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Thread: [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

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    [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

    Ill-Gotten Pains - A Combo Player's Perspective on Post-Ban Storm Combo

    Ad Nauseum really added nausea to the format. It facilitated ANT, one of the most format warping headaches since the advent of HulkFlash in late 2007. Before the days of Ad Nausuem, storm combo players had to toil over long spell chains in Solidarity and Spanish Inquisition, or convoluted decision trees like in TES, DDFT, and NLS. Not surprisingly, combo was a rare matchup in most metagames. Now, the problem with ANT was not that it was a great deck, but that it could be. It wasn’t idiot proof like HulkFlash. Rather, ANT was worth nerfing simply because it raised the frequency of storm to an unnatural level. It’s akin to a ban on automatic weapons on the basis that not everyone should have one. Ad Nauseum turned storm into a “press the button, get bacon” combo deck; players no longer had to actually learn how to cook their bacon. Mastering the decision tree took mere minutes when juxtaposed with pre-Ad Nausuem combo and the rewards were just as delicious. Yet it was never a great deck for the same reason. Ad Nausuem wasn’t just a crutch for storm combo; it was a fucking wheelchair. The layman simply had to resolve one overpowered draw engine and, if they had half a brain, not shoot their foot off. Yet players still managed to whiff. Even the legendary Saito did not pilot ANT optimally at the finals of GP Madrid, killing himself with Ad Nausuem when he already had the win in hand. Put simply, ANT was a step up from Belcher; ANT players put up results if they were good pilots. Naturally, the players who were already familiar with storm combo had no trouble picking up something as simple as ANT. Such players had the experience to pilot ANT optimally; new players attracted to Ad Nauseum’s raw power were the ones who didn’t bother to learn how to play the deck well because they didn’t have to. The deck practically played itself and because many ANT players approached the deck in this way, the format was warped as a result. A large surge in storm combo and bad storm combo players allowed Counterbalance to quickly rise to the top of the metgame and in a higher frequency, to the detriment of the storm combo players who weren’t actually playing ANT (Hi…). So the metagame adjusted right? People adapted their boards to include more and more combo hate everything from Ethersworn Cannonist to Mindbreak Trap. No problem, Legacy can handle it guys! Lollipops for everyone!

    I’m sure you are wondering, what about Entomb, man? Reanimator was certainly on the same level as ANT, on average protecting a turn 2 win; you could still whiff a match by being a moron and you could still kick an aggro player in the balls. Then again, Entomb was really the straw that broke the camel’s back. It introduced another overpowered combo deck to Legacy, but Wizards had written the fate of Mystical Tutor back in 2001 when they printed Entomb:
    A grave is the safest place to store ill-gotten treasures.

    Mystical Tutor was really the cause of this clusterfuck, not Ad Nauseum or Entomb. Ad Nausuem was a great engine, but without Mystical Tutor, the deck lacked the consistency that allowed the good players to fuck shit up. In fact, Mystical Tutor was even more crucial post-board than it was pre-board, fetching out removal for pesky hate bears. Naturally, Wizards would ban such a card because they prefer decks that interact to those that don’t. Without Mystical Tutor, storm combo could revert to being the skill you mastered with monks in mountains of Nepal. Besides, storm combo has always been criticized for its masturbatory tendencies. How many people do you really want wacking off in your metagame anyway?

    Now, ANT and Reanimator are certainly still playable decks; however, the wacking off they do will be more like free porn, riddled with virus’s and inconsistencies. So I won’t bother to talk about them since the subject has been beaten to death in various threads and most players have already switched to TES or DDFT anyway. Rather, I’d like to discuss the future of Legacy storm combo with the options storm players still have available.

    - Solidarity -
    Oh Solitarity! The deck that literally strokes itself! Unfortunately, this David Gearheart masterpiece doesn’t see much play anymore. High Tide combo is fundamentally weak in Legacy at the moment because you need to hit land drops to go off. The virtue of Tendrils storm combo is exactly the opposite; it foregoes land drops in favor of accelerants like the infamous Dark Ritual. Then again, we might see Solidarity make a comeback. Quite recently I suggested switching from the conventional mono-blue builds to a green splash in favor of tech like Krosan Grip and Moment’s Peace. In my testing, Moment’s Peace as been a phenomenal double timewalk against aggro like Goblins and Zoo. Tangle is another piece of tech that’s conceptually the same; however, it has the advantage of not sinking your mana during the second turn. It’s a much better choice in a Goblin heavy meta where you will likely only be able to use your Tropical Island once. Krosan Grip is obviously a strong choice for dealing with Counterbalance. I became much more optimistic about this deck after Autumn’s Veil was spoiled in M11. Most people are referring to it as a green chant, but that is far from an accurate comparison. Orim’s Chant is pretty much a Duress that protects your entire spell chain, with the underwhelming advantage of stealing a combat phase if you are willing to expose your mana base with double Tundra. The fundamental problem with Chant in Solidarity is that it doesn’t allow you to control the stack. You have to fight over Chant’s resolution so it just functions as an instant speed Duress. Veil makes the stack your bitch much like Mindbreak Trap. Not too long ago, Solidarity players started playing Mindbreak Trap in their boards. Trap allows you to fight through multiple countermagic with a stack like the following:
    Me: High Tide
    Opp: Spell Pierce
    Me: High Tide
    Opp: Force of Will
    Me: Reset
    Opp: Force of Will
    Me: Mindbreak Trap

