Saturday, 1 December 2012

A glance at highlander mono red

Sup guys,

It's a lazy Sunday morning...actually it's 12:20pm! Mario and I are curled up on the couch. Neems is in Canberra, Adam and Dan are asleep, seems like a perfect time to do a highlander blog!

I'm pretty frickin hung over too be honest. Hung ovaries...was at a wizards, hoes and hobbits dress up party last night. I wore a cape made from a rug and cuff links, Wilfy spotted me at the train stop and loved it haha.
Oh, and I had to ride that tram for 10 minutes with all the Stereosonic doof heads "sick cape mate herp derp hurr hurr".

Ok onto the magic...I guess that was kind of magic, I was dressed as a wizard after all.

So I thought I'd talk about monored/red deck wins/RDW/red/burn/sligh/ponza whatever the fuck you wanna call it.

It's surprising how deep mono-red is. Three different styles that have been around the melbourne scene are Shanley style, Crompo style and Mulch style.
I dug up old lists of Glenn (Shanley) and Neil's (Crompo) decks. You can tell how old they are by the most recently printed cards in the lists, obviously their lists would have to be updated for the new sets, points-list and metagame. I'll brief the different styles:

His plan is destroy lands to disrupt you, burn any threats you play and eventually win via card advantage from his bigger spells and many manlands. Glenn's been in countless top8's and won a timetwister at some stage. The deck is stylish and he plays it well. The deck's mascot has got to be orcish librarian haha, that little guy does it's thing. Glenn's success is a real credit to Highlander's nature.

All in suicidal burn. Burn them straight of Crompton. In the early days of the Metagames card store Neil won 3 consecutive Mana Drains or something silly like that. Was pretty embarassing. At least I can say that he only beat me once.

Non-basic hate and cards to complement it. Moxes to cast the moons asap. Limited dig with Magma Jet and Faithless Looting to find the moons. All my little dudes aren't the strongest cards but under a moon your opponent will be too crippled to deal with them.

Ok the lists:

Please excuse the long and difficult to read lists, to make them a little easier to read I sorted them thusly: 
  • 1st category: Spells you play at the earliest opportunity, sorted by curve
  • 2nd category: Reactionary spells, sorted by curve
  • 3rd category: mana
  • 4th category: sideboard

gorilla shaman  black vise  Figure of Destiny
orcish librarian  figure of destiny  Grim Lavamancer
seal of fire  goblin guide  Jackal Pup
iron myr  grim lavamancer  Rakdos Cackler
phyrexian revoker  lava spike  Stromkirk Noble
hearth kami  mogg fanatic  Ash Zealot
simian spirit guide  seal of fire  Blood Knight
fulminator mage  spark elemental  Gorehouse Chainwalker
ensnaring bridge  ankh of mishra  Kargan Dragonlord
stone rain  emberwilde augur  Phyrexian Revoker
molten rain  flame rift  Porcelain Legionnaire
pillage  hellspark elemental  Rakdos Shredfreak
goblin ruinblaster  keldon marauders  Shrine of Burning Rage
solemn simulacrum  pyrostatic pillar  Slith Firewalker
ravenous baboons  sulfuric vortex  Bloodmoon
avalanche riders  price of progress *  Boggart Ramgang
flametongue kavu  burst lightning  Magus of the Moon
nevinyrral’s disk  chain lightning  Cursed Scroll
ingot chewer  lava dart  Jeska, Warrior Adept
arc-slogger  lightning bolt  Koth of the Hammer
siege-gang commander  rift bolt  Ruination
icy manipulator  shock  Umezawa's Jitte (1)
firebolt  tarfire  Icy Manipulator
chain lightning  chain of plasma  Thundermaw Hellkite
lightning bolt  fire ambush  Chain Lightning
shattering spree  incinerate  Burst Lightning
demonfire  magma jet  Faithless Looting
shrapnel blast  searing blaze  Lightning Bolt
magma jet  shrapnel blast  Mental Misstep
burning wish  smash to smithereens  Skred
urza’s rage  sudden shock  Magma Jet
crystal vein  volcanic hammer  Seering Blaze
wasteland  char  Skullclamp (1)
strip mine **  cursed scroll  Burning Wish
great furnace  flame javelin  Incinerate
city of traitors  volcanic fallout  Price of Progress
barbarian ring  wheel of fortune **  Chrome Mox
library of alexandria *  rolling earthquake  Mana Crypt (2)
sandstone needle  fireblast  Mox Ruby (3)
11 snow-covered mountain  arid mesa  Wasteland
mana vault *  barbarian ring  20 Snow-covered Mountains
sol ring ***  bloodstained mire 
forgotten cave  great furnace 
rishadan port  13 mountain 
mutavault  mox ruby *** 
mishra's factory  scalding tarn 
blinkmoth nexus  wasteland 
ghitu encampment  wooded foothills 
dust bowl 
mouth of ronom 
pulverise  ravenous trap  Pyrokenisis
pyroblast  tormod's crypt  Faerie Macabre
red elemental blast  phyrexian furnace  Surgical Extraction
pyroclasm  pithing needle  Mindbreak Trap
smash to smithereens  pyroblast  Flame Slash
scald  red elemental blast  Red-elemental Blast
culling scales  blood moon  Pyroblast
cryoclasm  chaotic backlash  Smelt
crash  ensnaring bridge Shattering Spree
ancient runes  everlasting torment  Blackvise
shatterstorm  magus of the moon  Pulverize
boil  scald  Pyrostatic Pillar
boiling seas  sulfur elemental  Sulfuric Vortex
anarchy  anarchy  Flame-tongue Kavu
detritivore  boil  Anarchy
Random comments:

Mono-red's mana is sweeeeeet. So pleasant to not have to fetch every game, you just play your lands and it's all good.

Mono-red is cheap!...well apart from Mox Ruby. So it's a great deck to start playing highlander with. If you're building a deck for a friend you could build a deck that's a blend of these three styles and they can migrate to whichever is more their play style.

There are some cards that mono-red really struggles against. If you want to have success with mono-red you’ll need to have plans against these cards:

Big chunky dudes
Sphinx of the Steel Wind, Tarmogoyf, Kitchen Finks, Thragtusk, Baneslayer, Rhox Warmonk, Elderwood Scion etc
Anything with 4+ toughness can be a real pain in the arse. You’ll notice a few unusual cards in mono-red lists that are concessions to fatties; Icy Manipulator, Brittle Effigy, Trip Noose, Burning Wish etc.
You really just need to hope that all the U control decks scare people away from playing these cards. Playing red is quite risky in this sense. Sometimes there’s a guy who’s like “I’m frickin sick of losing to zoo, I’m gonna build GW fatties and crush them” and they crush you. Mono-red is a metagame deck. I always bring Mulch style red to highlander tournaments and if I think everyone’s playing 3+ colour decks I’ll gun it.

