Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Insight on Silverblack, Part Two

As promised, today I have Part Two of Luc3k's article on his thoughts and experiences with the Silverblack format, which we used for Season 4 of the MPDC League which just concluded this past weekend. As I've mentioned now several times, if you would like to contribute your own voice to this blog, I would love to have you send me something. Contact me at gwyned at gmail dot com. So without further ado, here is the rest of Luc3k's thoughts on the format:

Lucky for you this is the end of my whining, as after a month I’ve earned some experience and had some new thoughts, as well as the format changed and narrowed to Tribal. I saw the chance for the ever present Energy to collapse. Back to times of Standard Pauper it was easy to observe that Artificers had some serious potential and worked well in UW colors. I was taking into consideration this variant, because it seemed like some novelties from Ixalan might appear in this new format, mostly Dinosaurs and Pirates. On the other hand I had some serious sentiment towards my old deck and a approach of a 6-year old kiddo: “I. Want. My. Cars!” So what better I could do than a mix of Artificers and Vehicles? (List and description from Gwyned: http://writeradept.blogspot.com/2017/11/1st-place-in-week-five-of-mpdc-league.html ) I lacked cards like Unclaimed Territory and surely I would put Abrade in the place of Lightning Strike, but I simply didn’t have them in my collection. What I had though was a bit of luck in form of my opponents taking mulligans. Also the deck was able to reward me for obvious misplays. Best example: I’m on the draw, kept a hand consisting of 2 Swamps, Ramunap Ruins, 2 Sky Skiffs, Unlicensed Disintegration and Aether Chaser; draw Inventor Apprentice but clicked Swamp in a rush. I was annoyed with my misplay but than I top-decked Inventor’s Goggles. It allowed me to put Ruins on the battlefield and have a 3/5 Apprentice on the battlefield in the second turn.

First week was a 5-0 win ratio for my deck, without a single game lost, so I am confident to say that I’ve managed to build it neatly with some nice synergies. Lack of sideboard in the format was definitely a bonus for me. I wasn’t afraid of lots of artifact hate and removal in main decks. I don’t want to sound too confident, I am aware of the fact that the first week of Tribal was experimental, which was easy to see from the second week results. It was a comeback of Energy, based on Vedalken tribe. But I have to say that with those constraints the game was much more leveled out, where in contrast to classic Silverback I knew I was able to compete and it wasn’t a one sided game. When the dust of first week fights wear off and the whole situation was more stable I’ve finished my second week of Tribal with the 3-2 result. Unfortunately during third week I’ve played only 3 rounds, due to lack of time, so the final result from 3 week Tribal was 9-4 for my Artificers. So the deck is solid, but only in those specific constraints of the format.

Obviously after 3 weeks of Silverback Tribal I had a much more positive approach towards the whole situation. Still I don’t want you to think that I suddenly fell in love with the format because I started to win. It is an important ingredient though, everyone can get fed up if he or she constantly loses. The first month was crucial to me in understanding the format. At the very beginning I was afraid of those new, much more used to the format players and the fact that I will be an easy prey for them. Which actually happened :) I was afraid dealing with the bigger pool of card and it was a thing for me I really needed to overcome. But the ending thought is that in the end it wasn’t that bad. Actually it was pretty good. I needed to get some beating up, look at how better players play and introduce some improvements. Which I think at the end makes me a little bit better as a player.

When I am writing this text we are at the end of first week of Mono Color Silverback and of course I’ve taken the chance of coming back to my B Vehicles. No idea how those fractions of percents allowed me to win, again had some luck. My deck was lacking some of the basic black uncommons, so I incorporated replacements from Standard Pauper. Once more I am in my comfort zone and I feel quite good. I am playing with the deck I know throughout. But when talking about the future, meaning next season:
  1. Is Gwyned right that commons in Ixalan are weak and do not push Standard Pauper forward? Definitely. 
  2. Would I want to go back to Standard Pauper nevertheless? Probably yes, but not 100% sure on that. 
  3. Can we do something to make Silverback a little more diverse? I think it is worth to play one more season with the current scheme, maybe even cut down Tribal and Mono to two weeks each. Observe if we can adapt in order to prevent Energy from being dominant deck. Maybe even wait for the next expansion and see how it will shape metagame.  
  4. And what is your opinion on this matter?
 Regards and till next time on #MPDC 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Insight on Silverblack

Today's article is a special post by Standard Pauper player Luc3k. A couple weeks back, I posted a request for anyone who was interested in contributing to the site to send me an article related to Standard Pauper or the MPDC League, and this is the first such response I received. Luc3k had so much to say, however, that I am going to split it up into two posts, with the second part being posted this coming Monday. Enjoy!

