Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Casual Gamer

So yeah that happened. 

Grand Prix Detroit went down and I lead the charge to the bottom. I had high hopes for my deck going in but it was one of those days where the Magic gods leave you in your own personal Apocalypse. I went 0-4 with an overall record of 3-8. Outside of round 1 I had a shot in all games but found myself chasing my combo into the deep rounds.

In short, it was a rough one kids.

Now it's not all on the deck. Some games I dropped because simply I hadn't play tested enough. My nerves got the best of me in the early rounds leading to some HUGE rookie mistakes. I screwed up my own combo in one game by discarding the wrong card. Yup, rookie mistakes. 

Next time I would play in more regional tournaments to work out those nerves. Had I done more testing I probably would have been more calm and let the games unfold instead of trying to rush through the motions. I would say that cost me two games I know of and at least a match win.

The big takeaway from Saturday would be noticing some of the parts of the deck that just didn't work. For one I need a better back up loot card besides either Izzet charm or Tormenting voice. A good one casting cost one would be perfect. Now I'm not looking for another Faithless (though that would be cool) but something that allows for a card dump and draw. 

After the weekend I need to go back for some tweaks. While the deck is a combo deck, it could benefit from some new parts. If you look at Splinter Twin, it was a combo inside a control deck. One thing I flirted with after this weekend is adding in a Death's Shadow (or two).

I found myself draining my own life plus taking a few shots while chasing my combo. Tasigur was a good option to go offensive while I searched and survived. The shadow would be another that grows as I search. Again it's a tinker but could be the new wrinkle that solves some problems. 

Adding a Death's Shadow could open up using a "Spoils of the vault" in the deck. It's a card that allows you to name a card then reveal cards from the top of the library until you hit that card. Then lose a life for each card revealed. It can be a suicide plunge but does put combo pieces where you need them. The downside could result into a nice nudge for a Shadow. 

My final thought was to add more lands. While spirit guides are nice, I found myself wishing I had the more dependable mana instead of the bulk early game mana. I might jump the mana base up by two lands while dropping down a spirit guide & maybe a Tormenting Voice. 

In the end I had fun. Playing in a GP with 2500+ players is an experience in itself. I picked up parts for my Mardu Burn deck in Modern. Plus I got to see the holes in my current brew. I'll take my beats and rework the deck. Now we cross our fingers that Shadows Over Innistrad brings a few options. 

For those looking to see my Mardu Burn deck, I'll be posting on that next week. I'm still working the main board and figuring if I go mostly red with splashed of black & white or if I go a more balance color scheme. Either way it should be a fun build. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Casual Gamer

I'm probably the worst blogger on the internet. If content is king then I have been a pauper lately. To be honest I've been spending a bunch of my "Magic" time on one thing: My Modern Deck.

If you hang at the shop, or have swung by for a FNM, then you've probably heard me talk about my deck. It's kinda all I talk about recently. Those that have read my blog will know Magic Solitaire, an attempt at a consistent first turn kill deck. It was fun but never anywhere near consistent.

Those who have read even further back knew about my love for Narset. There are just certain cards that certain players fall in love with. The enlightened master is one of mine. I've been obsessed with making a deck for her. She spawned Magic Solitaire.

Now it will be a year since I posted about that deck. A year to tinker.

It was fun hunting first turn kills but it just didn't win. I decided to take it back to the lab and build a more fluid deck that might give up the dream of turn 1 kills for more reliable turn 2 or 3 kills.

I got super serious about it when I found out last year that the 2016 Detroit Grand Prix would be Modern Constructed. I don't play high end magic often. Not enough time. But now my goal was to bring this rogue deck to the biggest tournament around and hopefully shock a few. I knew I wanted to keep the core of the deck the same. It was going to be a Narset-Goryo deck that aimed to abuse her ability.