Sword of Fire & Ice / Jitte
These are serious problems. The plan to deal with these cards is have the burn spell ready the turn they play the equipment and then in your turn effectively destroy the equipment.

Elspeth, Bitterblossom, Spectral Procession, Lingering Souls...lots of little dudes
Jitte is a good answer to these cards. Burning Wish can find you nifty sweepers as well. If you’re not playing many dudes yourself (eg crompo/shanley style) you can play sweepers.

Combo decks
Mono-red hasn’t got much disruption against combo. It has non-basic hate and random things like ash zealot and phyrexian revoker. Depending on your build you can try race. At a 3 round weekly highlander at Games Laboratory you’ll be unlikely to play against combo but if you want to win a big tournament you’ll need a plan and plenty of good sideboard cards.

This article has been pretty disjointed but whatever. I think I prefer writing articles that go into the finer details of one subject.

Ages ago I wrote a pretty comprehensive article about building aggro decks in highlander, i you have't read it before I suggest you do :) I just gave it a re-read myself.

But yeah, if you haven’t given mono-red a try, chuck it together for a highlander event and burn some cunts :D

Monday, 19 November 2012

Crack Arse

Sup guys,

Had an interesting past 24 hours. Sprained my ankle at indoor soccer (we have a magic player's team: Myself, Dan, Neeman, Isaac, Paddy and others). So I've been scooting around the house on Dan's computer chair. Sucks that I can't walk but I also couldn't go to work so it's been refreshing. Also! recently on my trip to the Auckland GP I got fined $400NZ by NZcustoms for not declaring a couple apples in my bag which I'd forgotten about...but today they emailed me to tell me they revoked the fine, which was pretty nice :)

Anyway, this is a highlander blog so let's get on topic:

The most interesting (and my favourite) points change to happen in a while is the pointing of Karakas. The card is not particularly powerful or annoying to play against so it wasn't pointed for traditional reasons. It was pointed because it singlehandedly made about 50 good highlander cards close to unplayable.
Karakas will still see a little but of play as a 7th point throw in card but it'll go from being in 70% of decks to about 5% of decks. A quirk of this is that targetable legends will now start getting played and so Karakas will ACTUALLY get to bounce more legends than it did before!

I went through Gatherer and compiled a list of Legends which I can imagine myself playing thanks to Karakas being pointed: (I didn't bother to get the 'hover links' going, I do like them though)

Mikaeus, the Lunarch Radha, Heir to Keld
Gaddock TeegRofellos, Llanowar Emissary
Skullbriar, the Walking Grave Saffi Eriksdotter
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Animar, Soul of Elements Glissa, the Traitor
Doran, the Siege Tower Lyzolda, the Blood Witch
Jenara, Asura of War Mangara of Corondor
Linvala, Keeper of Silence (Side) Melira, Sylvok Outcast
Olivia Voldaren Teysa, Orzhov Scion
Rakka Mar Arcum Dagsson
Rakdos, Lord of Riots Akuta, Born of Ash
Rafiq of the Many Braids, Cabal Minion
Talrand, Sky Summoner Brion Stoutarm
Wydwen, the Biting Gale Commander Eesha (Side)
Horde of Notions Ghost Council of Orzhova
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
Meloku the Clouded Mirror Hokori, Dust Drinker
Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon Kamahl, Pit Fighter
Urabrask the Hidden Sharuum the Hegemon
Crovax, Ascendant Hero Gisela, Blade of Goldnight
Thraximundar Jeska, Warrior Adept
Iona, Shield of Emeria Erayo, Soratami Ascendant
Godo, Bandit Warlord Krenko, Mob Boss
Akroma, Angel of Fury (Side) Ashling the Pilgrim
Akroma, Angel of Wrath

There's a lot of writing material in that list!....hmmm will people stop reading if I go through every one of the legends?....I kind of want to....a bit unnecessary though. The main idea of this blog entry is to make people aware of all these sweet legends that they may have forgotten about or haven't seen before. If you don't know some of these cards, it's worth looking them up just so you can keep them in the back of your mind.

Maaannnnn that's a sweet list.

Putting a point on karakas was like wizards printing a whole new set.

Midrange gets some help with this points change. Midrange has a really tough time in highlander due to U decks having access to good counters. I'm grateful that Highlander is not a midrange f**kfest like every standard format in the last few years, but midrange is very under-represented in highlander.

I've already chucked Jeska into monored. I'll give you some feedback on how that goes in my mono-red blog post that I intend to do (I realise in my last post I mentioned that this post would be the mono-red post).

Pointing Karakas made reanimator a little better. Isaac had a red hot go at building reanimator a little while ago, the deck was really good but he ended up playing Kurgan instead (the deck that got karakas pointed, hehe).

Pointing Karakas makes survival of the fittest better! that card's been needing some love. The most powerful thing you can do with Survival is tutor for iona/griselbrand/emrakul, discard it to tutor for loyal retainers and reanimate your bomb....which used to get bounced by karakas.....

Pointing Karakas makes channel better! no longer will emrakul get bounced by karakas.

So many tier 3 decks got better :)

  • format slightly more balanced
  • more diversity in cards = more fun
  • points change making a difference
  • +'s everywhere!
If you remember anyone saying "why did karakas get a point?" or "karakas doesn't deserve a point", please direct them towards this blog post.

Anyway, I'm frickin hungry and need to stretch as I've pretty much been sitting on my arse all day due to sprained ankle (except for the few hours where Neems was an awesome pal and took me to chemist to get crutches and then to the doctor to get med certificate for my sneaky sick day...Neems waited an hour with me at the doctor's, what a guy. He studied and I watched Macgyver lol) {was going to say I went to the GP to get a med certificate but in context you guys would've been "wtf, the GP was a couple weeks ago?"}

Ok the foods, catchyas

Friday, 9 November 2012

Return to Ravnica Highlander Playables!

Sup people,

Haven't posted in ages. Just read my last entry and I think the month of August was mentioned in future tense.
Anyway, I really like the idea of getting on teh computer at the end of the day and reading a regular fun article, so I'll try provide that service here from now on. I'll set a target of posting every wednesday :P

So a bunch of ideas for entries backed up in my head. 1st and easiest off the top is Return to Ravnica playables in highlander (there's a lot) (I'm not mentioning reprints):

Angel of Serenity
Huge effect. There are better reanimation targets but this is not unreasonable to cast.

Fencing Ace:
I'd try this out in White Weenie if I built it again. You really want a bunch of ways to pump him to at least 2 power (skull clamp counts). They've printed heaps of awesome soldiers since I won my first mox (pearl) with that dreadful soldier deck. Maybe I'll look into it again. The only playable Soldier tribal cards are probably cavern of souls, auriok steelshaper, pre-eminent captain, stonyrush banneret?

