A Magical Huffalump Resides Here: February 2016

A Magical Huffalump Resides Here

My name is Ed, I am a programmer. Just another dude with another blog. I like MTG, Open Source (more towards FREE software). I like sports, and eventually I hope to do business and do good for the world in general. This blog is gonna be about Magic The Gathering. Decklists and snippets will be posted here. It may lead somewhere or nowhere, as with all things arcane, that was bloody obvious =)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

[Magic] Thoughts on the SCG Open Louisville results

Going into SCG Open Louisville post Pro Tour Oath, I was looking forward to responses from Team Oath!

Now, backing up a little, what in the world is Team Oath :P

It is my pet name for any deck that is not Eldrazi :p

And Eldrazi variants will be collectively referred to as Team Eldrazi :p

Just to qualify my stance:

I am pro - not banning Eldrazi Lands/cards at least until April

My reasons are here, here.

Eldrazi has thrown down the proverbial gauntlet, "IS THERE NO ONE ELSE?"
*imagine Achilles from the movie Troy thundering*

Luckily or at least to my gratification, the challenge was accepted and many a planeswalker took to SCG Open Louisville to take the fight to the Eldrazi.

Now many have looked at the stats and say the numbers show that Eldrazi is warping the format.

That is probably true. But warping is such a catch-all term.

Usually when a card is warping, much more time has passed for the cards to hit the meta and for the meta to respond.

Believe it or not. The scenario of Eldrazi invading Modern is unprecedented.


Two reasons:

1) Modern is a neutered format.

Again I mean no malice. But it is true that everything strong has been hacked down by bannings to maintained the viability of Midrange and a relatively low powered meta. Where permission and land destruction is weak. This presents some problems that I will mention later.

2) Eldrazi is a Tier 1 deck

Some will say Eldrazi is a Tier 0 deck, I don't even know what that means :p I assume whomever said that meant Eldrazi is over powered. But really it feels like that partly because deck archetypes in Modern have been neutered. Hence it is not so much that it is hyper strong (which it may well be but somehow I doubt, I do think it is very strong tho :) ) but that the decks in Modern are relatively weak or are tuned to a weak meta. My point is I think it is a strong deck.

Note it is not just a card. But a deck. A strong, Tier 1 deck. Invading Modern.

Think about it, what hope is there for the meta to respond in a timely manner as compared to when cards enter a meta. This is not the addition of a card that is the new build around toy. Where the existing meta only has to deal with an effect and probably a clunky shell to support the effect. Think in terms of the B/W Eldrazi Processor. The Processor effect is cute and relatively strong, but it is just a minor and rather weak effect and the exact composition is in still in flux.

The current Eldrazi deck has a core of eldrazi mimic, Thought-Knot Seer,Reality Smasher,Endless One, Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temples. There are some variants but the core is largely the same, mimics and endless one may be dropped if aggression is forfeit for some utility. There is probably some value in discussing the variations of Eldrazi. But what I want to focus on here is that the core that exploits the explosiveness made possible by the Oath Eldrazi is a force to be reckon with. It is a full fledged deck.

For a deck invading the meta, not a card or a few cards, but a Tier 1 deck invading the format. It is pretty naive to think that the meta will sort itself out in a week or two. Especially when the power level of the Modern meta has been artificially kept weak.  Which is why I think the result from SCG Open Louisville is actually quite alright and actually encouraging.

The meta was roughly 50% eldrazi and 50% non Eldrazi. This is encouraging because, it shows that at least half of the player base is willing to face the challenge and attempt to take down the Eldrazi overlords.

This is important. Aragon said in desperate moments (invoking my nerd-powers now), there is always hope. And that is what players are displaying here. Hope. When everyone believes the Eldrazi cannot be defeated, that is when we have given in to group think and are truly DEFEATED. That is why the doomsayers on Sally irk me. Not only have they given up, they expect others to give up and are encouraging a defeatist attitude. There seem to be hope brewing in various deck archetype threads however, so that is encouraging. Go Merfolk,! ;) as well as any other archetypes still working on taking down the big boys (I am pretty sure I saw a few).

(I was really hoping that Jeff on Kiki-Chord could go the distance, but oh well. Affinity is still Team Oath in my book :) )

Now what else is encouraging? Eldrazi took 50% of top 8 roughly that for top 64. That means somehow there is a balance between Eldrazi and non-Eldrazi decks, even though Eldrazi is supposed to be this undefeatable force no?

And ultimately, *phew* Affinity took down the tournament. This is important. It means the game is not over. It means there is hope ;) It means, Eldrazi may not necessarily be the best deck (at least not all the time). Also note, although the top 8 was 50 % eldrazi, the top 4 was 75% Eldrazi. So this Affinity deck is not a fluke. It took down Eldrazi baby :)

Again this is important.

The reason is that most players (myself included) are Average Joes. We look to the tournaments. Whomever wins is king (for a time :p). The metashare of Eldrazi looks bad now but it is due to a few factors:

1) Weakness of the meta
2) Eldrazi is a full fledge Tier 1 deck
3) Exploitation of the meta at PT Oath --> resulting in a HUGE uptake of Eldrazi by Spikes

As long as players belonging to Team Oath keep the faith and win tournaments. Can anyone honestly think the metashare will not revert to more normal levels?

Average Joe wants to win. Or at least if he wants to beat Eldrazi, he wants to know what can beat it.

SCG Open Louisville has shown one thing: Eldrazi can be beaten.

Doomsayers say the meta is infested with Eldrazi so its unbeatable or unhealthy or something.

I see it as : DESPITE the infestation of Eldrazi. A non-Eldrazi deck won. That says something. And top 8 had 4 non-Eldrazi.