At the same time the world met Grishoalbrand. It's a great combo deck. I borrow some from it. Mostly the Griselbrands. I just don't like the other parts of the deck. Adds too much clunk for what I'm trying to do. Plus I believe if any part of that deck gets banned it will be the Shoal and not Goryo. The Vengeance is too much fun for deck builders and isn't the card that makes the deck unbalanced.

As I added Grisel, I shaved down the Mana base while finding a good stable of cantrips and value cards. The deck is a combo deck that tries to cut it as close to the edge as possible. The true goal is to put all the right pieces in all the right places. That's when I knew the part I was missing.

I needed to learn to count cards.

Remember counting cards isn't illegal. It's high speed high pressure mathematics. It's a skill like shooting a basketball. You get kicked out of Casinos not for cheating but for pushing the odds in your favor. They like betting against those who can't predict the outcomes. Counting cards helps you peep a fuzzy future.

That's exactly what this deck became. It was about looking at the knowledge you have (your hand) and figuring out how quick you can dig through your deck & the odds of getting the right cards. It's not 100% guaranteed but it does tip the odds in your favor.

Here's the deck list to help

Name: Suicide Squad (Aka League Of Legends)

Creatures (13)
1x Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
3x Simian Spirit Guide
2x Tasigur, The Golden Fang
3x Griselbrand
4x Narset, Enlightened Master

Spells (37)
4x Faithless Looting
4x Gitaxian Probe
4x Noxious Revival
4x Serum Visions
3x Thought Scour
4x Goryo's Vengeance
2x Manamorphose
2x Tormenting Voice
1x Jeskai Ascedancy
3x Relentless Assault
2x Waves Of Aggression
4x Fury of the Horde

Lands (10)
1x Swamp
3x City Of Brass
2x Gemstone Mine
4x Mana Confluence

Sideboard (15)
1x Boseiju, Who Shelters All
1x Dead Drop
2x Pact Of Negation
2x Pull From Eternity
4x Wear//Tear
2x Izzet Charm
1x Melira, Sylvok Outcast
2x Pyroclasm

That's the deck

The most important part of playing the deck is understanding what opening hand to keep. If you start with too many junk cards (Jeskai & xtra attack cards) then you're ice skating uphill. You want combo pieces (Narset, Grisel, Goryo), Cantrips, or cards that put pieces in their places (loots). Thanks to the new mulligan rule you are given almost two starting hands.

On first draw you get to see seven cards. If you mulligan, with the scry on keep, you still get to see seven cards. When looking at your cards try to see how far your hand will let you look.

Serum Visions has a look value of 3. When cast it shows you three cards deep into your deck. Same with Thought Scour but Visions is a little less chaotic. I originally had Tomb Scours that have a look value of 5 but with no draw and all dump they tended to be too unreliable.

As you look over the deck you'll notice it doesn't have a shuffle mechanism. One of the biggest parts of Modern is search and shuffle. Unless forced to do so, this deck won't. It's simple. You don't want to. It's hard to card count a shuffling deck.

Now those that are still foggy on the card counting I will go through a sample starting hand to hopefully show. I draw Goryo, Brass, Serum Vision, 2 Faithless, Spirit Guide, & Relentless Assault. I have a card count number of 14. I see seven cards and have the ability with what I have to see seven cards deeper. That is nearly 25% of my deck. I have a combo piece and two ways to place my other pieces. I have 7 chances to hit the other combo piece which make up ~14% of your remaining deck.

That's good odds.

In this situation you would Serum to draw and set your next draw. If it's a sweet scry you can use the spirit guide to loot and speed up the process. The Assault gives you a bonus dump card you don't have to worry about in your hand.

That's the deck in a very small nutshell. I could get really detailed and go over each card in the deck plus their purpose. Yet I want the four of you reading this to come back. I won't bore you.

In the end I don't know what will happen. Which is ironic since I based the deck on seeing the fuzzy future. What I do know is that I will catch somebody with the deck. I'll drop a jaw or two. And that will make this year long journey complete.

Good luck to those who play this weekend and I'm coming for a HoF pin!