    Force of Nill! Spell Tears! Mindbreak Trap allowed the deck to manipulate the stack to play around quite a bit of countermagic. The problem with this strategy is that it requires the opponent to play 3 countermagic. Sometimes you were forced to go off in response to one of Merfolk’s creatures just so you would have enough spells to get Mindbreak Trap to work. Veil works on the exact same concept, all for the cost of one green. You can play the exact same stack as I previously mentioned with Veil in place of Mindbreak Trap. When Veil resolves, all of the opponent’s countermagic do not have legal targets because Veil is protecting your spells. This gives the Solidarity player immense control over the stack essentially switching the X>/=3 clause on Mindbreak Trap to a more enticing X on Veil. Now, you might be thinking, well then I will just not play the 2nd counterspell and wait for my opponent to play Veil, and then counter it. Solidarity player do not have problems with one piece of countermagic. We can just keep responding to your countermagic until we can eventually resolve that spell either by playing Remand on our own spell and recasting it or Forcing it, or eventually casting Veil. There are only a few notable disadvantages to Veil. Unfortunately, it prevents you from targeting your own Brainfreeze with Remand. Also, run green and have a Tropical Island in play while you are going off. Still, I am very optimistic about this turn of events. Further, I have noticed a trend. It seems that Wizards has been trying to cut down on the ban list. I’m hoping that Frantic Search is the next card on their list. It would make Solidarity far more consistent, replacing the underwhelming Turnabout with a free untap spell that also acts as a filter for unnecessary land during the combo turn. The question is, does Wizards want Solidarity to be tier one again? From what we saw happen to ANT and Reanimator, you might be quick to say hell no. Yet, I am still optimistic. The premise behind the Mystical Tutor ban was NOT that combo should not exist but rather that it should not be easy to play. Solidarity is one of the hardest decks to play and would continue to be if Frantic Search were unbanned, especially when aggro is fundamentally a turn faster than it was when Solidarity was actually a good deck.

    U/g Solidarity
    Land
    2 Flooded Strand
    4 Misty Rainforest
    11 Island
    2 Tropical Island

    Cantrip
    4 Brainstorm
    4 Opt
    4 Impulse
    4 High Tide
    4 Reset
    4 Peer Through Depths
    3 Cunning Wish
    3 Turnabout
    3 Meditate
    2 Brain Freeze

    Protection
    4 Force of Will
    2 Remand

    SB:
    1 Echoing Truth
    1 Meditate
    1 Turnabout
    1 Rebuild
    1 Brain Freeze
    1 Stroke of Genius
    2 Krosan Grip
    3 Moments Peace
    3 Autumn’s Veil


    - Spanish Inquisition
    Yeah, you’ve never heard of this deck. Imagine Belcher that doesn’t win on turn 3 with goblins. That’s SI. It runs a unique draw 4 engine, Cruel Bargain and Infernal Contract, generally considered to be outclassed since the advent of Ad Nausuem. Skilled pilots, including myself, have reported win percentages ranging from as low as 50% turn 1 kill to as high as 70% turn 1 kills. Basically, SI is like bringing a gun to a wrestling match; you will probably fuck up your opponent unless he brought the infamous Overshield known as Force of Will. However, it has the unique advantage of investing particularly few resources to a spell chain simply because it chains draw 4’s together much like how Solidarity chains together cantrips and Meditates. This advantage allows the deck to mulligan better than any other deck in the format while also allowing it to explode out of thin air after a great topdeck. In fact, one might say that it’s the conceptual opposite of Solidarity, sacrificing its consistency and land drops in favor of immense, unmatched speed. It’s been the unrivaled fastest deck in the format since its arrival in early 2006. Even HulkFlash and Belcher, have not been able to put up such impressive results as a goldfish. Again, SI suffers from being exactly that, a goldfish. At least, that is the case with the conventional speedy glass house lists. During the deck’s development, Emidln released his own B/u variant of SI that dropped the classic Ill-Gotten Gains loop in favor of Meditates and cantrips. This list is still great against non-Counterbalance control and is an excellent contender for those still interested in playing storm combo. In addition to this old news, Autumn’s Veil is a virtual green chant that allows SI to protect the IGG loop and long spell chains in other version such as the Pact list, which usually has more green mana than it needs, most notably for playing around Daze and occasionally Spell Pierce. Now that combo has been reduced to a significantly smaller portion of the metagame, I look forward to playing this deck in an aggro heavy metagame.