If non-Eldrazi decks continue to win, I believe the meta share of Eldrazi will naturally dwindle as people realise you do not auto-win with Eldrazi (even though it is a very strong deck)

Now that we are done with the rah rah that Eldrazi did not win, it is prudent to note that it is not easy to beat Eldrazi. The fight tends to be tenuous and can go either way. So I think non-Eldrazi decks seem to have a 50/50 shot at best, I don't really see any non-eldrazi deck being heavily favoured. (the winning Affinity perhaps being the exception :))

Now the weakness of the meta in Modern, coupled with the relative strength of the Eldrazi deck poses problems at 3 layers when the meta tries to respond to the Eldrazi threat. I think this is why you are seeing such a large metashare by Eldrazi:

1) At the deck archetype level, there are no natural predators of Eldrazi. This might possibly be that the fast decks, the combo/prison/permission/control decks have been neutered or cut down.

2) At card/slot level, this is where sideboarding comes in. Where a deck is not a natural predator it can still bolster its chances via the sideboard or some recontruction of its decklist. This is where merfolk reduces the main deck Kiras or where Affinity uses grid + Bridge to address Eldrazi or Kiki using big game hunter. So at this layer its not so bad. And this is probably where most decks do their tweaking

3) The seemingly wide variety of Eldrazi. This is problematic because different variant present different threats be they herder based or heartless summoning, drowner based, displacer based or a focused beatdown. Now regards of their varients most pack some level of explosiveness with the main core. I feel that the most dangerous varient is the one that can most consistently nut-draw. The utility is cute but I think it durdles too much. The scary thing about Eldrazi is when it does its hulk smash in accelerated mode. That said I think Eldrazi is also evolving so you will see a few varients, however I think ultimately it will be an explosive focused deck versus one that is a little less aggressive but with some controlling elements

Layers 1) and 3) are somewhat problematic. 1) cannot be helped, whats banned is already banned. The only deck that seem naturally suited to battle Eldrazi is Merfolk and to some extend Affinity 3) will eventually solve itself as Eldrazi proponents try to streamline their builds either that or you see clear categories forming. Stark categories with very different angles of attack might be problematic. However I suspect it will be a streamlined version that will eventually be king since the main strength of the Eldrazi has been its explosive start. 2) is where we have seen innovation.Where Affinity recognises it is no longer the top aggro dog and takes up the control role with bridge and grid.

And this is the interesting bit. The meta really looks like it is discovering itself. Eldrazi decks are still experimenting. Team Oath is also finding ways to take down the big bad. Right now I feel the numbers are healthy in that at least 50% of the players are willing to take on the Eldrazi :D

If we view 1,2,3 as factors that affect how the meta can address the Eldrazi deck, then perhaps it is easier to understand why the meta might take a longer time to figure out ways to beat back Eldrazi. In a nutshell: No decks are naturally favoured against Eldrazi at the moment, we can only tweak at the card slot level (whether sideboard or main) to bolster the chance/strength of current deck archtypes, and yet there is the evolution of Eldrazi itself that is complicating the equation.

Thats all sounds rather doom and gloom but at least SCG Open Louisville has shown that it can be done.

Now in terms of deck construction, I do hope that players do not shy from using Eldrazi cards, for instance a red deck that can use Eldrazi Obligater efficiently, probably should :) I guess what I am trying to say is I hope no one is silly about the whole Eldrazi/non-Eldrazi thing, I mean any varient of Eldrazi that splashes white uses path to exile :p

Now it seems I am a little anti-Eldrazi, but I really am not, I like the concept of the Eldrazi deck alot, I like the power level too. But I also relish the thought of beating it. Thats what Magic is about no? (among other things :))

On the bannings, I am ambivalent. Playing with older cards, you tend to be more forgiving with power levels. So I would rather Modern have enough depth to contain the Eldrazi. However given the way the format is managed (i.e. largely by bannings). It is highly unlikely the Eldrazi deck will be allowed to keep its current power level :P And as I said previously, I don't honestly think Wizards wants Modern to be a powerful format even if balanced. So theres that.

Still I look forward to the coming months, where we have an oppressor to overcome :) Whether you choose to roll with the Eldrazi and gain store credit, that is fine and perfectly legit and wise; or you decide to heed the Call of the Gatewatch (lol I do love the amount of corn in the lore), which I think builds you  as a player. Just do whichever is fun. I love brewing and trying to overcome challenges. The the bigger the hunt, the bigger the satisfaction. I have friends gunning for store credit, so thats cool too. I also have friends who genuinely like Eldrazi (I myself have already confessed I like the deck :p).

I actually find the current meta interesting so long as people continue to battle the Eldrazi rather than just fold and play Eldrazi. And Eldrazi can be beaten, that much is true at least :)

Mostly importantly, as one of the commentators mentioned, have fun! Whether you are rampaging with Eldrazis, or holding the fort as Team Oath :)

We do not need to see the current meta as a problem, we can see it as a challenge to be overcome.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The A-MAZE-ing Aura!!!!!!

For Hunters currently hunting in the Labyrinth, do remember to pick up your A-MAZE-ing Aura!!!!

The "BONUS" giveaway ends on 1st March!

It looks permanent too!    

EDIT: It appears this Aura ends on 1st March.... Oh well.... feels a little pointless heh not only does the event/offer end on first March, the effect also ends on 1st March.... meaning it get more and more pointless to go after it as you get nearer to the offer/event deadline...

You just need to hunt in the district hallways of each of the classes (fealty, tech, scholar), picking up "Lost Puzzle Pieces" and it can be quite easily completed (I used SB+ however, so that might affect the outcome).

In terms of game mechanics, I think it is an interesting evolution. It is like L.E. traps, but now it is an L.E. overlay. Given the fact that the Christmas event ended with a temporary Aura as its end point. This is something the devs have been working on for a while.

I think it is interesting and can be very flavorful! The Christmas Aura was a good example. And now this new A-MAZE-ing Aura is an area-based effect, which is rather cool :) Now if they had a time based effect (for instance based on real life events like Christmas, CNY, Valentines, etc etc) that is only in effect during the event, that would be rather awesome :) Also they could tie the effect's "turn-on" period to achievements or any other useful fun combination of actions/events they deem fit. It could be even temporary to incentivise replay. So there are many ways and combinations to apply this new mechanic ... so ... its all good =D

Now additional overlays are not exactly new, they did that with charms, but they have been, wisely, extremely frugal with adding overlays as it can quickly cascade into a cesspit of extraneous effect and broken legacy connections.

