Monday, December 27, 2010

Non-Basic Lands

Typically cubes have some nonbasic lands in their pool. In my cube, we play with 16 cards per booster instead of 15, being 2 nonbasic lands, on average. I believe they are very beneficial for cubes for the following reasons:

1. Dual lands fix mana

Mana screw is really frustrating, and color screw may be even worse. Dual lands (and triple and prismatic ones) contribute to lower the odds of color screw, rewarding players who spent their picks with lands. Another consequence is that decks with more than two colors become much more feasible, reducing the need for mana fixing spells.

2. Nonbasic lands reduce the number of cards left out of the decks.

In regular booster drafts, lots of cards stay out for being unplayable. Except for some linear cards or very late picks not in their colors, in cube drafts players end up with 40ish cards, from which he will have to pick around 23. When you add nonbasic lands to the mixture, you're not limited to picking our 23 spells anymore, but there are 17 slots that can be filled with nonbasics. Of course, each player will have around 2-3 nonbasics for his deck, but that's 2-3 extra cards being played.

3. Nonbasic lands add complexity and decisions to the game.

Playing nonbasics that come into play tapped or deal damage to you or might become attackers require more planning than the regular basic lands without "summoning sickness". Even in the deck construction stage there are new dilemmas - should an aggro deck use taplands of its colors for consistency or just plain basics for speed? Should control decks run City of Brass?

As for which lands cycles to get in a cube, that will depend greatly on your budget.

Revised dual lands
Tundra, Underground Sea, Badlands, Taiga, Savannah, Scrubland, Bayou, Tropical Island, Volcanic Island, Plateau
- Very expensive.
- Allied and enemy colors.
- Strictly better than most duals.
- Count as the land types for all purposes except they are not considered basic.
- Don't slow you down.

Ravnica bounce lands
Azorius Chancery, Dimir Aqueduct, Rakdos Carnarium, Gruul Turf, Selesnya Sanctuary, Orzhov Basilica, Golgari Rot Farm, Simic Growth Chamber, Izzet Boilerworks, Boros Garrison
- Cheap.
- Allied and enemy colors.
- Awkward and slow in the early game.
- Extend your mana reach.
- Great with landfall.

Ravnica shock lands
Hallowed Fountain, Watery Grave, Blood Crypt, Stomping Ground, Temple Garden, Godless Shrine, Overgrown Tomb, Breeding Pool, Steam Vents, Sacred Foundry
- Average to expensive.
- Allied and enemy colors.
- Count as the land types for all purposes except they are not considered basic.
- Either slow you down or require 2 life payment.

Onslaught/Zendikar fetch lands
Flooded Strand, Polluted Delta, Bloodstained Mire, Wooded Foothills, Windswept Heath, Marsh Flats, Verdant Catacombs, Misty Rainforest, Scalding Tarn, Arid Mesa
- Expensive.
- Allied colors from Onslaught, enemy colors from Zendikar.
- Thin the deck.
- Fetch actual basic lands.
- Small life payment.
- Don't slow you down.
- Great with landfall.

Mirage fetch lands
Flood Plain, Bad River, Rocky Tar Pit, Mountain Valley, Grasslands
- Cheap.
- Only allied colors.
- Thin the deck.
- Fetch actual basic lands.
- Slow, as they come into play tapped.
- Great with landfall.

Urza manlands
Forbidding Watchtower, Faerie Conclave, Spawning Pool, Ghitu Encampment, Treetop Village
- Cheap.
- Monocolored.
- Slow, as they come into play tapped.
- Turn into creatures for 1C.

Worldwake manlands
Celestian Colonnade, Creeping Tar Pit, Lavaclaw Reaches, Raging Ravine, Stirring Wildwood
- Average price.
- Only allied colors.
- Slow, as they come into play tapped.
- Turn into creatures for varying costs, all involving at least one mana of each color produced.

Alara tri lands
Seaside Citadel, Arcane Sanctum, Crumbling Necropolis, Savage Lands, Jungle Shrine
- Cheap to average.
- Only allied shards (enemy combinations are called wedges).
- Slow, as they come into play tapped.
- Make three colors instead of the usual two, meaning it's unlikely no one will want them in a draft.

