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Thread: [Deck] UWb Esperblade

  1. #1
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    [Deck] UWb Esperblade

    Nihil believes that UWb Fish should remain its own thread, since Fish is fundamentally different from most of the other Stoneblade lists, and I'm willing to concede his point. Since UWb Esperblade is a different deck than both Blade Control and Patriot, I decided to start a new thread to discuss this deck.

    This thread will be for any UWb aggro/control decklist running some number of Stoneforge Mystic and equipment. Lists with the Thopter Foundry/Sword of the Meek combo are welcome, for example. U/W/b lists that are more control than aggro/control likely belong in the Blade Control thread, but feel free to post those in here as well.

    To start things off, here is my current list. It's more "fishy" than most Stoneblade lists, but it's been performing exceedingly well:

    U/W/b Esperblade

    // Lands (18)
    4 [ON] Flooded Strand
    4 [ON] Polluted Delta
    4 [R] Tundra
    2 [R] Underground Sea
    2 [R] Scrubland
    1 [UNH] Island
    1 [UNH] Plains

    // Creatures (17)
    4 [UL] Mother of Runes
    4 [WWK] Stoneforge Mystic
    4 [RAV] Dark Confidant
    4 [ALA] Tidehollow Sculler
    1 [MOR] Vendilion Clique

    // Spells (25)
    4 [IA] Brainstorm
    3 [LRW] Ponder
    4 [NPH] Mental Misstep
    4 [NE] Daze
    4 [AL] Force of Will
    4 [IA] Swords to Plowshares
    1 [BOK] Umezawa's Jitte
    1 [NPH] Batterskull

    // Sideboard (15)
    SB: 1 [BOK] Umezawa's Jitte
    SB: 1 [DS] Sword of Fire and Ice
    SB: 1 [MBS] Sword of Feast and Famine
    SB: 4 [ZEN] Spell Pierce
    SB: 2 [CFX] Path to Exile
    SB: 2 [AP] Vindicate
    SB: 2 [WL] Aura of Silence
    SB: 2 [SOK] Pithing Needle

    I'm not running any Jace, the Mind Sculptor, which is generally considered a staple to most for "Stoneblade" decks, but this deck is already chock-full of card advantage, and doesn't need an alternate win condition. I'd fit him in if I had the room, but there's nothing I'm willing to cut to do so... maybe a Ponder and a Clique for 2 Jace TMS or something, but I'm not sure that would overall be more effective. Lifeloss to Confidant is also relevant.

    Other than that, this deck is pretty much everything I'd want from an aggro/control deck. Every single creature threat in this deck is more than just a creature - they all provide either virtual or actual card advantage. The deck runs more than enough means to stabilize into the midgame, where its little fishy creatures turn into serious threats in the redzone through support from Mother of Runes and Umezawa's Jitte.

    An excerpt, taken from my U/W/b Fish thread:

    The fundamental structure of the deck is obviously a blue-based aggro/control deck, but it differs greatly from the green splashed versions; rather than attacking with fat (Goyf, Knight, etc), it uses "Grizzly Bears" that offer incredibly powerful abilities. The fact that these bears are both bodies and abilities, that in and of itself is card advantage. However, the abilities themselves generate both virtual and actual card advantage directly, which sets this deck far apart from other aggro/control strategies.

    The deck is fantastic at surviving the early game through a host of defensive means. 12 (free) countermagic spells, Sculler (Thoughtseize on a stick), Mother of Runes (protection from removal/wall against aggro), and Swords to Plowshares are all fantastic at getting me into the midgame. It's very conceivable to get to the midgame with the opponent having absolutely nothing on the table (besides land). Sure, Tarmogoyf is a monstrous wall against a swarm of 2/2's and smaller, but if Goyf never sticks, a few 2/2's on a clean board are an impressive clock.

    Once I'm in the midgame, there are few decks that can survive the absurd amount of card advantage that this deck creates. Every single creature creates either virtual or actual card advantage, and when combined with equipment, can quickly close a game out, either immediately, or by being so far ahead of the opponent in board development that they can never come back. Mother of Runes and equipment dominate the red zone, and all of the card advantage and control elements prevent the opponent from recovering.

    After playtesting, I'm convinced that this deck has the ability to be a force in the metagame. It obviously has a strong combo matchup, but it also has a strong control matchup, with solid matchups across the board. Aggro is by no means a bad matchup either; between Mother of Runes and equipment, this deck has plenty of tools for combatting aggro. Combined with discard/countermagic/removal keeping the board relatively clear, and card advantage to keep the control coming, I'm very pleased with this deck.

