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Thread: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

  1. #361

    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    Its actually more consistent than any version of Death’s Shadow list Ive ever played. It has the perfect threat density and every card works beautifully together.

    You never need to escape Kroxa (except if you somehow windup in the midgame against a control matchup). You either Disapprove end of your opponents turn and then cast both Kroxa and Dreadnought during your turn and have them both stick around because your opponent just expended all their resources to deal with the 13/13 Shadow that you just swung in with. Or you Stifle the sacrifice trigger on Kroxa cast so that you get the discard effect but your Kroxa doesnt get sacced.

    Disapproving midcombat in response to an unblocked Death’s Shadow wins quite a few games (or atleast puts your opponent’s life total within one Kroxa trigger of death)

    Vaka Nought 3.0

    4 Stifle
    4 Disapprove - proxied up in paper (using my Disallows to proxy for them) for testing

    4 Death’s Shadow
    4 Phyrexian Dreadnought
    4 Street Wraith
    3 Kroxa

    4 Brainstorm
    4 Force of Will
    4 Thoughtseize
    4 Daze
    1 Reanimate
    1 Snuff Out
    1 Flusterstorm/Force of Negation
    1 Expedite/Temur’s Battle Rage
    1 Spell Pierce/Drown In the Loch

    4 Wasteland
    14-15 Lands

    A 63 card deck for now, but I find this is the easiest and fastest way to figure out which cards I dislike seeing and want to cut.

  2. #362
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    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    Among the worst things about Shadow decks is that they are horrible vs Chalice, don't trample, and [not that they were ever going to win such a matchup] they are colored such that they lose to Mother of Runes fog.

    Shadow's problems with Plow are nearly the same as its problems vs any removal spell or Strix-type...but the colored, not-trampling, weakness to Chalice stuff is the real structural problem. Another structural problem is the lack of a playable black 1-drop since DRS was banned, but this hole opened up a little more play vs Chalice...which they obliterated by playing Street Wraith to ensure continued vulnerability to Chalice.

    This is a set of problems Dreadnought doesn't have. Any time we mix Dreadnoughts and Shadow we should be looking to erase this deficit with Dreadnought tech. We don't add Dreadnoughts just to ramp up the existing vulnerability to Chalice.

    Dreadnought tech takes mana, so you have to drop the red stuff and get mana you can trust. The CA engine isn't really there yet to justify this combination. Can't really go around spamming Confidant in a deck with Seize/Daze/Scroll/FoN/FoW - particularly in a fair meta. Arguel's Blood Fast is close to being the ideal card to bringing the two together, but we need to see a better card than Vito.

  3. #363

    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark Kant View Post
    Its actually more consistent than any version of Death’s Shadow list Ive ever played. It has the perfect threat density and every card works beautifully together.
    Cards in normal Death's Shadow don't need to work "together", they just work by themselves.

    The idea that "oh you aren't actually supposed to escape Kroxa, you only hardcast it as a 2 mana 6/6 while using a stifle effect on it" is supposedly "more consistent" than just playing a UB tempo deck with Ponder and Gurmag Angler etc is insane.

    Among the worst things about Shadow decks is that they are horrible vs Chalice, don't trample, and [not that they were ever going to win such a matchup] they are colored such that they lose to Mother of Runes fog.

    Shadow's problems with Plow are nearly the same as its problems vs any removal spell or Strix-type...but the colored, not-trampling, weakness to Chalice stuff is the real structural problem. Another structural problem is the lack of a playable black 1-drop since DRS was banned, but this hole opened up a little more play vs Chalice...which they obliterated by playing Street Wraith to ensure continued vulnerability to Chalice.

    This is a set of problems Dreadnought doesn't have. Any time we mix Dreadnoughts and Shadow we should be looking to erase this deficit with Dreadnought tech. We don't add Dreadnoughts just to ramp up the existing vulnerability to Chalice.
    Stifle and Nought also suck ass vs Chalice and Plow. Sure a colourless 12/12 is nice vs Mother but that's also a plow matchup and it gets killed by Flickerwisp so do you even really gain anything. (If your point was that playing dreadnought and shadow in the same deck is a bad idea then I agree, but as usual it's impossible to figure out what you're even trying to say 90% of the time)

  4. #364
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    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    I've tried merging Shadow and Dreadnought, and my experience wasn't very promising. Once I just streamlined into a fairly stock UB Shadow list I was much happier with a lot more consistency. I couldn't imagine playing a 3-color Shadow/Nought deck, it seems too dependent on drawing the right cards in the right order. That's an issue with any setup of Dreadstill, but that particular deck deals with it better by including a powerful card draw engine with Standstill. Ub Shadow does it with pure velocity (BStorm/Ponder/Street Wraith.)