M10 dual lands
Glacial Fortress, Drowned Catacomb, Dragonskull Summit, Rootbound Crag, Sunpetal Grove
- Average price.
- Only allied colors.
- Sometimes slow, sometimes fast.

Scars of Mirrodin dual lands
Seachrome Coast, Darkslick Shores, Blackcleave Cliffs, Copperline Gorge, Razorverge Thicket
- Average price.
- Only allied colors.
- Fast at the beginning of the game, slow after that.

Alliances replacement lands
Kjeldoran Outpost, Soldevi Excavations, Lake of the Dead, Balduvian Trading Post, Heart of Yavimaya
- Kjeldoran Outpost and Lake of the Dead are average, the others are cheap.
- Monocolored.
- Lake of the Dead and Heart of Yavimaya slow you down but have more powerful effects. The others don't slow you, but the colorless mana is awkward.
- Good repeatable activated abilities in general.

Shadowmoor filter lands
Mystic Gate, Sunken Ruins, Graven Cairns, Fire-Lit Thicket, Wooded Bastion, Fetid Heath, Twilight Mire, Flooded Grove, Cascade Bluffs, Rugged Prairie
- Average price.
- Both allied and enemy colors.
- Don't slow you down.
- Good to pay heavy colored costs (see Cloudthresher).
- Can't produce a single colored mana.

Ice Age/Apocalypse pain lands
Adarkar Wastes, Underground River, Sulfurous Springs, Karplusan Forest, Brushland, Caves of Koilos, Llanowar Wastes, Yavimaya Coast, Shivan Reef, Battlefield Forge
- Cheap to average price.
- Both allied and enemy colors.
- Don't slow you down.
- Require life to produce colored mana.

Legends legendary lands
Karakas, Tolaria, Urborg, Hammerheim, Pendelhaven
- Karakas is very expensive. The others are cheap.
- Monocolored.
- Don't slow you down.
- Legendary, which rarely matters in cube.
- Karakas and Pendelhaven have good abilities. The others are meh to worthless.

Not all lands come in cycles, though. There are lots of others that work well in cube draft:
City of Brass - A must have, even though it's suicidal, it smoothes the mana of any deck and does not compromise speed in any way.
Mystifying Maze - The new Maze of Ith, good for defensive decks.
Mishra's Factory - The first manland, it hurts your colors a bit, but becomes a difficult to kill 2/2 for mere 1 mana.
Grand Coliseum - A slow City of Brass that's not suicidal unless you need it for specific colors. Definitely worse than the City, but still worth playing.
Gemstone Mine - Usually 3 charges will be enough to get your game going until you get the color that's missing. Best in aggro decks, though.
Desert - Makes attacking decisions harder for your opponent, helping agaisnt beatdown.
Quicksand - Same as Desert, only in a different way.
Stalking Stones - Not as good as a Mishra's Factory, but it's a land that doesn't sit dead in the late game.
Strip Mine - Takes some games by itself.

And moving on to the really expensive options:
Undiscovered Paradise - Very bad for mana development, although it makes any mana color the turn it comes into play. Besides, it's awesome with landfall.
Library of Alexandria - Unfair, works like a 1st turn hard to kill Phyrexian Arena.
Mishra's Workshop - May encourage artifact decks by itself
Mutavault - The new Mishra's Factory, except it's a changeling instead of an artifact.
Maze of Ith - Almost not a land, since it doesn't make mana, rather it's like an immortal blocker.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Parallel Winston Draft Report - Dec 16, 2010

We intended to do a Winston draft with 3 or 4 people last Thursday, but since we had 5, we thought Winston would be too slow (it doesn't scale well). We invented, then, a weird process of drafting: it's like Winston, except there is a set of 3 piles for each player. Each round, a player does what he would do normally in a Winston draft with the piles in front of him (take a pile or a random card from the top, adding a card to each pile that was looked at but not taken). Then, everyone walks one position around the table (we did it anti-clockwise, but that's irrelevant). This is repeated until all piles are taken.