Precinct Captain (speaking of soldiers)
A very well rounded creature. The double W casting cost is tough, probably only goes in 2 colour decks or mono.

Rest in Peace
Sweet proactive sideboard hate. Better than Faerie Macabre and Surgical Extraction against storm and loam rock decks but worse against Hermit and Flash.

Faerie Imposter
I fooled around with esper aggro a few weeks ago, I think I went 3-1. This guy would go into that deck, bouncing the zero cost guys and triggering erayo (one day I'll break you bitch).

Jace Architect of thought
Like most planeswalkers, play a bunch of cheap removal/tempo spells to defend your walker and it'll win the game for you.

Sphinx of Chimes
Another card for the relentless rats deck that I dream of playing one day. If anyone reading this has any relentless rats, please bring them along for trade next thursday for highlander (melbourne, games lab).

Pack Rat
Only playable if you can combo it with Training Grounds :P Training ground is too card to tutor for to make a deck around it though. There might be a couple more cards that make creature activated abilities cheaper but cbf checking.

Shrieking Affliction
Another rack :) I've tried the discard deck a few times. It really wants cards like this but all the other decks are getting cards from new sets at an equal or greater rate so I still don't think discard is playable.

Ultimate Price
Solid removal. Probably the next best black removal behind snuff out, dismember and Go for the Throat.

Ash Zealot
An awesome addition to mono red. Return to Ravnica was very kind to mono red, hence I've been playing mono red a lot more these days. I'll probably put up my mono red list for the next article.
Other inclusions to mono red from return to ravnica are:
Rakdos Shred Freak, Gorehouse Chainwalker and Rakdos Cackler. Hopefully there's a few more when Gruul and Boros represent in Gatecrash.

Probably a good sideboard card for storm

Mizzium mortars
Forgot to mention this one in my monored paragraph. It's not maindeckable but it goes in sideboards vs aggro if you can support the tripleR.

Brush strider
This guy's only playable if you've somehow managed to cram your deck full of removal. Lots of removal is fine as long as it's versatile removal which is not dead vs control.

Urban Burgeoning
This card has huge potential. Much more likely to be broken outside of highlander. If you have a deck with heaps of activated abilities then this could be sweet. It's a little bit like Braid of Fire and Thran Turbine.

Worldspine Wurm
Mostly just good with Flash. It's like a weaker Protean Hulk. The effect is good enough to win the game early that's for sure.

Detention Sphere
This goes in any UW non combo deck. Great card.

Hussar Patrol
Another card for Caw Blade. However you really want consistent access to equipment to make this guy good.

Judge's Familiar
Another great card for equipment heavy decks which are low on disruption. This card is much better than cursecatcher cause the flying allows it to survive combat while holding equipment.

Lyev Skyknight
A little bit like Flickerwisp which I loved in White Weenie. Shuts off random mana sources and planeswalker s for a turn which is plenty value. His low toughness isn't that bad cause there are barely any fliers played in highlander.

Sphinx's revelation
I'm not a big control player but this might be good in those super grindy control decks.

Supreme Verdict
Another wrath. If a swarm deck gets popular there are definitely enough wraths printed to shut it down easily. Poor Elves.

Epic Experiment
Much much worse than mind's desire but still food for thought for storm player's

Goblin Electromancer
A very power effect. A very wacky deck is the deck that plays this card. Steven Campbell could break this card.

Izzet Charm
Awesomely versalite. I imagine any UR noncombo deck would play this.

Izzet staticaster
Good sideboard card for UR creature decks against creature decks. Narrow but worth keeping in mind.

Nivmagus Elemental
U control decks with lots of instants and sorceries could board this in against the mirror. That's the only application I can imagine for this card.

Another 'play in any colourXcolourY deck' card. Nice versalite removal.

Rakdos Charm
An obscure versatile sideboard-only card

Abrupt Decay
Another 'play in any colourXcolourY deck' card. The best mentioned in this article yet. Kills timevault, equipment, dudes. Just really good.

Deathrite Shaman
you can probably only play 10 lands that will die for value early (9 fetch + wasteland) so deathrite shaman isn't a consistent mana guy. His other 2 abilities are relevant and probably make up for it. The exile a creature from a yard ability can be crippling vs some decks.

Dreg Mangler
A solid aggro card. Much like ram-gang.

Jarad's Order's
There's definitely a pair of creatures that you can find that let you go turn 4 jarad's orders, turn 5 untap win. Closest I can think of on the spot is probably Body Double + Griselbrand. Super slow but there might be something there.

Lotleth Troll
I think I'd like this guy most in some kind of natural order deck. A solid guy that can pitch progenitus.

Treasured Find
If your deck plays regrowth and black then you could also play this. It'd shine most in a deck with A-call and Timewalk as it's points.

I imagine this isn't good enough but it's worth mentioning until someone tries her out to confirm

Armada Wurm
Another titan, 6 mana nearly win the game

Collective Blessing
Another overrun for that tokens deck I keep mentioning

Dryad Militant
Great card for aggro decks. More much needed disruption vs combo. This guy is awesome, really hurts storm and snapcaster shinanigans. She might effect your goyf and lavamancer but she's probably worth it.

Loxodon Smiter
Really really solid card. Every GW dude deck should try this guy out.

Selesnya Charm
Another 'play in any colourXcolourY deck' card. many frickin playables in Return to Ravnica, so much typing. Very hard to not just say "good card" for every card.

Gonna take a break from listing endless playables from Return to Ravnica for a sec...To set the scene it's a Saturday Morning, I'm sitting on the couch in my cricket whites killing a couple hours before I go play cricket. My cat Mario is incessantly trying to get my attention, clambering over my phone, knees and keyboard. Sitting in front of the screen etc. Was about to say it's a beautiful day but it's Melbourne and I can see stormclouds in the distance. I hope they don't wreck my cricket game :(

Anyway, back to cards....

Sundering Growth
Another good sideboard card

Golgari Keyrune
I can see this in some kind of ramp deck. Pretty difficult to build a ramp deck and still be decent against control. Same for Rakdos and Selesnya Keyrune. Azorius and Izzet keyrunes don't have good enough bodies attached to them.

Grove of the Guardian
Another good card for tokens...just tokens though

Volatile Rig
I have a workshop aggro deck that I've tried a couple times. I would play it more but it suffers from inconsistency of not drawing a mana accelerator. But yeah this guy would get in there. His trample is great with the sword of dick and balls equipment cycle

Ok, too much typing, food time before I head off.

Was going to mention an underplayed highlander card like I always do but then I realised I just mentioned about 50 of them.