    Quasi-Spanish Inquisition
    Lands
    4 Polluted Delta
    4 Underground Sea

    Creatures
    3 Phyrexian Walker
    4 Shield Sphere

    Business
    4 Infernal Contract
    3 Cruel Bargain
    3 Meditate
    3 Tendrils of Agony

    Cantrip
    4 Brainstorm
    4 Ponder

    Protection
    4 Cabal Therapy

    Acceleration
    4 Cabal Ritual
    4 Culling the Weak
    4 Dark Ritual
    4 Chrome Mox
    4 Lotus Petal

    SB
    1 Meditate
    4 Dark Confidant
    4 Rebuild
    2 Island
    2 Wipe Away


    Pact Spanish Inquisition
    Business
    1 Tendrils of Agony
    1 Slithermuse
    3 Diabolic Intent
    4 Infernal Tutor
    4 Infernal Contract
    4 Cruel Bargain

    Acceleration
    1 Eternal Witness
    4 Xantid Swarm
    4 Summoner's Pact
    4 Elvish Spirit Guide
    4 Lion's Eye Diamond
    4 Lotus Petal
    4 Chrome Mox
    4 Dark Ritual
    4 Cabal Ritual
    4 Culling the Weak
    4 Verdant Catacombs
    1 Bayou
    1 Dryad Arbor

    SB:
    4 Carpet of Flower
    4 Autumn's Veil
    3 Dark Confidant
    2 Bayou
    1 Oxidize
    1 Deathmark

    - The Epic Storm
    Is still Epic post-ban, and can still Grapeshot the deniers. Some people are mindlessly dismissing the deck as no longer competitive now that Mystical Tutor is gone. Since the upkeep trick with Ad Nausuem and Lion’s Eye Diamond is no longer possible, Mystical Tutor was already a much weaker card in the deck. In fact, the creator Bryant Cook has been siding Mystical Tutor out frequently post-board and still puts up some impressive results. The deck still has a versatile game plan. It has access to Empty the Warrens to apply pressure quickly and can protect its tutor loops with Orim’s Chants and Duress’s. I actually expect TES to be a much stronger choice post-ban simply because its relatively easy to pilot when compared to some of the other storm lists and can still fight through hate with Burning Wish. Also, I’m sure that all the hatebears will be seen in a much lower frequency meaning that TES won’t need to rely on Mystical Tutor as much to fight through hate, not that it did in the first place. I haven’t yet seen Bryant’s latest list but this is what Waikiki has been playing, from the StormBoards:

    The Epic Storm
    Lands
    4 Gemstone Mine
    4 City of Brass
    2 Underground Sea
    1 Volcanic Island
    1 Polluted Delta
    1 Flooded Strand
    1 Scalding Tarn

    Protection
    4 Duress
    2 Orim's Chant
    1 Silence

    Business
    4 Burning Wish
    3 Infernal Tutor
    2 Ad Nauseam
    1 Empty the Warrens
    1 Tendrils of Agony

    Cantrip
    3 Ponder
    4 Brainstorm

    Acceleration
    4 Dark Ritual
    4 Rite of Flame
    4 Lion's Eye Diamond
    4 Lotus Petal
    3 Chrome Mox
    2 Cabal Ritual

    Sideboard
    1 Tendrils of Agony
    1 Infernal Tutor
    1 Empty the Warrens
    1 Diminishing Returns
    1 Ill-Gotten Gains
    10 Open Slots

    I’m sure lists like this one will develop further until they are reoptimized. I’d like to draw a comparison between this deck another with a similar play style. SITES is an SI variant, which is pretty much TES’s crackhead brother. It has a higher potential of winning on the first turn due to its great draw engine, and obviously mulligans much better. It basically foregoes protection and resilency for speed. It still has access to Burning Wish and can therefore play through hate but has enough speed to go off before hate comes down, consistently getting either the kill on turns 1 or 2 with Tendrils, or dropping more than 20 tokens.

    SITES
    Business
    1 Tendrils of Agony
    3 Empty the Warrens
    2 Infernal Tutor
    4 Burning Wish
    4 Cruel Bargain
    4 Infernal Contract

    Acceleration
    4 Crimson Kobolds
    3 Kobolds of Kher Keep
    4 Dark Ritual
    4 Cabal Ritual
    4 Culling the Weak
    4 Simian Spirit Guide
    4 Lion's Eye Diamond
    4 Lotus Petal
    4 Chrome Mox
    4 Bloodstained Mire
    2 Badlands
    1 Bayou

    SB:
    1 Diminishing Returns
    1 Balance of Power
    1 Empty the Warrens
    1 Tendrils of Agony
    1 Deathmark
    1 Meltdown
    1 Shattering Spree
    1 Cabal Therapy
    1 Thoughtseize
    3 Xantid Swarm
    3 Autumn’s Veil

    - Next Level Storm
    Arguably Emidln’s greatest brainchild. NLS had it all. There isn’t a storm deck to date that had as many options as NLS did. Sensei’s Diving Top and cantrips allowed the deck to slowly sculpt a winning hand against control, while the deck also packed the Ad Nausuem draw engine, Doomsday packages, and could Burning Wish into Empty the Warrens or a Tendrils kill. This deck was extremely resilient and was arguably the strongest storm combo deck in the format before Mystical Tutor was banned. Mystical Tutor really hurt. One of the versatile parts of the deck was being able to fetch an engine, removal for hate, acceleration, protection… In short, the deck is suboptimal at this point when you could be playing something stronger. From what I understand, even Emidln has gone back to playing DDFT again simply because the ban didn’t hit DDFT as hard. I don’t have a post-ban list and I don’t think anyone is playing it anymore.

