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Thread: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

  1. #21
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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

    I agree with Aggro_Zombies about Bant Survival 100%! It's a poor choice, so nobody test against it!
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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

    Quote Originally Posted by Aggro_zombies View Post
    EDIT: @MMogg - if that's the case, Zoo pilots who are MTGO-savvy will likely be packing some number of red Blasts post-board. It would be nice if there were more cheap ways to kill planeswalkers in each of the colors, but for now it's better to just fight it out. Also, more midrange-ish Zoo decks running something like Sylvan Library or their own manlands can fight back pretty effectively by ensuring consistent attackers. I'd expect Zoo to shift in that direction anyway since Library can actually be okay in the mirror.
    The trouble is that Landstill outdraws Zoo, and Zoo decks at most run 2 Sylvans, so if a Sylvan hits (and stays... 2 creatures and a Library would be a nice 3 for 1 with EE), maybe it's gg for Zoo, but I don't think that's something to rely on as a game plan. Also, depending how the meta shifts with the new B&R list, there might just be anti-blue sideboard slots available. I think Price of Progress is one of the best cards in this match up, but getting that through may take a lot of counter baiting. Also, post board, depending on the Landstill build, may include Spell Pierce or even Hydroblast, again depending how the meta shifts. Also, I have seen quite a few with variable Planeswalkers that lead to variable win conditions. It's exciting and interesting to see this deck develop. Speaking of speed, I've seen it survive versus Burn/Sligh, which is way more balls-to-the-wall than Zoo.

    As for Lands . . . unfortunately there is no way to know, but I really don't think it will be so prevalent in Columbus in the first few rounds at least. Once you get to the upper tables, maybe it will be more dominant, but the cost prohibitive nature means it's certainly not going to make up a sizable portion of the meta. There are just too many other viable and cheaper choices. It's not like a Standard situation where the number of truly best decks are less than a handful in number. I know a lot of cards/decks are expensive in Legacy, but that $300 investment is hard to swallow for only one card that is used pretty much in one deck.

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  3. #23

    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

    Why isn't the Counter-Top Thopter-Sword thread in the Established forum?

  4. #24

    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

    Updates!

    We're now a little more than three weeks out from the Big Event, but that's not why I'm writing this now - M11 has recently been completely spoiled, so I want to address some of the cards from that set (which will be legal for tournament play at the time of the GP!) and their potential applications in Legacy.

    But first, I want to revise my metagame predictions a little bit: I think Reanimator is now a deck worth testing against. I left it out of my original post as something of a cop-out; I didn't want to have to deal with it at the time because the list was still very much back on the drawing board. However, I've seen several lists now that look promising, and with maindecks reconfiguring and sideboards shifting to more general graveyard hate, Reanimator is in an excellent position to make a comeback. What's changed?

    First, the new Reanimator lists coming out are running more creatures in the main, usually to the tune of seven or eight guys. These are usually configured as 2 Iona, 2 Sphinx, 1-2 Inkwell, 1 It That Betrays (WHY was this not a name from Kamigawa?!), and 1 of some other guy: Terastodon, Realm Razer, or maybe more niche things like Bloodghast. Either way, there's more men in the main to turn Careful Studies into pseudo-Entombs, and the most successful lists will probably have double Sphinx as a nod to Zoo. A quick aside to people testing with/against this deck: please, please, please do not get Iona against every deck. Please.

    The rest of the Mystical slots that weren't converted to creatures are converted to more dig: Ponder, Strategic Planning, or maybe LDV. Dispel is also working its way into these decks as an extra answer to Plow effects on your non-shroud guys, with the usual cast of Daze, Thoughtseize/Duress, and Force to back it up. I've been working with an Infoninja team list recently that I've been quite impressed with, but I can't disclose it here as doing so would cause my fellow team members to kill me in my sleep one night.

    Back to what I want to talk about: Twelfth Edition, also known as Magic 2011.