See you next thursday at highlander!!! (if you live in melb)

Also, mad props to NZ for having a highlander a the GP. Really disappointed I couldn't play to support it. I mad the top 8 of a sealed so i played that to get minimum 12 packs instead.

ok, catch!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Avacyn Restored, Planechase 2012 and M13 highlander cards


There's a Nirvana song that has this bit in it that sounds like my ring tone. Gets me every frickin time.

That aside thought I'd run through the last few sets for good highlander cards in case you were wondering if there was anything that'd go in any of your decks. You do have multiple highlander decks right? :P

I may be a little brief with my explanations of why a card is good, cause it's getting late and I have a bunch of cards I want to mention. I will get progressively worse. Apologies! I might come back and link all the cards if I can be bothered.

So first up, Avacyn Restored:
In no particular order:

Zealous Conscripts:
Absolutely no where near as good in Highlander as it is in Standard but still ok. When I'm judging a creature for highlander I often run it through a few filters in my mind:
If it costs more than 2 mana it has to either be a blowout once it recovers from summoning sickness or it has to be good enough vs jace/swords to plowshares. Zealous should give you enough value enough of the time. Maybe catch a tapped wasteland or steel a planeswalker. Your deck would obviously have to be aggressive to get enough value out of conscripts.

She's playable, I played her in a deck that didn't suit her and she was still alright. I imagine in an 'MJ' style control deck or Wilfy's kurgan deck she's excellent. Her greatest attribute is her colour, blue hasn't got much removal.

Tyrant of Discord:
Ok I know it's generally bad but I just wanted to mention that in RG land destruction this guy is actually ok. Probably the only time it ever will be, highlander's great for that kind of thing.

Wolfir Avenger:
The 3/3 flash guy. Flash is really good in highlander against U and he has the magic 3 toughness against zoo's many 2/3's. I like the idea of a UG counter/flash guys deck and this guy is yet another playable in it.

Wolfir Silverheart:
He's just so big, you'll have to be a little aggressive and you'll have to choose heaps of creatures with trample/evasion to make him good but yes he's good enough.

The fatness, sweet reanimator target, you pretty much win on the spot unless you're versing a lot of pressure + removal.

Misthollow Griffin:
This guy's borderline, he's not great but with some work he's good enough. You can pitch him to Force/Misdirection/~Chrome mox, he's decent against the premier removal in the format, path to exile and swords to plowshares. You might be able to get a foodchain to combo with him.

Restoration Angel:
This chick's one of the best additions. Plenty of value to be had, blinking stoneforge mystic, trinket mage and other less obvious guys. He's another good flash threat which the caw blade deck is in need of. Will only take a couple more UW flash threats and that deck will be tier 1.

Pretty funny how she's bad in standard cause of phantasmal image and phyrexian metamorph, in highlander however she's super hard to kill, whack a sword on her and you just won the game.

Silverblade paladin:
This guy brings the beats, not sure if he's good but he's worth a shot if you're tweeking a Wx aggro deck

Slayer's Stronghold:
I wanna play this in infect. Colourless lands really have to be good to make it into highlander decks. This is probably only good in infect.

Temporal Mastery:
I haven't really given this card a run but it seems powerful. Dan really doesn't like it but with a little work you could get it on top of your library enough of the time for it to be good. Brainstorm, Top, Jace etc. You'd probably want to be playing it in a deck that can hard cast it though. i.e. not aggro.

OK, now Planechase 2012:
These cards are really hard to get for a price that resembles their power level. If you have the opportunity to buy them in singles, go or it.

Shardless Agent:
Really really have to work on your deck to have next to zero bad cascades. Personally I must have zero bad cascades in my deck to play this or bloodbraid. No EE, add dryad arbor if playing GSZ etc.
The Hypergenesis deck is slowly getting there. At the moment it's too bad against counterspells but Shardless agent is it's best contribution since cascade was printed.

Baleful Strix:
This is a sideboard card against aggro decks or it goes in any UB deck with equipment.

Beetleback Chief:
This guy needs a lord or skullclamp to turn him on but in goblins I think he's good enough.Hopefully there's a heap of playable goblins in ravnica. Highlander goblins really needs another 3 decent 1 drops to be good enough. 4 drops like Beetleback Chief aren't filling the deck's holes.

Elderwood Scion:
If you're playing GW dude deck then get this guy in there. He'll dominate creature swarms and you'll never get blown out by cheap removal.

Maelstrom Wandered:
I'd love to one day Congregation at Dawn for this guy and 2 other dudes for an insta-win. e.g. kiki-jiki pestermite. If you have a bit of mana accel you can board him in against slowish control decks too.

AND finally M13:

Ajani, caller of the pride:
Sweet in infect. Maybe ok in zoo with goyf, a big knight of the reliquary

Faith's Reward:
There's a dude in Canberra, sorry I can't remember your name. But he plays a sweet Egg Storm deck Lots of eggs, cards to make them cheaper, Lotus and card that return Lotus and Tendrils/Empty the Warrens. I imagine he slams this card in there.

Sublime Angel:
Needs a lot of work but has potential. Need lots of evasion guys to make good.

Void Stalker:
Yet another fantastic versatile U guy. Can't go wrong with Ux in highlander really.

Diabolic Revelation:
Another good tutor for the Channel deck. Not an actual Channel finding tutor though, which is what that deck really wants.

Knight of Infamy:
This guy's really solid in highlander, he'd be played so much more if he wasn't in such a bad aggro colour.

Crimson Muckwader:
great stats for 2 mana, Bx aggro slowly getting there. All it takes is for Stoneforge and steelshaper's gift to get another 1 or 2 points which i believe they deserve (more on this next entry) and non-white aggro might actually get a run.

Good red sideboard card.

Searing Spear:
A lot of people whinge about funny reprints like Essence Scatter and Vapor Snag but I love them cause Highlander. Another good burn spell for mono-red. Any help for a highlander deck that needs it, is good by me.

Thundermaw Hellkite:
Hits hard! anti flying less relevant in highlander but even without that bonus he'd still be playable. Thundermaw is a serious clock.

Flinthoof boar:
BAM, another sweet zoo creature. They keep printing em don't they? This guys really good. Most playable constructed card in the set imo

I don't like cards like this, they have too big an impact on standard. Kitchen Finks, Timely Reinforcements, Batterskull, Wurmcoil Engine, you know what I mean. Gummy cards that gum up the board and make games go for long.

Predatory Rampage:
It's no overrun but this is Highlander, where "not as good" is good enough! This is only playable in tokens, a deck which has gotten a lot of good additions in recent sets. If anyone makes tokens they'll have to keep in mind that they'll either need to kill ASAP with overruns or they'll have to find some cards that fit the strategy AND are disruptive e.g. opposition.

Hellion Crucible:
I'm sure Glenn will be shoving this card right into his Red control deck. Card's good.

Ok I MUST sleep, I'm gonna be so frickin tired for highlander tomorrow... I mean today (fml).