Again, it is limited time and you will not be able to get it after March 1st. So erm hurry? :)

Also do remember that even after picking up the "Lost Puzzle Pieces", you will still need to CLAIM the Aura !

Do remember that the effect is only in Zokor and the Labyrinth :)

Happy Hunting!

[20160221 12:30]

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Eldrazi: The Fourth Awakening

Boy, that awakening thing is corny huh.

Anyways, a theme is a theme is a theme. So.

So what is this "fourth awakening"?

It is a sub point of point 2 (2nd Awakening) in my previous post on the recent drama over the "Rise of the Eldrazi" at Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch.

The point was that Modern's power level is in question.

This fourth point is building on that. Sorta.

Thing is, I really don't think the Eldrazi is the insurmountable scourge that people in Sally make it out to be.

Some are asking the proponents (like myself but not really - I don't mind Eye of Ugin getting banned, a pity yes, but not the end of the world), what are the answers?

Well. I am not in the habit of spoonfeeding, but if you look around answers ARE being packed and the decks seem to do well. I'll admit I mostly just armchair and just look at results, but I am sure most of the doomsayers are too.

Now warping. Everything warps. Really. Its called the metagame.

I mean if no deck affects anyone then why the sideboard yo?

Now but back on the metagame bit. As well as back to that fourth awakening thingie.

It just occured to me (well it occured earlier but this is seeing it in a different way), that the reason the new Eldrazi seem so strong is because the power level of Modern is weak.

Think about it. It was already mentioned before that many previous decks that got axed, might have been able to make the current Eldrazi a non event. But they were already banned into oblivion. So what you are actually seeing, is the result of previous bannings to keep "OPPRESSIVE" decks in check. Perhaps in those earlier time those decks were the only decks that were at that power level.

What if all those old decks were around? Like what was mentioned in Sally where some are playing Modern with no bans. You would actually have a bunch of "powerful" decks! That can balance Eldrazi with ease.

The reason the current decks are so overwhelmed by the Eldrazi is that they are used to a weaker competition. The eldrazi are just showing what Modern is: An Eternal format.

Lets back up a bit. A Eternal format. That is loaded. Some have even said Modern is not Eternal. Even Wizards appear to not consider Modern as Eternal, merely non-rotating. But Modern is Eternal if not in form, but at least by its nature. The only difference in terms of its raw cardpool, is the time in Magic's history that it starts adding cards into its cardpool (from 8th Edition). By that definition, it is eternal as it will keep on going on and on and on :p

And what we are seeing now is exactly that. The beauty of Eternal, is that old cards meet new cards and Magic happens (Johnnies love this bit!). That is exactly how, intentional or not, the new Oath Eldrazi synergised with Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple to form the monster at PT Oath.

And it will keep happening. The only way it won't happen is if they utterly nixed Standard's power level (which I hope never happens as I might really stop buying Standard products if that is so, as LIMITED is meaningless to me, it can be removed and I would feel nothing, I suspect this is true for many players!)

And that is the fourth Awakening. Modern is an Eternal format. At least by nature.

Of course a format is not just delimited by the Magic timeline it draws its cards, but also the limitations imposed by the Ban List. And this is where we can go in two directions.

I lied.

Although I realised Modern is an Eternal format by nature, it is NOT an eternal format in application because of the Ban List. It is really a rotating format. The only difference between a rotation in the normal sense that we know (like Standard and previously Extended) and what we have applied in Modern is in terms of scale. Else cards are removed and the meta warps (see i can use the w-word too ;))

So two things can happen.

1) Status Quo

 Modern as it is, is really a format for the masses. The format is focused on Midrange. The only "interaction" it recognises  are angles of attack that it can respond to. Everythng it cannot respond to, such as counterspells, LD are deemed as non interactive (roughly its like that) and is on thin ice.

Modern is a format to make the average Joe happy. Nothing too fast, too complicated, too grief (locks, LD,poison,counterspells). Combo can only win after turn 4 and it cannot be consistent.

Also we don't really care if there are answers. If they cannot be found in time (currently it is according to the Ban Schedules and Eldrazi has about a month plus left, tho Sally doomsayers waant it nowz!!!!) it is tantamount to no solutions. (i.e. No depth or artificial shallowness).

In this situation (and its very likely), Modern will continue to be what it is and something in Eldrazi might be banned.

Everything stays the same and I get to pick up cheap(er) Eye of Ugins =D

2) Wizards allows Modern to MATURE as a format

Modern is a bit like a bonsai right now. How it grows will largely be determined by how the pruning is done. Wizards can choose to allow Modern to expand more and use determined and considered prunings to make the bonsai grow ermmm... nicely? LOL

This is as opposed to 1) where wizards just kinda cuts the bonsai so that it ALWAYS STAYS THE SAME. Note this is actually key. Modern is for the masses. It exactly 1). Average Joe must not be pissed or confused. Modern is home for the masses.

In 2) Eldrazi as is may escape without bans. Answers may be found and life goes on, but Modern's power level is affirmed and increased. Note: Average Joe might not want a powerful format. So how the format developes has absolutely no relation to healthy, natural evolution of the format and EVERYTHING to do with what Average Joe wants or can accept.


It sounds like I am making fun of opponents of Eldrazi or Average Joe. But I am not. There is no easy way to put it. Average Joe is really that. I myself have hardly any time to play. I will net deck and then tweak (if I even do that). One thing I realised is that I do not care if the meta evolves and Eldrazi kills everything, that is because I see the beauty in that and I am able to switch decks easily. The Average Joe, may not be willing or able to do that. Switching decks may kill the game for him. Ultimately Modern is a safe house for players rotating out of Standard. Do we need a high power level? I think the honest answer is no. Wizards wants player to know that there is life after Standard. Modern is currently fulfilling that role. And Wizards will continue to cookie cut Modern to fit the EXACT mould that it wants.

Hence Modern's strength/evolution/whatever as a format entirely hinges on what Average Joe finds palatable.

This is why despite the fact that Modern is by nature an Eternal format. It will never be. Anything strong or seen as too strong will be cut down.