    There are a couple of niche cards that might trickle into the format, of which the ones most likely to make an impact are the white and red Leylines (the black Leyline is a reprint and therefore a known quantity, but since the art is much better on this version I'd recommend picking some up anyway). For those who don't know, the white Leyline gives you troll shroud, while the red Leyline makes damage unpreventable and shuts off life gain, all for and , respectively. Let's get the obvious out of the way: these are strictly sideboard cards, and they are also subject to the Leyline Syndrome - namely, while they are theoretically available in every color, the only decks that will consider them will be decks capable of paying retail for them, or decks running awful jank like Serum Powder. With that out of the way, what do they do?

    First, the white Leyline is immensely useful for decks looking either for storm hate, or burn hate. Zoo will probably be interested in this card for the former reason, as it is probably much better than Mindbreak Trap when combined with hate bears (being on-color helps too), but it's unlikely to be a Zoo sideboard staple until after Columbus because of the likely sharp decrease in the number of people playing combo for that event. On the other hand, white control decks like Quinn will be interested in the Leyline both for its anti-storm applications and for its anti-burn applications, allowing that deck to shore up a shaky Zoo matchup (yes, yes, Quinn is supposed to win when the stars align and Zoo draws poorly and Quinn gets a fast start with the right topdecks). Other decks in white will likely overlook this card since they're usually also in blue, and therefore have access to counters and/or Counterbalance.

    The red Leyline is almost strictly a card for Zoo and Sligh, but it could be useful for both. The anti-prevention clause completely shuts down most of the tricks Lands uses to corral Zoo's offensive (Glacial Chasm, Maze of Ith, and Zuran Orb), leaving Lands with just mana denial and Tabernacle. Zoo could already finish off a Lands deck with PoP; now it doesn't have to over-commit to force its way through Mazes. The red Leyline also does splash damage to Thopterbalance: while it doesn't stop the chump blocking, at least it stops the life gain, which could allow the Zoo player to tie up the Thopter player's mana every turn making Thopters, thereby allowing burn spells to slip through and end it. However, Null Rod shuts down Thopterbalance much more effectively, and there aren't many other decks in the format that either gain life or prevent damage that don't also get boned by the Rod. Therefore, the red Leyline is almost strictly an anti-Lands sideboard card for metas where that deck is out in force, and it probably won't see much play in Columbus. Tabernacle, unfortunately, does still cost $300.

    Next up on the list: Dark Tutelage, a Dark Confidant enchantment for . My initial reaction was that the card was worse than Bob, both because of the higher cost and the fact that it's harder for you to off it if it's killing you (on the other hand, it's also harder for the opponent to kill it when it's winning you the game, so...). However, there are a number of decks in the format, especially Thopterbalance, that would be interested in this card as a trump versus control and other slow matchups. The life loss there is mitigated on two fronts: Top, and Thopter Foundry's life gain. The added cost is offset by the benefit of being more difficult to kill while also having a relevant card type for Enlightened Tutor, allowing the Thopter player to side just one or two in and still get the full benefit. There's a SCD thread about it here for those interested.

    For Columbus, I expect the majority of Counterbalance decks to be of the Thopterbalance variety thanks to its recent performance at the St. Louis 5k, and I expect that at least some of these decks will have Tutelage in their 75. The card seems much better to me as a sideboard card since a Dark Confidant that can't dispose of itself by blocking seems pretty awkward against Zoo, and the card is one of the less relevant ones you could draw in that matchup. Still, it seems like an excellent card in the mirror and against Landstill and Lands decks.

    There's also Brittle Effigy, a one-mana artifact that has ", Exile ~: Exile target creature." Yes, a colorless answer to Iona, but the four-mana activation is a bit of a downer there. On the other hand, Reanimator is slower now, so this might be good enough; on the other other hand, most decks that want this would likely be Trinket Mage blue decks, and Inkwell is almost always the best target in those matchups. Still, the card might see play as a tutorable targeted removal spell, but the fact that it exiles itself as part of the cost makes it much less interesting than it would have been otherwise. Bummer.

    Speaking of exiling things, I feel like Hanni would be extremely disappointed if I were to forget to mention Mystifying Maze. Maze is, as its name would suggest, a throwback to Maze of Ith; unlike its progenitor Maze, though, it taps for colorless but costs four mana to Slide out a creature. The card seems worse to me than both Maze-I and Kor Haven, but decks that find Ith's lack of mana production intolerable will likely be interested in some split between Haven and Mystifying Maze. The card is probably niche playable in non-Counterbalance control decks not using the manland plan in Columbus.