Quickly before I go, I'd just like to thank Brett Hoogez for finding our crew mad cheap flights to Gp Auckland in November. $180 return whhhhaatt?!

I'll be going to the Canberra PTQ + highlander weekend in August if anyone's interested in joining me let me know and we'll sort out some transport, ideally car pool

Oh yeah, random underplayed card.....
Erratic Explosion? I may have mentioned it before, yeah pretty sure I did (with insidious dreams)
ok..ummm...Goblin Welder?

errghh too tired, sleep time

Sunday, 20 May 2012

What the hell is that?

One of the best things about highlander is playing cards that aren't playable in other formats. I love people's reactions when I beat them with a card they've never seen before. What got me thinking about this was the 'underplayed good cards' section of my blog entries.

Decent cards can not see play for various reasons. Here are some that I thought of:
  • They're really bad against the best decks. e.g. I played Flickerwisp in White Weenie for it's entire life. (I've since shelved WW since Zendikar made Zoo too hard for WW to beat). Anyway, Flickerwisp was in the same format as Bitterblossom and Spectral Procession. I suppose you could argue, so was Vendilion Clique yet that still saw play... You know what I mean though.
  • Their may not have been good enough colour fixing in the block it was printed in. There are a few cards in this category that come to mind: Crosis Charm, Rith's Charm, Sedraxis Specter.
  • The card could be a tutor that had no good targets in the standard format it was printed in or there were no combos for it to help. e.g. Stonehewer Giant (last blog entries underplayed card) and Supply//Demand.
  • The card may simply never had a home, for example Dwarven Recruiter....ok he still doesn't have a home, but one day.
  • Some cards are made good by the nature of Highlander: Extract, Aven Mindcensor, Tainted Pact (still no deck that makes this card worth 2 points).
  • Conversely there are cards that are worse or hilariously bad due to the nature of highlander: Squadron Hawk, Rite of Flame, Intuition, Cloudpost.
I hope this blog entry sparks you to go through a skewed block and find a few cards that deserve play.

To include the 'card that is underplayed' section at this point would be redundant, but I'm gonna do it anyway!
Nature's Lore/Three Visits People play signets, and if you're green, these are signets on crack. Everyone knows about them but still they aren't getting played. However, the popularity of U control does dissuade people from ramp strategies (did I mention I'd like to see U and Zoo get another point here or there? :P)

Thursday, 17 May 2012


Hey guys :)

So I've won a couple Thursday night highlanders in recent weeks with 2 different land destruction lists! :D

Land D is typically dismissed as a strategy. Wizards are very careful not to print much good Land D so the deck has never really come together in a format. Vintage stax is the only thing that comes to mind.

Land D's pretty funny. It has a couple inherent disadvantages. First is the "how do you kill their lands AND their threats?". And the second is no one wants to play test against you. Such a griefer deck lol.

Land D and I have a bit of a relationship in Highlander. A relationship within a relationship. I'll get to my current Land D lists eventually but first; The second highlander tournament I ever played I played RB land destruction and won my Mox Ruby (I won my Mox Pearl in my first tournament with soldiers :P). That RB land D deck was probably my best deck of all time relative to everyone else's in a tournament. I'm just gonna take a sec to go dig up the list...give me a sec...even though there'll be no pause for you between me asking you to wait and the list being readable....

lol I actually found it. Twas buried deep within the old mtgparadise forums.

Shadow of doubt
Nights whisper
Prismatic lense
Rakdos signet
Talisman of indulgence
Misguided rage
Molten rain
Rain of tears
Rancid earth
Choking sands
Dwarven miner
Dwarven blastminer
Wrecking ball
Sunder from within
Stream of acid
Avalanche riders
Goblin settler
Ravenous Baboob
Greater harvester
Demonic hordes
Ogre arsonist
Mox Jet 2 points
Mox Pearl 2 points
Mox Emerald 2 points
Mox Sapphire 2 points
Mox Ruby 2 points
Graven Cairns
Sulfurous Springs
Shadowblood ridge
Polluted delta
Wooded foothills
Bloodstained mire
Urborg, tomb of yawgmoth
Gemstone caverns
Rishadan port
4 mountain
5 swamp
slice and dice

Braids, Cabal Minion
Boiling seas
Beseju, who shelters all
Strech of evil
Shattering spree
Rack and ruin
Night of souls betrayal
Chalice of the void

What a piece of shit. 5 moxes lol. Highlander decks have come a long way.

I remember one particular blowout play from this tournament. Marky Mark (piloting Evo's artifact deck) activate Myr Incubator for about 90% of his deck, way more than 20. He bashes and I cycle Slice'n'Dice, the sickness......oh and draw a card from the cycle.

Anyway, back to current day highlander. Pre-emptive sorry for posting long lists in this blog entry btw. I can't be bothered finding a better way to format them with this interface, eg multiple column lists.
Here's what I won with a couple weeks ago, well as best as I can remember the list anyway.

Birds of Paradise
Arbor Elf
Llanowar Elves
Fyndhorn Elves
Noble Heirarch
Boreal Druid
Elves of Deep Shadow
Avacyn's Pilgrim
Green Sun's Zenith
Sol Ring (3)

Molten Rain
Stone Rain
Turf Wound
Fulminator Mage
Winter's Grasp
Ice Storm
Mwonvuli Acidmoss
Ravenous Baboons
Goblin Ruinblaster
Acidic Slime
Primal Command
Invader Parasite
Ravaging Horder
Ogre Arsonist
Icy Manipulator
Primeval Titan

Inferno Titan
Mental Misstep
Umezawa's Jitte (1)
Skullclamp (1)

7 fetch
Stomping Grounds
Grove of the Burnwillows
Karplusan Forest
Copperline Gorge
Fire-lit Thicket
2 Snow-covered Mountain
5 Snow-covered Forest
Dryad Arbor
Stripmine (2)
Rishadan Port

Marsh Drinker
Wreak Havoc
Chalice of the Void
Ancient Grudge
Flametongue Kavu
Faerie Macabre
Mindbreak Trap
Uktabi Orangutans
Great Sable Stag
Beast Within

The snow covered lands are incase you ever want to Themokarst yourself :P The deck's a little inconsistent. You have to mulligan more than you'd like to find the elf + 3cost LD hand. But! you kill lands and you beat any deck when your LD coincides with their mana screw. I'd like to add Tyrant of Discord to this deck.

Here's my most recent LD list. This one is better I think. It's more flexible and has more powerful cards.