Now I sound doom and gloom. BUT. I think that is why we may see a true Eternal format. A legacy lite so to speak. This is entirely speculative at this point in time of course.

Will Modern die because of the new Eternal format? I doubt. Because Modern has a role. It is for the masses. For Average Joe (and I mean no malice :) ). Will Legacy die? Hardly. Legacy never did need support. In fact a distraction will put it exactly back on track. I mean. The same people who think Legacy is dead also think Vintage is dead. But it really is'nt :)

Sure if you consider there is no one playing in sanction tournaments and no one has the cards so you have no opponents as the format being dead... I will give it to ya, to you the format is quite dead and you have a compelling case :) For someone like me following the meta and trying to build towards the cards, the meta is alive and well. I like to keep the faith and truck on building decks I may never play but hey, thats how I roll with Magic. So no, the format is quite alive (to me at least) and at least the people in the format's respective forums would agree I guess :p

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Magic: Eternal Masters


Monday, February 15, 2016

Magic: Why Interaction is Overated

place holder

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Magic: Card Equity

place holder

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Eldrazi: Modern Awakening?

With the passing of Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch 2016, Modern looks to be in a big shake up.

It was'nt just the fact that the Eldrazi overlords have taken over Modern of course. It was a perfect storm of many factors.

I am just going to put it out now that I have a dim view of the general populace of Modern. That is a sweeping statement. I am usually less harsh. But seeing the doomsayers at work in Sally has been enlightening to me about the type of players in Modern.

So if you love Magic for what it is/was/will be,
if you can appreciate the stack,
if you can understand that "interaction" (in magic) as a concept is quite useless,
if you can do more than turn creatures sideways,
if you do not only play magic as an alternative to pokemon (sorry pokemon fans :p) -- meaning you only play midrange,
if you do not hate : LD,Poison,Discard,Counterspells
if you do not give in to the statement: "I did not get to play Magic" when you lose
if you are open to seeking answers in the cardpool (also known as metagaming) rather than simply throw your virtual arms up in dispair and ask for bannings.

I think I probably pissed most of everyone, so I am going to be generous and say, If you are at least two of the above, then yes feel free to read the rest of the post, else I will just be another old "arrogant" fogey who is disparaging on Modern and its players in general. It will be jarring to your virtual ears and you would hate and insult me for it and we could argue in circles and it will all be for nothing and a waste of each others time as we can never agree. So I am going to save us both some time and effort and simply warn of the content. This is going to be a post that is Modern unfriendly.


This is a stupid card board game. So really. Get a life. Just play the game.

That said I sure someone whom I think is going to disagree and just continue reading. You have been warned :p

So if I hate so many things about Modern, why do I still play it?

There are many reasons, in no particular order.

1) It is still Magic

2) It affects prices across formats, so I have to keep abreast of its developments

3) It is currently the forefront of speculators. If ever we want to address the problem, this is the format to look at. (thats not what this post is about though)

4) My friends play Modern, largely because it is the most accessible Eternal format. Mostly it is not by choice but by a) Vintage/Legacy having a higher perceived price point b) Standard rotation is getting nutty.

5) Its really not that bad as a format. So it is unfair to poo poo it. Too much anyways :p


It is important to know exactly what modern is. Before we draw lines and say why we like or do not like it.

Here are my thoughts previously here and here. And I hate to say "told ya" but ya told ya.

The First Awakening

One of the biggies in the recent lashing out of vitriol from the community is the realisation that bannings in Modern are just to shake up the format to make for more interesting metas. Thats not big news. I already saw it as a meta of flux in my first thoughts on modern. So seeing the vitriol bemused me. After all the justifications and dismissive sweeping statements from many a fanboy... The truth is finally out. The signs were always there I guess.

So there. Modern is a format with artificial rotations enabled via bannings. Some will argue it is not a rotation. Seriously the only difference is the number of cards that get taken out of commission. The meta will still have to adjust so it (scheduled bannings) is equivalent to a rotation.

And. As I have previously posted, I am fine with it. I bought into the format with my eyes wide open. I hope most players did, so that there is less unhappiness. They banned Second sunrise just when I completed the deck. They banned Pod before I completed it but I was just fleshing out the deck. Twin I have had for the longest time before the bannings came, but then mine was a Tarmotwin, so it was pretty similar to the Temur list that won a major tournament right after the Twin banning. Still it was the deck I took if I felt like I wanted to win more often and be more in control. However my go to deck has always been my blitz deck. It is the Naya Human Blitz from the standard of Inn block and RTR block up to gatecrash, I had upgraded to Lightning bolts and thats about it. My logic was, it was a turn 4 clock. So anything competitive will need to answer that. So ya, I was slinging card board in Modern with a Standard deck (well mostly). One reason I always used the Blitz deck was to prove a point. YOU DO NOT NEED FETCHES TO PLAY IN MODERN. And my blitz deck is still mostly fetch free. Granted, the shocks + check lands are the best possible combination of lands (short of duals) that the Blitz deck is tuned for but the point remains. You do not need fetches. Fetches were a major bugbear of players considering Modern. Hence I was very happy when Khans brought in the onslaught fetches, as it BROKE a mental barrier in people entering Modern. That is a powerful move and one reason why Modern is more popular today. It is one of the few positive moves Wizards have done to promote Modern. (The fact of whether Wizards is interested in promoting Modern is a point of contention, and I will probably relook it as a topic in future, maybe together with the concept of card equity). And for the record, with my blitz deck I normally don't have an issue with Twin decks and Affinity. Its not auto win, but neither is it an auto lose. So ya, I keep trucking with it.

Now a banning is not necessarily a bad thing.

Before I continue I must qualify my stand:

1) I am a collector (as in I look for playsets)

2) My major drive is to be able to build any deck, and less so for the pimpage (so a revise dual is all the same to me as a black bordered Alpha/Beta dual).

3) I look for cards I might find useful, this mean I don't just buy the most expensive card or the latest hotness. I typically have multiple brews and sporadically know what cards I am looking for.