    Aside from these, there are a couple of other very fringe cards:

    - Autumn's Veil: a green Orim's Chant for combo decks looking to streamline their mana. It's probably worse to be on the Xantid/Veil plan than it is to be on the Chant/Silence plan since the latter also stops decks like Zoo from trying to burn you out while you go off, especially when using Ad Noz or one of the draw-fours. However, if you're already in green for Grips and only in white for Chants, this card might be worth considering. It will almost certainly not see play in Belcher because that deck has no space to waste on protection.

    - Fauna Shaman: and Elf decks the world over rejoiced, then realized that this guy draws creature kill like some sort of super lightning rod. It could still be useful as a redundant Survival in decks that want that, but that begs the question: what decks want that? I guess I just mention this guy because he has potential, but no home.

    - Crystal Ball: this might be the long-needed library manipulation that Stax decks have been looking for, but there are two things that make me leery about that being the case. The first is that it's only scry 2, which seems pretty weak; you only get to "see" your top 3 if you put the top two on the bottom and then draw blind, which makes the card much worse than Top. The second is that it's competing for space with redundant lock elements, some of which simply have to stay in the deck as four-ofs: Trinisphere gets a lot worse when you don't regularly get it on turn two, for example. Figuring out what to cut to fit in the Ball will be painful, and it may not even do enough to justify the cuts. Still, the printing of this card in conjunction with the unbanning of Grim Monolith is likely to push interest in Stax as the GP approaches. I still think that "being patient and letting Stax shit on itself" is a fine plan against the deck, but if you're paranoid about lock decks, you may want to add it to your testing queue.

    Wrapping Up

    So, in summary: I'll revise my forecast slightly as follows:

    - Zoo is still good, but Elias (fast) Zoo is probably still just as competitive as slower/Big Zoo versions. However, you really need to test a lot to know how to fight the hate.

    - Thopterbalance will be out in force since the cat is now out of the (St. Louis Top 8) bag, and people will make the switch because the deck "won the last 5k" (think of the spike in Goblins after that deck did well). Having a plan against this deck is essential; having a plan against the common plans is also essential if you're playing it. Load up on artifact and enchantment hate whether you're playing with or against this deck.

    - Lands is, as ever, a weird hybrid between juggernaut and glass cannon. Decks that are prepared for it will stop its engines and roll it, while those that aren't will get rolled by it. Most of the things that give Lands fits are sideboard cards, but the belief that Reanimator is on the down-and-out may make graveyard hate less popular, priming Lands for a return to the spotlight. This is kind of a toss-up for me.

    - Please don't play Rock decks or tempo decks. Just don't.

    - Landstill is worse than Thopterbalance in all cases except the one where you're fond of Landstill. If that does not apply to you, don't play the deck, and don't bother to test much against it.

    - Lord-heavy versions of Merfolk will show up a lot for Columbus as people look to beat the blue decks that every seems to love; non-lord-heavy versions will get raped and pillaged by Zoo and will probably not percolate very far into the tournament without some serious luck or serious tech. Still, I would not recommend being the guy playing a deck with a 45% matchup at best against Public Enemy #1, at least not until after the GP allows the meta to shake out.

    - Combo will be played by far fewer people than normal. It's not dead, but there might not be enough pilots at the GP to make it feel that way.

    - Reanimator is still a deck, and thanks to the combined efforts of a lot of its fans, it is in an excellent position to pick up a lot of wins on Saturday and Sunday from people who go, "Wait, that's still a deck?!" Yes it is, sugar, and you just got goldfished by it. I would recommend adding this into your gauntlet, especially when looking at post-board games. It won't be as ubiquitous as it was pre-Mystical Tutor, but it's still a powerful deck that requires dedicated hate slots to beat.

    Good luck with testing. Also, does anyone have any Strategic Plannings I could borrow...?