There was a concern that this would be confusing, but it wasn't as long as we kept all players synchronized. In the end, there were some great decks and some bad ones, and I'm not sure why there was such a high variance in power level. It was a very fun draft though, as there was a lot of tension in the choice of taking a pile of not. I should also mention that we used 4 boosters per player, instead of 3, as Winston tends to create less powerful decks. The final results were:

- WU Control (3-0, 6-0)
- WR Aggro-midrange (3-1, 6-3)
- BG (1-1, 3-2)
- BR (0-2, 0-4)
- UG Aggro-control (0-3, 0-6)

WU Control

7 Island
7 Plains
Soldevi Excavations
Seaside Citadel
Celestial Colonnade

Wall of Glare
Halimar Wavewatch
Swans of Bryn Argoll
Serra Angel
Oona, Queen of the Fae
Eternal Dragon
Ith, High Arcanist

Force Spike
Prophetic Prism
Into the Roil
Recumbent Bliss
Solemn Offering
Wing Shards
Serrated Arrows
Fact or Fiction
Faith's Fetters
Kirtar's Wrath

This deck felt awesome to play, it had a wide array of answers to everything, resilient finishers, powerful removal and card smoothing. Wall of Glare and Halimar Wavewatch helped early defense, the several spot removals controlled the game which creating card advantage and then Eternal Dragon, Oona, Queen of the Fae, Swans of Bryn Argoll and Celestial Colonnade took the game. Actually, I quickly milled one opponent with Swans and Oona combined in a game, which was a quite weird way to kill.

WR Aggro-midrange

9 Plains
10 Mountain

Boros Guildmage
Blood Knight
Hand of Honor
Fire Imp
Aven Mindcensor
Stillmoon Cavalier
Galepowder Mage
Coal Stoker
Brion Stoutarm
Rakka Mar
Stormfront Riders
Crater Hellion
Butcher Orgg

Lightning Greaves
Zektar Shrine Expedition
Grafted Wargear
Crystal Ball
Oblivion Ring
Puncture Blast
Glorious Anthem
Story Circle
Sulfuric Vortex

A deck that's aggressive yet develops later than aggro usually does, gaining long term power. Its aggression comes not in tempo, but in sheer power of the threats, combined with cards that build a great late game as Crystal Ball, Earthquake, Stormfront Riders and Story Circle. I don't think Pandemonium was ever cast though, which is sad - I'm curious about how it'll work.

UG Aggro-control

9 Island
8 Forest

Scythe Tiger
Simic Guildmage
Coral Merfolk
Spiketail Hatchling
Vinelasher Kudzu
Wake Thrasher
Omnath, Locus of Mana
Great Sable Stag
Calcite Snapper
Aether Adept
Ninja of the Deep Hours
Precursor Golem

Dolmen Gate
Sword of Light and Shadow
Elephant Guide
Call of the Herd

An aggressive UG deck that consistently drops several threats in the early game then goes on to guarantee board position with counterspells, auras and disruption. Although the deck didn't do well, I played some matches with it some days later, and I guess the bad result was due to some combination of bad luck and little sleep.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Color Balance Evaluation

I just completed rating the cards, and hopefully the ratings are not too biased. The criteria I used was:

1 - We rarely want these in our decks, usually left in a sideboard. (Muddle the Mixture, Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, Goblin Balloon Brigade)
2 - Some decks want this, but it's usually a late pick. (Aven Mindcensor, Pilgrim's Eye, Doomed Necromancer)
3 - Decent, we can't complain about having this is our decks. (Sleep, Essence Warden, Sejiri Refuge)
4 - Good card, early pick. Rarely left in a sideboard unless it's not in the player's colors. (Jackal Pup, Luminarch Ascension, Crystal Ball)
5 - Great card, one should have a good reason not to pick this. (Vigor, Celestial Colonnade, Siege-Gang Commander)

The averages I got were:

Artifact - 2.89
Land - 2.89
Multicolor - 3.06
Black - 3.07
White - 3.10
Red - 3.10
Blue - 3.17
Green - 3.19

I guess that either reflects my taste for UG or explains why it's such a popular combination. Probably a bit of each though. The point is, blue and green seem to be on one level and the rest on another. I was already expecting lower rates for land and artifact, but I'm sure some months ago these figures would've been much worse.

