Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Week of June 26th in Standard Pauper

Another week has come and gone in the world of Standard Pauper. While spoilers are being revealed at a fairly good clip for Eldritch Moon, we still have several weeks to go before that set is released on Magic Online. Fortunately, the Standard Pauper metagame has been shaken up somewhat this week, so there's still plenty to talk about before we start looking ahead to how that set will change the format.

This week the top four decks from SPDC and MPDC included five different archetypes between them, with the dreaded GB Control capturing two wins, including another 1st place finish in MPDC 33.10 at the hands of the skilled pilot gotthisforSOI. The other four archetypes included the return of Air Support and BW Allies from the previous week, as well as the resurgence of both RB Madness and Dimir Control. Overall this is a much healthier metagame snapshot, and seems to give support to my suspicion that a variety of archetypes are still viable in Standard Pauper right now.

And like last time, I want to share a few points of interest:
  1. Every color was represented among these eight decks (the Top 4 from both events). Blue had only a single representative, whereas Black was present in six out of the eight decks, thanks in large to the excellent removal that Black has at its disposal. With such a pronounced emphasis on removal, a solid deck better have a game plan on how to mitigate this risk to its creatures.
  2. Pulse of Murasa was down to only eight copies; four each in the two GB Control decks. Instead, this week the most commonly played card was Grasp of Darkness, with 18 copies (including 2 in the Sideboard) among six decks. Second place went to Oblivion Strike (16 copies), and then Dead Weight (15 copies). As I said, that's a lot of removal!
  3. The metagame seems more balanced this week between Aggro and Control. Air Support is still probably the most aggressive of these archetypes, with Dimir Control probably pushing out GB Control for the most controlling of these archetypes. 
It's been great seeing new players over the past few weeks for MPDC, and I certainly hope that trend continues. You the community are the lifeblood of this great format, and I hope to have the opportunity to continue to write and produce content for Standard Pauper for a long time to come. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Pauper as a GP Format

Recently over at ChannelFireball, their weekly show Magic TV tackled the question, "Should Pauper Be a Grand Prix Format?" The final week of the Community Super League featured the format, and that was enough to get a lot of players and content creators talking more about the format and examining whether or not it was a good enough format to support premiere play. If you haven't watched the video, it's worth a few minutes of your time (the specific discussion starts at about the 8:40 mark):

Essentially, they lay out four positive reasons why Pauper could be a good Grand Prix format:
  1. The format has a healthy amount of diversity, with a wide variety of decks.
  2. The format is cheap, making it accessible to just about anyone.
  3. The format is tons of fun to play.
  4. The format has the potential to sell what are otherwise undesirable cards.
On the other hand, they do note that the format is almost exclusively online only, and even there doesn't enjoy widespread popularity. They also question whether or not this would be good or bad for stores and/or players if previously unplayable cards suddenly came into higher demand.

Interestingly enough, these are the exact SAME reasons myself and others have used to argue that Standard Pauper should be an official, sanctioned format on Magic Online. Granted, it is certainly less diverse than Classic Pauper, but makes up for that by being a rotating format. But otherwise, I would argue these arguments apply just as well to Standard Pauper as they do to Classic Pauper.

I wonder what it would take to make Wizards reevaluate the viability of Standard Pauper as a supported format?

Friday, June 24, 2016

This Week in Standard Pauper

We're drawing to the end of another season of our Standard Pauper events, with the online release of Eldritch Moon only about a month away. So I thought I would take a quick look at the current state of the metagame.

For the first time that I can remember, the 1st and 2nd place decks and pilots were identical for both SPDC and MPDC, with amnaremotoas' Air Support taking the prize and AfroDwarf's BG Control as the runner up. As I've written about recently, BG Control continues to be the deck to beat in the format right now, so it's great to see another archetype consistently placing well against it. Rounding out the Top 4 of both events are two more BG Control builds, with only slight variations among them in card choice while retaining an almost identical core. The last two spots were taken by two more unusual choices: the first, a BW Allies deck by a player named restore in SPDC; and the second, a Gruul Thunder Ramp deck by Teclar in MPDC.

These eight decks lead to a few interesting points of data:
  1. Seven of the eight decks played Green (although in Air Support it's basically just a splash), giving Green an amazing resurgence of popularity in the metagame.
  2. Among the eight, Pulse of Murasa was the card played most often, thanks to four copies in each of the BG Madness decks plus another three in Thunder Ramp.
  3. With the exception of Air Support, the metagame is firmly tilted towards the Control end of the spectrum. One might make the argument that these are probably all more midrange than true control, more so for Thunder Ramp and BW Allies than the others. Air Support, on the other hand, is clearly Aggro, playing more like a White Weenie deck than anything else.
Overall though, if you're looking for the best odds to perform well in these events, you should either by playing BG Control or have a gameplan directly suited to consistently beat it.

And as a closing thought, if you haven't already, check out my post earlier this week about the potential of creating new weekly Standard Pauper videos, supported through Patreon. Vote and make your voice heard. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Possible Future with Patreon

You probably noticed that no new content went up last week. Unfortunately, I was out of town with very limited Internet access, and my summer has been busy enough so far that I was unable to schedule any content to go up ahead of time. Sorry for that.

I have also been thinking a lot recently about the future of this blog. Its been quite a while since I've done much of anything related to writing, which originally was going to be a major emphasis. Instead, I've been splitting my posts between Standard Pauper content and game reviews (mostly board games, with a few video games thrown into the mix as well). In some ways, I feel like maybe I've lost focus, and as such I am not certain what direction I want to go with in the future.