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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

    Speaking of exiling things, I feel like Hanni would be extremely disappointed if I were to forget to mention Mystifying Maze.
    Funny thing is, if I don't even think I'm going to play any. If I do, it will be as a 1-of compliment to Kor Haven only, lol. Ah, gotta love initual speculation and hype.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MMogg View Post
    In porn terms, Zoo has a 11" shlong and an impressive money shot, but it's over in 4 minutes, whereas Landstill is a good 8" and can go for 30 minutes.

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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

    - Fauna Shaman: and Elf decks the world over rejoiced, then realized that this guy draws creature kill like some sort of super lightning rod. It could still be useful as a redundant Survival in decks that want that, but that begs the question: what decks want that? I guess I just mention this guy because he has potential, but no home.
    To be fair, a lot of Elves in Elf decks have a super lightning rod on their heads. Elves are almost like the anti-Goblins, they don't do much right when they come into play for the most part, but can do ridiculous things if you let even just a few of them stick the board for too long. And that's not even counting Big Dumb Hydra shenanigans.

    I think Elf decks probably want two maindeck Fauna Shamans as card quality engines with a sideboard that adds in Squee and two more Fauna Shamans in the board to help fight matchups where a battle of attrition is inevitable.That's definitely what I'll be testing when I get my playset.

    That being said, I really wouldn't spend too much time practicing Elves as part of your GP guantlet. :)

  7. #27

    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

    Quote Originally Posted by routlaw View Post
    That being said, I really wouldn't spend too much time practicing Elves as part of your GP guantlet. :)
    Not at all. But it is the main beneficiary of the card's printing, so I mentioned it.

    @Hanni: I almost want to "I told you so," but I didn't explicitly say the card was not that great, so... :P

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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

    @Hanni: I almost want to "I told you so," but I didn't explicitly say the card was not that great, so... :P
    Happens to the best of us :p Plus I totally forgot about Kor Haven until you mentioned it, which made a big impact... cause if there was no Kor Haven, I'd definitely be looking into Mystifying Maze still.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MMogg View Post
    In porn terms, Zoo has a 11" shlong and an impressive money shot, but it's over in 4 minutes, whereas Landstill is a good 8" and can go for 30 minutes.

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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

    Quote Originally Posted by Hanni View Post
    Happens to the best of us :p Plus I totally forgot about Kor Haven until you mentioned it, which made a big impact... cause if there was no Kor Haven, I'd definitely be looking into Mystifying Maze still.
    Yeah, Kor Haven is better in almost cases. If Maze cost 3 to activate, it might actually still be worth considering since there's such a huge difference between three and four mana, but at four to use (effectively five), it's just too slow.

    And I've also seen control decks pushing 28-30 lands and Treasure Hunt which are fine with using Maze of Ith (iMaze?), so if Mystifying Maze is playable, it will be very narrow.

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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

    I think this is a very good analysis, except for one thing. Everyone is looking at Null Rod and Pithing Needle as answers to Thopter but those are easy for the deck to play around with counters and Vindicate. The correct answers to the deck are Faerie Macabre and Extirpate. Both are incidentally effective against Reanimator, Lands and to a lesser extent Dredge. Extirpate would obviously be superior here but successful Zoo decks will probably be packing 3-4 Fairies in board and successful Thopter decks will have a second Sword of the Meek in board and possibly be packing Extirpates of their own. The most successful Thopter decks will probably be creature-based; like a more traditional Counter-Top with Tutor and Thopter Sword wedged into it. Jace is a fine win-con, but when your primary win-con is vulnerable to the GY-hate that every deck is packing, games 2 and 3 become much more difficult if you don't have more than 2 backup win-cons. The standard Thopter lists will get hosed all day long by good Zoo players.

