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!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

1st Place in Week Five of the MPDC League Season Four

This week the MPDC League shifted to Standard Silverblack Tribal, which is a variation of the Tribal format in which at least one third of the total cards in the deck must contain the same creature subtype. Additionally, the format does not allow for any Sideboards.

The winner this week was Luc3k, who piloted a Rakdos colored deck with the Artificers tribe, making use of this prevalent theme from the Kaladesh block. Let's take a look at his list:

Unlike some recent innovations, this deck is simply about dealing damage as quickly as possible. It's constructed around six aggressive and/or mana efficient creatures: Aether Chaser, Sweatworks Brawler, Weldfast Engineer, Aether Poisoner, and Inventor's Apprentice. Not only do these beaters quickly ramp up the pressure, but each can immediately be equipped with Inventor's Goggles as soon as they enter the battlefield, making them that much more of a threat. But the biggest threats of the list actually come from Sky Skiff and Renegade Freighter, which are among the best Vehicles available in the format, especially since they are so cheap to Crew. Augmenting these threats are Lightning Strike and Unlicensed Disintegration, the latter of which can not only deal with any opposing threat but also levels direct damage to your opponent. Finally, the deck includes a full playset of Ramunap Ruins as well, which has become a staple in any Red-based deck for its dual role as a mana source early and as a direct damage dealer late to deal the final blow to your opponent.

Congratulations are certainly in order for Luc3k, who piloted this deck to a 5-0 finish, earning the 1st place trophy for last week. There is no doubt that the Artificers tribe is among the most powerful available right now, so it will be interesting to see if another tribe can fight through to victory. Hope you've enjoy this brief deck-tech, and I will see you next time.

Friday, November 10, 2017

1st Place in Week Four of the MPDC League Season Four

In the final week of Standard Silverblack for the MPDC League, another deck emerged to once again dethrone Energy. This time, well known Standard Pauper enthusiast joekewwl ran a powerful and streamlined MonoRed deck, taking advantage of the raw strength of various burn spells and one of the best creatures in the format right now: Ahn-Crop Crasher. Let's take a look at his decklist:

Although this list only includes 5 actual burn spells (3 Lightning Strike as well as singletons of Abrade and Magma Spray), a few other cards serve a similar function: Ramunap Ruins, Sand Strangler, Fling, and Struggle // Survive. The bulk of the deck is actually creatures, with a noticeable Artifact creature theme that stand well on their own but also enable utilizing the sweeper Incendiary Sabotage. Of these, both Filigree Familiar and Treasure Keeper provide additional benefits when they come in and leave play, making them excellent sacrifices for Fling. Additionally, Consulate Dreadnought, along with the powerful Charging Monstrosaur, provide two massive threats to finish off your opponent, especially if you can sneak them through using the Exert feature of Ahn-Crop Crasher. And as if these threats are not enough, the deck includes a couple copies of both Siege Modification and Cartouche of Zeal, making your creatures all the more powerful.

For the Sideboard, you have additional copies of Lightning Strike, Abrade, and Magma Spray, along with 3 copies of Blazing Volley to help knock down tokens and Hijack as a nice way to turn your opponent's threats against him. Finally, both Blur of Blades and Furious Reprisal gives the deck some more nuanced ways of dealing with particular creatures.

Congratulations are certainly in order for joekewwl piloting this deck to an impressive 4-1 victory in this last week before we shift over to Standard Silverblack Tribal. It will certainly be interesting to see which tribes emerge as the most powerful. Hope you'll have a chance to participate. See you next time!

Monday, November 6, 2017

MPDC League: Silverblack Tribal Rules

This week the MPDC League switches to the Silverblack Tribal format! Once upon a time, Tribal was actually an official format on Magic Online, existing in both a Standard and Classic variants. This format is all about creature combat, emphasizing a particular sub-type of creature to create what is essentially a theme deck of that particular sub-type. Traditionally, the rules for the Tribal format were as follows:
  1. One third of the total cards in your deck must share a single creature type. Technically this does include non-creature permanents that have a creature type (although no such cards are currently in Standard). Also, "Artifact Creature" is NOT a creature type, as Artifact is a card type, not a creature type.
  2. No Sideboard is allowed.
 For the MPDC League, both of rules will be in effect. Two additional rules exist:
  1. All cards must be either Commons or Uncommons that are currently in the Standard set.
  2. Your chosen creature type cannot be "Human" (although you can include Humans that share a different creature type instead).
And just as before, there are currently no cards banned for the MPDC League.

