Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Decks that I Once Loved Part II: This Time It's Personal

Same deal as the previous post, only this time I won't be also looking for my dentist appointment card. Right, let's get this show on the road.

First up: Boros Deck Wins
Short version: Red/white beatdown deck.
Long version: Actually, the short version doesn't say it all. The traditional boros deck wins is sligh, only with the best early white creatures as well. It ramps up the power a little, if you can get the proper mana consistently. One other advantage to combining the two colors is that "double strike" as a keyword mechanic is shared between the colors, and shows up on the cheaper multicolored creatures. So in addition to the usual efficient creatures and burn this deck sports a package to take advantage of double strike: Boros Swiftblade and Hearthfire Hobgoblin with the ability, Bonesplitters, Brute Force and Scourge of the Nobilis to ramp up the damage. It gives the deck some bigger threats to build up to than your standard Red Deck Wins. And none of those cards are exactly dead on their own, with the exception of Nobilis.
Why it doesn't work: Well, it works too well. It's on the higher end of power of casual decks, which means that it isn't exactly that fun to play against less powered decks. (I'm trying to maximize fun here, which means I'd prefer to go for more interesting games. If the decks are near in power level it makes for closer contests. Naturally if I was playing competitively I'd the power.) The other objection is that, well, it's an aggro deck, and every game with it tends to play out about the same. I can only do that so long.
Verdict: I think I'm going to keep this one around. When it's good to play it's great. Even if that isn't that often, well, I'm not using those battlefield forges anywhere else.
Other notes: Just got done playing a seven game series with this deck against my brother who's playing two-dollar zoo. (all commons, with which you can make a really solid zoo deck actually). Beat him 4-3. He just couldn't deal with the lifegain on scourge of the nobilis. We also intentionally drew twice. Because when you get to the later rounds you're supposed to do that, apparently.

Deck Name: Counterslivers
Short version: Blue White Fish. No slivers were harmed in the making of this deck.
Long version: The deck's named "counterslivers" not because it actually contains any slivers, but because that's the historic archetype that the deck fits into. Briefly, decks in the archetype are designed to slip a threat or two down in the first turns and then keep the opponent off balance long enough to win. The archetype preys on control decks, but usually gets the pants beaten off of it by a good aggro deck. This particular deck has a bunch of draft special creatures and some good countermagic.
Why it didn't work: As it turns out, counterslivers isn't the most fun archetype to play against. When you win, hey, it's great. When you lose it's excruciating. And playing the deck you tend to win easily or lose hard, which goes against the definition of casual fun I just established with the last deck. Still, I can hear it's siren call for me, just begging me to take it and really grind someone to dust.
Verdict: Take it apart, before I succumb to temptation.
Other notes: Part of the metagame project.

Speaking of which...

Deck name: Blue Black Control
Short version: Err... it's Blue Black Control
Long version: Another deck in the metagame project. Guess I should define it. A while back I foresaw the necessity of teaching other people to play Magic. To that end, I wanted to build a set of decks that I could use to teach with. They had to fulfill a bunch of goals, they needed to be simple enough to make a good enough teaching tool, but complicated enough that playing them didn't get boring after a number of games. They had to be cheap enough that I wouldn't mind shuffling them time and time again or giving them away as the situation warranted. And, this is the really interesting one, they had to play well together. That is, I wanted to create a stable metagame with half a dozen decks of my own design filling different slots. The ideal is that, while they are still learning to play, the neophytes are learning that there's more to building a deck than finding cards that work well together. Anyways, this deck was slotted for the control archetype. It tends to grind out card advantage through two for ones or traditional blue draw spells while controlling the board. Eventually it wins by beating down with a Ghastlord of Fugue or Dread.
Why it didn't work: Well, the deck tended to be rather boring to play. Additionally, it wasn't that great of a control deck. You always felt like you were hanging on until you got your trumps in play, not so much that you controlled the board at any particular point. It doesn't help that the deck is geared towards duels and I tried to use it in multiplayer. That's a recipie for suck.
Verdict: Gonna scrap it. Possibly start over.
Other Comments: Haven't done any work on the metagame project in a while. I should probably take that up again one of these days.

A stack of what I can only assume are unsorted green cards. Hmm... Carven Caryatid. They've been making other good walls lately...

A bunch of cards left over from a couple drafts I attended in Milwaukee. Good times.

A stack of early build rejects from my latest EDH deck (Blue Green).

About a third of an elf deck.