4) I am cross format as a player. I hate standard, but continue to indulge it as it is a source of new cards and occasionally good stuff is printed (I consider the Oath Eldrazi to be pretty good). I am trying to play more modern as the mainstay as it is what people have access to and is not standard :) I occasionally play casual legacy. What this means is, a friend (who also likes to brew) brings his legacy concoctions and I usually bring out the latest tough nuts from standard, some modern and occasionally a real legacy deck, as well as custom pet decks that die to everything. Vintage I have. But I know of only one place where Vintage is actively played and am not too keen on going there :p I still build Vintage decks, but they just sit pretty.

5) I do not see my cards as an investment. In fact lately I have been begrudging the value of my cards. If my cards were worthless, I would not contemplate selling them. I bought it primarily to play, not as an investment. Having price spikes makes me feel happy and all but it also makes me want to sell out. Hence part of me wishes for the cards to be worthless. Hence I am actually quite supportive of reprints and the removal of the RL. My motto has always been, so many decks, so few cards!!! Cheaper cards would allow me to build yet more decks (without having to resort to playtest proxies etc). I once joked to a vendor (who was eyeing my foil Jace AOT) that I am the sort of player that holds on to his cards, from spiked high prices until the card becomes worthless. Which was pretty much the case for my Jace AOT. And I am alright with that, since I never intended to sell it.

So having qualifed that. Some things come to mind.

It is not true that "Vintage/Legacy" old fogies spend nothing on standard. That is an obvious sweeping statement that is obliterated by yours truly.

But more importantly. Prices normally tank or will tank. I see this as an opportunity. When Pod was popular and not banned, it was 20 SGD. Now its like 4-6 USD I think. Very affordable if you intend to brew for Vintage/Legacy/Casual. Ditto for things like Abrupt Decay, Deathrite Shaman and I am sure there are more. I mean, Brainstorm. oh so powerful. but a measly 1 USD. If you are able to extend your interest beyond Modern and standard, opportunities abound.

So bannings are not necessarily something bad. One door closes another opens. Oh so cliche yo?

The fact that the meta shifts? I see that as a good thing, even if artificial. Sure it would hit the players who constantly build the most expensive deck. But perhaps this is an argument for the more financially strapped? That expensive decks will always be gunned down and something a little more midrangey (hoho the puns) in price has more longevity. I think part of the problem is the win/loss ratio that one is comfortable with. Blitz was stupid cheap the first time round (nowadays the Caverns of Souls have pretty ugly prices). The win/loss ratio would be abysmal by many standards I think. But for me I just need a few scalps to make my day. So it might be an individual preference thing. I got a little flak for blitz as it is seen as boring, but from my perspective, if you cannot have a 50/50 game against blitz at least, mabbe the problem is your deck? So to me, I am providing a bench marking tool lol.

The Second Awakening

So we have established that Modern is a format where bannings are used to maintain balance as well as manipulate metas (possibly for sales?)

Now much of the vitriol and opinions are quite hilarious on Sally. You have individuals pissed with the Twin ban getting all vindictive and tryng to ban everything else. You get tron supports trying hard to advocate a restriction or no ban on Eye of Ugin. You have people trying to ban Chalice (probably all you naughty linear aggro players yo ;)) You get the combo haters saying SSG is the source of all our woes. You get combo players saying that combo is already nixed why you still bug us??? And more! You have affinity haters saying Mox Opal is the  real badboy here, it and all other fast mana too! And the Combo haters go yea! Somewhere lost in translation, Infect, Affinity and probably all linear Aggro (poor little blitz probably fits here) get lumped in with the naughty combo decks! That seems to be the sad state of Modern where everyone hates everyone. ... BAN BAN BAN. Thats a common refrain these days.

What led to these? Wait for it.

The RISE OF THE ELDRAZI. Sorry, just had to do that pun. Literally with Oath of the Gatewatch, everyone is like going "who let the dogs(replace with Eldrazi) out?!?!" And unfortunately its been pretty mindless. Who? Who? Who? Who? Who?

or if you like.

Ban! Ban! Ban! Ban! Ban!

With a single Tournament result.
Where the field was all in Hyper Aggro (where 1 cc drops are common)

Everyone has suddenly lost their minds and gone bananas.

Literally. I am so disappointed with Modern players. Partly because of the storyline.

In the storyline initially Eldrazi presence was felt but controlled. This was like when BFz was released. Mono Black and B/W Eldrazi were making their rounds 5-0 ing multiple MTGO dailies. But in actual large paper tournaments, the closest was top 16th. People were fine with Eye of Ugin etc. (Strangely everyone was alright with turn 4 Ugin who Obliterates everthing :p)

Then Oath of the Gatewatch was released. In the storyline Kozilek makes his entrance and the alliance was shattered. This was enacted in the actual paper magic where Eldrazi obliterated the competition. It was deliciously favourful. In the storyline, the battered planswalkers made oaths to overcome the Eldrazi (which they blasphemously did - blasphemous because the Eldrazi have been made out to be very powerful). But it is at this point that Reality was smashered (hoho the puns). Rather than fight back, players looked to bannnings. So instead of players being planeswalkers, apparently according to many, Wizards are the saviours who will ban the Eldrazi into oblivion.

The question I put to Modern players is this: Do you heed the Call of the Gatewatch (so corny hoho) and find a solution in the meta, or do you resign yourself to Wizards to decide your fate?

The sad reality is that many will simply wait for bans. For the amount of energy I have seen put into dispair about how broken everything is, that same person could be looking for a solution but have basically given up. And worse, they expect others to give up! That is the truly sad part.

It says many things.

Those same people do not believe in the depth of the meta.

I know I am always shitting on Modern. But to see modern players shit on their own format. I don't know what to say. As an old player, the meta, the big bad, the response, has always been part of the game. You play. You lose. You rethink your strategy. You get back in the fight. Thats what the game is about.

These days its. You play. You Lose. You Netdeck (which is fine and actually intelligent!). You lose. You. You. You dunno wat to do.

That is sad.

Thats fine actually. You can actually sit out. Wait for possibly the bannings to come. But do you have to ask for emergency bannings and shit on others that are actually trying to find a solution? I believe most modern players are better than that. Sally is afterall famous for having vocal minorities.