If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email at gwyned at gmail dot com. Good luck and have fun!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

1st Place in Week Three of the MPDC League Season Four

For the first time this season, a non-Energy deck managed to go 5-0 in this week's MPDC League. Long-time player smashin piloted a Golgari Rock style deck to victory, combining excellent spot removal, beefy creatures, and creature enhancements in the form of Auras and counters. I personally had the chance to play against this deck, and I can honestly say I got destroyed very quickly in both our games. Let's take a look at the decklist:

This deck definitely utilizes a creature-centric strategy with a nice Merfolk sub-theme. Both Merfolk Branchwalker and Tishana's Wayfinder can pump themselves with Explore, while Vineshaper Mystic further enhances Merfolk and generally comes into play as a 2/4, making it tough for Red decks to deal with effectively. Additionally, both Ridgescale Tusker and Winding Constrictor both synergize well with all these +1 / +1 counters floating around, with Armorcraft Judge being the ultimate payoff if you can assemble the team.

The deck also utilizes Walk the Plank and Fatal Push for removal, Blossoming Defense to protect its creatures, and River Heralds' Boon and Cartouche of Strength to buff its already beefy creatures. Finally, the two copies of Hashep Oasis can also be used in a pinch to push through the last points of damage once you know your opponent can't do anything to stop your creatures.

For the Sideboard, you have the versatile Crushing Canopy to counter either Enchantments or Flying creatures, Lifecrafter's Gift to further spread your counters against opponents with little to no spot removal, and 3 copies of Cartouche of Ambition to allow you to not only deal with tokens or other weenies but also give you some much needed Lifegain against aggressive decks. Additionally, Skittering Heartstopper can serve as another cheap removal, while Destined // Lead gives you additional ways to protect your creatures and can be used to setup the killing blow from your unblocked creatures.

This is definitely a fun deck, and one I highly suggest you check out. With it going 5-0 this past week, it's sure to be a contender, so be sure you're ready to face it!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

My Take on Temur Energy

If you've been participating in the MPDC League (and let's face it, if you're reading this blog, you probably are), by now you are well aware that Energy decks have been the early front-runner for the most dominant deck of our small metagame. This archetype was piloted to back-to-back 5-0 records for the first two weeks of the league, and continued to place well for the third week as well.

As promised, today I want to look at my own version of the Energy deck, inspired mostly by Polyjak's original list. Here's my decklist:

My intent in building this variant was to diversify my threats. I felt Polyjak's version relied too much on winning with a host of Thopter tokens from Whirler Virtuoso, and didn't often do well when that plan didn't come together. So I opted to add in Thriving Rhino as another important threat and Aether Theorist to provide early blocking and card filtering. But more importantly, I also added Empyreal Voyager. This creature not only gives the deck a Flying threat, but also provides a potentially limitless source of additional energy, making all of the other Energy threats that much more powerful and consistent.

To make room for these changes, I had to cut all of the Ahn-Crop Crashers and Rogue Refiners, despite how good the former card is. I also dropped to only 2 copies of Servant of the Conduit, which I felt like was unnecessary considering how much Land the deck consistently drew. Finally, I also wanted the ability to extend the deck better into the mid- and late-game, and opted for Glimmer of Genius.

I changed the Sideboard entirely other than  Sentinel Totem, adding in 2 Shielded Aether Thiefs for more defense and card draw, 3 copies of Manglehorn as my Artifact hate, 3 Blazing Volley to counter rival token decks, and Ice Over as an inefficient but necessary way to deal with creature too large for burn spells to kill.

I've had only middling success with this deck, going 2-3 for the last two weeks with it. But overall it's been decent. If you have any thoughts on how it might be improved, I'd love to hear it.

Next time I'll take a look at the deck that went 5-0 this week. And believe it or not, it wasn't an Energy deck!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

1st Place in Week Two of the MPDC League Season 4

Once again this week in the MPDC League it was all about the Energy. Congratulations to AEFabricio, who took his own version of the Temur Energy deck from last week to an undefeated 5-0 record in Week Two of the MPDC League Season 4. This is all the more impressive considering that the field of players continues to grow, with 21 total participants for this week. For his version, AEFabricio added two very interesting artifacts that give the deck added reach in the long game and synergize quite well with its overall strategy. Let's look at his list:

As I mentioned, the biggest difference between the two lists is the inclusion of Decoction Module and Fabrication Module. The former guarantees that you'll have a steady supply of Energy, while also allowing you to return your creatures to hand to generate even more. The other one makes the steady supply of Energy even more potent, giving you a +1/+1 counter for each time you generate one or more points of Energy. And, if you have nothing better to do with your mana, you can spend four to generate a single point of it (of course granting you another +1/+1 counter in the process). Additionally, the deck relies upon 2 copies of Trophy Mage to allow you to fetch whichever of these two Artifacts is more helpful at that moment, making it very likely you'll have access to them whenever you need it.

