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!