    I also want to make it clear that I am not saying that this deck is instant Tier 1, the next DTB, and that it's going to dominate the format. All I'm saying is that rather than being an unplayable fringe deck, this deck is actually a very good deck and definitely has the potential to make Top 8 finishes. Considering that other "Stoneblade" decks have already done so, that statement should not be farfetched.
    That above excerpt does not need to apply to every Stoneblade list that gets posted in this thread, but it's a good starting point for those going a more aggro/control approach like I am.

    Enjoy.
    Last edited by Hanni; 07-15-2011 at 05:10 PM.
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  2. #2

    Re: UWb Esperblade

    Can't wait for the next set to contain a 1G creature that completely obsoletes this deck.

    Nice deck, anyway. Why only two Stoneforges?

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    Re: UWb Esperblade

    Can't wait for the next set to contain a 1G creature that completely obsoletes this deck.

    Nice deck, anyway. Why only two Stoneforges?
    Tarmogoyf didn't completely obsolete Fish. It put it at a huge disadvantage at that time, and while I could have further developed the deck to compensate, there was so much design space and innovation opened up elsewhere, that I shelved the deck.

    I'm only running 2 SFM's because I don't need equipment until the midgame. The goal here is not to cheat a Batterskull into play as soon as possible. I also only run 2 equipment spells, and midgame SFM's with nothing to grab is lackluster. However, I could just as easily cut the 1-2 Cliques for 1-2 more SFM's, and it's altogether possible that doing so would be better overall. This decklist isn't extensively playtested and fine-tuned yet.
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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: UWb Esperblade

    you might want to consider swaping out ponder for preordain

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    Re: UWb Esperblade

    Quote Originally Posted by obituary 95 View Post
    you might want to consider swaping out ponder for preordain
    Ponder lets you see up to 4 cards, Preordain only up to 3. Ponder is strictly the better card.
    Quote Originally Posted by (nameless one) View Post

    Oh ya, there was that SCG article with a deck called Laxstorm. If you ask me, it reminds me more of a laxative brand and not the player (no offence to Ari Lax).

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    Re: UWb Esperblade

    Not to derail, but in an aggro-control shell Preordain is head and shoulders above Ponder. The only exception to this rule is if you have multiple Dark Confidants in play. Also, if you have multiple Dark Confidants in play, cantrips are useless.
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  7. #7
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    Re: UWb Esperblade

    If you're going to run Batterskull, you really need 4 SFM, otherwise it's going to get stuck in your hand way too often.

  8. #8
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    Re: UWb Esperblade

    I play BW Stonebladeguy(from Deadguy^^) and a version, kinda similar to this.... but one MAIN POINT:
    OMG PLAY 4 SFM! Really dude its like... play NO Bant without Progenitus and 2 Natural Order....man....

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    Re: UWb Esperblade

    I keep wanting to build a U/W/B version of this deck, but the creature suite is something that I always have a problem with. My version currently just runs 4x SFM, 4x Bob, 3x Clique, and 3x Blossom... but it's too schizo and doesn't know if it's supposed to be control or be more aggro. I'll see if I can jam in Mom and/or Sculler.

    I don't know that I love running black though in any of these decks without Hymn. I get that it's double black, but with the exception of Confidant it really IS the reason worth splashing black in the first place imho. Having said that, I know Hanni's experience with Fish as an archetype so I respect the direction he's going with it... I just think it's worth running some combination of Hymn and Bob (and potentially BB) in most UWB versions.

    Also, I agree with not necessarily running Jace (as most of these builds do). I just bought mine, so I feel a little lame about not being able to play with them, but there is already a ton of CA in these decks and you really don't need a second wincon.

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    Re: UWb Esperblade

    In my opinion your Creature-Suite would benefit from playing Vial ( especially SFM and Sculler, but Bob and Mom too). On the other side is your creature-count really low for Vial and its a bad Topdeck (which could be avoided by all the CA/CQ the deck packs). As I'm not really experienced in Fish-Decks, I would like to hear your opinion on this.

