Sunday, July 28, 2013

Microbrews; Trostani's Judgement

Hello folks, I-

Hey, wait.
Come back! Here me out, I know what you're all thinking "Trostani's Judgement is limited bulk."

But what if it weren't.
Lets look at what it does: For 6 mana you get to exile a creature, the most effective way of making something dead, and as a bonus, you might get a bonus.
Let's look at it the other way around.
Creatures that enter the battlefield and do a thing are good yeah? They're a fixture of Magic these days. What's better than a creature that gets rid of one of theirs? What if it was a 5/5 that exiles one of their creatures?
Seems fair for 6 mana.

Let's break this sucker in half.

Six mana is expensive. Especially for a card that needs a good sequence of plays to work properly. We're going to need some dorks.
4 Arbor Elf
4 Avacyn's Pilgrim

This deck is going to be white, naturally. But it also wants to be green. the promise of 5/5s is the only thing that makes Judgement even remotely worth looking at. These both tap for either color.

We also need to consider the biggest tokens available in standard.
At any reasonable rate, those are the 5/5 wurms pumped out by Advent of the Wurm and Armada Wurm.
4 Advent of the Wurm
2 Armada Wurm

Advent is a given, especially if we can power it out on t3. Our 6 drop spot is choked because of Judgement, so I probably don't want to run the full 4 Armadas. I figure a 2/2 split between the two effects, maybe some of either in the board.

If we can't have 5/5s, what's the next best thing?
The next biggest tokens in these colors I can see that look even remotely appealing are the Angelic Accord tokens. I love that card. It's just itching for someone to break it in half, but it wants a bunch of life gain to make it work, and I'm not sure this deck needs to be any jankier to accomodate.
Next biggest tokens are the 3/3s. Lots of ways to make those; Garruk, Thragtusk, Call of the Conclave. Seems simple enough.
I figure this deck can use some rounding out, so here's what I think I'd run

4 Temple Garden
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Grove of the Guardian
7 Forest
5 Plains

4 Arbor Elf
4 Avacyn's Pilgrim
4 Call of the Conclave
4 Farseek
4 Oblivion Ring
3 Centaur Healer
1 Growing Ranks
4 Advent of the Wurm
2 Garruk, Primal Hunter
2 Thragtusk
2 Armada Wurm
2 Trostani's Judgement

Grove gives us something even bigger to populate.
Farseek combined with the dorks gives us a resounding 12 things that enable a t3 advent.

I don't know how good this deck is (not very, in all likelihood), but that doesn't matter because WURM TOKENS.

Let me know what you think.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Microbrews; Young Pyromancer Aristocrats

Evening folks.

I don't write enough. And when I do, it tends to be on the spot. This stuff that you're reading right now? Wrote it in one pass. No editing. Eyep.

That's not doing the webspace my blog occupies any favors, so I figured I should try to do something to encourage more frequent updates.

Why not dinky little home brews?

YES! In what I hope to become a regular occurrence, I'm going to latch onto a card in standard (because the smaller card pool keeps me from dying from choice paralysis) and build a working deck around it.

This week's lucky winner; Young Pyromancer.

There's a lot I like about this card. It's effect is very straight forward, but can push you into any number of avenues of play. Aggressive burn deck? Tokens matter? Some weird combo deck thing?
Plus look at that art.

Look at that smarmy little twit. He's got such an obnoxiously punchable face.
Makes me angry just looking at it.
So think of what it will do to the other guy!

My first thought with this guy was very straight forward; lots of burn spells. Meh. Boring.
It did occur to me that if you cast Krenko's Command, you would get three tokens out of the deal.
Same deal with Gather the Townsfolk.
Same with Lingering Souls.

And that's where this came from;


Young Pyromancer makes tokens when you cast an instant or sorcery. So do most of the instants and sorceries in the deck. From there, there's lots of things you can do.
Blood Artist them to death with sac outlets. Dome them repeatedly with your hard to block aristocrats. Make your dudes enormous off of Intangible Virtues.

My main concern is the manabase.
24 lands

I've not actually figured this out yet because I haven't actually built or tested it yet. Stream of consciousness, yo. But I figure that it works something akin to counting the mana symbols when you build your limited deck (I was taught to, when building sealed or draft decks and figuring out the mana base, count up the number of colored mana symbols in your card's mana costs and have a similar ratio of those colored basic lands).

So, that's my first Microbrews.
Love to hear your thoughts on the deck and the article idea.
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

GP Miami

The following is a transcript of a forum post I did talking about my recent trip to GP Miami;

I just got back from GP Miami, and boy are my arms tired.

HAHAHAHNo, we drove. 10 frakking hours.

I've been keeping up with Attack on Hulu, and the last couple of eps have taken the show in a direction I wasn't expecting. Not sure if I like it yet.

Got Fire Emblem; Shadow Dragon and Trauma Center 2 for the trip.
Shadow Dragon  is kind of weird because apparently one of the mechanics is that frequently you will have to sacrifice a character in a heroic sacrifice kind of way throughout the story, but the first time they do it is about 5 minutes into the game well before ANYONE has had any real opportunity for character development. Meaning there was no weight to the decision, I know exactly nothing about any of these twits.