Birds of Paradise
Arbor Elf
Llanowar Elves
Fyndhorn Elves
Noble Heirarch
Boreal Druid
Elves of Deep Shadow
Avacyn's Pilgrim
Green Sun's Zenith
Mana Crypt (2)

Mental Misstep
Steelshaper's Gift
Stoneforge Mystic (1)
Umezawa's Jitte (1)
Skullclamp (1)
Grave Titan
Sun Titan

Ice Quake
Rain of Tears
Choking Sands
Rancid Earth
Fulminator Mage
Knight of the Reliquary
Winter's Grasp
Ice Storm
Mwonvuli Acidmoss
Acidic Slime
Primal Command
Primeval Titan

9 fetch
Snow-covered Forest
Temple Garden
Overgrown Tomb
Godless Shrine
Twilight Mire
Llanowar Wastes
City of Brass
Dryad Arbor
Stripmine (2)
Rishadan Port

Marsh Drinker
Nate's Claim
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
Snuff Out
Skin Render
Faerie Macabre
Mindbreak Trap
Qasali Pridemage
Great Sable Stag

So yeah, LD gets there. Decks that I beat for these 6 out of 6 wins were:
2 X Zoo
Some other deck I can't remember

The deck really just wants to go LD from turn 2 until as long as possible. That's the plan.

So that'll do for tonight, my pillow beckons. Man sleep feels so fucking good these days.

Random underplayed good highlander card time:
Stonehewer Giant!

This guy never got standard play cause there was no good equipment. If you're playing equipment this guy plays quite similar to Baneslayer. So chuck in a bit of dude protection eg mental misstep, DITS, mother of runes, spellskite and protect your Baneslayers for the win

Monday, 2 April 2012

Monday night attempt at highlander article which entrophied into a blog post

First of all; 'entrophied' is a word I just made up. It's a past participle of 'entropy', which in this context means that I started with lots of energy and a single idea, but as I wrote my idea fractured, I spent energy, and the following is what I ended up with:

Hey dudes

Continuing with my thoughts on the February 2012 points changes this entry. Once again, I know I'm really late, but there hasn't been a mox-a-licious since so I'm not too late. In case you didn't know there is a massive MASSIVE highlander weekend very soon. Saturday 14th April Ancestral Recall (Ancestralicious) at Games Lab, midday, $35. THEN Sunday 15th April the next day another highlander tournament with Mox Sapphire 1st prize at Goodgames Melbourne, !!!!!!!!!!!
The GG's event isn't on their site's calender but the tournament organiser Isaac Egan has sent out the message.
Gonna be a great weekend, plus it's my birthday on the 15th. Chances are I won't be at my best for the GG's event :P....I already won a Sapphire anyway :P

I probably would've been playing Hermit Druid for the coming weekend except.....
The Hermit Druid combo deck got slammed with 5 points from the February 2012 points changes which was brutal.
The reasoning from the committee was that Hermit Druid needed points and it was unfortunate that it also copped collateral points from the unbanning of Flash-Hulk combo. Dan and Isaac from the committee said that efforts were made to avoid Hermit Druid getting so many points but they couldn't find a solution with the time they had.
The committee is split between Canberra and Melbourne as they're the 2 communities which play the best format in the world. This means that the best time to discuss points discussion is at the big tournaments when committee members travel interstate. The committee are volunteers and they do a good job with the limited time they have.

Had they had enough time I think they could've worked the pointing better to not slam Hermit Druid as hard. The deck was worse than Zoo and U and it could be beaten at will with appropriate sideboarding. Zoo and Timevault both got a point each, so at least the committee acknowledged that those decks are too good, which is great.

I believe U and Zoo's strength still outweigh all other decks without question. The points list slowly improves with each update but there is still a long way to go.

Side note: there was an issue last weekend at the GP with the highlander event organisers referring to an old points list when advertising the event. There should really be a 'mother list' that everyone refers/links to that only the committee has control over. Much like the meter and the atomic clock.

Food for thought: Highlander Combo decks place a huge emphasis on 2 or 3 cards, making those cards really stand out. As a result, combo decks can become victimised by the 'card by card' pointing system of highlander. It's easy for cards to become pointed rather than whole decks.

At the start of this article I did intended to propose the points changes I would've made back in February, but now I'm too frickin tired so it'll have to wait until my next entry. I suppose I can't really critique the committee's job when I can't even find the time to write a blog!

Anyway, g'night or good morning depending on when you're reading this :)

Thursday, 29 March 2012

And.......I'm back!

Hey guys,

So first of all I’d like to apologise for not updating my blog for ages. Basically I’m super lazy and sorry for all those times you’d check for an update and it wasn’t there. I had Cancon, then Hawaii and I started my first full time job (yay!) the day after I got back etc etc. I now understand the time constraints on people who work full time.

Anyway, the Pro Tour is well over now and no Aussies posted any results. Pretty disappointing but at least the holiday was great fun. I’ll probably tell a couple interesting/funny stories about the trip later.

So here are the points changes that you’ve all had ages to think about, over my next few blog entries I'll be going through them:

Protean Hulk (4 to 1)
Flash 4 to 3
Crucible of Worlds (2 to 1)
Worldgorger Dragon (3 to 2)
Price of Progress (1 to 0)
Stoneforge Mystic (0 to 1)
Sylvan Tutor (0 to 1)
Worldly Tutor (0 to 1)
Muddle the Mixture (0 to 1)
Hermit Druid (0 to 1)
Intuition (0 to 1)
Summoner's Pact (0 to 1)
Dread Return (0 to 1)

The thing that stands out most about the changes is that they’ve reintroduced flash-hulk combo which is pretty sweet. Matt Antonello’s already tried it out at a Thursday highlander with mixed results. Still a lot of work to be done on the deck.
So how does Flash-Hulk use its points? Well obviously it must play Hulk and Flash, that’s 4 points leaving 3 to make choices with. Cards to consider are:

Mystical Tutor (2)
Sylvan Tutor (1)
Worldly Tutor (1)
Summoner's Pact (1)
Grim Tutor (1)
Lim dul’s Vault (1)
Intuition (1)
Muddle the Mixture (1)

Having Mystical Tutor + Summoner’s Pact is better than having Vampiric Tutor, so VT is out of the question.

Something interesting to note is that Mystical Tutor was 1 point while Flash-Hulk used to be legal and Merchant Scroll is now 0 points where it used to be 1.

Intuition needs to be played in conjunction with Regrowth and Eternal Witness so it’s too slow.

Good free tutors that the deck could potentially play are:

Rhystic Tutor
Shred Memory
Dimir Infiltrator
Merchant Scroll
Fierce Empath
Fauna Shaman
Eladamri’s Call

Not many really. The deck’s looking quite inconsistent to me at this stage.

Using creature tutors to find Dimir Infiltrator for Flash is too slow. And transmuting for eladamri's call for hulk is too slow. You really want your pointed tutors to be finding both sides of the combo considering that the non-pointed hulk and flash tutors are in equal amounts.
Summoner’s Pact is an exception because it turns Mystical Tutor into a creature tutor.