Black seems to be indeed the worst color, but not too far from white and red. I'll focus on these three colors for the next singles I order. They seem to be the obvious place to improve the cube. I'll also try to get good artifacts and lands, as I've always been.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Card Evaluation

It seems that after the red overhaul, that color is again powerful, but now I have the impression that black is worse than the others. I took a look at the card list and it seems that black is, indeed, the color with the worst average card quality. To evaluate this more precisely, I'll mark the cube cards on how well they've been performing. This will be useful for helping me decide which ones have to go for power level reasons, as a numeric parameter that's easily searchable and sortable.

The rating will be on the card spreadsheet, and if any you feel I've judged something wrong, feel free to comment or message me. Remember there's several hundreds of cards and I'll have to examine each really fast, so I will make mistakes.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Winston Draft

Kamila and I tried a Winston draft for the first time some months ago. Winston draft was described on the Magic official website over 5 years ago, but with the rise of cube recently it became popular for very small drafts (2 people mainly).

The setup for Winston Draft consists of shuffling 3 boosters per player in a big pile and creating 3 face-down small piles (starting with 1 card each). Then, players take turns, each turn consisting of looking at small pile #1, taking it and ending his turn if he wants to, and if not he puts it back and adds a card from the big pile to that small pile. The same is done for piles #2 and #3. When a player takes a pile, he replaces it with a card from the big pile. If a player does not take any of the 3 piles, he draws a card from the big pile.

We found this draft to make much more sense for 2 people than a regular booster draft, that felt the same as splitting 2 colors to each and maybe fighting for the 5th. It does, though, create less cohesive decks, since in the end each player will have taken several cards that he did not want, but his opponent did, just because they were in piles that were favorable to him. This lowers deck quality, but adds excitement enough to be worth it.

While I feel this is a good way to draft for 2-3 people, since players take turns the time taken for the draft is linear on the number of players, meaning it may get awkward for 4-5 players and is prohibitive for more than that.

Here are the lists we ended up with. Tri-color in both decks was mandatory, two-color deck would mean we'd have to use all cards of our biggest colors and also add some artifacts.

WUG Aggro-control

5 Forest
5 Island
7 Plains
Seaside Citadel
Flooded Grove

Arbor Elf
Goldmeadow Harrier
Soul Warden
Essence Warden
Wild Mongrel
Kami of Ancient Law
Surveilling Sprite
Lighthouse Chronologist
Cloud Elemental
Soltari Lancer
Mangara of Corondor
Cloudchaser Kestrel
Guardian of the Guildpact
Conundrum Sphinx
Loxodon Hierarch
Juniper Order Ranger

Mox Diamond
Trip Noose
Mana Leak
Explosive Vegetation
Enshrined Memories

BRG Control

5 Swamp
4 Forest
4 Mountain
Grand Coliseum
Crumbling Necropolis
Strip Mine
Mountain Valley

Cabal Interrogator
Stillmoon Cavalier
Howling Banshee
Golgari Rotwurm
Extractor Demon
Visara the Dreadful
Plated Slagwurm

Glasses of Urza
Innocent Blood
Mesmeric Orb
Chainer's Edict
Fertile Ground
Worn Powerstone
Call of the Herd
Erratic Portal
Icy Manipulator
Defense of the Heart
Night of Souls' Betrayal
Rolling Thunder

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Draft Report - Dec 12, 2010

We had 5 people this Sunday. I suggest that our drafts be conducted in pools of ice from now on, until this summer ends.