    - Doomsday Fetchland Tendrils
    Another brainchild of Emidln. Before Ad Nausuem was printed, the bolder storm players executed lethal Doomsday piles, often protected by Orim’s Chant. This was made possible by sculpting a hand with Sensei’s Diving Top, cantrips and Mystical Tutor. Eventually, the originals list were adapted to become what we now know as NLS, adding Burning Wish and Ad Nauseum into the mix. More recently, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn was printed, leading Emidln and the StormBoards team to develop a Doomsday Pile that destroys Counterbalance. The combo consists of reducing your library to 5 via Doomsday, and then either passing the turn or cantripping into Shelldock Isle--> Emrakul. As long as Doomsday resolves under a Counterbalance, you should have no problem winning. This Doomsday pile was pioneered in Emidln’s Rev614, pretty much the reverse of DDFT, using the Emrakul pile and Show and Tell to beat control, and utilizing the more conventional DD piles to race aggro. It also has access to Burning Wish as well as Lim-Dul’s Vault to set up the kill. Another notable feature that separates this list from TES is that it plays a discard protection suite instead of Chant effects. This allows for a much more stable mana base against the growing popularity of Tempo based control like New Horizons. This list has plenty of filtering power through Tops and cantrips, allowing it to play around hate, and more recently, Counterbalance. I believe that this is easily the best choice for the ambitious storm combo player. Doomsday Piles are certainly not easy to play, but they are rewarding if you spend the effort. Also, this list is fucking sexy:

    Doomsday Fetchland Tendrils
    Business
    4 Burning Wish
    3 Lim-Dul's Vault
    3 Doomsday
    1 Infernal Tutor
    1 Ill-Gotten Gains
    1 Meditate
    1 Tendrils of Agony
    1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

    Cantrip
    4 Brainstorm
    4 Sensei's Divining Top

    Protection
    4 Duress
    2 Thoughtseize
    1 Wipe Away

    Acceleration
    4 Dark Ritual
    2 Cabal Ritual
    4 Lion's Eye Diamond
    4 Lotus Petal

    Land
    4 Polluted Delta
    2 Scalding Tarn
    2 Bloodstained Mire
    2 Underground Sea
    2 Volcanic Island
    1 Badlands
    1 Island
    1 Swamp
    1 Shelldock Isle

    SB
    1 Tendrils of Agony
    1 Empty the Warrens
    1 Doomsday
    1 Infernal Tutor
    1 Ill-Gotten Gains
    2 Thoughtseize
    1 Deathmark
    1 Pulverize
    4 Pithing Needle
    1 Rushing River

    - Belcher
    What you say? This isn’t storm combo! Well, not exactly, but technically it plays Empty the Warrens. Anyway, the deck recently got a few options that might make it a little better. Pyretic Ritual is a Desperate Ritual without splice ability, effectively another mana source that adds R to your mana pool. It could easily replace some of the cyclers the deck often runs like Street Wraith and Manamorphose. The other card everyone is already running is Grim Monolith. Monolith acts as an accelerant that can also ‘store mana’ if you have a profitable untap phase. I doubt players will gravitate toward this deck simply because its bad. Often you find yourself playing Empty the Warrens and winning on turn 3. I consider it a very bad version of TES for the layman who doesn’t want to bother to learn how to play make Infernal Tutor hellbent. However, I do think that Goblin Welder is a much stronger choice post-board. Especially with +4 artifacts in the deck, you now have a few more resources to help you sneak Belcher into play.

    Belcher
    Lands
    1 Taiga

    Creatures
    4 Tinder Wall
    4 Elvish Spirit Guide
    4 Simian Spirit Guide

    Spells
    4 Land Grant
    4 Goblin Charbelcher
    4 Chrome Mox
    4 Lotus Petal
    4 Lion's Eye Diamond
    3 Empty the Warrens
    4 Burning Wish
    4 Desperate Ritual
    4 Seething Song
    4 Rite of Flame
    4 Manamorphose
    4 Grim Monolith

    Sideboard
    1 Empty the Warrens
    1 Pyroclasm
    1 Simplify
    1 Diminishing Returns
    1 Reverent Silence
    3 Shattering Spree
    3 Goblin Welder
    4 Xantid Swarm

    - Next Level IGGY
    IGGY Pop? Yes, it’s being revived. Gocho is responsible for this madness, discovering a scandalous love affair between Dream Salvage and his slutty mistress Ill-Gotten Gains. The classic IGG loop via Infernal Tutor + Lion’s Eye Diamond --> Ill-Gotten Gains --> Repeat --> Tendrils of Agony is present in the deck, as well as the option to play Ill-Gotten Gains, returning some rituals and Dream Salvage which effectively draws you as many cards as the opponent discards. The goal with this combo is to chain Dream Salvages together until you can IGG loop, all protected with 7 maindeck Chant effects? Sounds great right? To make things better, the loop is not as vulnerable against graveyard hate as was the original IGGY Pop. When you play IGG, discarding your hand is the effect of the spell. Therefore, the opponent can only remove things from your graveyard before or after IGG has resolved. If you remove things before IGG has resolved, you are likely only removing accelerants, if you remove them after then you risk the storm player just playing more Dream Salvages into IT + LED. It is obviously still vulnerable to graveyard hate but is not completely hosed. It’s a fairly easy list to play and is a great contender for the next popular storm combo deck.