Now do I think the Eldrazi are insurmountable? I actually believe in the Meta, and as much as I have seen alot of emotional vitriol I have also seen a few level heads looking for solutions.

Modern Nexus has a few suggestions. And there is a thread in Sally where ideas are thrown around. I think those are glimmers of hope.

However I do not know if the Meta is given enough time. Still, the ban schedule is a prerequisite of the format and I respect and accept that. I am perfectly fine with bans, seriously, they can ban Modern to oblivion and I would be fine.

Of course I would be happy if there were no bannings and solutions were found in time. As this would mean the format is healthier than I give it credit for :P

Its actually funny to see the vitriol against Chalice. Chalice is not found in most decks. Without Mishra's workshop to make Chalice a quick veritable lock chalice is a weak card that is sometimes powerful. SSG + Chalice is really a meta response to the expectation that there will be a build up of
linear hyper aggressive strategies. It is really funny because SSG + Chalice keeps hyper aggressive strategies at bay. No where else was SSG + Chalice seen or is effective. Yet, proponents of banning Chalice speak of it like it was the ubiquitous conqueror of all things Magic (this was something up for debate in Vintage with respect to Mishra's Workshop Prison decks), yet the main user of Chalice before Protour Oath of the Gatewatch was in Fish\Merfolk decks (ostensibly to stop hyper aggro). So all the evergreen midrangers who hate hyper aggro? Chalice is your friend. It is a meta card in the pool. Kill it and you lose one tool (one very very useful tool as demonstrated by ironically Pro Tour Oath).

Now should SSG be banned. Again I wonder about the experience of modern players. I sound like an arrogant idiot yes, but truly I have no malice and I do not know how else to put it. Ritual effects and fast mana are only dangerous in redundency. I do not know if most Modern players are familiar with that concept. This is the reason SSG is fine. For people pointing to lotus petal and saying that is why SSG should be banned. It is really whether there is a critical mass of such fast mana that combo is able to exploit it. As long as combo is not able to exploit it (to the point that its speed is consistent and annoying enough to Wizards), there is'nt a case. Citing SSG enabling Chalice at 1 is funny as written in the above para.

The fact that the Eldrazi deck can spit out 6 2/2s turn one had some people up in arms. 1 Eye of Ugin. 4 Eldrazi Mimic, 2 Endless one.

Thats 12 power on turn one.

my blitz can do (with SSG installed) 1 SSG, 4 Burning Tree Shaman, 1 land, 1 Mayor of Avabruck.

Thats 13 power on turn one.

Yay for oneupmanship :)

Of course in all seriousness, the power of the Eldrazi deck is in that its next draw could be a thought-knot seer (actually it cannot, with that hand it is not possible to play Thought-knot on turn two, a less nutty hand with less mimics and more lands would enable a turn two Thought-knot). And oh look, no chalice on 1.

So there is no doubt the deck is "all in" powerful. Is there a solution? That remains to be seen, but I would rather people try and fail than not try and just fail.

I think Modern is fine. Answers will be found if given time and effort. In the face of lack of time and effort, the banning machinery will do its job if necessary. So really. There is nothing to be worried about. It just an interesting exercise in determining the depth of the format. Can the format handle the threat of the Eldrazi.

Eldrazi in the Pro Tour brought the question of the depth of the format into sharp relief.

There can be only two outcomes about the strength of the meta or the power level.

If no solution is found. The Eldrazi will get something banned. What does this mean? This means that the power level is actually relatively low, and the Eldrazi cards are just too strong for the format. We may never know if this is true if there is actually a solution but no one found it before the banning commences. In any case however, the net result is the same, whether the power level is actually truly low, or is artificially kept low by the banning schedule (i.e. there is actually depth but not enough time to find it)

If a solution is found. This becomes very interesting. We will then know the level of aggression the format is capable of. As well as the requisite answers (if any). The format then matures in terms of our understanding of it. And we get new Eldrazi overlords! With possibly a mana base "almost" as strong as Vintage Mishra's Workshops.

The "Rise" of the Eldrazi has effectively probed a question or posted a challenge to the Modern community. What is the power level of the format? Can it demonstratively contain the Eldrazi invasion? It is like Achilles in the movie "Troy" where after beating the champions, he thundered "Is there no one else?!", in the next few month/s we will either see the weakness of the format or more correctly how low powered the format is or we might see a solution rise to the challenge of the Eldrazi. I am hoping for an evolution in the meta of Modern as opposed to status quo via bannings.

The resultant power level of Modern is a pertinent consideration as it may indicate Wizards direction.

Does Wizards want a Modern stronger than Standard? Or does Wizards expect Modern's power level to be weaker than standard? Does Wizards want the power level of Modern to be in tandem with standard? Or does Wizards not care?

Now there is a case to be made for why Wizards would want Modern to be weaker or par in power to
standard. Even a case for both (Standard and Modern) to be weak. (I think I would look at that later) However there would be repercussions for that. The reason this point even came up is there are some calls for Modern to be pared down to Standard power levels, which is entirely possible once we established that the banlist is used to craft the meta of choice.

Honestly for now I think Wizards does not really care about Moderns power level with respect to Standard. That in itself is a good thing :) So I will assume that Modern's power level is supposed to be higher than that of Standard. This leads to the third point.

The Third Awakening

So we have established two things so far.

1) Modern is a format regulated by scheduled bannings to "keep things fresh"
2) The power level of the format is currently in question

Like I mentioned before I am perfectly fine with bannings. It is one way to regulate a format. It may in fact be necessary in order to customise the format to the whims and fancies of Wizards.

Be it increasing the speed and power or decreasing the speed and power. Or simply to keep things fresh. What is most stark about Modern as a format is it is the first format to be artificially custom baked to the parameters wanted by Wizards. In past formats, there is a (perhaps false) concept of the meta being expressed by the cards available as restricted by a cardpool filtered chronologically.