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    Re: UWb Esperblade

    Quote Originally Posted by Solar Ice View Post
    Ponder lets you see up to 4 cards, Preordain only up to 3. Ponder is strictly the better card.
    This simply isn't true. The ability of Preordain to move unwanted cards to the bottom and desired ones to the top makes it much better than Ponder in terms of sculpting your hand. For this reason, Preordain is also much better when one encounters a mix of desired and undesired cards on the top since without a shuffle effect, Ponder forces you to keep the bad cards. Granted many decks in Legacy play an abundance of shuffle effects, but in general its better to use the card that does not require a 2nd card to be good. The "extra card" one can gain with Ponder is marginal at best since one would very much not like to turn Ponder into "Shuffle your library, draw a card."
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  12. #12

    Re: UWb Esperblade

    I run something similar but with the full 4 Stoneforges no Scullers slightly more land and a Sword of Body of Mind and 2 Jace 2.0 with fewer of some of the other cards. Will have to check my deck for exact numbers and post a list later. You really want the 4 Mystics to get you that equipment. Sword of Body and Mind is pretty awesome as it gets you past goyfs and makes a creature to block their goyf. It does suck versus reanimator. Jace is just too good not to run some.

  13. #13

    Re: UWb Esperblade

    Quote Originally Posted by Kirika View Post
    I run something similar but with the full 4 Stoneforges no Scullers slightly more land and a Sword of Body of Mind and 2 Jace 2.0 with fewer of some of the other cards. Will have to check my deck for exact numbers and post a list later. You really want the 4 Mystics to get you that equipment. Sword of Body and Mind is pretty awesome as it gets you past goyfs and makes a creature to block their goyf. It does suck versus reanimator. Jace is just too good not to run some.
    Very interested in your list.

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    Re: UWb Esperblade

    if you're going to run 3 equipment in the board, 2 Aura of silence, and 2 Pithing needle, you should at least consider Enlightened Tutor as a 1 or 2 of in the board - or maybe a 1/1 split with tutor and Stoneforge. Running E-tutor also opens the sideboard to host of other sideboard options like Runed halo, Ghostly Prison, Phyrexian Revoker, Ethersworn Cannonist, etc. that will help shore up some other matchups.

    Also, I'm not a huge fan of daze, but that's more of a personal preferance. I'd probably run a hard counter in it's place...or even mana leak. I know the whole "12 free counter" argument is pretty persuasive, but people are pretty used to playing around daze by now, and even if they don't, the tempo setback can be pretty devestating. If the deck's plan is to get to the late game and win with card advantage, then I would heavilly lean towards keeping your land on the board to make the deck more potent in the late game...and let's face it, daze becomes pretty poor in the lategame as well. Counterspell is generally one of the most underplayed cards in the format (IMHO) and it's easy enough for this deck to play since it's primarilly blue.

    Lastly - I don't really understand the 8 ponder/brainstorms - I guess it's probably to keep your blue count up for force.... At some point this will get annoying (probably when you're forced to use an entire turn casting 3 of these spells and you're left with no mana to get your equipment into play) and you'll just want to be drawing threats. I think 6 would be plenty, and you shouldn't have any issue finding a couple of bears that generate card advantage to replace them - even running another stoneforge and another equipment would make sense.

    Just my $0.02
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    What? Is this the magicthegathering.com message boards? What would you take out for it? More importantly, what 10 creatures would you put in? This isn't the proper archetype for equipment of any kind-it's resource denial. This format is Legacy-for the most part, equipment is too slow.

  15. #15
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    Re: UWb Esperblade

    4 SFM. The card is sometimes scarier than a resolved Bob. I play against UWb Stoneblade a lot (4 Bobs, 4 SFM, 1-3 Cliques) and Bob is really the least of my worries. You can deal with Bob with removal AND countermagic, but you can only deal with SFM with countermagic.

    The great thing about SFM is: Once you fetch up an equipment, it's already an uphill battle for your opponents since every dude you play now is a dude with a bigger body/ability.
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    Re: UWb Esperblade

    Hmm, I played Fish a long time and I see some problems/weaknessness with your list. This is of course only my oppinion, but maybe you should think about it.

    Manabase
    With so few cards costing 3 or more and 8 cantrips, you could think about running only 17lands.
    If you play with 18 lands this is quite fine. But the you should play at least 4 Basics and think about Back to Basics, as ist is still a great card!
    You should also think about running Karkas. I know you have no way to search it, but it is an out against troubeling permanents and works nice with Clique...

