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PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 3:50 am 
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This particular subform looks deader than a dodo, but maybe it can be stirred up a bit?

When a new set comes out, I try to look at what common and uncommon tools the color pairs have been given to acomplish their assigned Limited role. This time, I will try to write them out in a more or less coherent form, see if I can get some debate going, maybe learn something. I will start with RW, the aggro color pair, since aggro is typically more straightforward, easier to figure out.

Anybody who wants to join in, either to look at another color combination or pick apart my reasoning, is more than welcome.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 3:53 am 
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:r::w:

This is, by now I think I can say, traditionally the combination of quick beats. It wants to come out early and keep attacking, denying good blocks, finishing things off with an alpha strike or a bit of reach, before big things it can't handle come out to play. The gold uncommon, Honored-Crop Captain, is pretty dumb and to the point: aggresively costed, and it wants you to attack with everything, every turn. Then it gets a bit more interesting, but not for long. All you need to know is that you're supposed to exert yourself to victory. You pick every exert creature you see, and support them with untap and vigilance effects, plus the traditional combat tricks and removal.

It does look as if the combination is not as well supported as it was in recent sets. There is really only one good two-drop for it an each color, Gust Walker and Net-Crop Entangler. Then there is the uncommon Bloodrage Brawler, which all red decks will be fighting over. And it gets worse, we have only one aggresive common three drop, the Rhet-Crop Spearmaster. And we get two four-drops, Emberhorn Minotaur and Tah-Crop Elite. All of these seem fine aggro cards, but there is not a lot of them. Conversly, there are a lot of good support cards, and a lot of powerful uncommons for the archetype: Ahn-Crop Trasher, Sparring Mummy, Truehart Twins, Vizier of Deferment, Consuming Fervor, Brute Strenght, Djeru's Resolve. The best one seems to be Trial of Solidarity. If you are lucky to get one of those, Cartouches go up in value; otherwise, they do not seem very good.

White has two good removal spells, Fan Bearer and Compulsory Rest. They will surely play a role, since the format seems to be a few turns slower than AER-KLD. The four-mana burn, however, just might be too slow for RW. You will want to deploy your four-drops and then finish the game, leaving little time to play it. And you should be able to kill anything with four toughness in combat by that time.

This just might be more of a Theros type approach, where you will ride the few good creatures you manage to get and hope they survive long enough. And it will be more draw-dependent, due to the lack of good aggresive two-drops. I just don't think a bear can cut it here.

The deck is certainly there, but it will be hard to support more than one drafter at a table in RW. But if you do get, you should be able to get in a few quick wins.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 4:53 pm 
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I have a feeling this format is going to be dominated by the uncommons that you open/get passed. There are some bomby rares, but that's normal.
The only common spells across 5 colors that appear relevant independent of synergies are removal spells.

The exception is Green which has big fatties to get through big butts.

I could be badly misreading exert + combat tricks however.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:57 am 
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Big butts, eh? Let's look at UG next!

:u::g:

In the last few sets, blue was all about resources: acquiring and spending them faster and better than other color combinations. First we had clues, then energy; and now, we're back to basics, with mana.

Starting with the gold uncommons, we have Weaver of Currents, a three-mana bear that accelerates you by two colorless. And the uncommon split card, Spring//Mind (great name, btw, works on any level), accelerates you and draws cards. And if that does not drive the lesson home, there's Bounty of the Nile. So, the plan seems to be, accelerate and draw to your fatties.

Now, what to do with six mana of turn four? Angler Drake, Scaled Behemoth and Shefet Monitor come to mind. The Behemoth will be a nightmare for your opponents; they can't kill it with a removal spell, and multiblocking is a recipe for a blowout. And at common, we have Aven Initiate, River Serpent, Shimmerscale Drake, Colossapede and Greater Sandwurm.

Fat? Check. A lot of it. Expensive, yes, but if you can accelerate your way into it, well worth the trouble. How about removal?

For the first time in a long while, countermagic seems playable in Limited. Certainly in Selead, and we'll see about draft. Censor should be an autoinclude in any blue deck, and Remove Soul is just great in a format dominated by creature combat. Green has the traditional fight spell, this time at three mana, in enchantment form.

There seem to be cards for three decks scattered among the green commons: GB - look for -1/-1 counters; GW - the exert creatures; and UG - Pouncing Cheetah and those mentioned above. All in all, green looks very powerful, with lots of fine commons, and you should keep in mind what deck you're drafting when making card choices. Cartouche of Strength goes in any green deck, but Naga Vitalist is best in UG.