Following these ideas, you’re left with a choice of Lim-Dul’s Vault + Grim Tutor + a creature tutor Vs Mystical Tutor + Summoner’s Pact. A classic consistency Vs power/speed choice. Up to you which way to go.

I won’t go much further into Flash, that’d ruin the fun. On the surface the deck doesn't have enough tutors, has ordinary mana and would need a lot of work; an adventure at least.

Ok, random PT Honolulu story to round off this entry. This is part one of our most epic night of the trip:
So Isaac, Dan, JP, Tim, Neeman, these 2 awesome bros from Philly, myself and a bunch of other people are chilling out in the outside undercover hostel common area. It’s a nice warm night, approaching twilight, the hostel stereo is playing some great tunes, the resident chef is putting on a feast, everyone’s drinking, good times. Then a hooker walks into the hostel common area through the security gates....
This is not the good type of hooker, she’s bald, unhealthily skinny, missing teeth, in revealing black hooker clothes and has obviously experimented with illicit substances for an extended period of time. Anyway she stalks around the tables grinning absently, intermittently yelling PARRRRTAAAAAYYYYY!!!! between muttering. No one knows how to react, everyone’s frozen not knowing if it’s hilarious or disgusting. She corner’s Justin, one of the Philly brothers and proceeds to give him an unconsented lap-dance, he just takes it in shock. She then creeps over to Tim who is an awkward spot between chairs and the TV. He makes the terrible misplay of not getting the fuck out of there. So she stands over his knees, grabs his prescription glasses from his head which is shaking with disagreement and starts rubbing them on her crutch. Imagine drying your genitals with a towel through your legs, holding one end in front and the other behind your back. The towel is Tim’s glasses.....
Last week Tim had his bike stolen.....
Man, Tim deserves a top 4 at the GP this weekend!

Oh yeah, random underplayed awesome highlander card:
Insidious Dreams!
Can’t believe I haven’t seen someone use this to Erratic Explosion an Emrakul at someone's face yet.

Next highlander blog post coming soon (for realzies!). I'll be talking more Hermit Druid and points.


Saturday, 21 January 2012

Stoneforge Mystic and Dark Ascension


I finally got the 'hover link' thing to work, hopefully it enhances your reading experience :) Props to John Carberry for his help.

So, Zoo is one of the best decks. It's most powerful card is Stoneforge Mystic and therefore the first card to be considered for pointing. People often ask "Why not just add more points to the equipment?", the answer is: By pointing Stoneforge instead of Jitte/Skullclamp/Sword of Fire and Ice, you're not hurting other aggro decks which are currently much worse than Zoo. We want diversity amongst the aggro decks (which we currently do not have). It's a similar reasoning to why Wizards' banned Wild Nacatl in modern recently; Wild Nacatl made all other aggro decks inferior thus reducing the diversity of the metagame. Less diversity = less fun etc.

Jitte dominates creature mirrors. White has access to Stoneforge Mystic and Steelshaper's Gift giving it a massive advantage in the creature mirror. This advantage is so huge that non-white creature decks are inferior to white creature decks. Elves, mono-red and mono-black aggro all aren't good enough on the back of them losing to Jitte.

Some Zoo pilots still refuse to play Steelshaper's Gift, this decision baffles me.

So, Dark Ascension Pre-release next weekend! booyah!
I and many other Melbourne Highlander regulars will be road tripping to Canberra for Can Con. So I won't be around for the Highlander weekly this Thursday. Gonna win a Black Lotus at Can Con instead :P. I'm a little torn at the moment (the very last moment). I feel my two good decks, Hermit Druid and White Weenie aren't as good as Ub timevault or Zoo, but there's familiarity to consider. I know Hermit and WW really well, sideboarding, important cards in certain matchups etc. I think I need to stick with my old faithfuls this Friday and then after the points changes I'll look into switching decks.
I know I said I'd be playing Hermit Druid in my previous posts but it's getting beaten often so I dunno. I kind of want to run it in the face of all the hate, just for the potential of looking boss.

Anyway, what was I saying?....Dark Ascension. Whenever a new set comes out I always comb through the spoiler for cards for my Highlander decks. I'll discuss the playables that have been spoiled so far (I wrote this 1am Sunday 22nd):

Increasing Devotion: There's a GW token deck that no one's playing at the moment and this card probably goes in it. Gaea's Cradle is underplayed for it's power and it's at its best in this deck.

Lingering Souls: So many dudes! This also goes in the token deck, a light splash for B is no problem with Highlander mana *cough* unpoint Price of Progress *cough*.

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben: Lots of Hype surrounding Thalia. 2/1 first strike is a decent body in Highlander and her ability gets her over the line. As long as your opponent pays 1 more mana extra than you, Thalia has done her job. It's unfortunate that she gets Karakas'd but she's probably playable regardless, testing will tell. So many legends are bad just because of Karakas (eg Doran). Karakas gets played in about 70% of decks and is somewhat tutorable so it cannot be ignored.

Gravecrawler: Yet another 2 power 1-drop for black. Before Zendikar black had no good aggro cards except Dark Confidant and Carnophage so it's fast becoming a strong aggro option.

Geralf's Messenger: Another exclusive for Mono-black. I'm definitely going to try Mono-black on a Thursday soon, just need to work out a way for the deck to beat Jitte.

Increasing Ambition: A good tutor for the Channel deck. Channel still requires a few more cards to be consistent enough for me to consider playing it though.

Strangleroot Geist: This guy's the beats! Only thing stopping him from being amazing is his mana cost. Double colour 2 drops are hard to do without a major commitment to one colour. You can't really keep a hand of Plains, Fetch, this guy.

Falkenrath Aristocrat: I think people will underrate this card at first. I know I'm going to be getting a playset asap. Outside of Highlander (irrelevant as that may be) she's a sac outlet for Melira combo in Modern. She might be too expensive for her purpose in that deck but she's a real card when you draw her, unlike Viscera Seer which is a piece'o'shit.

Huntmaster of the Fells: Solid value creature. He's green so he will be accompanied by elves to get him out fast enough. Will really shine in creature mirrors.

Sorin, Lord of Innistrad: Obviously a great card. Another addition to the GWb token deck that's growing in my subconscious.

Grafdigger's Cage: lol what can I say? Another hoser for Hermit Druid. Not as good as Path, Swords or Leyline of the Void mind you.

Ok, pretty knackered at this stage, better crash into bed. But before that, here's another underplayed Highlander Card:

Trench Gorger, this guy is a castable Blightsteel Colossus in Highlander.



Sunday, 15 January 2012

5¢ Infect & a little pointing talk

Hey Dudes!

No real coherent theme this time, it is a blog after all.