    Underestimate combo at your own peril. Yes, it sucks now by any standard that we'd have held it to a month ago. It can still rip your face off with a great hand or enough time. I wouldn't pull my combo out of the board unless I had a 3rd round bye walking in the door. If people were fully rational beings, then no, people wouldn't show up with mediocre storm decks, but a lot of people played AnT not because it was the best deck (despite claims to the contrary from the more zealous storm players) but because the storm playstyle fits their personalities. As it is, do not expect to see a drop in the presence of storm combo at all. If anything, I would not be shocked if it's presence increased slightly. With all the talk of storm being dead and "go ahead and pull out that storm hate", some people are going to see a possibility for day of goldfishing unopposed and it's going to look very favorable to them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Draener View Post
    You know who thinks it's sweet to play against 8 different decks in an 8 round tournament? People who don't like to win, or people that play combo. This is not EDH; Legacy is a competitive environment, and it should reward skill - more so than it does.
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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

    Null Rod isn't hate against graveyard shenanigans like Thopter CounterTop. It's good combo hate that can also splash damage against decks running any of the following:

    - Artifact mana of any sort
    - Engineered Explosives
    - Equipment of any kind
    - Aether Vial
    - Sensei's Divining Top (whose decks also tend to use Engineered Explosives or other artifacts like in Thopter)

    I agree with your sentiment to never underestimate combo. In a GP with this many rounds, not being prepared for combo seems an extremely poor idea. Combo players can often finish their rounds fast and can relax and mentally/physically (think food!) recover better over a long and grueling event like a GP than someone playing Landstill can. Yes, bringing a combo deck to an event where Merfolk+Counterbalance+New Horizons will likely make up nearly a quarter of the field seems like a pretty insane plan, but it does have its benefits.

  12. #32

    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

    Nice article.

    PS Bant survival is a real deck. It wins about 60% of our weekly tournaments here.

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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

    Does anyone know if there's a good template for creating a 4-way proxy deck? Ideally I'd like to have a script or something that could use a pre-formatted decklist to pull important stuff like card name, casting cost, and oracle wording straight from oracle and fill out a template for printing. Something like that would really speed up the process of creating a good testing proxy for those of us that don't have the cards to keep several top-tier decks put together.

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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

    Quote Originally Posted by EssKay View Post
    Does anyone know if there's a good template for creating a 4-way proxy deck? Ideally I'd like to have a script or something that could use a pre-formatted decklist to pull important stuff like card name, casting cost, and oracle wording straight from oracle and fill out a template for printing. Something like that would really speed up the process of creating a good testing proxy for those of us that don't have the cards to keep several top-tier decks put together.
    Pull the cards up on scg and copy paste into MS Word. It's what I do when I get the urge to play outside of MWS. 30 minutes with a scissors and you're good to go.
    Quote Originally Posted by Draener View Post
    You know who thinks it's sweet to play against 8 different decks in an 8 round tournament? People who don't like to win, or people that play combo. This is not EDH; Legacy is a competitive environment, and it should reward skill - more so than it does.
    Quote Originally Posted by Borealis View Post
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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

    Quote Originally Posted by SpikeyMikey View Post
    Pull the cards up on scg and copy paste into MS Word. It's what I do when I get the urge to play outside of MWS. 30 minutes with a scissors and you're good to go.
    I want to put together a 4-way proxy deck though, you basically divide the space into four parts, then just write the names of the cards, giving each deck its own quadrant. That way you can sleeve up once and have 4 different decks to test against.

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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

    Great (pseudo-)article! Very well written and complete. I agree almost 100% with what you wrote, except for a few exceptions:


    Quote Originally Posted by Aggro_zombies View Post
    - Please don't play Rock decks or tempo decks. Just don't.
    With combo almost gone, I think that Rock decks are a decent choice. You can easiliy tune the deck to beat Zoo, and counterbalance matchup are generally about even. Why do you think Rock is a poor choice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aggro_zombies View Post
    - Landstill is worse than Thopterbalance in all cases except the one where you're fond of Landstill. If that does not apply to you, don't play the deck, and don't bother to test much against it.
    Jace Landeed is doing really well in my meta, with 2 slots in the top 8 of the last 50 people tournament of my local league. I played against it and found it really solid. I wont completely dismiss the deck.
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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

    Quote Originally Posted by RexFTW View Post
    Nice article.

    PS Bant survival is a real deck. It wins about 60% of our weekly tournaments here.
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  18. #38

    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

    Quote Originally Posted by Cthuloo View Post
    With combo almost gone, I think that Rock decks are a decent choice. You can easiliy tune the deck to beat Zoo, and counterbalance matchup are generally about even. Why do you think Rock is a poor choice?
    Because they don't do anything.