In blue, in addition to the already mentioned, we have Cartouche of Knowledge, Floodwaters, Hieroglyphic Illumination. Maybe Hekma Sentinels. Naga Oracle is a step below these, but it looks powerful in UB, with the black graveyard synergies. I don't plan on using Cancel and Winds of Rebuke in UG, those seem more UB to me.

In the beginning, I'll try for a hand that keeps up countermagic and cycling in the early turns, and then accelerates into big things. Dropping a four-drop while easily holding back countermagic/cycling mana sounds very good. I intend to draft a lot of UG in this format. Looks much more my style than UB.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:46 pm 
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Quote:
For the first time in a long while, countermagic seems playable in Limited.


For one, Essence Scatter is probably the most economical way to deal with stupid hexproof behemoths.

I also don't think you'll have any trouble getting to 6 or even 7 mana in this format. 8 maybe needs some help.

Quote:
- Pouncing Cheetah and those mentioned above. All in all, green looks very powerful, with lots of fine commons, and you should keep in mind what deck you're drafting when making card choices. Cartouche of Strength goes in any green deck, but Naga Vitalist is best in UG.


Pouncing Cheetah really needs reach to be relevant. I guess it's cute to hold up essence scatter/cycling.
I think Naga Vitalist is just a fine playable.

Quote:
In blue, in addition to the already mentioned, we have Cartouche of Knowledge, Floodwaters, Hieroglyphic Illumination. Maybe Hekma Sentinels. Naga Oracle is a step below these, but it looks powerful in UB, with the black graveyard synergies. I don't plan on using Cancel and Winds of Rebuke in UG, those seem more UB to me.


Oracle looks better than Sentinels to me. Just more relevant more often. A 2/3 that you cycle to pump to a 3/4 is kind of a pathetic clock and a meh blocker once you get past the early game. There are better cycling.dec payoffs, no?

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:00 pm 
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I think this set is going to be a little like MM2017. Most of the table is going to try to build synergy nonsense decks and THAT ONE GUY is going to pick all the hyper aggro red cards paired with something other than blue and try to run you over while you are cycling. Maybe this is similar to 3xSOI?

Strangely, the good red creatures are all UNcommon; the only good red commons are removal spells.

I feel like they wanted to support >2 colors with G / UG but all* the bombs are double colored or green so what's the payoff (UG gets removal this way, I suppose)??. I did test a UGb sealed pool that splashed for Archfiend of Ifnir on like 5 black sources . Since it has cycling.


* The gods are not double colored. But I am maybe splashing for the Red one? Or the green one but it's already green.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 6:22 am 
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I mentioned Pouncing Cheetah since I have a feeling the early turns of some of UG decks may play out in the draw-go style, with the default being to cycle something EOT if nothing worth countering is played. Cheetah is a way to bring pressure in those decks. Otherwise, yes, it's nothing special.

Naga Oracle is fine, stacking the top of your library, maybe getting rid of excess cards. But it gets to be real good when the cards you put in your graveyard are actually useful in there. UW and UB should be taking it higher than UG.

Hekma Sentinels is interesting, since it makes opponents think about attacing their x/3 into it. It's not a clock, not in the color combination with so much fat available. UG should not be a cycling deck, it should just use the cycling cards as a means of getting to the mana needed, and the good spells. And board them out against red aggro decks.

I've been known to overestimate the impact of synergies over just solid playables. Synergistic decks are harder to draft (that whole enablers/payoffs balance thing), but when you get a good one, it just feels unbeatable. I've not been drafting many boring, straightforward decks in recent sets.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 9:52 pm 
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Zenbitz wrote:
I think this set is going to be a little like MM2017. Most of the table is going to try to build synergy nonsense decks and THAT ONE GUY is going to pick all the hyper aggro red cards paired with something other than blue and try to run you over while you are cycling.


This is what I had pretty good success with today in sealed. My pool didn't have the synergies to make zombies or cycling or -1/-1 counters work, so I went aggro red (and green because mono red wasn't achievable). Only lost one match in five rounds, and most of that was attributable to mana flood.


Zenbitz wrote:
Strangely, the good red creatures are all UNcommon; the only good red commons are removal spells.


My Emberhorn Minotaurs were all-stars for me. On their face alone they're better (less color-intensive, same CMC) than Summit Prowler which was a solid playable in its limited appearances, but being able to opt into 5/4 Menace is huge. It really makes the opponents disrupt their plans to be able to be in position to have two blockers up to avoid a swing for 5 (then you go and spoil it all by removing or invalidating their blocking plans and smashing face anyway).


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 3:23 am 
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Ah, sealed. Creatures, removal, and curving out will get you there, and synergies will mostly be just icing on the cake.