    It seems, on the surface, that it's a great idea to have more big, cheap fatties. The problem is one requires a combo while the other naturally gets big by doing normal magic stuff. So the Swords to Plowshares deals with the Shadow and opponents just deal with the other half of the Dreadnought combo and the 12/12 doesn't materialize. With such a low threat density, most opponents can figure out how to play that game.

    Kroxa seems to be the lynchpin of why you're doing this, which I think isn't necessarily bad, it's just another combo. Stifle + Dreadnought is good because it only costs 2 mana. Kroxa costing BRU and an extra card is little steep, especially because opponents can interact with you on the stack that way. I think it would be better to play Kroxa the way it was printed, by getting it back out of the graveyard and having synergies that support it. That's the Uro plan for decks that play Uro, and that's why it's good (IMHO.)

    Just a few thoughts; I don't think Disapprove will be a breakout card. Do I think it's good, possibly enabling some cool stuff? Definitely. But I don't think it creates anything new and it doesn't make known strategies jump up a tier.
    Brainstorm Realist

    I close my eyes and sink within myself, relive the gift of precious memories, in need of a fix called innocence. - Chuck Shuldiner

  5. #365
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    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    Quote Originally Posted by kombatkiwi View Post
    Stifle and Nought also suck ass vs Chalice and Plow. Sure a colourless 12/12 is nice vs Mother but that's also a plow matchup and it gets killed by Flickerwisp so do you even really gain anything. (If your point was that playing dreadnought and shadow in the same deck is a bad idea then I agree, but as usual it's impossible to figure out what you're even trying to say 90% of the time)
    The point is that Dreadnought has enablers that let us sit back and laugh when opponents play Chalice. Your list doesn't have these tools; so you're re-investing into Shadow's greatest weakness...when the whole point of adding Noughts was supposed to be getting Shadow out of the hole they dug themselves into.

    Adding trample and not-colored definitely helps Shadow, but it's not like adding Berserk wouldn't have also achieved the same-ish thing with less variance (plus Berserk is a kill spell that ramp down life). If you're actually adding Noughts to Shadow, you definitely don't need Battle Rage. The third color really shouldn't be there, but if it is, it should probably be white (see Orzhov Charm)

  6. #366

    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    Any thoughts on Murktide Regent?



    One extra mana for a beater that will always be at least as big as Gurmag's Angler (if not bigger) but with evasion and the potential to grow even more from additional delving.

    Maybe as a 3rd Angler if not an outright replacement.

  7. #367
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    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    I'm not sure it's a replacement, Gurmag's biggest selling point is it 'really' only costs B to cast for a 5/5. Costing UU minimum is actually kinda tough for Shadow.
    Brainstorm Realist

    I close my eyes and sink within myself, relive the gift of precious memories, in need of a fix called innocence. - Chuck Shuldiner

  8. #368

    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    I've tried merging Shadow and Dreadnought, and my experience wasn't very promising. Once I just streamlined into a fairly stock UB Shadow list I was much happier with a lot more consistency. I couldn't imagine playing a 3-color Shadow/Nought deck, it seems too dependent on drawing the right cards in the right order. That's an issue with any setup of Dreadstill, but that particular deck deals with it better by including a powerful card draw engine with Standstill. Ub Shadow does it with pure velocity (BStorm/Ponder/Street Wraith.)
    I think Dress Down might change that equation considerably, since it cantrips, makes shadow into a 13/13, stops thassas oracle and has innumerable other uses (just as many as stifle), in addition to cheating in Dreadnought or Kroxa.

    Kroxa also has utility beyond the combo as its decent rate to make your opponent discard a card and lose 3 life for 2 mana, and it has excellent utilty in grindy controllish matchups.

    I am testing various iterations of Vaka Nought that all start either...

    4 Deaths Shadow
    4 Dreadnought
    1-3 Kroxa
    4 Stifle
    4 Dress Down
    +
    Xerox Shell

    Or...

