemental build might need a closer look. 

Green:

1 Cloudcrown Oak
1 Elvish Handservant
1 Elvish Promenade
1 Guardian of Cloverdell
1 Masked Admirers
1 Nath's Elite
1 Treefolk Harbinger
1 Woodland Changeling
2 Fertile Ground - One new
1 Heal the Scars
2 Hunt Down - One new
1 Lace with Moonglove
1 Lignify

This is really not good, except in the above-mentioned five-color deck (and I did get the most important piece again with a second Fertile Ground).  Guardian of Cloverdell is no Cloudgoat Ranger, but it does have some interaction with my other Kithkins, and so if green ever gets its head out of its tushie, I'll need to look it over.  As it is, the green is pretty awful.

As an aside, where the heck are my changelings?!  Changelings are glue!  They provide a means for you to get there with a tribe that is under-represented or to blend benefits of two tribes.  Woodland and Turtleshell?  Really?  That's all?

Etc:

1 Moonglove Extract
1 Thousand-Year Elixir
1 Wanderer's Twig

1 Shimmering Grotto
1 Windbrisk Heights

Grotto, Twig, and Extract remain essential playables.  My WU is not the type that's going to routinely send three creatures into the red zone, and so I think it Windbrisk Heights will sit for another week.  I suppose I should consider Thousand-Year Elixir as an additional merfolk, but I have plenty of regular old merfolk that I  want in the deck, thanks.

The Cards Change, the Deck Remains the Same.

So there wasn't anything so ground-breakingly awesome that it pulls me out of my colors.  The addition of Plover Knights, a second Broken Ambitions, and Fallowsage are enough to keep me in blue and white, and the rest at that point is gravy.  Here's what I'm going to take into battle this week, I think:

Judge of Currents
Kithkin Greatheart
2x Stonybrook Angler
Drowner of Secrets
Kithkin Harbinger
Merrow Reejerey
Paperfin Rascal
Fallowsage
Turtleshell Changeling
Inkfathom Divers
Mulldrifter
Plover Knights
Lairwatch Giant

Wanderer's Twig
2x Nameless Inversion
Whirlpool Whelm
Oblivion Ring
Moonglove Extract
Fathom Trawl
2x Broken Ambitions

8x Island
6x Plains
2x Swamp
Shimmering Grotto

This is not all that different from last week - the Kithkin are much reduced, with Greatheart pairing with Lairwatch Giants.  I sided Lairwatch in a lot to hold the ground in late game situations against aggressive decks, and it seems to me that he should have a shot at starting.  Plover Knights comes in to actually attack or hold the air, as need be.  This deck wants to win on card advantage from Fathom Trawl, Fallowsage and Mulldrifter, and either mill them out or attack with random dudes  It does not have many offensive weapons but it can tie up opponents with tons of tap effects, bounce, and counterspells, and hit for a little with random dudes.   It doesn't feel massively powerful (I have no Dousers and no Aquitechts, and anyone can tell you that they're mission-critical guys), but it doesn't appear to suck, either.  We'll just have to see how it goes...the Whirlpool Whelm might need to be Faerie Trickery, because "no" is better than "maybe later" in a deck like this.

Another consideration is BR Goblin aggro:

Facevaulter
Flamekin Harbinger
Smokebraider
Soulbright Flamekin
2x Squeaking Pie Sneak
Inner-Flame Acolyte
Inner-Flame Igniter
Spiderwig Boggart
Boggart Mob
Caterwauling Boggart
Ceaseless Searblades
Lowland Oaf
Tar Pitcher
Mournwhelk

Boggart Birth Rite
Peppersmoke
2x Nameless Inversion
Heat Shimmer
Footbottom Feast
Moonglove Extract
Weed Strangle

8x Swamp
8x Mountain
Shimmering Grotto

Two fear goblins along with the Spiderwig and the Caterwauling Boggart means that you could get a lot of tokens from the Mob, which in turn provides ammo for Tar Pitcher or bodies for Inner-Flame Igniter to pump to absurd levels.  The fact that I also have Soulbright Flamekin and Ceaseless Searblades (and a Harbinger to find whichever piece is missing) makes this a pretty potent endgame.  Heat Shimmering Mob, Searblades, or even Tar Pitcher (saccing the token for the final two) seems another fine way to finish off the opponent.  I'm intrigued but not sold on this deck.  If it appears that I'm not controlly enough to be the control deck, I may switch to the beatdown.  Plus, I have double Inversion plus Boggart Birth Rite.  Who says I'm the beatdown?

Speaking of that most iconic of Magic articles, I'll leave you with one point about the beatdown - early in a league (and week two still counts as early), it sometimes pays to play guys and turn them sideways.  Barring a bomb pool, no one is ever 100% happy with their deck, and sometimes the curve is a little shady.  If you can drop consistent threats (and keep dropping them) you can win some matches on sheer brute force.  It's inelegant, but it works.  The problem is that as the weeks roll by, more and more people open Final Revels or multiple Dousers or Sentinels of Glen Elendra, and then your army of bears is toast.  The leagues become battles over the big spell, not a barroom scrap.  So beatdown diminishes over time, unless it also has evasion.  Kithkin and goblins both face a big challenge in this regard.  For this week, it might be the right move.

By dint of poor planning, it's also booster day in my Masters/10th league (don't play these - they're very dull.  Straight 10th is more interesting, imo).  So I've got to stop writing and start playing.  Next time, we might shift gears and talk about the other league formats.  And of course, we'll revisit this league for another Booster Day.  Kaloo kalay!

 

3 Comments

by Anonymous (Unregistered) 70.113.1.32 (not verified) at Tue, 12/11/2007 - 22:09
Anonymous (Unregistered) 70.113.1.32's picture

I hate leagues :P I'm 2-3 my last 3 weeks in 2 leagues combined. I'm not that bad heh. Anyway, didn't read the article, just venting.

by skockie (Unregistered) 12.30.81.51 (not verified) at Tue, 12/11/2007 - 16:12
skockie (Unregistered) 12.30.81.51's picture

How often did you win in Week 1 with Drowner of Secrets?  My concern with your WU build is your win condition when Drowner dies.  As more packs are added, more and more people are opening Nameless Inversion, Shriekmaw, Lash Out, Moonglove Extract, etc and will blow the Drowner up. 

88spartans88 by 88spartans88 at Tue, 12/11/2007 - 14:08
88spartans88's picture

Well written.

Looking at the 2 choices - I would lean towards the RB goblin build given that the UW merfolk build is missing Silvergill Douser.