You know how you'll be lying in bed trying to get to sleep then you think of a good card to add to your deck; so you immediately get out of bed, turn the light on (usually stark naked) and start working it into the deck?...right?...just me? ok....

So here's something Brett Hughes (pronounced "Brett Who-gezz") and I have been working on for a while. I've only linked the cards I don't expect everyone to know cause I'm lazy.

5¢ infect!

Glistener Elf
Green Sun’s Zenith
Blight Mamba
Blighted Agent
Ichorclaw Myr
Lost Leonin
Plague Myr
Plague Stinger
Phyrexian Crusader
Razor Swine
Rot Wolf
Viridian Corrupter
Whispering Specter
Phyrexian Vatmother
Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon
Phyrexian Hydra

Mental Misstep
Inquisition of Kozilek
Noble Hierarch
Gaea’s Might
Might of Alara
Vines of Vastwood
Colossal Might
Predator’s Strike
Sylvan Might
Elspeth, Knight Errant
Angelic Destiny

10 Fetchlands
Tropical Island
Overgrown Tomb
Underground Sea
Inkmoth Nexus
Mox Emerald [3 Points]
Mox Jet [3 Points]
Kessig Wolf Run

Qasali Pridemage
Might of Old Krosa
Assault Strobe
Mother of Runes
Fiery Justice
Swords to Plowshares
Seal of Strength
Blight Widow
Stoneforge Mystic
Umezawa's Jitte [1 Point]

It's a cool deck. You get to play a bunch of cards that no one else does and you have a lot of raw power. I played a similar list at a weekly a couple weeks ago and went 2-2. While testing the deck I found I couldn't yam every infect creature into the deck, Contagious Nim trading with a Trinket Mage was bad. Also, sorcery speed pump which provides no evasion sucks vs creature decks, they just chump and race you.
With power comes a price: the mana's not the best, there aren't many decent infect creatures and sometimes you'll draw too much pump. The times that you do 'get' people though, make it totally worth it, gotta love cheesy wins!

Random thoughts:

I used to advocate Chrome Mox in aggro decks, I played it in Mono Red and White Weenie for ages. I've realised that against U-control their counterspells are still cheap enough to hit your key spells despite the acceleration from the mox. And against decks with lots of spot removal/burn, Chrome Mox doesn't give you any tempo advantage because their removal is so cheap.

I thought of a simple way to explain the premise of my last blog entry; U-control crushes Midrange, Midrange crushes Zoo but Zoo doesn't crush U-control, the matchup's quite even. The metagame has settled so much that people have realise that midrange is bad because it can't beat U, so there's no midrange to keep Zoo in check, and U's so good that it matches Zoo, it's natural enemy.
I'm not saying nerf U, I'm saying weaken it just enough so that midrange has a chance to be viable so that the format is more diverse and therefore even more fun.
Combo? There is so much hate available that every archetype has answers to Combo, it's just a matter of the Combo player picking the right metagame where people aren't hating.

I've been playing Hermit lately, I went 2-2 in the last weekly and 2-1 last Saturday in the Monthly (Yes the Thursday night weekly had more players than the Monthly). Whilst I'm playing the deck I feel that at any time they could draw their answer and I'll lose. While the deck's really powerful, it's a glass cannon. Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile, two of the most popular highlander cards, totally wreck Hermit Druid.
I can still see the deck getting 1 or 2 points based on how unfair it feels to lose to it. I'm just saying that the deck still pales in comparison to highly tuned aggro and control decks. We need some Combo in the meta.

New blog feature that I'll do at the end of all my entries, random powerful underplayed card:

Pattern of Rebirth



Monday, 9 January 2012

Animal Blue Pants Out Of Control

Hey Dudes! had a good time blogging last night so I'm gonna ramble more!

So with points changes looming, I feel like I need to get out all my 'format improvement' thoughts while they can still be heard.

At the moment I do feel the format has settled and the consensus amongst most people I talk to is that zoo and U control are the 2 best decks, so much so that they oppress other strategies. The format is falsely diverse because people keep playing their brews because they're awesome and that's what highlander's about, but really zoo and U are the strongest decks.

I was thinking about it, and there are plenty of cards that wreck zoo but most of them are bad to maindeck because they're so bad vs U control. U control decks play practically no creatures and can spend 0 to 2 mana to counter a 4 cost sorcery/fatty, putting it's caster way behind.

Now are there many cards that wreck U? No. Their counterspells provide a soft blanket that covers most of the skin, keeping it nice and warm. The versions that splash B also have DITS (Duress, Inquisition, ThoughtSeize) to thicken the blanket. The only cards that consistently sneak under the blanket are zoo's 2 power 1 drops.

So what I'm trying to say is, by weakening U control, zoo will also be weakened because cards like Damnation, Flametongue Kavu, Reveilark and friends will become more playable.

Now, how to weaken U? U has a critical mass of good cards that no other single colour has. Most of the individual cards don't deserve a point by themselves but as a whole they do. So how do we go about this? Here are some possible methods:

Method #1- Add points to Tinker/Timevault.
An answer to U control decks in the past has been grindy and hard to deal with threats like Thrun, Bloodghast, Cursed Scroll, Masked Admirers and Manlands. BUT as it stands, U control has access to cards that trump these types of cards and those answers are: Tinker for Sphinx of the Steelwind or Timevault + Key kill you.  But! U isn't going to give up these critical answers if they get pointed higher, U players will just cut their other pointed cards. The pointed cards they'd cut however, are the cards that protect Tinker/Timevault, thus making Tinker/Timevault easier to answer. Force of Will directly protects by countering the answer spell whereas Manadrain provides enough mana the following turn to cast Tinker/Timevault and hold up another counterspell.

Method #2- Depoint cards that U doesn't play, raising the power of other decks to relatively weaken U. Pointed cards that Zoo and U can't use, that I feel could harmlessly drop a point are: Necropotence, Gorger, Crucible of Worlds. I'm not saying these cards aren't powerful, they ARE really powerful but the decks that they go in aren't.

Method #3- Point other cards that U uses. Are there unpointed U cards that are worth points? I think the closest card to this has gotta be Jace. If the board's at all stable, Jace becomes a 1 card combo and takes the game. A staple in every format ever. If you're a U player ask yourself what you'd cut from your deck first, Drain, Force or Jace. Food for Thought.

Anyway, Sean Walsh just pointed out to me that I always hate on U and never play it myself.....I think I don't play U because I want to be creative and build decks that other people haven't. However, I also want to win, so I do my best to make all my decks as best as they can be. I feel this eternal search has given me a good understanding of the format and I'm (Dark) confident that my analysis is correct.

If I didn't hate on U would you hate on U? Maybe a U ewe would hate on you. When the whole world is U, nothing will be U....or it'll be the ocean making the whole world U cause the polar caps have melted.

Cheers!, Luke