    4 Dreadnought
    4 Uro
    1-3 Hierarch/Tarmogoyf/Snapcaster/Subtlety/Brazen B
    4 Stifle
    4 Dress Down
    1 Urza’s Saga
    +
    Xerox Shell

    And every iteration has been extremely promising. Just waiting on MTGO so that I can test these decks outside my guantlet.

  9. #369
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    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark Kant View Post
    I think Dress Down might change that equation considerably, since it cantrips, makes shadow into a 13/13, stops thassas oracle and has innumerable other uses (just as many as stifle), in addition to cheating in Dreadnought or Kroxa.
    I'm not sure I understand the ruling perfectly, but I think once Dress Down gets sacrificed at EOT Death's Shadow will still be vulnerable to it having -x/-x = to your live total. If your life total is above 12 once Dress Down leaves it will then go to the graveyard via state-based effect.
    Brainstorm Realist

    I close my eyes and sink within myself, relive the gift of precious memories, in need of a fix called innocence. - Chuck Shuldiner

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    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    I'm not sure I understand the ruling perfectly, but I think once Dress Down gets sacrificed at EOT Death's Shadow will still be vulnerable to it having -x/-x = to your live total. If your life total is above 12 once Dress Down leaves it will then go to the graveyard via state-based effect.
    If you're already below 12 you can attack with Shadow as a 13/13 without being at 0 life. No blockers? Flash in Dress Down for surprise 13 damage. If they have removal, you cantrip and trade 2-for-2.


    Edit: I thought of something in these consistency debates. It occurs to me a newer player playing a stock tempo list could get very suboptimal results (compared to an experienced player) and may find better results with some high variance combo fatty strategy like Kroxa-Stifle or Uro-Stifle. An expert level player would do better with the more consistent build, but the other player may be unable to unlock those wins. Traditional Legacy Xerox wins come from gaining subtle mana utilization and card quality advantages. But lower level players will miss how to convert these advantages into wins or could be themselves making tempo errors, missing wins from the "better" decklists.

    For the average player it's easier to find wins when you have some big dumb threat on the board. Newer players and players from other formats play Magic by uninteractively slamming big things on the board, turning sideways, and passing the turn. Those players may get more wins making 12/12s and 6/6s just because they have an easier time figuring out how to win with them. The trend in Standard and Limited has reinforced that playstyle. Those players will feel confident knowing how to win if they have some big scary Mythic in play, but may not see the wins in subtle interactive tempo play.

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    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    I don't think the problem facing new players is missing timing windows, so much as the tendency to jam relentlessly b/c the hand has something they can jam (but definitely should not jam).

    There is very nearly a 1-to-1 correlation with doing something way too early, and immediately losing if that thing wasn't a 1-card combo. It's super hard to kill yourself by spamming cards like Uro or Hymn or CB or Goyf or Baleful Strix-types...So it's never going to be the missed tempo window that kills the inexperienced player, rather it is the situation where they have 2 mana with a Dreadnought and Stifle in hand where they always kill themselves by yolo-jamming.

    On the more experienced side, builds like Shadow predictably railroad the experienced pilot into making bad plays (like playing 2x Shadow's vs Plow), b/c the deck can't do anything else. After a certain point, consistency-only cards put a hard cap on skill creating win %. I'd focus more on raising the ceiling problem Shadow has.

  12. #372
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    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    Quote Originally Posted by Fox View Post
    I don't think the problem facing new players is missing timing windows, so much as the tendency to jam relentlessly b/c the hand has something they can jam (but definitely should not jam).

    There is very nearly a 1-to-1 correlation with doing something way too early, and immediately losing if that thing wasn't a 1-card combo. It's super hard to kill yourself by spamming cards like Uro or Hymn or CB or Goyf or Baleful Strix-types...So it's never going to be the missed tempo window that kills the inexperienced player, rather it is the situation where they have 2 mana with a Dreadnought and Stifle in hand where they always kill themselves by yolo-jamming.