    Next Level IGGY
    Business
    4 Infernal Tutor
    4 Ill-Gotten Gains
    4 Dream Salvage
    1 Tendrils of Agony

    Acceleration
    4 Lion's Eye Diamond
    4 Dark Ritual
    4 Cabal Ritual

    Cantrips
    4 Brainstorm
    4 Ponder

    Protection
    4 Orim's Chant
    3 Silence

    Mana
    4 Lotus Petal
    4 Polluted Delta
    4 Flooded Strand
    4 Underground Sea
    1 Tundra
    1 Scrubland
    1 Island
    1 Swamp

    In short, Storm combo players still have plenty of options to choose from. Some are saying Storm combo is dead. I say that its more alive than its ever been, breathing fresh air of elitism once more. Unfortunately for the layman, most of the lists I mentioned are very difficult to play, especially when compared to ANT. Learning to pilot a new list will not be easy, but it the rewards are great. A reduction of storm combo in the metagame will likely result in less combo hate and less decks that combo hates. Though this might not be necessarily be the case in every metagame, I believe that the legacy metagame as a whole will see fewer combo players simply because these ANT players will not bother to learn how to execute the more complicated spell chains. Personally, I am very happy with this ban. I anticipate that the metagame will become more diverse than it has ever been and less like the rock-paper-scissors environment that we have seen lately between ANT, Zoo, and Counterbalance. Also, neither of the decks I play, Solidarity and SI, were affected at all by the ban as far as deck structure is concerned, and I’m looking forward to smashing face in aggro heavy metagame. I hope you’ve enjoyed a combo players perspective on the how the format is changing. Also, this was my first attempt at ever writing a Legacy article; be gentle, and good day!
    Last edited by Vacrix; 07-08-2010 at 01:07 PM.
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    Expect me or die. I play SI.

  2. #2
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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

    nice insight on the combo decks of legacy. Nice to see my list being dropped which runs pretty well for me.

  3. #3

    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

    A succinct overview of the various storm combo options post-banning--well done.

    I disagree with your picture pre-banning, however, because I don't think ANT was as easy to play as you make it out to be. Obviously it's easy to play after resolving Ad Nauseam (if you're at enough life), but getting to that point against control could often be quite difficult. Sculpting a winning hand to play through disruption, usually while under pressure from the opponent, required ANT pilots to make difficult decisions, with an unforgiving margin for error. ANT, like all the decks you mention aside from SI, usually requires considerable set-up even if the actual "comboing" is fairly straightforward.

  4. #4
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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

    I like to see Diabolic Intent in that Spanish Inquisition list, precisely yesterday I was thinking of adding that card and Dryad Arbor to the deck to see how efficient it would be, so that's some work I no longer have to do.
    Please stop talking about whether Force of Will is broken or not. It obviously is, and rather than "the glue that holds vintage together" it would be better to call it "the rug under which you hide the filth until there's so much that you can no longer conceal it".

  5. #5
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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

    A quality article for combo players by a combo player. Excellent.

    -Silent Requiem

  6. #6

    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

    Yes, well done. Thank you for taking the time to write this up.

    The first couple paragraphs are unnecessary. They only detract from an otherwise comprehensive and reasonable presentation.
    Suddenly, Fluffy realized she wasn't quite like the other bunnies anymore.

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  7. #7

    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

    Quote Originally Posted by Vacrix View Post
    Even the legendary Saito did not pilot ANT optimally at the finals of GP Madrid, killing himself with Ad Nausuem when he already had the win in hand
    Sorry dude. What do you have against Saito?

    http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazin...d10/welcome#21

  8. #8

    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

    I like being name dropped. I approve of this message.

    However, that TES list is terrible. Everyone knows I keep the opening post updated in the TES thread.

  9. #9
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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

    Coherent - Well thought out - included examples

    Well done.

  10. #10
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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

    Quote Originally Posted by Gandalf_The_White View Post
    I disagree with your picture pre-banning, however, because I don't think ANT was as easy to play as you make it out to be. Obviously it's easy to play after resolving Ad Nauseam (if you're at enough life), but getting to that point against control could often be quite difficult. Sculpting a winning hand to play through disruption, usually while under pressure from the opponent, required ANT pilots to make difficult decisions, with an unforgiving margin for error. ANT, like all the decks you mention aside from SI, usually requires considerable set-up even if the actual "comboing" is fairly straightforward.
    Keep in mind, by the context you are referring to, most decks are hard to play. Specifically, I was taking a pre-Ad Nausuem combo player's approach. A game like the following, on the play.
    ANT:
    Opening Hand: Underground Sea, Lotus Petal, Duress, Ad Nausuem, Duress, Pact of Negation, Dark Ritual
    T1: Underground Sea, Lotus Petal, Duress taking Daze, revealing no other countermagic
    T2: Draw--> Polluted Delta. Polluted Delta, Underground Sea, Dark Ritual, Ad Nauseum, your opponent Brainstorms into FoW, Pact of Negation
    draw draw draw draw...
    LED, LED, LED, Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox, Cabal Ritual, Infernal Tutor--> Tendrils of Agony.

