Thursday, December 14, 2017

MTGO From Zero

I had been scanning old Yugioh sets and really needed some money (such is the plight of us poor folk), and decided to sell my entire MTGO collection to Cardhoarder (thanks! great transaction!). Now, I am starting from zero with 116 NYX and BNG free cards from the Cardhoarder and MTGOTraders free bots (thanks!).

I had stopped playing against other players completely for two reasons:

1. Chat allows the most toxic players on MTGO to ruin the fun for everyone else.
2. There is no casual scene. You either play a money deck and take the heat from the trolls, but at least you get to play, or you pilot in solitarie, which is all I really wanted to do by the time I sold off.

I am back now, and don't plan to build up a money collection like the one I had. MTGO does not have a casual scene. I had thousands of beautiful Vintage and Legacy cards, and no one to play them with.

My next project is to pilot decks for what I think would make a great casual set for new players: a double set, something like Tenth Edition. This is the set I have always wanted; a set not for Limited, which I have never liked. I think Limited makes Magic a lesser game than it could be. That's just me.

From here on I am on the penny card and crap booster pack bandwagon. I am eyeing those 40c Theros booster packs right now...

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

What if Magic restarted from zero?

In this thought experiment, I start Magic from zero. I would start with two starter decks. Here they are. The first one is a White/Blue/Green creature deck with enough counterspells to slow a fast deck down.

The second one is an aggressive Black/Red deck.

With this restart, there are some really neat cards, a few over-powered cards, and a bunch of vanilla creatures and simple spells to improve upon. I would complement these with a first set that enabled more strategies. My restart of Magic would look a lot like the early Yugioh sets, and would not have a limited experience.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Why I walked away from Battlecruiser Standard

Yugioh is about to have some of its best years ever. The link mechanic is reinventing every.single.archetype ever. Actually, Magic needs to take a page from the Yugioh playbook. It's what Innistrad block did for Magic with Delver of Secrets, Snapcaster Mage, the Miracles from Avacyn Restored. Innistrad block reinvented many decks in Vintage, Legacy, Modern, and lay the foundation for the post RTR boom now coming to a close.

Magic is in yet another transition, and all transitions are painful. The ten sets in the 'no core set' era have some awesome cards, but as a whole, were a path that cannot be taken again. It was a profound mistake. No one wants a two mana mana dork, and no one should play Standard without Naturalize.

Magic should have some bold innovators at Wizards with the guts to make the decision to take the game down the Pokemon/Yugioh path: everything is reprinted, everything. MTG Finance will be fine, it will just be a very different game. Instead of a few people who got in early, like Bitcoin, and now have a $5,000 card they pulled out of a pack, there can be 5,000 people with a card that's worth $1, and everyone wants to play. This is a mind bend for many, but believe me, it can work.

I just bought an LOB unlimited Pot of Greed (equivalent of an Unlimited-the Magic set; Ancestral Recall) for $3. Yugioh has thousands of people doing the same. It's equivalent, it just means many small collectors and not that many whales.

Dominaria and beyond needs to get us back to Innistrad block, to a reshaping of the foundations of all Magic competitive decks. Until that happens, even more players will walk away from battlecruiser Standard. I know I have. I review the sets here to keep myself up to date for the next Snapcaster Mage set, but the two-set blocks have been a disappointment for Johnny deck-builders like yours truly.

The Heart of the Cards is what Magic needs.

"My heart is in the cards, and that is what you do not understand."
Yugi Muto.

I will end with a rhetorical question: what happens when the money lost from players walking away is greater than the financial cost of whatever lawsuits are filed when the Reserved List is abolished?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Standard Ixalan UG Explore

I have taken this deck as far as I could with this limited Standard. There are many decks that are better than it, and I could also play it more, but at this stage I am only surveying the new set, and that may even be all I do before Standard gets more sets. This is the first go at it. It lost a lot.

I added some defensive and offensive cards, and now the deck does not lose as much.

Here is a win. I was able to hit hard early. I got lucky that my opponent had a late game that I could beat.

I could lose one creature a turn to their big critter and continue to edge closer to a win.

Here is a close-up.

And then I was able to counter Walking Ballista.

Yeah, that was fun.

Here I lost against a deck that must have been playing Approach of the Second Sun, even though none got cast. My opponent could temporarily exile and do so often enough to slow me down by a lot.

Gideon's Intervention naming Siren Lookout and Hostile Desert (after I attacked with it to almost win the game) broke my advance.