Of course, to make room for these Artifacts, you have to give up a significant number of other cards. Gone entirely are Ahn-Crop Crasher, Abrade, and Blossoming Defense, with 2 fewer copies of Rogue Refiner as well.

This version also has a very different Sideboard plan. Blossoming Defense shows up as a 2-of here, as does Appetite for the Unnatural. Beyond that, you have Manglehorn for additional Artifact hate, Fiery Cannonade as mass removal, Magma Spray for spot removal and some Graveyard Recursion hate, and By Force as a silver bullet against other Artifact-token decks.

If you've played with or against both versions of this deck, I'd love to hear your feedback about which you think is better and why. But it's clear that Energy strategies have become the dominant factor in the MPDC League right now, for better or for worse. In fact, I've got my own version that I've been playing with, and I hope to write about that next time.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

1st Place in Week One of MPDC League Season 4

So despite my best intentions, I didn't manage to get a second blog post done last week. I ended up traveling during the middle of the week, and with my kids all on an extended school break, my time in front of the computer was limited. However, I did want to cover the winning deck from the first week of the new season of the MPDC League, so I figured I would go ahead and get this up today, even though it's several days too late. But better late than never.

For our first week of Season 4 of the MPDC League, Polyjak's Temur Energy deck went 5-0 to earn its 1st place spot. While there's lots of things going on in this deck, its primary path to victory is to create a host of Thopter tokens from Whirler Virtuoso, backed up with several other strong creatures and some potent removal spells. Let's take a look at Polyjak's list:

Obviously the deck's gameplan revolves around creating lots of Energy, and it has several strong ways of doing so. Aether Hub, Attune with Aether, Harnessed Lightning, Rogue Refiner, Servant of the Conduit, and Whirler Virtuoso all produce Energy tokens when they come into play, while  Longtusk Cub gives the deck the ability to produce even more over time. Generally speaking, all that Energy goes to fuel a mass of Thopter tokens, but can also help make Longtusk Cub into a monstrous threat. Or, when all else fails, you can simply smash into your opponent with your diverse threats, utilizing the Falter-effect of Ahn-Crop Crasher to push through damage at an opportune time.

For removal, this deck makes good use of both Abrade and Harnessed Lightning, the former which also gets good use as Artifact-hate. While you only have eight copies between them, generally this will be enough to deal with your opponent's most important threats.

The deck's diverse mana requirements are easily filled by its six enters-the-battlefield-tapped dual lands as well as the fixing provided from Aether Hub and Servant of the Conduit.

Out of the Sideboard, the deck has a nice suite of permissions spells in nearly a full playset of both Negate and Essence Scatter. It also includes Sentinel Totem to help with Graveyard recursion, Appetite for the Unnatural for more Artifact or Enchantment hate, and Raging Swordtooth to give you some options against rival token strategies or just a big beater to throw at your opponent.

While I loved what this deck was doing and certainly couldn't argue with its success, in my own testing it seemed to keep coming up short. So for my own foray back into the league, I developed and piloted my own version of the deck. That's what I want to talk about next time.

Monday, October 16, 2017

What's Up With Gwyned?

It's a question I'm sure many of you have asked yourself in the past couple months: what's up with Gwyned? I've been meaning to write this post for a while, but I kept coming up with excuses or other things to do. But I'm hoping that by finally being honest and open about my situation, I can begin to return to some kind of normal.

Back in June, I learned that my position was being terminated. The organization wasn't happy with my performance, and while many of my co-workers encouraged me that it wasn't really my fault, it still took a pretty big toll. I continued working in my position through the end of September, which at least meant I was collecting a paycheck and had time to search for other positions. But my emotional state was pretty low, and as a result, I stopped doing almost any writing or Magic.

I've made excuses about being busy, but the truth is that it's just been too hard. I've been diagnosed with depression, and I'm on medication for it, and it's helping. But emotionally, my situation is still so draining that it's hard for me to flex my creative muscles. It's easier just to distract myself with other things rather than try to create something. And even worse, I'm afraid that if I fail, if I don't create something good, if I don't succeed, it will just make these feelings worse.

