Planechase is awesome

September 6, 2009

I made my way to One Stop for my local planechase release party.  Boy do I like this product.  While I love deckbuilding, really enjoy a really intense tournament game, and love limited; by far my favorite times playing magic involve sitting around a table, drinking a beverage or two, and playing big multiplayer free-for-alls with my high school friends.  (That, or our variant of emperor, if there’s six of us)  This product is built exactly for that.

The intensely swingy nature of the planes ads a huge element of randomness to the game, which is a great means of leveling the playing field a bit.  I had an absolute riot playing it.  When I’m having a lot of fun, I tend to get loud, and laugh boomingly.  I suspect my reactions were drawing positive interest, as the shop owner kept trying to get me to play in more games.

As an additional plus, the rare density and card playability is significantly higher than normal for what 25 (Canadian) dollars normally get you.  I’d been looking into making an Arcum Dagsson EDH deck, and I just netted myself a lodestone myr, a darksteel forge, a loxodon warhammer, and a bunch of other great stuff.

Buy it!  I want the product to be a massive success, so that they’ll make more.

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.

Hey Hey

September 3, 2009

Hello my name is Kyle Fuchko, also known as Sucros.  I’m someone who considers himself an intermediate Magic: the Gathering player, with a knack for rogue deckbuilding.  I’m just just taking my first steps into the world of tournament magic.  I’ve noticed that there are a great many resources out there for beginning magic player, explaining the basics, and a massive number of articles out there exploring the minutiae of competitive level magic.

What I’ve found is a lack of support for the bridge between.  What the heck is “Rock”?  How does mono-black control work, and is it viable in standard? Why does no one play Mycoid Shepherd?  As someone who’s looked into such things simply from experience, I thought I’d pass such things on.

Example topics I might cover in the future include “The role of black in control”, “Spotting synergy and combos” and “Why Wretched Banquet is awesome.”

I hope I’ll be able to provide some worthwhile information for you, my as of yet nonexistent readers.

-Sucros