For instance Vintage is everything. Some cards are restricted, but overall the idea is to get the "taste" of Vintage. Legacy is again everything but with out power nine. Extended for a time was a cardpool of eleven? rotating sets. While standard was the current "flavor". Wizards largely keep out of bannings, only stepping in when it was clear that a card was problematic. While standard was the custom meta format where Wizards exercised more control. Modern was originally borned of the same concept (we do not really know that, it is possible that right off the bat, they had determined that Modern was to be the Eternal format that can be heavily customised via bannings) limited chronologically (only 8th Edition onwards).

Modern is different from other Eternal formats in that its banlist is used to heavily customise its meta. As opposed to Legacy and Vintage where it is largely left alone to develop its own "taste".

That rant spanning over a few paras is just to say, in a nutshell, I think the current way of bannings, which altho might be construed as rather banal (hoho) by some, I personally feel it is acceptable. However one must collect and build your decks with the bannng style and purpose in mind so as to avoid unhappiness when a bannning does not go your way.

The current flavour of Modern appears to be:

1) No faster than turn four kills
2) Midrange is king (so far)
3) Weak combo and control
4) Must be fresh *new!*

So again I am alright with the banning schedules and random bannings. (well not really random since, the constant is actually change)

What I am concerned with is whether it will affect the printing of good cards usable in older formats. I have already qualified earlier that I am more of a cross format person. Hence I was concern about the power level of Modern. Barring card equity (which I will talk about in another post) issue, any level of power may actually be printed in Standard and leaked into Modern subsequently. The reason it is safe, is that it is always bannable.

There is an aversion to the banning of cards. I remember Aaron once said they hated to ban cards as it means you do not get to use it. So they try to avoid that. I believe they meant it at that time. But Modern as a concept (here I am assuming that Modern is a format that will be govern by a very liberal banlist construed to create a custom meta of choice) neccesitates or assumes a veritable banlist. Moving forward, Wizards have shown that the ban criteria is not simply a state of health, hence more likely it is business driven.

Given this state of affairs, I would keep an open mind about the bannings. A card banned in Modern can still be used in Legacy or Vintage or in the worse case: custom casual formats. (If you are not bound by sanctioned formats, there is nothing to stop you from building your decks banned or not.)

This is my third point, what the Oath of Gatewatch Eldrazi have shown is that it is still possible to breathe new life into Legacy and Vintage. Wizards flexing their creativity and not fearing too much  about Modern means that strong cards (cards strong enough to challege the Legacy and Vintage cardpools) can be printed. Mistake or no. overpowered or no. Eldrazi lands mana production together with the new Eldrazi have powered a new deck in Legacy and Vintage. Even tho the mana production is weaker than Mishra's Workshops. But the draw back of Eldrazi lands together with the fact that the Oath Eldrazi operate by disrupting the opponent as opposed to Workshops applying locks on the oppnent creates a dichotomy of two similar yet VERY different decks. Whereas Workshops either use the fast mana to lock down or go ravager affinity, Eldrazi lands go the route of beatdown with disruption. And most importantly, all the Eldrazi components are fairly recent (the oldest is worldwake) and accesible to the current batch of players. While reserved list and old scarce cards that have high power levels are out of reach, the barrier to entry to Legacy (possible Vintage) is now lowered with the availability of the new cards that can challenge the old card pool. Put another way, Wizards has issues printing cards from the RL,  but for the first time (well may be not first) they are printing cards that can rival those cards, such that it obviates the need to reprint the RL cards.

Is'nt this wonderful :)

I think this is an extremely positive development and vindicates my faith in Wizards in my continued support of their standard cards (i.e. it gives me reason to buy Standard).

Now there is definitely an equity problem here. As it is not in Wizards interest to support Legacy or Vintage. However as myself have shewn, I am willing to buy standard product if relevant materials are printed. Legacy and Vintage does not have to be constantly shaken, but an occasional bone thrown is more than enough to keep the faith. And more importantly. Magic is a game built upon its history. Printing cards that can shake the core of Magic down to its roots, harkens back to Magic twenty years before. Making the past relevant to the present. This is the equity that Wizards has produced with the Eldrazi in Oath. Indeed it should not be produced en mass (I mean why play Standard or Modern if you can play Legacy or Vintage), but in controlled deterministic amounts, encouraging players to buy in and build towards Legacy and Vintage, this holds players for the long term. Lord knows it held me for more than twenty years. That alone is something maintaining a low powered Standard will never achieve and should be worth something.


In short, I think it is an awakening of sorts in Modern with the release of the Oath of the Gatewatch Eldrazi:

1) Modern is a format regulated by scheduled bannings to "keep things fresh"
2) The power level of the format is currently in question
3) Cards relevant to Legacy and Vintage may be printed

These are powerful messages. They may not directly pertain to Modern. But they are strong signals for an old fogey like me who is cross format.

1) Knowing that bannings are to maintain a meta in flux allows you to plan accordingly when you buy into a deck. Long term it may also reduce speculation as nothing is a safe "investment"

2) The power level in Modern is adjustable and with the ban list announcement, it will be clearer what the powerlevel of Modern is supposed to be whether naturally via meta response or artificially via bannings. It will either demonstrate the depth of the format or the need for the banlist. An interesting point is this. Even if there are answers, the answers might end up being prison decks for instance R/W LD or 8rack. Even though these decks may then be answered by some midrangey deck. IF players complain enough (since they may not like the answer decks and have no patience for the answer to the answer decks to surface), the bannings may still happen, since the banlist is largely business driven :) luckily for me there is point 3

3) They have not reached the point where they actively block players from accessing Legacy and Vintage (and personally I think that is wise as there is still room for growth) by printing only weak cards and ensuring they only print weak cards. Oath (and some sets, like Khans, and Avacyn Restored) have shown that creativity is still alive. And as long as they push the envelope, there is the possibility of printing Legacy\Vintage relevant cards. This last point keeps old players like me interested in Standard and begrudge Modern a little less :p

Thats all I have for this post. Happy Valentines!

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

[Decklist] Modern Naya LD

I have been working in this list forever...

well not really more like throw the pile together 1 or 2 years together then forgot about it, updated once in a while when I remembered it but never got to build it.