But I'm going to try. That's why I'm writing this post. It's not going to be easy. It's not going to change overnight. But just avoiding the situation isn't going to make things better. So I'll have more content this week, and expect to see me on Magic Online playing in the league again as well.

So that's what's up with me.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

MPDC League Season 4: SilverBlack!

First, a quick disclaimer: I spent the last couple months finishing up my job, and I am now unemployed. For various reasons, this has led me to not be blogging or playing Magic very much. Maybe at some point I will write more about that. But for now, blog updates are going to be very infrequent. My apologies. So with that out of the way...

I am happy to announce that there will be a Season 4 of the MPDC League. Honestly, when I first saw the full card gallery for Ixalan, I was pretty disappointed with the new batch of Commons. So disappointed, in fact, that I'm not even sure it's worth posting a Standard Pauper review of the set. But after consulting with joekewwl, we decided that the best option would be to expand the cardpool in some way.

So for Season 4 of the MPDC League, the format will be Standard SilverBlack. SilverBlack is the common term for allowing all Commons and Uncommons. At one point there was at least one Player Run Event using this format, but as far as I can tell, it is no longer running. Therefore, this seems like a great option to help make up for a somewhat lackluster crop of cards.

Additionally, we are also going to experiment with two short segments of the league with additional rules. For weeks 5-7, we will be doing Standard SilverBlack Tribal, which means that at least one third of the cards in your deck must have a shared creature subtype. Then, for weeks 8-10, we will be doing Standard SilverBlack Monocolored, which means that every card in your deck must either be Colorless or share the same single Color. The exact schedule can be found on the schedule page, along with the new rules for card legality.

Let me answer a few questions regarding this season:

1. Why SilverBlack? Why not just stick with Standard Pauper? In addition to my disappointment with the Ixalan Commons, participation in the league has dropped as of late. Expanding the cardpool seems like a great way to revitalize interest and breathe new life into the league.

2. Doesn't adding Uncommons make decks a lot more expensive? Actually, the cost of most Uncommons isn't much more than the Commons. There are a few Uncommons with a price closer to a dollar each, but most of these are cards that have limited availability online and thus more expensive due to their demand by those trying to redeem sets.

3. Will WotC be offering additional prizes this season? As of right now, we do NOT have any sponsorship from Wizards of the Coast for this season. Thus, the booster packs we awarded during the first three seasons are not part of the prize package for Season 4.

If you have any additional questions, feel free to comment below. I'm looking forward to getting this season started this coming Monday. Hope you will join us!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Mistborn House War - Two Player Variant?

Within just a few days after GenCon, my Kickstarter copy of Mistborn: House War arrived on my porch. While I didn't get a chance to play it this year, I did demo it at last year's GenCon, and its promise hasn't lessened in my mind since then. The game's only problem, however, is that it requires at least three people to play. Which means I'm still waiting for the opportunity in the midst of a very busy schedule to get together with my game group and try it out.

In the mean time though, I've been thinking about how the game might be adapted for only 2 players (or possibly even just one). Having played a lot of Scythe recently, I was intrigued by the Automata feature of that game, which essentially uses a deck of cards to substitute for the actions of a human player. While I wasn't ready to develop something quite that complex, I was curious if I could come up with a simple set of rules to govern a "dummy" player who the two human players would be competing against.

You see, at its heart Mistborn: House War is a social, semi-cooperative resource management game. Everyone's working for the same end, and you work together to solve Problems before they "erupt" and make the overall situation worse. You do this by contributing your own resources and agreeing with everyone else how much Favor you'll receive for your aid out of the total available. But at the same time, you're all individually competing to earn the most Favor, which is awarded for each Problem solved before it "erupts." You can read my review here for more details.

My design strategy looked something like this:
  • Make the "dummy" player always act out a simple script. In this case, it always plays a card during a deal, always gets any Favor that won't divide evenly from any deal it participates in, and only solves Problems during its turn if it can do so without any help. 
  • The human players have to agree on any actions that the dummy takes; if they can't agree, determine the result randomly. Furthermore, they can never decide to target the dummy player with negative consequences unless those consequences are equally applied among all three players.
  • Finally, to incentivize the players to deal with the dummy more often, any time a Problem "erupts," it increases the Unrest track by one. And should that track reach 8, the players lose. This is in addition to whatever the normal consequences printed on the card when it "erupts," even if that includes additional Unrest.
I'll be testing this with my wife over the next few weeks. It's been a fun diversion and let me enjoy playing the game without having to wait for a full group of friends to come together to play.