Trauma Center is the right kind of frustrating. I like it. Probably a piss poor representation of surgery.

We headed out around 2 in the morning, Friday. Just before that, my buddies gave me a Naya Blitz deck and we fine tuned it just a bit because it was a month or so out of date. Got tipsy on a single glass of Rum and Coke, apparently I'm a light weight. Swapped out Hamlet Captains for Ghor-Clan Rampagers and a bunch of changes in the sideboard. Apparently I overpacked for the trip. Whups.

We get to South Beach a little after noon, struggle for an hour or so to find parking, stick our stuff in the hotel, and then walk to the convention center. I participated in the judge conference with the intent to get my first judge pack. This was not to be as I did not pre-reg. Normally, walk-ins get a worse judge pack than those who registered or those who were judging, but apparently allocation was weak for this event. My best guess is that the system was still recovering from the stress that was GP Vegas.

In either event, the judge conference happened. I attended about 5 or 6 of them. Seminars on how to deal with medical emergencies. The meatgrinder which tests players ability to deal with ridiculous layers interactions. My favorite panel was later in the day and it was basically a "High Level Judge FAQ". Featuring the event Head Judge, an L5 from Argentina; Justin Turner, L3 and event coordinator for the Southeast if I am not mistaken (a distinct possibility) and Jared Silva, L4 and Starcity Games event coordinator.

They answer a bunch of questions ranging from serious to trivial, and they finish off the seminar with their personal favorite funny judge calls.

One of my buddies tried to L2 and missed by one. frakking. question. because there had been a bunch of semantic policy shifts over the last year that he wasn't aware of. Whups.

Another friend did some grinders (didn't get there) and my other two buddies playtested. All-in-all, there were 5 of us. Everyone but me had a round 1 buy, and one of them had 2 buys (means they get to skip that many rounds).

After a long day of that crap, we wandered downtown for a bit, and ate at a pizza place called Groovy's. If you're ever in South Beach, Fl, hit them up. $#!+ was legit. They do this massive, something like 52 inch pizza. Normally they don't sell that to customers, but rather sell slices that big, but we were able to convince them to sell it to us. Half pepperoni, half chicken-spinach Parmesan  Frakking delicious. Came back to the hotel and crashed. 3 of us went to bed, and the other two hit the beach for an hour or so. I slept on the floor because, not because I was too squeamish to sleep between two men, but because I had had enough of being cramped like a sardine from the car drive.

Got up the next day and got our game on. I had to start right away (10 am, I think) and everyone else got a break. They all came to watch me since it was my first time playing at that high a level or with an actual legitimate deck.

Round one against Selesnya tokens. I make a few missplays game 1, but ultimately get there. Game two I completely punt it, and my opponent draws into all the things I can't deal with; Trostani, Relentless. It was gross. Game 3 i get the nut draw, and then I sit down with my friends so they can advice me about missplays, sideboarding, etc. I am told to never side out Medic because it is my best card. I had sided them out for Fiend Hunter because I didn't want to disrupt my curve, but they advised taking out lower drops that aren't as impactful in a bad matchup like this such as Boros Elite.

I try to keep touch with them over the course of the day. Day 2 would be the top 120 players or everyone who was X-2 by the end of the day, whichever number was larger. Two of my friends dropped round after they went x-3 to eat. One of them dropped round 7, another made it all the way. I played the entire day because I had never played at a GP before and I wanted to.

Round 2 against Golgari Midrange. Game 1, make a few missplays that aren't helped by this deck having all the removal forever. Game 2 get the nuts. Game 3, learn that he sided into Curse of Death's Hold. He sticks it t5 and kills half my board. 80% of my creatures will now die, ETB. I concede to the obvious winner, am now 1-1.

Round 3 against American Tempo that I thought was American control.  I ultimately punt game 3 because I don't know how to play around Azorius Charm yet. Whups. The guy was a nice guy sponsored by Card Advantage from Toronto, IIRC. He ultimately top 8d day 1.

Round 4 against Naya midrange. He resleeves a Huntmaster in front of me, and that's the only indication I have that he was playing Naya midrange. This prooves useful G2 because he never plays a spell g1 because I kill him so fast. G2 I side into Pacificsms and Fiend Hunters because I expect that his creatures will be larger than mine. This is true. In sequence he plays two Loxodon Smiters and a Boros Reckoner. Normally, I'd be completely frakked, but I'm fortunate enough to draw into two Firefist Strikers and a Hunter in a row, and am able to attack past his fatty boom booms for the win. 2-2

Round 5 against what I think is Junk rites. G1 I smear him across the conference hall, only seeing a Lotleth Troll. Side accordingly. G2 turns out he's  reanimator. Still win, but I was really worried about G2 because I was expecting Golgari Charms and Curses like in Round 2. 3-2

Round 6 against Naya aggro. Basically my deck, but without the human tribal focus. His deck is slightly less explosive, but can last longer than mine since his dudes are consistently larger than mine. He wins and I'm out of contension. 3-3