    Spells
    I would not run 4 Daze, as they quickly loose power and you're far from fast enough, to finish your opponent in time. I found 2 to be a good number to suprise people. Good players tend to play around them anyway if they seen them before and not having them in this situation is nice...
    This would be the perfect place to play 2 Maindeck Vindicate, which you really need to address permantens, you don't want to see (Planeswalker, Maze, Recursion-Lands)

    Second, I would think about Jitte. Its a great card, but it's hard to charge it, without loosing some of your few creatures. I would play SoFI or SoBM based on Metagame.


    Sideboard
    I don't see the need for 3 Equipments Sideboard. At most 1 addintional should be played. This is the right slot for Jitte, as you can board it as removal against another Jitte.
    In free slots I would play Meddling Mage, as he flexible addresses difficult Matchups and is another body.
    I see there is no graveyard-hate. Do you not expect Dredge or Loam?
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  17. #17

    Re: UWb Esperblade

    How has the 8 cantrip package been working out? At the moment the deck is currently nothing but 4-ofs, Cliques/Mystics (Mystics which I believe should be a 4-of too), the "simple" nature of the deck to me does not look like it benefits a great deal from the additional Ponders.

    Have you tried Sensei's Divining Top? Considering the low curve on your mainphase spells, and every single other card is reactive, I'd imagine finding the excess mana to power it shouldn't be too hard.

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    Re: UWb Esperblade

    Sorry I haven't responded in a few days.

    @ Ponder vs Preordain

    I used to play Serum Visions, so I know how good Scry can be. I really don't think picking one over the other will make that big of an impact overall. Each has their pros, so I'd think that either one would work just fine. Significant playtesting may prove one to be better over the other, but I haven't logged enough playtesting for that yet.

    @ 4 SFM

    You guys are probably right. That list is only a starting list. It's fine-tuned in the sense that it's working off of my old UWb Fish shell, which I put countless hours of time and playtesting into. It's not fine-tuned in the sense that I haven't done significant testing with the new additions. My intitial thoughts are to cut 1 Clique and 1 Ponder for 2 more SFM, which is probably the right call.

    @ Hymn

    Hymn is a great card, but this deck really wants to be playing creatures with 2 mana, not sorcery speed discard. That's why the free countermagic is so great; this deck can curve out casting it's critters early and not worry about whether or not it can cast its disruption/protection.

    @ Daze

    Daze most certainly is good in this deck, regardless if I want to get to the midgame or not. This deck runs off of a low curve, where bouncing a land back to hand doesn't matter that much, but it's mana hungry in the sense that it wants to be tapping out to cast its 2cc creatures. Daze is essential for making it to the midgame, where the rest of the decks card advantage takes over. The deck could care less if Daze becomes worthless by midgame, because it has numerous ways to cantrip Daze away, pitch it to FoW, or simply just draw a ton of excess cards to negate having a dead one in hand.

    Basically what I'm saying is, Daze helps us get to the midgame where the deck begins to gain dominance over the gamestate. Without tools like Daze, we'd be too far behind by the midgame to make a comeback against alot of decks. The fact that Daze loses value by midgame is irrelevant because the rest of the deck is absolutely amazing in the midgame.

    @ Vial

    Vial is horrible in a deck with 16 creatures. Vial is fantastic in decks with larger creature counts, but this deck simply has too many other spells that Vial just doesn't help to cast. I've tried it in the past in UWb Fish and it was awful. I'm a huge fan of Vial, but this just isn't the deck for it.

    @ Sculler

    Sculler is my favorite creature in the deck after Bob. He's a Thoughtseize on legs, which also happens to Exile said card. Between the 12 free countermagic and 4 Sculler, I'm able to pick my opponents gameplan apart sufficiently enough during the early game that they cannot get much going. The additional level of disruption that Sculler provides is such a house in this deck, and I recommend people at least playtest with him before deciding to cut him for other things.

    @ Jace TMS

    Haven't had a chance to playtest with him yet, but I really question how useful he would be in this deck. I know how OMGZOR powerful Jace is, trust me, I play alot of control decks with Jace. The gameplan with this deck is alot different though, and I'm not sure that Jace TMS is necessary. With Batterskull and Force of Will already (and no Top's), fitting in Jace TMS is really risky.

    @ E Tutor

    While I definitely agree that an E Tutor board could be really useful for us, seeing as how we can mitigate the card disadvantage very easily, I'm not sure what artifacts/enchantments I'd really want to tutor for. E Tutor'ing for equipment is obviously unecessary, since we run SFM. E Cannonist is unecessary because we already bone combo. A 1-of E Plague does sound very attractive though, and I'm sure there are some other worthwhile artifacts/enchantments that I could grab for certain matchups, like Serenity vs Affinity. I will definitely keep the E Tutor sideboard idea in mind.