One possible future I am exploring is the idea to start producing regular video content once again. But in order to justify the time and energy it would take to create that content, I would want the support of my audience and the Standard Pauper community. So here's where you come in. If I was willing to create weekly video content for Standard Pauper, would you be willing to support that via Patreon.

In case you don't know, Patreon is a crowd-funding site designed specifically for artists and content creators. When you support someone via Patreon, you pledge a certain dollar amount either per month or per new content piece (which can also be capped monthly). In turn, you get special perks for your sponsorship as well as a chance to more directly influence the artist or content creator. Want to know more? Click here.

Could you take 30 seconds right now and answer this simple poll?

Would you support weekly Standard Pauper content via Patreon?

I don't think so.
Poll Maker


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Axis and Allies Board Game

Way back in high school, I got my introduction to my first true "geek" board game in the form of  the classic Milton Bradley Gamemaster Axis and Allies. In this game, each player takes on the role of one of the five major powers of World War 2 (combining them but still playing them separately with less than five players). My youth pastor taught me and several other youth on a high school trip, and over the next few years I got the chance to play with them several more times during late night gatherings. And even after graduation, I convinced my brother to play with me several more times, and I'd like to think that his love of board games today also traces back to some of our games together.

By modern standards, it might be considered somewhat cumbersome, with different rules for each of the eight different units. Combat is resolved by rolling six-sided die, with lower numbers giving you hits and higher numbers giving you misses (although, again, which was which varied by the type of unit). In keeping with its historical timeline, the Axis powers start with a vastly superior military, but the Allies have a major economic advantage, making their victory more and more likely the longer the game drags on. Victory could be achieved either by capturing all of the enemy capitals or simply by capturing enough territories and earning a high enough victory point total.

The other major downside of the game was how long it took to play. Even when the game was called when victory looked inevitable for one side or the other, it still would take three or four hours to get through a game, and much longer than that if you had to teach someone the rules before you could play. This problem was probably exacerbated by how cheap and defensive the infantry units were, allowing you to create large "stacks of doom" where you might have to roll twenty or more dice to resolve a single round of combat.

I still have a copy of the game in my garage, and given the right opportunity, I would still enjoy dusting it off, facing off against a skilled opponent, and teaming up with others to fight our way to victory.

Have any of you ever played this game or any of its spinoffs? What do you think of it? As always, your comments are appreciated.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

WG Fliers Wins in MPDC 33.07

Well, it finally happened: someone managed to keep GB Control from earning the trophy in our most recent Standard Pauper tournament. In this case, amnaremotoas took first place in MPDC 33.07 with his WG Fliers deck. While quite similar to Paranoid Android's White Weenie build that took Top 4 in MPDC 33.02, the addition of Green to the list gave the deck access to some very useful additions, as we will see below. amnaremotoas only dropped a single match, probably due to suffering from some difficult draws. Anyway, let's take a look at his list:

Territorial Roc
has proven to be quite strong with its 3 point Toughness, especially when buffed. Saddleback Lagac, Servant of the Scale, and Shoulder to Shoulder give this deck plenty of ways to do so, giving you plenty of options on both offense and defense. The Vigilance granted by True-Faith Censer is also particularly useful in this role. Interestingly enough, the only other flyer in the deck is the strong Makindi Aeronaut and the tokens generated by Dauntless Cathar. In essence, this deck functions very much like a White Weenie deck, dropping efficient creatures, backing them up with combat tricks and removal, and aggressively beating down faster than your opponent can deal with your creatures.

Again, congrats to amnaremotoas for his win and keeping GB Control out of another 1st place trophy. If you're looking for a good option against that deck, this is definitely one to consider. See you next time.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

More Miscellaneous Musing

There hasn't been much to share lately in the world of Standard Pauper, especially since I have barely been able to play the past month or so due to my schedule. BG Control continues to dominate the metagame, so if you have some tips or ideas on how to target that archetype, I'd still enjoy hearing them. But with little else to talk about (strange, given all the attention in Pauper around Eternal Masters), I thought I would simply share a random collection of things that I've been enjoying over the past couple weeks.

1. Soren Johnson (of Civilization IV fame) had a fantastic interview on the Designer Notes podcast about his new game, Offworld Trading Company, as well as some fascinating thoughts about video game and board design.

2. Speaking of board games, just today while mowing the lawn I listened to an interview on the Meeple Nation podcast of Dan Wells, author of the well-known horror thriller I Am Not a Serial Killer and cohost of the popular Writing Excuses podcast. Dan discusses his love of board games and particularly what attracts him to story-driven game play.

3. Somehow on YouTube I came across an indie strategy game from last year called Prison Architect, in which, as one might expect, you create and manage a prison. While this is not a game I think I ever would have picked up on my own, I've been watching Lets Play series by Sips and OfficialStuffPlus, and what I've seen has definitely caught my eye. I'm still not sure if I'll actually buy the game or simply scratch that itch by continue to watch other people play.

4. Finally, as I do every week, I have continued to enjoy the Dungeons and Dragons live shows Critical Role and Dice, Camera, Action. DMs Matt Mercer and Chris Perkins respectively make these shows what they are, and if you want to see roleplaying done well, you'd be hard pressed to find much better. I highly recommend you check both of these out.

If you've got some interesting content (particularly related to Standard Pauper) that you would like me to feature on my blog, please let me know! I always love hearing from my readers. Thanks as always for making me a part of your week. Until next time...