Also, note that English is not Luc3k's original language, and that this was translated by a friend.

Hello! A “guy with luck in his nickname” here. I am not an old stager, my achievements are rather small and I play rather irregularly (which you can see on my pdcmagic.com profile). Still I wanted to share with you my insight on changing the format from Standard Pauper to Silverback. This is a story about leaving the comfort zone and dealing with new conditions, despite how silly it may sound when talking about a card game.

Brief introduction - beginning my adventure with Standard Pauper (season 26-29 of SPDC and MPDC) I decided to pilot an aggressive RW Heroic deck because of the simple reason: I am rather weak control player. I’ve tried different things but the result was poor. My decks were always lacking card advantage. But why is it even important in that story?

After a longer break (personal reasons, life gets in the way you know) I tried to come back to the community. It was even easier because of the changes in the way the matches have been scheduled. Players didn’t have to sacrifice whole Sunday or Monday evening with the view of waking up early next day for work. Changing the tournament into a form of league was very important aspect allowing me to take part in the tournaments. So we have reached the point when you have to choose a deck. Aggro would be best, RW was a solid deck. So back to the question from the paragraph above - I need an offensive deck, which can do something more than spilling cards from my hand. The choice was Mono B Vehicles, which I simply copied from the player Julion. The only thing I changed in the mainboard was -2 Swamps, +2 Cradles of the Accursed. And yes, I was fully aware that this does not make playing Grasp of Darkness any easier. The deck was offensive,  it had some removal, combat tricks, card advantage, vehicles naturally avoided sorcery-speed removal and overall I enjoyed them because of the flavor. It was a very enjoyable deck to pilot, I’ve managed to win some games and irritate some of you ;) Than it was time to change the format into Silverback.

 There have been many different approaches how to handle the change of the format. One of them was to choose a deck from the current Standard, take out Rares and Mythics, put something instead of them (preferably Uncommons) and voila! In my opinion this approach was good with Energy decks (you didn’t have to take out many cards) and maybe BG Constrictor. But I had some hard time at adapting for example Ramunap Red, where over 20 creatures are at Rare and Mythic slot. Deckbuilding was a challenge and I wasn’t a fan of those changes. I am still not a enthusiast of Silverback in the current format, but I will explain this later.

Now lets go back to leaving (or staying in) the comfort zone. I felt good about my black vehicles deck, I didn’t want to change too much, but I want to be competitive. I leave the core of the deck untouched: 4x Sky skiff and 2x Renegade Freighter, knowing that Skiff will be mediocre at best but I don’t have better options. Night Market Lookout simply must stay, without it the deck does not work. Mono B didn’t give too many upgrade options - Walk the Plank is only a replacement for Grasp of Darkness, not an upgrade - so I started examining other colors. Red was my pick, as Unlicensed Disintegration and Weldfast Engineer work naturally with artifacts. For consistency I’ve left Augmenting Automaton (which is weak in the format), Dhund Operative (which is mediocre at it best) and Foundry Screecher (which dies from basically anything). I didn’t wanted any tapped lands so my mana base consisted of mostly basic lands and 2x Cradle of the Accursed, which basically was looking bad even on paper.