- UR Control (3-1, 7-4)
- RG Aggro (3-1, 6-3)
- WUG Artifacts (2-2, 4-4)
- WUG Midrange (1-3, 3-6)
- WB Aggro (1-3, 3-6)

UR Control

7 Island
7 Mountain
Shelldock Isle
Izzet Boilerworks
Ghitu Encampment
Strip Mine

Steel Wall
Slith Firewalker
Noggle Bandit
Fire Imp
Aether Adept
Swans of Bryn Argoll
Conundrum Sphinx
Djinn of Wishes
Crater Hellion

Seal of Fire
Mana Leak
Remove Soul
Magma Jet
Legacy's Allure
Oblivion Stone
Fact of Fiction
Control Magic

I avoid repeating decks, but since I want to experiment all I can in cube, I tried drafting the same archetype as a few days ago. The result were two decks that played similarly despite having only 6 cards as intersection (aside from basic lands, of course):

Izzet Boilerworks
Crater Hellion

I'm satisfied with the redundancy/variety balance that I've achieved in my cube, since I got to craft the same archetype with a very different list, leading to a deck that looked and felt similar but was subtly different. First, I fixed the problem I had last week with finishers. The new Swans of Bryn Argoll and Hostility were awesome for that, two finishers that were highly synergistic with burn. Second, I had less mass removal, which was good against decks that had a lower threat density, but made me more vulnerable to beatdown. Finally, I lacked the crazy card advantage engines that Future Sight and Lighthouse Chronologist provided, but made up for it with the additional stealing enchantments (Control Magic and Legacy's Allure) and Fact of Fiction.

One thing to note is that Hostility is extremely fast to kill an opponent with few blockers. A mere Firebolt works as a Ball Lightning. Also, I'm loving the versatility of Dead/Gone. Too bad I wasn't passed back Fire/Ice, it would've been great here.

WUG Artifacts

6 Island
4 Forest
3 Plains
Thawing Glaciers
Treetop Village
Coastal Tower
Faerie Conclave
Simic Growth Chamber

Brass Man
Flying Man
Essence Warden
Twinblade Slasher
Steel Overseer
Perilous Myr
Lighthouse Chronologist
Simic Guildmage
Azorius Guildmage
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV

Wind Zendikon
Energy Chamber
Contagion Clasp
Howling Mine
Living Wish
Chimeric Idol
Coalition Relic
Psionic Blast
Serrated Arrows
Helm of Possession
Tezzeret the Seeker

This is the fun deck of the day. A tricolored that looks to play control oriented "good stuff", but given enough time assembles a powerful board that can grow (Steel Overseer, Energy Chamber), get extra turns (Lighthouse Chronologist), kill creatures (Serrated Arrows) and steal stuff (Helm of Possession), all tied together by Tezzeret the Seeker and Contagion Clasp, both highly valuable to this plan. The mana base, despite being slow, is versatile, featuring deck thinning and powerful manlands. The two guildmages serve as defense and as a toolbox against a variety of cards.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

New Card Batch 3


Brass Man - a cheap wall that can attack if necessary. Doesn't look that good, but it's early defense for any deck.
Perilous Myr
Palladium Myr
Scuttlemutt - artifact mana fixing, this should help multicolored
Helm of Possession - the cube is lackin sacrifice effects, and I thought I'd go with a good one
Solemn Simulacrum - card advantage on legs
Silent Arbiter - creates tricky situations, great for defense
Precursor Golem - apart from the crazy situations that may arise, it's 9 power for 5 mana
Duplicant - an artifact that's creature removal
Steel Hellkite - an artifact that's PERMANENT removal
Candles of Leng
Elixir of Immortality

Desert - I loved to see this guy and Tuktuk together this week
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
Khalni Garden
Keldon Megaliths
Ghitu Encampment - After the success of Faerie Conclase and Treetop Village, I'll give a try at their least known siblings
Pendelhaven - almost strictly better than Forest
Terminal Moraine - prismatic fixing
Rakdos Carnarium - completing the Ravnica bouncelands cycle
Gruul Turf - completing the Ravnica bouncelands cycle
Orzhov Basilica - completing the Ravnica bouncelands cycle
Selesnya Sanctuary - completing the Ravnica bouncelands cycle
Azorius Chancery - completing the Ravnica bouncelands cycle
Lavaclaw Reaches - Worldwake manlands, they fix mana, attack and defend
Celestial Colonnade - Worldwake manlands, they fix mana, attack and defend
Raging Ravine - Worldwake manlands, they fix mana, attack and defend
Creeping Tar Pit - Worldwake manlands, they fix mana, attack and defend
Stirring Wildwood - Worldwake manlands, they fix mana, attack and defend
Safe Haven - high risk, high reward. I can see this taking games that wouldn't be winnable otherwise, but I can also foresee people cursing this doesn't make mana.
Blackcleave Cliffs
Krosan Verge
Duskmantle, House of Shadow - support for milling