    On the more experienced side, builds like Shadow predictably railroad the experienced pilot into making bad plays (like playing 2x Shadow's vs Plow), b/c the deck can't do anything else. After a certain point, consistency-only cards put a hard cap on skill creating win %. I'd focus more on raising the ceiling problem Shadow has.
    What do you think would solve the ceiling problem? I always thought, maybe naively, that Shadow's problem was the lack of trample or genuine card advantage. RUG Delver gets to stretch into cards like Uro without too much trouble, which solves their problem of only playing as a tempo deck. I'd be interested to hear what you think the actual specific ceiling problem of Shadow is, and how to get past it. I'm assuming what you mean by 'ceiling' is that the deck at it's best isn't as powerful as other options, or there is an inherent weakness against the metagame (which I assume to be Swords to Plowshares.)
    Brainstorm Realist

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    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    The problem is the wincon, there's only one: playing into ETB dudes [SCM, Ice-Fang/Strix] and 1 mana removals in a Daze deck. The opponent only has one thing they need to disrupt: Shadow's combat step.

    Shadow needs to break the pattern of "guess I lose b/c Daze is a dead draw and opponent got a PW...also I burned all my blue cards on not-blue spells [removals], so opponent's countermagic is unchallenged."

    So you're waiting for a card that says Dreadnought and Shadow can be played together and simply resolving them into flipped Arguel's or Plow = gain 12, opponent lose 12 (this Vito effect is not on a competitive card yet). More direct damage to be had with Kaya 3cmc, which also kills Chalice. Get the wincon off the combat step.

  14. #374

    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    What do you think would solve the ceiling problem? I always thought, maybe naively, that Shadow's problem was the lack of trample or genuine card advantage. RUG Delver gets to stretch into cards like Uro without too much trouble, which solves their problem of only playing as a tempo deck. I'd be interested to hear what you think the actual specific ceiling problem of Shadow is, and how to get past it. I'm assuming what you mean by 'ceiling' is that the deck at it's best isn't as powerful as other options, or there is an inherent weakness against the metagame (which I assume to be Swords to Plowshares.)
    - You can't play aggro/tempo as well as UR because your removal spells don't double as burn/reach and you have discard spells in your deck

    - You don't want to play a long game (at least in game 1, you can build a sb to do this in certain matchups) where you play your own card advantage sources because if you give your opponents time they will have a deck that can make better use of them having more mana mid/late and your discard becomes much worse if the opponent is topdecking

    - Therefore the deck walks a pretty fine line in the sense that it has no lategame but it's trying to kill the opponent quickly while having a low threat count and no burn spells and gets heavily punished if it overextends into swords to plowshares

    So because it operates on such thin margins if there is anything that slightly pushes a % in favour of the opp it can be enough to make a matchup bad and the deck not very well positioned
    - Uro
    - Skyclave Apparition
    - Veil
    -Strix
    etc

    So what is the upside to playing this deck vs UR/RUG?
    - You get a slightly better combo matchup because you have Thoughtseize in your deck and your opponent can't interact with your life total or your creatures
    - You have worse matchups vs basically every midrange/control fair deck
    - Maybe in the pseudo-delver mirrors your winrate is slightly higher but it's still very close

    Generally for legacy this equation doesn't really make sense (as in the % you gain from playing shadow compared to any other delver flavour vs combo isn't very large, and the meta % of combo also isn't that large)

    I think what would make shadow a more decent choice again
    1. Uro ban (not saying this will/should happen)
    2. Printing of a better 2 mana secondary threat that provides CA (like if Ethereal Forager didn't die to bolt, or some UB wrenn and six kind of card, or slightly stronger confidant, something like that)
    3. Printing of a 1 mana delver alt that's still a strong topdeck late (like a black hexdrinker)

    Edit

    The problem is the wincon, there's only one: playing into ETB dudes [SCM, Ice-Fang/Strix] and 1 mana removals in a Daze deck. The opponent only has one thing they need to disrupt: Shadow's combat step.

    Shadow needs to break the pattern of "guess I lose b/c Daze is a dead draw and opponent got a PW...also I burned all my blue cards on not-blue spells [removals], so opponent's countermagic is unchallenged."

    So you're waiting for a card that says Dreadnought and Shadow can be played together and simply resolving them into flipped Arguel's or Plow = gain 12, opponent lose 12 (this Vito effect is not on a competitive card yet). More direct damage to be had with Kaya 3cmc, which also kills Chalice. Get the wincon off the combat step.
    The main problem is that the threats are too fragile, not that they only win by combat

    The deck needs threats that are more resilient or provide CA so that it's not so backbreaking if you have to attack into strix.
    The solution is not some kind of fling effect that lets you shoot opp face directly

  15. #375
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    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    It's pretty important to put an asterisk on legacy's budget decks, of which Shadow is cited as one. In a setting where legacy rounds are infinite [i.e. leagues], combo will always be over-played b/c the limiting reagent for rounds played = time per game (rather than match total).