Then earlier this year in Jan I updated it again. Coincidentally there was a little action in a forum thread on a modern boros build. That inspired me to make some changes to my own list. Specifically that like used the same LD package: Boom//Bust and Flagstones of Troikar. But it mainly relied on Ensnaring Bridges plus Cloistered Bottle and Ghostly prison to stop creatures from attacking. His primary kill con was using Magus of the Tabernacle to kill off creatures once his LD is online and in effect. The aggro retardant package keeps the hordes at bay until the Magus drops. He also pack Ajani Vengeant to 1) do a bit of virtual LD a la Rishadan Port 2) one sided Armageddon to throughly wreck the opposing board.

I liked that list alot, Tho it folds to burn or anything that does not relie on attacking to win. I believe tat list also packs Lightning Helixes (Ajani provides a little of that too!)

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Magic: Why the turn one Chalice should not be feared (at least for Modern)

Why the turn one Chalice should not be feared.

When I first saw the turn one Chalice and the following beatdowns from the CFB Eldrazi (Pro Tour Oath). My first point of comparison was to the Workshops Prison from vintage. But on further thinking its not so bad. I was a little excited because, Workshops does not really need the power 9 to function. It does power up, but thats only because, well it is accelerant, you might as well use it. but Shops is like a persistent lotus, so power nine mana was always a "nice to have". Hence with most of the locks legal in modern (aside from spheres), that was the first thing I thought of. However thinking through, it is not likely :)  Below is roughly my thought process in a rant form. Enjoy.

1) Firstly Turn one chalice has always been around. So why scary now? Its the quick beat down that makes it scary! But fret not. its not as consistent as Shops.

2) I have thought about it and it is actually rather scary but compared to the Workshops prison (which I love), the chalice is really not as consistent. Think about it all there is to put out the turn one chalice is Simian Spirit Guide. Thats it. Sure one can mull into it but that in itself comes at a cost (mitigated by recent mulligan scrye rules of course)

Lets do a comparison::


Workshop Prison

Acceleration - Mishra's Workshop package

CFB Eldrazi

Acceleration - Eldrazi Temple/Eyes/Urborg(Tomb version)

Now this is the part which makes it scary but really might be okay. Mishra's Workshop is like Tron but not having to assemble the pieces. It can drop 3 cc at turn one, 6 on two, 9 on three. All without Moxen and Lotus

Eldrazi package though fast is more like Turn one 2 mana, turn two 4 mana etc etc but you can obviously see it is slower already.

So the acceleration is fast, but might be alright. Its not Vintage nutty quite yet.

In this department there is a resemblance

Now for Fat beatsticks.

This part is where the Eldrazi from Oath are nice, Reality Smashers, Endless One, Mimics, THought Knots. These are all rubbish without the Eldrazi package but are rather strong with the Eldrazi land. Now I am tempted to to say horribly strong or something like that. But if we want Modern to mature, the power levels must be allowed to flex alittle and see if the meta can adjust. I suspect it can.

Mishra's Workshop Prison can also throw out Fatties quickly and this is where I find the resemblence. It is fast and can dump Phatties extremely quickly. This is not the traditional idea of ramp. This is more Shops kind of speed dumps abeit a little slower. Fat packed with disruption is what makes the Eldrazi rather potent.

In this department there is a resemblance

Locks and Disruption.

I don't have a list ready but most of Workshops list rely quite a bit on fast locks.

Note that Workshops cannot cast Eldrazi as the Workshop mana can only beused for Artifacts

This "drawback" feature cuts both ways, Eldrazi too cannot cast artifacts with their fast mana. As it is for Eldrazi only.

This is where the resemblance is less and the decks are more distinctive. While shops relies on locks along the curve, Eldrazi is more on the disruption that the Eldrazi creature provides.

This is why, I suspect we do not need to worry too much about the new Eldrazi decks developing in lock decks with Chalice on one.

The only way for chalice on one is the SSG. Which is only 4 slots and a one shot. The lock cannot be varied easily (say for chalice on two, three etc unlike for Workshops).

So chalice for Eldrazi is quite a one mode tool.

Compare that with Workshops, where you have Chalice(now restricted), Thorn of Amethyst, Spheres of Resistance, Lodestone Golem, possibly Null rods. Eldrazi cannot reliably cast those like Shops.

So the question is will that mostly one mode chalice coupled with the other Eldrazi disruption be enought to keep Eldrazi at the top.

Now I am not saying Eldrazi is weak. It definitely looks like it is getting out of Tier 2 territory. But I am saying that the meta is new and hey this is the first time we are looking at them! Its still too early to call out the ban hammers. People may be losing not because it is insurmountable, but because they are unprepared. There is a difference.

So in summary:

Eldrazi is not quite as scary as Shops after thinking about it.

1) Produce mana quickly (but still slower than Shops)
2) Dump out fat fast
3) Inconsistent turn 1 chalice + Disruption

1) Produce mana quickly
2) Dump out fat fast
3) consistent turn 1 chalice + locks on curve

Now. It is still scary. But I like scary decks. I just hope its not so scary that it gets banned :p I am always excited when a modern deck can potentially go toe to toe against a legacy or vintage deck (this needs testing and I think some already are ;))

I am excited because that means, playing legacy or vintage becomes more of a reality if current card pools can compete against older card pools, even without reprints of the Reserved List. This is true even if stuff gets banned in Modern... so its all good :)

I am eager to see how the meta pans out :) I really like the Eldrazi developments thus far. I just hope the meta is able to rise to the challenge rather than collapse in bannings.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Calamity Carl is here!!!!


its always a confusion between Chinese Lunar New Year and Valentines Day :)

But Calamity Carl is here!!!!

Stay tuned....


I have finally completed the cruise run!!!


Don't forget to buy the Monkey Jade Base!!!

Anyways the event ends on the 16 of Feb, So hurry ;)

[20160214 23:34]

Labels: , , ,

Take the Magic: The Gathering 'What Color Are You?' Quiz.

HTML Hit Counter
HTML Hit Counter

Click Here to Advertise on my site
Firefox 2
//online countries Page Rank Tool
Support Wikipedia