    Thats isn't hard to a combo player who is used to doing this:
    Pact SI:
    Opening Hand: Pact, Pact, Chrome Mox, Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Cruel Bargain, Infernal Contract
    Pact--> Odious Trow, Chrome Mox (Trow) (B), Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Infernal Contract
    Draw 4: Land Grant, Land Grant, Pact, Culling the Weak
    Land Grant--> Dryad Arbor, Culling the Weak (BBBB), Infernal Contract (B)
    Draw 4: Manamorphose, Eternal Witness, Slithermuse, Chrome Mox
    Pact-->ESG, Pact--> ESG, Manamorphose (BBU) drawing Culling the Weak, Chrome Mox (Culling the Weak) (BBBU), Slithermuse
    Draw 6: LED, ESG, Pact, Manamorphose, ESG, Lotus Petal
    LED, ESG, Pact--> ESG, ESG (GGG), Manamorphose--> (BGG) drawing Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual (BBBGG), Lotus Petal (BBBBGG), Eternal Witness (BBB)--> (breaking LED in response for UUU) Slithermuse (BB)
    Draw 7: Land Grant, Chrome Mox, Bayou, Infernal Tutor, Tendrils of Agony, Infernal Contract, Cabal Ritual
    Chrome Mox (Infernal Tutor) (BBB), Cabal Ritual (BBBBBB), Tendrils for 44

    I could write out a Solidarity hand too but that would take even longer. The closest comparison you can draw between ANT and another combo deck are SI and Solidarity since both play draw engines into a lethal storm spell. My point wasn't that its hard to play ANT. Sure, playing ANT optimally can be difficult. Even so, goldfishing is hard with SI and Solidarity without even having to deal with another player which factors in even more decisions. ANT is extremely easy to goldfish and honestly, cantripping into a great hand before your opponent has a relevant clock isn't that hard. Just imagine that instead of 3BB you win the game (except on rare occasions where you draw ToA x2, AdN, Infernal Tutor x2, etc.) you are playing BBB to not even win the game but rather do that again, and then one more time, and then play your IGG loop. You have to constantly evaluate your life total, mana floating, etc. It takes significantly more concentration to actually go off, and significantly more practice so that you can actually do it correctly.
    Also, I'm sure that some ANT players might have been offended because I make them out to be morons. This isn't the case with all ANT players. Some ANT players chose not to be morons and actually learned how to play the deck. Others just went ZOMG I'm winning before you drop a land RAWR! The opening few paragraphs is me expressing my displeasure at how automatic the going off process became after the printing of AdN. Sorry if it detracts at all from the rest but you don't know how much it pissed me off after how much time I put into learning how to consistently play the draw4 engine like Ad Nausuem. :P

    @Bryant Cook
    Feel free to share your list here since I'm sure people will be drawn to this thread for new ideas on combo. I posted that list because it looked decent at first glance, and I couldn't find your list anywhere in the recent TES posts or even at the Stormboards or I would have included it. Why don't you like Waikiki's list?

    @ Dr Jones
    Diabolic Intent is sick. The pact list facilitates 15 tallmen for pitching to culling/intent, effectively giving you one guy to pitch every 4th card. Its very easy to use both and I look forward to play this list in the future. :D

    @ others
    Thanks for the comments. Excuse all the corny jokes. I wrote this while walking to and from different philosophy lectures so naturally anything that popped into my head was relatively funny at the moment.
    Luck is a residue of design.



    I'm an aspiring Psychedelic Trance musician. Please feel free to enjoy my sense of life:
    http://soundcloud.com/vacrix


    Expect me or die. I play SI.

  11. #11

    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

    Quote Originally Posted by Vacrix View Post
    @Bryant Cook
    Feel free to share your list here since I'm sure people will be drawn to this thread for new ideas on combo. I posted that list because it looked decent at first glance, and I couldn't find your list anywhere in the recent TES posts or even at the Stormboards or I would have included it. Why don't you like Waikiki's list?
    I have always kept the first page of the TES updated with at least the current list. I have also written two reports recently with top 8 results.

    Waikiki's List

    - Cabal Ritual is terrible. Rite of Flame is just better in TES.
    - 2/1 on Chant/Silence. Just run 3 Chant. Makes Infernaling for Chant more effective. I run 3/1 for the sake of Mage/Therapy.
    - 2 Ad Nauseam, it's a lot of damage coupled with Empty the Warrens/Tendrils. If you really want to run 2 Ad Nauseam you need to cut Warrens.
    - 3 Mox, this isn't terrible, but I feel that you need 4 mox in order to win more easily and effectively after Ad Nauseam. No one wants to pass the turn.
    - 14 land is a lot, I often get flooded with 13.

    The EPIC Storm as of 7/8/10

    4 Gemstone Mine
    4 Scalding Tarn
    2 City of Brass
    2 Underground Sea
    1 Volcanic Island

    4 Dark Ritual
    4 Rite of Flame
    4 Lion’s Eye Diamond
    4 Lotus Petal
    4 Chrome Mox
    4 Burning Wish
    4 Brainstorm
    4 Ponder
    4 Infernal Tutor
    3 Orim’s Chant
    1 Silence
    4 Duress
    1 Ad Nauseam
    1 Empty the Warrens
    1 Tendrils of Agony

    1 Diminishing Returns
    1 Ill-Gotten Gains
    1 Tendrils of Agony
    1 Empty the Warrens
    1 Grapeshot
    1 Thoughtsieze
    1 Krosan Grip
    1 Wipeaway
    1 Echoing Truth
    1 Chain of Vapor
    2 Shattering Spree
    3 Pyroblast

    if you guy's want more information, I recently redid the entire opening post of the TES thread.