    In Legacy, you have one of three deck construction paradigms: what I'll call Power, Trumps ("Broken"), and Goofball.
    • Power: Power decks play the best cards at a given mana cost. They seek to win the game through a combination of resource efficiency and having the strongest effects per unit of resource used. The flagship example of this deck is Zoo: Zoo isn't interested in playing crappy cards like Savannah Lions when it could have much better ones for the same amount of mana (Grim Lavamancer, Wild Nacatl). These decks win because their cards tend to be much better than their opponents' cards on an individual basis, and the opponent simply can't deal with them all. One other thing: like Zoo, these decks tend to have a much narrower spread than other decks between how good the good draws are and how bad the bad draws are. When you're running a bunch of ridiculous cards and a straightforward strategy, it's hard to have a lot of varience.
    • Trumps or Broken: People object to the use of the term "broken" because the definition is apparently subjective, but I'd argue that it's like porn in that we know it when we see it. This category is broad at first blush, but Broken or Trump decks are typically in one of two families: either engine decks that consist of a difficult-to-interact-with engine card(s) flanked by support cards, or "cheater" decks like Reanimator that take cards with game-changing effects, ostensibly balanced by their difficult mana costs, and ignore those mana costs by using another card to cheat them into play. Lands and Thopterbalance are part of the former category. These decks may seem a little bit more fragile than other decks because answering their trumps typically leaves them with just a bunch of mediocre support cards, but the issue with these decks - and the reason they're so attractive - is that failure to answer the trumps quickly enough costs you the game. Being the guy who can tell the opponent, "If you don't have the answer in hand or the top 2-3 cards of your library, you lose" is pretty sweet.
    • Goofball: This seems kind of a catch-all category, but not really; combo decks like storm and dredge fall under this category. Unlike engine decks, these decks' "engines" are impossible for many decks to interact with, meaning they often just lose unless they pack a sideboard full of hate. Granted, Wizards has realized recently that many players don't like playing against this kind of deck, and that the presence of decks like this invalidates a lot of strategies. Consequently, there's recently been a lot of powerful hate cards printed that are available to all colors, so that every deck has a (theoretical) shot at taking a Goofball-class deck down. However, there's also the fact that many of the Goofball decks' career players know how to navigate around these cards, meaning they're usually only effective against new pilots.


    The decks built with the tenets of one of these three categories in mind tend to be the absolute strongest decks in Legacy regardless of what the rest of the format looks like. At one point, Goblins was the top Power deck because the added value built-in to the playable Goblins made up for their anemic bodies. However, Zoo has taken the crown from Goblins in this regard as "added value" has proven to be less compelling than "raw mana efficiency." In any event, I'll address both of your questions now:

    - Decks like the Rock wish they fell into the Power category, but they don't because their cards aren't powerful enough, and they typically run weak cards that are broadly useful: think Maelstrom Pulse, which can destroy almost everything but will almost always cost more than the card it's destroying, in addition to being vulnerable to things like permission. You can run it in the main as a kind of security blanket, but real men...er, decks don't use wimpy "security blankets." Furthermore, the Rock's strategy is often an amorphous blob of "try to answer my opponent while getting there with awkward and/or mediocre threats," which may allow you to sometimes beat more focused decks, but if the opponent is doing something you're not prepared to answer (Maelstrom Pulse is pretty shitty against Thopterbalance), you're toast. Finally, decks on the fringe of the Rock spectrum that tend towards engine decks, like Aggro Loam, are almost invariably just worse than playing a dedicated engine deck. Yes, you give up some of the vulnerabilities, but you also lose the strongest aspect, which is the ability to be non-interactive when you want to be.