    Moreover, this window of free-wins b/c fair got banned has ended (Oko, DHA, Astro w/ increased REBs). This had further increased combo share in the league environment. The problem is now two-fold for legacy's budget category:
    1- free wins for fair is coming back with REB w/ Ragavan.
    2- the experience of excessive amounts of combo simply does not exist in local paper, online or paper tournaments, GPs, or Eternal Weekend.

    Make no mistake, doing the Shadow thing harder is a dead end. While a level-up Delver or undercosted & largely unkillable 1-card combo [type PW] would help...the combo food doesn't exist at high levels outside of leagues. Wincon diversity is the only path forward.

    Free power creep might hand out free wins, but if the wincon is just combat step, you'll never translate skill to win % past a certain point. All of the meaningful decisions belong to the opponent.

  16. #376

    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    As someone who plays a deck that preys on combo, the unfair meta share in leagues, since the oko ban, has never been lower imo.

    Ur delver is a lot easier for fair decks to beat and harder for combo to beat than snowko, and vice versa. If combo was present elves wouldn’t be the best performing deck.

    And saying non combat decks have a higher skill cap is insane. The combat step has the most interaction and most complex decision trees out of any part of the game. Several articles have pointed out that in the long run lightning bolt players do better than combo decks.

    Not to mention delver has been the best or second best deck since forever.

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    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    Does adding 2-3 Dreadnought address the threat count problem? There was no reason to run Dreadnought with Shadow before, but now Dress Down ties them together more smoothly without walking into the same 2-for-1s Stiflenought does.

    You could still run 4 Stifles as a tempo play (making Daze and Wasteland better). Use them on Dreadnought sometimes but not necessary to all the time.

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    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    Elves is a combo deck itself @reeplcheep. So is Post, Storm, and anything else that heavily uses the GY to name a few. Plenty of Thassa out there too. You will never see as much combo as a league deck in a setting where rounds are finite without cards like DTT or Breach or TurboTibbs running the format.

    People generally skew towards decks that don't leave them waiting 45 minutes for rounds to end. It's not worth investing 4h in legacy night to play like 20 minutes of magic - some people ofc prefer this, but they're in the minority.

    It's not about non-combat decks being higher skill. I said if your *only* wincon is combat, your skill doesn't really matter, as the opponent makes all the relevant decisions. It's just true; I don't care how good you are as a Shadow pilot, you only have one way to win. I stop Shadow's combat step, they lose. All I'm playing against is someone executing predictable, linear commands and luck of the draw. I credit the Shadow pilot with perfect play and they can't outplay me b/c there is a ceiling that is hamstinging them...because they can only play one way. My job against Shadow only gets easier when they railroad themselves into this certainty with Ponder and Wraith.

  19. #379

    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    Elves is a slow resilient combo deck. Usually that archetype has good fair matchups but dies hard to faster combo decks (see also aluren or food chain)

    Technically if you stop standstills or sneak and shows combat step they lose too (assuming 0 jaces). Having big creatures and tons of disruption gives you the ability to shift your game plan substantially, which is the most skillful part of magic.

    Edit: Lack of reach is a problem for death shadow for sure. But being the most xerox-y deck with the hardest disruption gives you more agency over a game than most midrange piles. Saying that a game where you go thoughtseize, t2 ponder thoughtseize, t3 gurmag has less agency than UWx piles with mentor in them (and only plows and forces as t1/t2 interaction) is rediculous.

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    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    Quote Originally Posted by Reeplcheep View Post
    Elves is a slow resilient combo deck. Usually that archetype has good fair matchups but dies hard to faster combo decks (see also aluren or food chain)

    Technically if you stop standstills combat step they lose too (assuming 0 jaces). Having big creatures and tons of disruption gives you the ability to shift your game plan substantially, which is the most skillful part of magic.
    You realize that we play towards direct damage, mill, and deterministic wins by complete mana denial; depending on the color config right? We are always attacking on more than one axis if correctly built. This ability to oscillate provides different context to cards - and this is where skill turns into win %.

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