While you who are still stuck in paper-age are slingning spells, I'll prepare some more for tomorrow. By now, everybody knows that UR is spells matter, the rock is about -1/-1 counters this time, and UW is skies. But with a twist!

:u::w:

The uncommon Aven Wind Guide, is a 2/3 vigilant flyer for four mana. Looks good, if slightly overcosted. But it also has text! It's a token lord! All of a sudden, zombies fly! And the rare, Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun, reinforces the same lesson with straight-up boost and unblockability.

So, how do we take to the skies this time? At common, we have Aven Initiate, a flier with embalm, which looks to be the working horse of the deck, Shimmerscale Drake, another very solid flyer, Gust Walker for early beats with phasing, Tah-Crop Elite, another fine card, and Winged Shepherd, which is more in the good filler category (at least compared with the others). And we have the two-mana removal spells, Remove Soul and Compulsory Rest, which seem well-suited to the task of slowing the midrange and fat decks to the point where your fliers can race them, and getting that pesky Giant Spider out of the way. The white Wind Drake is uncommon this time and pretty meh, but we have two great fliers, Oketra's Attendant and Angler Drake. I wouldn't pick Zenith Seeker highly for this deck. Oh, we also get the best removal in the set, Cast Out. Remove anything, at instant speed, with no enchantment removal in the main of most decks.

You might have noticed that the skies start to fill up at four mana and above. What do we do before? The answer seems obvious: cast some mummies (well, technically they are Zombies). And the Fan Bearer. The blue Trial is of course great in any deck, the white one is not a good fit for UW, the blue Cartouche is excellent, and even the white one might be playable if you pick up a lot of token synergies. But really, this is a straightforward deck, pretty easy to draft. Not so sure how good it is. It only gets two good rares, both blue, and without the powerful uncommons it might be slightly underpowered.

Not a tempo deck this time, fairly slow and controlling, but definitely workable. I intend to draft it given the slightest excuse. Like, Angel of Sanctions. Or even Kefnet the Mindful.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 10:33 am 
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Something we might have overlooked, Impeccable timing is better if exert lets small things attack.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 11:10 am 
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If I end up finding the opportunity to draft, I'll probably try to force UB unless I'm heavily incentivized not to. Cycling in general is just such a consistency boost to your deck, so you throw less games to mana screw/flood. And it also packs some really solid cards to boot. Stir the Sands, Lay Claim and Angler Drake makes for a strong top-end, and you have other solid cards in Gravedigger, Ruthless Sniper, Censor, Bone Picker, Trial of Knowledge, Vizier of Tumbling Sands, Edifice of Authority and Galestrike. Faith of the Devoted, Cryptic Serpent and Sacred Excavation can also do work in the appropriate decks. Shadowstorm Vizier isn't a shabby archetype-uncommon either.
At common we have Shimmerscale Drake, Aven Initiate and Cartouche of Knowledge to establish air-dominance, Essence Scatter and Final Reward as solid removal, Horror of the Broken Lands, River Serpent and Pitiless Vizier are all obnoxious to deal with, Tar-Crop Skirmisher and Wasteland Scorpion are good roadblocks for aggro guys, and then Floodwaters, Unburden, Spendid Agony, Winds of Rebuke, Wander in Death, Naga Oracle, Hieroglyphic Illumination and Cartouche of Ambition do solid things.
A red dip is also not that shabby, Warfire Javelineer and Enigma Drake are solid niche uncommons, and you can pick up some burn spells along the way. Better pick up an Evolving Wilds though.
Green's reasonable if you find an incentive (e.g. Nissa, Bounty, Hydra or Beetle), but the mana fixing it provides probably lends itself towards being a primary color of the deck.
White seems very unlikely to ever be worth it.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 1:26 pm 
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Yeah Emberhorn Minotaur may be the real deal. There are fewer Ancient Crabs and running around than I expected, mostly because they don't have any text.

@Mown: Yeah, you and everyone else. Kind of jerky. Sorry.

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Last edited by Zenbitz on Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 3:28 pm 
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That sure is an excessively condescending response.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:23 am 
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Edited.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:16 am 
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just going to throw this out there
but we had a Faith of the Devoted in 2HG. so we won. our opponents played their Gods and planeswalkers. and we cycled 8 times. I'm calling it a P1/1 build around. though i'd rather Drake Haven in 1 v 1 draft.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 1:30 pm 
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Yeah seems great in 2HG. Not sure in draft... with Drake Haven or Ruthless Sniper you can get value for 2-3 cycles. For this you need the full 6-8, which means you have to get the enchantment down early. Or have literally 18 cycling cards (which is maybe possible in UB)

Have 2 Faith might hedge it.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 4:12 am 
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I mean, I won't pretend to be above acting like a jerk if I feel justified, but it's not really my impression that people are all aboard the UB-wagon (which I'm personally primarily excited about because I prefer control decks, and also because it seems like it doesn't have as much variance when it comes to getting uncommons.)