    - Similarly, decks like Landstill don't really do anything despite having lots of good cards. There's a difference between good_stuff.deck and a deck with a cohesive plan. Landstill decks typically are more answers than threats, and their threats aren't powerful enough to be compelling. Yeah, sure, Jace is good. He can be answered by every deck in the format by attacking into him. "But Aggro!" you say, "They have so many removal spells! Creatures never last that long! This deck totally beats Zoo!" Sure. And when that Knight of the Reliquary is one turn away from killing you and you topdeck Force of Will, you're totally showing Zoo who's boss there. Basically, Landstill decks are worse than something like Thopterbalance because they can't comprehensively take over the game. Yes, some people still do well with them, but people also do well with joke decks like Aluren and Dream Halls. The point is that decks that aren't total piles will do well in this format when in the hands of a sufficiently skilled and knowledgable pilot. That doesn't mean they're good decks, and it doesn't mean they're worth playing.

    Being a deck whose strategy is fundamentally reactive leaves you at the mercy of decks who showed up to do their thing and do it well, and there's a lot of those in Legacy. Because of this, decks that don't have a clear, obviously proactive goal in mind ("I'm going to do [something]" versus, "I'm going to answer this and negate that and then I guess I'll win eventually") will simply be better on average than decks that don't. There's a reason why Zoo does so well despite being derided as being "just" a big dumb aggro deck...

  19. #39
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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

    I think that's a bit of an oversimplification of Landstill's philosophy. I agree that it is reactive, but that's not entirely/necessarily bad. Against aggro, their goal is to get to the midgame, which is where Landstill begins. I remember reading a strategy guide back in the '90s that said something that stuck with me to this day: apply pressure early or be able to deal with early pressure. What you are saying is only the former is good and the latter is bad. I agree, with the aggro vs. Landstill matchup, that would seem best, but Landstill does a good job of getting to the late game and then dominating from there on. They also are able to stop a lot of those engine decks as well as goofball.

    What I'm not very articulately trying to say is that yes, Landstill is reactive, but it also punishes decks that are not proactive enough. If you are Zoo and you begin with first turn Lavamancer and second turn Lavamancer, end of creature rush for two more turns... I have bad news for you. Just as Zoo punishes the inconsistency, Landstill punishes decks that allow it to reach its midgame. At midgame card advantage and card quality advantage kick in and it's game over. Early game your opponent's threats are usually 2-1 for your answers, but that's why cards like Engineered Explosives or Wrath of God are employed to even out that tempo advantage. By midgame, threats and answers should be 1-1 and once in midgame for a while, the threats should be 1 for every 2 answers in hand.

    So, in short, I would say its philosophy is: deal with the early game (punish decks that are early game decks that cannot seal the deal in the early game), ascend to midgame and secure a victory. In porn terms, Zoo has a 11" shlong and an impressive money shot, but it's over in 4 minutes, whereas Landstill is a good 8" and can go for 30 minutes.
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  20. #40

    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Your Gauntlet for Columbus

    Quote Originally Posted by MMogg View Post
    So, in short, I would say its philosophy is: deal with the early game (punish decks that are early game decks that cannot seal the deal in the early game), ascend to midgame and secure a victory. In porn terms, Zoo has a 11" shlong and an impressive money shot, but it's over in 4 minutes, whereas Landstill is a good 8" and can go for 30 minutes.
    Yes, but this is precisely my point: Landstill's battle plan involves the opponent doing something.

    A Tendrils deck doesn't care what you're doing unless you're countering its spells. It's going to ignore you and combo off.

    Zoo doesn't care what you're doing unless you're blocking. It's going to get into the red zone every turn regardless.

    Landstill does care what you're doing, because it's trying to control you. Granted, Thopterbalance is also a control deck, but it's also an engine deck, so it can still force you to react to it by doing something to completely dominate the game. Landstill doesn't do that. It can't completely warp the game around an engine, so it has to get there piecemeal, which is far worse. When it sits down to a matchup, its goal isn't to do anything more specific than "get around to winning eventually." I mean, yes, it wants to control things in the interim, but this isn't a specific game plan: it's based entirely off of reacting to what the opponent's specific game plan is. In a format like Legacy, where there are so many different proactive things to do, it's just flat-out better to do something ridiculous and force the opponent to play the game by your terms than it is to be on the receiving end.

    In porn terms, it's sort of like being a dominatrix versus being the dude who gets the ball gag, tied to the bed, and whipped for half an hour.

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