As you probably already guess, the deck was not working well. To be honest it wasn’t working at all. Demanding mana costs, poor mana base, weak 1- and 2-drops. I’ve lost all my matches, without wining even a single game. Very fast I had some material to think on. Also I have felt how strong are the constructions based on Energy. Luckily during week 2 I was too busy to take part in tournament, but I was able to analyze the results and decks of other players after 2 weeks in this new environment, which still felt completely strange to me. Most obvious finding was the domination of Energy decks. So there were only two options: jumping on the wagon and building around Energy or treating it as a deck to beat. I’ve chosen the second option, decided that it is not the time to act as a hero of deckbuilding and came back to the basics. I’ve built a mono red deck, based on 12 deserts, Firebrand Archer, Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs with addition of Ahn-Crop Crasher and Sand Strangler. Rest was burn spells. This deck was meant to imitate typical Pauper burn deck, which I know very well and which is not difficult to pilot. I’ve played next 2 weeks with this deck, playing 5 or 6 rounds and had mediocre results. For me it was more about getting used to the new meta and earning some basic experience.

So the fact that I am not an enthusiast of Silverback, which I mentioned in the previous paragraphs, comes mostly from the necessity of adapting to those energy counters being tossed at you every two matches. The format seems to have little variety, does not reward unusual and interesting constructions. In my opinion the Energy mechanics is too strong itself. What’s more, for me before the changes, when we were playing Standard Pauper, metagame was richer, had more variety. I did not encounter the same decks over and over again and each of us had his or hers own archetype, crafted over weeks of play. So it was difficult for me to adapt to a new situation, and the sum of objective and subjective aspects only made my negative approach worse.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

End of the MPDC Leader Season 4

I sent out the following as an email to everyone who has participated in the MPDC League over the past few months. But I had several of those emails bounce back, and I know that there are others who did not participate in the league but might be interested in future events and such. So I am reposting this here in hope of getting it in front of as many people as possible.

This is the final week of Season 4 of the MPDC League. We will be taking a break for the winter holidays and will resume following the online release of Rivals of Ixalan on January 19th.

1. If you have any ideas or requests for future formats, please [comment below] and let me know. Specifically, should we return to Standard Pauper, stay with Silverblack, or do something else entirely?

2. If you won a prize but have not yet received it (including Door Prizes), please [send an email to gwyned at gmail dot com] with your username and which week(s) you are missing, and I will get that taken care of as soon as possible. If the prize(s) includes tickets, it would be helpful to let me know when would be a good time for us to connect online so I can trade them to you.

Thanks so much for your participation in the MPDC League. Wishing you the best in the coming New Year!

Last but not least, I sent out a request for anyone interesting in writing content about the MPDC League or Standard Pauper. Well Luc3k did just that, and I will have his article up on Saturday. Be sure and check back then!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

1st Place in Week Eight of the MPDC League

A week ago the MPDC League shifted over to the Mono-Colored format, which means today I have our first weekly champion's decklist to discuss. Our 1st place winner this week is Luc3k, who made the choice to play Black, no doubt in part to its powerful removal, Graveyard recursion, and hand disruption. In this particular case, Luc3k also chose to utilize Vehicles, which continue to be a potent addition to any deck. Let's take a look at his list:

This deck relies on several smallish creatures that are cheap to cast and thus pair well with Vehicles, including a full playset of Bone Picker, Night Market Lookout, and Dhund Operative, and two each of Gravedigger, Skymarch Bloodletter, and Seekers' Squire. These, in turn, help keep both Sky Skiff and Renegade Freighter crewed and in the action, and much of the time are the deck's primary win conditions. Supporting this strategy is a combination of removal (Walk the Plank, Fatal Push), hand disruption (Harsh Scrutiny, Duress), Graveyard recursion (Gravedigger, Supernatural Stamina), and just a touch of card draw from Live Fast. Throw in 18 Swamps and 4 copies of Cradle of the Accursed, and you have a surprisingly efficient and streamlined deck, capable of handling a variety of different archetypes.

The Sideboard allows you to swap out less useful cards to bring others upto a full playset, including additional copies of Harsh Scrutiny, Gravedigger, Duress, and Live Fast. It also has additional removal from Die Young, a tiny board-sweeper than can dramatically change combat in Make Obsolete, and a lone copy of Cartouche of Ambition. With these additional options at your disposal, the deck can easily compensate for your opponent's specific strategy and counteract it accordingly.

Luc3k was actually one of three players to go 4-1 in the first week of this format, narrowly edging out Red_Demon3 and br_laern, both of whom were piloting a White Weenie strategy. Congratulations to all three players on their great finishes last week.