Shining Shoal - great combat trick/burn/life gain, potentially for free
Luminarch Ascension - another good reason to play enchantment/artifact hate
Dawn Charm

Dissipate - I missed hard counters
Muddle the Mixture - aggro-control tool, besides transmute being cool
Cathartic Adept - blue 1-drops are historically crappy, this one at least "pings" in a milling deck
Tinker - there is not much to encourage the use of artifacts, I guess this is one good reason
Trinket Mage - and another
Waterfront Bouncer
Wall of Frost
Traumatize - milling that can be used in a reanimator
Trade Routes - I hate mana flood
Halimar Wavewatch
Into the Roil - bounce is very rare in the cube, this should help a bit
Forbid - another classic hard counter

Hand of Cruelty
Profane Command - my first command, featuring 12 * x options of effects
Ob Nixilis, the Fallen - a fatty that's nuts by itself, and can get more than that with ramping
Demonic Collusion - decent tutors are rare, although I fear this one is too expensive
Ashes to Ashes - an old favorite
Oona's Prowler
Tainted Pact - in cube it's not bad
Booster Tutor
Vampire Hexmage - planeswalker removal! Crazy combo with Dark Depths! A Phantom Nishoba slayer! This solves a lot of problems for two mana

Kiln Fiend
Goblin Furrier - a 2/2 for 1R, except it can't kill an Ohran Viper. Oh well.
Hearth Kami - critter for red aggro, with the bonus of being a shatter if necessary.
Slith Firewalker - great guy for aggro with lots of burn
Dead/Gone - red bounce is crazy
Hellspark Elemental
Zektar Shrine Expedition
Burning Wish - back for another run, let's see if this time this gets more love
Magma Jet
Sulfur Elemental
Tuktuk the Explorer - a good blocker, and also something that's worth sacrificing
Fumiko the Lowblood
Rakka Mar
Lord of Shatterskull Pass - levelers are cool, and this is a good one
Pandemonium - a Johnny card that will help midrange and create crazy situations
Crater Hellion - the Slice and Dice that beats
Hostility - a very fast finisher that makes any burn spell fearsome.
Ryusei, the Falling Star
Blood Knight
Plated Geopede

Khalni Heart Expedition
Time of Need - with the amount of legendary creature in the cube, this should be good in several decks
Needle Storm - Squall was good for green conceptually, except it didn't kill Meloku, Platinum Angel, Emeria Angel, etc.
Omnath, Locust of Mana
Recollect - how many times do we want one of those cards in the graveyard badly?
Masked Admirers
Chord of Calling - some creatures gather and cast a ritual to summon something big from the library. This drips flavor.
Desert Twister - planeswalker removal. And anything else really.

Sapling of Colfenor
Vulturous Zombie
Gruul Guildmage - completing the guildmage cycle
Boros Guildmage - completing the guildmage cycle
Simic Guildmage - completing the guildmage cycle
Rosheen Meanderer
Oona's Gatewarden - great defense that fits in most decks
Spite/Malice - split cards are tricky and fun to play
Fire/Ice - one the best things to go on an Isochron Scepter
Night/Day - a sort of an unknown card, two situational effects that give the card twice the chance of being useful
Fight to the Death - crazy combat trick, usually it will net card disadvantage but it kills pretty much anything.
Brion Stoutarm
Firemane Angel
Curse of Chains
Swans of Bryn Argoll
Soltari Guerillas - a hidden gem, one of the best red/white cards ever
Nath of the Gilf-Leaf - covering for the subpar Golgari Rotwurm and Shambling Shell, this crossbreed between Hypnotic Specter and Verdant Force looks good on paper and I can't see how it could be bad on pratice.