  12. #12

    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

    @Vacrix: Regarding the SITES list, do you really think there are enough green sources for Swarm/Autumn's Veil postboard? Seems dangerous low.

  13. #13

    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

    Autumn's Veil : "Spell you control can't be countered by black or blue spell this turn". I still can cast a countemagic on a spell protected because it still is a legal target. It won't do anything because of Autumn's veil. The countermagic WILL RESOLVE and do nothing.

    I mean it is like casting Terror on an indestructible (non-black or non-artifact) creature. It is a legal target for Terror but it won't do anything.

    Yes, that's all.

  14. #14
    Psilovibin
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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

    Quote Originally Posted by Bryant Cook View Post
    If you guy's want more information, I recently redid the entire opening post of the TES thread.
    Also, you allude to additional acceleration from Coldsnap but never explicitly say Rite of Flame. I can't believe I missed that in the list. Rite of Flame is certainly better, but he runs it in addition to Rite not instead of it or I would agree its a suboptimal list.
    It looks like you have additional protection in place of that acceleration, you running 8 pieces of protection while Waikiki is running 7, 1 additional AdN, 1 additional land, can completely lacks Simian Spirit Guide. I can definitely see where you would object to these changes; however, the advantage to Cabal Ritual is that it can single handily win you the game in a more late game situation. SSG has the random advantage of beating for 2 or chumping, but more notably, facilitates Rite of Flame. I think the biggest advantage of SSG though is that its Daze protection. I agree that 13 land looks much better, and I think cutting the 14th land for the full playset of Ponder is a much better call.

    @Phillip2293
    I'm not entirely sure yet. I'm still debating how to work that board so for right now its just a thought experiment. I think that 4 Lotus Petal and 4 Fetch, 1 Bayou, and potential Chrome Mox (imprinting spare) protection could be enough. The classic Land Grant list could support 4 postboard Xantid Swarm with just 4 Land Grant, 2 Bayou and 4 Lotus Petals, (and Chrome Mox) so I don't think I'm stretching it much farther than the old lists did.

    @ Kagehisa
    Excuse my poor wording. That is what I meant.
    Luck is a residue of design.



    I'm an aspiring Psychedelic Trance musician. Please feel free to enjoy my sense of life:
    http://soundcloud.com/vacrix


    Expect me or die. I play SI.

  15. #15

    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

    Quote Originally Posted by Vacrix View Post
    Also, you allude to additional acceleration from Coldsnap but never explicitly say Rite of Flame. I can't believe I missed that in the list. Rite of Flame is certainly better, but he runs it in addition to Rite not instead of it or I would agree its a suboptimal list.
    It looks like you have additional protection in place of that acceleration, you running 8 pieces of protection while Waikiki is running 7, 1 additional AdN, 1 additional land, can completely lacks Simian Spirit Guide. I can definitely see where you would object to these changes; however, the advantage to Cabal Ritual is that it can single handily win you the game in a more late game situation. SSG has the random advantage of beating for 2 or chumping, but more notably, facilitates Rite of Flame. I think the biggest advantage of SSG though is that its Daze protection. I agree that 13 land looks much better, and I think cutting the 14th land for the full playset of Ponder is a much better call.
    Why would anyone run a card based on it's late game effects in a combo deck? You never want to see late game. Ever.

    I know the advantages and disadvanatages of SSG. I've ran it for years and recently cut it. I've attacked with 2 Simian Spirit Guides for 18 damage againt burn and won before.

    However, right now in time it's weak due to Nauseam.

  16. #16
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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

    Rite of Flame has the occassional advantage of adding an additional red if you have a second one. Usually its just going to add R while Cabal Ritual is usually going to add B. Having a late game piece of acceleration like Cabal Ritual is really strong. Sure you don't want to see the late game or even the mid game. The fact is that you probably will, especially with the metagame shifting toward the more countermagic heavy control decks like Landstill. Playing through Daze, FoW, Counterspell Spell Pierce is not happy. Having Rite of Flame later requires you to already have Rites in the graveyard while Cabal Ritual is much more liberal with whats in your grave. I think having Cabal Ritual, even in small numbers is a huge advantage.
    Last edited by Vacrix; 07-08-2010 at 02:45 PM. Reason: horrible typos. dam you caffiene!
    Luck is a residue of design.



    I'm an aspiring Psychedelic Trance musician. Please feel free to enjoy my sense of life:
    http://soundcloud.com/vacrix


    Expect me or die. I play SI.