    @ 8 cantrips

    I've been running 8 cantrips in UWb Fish since 2006, and they've always been good for me. I think the problem many people may have with them is the playskill required to use them properly. Cantrips aren't mean to be used immediately at the beginning of the game every game. This deck has other things to be doing early game and only needs the cantrips if it needs to dig for land or specific answers. Otherwise, the cantrips should be saved until midgame, where they enable the deck to start drawing better quality spells than the opponent. This deck runs alot of 2cc creatures; casting cantrips once hitting 3 lands is the perfect opportunity to use them (drop 2cc creature, cast cantrip). However, going down to 6 may be the right call, as many things have changed since 2006. For right now, I'm going to experiment with cutting 1 Clique and 1 Ponder for 2 more SFM and see how that goes.

    @ Manabase

    I'm very happy with my manabase right now.

    @ Top

    I fear Top would be incredibly slow in this deck. Not because Top itself is incredibly slow, but because this deck really cannot afford to spend an extra 1 mana every turn to first cast it and then spin it. The cantrips work much better because they cost alot less tempo. The deck is very mana hungry during the early game, and the card advantage makes the deck fairly mana hungry in the midgame, too.

    I realize that Daze can also slow the decks mana production down some too, but it's at the expense of countering the opponent's spell for free, which actually accelerates the deck more than it slows it down. Top, on the other hand, slows the deck down without actually affecting the gamestate/board position, and is primarily why I feel it would be too clunky for this deck. However, there's always the possibility that I'm wrong; this is based on my previous experience with UWb Fish, and alot has changed since then.

    For the record, I'll edit my opening post decklist to include 4 SFM, since everyone who's clamoring for 4 is probably right.
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    Re: UWb Esperblade

    Quote Originally Posted by Hanni View Post
    Sorry I haven't responded in a few days.

    @ Ponder vs Preordain

    I used to play Serum Visions, so I know how good Scry can be. I really don't think picking one over the other will make that big of an impact overall. Each has their pros, so I'd think that either one would work just fine. Significant playtesting may prove one to be better over the other, but I haven't logged enough playtesting for that yet.
    At the risk of sounding too belligerent, arguments like these are lazy and don't accomplish much. It's not productive to simply say that cards have their pros and cons when one can weight these pros and cons against each other to come up with an informed decision. It's possible to come up with a situation where Visions of Beyond is better than Ancestral Recall (say your only out is also the only card in your library and you have no graveyard) but it's obvious which one is a better card. I'm not saying that the decision between Ponder and Preordain is as easy in this case, but as far as I can tell, the only arguments for Ponder are the mythical extra card you get to see and its synergy with shuffle effects. In this case it's important to note that with a shuffle effect, Ponder only becomes better than Preordain when the 3rd card is undesirable, since you are able to get rid of it, but in all other cases Preordain is still better since the undesirable cards are on the bottom of your library instead of shuffled in. This difference is of course quite marginal but its important to note that even in the best case scenario, Ponder isn't noticeably better than Preordain. Given the marginal value of the 4th card with Ponder hitting when you are searching for a specific out, I would argue it's rather plain to see that the Pros of Preordain outweigh those of Ponder. Options such as these may seem trivial but if the point is to create the best possible list, one should strive to make the correct choice.
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  20. #20
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    Re: UWb Esperblade

    Okay, but what happens when you crack a fetchland after you cast Preordain?

    Like I said, the differences between the two are extremely subtle, and determining the better one is far more difficult than the differences between Visions of Beyond and Ancestral Recall. I mean, we're talking about extremely minor differences here. Ponder lets you see the top 3 and take the best one; if you Scry 2 with Preordain, it's quite possible that the card you draw ends up being worse than the 2 cards you put to bottom. This deck does in fact run shuffle effects, which both improves Ponder, and negates the effect of Scry. So when I say that both have pros and cons, and that the differences are likely irrelevant, I'm not trying to "be lazy" and dodge the issue.

    Again, the only way I'd be able to accurately determine which cantrip is the better cantrip for this deck, would be to do extensive playtesting with both. I don't have that kind of time, sorry. You're more than welcome to put the work in, if the issue is that important to you, and post your results. I know I'd be interested to see your results, and I'm sure others would as well. Hypothetical discussions vs the two just isn't doing it for me.
    Sligh
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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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