Archive for the ‘Card Evaluation’ Category

Wretched Banquet is Awesome

September 6, 2009

Ok, so let’s talk about a card people don’t already know is awesome: Wretched Banquet.  It’s considered a tenth pick in a draft, and I agree with the assessment.  I’m probably the only person to consider running it in a deck and hope for it to be PTQ worthy.  But to see where I’m coming from, let’s use the card evaluation method from two posts ago.

Step 1, best case scenario: When your opponent has a single creature, it’s removal for one, with no restrictions.  When you have no creatures, it’s removal for one, with the only restriction that it gets one of the weakest creatures.  At one mana, this is entirely acceptable.  When your deck doesn’t run any creatures with power less than 4, it’s removal for one that almost always hits your opponent’s creatures.

Save for a fatty-dependant meta, we can see that in the right deck, Wretched Banquet is actually a high quality removal spell.  Your opponent has a bunch of spirit tokens.  That’s what infest is for.

Step 2, worst case scenario: Your opponent has a putrid leech and a boggart ram gang on the table.  That’s what doom blade or deathmark are for.  Your opponent has an army of naya fatties armed with behemoth sledges and only a pair of heroic pestilent katharis are keeping you from utter desolation; you’re playing for a nice shiny promo lightning greaves that you want SO BAD, and you draw wretched banquet.  Three turns in a row.

So, when playing limited, or in a deck not built for it, wretched banquet can seriously disappoint you.  I wanted those lightning greaves…

Step 3: See step two.  Your deck needs to be built with wretched banquet in mind, or it’s highly underwhelming.  Whelming at best.

This card is not for every deck, but in the right control deck, it’s astoundingly good.  For example, in a deck where your creature base is Ashenmoor Gougers, Vampire Nocturnuses, and Demigods of Revenge.

To illustrate my point, here is a list of interesting things I’ve killed with wretched banquet:

-Broodmate Dragon

-Dragon Token

-Figure of Destiny

-Baneslayer Angel

-Sower of Temptation

-Merrow Reejerey

-Demigod of Revenge (mine… lousy mind control)

My favorite is getting my opponents 30 buck Baneslayer.  He let out a sound that implied he was both very impressed and very unimpressed.


Card Evaluation

September 6, 2009

There are many many factors in building a deck, card interactions and synergies, archetypes, and ability to fit into a meta all are excellent things to consider.  But players often overlook a simple way to improve their decks: the cards in it must be good.

This seems like simple advice but you’d be amazed how often it’s overlooked.  In an effort to build to an archetype, around a collection of cards, or to a tribe, often cards that are bad sneak in.  Telling which cards are amazing and which are stinkers is a valuable skill (especially if you play limited), and something that can be something of a black art.  There are two pitfalls players fall into when they evaluate cards.

#1: That card sucks.  This is by far the most common.  Many players look at a card and see it in it’s worst possible situation.  The most extreme example I can come up with is Tarmogoyf.  I got in a number of arguments  with other players with it first was previewed.  I (correctly) believed it to be an absolute monster.  Most other people saw a 0/1 for two, that never got as big as his big daddy Lhurgoyf. (Why oh why did I not order a playset back then?)

#2: Every card is broken: This is much more common than people think.  A number of my friends look at every card in the best possible light envision it doing what it does and winning the game.  In this situation, it’s very hard to contextualize cards.  If you think both Nightshade Shemers and Reveillark are broken, you’re going to end up making poor decisions filling slots in your deck.

Obviously, these are two extremes.  The obvious guess is to find something in between.  However, there’s *some* merit in both of these pitfalls, and they can be balanced out by pitting each method against the other.

So here’s my method:

Step 1: Look at a card, and imagine the very best situations you would want this card for.  How good is it when it’s awesome?  How likely are these situations?  How much control do you have about shaping such situations?

Step 2: Look at this card at it’s worst.  When is this a dead card?  When would you rather not play it than play it?  How often do those situations come up?

Step 3: How does this card interact during a normal game of magic.  Imagine some of your kitchen table magic decks.  What happens if you draw this card completely at random?

Let’s start with an obvious one: Tarmogoyf.  Goyfy was a buck rare at one point (sigh…), and people frowned when he showed up in a pack.  Now he’s a tournament staple.  Let’s see how he fares under the above method

Step one:  You played a fetchland and tarfire the turn before you played Tarmogoyf.  He’s a 3/4 for two.  That’s incredibly efficient.  Even in a budget deck, you can use cantripping artifacts, terromorphic expanses, and sorceries and instants to get this guy up to 3/4 the turn you attack.  That puts this guy as one of the most efficient beaters of all time, and only gets better as the game goes on.  Situations like this are very easy to manufacture, and are things one would consider doing anyways.

Step two: You have nothing in your graveyard, and he’s a useless 0/1.  It’s actually quite rare you have nothing in your graveyard, and there are a great many cards that go to the graveyard as a part of their operating properly, such as the fetchlands and most instants and sorceries.  This is an unlikely situation.  The other worst situation is that Tarmogoyf suffers the buisness end of a removal spell.  This is generally likely, as he’s only able to shrug off the occasional red removal spell.

Step three:  Odds are you have between one and 3 cards in your graveyard by the time tarmogoyf untaps.  This puts him at either inefficient to start, or very very efficient.  As the game goes on, tarmogoyf gets better.

As we can see, tarmogoyf is revealed to be an incredibly efficient creatures (as long as some considerations are taken) under this method.

Next time I post on topic, I’ll pick something a little less obvious.