  17. #17

    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

    Quote Originally Posted by Vacrix View Post
    Rite of Flame has the occassional advantage of adding an additional red if you have a second one. Usually its just going to add R while Cabal Ritual is usually going to add B. Having a late game piece of acceleration like Cabal Ritual is really strong. Sure you don't want to see the late game or even the mid game. The fact is that you probably will, especially with the metagame shifting toward the more countermagic heavy control decks like Landstill. Playing through Daze, FoW, Counterspell Spell Pierce is not happy. Having Rite of Flame later requires you to already have Rites in the graveyard while Cabal Ritual is much more liberal with whats in your grave. I think having Cabal Ritual, even in small numbers is a huge advantage.
    I can't argue that Cabal Ritual adds a B. This is indeed true. The colors they add aren't the point here. You're a combo deck, you don't have Mystical tutor to find these late game cards. You don't want to be in the late game. Even if you manage to get in the late game with these decks, by then your Rite of Flame will more than likely add just as much mana as the singleton or two of Cabal Ritual. After all you run four Rite of Flame and have more than likely cast them already if you're in the late game. Rite of Flame does this all for a measily one red mana. This is huge.

    You mention the decks with Daze, Force, Spell Pierce, Wasteland? Don't you think it'd be better to get the same effect for one less mana?

  18. #18
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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

    Well yes they do usually run a mana denial suite. I expect you to hit a few lands drops in that time. Double Rite of Flame doesn't necessary get there if you need double black for Ad Nauseum. Also, I'm sure you can cantrip into Cabal Ritual if you need it, or lands for that matter. My point was really that Cabal Ritual is awesome acceleration that is liberal on the graveyard. It won't always have the same effect. After you have 7 cards in the grave. Rite adds first 1, on part with Crit, then 2, not yet on part with a Thresh'ed Crit, and then on par with it if you have 2 in the yard, and very rarely it will actually be better when you have already played 3. Again, I agree Rite is awesome in TES. You like having the red for EtW and Burning Wish. I think that Cabal Ritual is a great supplement to this strategy.

    Also, I think that if the opponent is Dazing/Spell Pierce etc. on your Cabal Ritual, then whatever. Try again next turn. It gets difficult when they add wasteland into that mix, in which case, throw back Cabal Ritual with your cantrips. Why don't you think it deserves a few slots in addition to the acceleration you already play?
    Luck is a residue of design.



    I'm an aspiring Psychedelic Trance musician. Please feel free to enjoy my sense of life:
    http://soundcloud.com/vacrix


    Expect me or die. I play SI.

  19. #19

    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

    Quote Originally Posted by Vacrix View Post
    Well yes they do usually run a mana denial suite. I expect you to hit a few lands drops in that time. Double Rite of Flame doesn't necessary get there if you need double black for Ad Nauseum. Also, I'm sure you can cantrip into Cabal Ritual if you need it, or lands for that matter. My point was really that Cabal Ritual is awesome acceleration that is liberal on the graveyard. It won't always have the same effect. After you have 7 cards in the grave. Rite adds first 1, on part with Crit, then 2, not yet on part with a Thresh'ed Crit, and then on par with it if you have 2 in the yard, and very rarely it will actually be better when you have already played 3. Again, I agree Rite is awesome in TES. You like having the red for EtW and Burning Wish. I think that Cabal Ritual is a great supplement to this strategy.

    Also, I think that if the opponent is Dazing/Spell Pierce etc. on your Cabal Ritual, then whatever. Try again next turn. It gets difficult when they add wasteland into that mix, in which case, throw back Cabal Ritual with your cantrips. Why don't you think it deserves a few slots in addition to the acceleration you already play?
    Even with a few land drops this is a five color deck, you won't always have 5 lands in play so you can tap two for a Cabal Ritual. You can't expect to have unlimited lands in play and to cast Chant/Brainstorm/Wish/ect... You also act like you won't hit multiples on a four of in the late game. I don't know why you're so driven on the fact that Cabal is "Liberal" with the graveyard, Rite of Flame is just as "Liberal", except costs one less and is more likely to add more mana. Yes, it's more likely to add more mana. You're more likely to draw two than get threshold in a combo deck.

    Then whatever? Really? I don't know if that's an acceptable answer. I play to win and I think I do so frequently. I don't roll over and die to a Spell Pierce. There also isn't always a next turn because your two mana ritual that adds one got countered.

    I've been explaining all day to you why Cabal Ritual isn't needed.

  20. #20
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    Re: [Psuedo-Article] Ill-Gotten Pains

    I'm not sure that is accurate. Its very easy to get Threshold in combo. You are more likely to draw 1 Cabal Ritual and have threshold than you are to draw 4 Rite of Flame. Even with cantrips. If we are talking exclusively in context of the late game, then you can probably hit 2 or 3 Rites. I doubt you can consistently hit 4. You can, however, be sure that you will have threshold by the midgame.

    Also my point about Cabal Ritual getting countered is that your opponent doesn't really know what resources you have in hand. You run significantly more mana sources and acceleration than you do business. Business = 11, Non-land acceleration = 20. This is of course assuming that you aren't even bothering to protect the beginning of the spell chain with Chant or Duress. If your opponent Spell Pierces a Cabal Ritual that is only adding B, then first of all WTF are you doing playing it for B in the first place... and second why bother countering such a shitty play? Why not wait until the opponent tries to play his business...

    You are still comparing Rite to Cabal Ritual. I'm advocating that you run it in addition to Rite, not instead. That's what Waikiki did in his list. What would run instead and why? This is the real discussion I wanted to pursue.
    Luck is a residue of design.



    I'm an aspiring Psychedelic Trance musician. Please feel free to enjoy my sense of life:
    http://soundcloud.com/vacrix


    Expect me or die. I play SI.

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