I really like how green looks as well. I'm not entirely sold on GB, but GR and GW looks like powerful archetypes, except when I try to pilot them. Exert has the potential to make combat tricks backbreaking.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 5:01 pm 
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I've been having a lot of success (in my only experience with AKH so far) in an online sealed league with a RB aggro build. My only loss was to Rags//Riches. And I do mean the card, that UB deck didn't have a prayer without the board wipe. If I find the time I will publish the list, together with a few example games, as I feel that it's a great example of what RB is about in Amonkhet.

UB looks enticing, but as always, in the beginning it's much easier to just smash. For example, it's hard to tell what is a good defensive early drop, and how many you need. Consequently, it's hard to tell if the color combination is really open, or the player in front of you just has a different pick order for UB control.

I did notice that Ruthless Sniper is definitely not a RB card. And I've been underwhelmed playing against it. But that's in Sealed, where synergy is much harder to find.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:59 am 
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Surprisingly enough, after the first few cards implied a slow, grindy format, I was able to build an aggro deck in my first online foray into Sealed, a friendly three-stage league. I will use the week two build to talk a bit about what seems to be the aggro horror color combination of the set; week one was a much weaker, different deck, and I haven't built week three yet. I realize the set is new, so here's a card list (sadly unordered) for reference.

sealed pool card list


:r::b:

First, the build:

Image

The mana base: 8Mountain, 8Swamp, and a Grasping Dunes.

The plan is obvious: drop early beaters, get blockers out of the way, keep them on the back foot, scrambling to keep up. Finish the game before big scary things come to play on the other side of the table. This plan is helped in a big way by the abundant, great removal I was lucky enough to open: two Magma Spray for smallish things and embalmers, Cut // Ribbons and Electrify for the middle game, and Never // Return for just about anything. Lay Bare the Heart is another great disruption spell, and I even played Unburden a few times. Ahn-Crop Crasher's exert once delivered 10 damage and finished another few games, Bone Picker always comes down for :b:, Merciless Javeliner is great at delivering the last few points of damage. Of course, there's always Ribbons.

For another look at the same build,let's see what I'm not playing:

Image

Splendid Agony and Limits of Solidarity are week three additions which will probably go in over Unburden and Desert Cerodon.

Consuming Fervor is interesting, but it's a bit too all-in for my taste. Sure, if I meet a deck with excellent long game, I will probably lower my curve and include it, but I prefer it in the board.

Ruthless Sniper and Soulstinger are powerful cards that don't feet the deck. I have barely any cycling, and Stinger is a defensive card. Stir the Sands is a card I'm not sure about, but for now I played the Cerodon, since it cycles for one. I did board in Festering Mummy against a deck full of early drops, and Fling against a deck full of removal. Fling is very tempting as a main-deck card, but what do I cut for it? Mostly it would deliver three point of damage, but I have no graveyard interaction to get things back.

Result: 3-0, 6-0.
Sample game:
I lose the die roll, mulligan a six-lander into a four-lander with Brute Strength and Pitiless Vizier, bottom a land from the top. Just about the worst hand you can imagine, but I will topdeck like a champion :) Island go, draw Bloodrage Brawler, Mountain go, they cycle River Serpent eot. Plains Gust Walker; draw Cursed Minotaur, Swamp Bloodrage Brawler discarding a land. Walker exerts to hit me for three, they play Those who Serve. Draw Bone Picker, hit for four, cast Minotaur. They play a Swamp, no attacks (Minotaur power!), play Curator of Mysteries. I draw another Cursed Minotaur, attack with both my creatures, they double-block the cursed one, and Brute Strength takes out the Curator, lets me play Bone Picker for a single mana. Which is all I have left, since I missed the land drop. They untap, play land no.5, hit me to thirteen with Walker and the Zombie (no exert), play Unwavering Initiate. I top-deck Ahn-Crop Crasher, play and exert it, they take ten down to two. They play another blocker, keep two cards in hand and three mana open, and pass to me. Bone Picker is lethal, since they have no flyers out, but I can't attack on the ground and I'm vary of a trick, like Galestrike or Impeccable Timing. So I play my last top deck, Unburden, and they concede to not show me their trick.

Other games were a bit less interesting, with opponents not having that good a draw, or me drawing Cut // Ribbons. That card is fantastic.

And how do you link an aftermath card?
Edit: Found it in other posts, thanks Yarium and Zenbitz.

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