Deck name: That Elf deck.
Short version: Lorwyn/Morningtide elves.
Long version: Mostly covered by the short version, I pulled out a bunch of elves from Lorwyn and Morningtide and stuck them in a deck together. Works relatively well, actually. I mean, as far as stompy decks go.
Why it didn't work: I'm not exactly a fan of elf decks. Don't get me wrong, when I read the Lord of the Rings in Junior High I thought elves were the coolest thing ever too, but then again I thought quoting Monty Python was the height of wit. At this point in my life elves just annoy me. As far as this deck goes, I built it late one night because I was bored, I wasn't really that interested in playing it even then. You know that criticism of tribal decks, that they basically build themselves? Usually I dissent from that, building the best possible tribal deck requires all sorts of cleverness, but this isn't that case. I built a good enough deck, and it required almost no thought.
Verdict: Comin' apart.
Other thoughts: Man. Frikken elves.

Deck name: Black Ninjas
Short version: A mono black deck based around a ninja theme.
Long version: A while back I had a ninjas deck which had most of the ninjas in the game thrown together in one deck. The deck got crowded, so that I either had to either go above sixty cards or cut something that I really wanted in there. Naturally, when presented a choice I find a third option. in this case I split the deck down the middle, making a blue ninja deck and a black ninja deck. This is the black one. In addition to the ninjas I explored some of black's traditional abilities, like creature kill and discard. And, apparently, regenerating skeletons.
Why it didn't work: Well, just putting the black things in there and saying "look, it's a black deck!" didn't make it that fun of a deck. It tended to be boring to play. The signature matchup (warring ninja clans? Sign me up!) turned out to work... poorly. When one clan gets the advantage the other one can't really come back from it.
Verdict: Gonna tear this one apart.
Other notes: Although I might remake the two of them... warring ninja clans has a lot of thematic appeal.

Deck name: Sek'kuar, Deathkeeper EDH
Short Version: Red Green Black all Creatures midrange
Long Version: a while back I got annoyed at the tendency of EDH decks towards mass removal. I also got annoyed at water for being wet and at chimpanzees for not showing the sense one would expect from a Supreme Court Justice (long story). So I built an EDH deck to deal with that sort of thing. I filled it entirely with creatures. Or spells that made creatures (Din of the Fireherd for example). No matter how many times they kill your creatures you'll always be able to draw one more. And you get card advantage out of them, most of the creatures do something or another for you when you lay them. It even draws cards; there are a number of green and black creatures that'll cantrip. (Phyrexian Rager, Masked Admirers).
Why the deck didn't work: I can understand the judo principle of using your opponent's force against them. Still, throwing more creatures at someone who's out to kill creatures, well, there are problems with that. Aside from that, there's not that much cohesion between the many creatures. I mean hey, Sek'kuar Deathkeeper does great when he's standing next to Lyzolda the Bloodwitch, but neither of them work particularily well with Razormane Masticore or Skullmulcher, for example. Mostly though, when your entire deck is based on the idea of laying a creature each turn from now on, well, you don't do much else. It gets monotonous, and it's not exactly the most difficult strategy to counter.
Verdict: Gonna take this one apart. Could use the cards in other decks.
Other thoughts: Shame though.

Deck name: Elementals
Short version: Tribal Flamekin from Lorwyn
Long version: Built this deck mostly in the car ride home from the Lorwyn prerelease. Yet another variant on Red Deck wins, except this one never seemed to. Went through a couple variants, now it's got the Ashling the Pilgrims and Incadescent Soulstokes, but it still doesn't do that well. It's really good at doing 18 damage and then never manage that last two. Sort of annoying, I mean, when you see a Jackal Pups variant with an easy to work around drawback you want it to work. Well, I do.
Why it didn't work: Guess I covered that pretty well in the preceding paragraph. Splashing blue for Mulldrifter didn't work either. As awesome as a card as Mulldrifter is.
Verdict: Gonna take this one apart.
Other thoughts: This is probably one of my worst decks in terms of win percentage. I'd be surprised if it beat 10%.

Some parts of Sek'Kuar Deathkeeper EDH that got loose from the main deck, some rares from a draft forgotten (ooh, a Malakir Bloodwitch!), and... what's this?

Deck name: Metagame Zoo
Short version: White Red Green creatures backed by burn.
Long version: Another Metagame project deck, this one of the Zoo archetype. Now this deck was surprisingly powerful given the other restrictions I had on it. There are some pretty good creatures at common (wild nacatl comes to mind). In addition to that you get an amazing amount of reach with uncommon burn. Blaze, Flame Javelin. Together I would often just kill the opponent before they could manage to get their defense going. (Yeah, I realizing I'm just repeating "creatures and burn" a lot, but I don't have that much more to say.) Assault and Battery is a great card too.
Why it didn't work: The deck was actually pretty good. It got raided for parts at some indeterminate time in the past and never repaired.
Verdict: Gonna take it apart. Will rebuild it if I get back to the Metagame Project.
Other thoughts: Completely dominated my brother's Zoo deck, which caused him to rebuild it as the landfall zoo deck mentioned at the top. That new deck probably would have taken Metagame Zoo out.