Pentad Prism
Whispersilk Cloak
Star Compass
Summoner's Egg
Phyrexian Vault
Sol Grail


Soltari Lancer
Cage of Hands

Augury Owl
Drift of Phantasms
Frantic Search
Careful Consideration
Prodigal Sorcerer
Traumatic Visions
Vedalken Entrancer
Wind Drake
Time Warp

Ravenous Rats
Phyrexian Rager
Mind Sludge
Maralen of the Mornsong
Severed Legion

Battle-Mad Ronin
Grab the Reins
Flame Elemental
Lightning Blast
Quenchable Fire
Punishing Fire
Solar Blast
Acidic Soil
Guerilla Tactics
Tin Street Hooligan
Words of War
Ghost-Lit Raider
Heartless Hidetsugu
Suk'ata Lancer
Goblin Raider
Skirk Shaman
Beacon of Destruction
Chandra Ablaze
Rapacious One

Howl of the Night Pack
Search for Tomorrow
Beastmaster's Ascension
Spectral Force
Kavu Primarch

Golgari Rotwurm
Shambling Shell
Vithian Renegades
Frenzied Tilling
Lurking Informant
Hearthfire Goblin
Master Warcraft
Goblin Leggionaire
Galina's Knight

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Draft Report - Dec 8, 2010

Since we had a holiday in the middle of the week, we had a small 4-person draft here on Wednesday evening, and it might have been the most balanced one with my cube.

- WR Aggro (2-1, 5-3)
- UR Control Counter-Burn (2-1, 5-4)
- WBG (1-2, 4-5)
- UB Aggro-Control (1-2, 3-5)

WR Aggro

9 Plains
8 Mountain

Ghost-Lit Redeemer
Soul Warden
Plated Geopede
Kiln Fiend
Fire Imp
Soltari Crusader
Jaya Ballard, Task Mage
Noggle Bandit
Brion Stoutarm
Celestial Crusader
Emeria Angel
Firemane Angel
Akroma, Angel of Wrath

Trip Noose
Magma Jet
Temporal Isolation
Vulshok Battlegear
Crusher Zendikon
Prison Term
Ray of Distortion

A pretty strong Boros beatdown deck with elements that dillute the aggressiveness a bit but ensure a good fight even in the late game with the angels, equipments and artifact/enchantment hate. Some draws are plain aggressive, able to finish quickly a game in which the opponent stumbled, while in others the deck plays more like aggro-control, bashing with some unblockable creature while life gain and disruption keep the opposition offense at bay.

Although I won this match 2-1, it was a struggle. In game 1 I was killed by an early Akroma, Angel of Wrath after spending my counter on a Trip Noose and not drawing Meloku the Clouded Mirror. Classic misplay. In game 2, we had a long attrition war, eventually won by card advantage via Pyroclasm, after which I stabilized and got to slowly kill my opponent with a Drake. In game 3 I take out three creatures with a Pyroclasm, but that doesn't mean her Brion Stoutarm, Tephraderm and Celestial Crusader dont't cause me trouble. Eventually I stabilize with Slice and Dice and an active Meloku, but at a frail 1 life. Future Sight and a leveled Lighthouse Chronologist help me go off and start to beat for 7-8 life a turn, but she was at 30+ life from Brion and Ghost-Lit Redeemer so she has time to topdeck a Magma Jet, for which I have a Draining Whelk! Epic game, definitely.

UR Control Counter-Burn

8 Island
7 Mountain
Crumbling Necropolis
Izzet Boilerworks

Lighthouse Chronologist
Blood Knight
Sea Gate Oracle
Rosheen Meanderer
Darkslick Drake
Giant Solifuge
Meloku the Clouded Mirror
Crater Hellion
Draining Whelk

Everflowing Chalice
Flame Slash
Burst Lightning
Pendrell Flux
Darksteel Ingot
Future Sight
Slice and Dice
Rolling Thunder

The weirdest deck I've played lately, but pretty fun also. My control elements were spot burn, mass burn and counterspells, meaning I had trouble with fatties that I couldn't counter. Some tempo tools did help with that, however: Everflowing Chalice and Darksteel Ingot ramped me into my 6 CC spells early, while Demolish, Dead/Gone and Pendrell Flux bought me time. One thing this deck sucked at was finishing the opponent, so much that Darkslick Drake was frequently my finisher.