Round 7 against Gruul aggro. Very serious looking Cuban fellow. If I had to guess, I'd imagine he was probably tense like me because he had just been knocked out of contension. He was a bit tilted by me getting the nuts games 1 and 3, but we chat a bit, and he recommends a restauarant (that we never end up visiting) called "Los Perros" for legit Cuban food, none of this kitschy overpriced stuff they sell to tourists. If it's good enough for the locals, It's good enough for me. 4-3

Round 8 against mono-red. He draws into all his removal. Forever. I'm in a bad way when I'm on the defensive. 4-4

Round 9 ends the day in kind of a terrible way with my worst possible matchup; Aristocrats. The ONLY way I can win this if he draws crap all game long. The deck simply plays too many creatures for me to reasonably attack past, AND doesn't care if they die, AND plays Boros-I-skullfrak-Blitz-all-day-long-Reckoners main. It was gross. I chat with the guy, and he's from Germany and thus wins the "opponent who traveled farthest to be here" award. He tells me about how grinding GPs is different in Europe. I thank him for the games and that's day 1. 4-5.

Me and my friends stick around long enough to learn that one of us made day 2. The same guy goes around to a bunch of the pros asking to have his mat signed and I follow because why not, and to ask about how to break through the threshold to becoming a pro-player. The people I was with are all really good locally, regularly taking down every PTQ and IQ they go to. Most of the pros emphatically recommend MTGO as a way to A) play constantly, B) play competitively. I'm only half listening because I don't really have the time, money or drive to become a grinder. I'd sure like to try to get better at the game, but at present I think writing and judging is more my speed for Magic.

Go back to hotel, eat leftovers (that pizza was hella big), go to bed. This time I sleep in the closet on top of my suitcase as opposed to the floor. Marginally less uncomfortable.

Our day 2 friend gets up early to go play, but the rest of us sleep in til 11.
We go to cheer him on and participate in day 2 shenanigans. I end up selling a buttload of Innistrad bulk for about $30 bucks. Meet Eric Deschamps and get a bunch of stuff signed by him. I buy a Remember the Fallen print and we chat about stuff. He confirms a story I heard where a guy came up to an event he was at, let him know that he thought the girl on Vampire Hexmage was cute, asks who the model was, and Eric ruins him by telling the player that he himself was the model. Lol. He goes on to tell me that he modeled himself because he had just moved and didn't have any friends locally yet, and his wife is rubbish at it because she never, and I quote, "gets into it."
I ask him about what he likes to do and he says he prefers doing outdoors because he feels he's better at organic environments than architecture and that he worries he can never get indoor lighting right. I assure him that I have yet to notice. When I mention how much I like Remember the Fallen's art, he says that he does too because he really savors the opportunity to do pieces that are quiet and serene or happy, because so much of the art he gets commissioned to do is angry or violent. I mention that's one of the things I really liked about Lorwyn, he agrees and is disappointed when I tell him that Wizards' market research suggests that most players dislike the setting exactly because it wasn't angry and violent. We agree that that sucks and people are kind of stupid sometimes.

Zoltan Boros and Greg Staples don't get back until after lunch, but I eventually get stuff from both of them as well. I realize while waiting for Boros that I have only 8 of the guild charms on me. Disappointed, I buy two artists prints of the missing two on the spot so I can have a complete collection, as well as a totally sweet artist print for the judge promo Cunning Wish. We don't chat much because the language barrier (he can speak English, but it is clearly not his native tongue) make chitchat a little bit awkward. I just now realize that I forgot to ask him about Deadbridge Chant and if it is a holdover from ravnica classic as I suspect because that's so clearly Savra in the art.

Next in line for Greg. His line is the longest, so he has a limit on 10 signatures at a time. I pick out my favorite 10 of his work on me, and I ask him similar questions as I did for Eric. He tells me that he really enjoys dark, gothic art but he has come to really like Squee, Goblin Nabob because it has so much of his personality in it. He also vaguely, offhandedly mentions that he enjoyed doing Theros art because as a native of the Mediterranean, it was all very familiar to him.

My friend ultimately finishes the event in 63rd place, earning him $200 and his first MTG pro point. He is beside himself with glee about being an official pro player. We get on the road and start driving back at around 4 in the afternoon.

On the drive there and back I learn some things about this group of friends. They enjoy electronic music and really, really, unambiguously awful rap music because it's funny. Two; they enjoy the Fast and Furious movies. Multiple conversations ultimately come full circle to heated arguments about whether or not Vin Diesel is gay.

We all stay up late enough to discuss the first trickle of spoilers. We ultimately agree that Chandra4 is not the powerhouse, legacy playable, 3 drop walker red deserves, but it is a step in the right direction for competitively viable red walkers. We then spend about an hour and a half discussing the potential and playablitity of the new Rings of Brighthearthesque artifact that copies triggered abilities.

We get back around 4 in the morning. I thank them for taking me, apologize for the awkard tension on the way back (I took too long at a few gas stations getting a drink) and get home. Ultimately decide to take a shower before bed and sleep from 6 til noon and then spend an hour writing this.

All in all, I had a blast and am looking forward to trying it again.
If you've never gone to a GP, I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is nothing like smaller local events you might be used to.