Finally, let me remind you that last time I put out a call for writers to create content related to the MPDC League or Standard Pauper. Would love to have your voice added to the conversation. Contact me if you are interested.

Thanks for reading and see you next time.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Writers Wanted!

Last time, I wrote about how much I love the Standard Pauper community. But I think one of the biggest challenges we're facing right now is that we are a community without a home.

PDCMagic used to be the defacto destination for all things Pauper. But with the transition to the most recent version of the MTGO client, much of the casual crowd went elsewhere, and soon thereafter Wizards made the decision to cease supporting in any official way several casual formats, including Standard Pauper. Various blogs and sites tried to take up some of the slack, but in the end, none of them have endured.

Back when we started Silverblack Tribal Wars in the MPDC League, Polyjak wrote a great post over at PDCMagic talking about the possibilities of the format. But I have no idea if anyone even saw it. I didn't even realize it was there until the League had moved on  to the Mono-Colored format. Which was a shame, because what he wrote was quite good and would have sparked some excellent discussion. Go ahead, follow this link and give it a look.

So here's what I want to propose. Next time anyone has an urge to write something about Standard Pauper, send it my way. Right now, my blog seems to be the only place where at least some of our community are regularly gathering. I would love to open up this space for anyone who has something to say. There's no reason why it has to just be my voice here. Maybe somehow this space can, at least in part, be a place where we as a community can discuss what we're playing.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Importance of Integrity

Today I want to talk about integrity.

Integrity (at least in this instance) is being honest and having strong moral principles. When it comes to games, integrity means playing by the rules, not trying to get an unfair advantage, and being open and honest about what's going on in the game.

For the MPDC League, unlike a professional Magic tournament, there's no judge to call or appeals process, at least not during a match. In fact, there are rarely any other people involved in a given match at all. Thus, it is up to both players to ensure that the match plays out in a way that is fair and consistent. In other words, that both people play with integrity.

One of the things I have always appreciated about the Standard Pauper community is its openness, its kindness, and its commitment to fair play. In all my years of hosting, there have been very few instances where I had to deal with a suspicion of foul play. This is certainly a testament to just how special our community of players is.

But this doesn't happen by accident. We all have to continue to strive for integrity. We all have to work hard to maintain this great thing we have going.

So if you're participating in the MPDC League, do so with integrity. Report the results of your matches accurately and in a timely fashion. Pay attention that you are filling out the form accurately each time. If you make a mistake, or notice a discrepancy, please bring it to my attention. Be courteous to your opponent and don't take advantage of a person if they are unfamiliar with the client or having technical difficulties. Play to win, but don't do it at the expense of another person.

In other words, play with integrity.

Friday, November 24, 2017

MPDC League: Silverblack Mono-Colored Rules

This current week is the last week of the Silverblack Standard Tribal format for this season of the MPDC League. Starting on Monday, November 27th, the format for the league will switch to Mono-Colored. This format forces players to include one, and only one, color among the five colors of Magic for your deck. So today I want to quickly go over the Deck Construction rules for this variant.

The overall rule for Mono-Deck is very straightforward: Your entire deck, including Sideboard, can only contain cards with a single color (or are Colorless). But, of course, the devil is always in the details. So let's talk some specifics:
  1. Colorless cards (including ALL Lands and Artifacts) CAN be played freely in any deck, as these cards do NOT have a color. While this isn't true for all Magic cards, it is true for all of the Commons and Uncommons in the current Standard set. Note that this means that Lands that produce multiple colors of mana, such as Cinder Barrens, ARE still considered colorless.
  2. Permanents that are multi-colored are NOT legal, as they contain more than one color. This not only includes cards like Ahn-Crop Champion but also split-cards like Appeal // Authority. See CR 708 in the official rules, which clearly states that split-cards are the colors of both parts of the card prior to being cast.
  3. An activated ability including a particular color has no effect on the color of that permanent. For example, Aegis Automaton is a legal card EVEN IF you're not playing White, Avid Reclaimer is legal IF AND ONLY IF you are playing Green, and BOTH Desert of the Fervent and Hashep Oasis ARE legal in any deck.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at gwyned at gmail dot com. Looking forward to another great week ahead!