Some more loose cards...

Deck name: Blue ninjas!
Short version: The blue counterpart to the previously mentioned Black ninja deck.
Long version: This one is based around bouncing their stuff. It works a lot better than the black version. I guess you can call it a counterslivers archetype deck, although it's not nearly as frustrating as the traditional types. Instead of countering their stuff I bounce it. And the deck has some truly neat interactions. (Ninja of the Deep hours and Thalakos Seer. Or Ornithopter and Familiar's Ruse.)
Why it doesn't work: Well, bouncing isn't really the most powerful of mechanics. The deck has a tendency not to win, but it's still fun to play. Probably going to rework this one too if I rebuild for warring ninja clans.
Verdict: Gonna keep it for now, rebuild it eventually.
Other thoughts: Ninjas. Always a good time.

Deck Name: Thallids
Short Version: Gbw thallids, built during Ravnica/Time Spiral standard
Long Version: A theme deck built out of mostly common thallids from Time Spiral block. Actually works pretty well. You think you're losing, you think you're losing, then you drop the Deathspore Thallid, take off a couple counters and wipe his board. Or you get into a stale mate, drop your Pallid Thallid and use it to overrun. The whole "Building an army" thing is really fun, especially when you get the sporesower thallid out. Oddly enough, the associated rares (Thelon of Havenwood, Thelonite Hermit) make the deck less fun to play as they involve less building up and more just overwhelming your opponents.
Why it didn't work. Actually, this one I mostly played to exhaustion. Once you've gotten to every possible play that a deck offers a couple times, well, the novelty sort of wears off. That, and in retrospect adding the rares was probably suboptimal. Also, I was annoyed that they made a tribal block right afterward that had nary a saproling or a fungus. Seriously?
Verdict: Gonna keep this one together. Probably repair it somewhat.
Other thoughts: Elf warriors? Piffle.

Deck name: Metagame Rock
Short version: Green Black Midrange.
Long version: You know what's fun? Rock decks. One of the things I really enjoy when playing this game are the long, difficult games where you're trying to grind out card advantage against your opponents. Rock decks are really good at that. Between Green and Black you get a lot of ways to answer whatever they're throwing at you, a bunch of natural two for ones and so forth. The deck was a blast to play. Unfortunately, it got raided for parts when I built Gibraltar.
Why it didn't work: Actually, the deck worked really well. I managed to take on two opponents at once in a series of games once. It fell into the problem I mentioned above, where I played the deck to exhaustion.
Verdict: Gonna finish scrapping it.
Other notes: ...cause I've got Gibraltar.

Deck name: Gibraltar:
Short version: Green black rock. Huge.
Long version: The deck is singleton, excepting basics. It still clocks in with over 600 cards in it. It has everything, and I mean everything. If the kitchen sink was on a card I'd put it in there. And you know, when you take out a deck box, put a huge stack of cards on the table, and then another one, and then another one, and then you've only got half your deck on the table, and they're eyes bug out? Yeah, you've already pretty much won.
Why it doesn't work: ...which is good, because the deck doesn't win that often otherwise. When one of your objectives is to maximize size, you tend to include cards that no self respecting draft deck would touch. Which doesn't do you that well when you're facing off against constructed decks. And when you limit yourself to single copies only, you're sort of stuck with the proportions you can find. I don't have as much mass removal as I could want, for example. Oh, and you pretty much can't stop shuffling.
Other thoughts: You get why it's called Gibraltar, right? Good.

Deck name: EDH Rosheen Meanderer
Short version: RG Mana Ramp
Long Version: What it says on the tin. Always wanted to find a use for Rosheen Meanderer, 4 mana for X spells seems like such an interesting thing. The deck is chock full of either interesting things that ramp my mana or are huge, expensive, powerful effects. It's fun and complicated to play. Really complicated. The one game my brother was playing it and he drops an Obliterate when he had upwelling in play. After using Channel to drop his life total precariously low in order to have mana available whilst I had to continue searching for lands. The right play, and a very interesting one at that. All in all I don't think I've explored all the potential that deck has to offer.
Why it doesn't work: Well, there's the whole "really complicated to play" thing. Also, y'know, I've never built an EDH deck that was truly competitive.
Verdict: Gonna keep this one together.
Other thoughts: With this deck I did the most damage I've ever done. That isn't an arbitrarily large amount, mind you. I had a doubling cube, a mana reflection, Rosheen Meanderer and some other stuff in play. I had Tribal Unity and Firecat Blitz in hand. The turn I was going to kill him I drew channel. After almost enough math to make him concede in boredom I finally swung in with 30 cat tokens granted +29/+29 for 900 damage.

Whew. That's enough decks for now. Got a couple left to describe, much less all the repairs, building I've been saying I'm gonna do.

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