And even though I took out one Torment of Scarabs, there were two more to win the game.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Standard Ixalan UR Dinosaurs

Following the theme of UG Merfolk, the enemy color decks have a strictly worse manabase than the friendly color decks. Still, this deck is stronger than the Merfolk deck, I just need to play it better.

I was able to beat a deck with no flyers, but that should be no surprise. My opponent stalled to see if I would concede instead. This is a common technique by players online who care about their constructed point score.

The more interesting games were two I lost against decks I may build later. The first one is a mono-blue deck. I was wondering what the big critter would be at the end. I show Field of Ruin taking out one of the flip lands (Treasure Map).

With two of Pacification Array (battlecruiser Icy Manipulator), I get my two critters tapped every turn.

Once my opponent played their first Mechanized Production, I knew the game plan, and there was nothing I could do about it with the configuration of this deck I was playing.

Six artifacts with the same name, and two to go. Nice deck!

I also lost against an explore deck (which is definitely on my list of decks to build). The deck uses Wildgrowth Walker (Whenever a creature you control explores, put a +1/+1 counter on Wildgrowth Walker and you gain 3 life.) as the big creature that gets buff when creatures explore. The deck uses these three explore creatures: Merfolk Branchwalker, Ixalli's Diviner, Siren Lookout. The deck uses Siren's Ruse to protect it's creatures, and Shaper's Sanctuary to draw cards when the deck's creatures are targeted. I love it. Another great deck.

Standard Ixalan UG Merfolk

If we get better UG lands in the next set, this deck will be a better deck. It also needs a Merfolk lord, a better mana dork, and Naturalize.... it needs a lot more support. Yes, there are some money cards that make it better, but I wish it would work as a casual deck, and it did not work for me. Oh, and all of the 'add counters' spells in this Standard want you to have two or three Merfolk on the board. Because the deck has such a slow manabase, and is just battlecruiser slow, if you are playing against any target removal, you will be dead real quick.

Here is an example of how weak this deck is against removal. I start with a reasonable, yet slow position.

After enough target removal, I am top-decking and have no Merfolk left. Oh well, it was worth a try.

Many Ways to Name a Card in Current Standard

We went from not having that many ways to do so, to having many.

The cards are:

Sorcerous Spyglass (As Sorcerous Spyglass enters the battlefield, look at an opponent's hand, then choose any card name. Activated abilities of sources with the chosen name can't be activated unless they're mana abilities.)

Desert's Hold (Enchant creature When Desert's Hold enters the battlefield, if you control a Desert or there is a Desert card in your graveyard, you gain 3 life. Enchanted creature can't attack or block, and its activated abilities can't be activated.)

Lost Legacy (Choose a nonartifact, nonland card name. Search target player's graveyard, hand, and library for any number of cards with that name and exile them. That player shuffles his or her library, then draws a card for each card exiled from hand this way.)

Ixalan's Binding (When Ixalan's Binding enters the battlefield, exile target nonland permanent an opponent controls until Ixalan's Binding leaves the battlefield. Your opponents can't cast spells with the same name as the exiled card.)

Gideon's Intervention (As Gideon's Intervention enters the battlefield, choose a card name. Your opponents can't cast spells with the chosen name. Prevent all damage that would be dealt to you and permanents you control by sources with the chosen name.)

I lost a match against an Approach of the Second Sun (6W Sorcery If Approach of the Second Sun was cast from your hand and you've cast another spell named Approach of the Second Sun this game, you win the game. Otherwise, put Approach of the Second Sun into its owner's library seventh from the top and you gain 7 life.) deck. The games took a long time, and I was playing one of my casual janky Pirate decks... a good way to watch your opponent's deck show off in all it's glory. Here is the first game.

Here is the second game. I countered the fist Approach of the Second Sun, and my opponent resorted to Guideon as the alternate win condition.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Standard Grixis Ixalan Pirates

This is my second attempt to make Admiral Beckett Brass worth playing, and it just isn't. It has similar mana restrictions to Siege Rhino, but it fails to deliver. The Admiral gets removed easily and does not deliver anything by itself.

The poor Admiral yields nothing by herself, and gets removed easily. Boo Hoo Hoo.

Here I get board-wiped.

Yet my opponent gives up because thanks to Hostile Desert, I can swing in the late game right after a board wipe.

In this other game against yet another control deck, all my Pirates get removed.

At this point, my opponent gave up. My deck had plenty of gas to keep going.

I also lost against several other control decks. Each one was able to wipe me at just the right time for them, and the wrong time for me. Dynavolt Tower is great in this deck, and with ways to build up energy, the removal was very effective against me.

This deck will be much better without the Admiral, unless I learn more about Ixalan and come up with a smarter way to play it.