Lighthouse Chronologist and Future Sight allowed my deck to develop quickly taking huge turns and getting ridiculous amounts of card advantage, while I dug for my finishers. Rosheen Meanderer, Giant Solifuge and Blood Knight may seem weird additions, but they played decently mostly as blockers. Yes, Solifuge was mainly a wall.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Draft Report - Dec 4, 2010

- WB Aggro (5-1, 11-4)
- UG Aggro-Control (4-2, 9-6)
- WUG Midrange/Control (3-2, 8-5)
- UB Control (3-1, 6-5)
- WB Midrange (1-4, 5-8)
- Rw Aggro (0-2, 1-4)
- WU Aggro-Control (0-4, 0-8)

I started out trying to draft WG or WU control, but since I only got mass removal I had to diversify and go tri-colored, which is definitely not my place. While the deck got better when I added Time of Need and Impulse to help me find my game breaking bombs (Meloku the Clouded Mirror and Myojin of Cleansing Fire) and removed some ramping that was mana flooding me, my only real plan of action was starving the opponent of threats by mass killing everything, then dropping a fatty to finish him. My lone counter, Voidslime, was always helpful, which made me curse the 3 other blue players competing for them.

Below I detail the decks piloted to 1st and 2nd places:

WB Aggro

8 Swamp
6 Plains
Orzhov Basilica

Kor Skyfisher
Dauthi Horror
Oona's Prowler
Kiku, Night's Flower
Stillmoon Cavalier
Soltari Crusader
Dusk Urchins
Doomed Necromancer
Faceless Butcher
Howling Banshee
Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile
Throat Slitter

Dark Ritual
Dolmen Gate
Doom Blade
Marsh Casualties
Vulshok Battlegear
Solemn Offering
Sudden Death
Story Circle
Swell of Courage
Profane Command

This deck combines a nice aggressive curve of creatures (some being newcomers like Kor Skyfisher and Oona's Prowler) with good assorted support cards, among which Swell of Courage and Profane Command stand out as good surprises. While the 1-3 CC creatures were simply aggressive, the ones in the 4-5 range were perfect for maintaining tempo advantage and stifling the opponent. Shriekmaw, Throat Slitter and Faceless Butcher might be the best black guys at that, and all three in a deck made it quite consistent. They also have synergy with Kor Skyfisher, Dolmen Gate, Necromancy and Profane Command.

UG Aggro-Control

11 Forest
8 Island

Silhana Ledgewalker
River Boa
Garruk's Companion
Wake Thrasher
Ohran Viper
Great Sable Stag
Troll Ascetic
Lorescale Coatl
Ninja of the Deep Hours
Phantom Centaur

Ancestral Vision
Elixir of Immortality
Giant Growth
Moment's Peace
Memory Lapse
Trade Routes
Grafted Wargear
Loxodon Warhammer
Puppet Strings
Krosan Grip
Might of Oaks
Plow Under
Stunted Growth

Despite not containing a lot of creatures, this aggro-control list has so much support in equipment (Bonesplitter, Grafted Wargear and Loxodon Warhammer), auras (Rancor) and combat tricks (Diminish, Giant Growth and Might of Oaks) that any critter can be a threat. The creature selection is great as well, each one of them being particularly nasty when buffed. This deck can spit out Rancor'ed Ninja of the Deep Hours, Silhana Ledgewalker and Troll Ascetic wearing Grafted Wargear and River Boa wielding Loxodon Warhammer, all particularly hard threats to play around.

Topping the deck, Preordain and Ancestral Vision provide extra fuel, while Plow Under and Stunted Growth hit hard opponents that are still developing, both in tempo and in card advantage. Meanwhile, Moment's Peace ensures races will be won.

Archetypes in Wikipedia

Yesterday I was reading about Magic (not sure what exactly) and I stumbled on a Wikipedia page about archetypes. It's similar to what I've written in a previous post. It's an interesting read, although I disagree on how Naya Lightsaber was classified as aggro-control.