While my site has been down in the past week, I’ve been having a lot of fun with a cascade-centric control build. This design came about because I challenged myself to move away from the midrange, which is an area I’ve tended to live in lately. I intuitively appreciate the midrange because I like being able to shift modes between control and aggression, but I think being stuck in any one playstyle is (1) bad for my development and (2) kind of boring, whether I realize it or not. Thus, I decided to push myself in one direction or another, and the first place I went was control.
Cascade Pulse is a five-color control build that started as an attempt to merge planeswalker control with cascade control, with the idea that as many of the cards as possible should represent card advantage, either on the same turn or over time (I still love AJ Sacher’s description of planeswalkers as epic spells that let you keep playing spells). What I ended up with is a control deck that leverages powerful card advantage to achieve control relatively quickly. It’s good against a reasonably large swath of the field, and if I were heading off to a Standard event soon, I might tune this, concoct a metagame-appropriate sideboard, and bring it.
Click through to the extended entry for deck list and commentary.
With the set almost completely (if not necessarily reliably at all times – where’d that Lotus land go, eh?) spoiled, I’m definitely thinking about what I like in M2010. As a player who started in Beta, I think they’ve done a good job of cleaving more toward iconic, generic-and-cool fantasy elements for this new core set. The theming is stronger, there are fewer cards with random, hard-to-place names, and in general the set has more playables than we’ve come to expect from a core set.
I’ll take a look at individual cards in the spoiler-rrific extended entry, specifically addressing rares that interest me, since, as always, I’ll be buying a full common/uncommon 4x playset, and then picking out individual rares to purchase.
The blog was having some issues over the past week, but should be back up and running now. I’ll probably make some incidental comments on the spoiled M10 cards in the near future, and I have a cascade control deck list I’ve been enjoying, for anyone who still has a pre-M10 PTQ coming up (or an FNM, if your FNMs are Standard).
In developing an appreciation for an idea, sometimes we want to factcheck ourselves to make sure that we are not in love with the idea beyond the point of reason, or, conversely, that we have not misapprehended the situation such that our good idea turns out to be, on the whole, bad. While I wouldn’t advocate setting aside your creativity out of fear of having made a bad choice, I think it’s good to be able to evaluate those situations where you have badly mismatched your choice to the event.
Or, to put it another way, 1-2-2.
Over in the extended entry, I’m going to take a look at a deck choice that turned out to be sorely mismatched for our area, and reflect on how it represents not just a mismatch, but also an incorrect approach to a core component of the game.
I’ve had a sort of on-again, off-again appreciation for Pithing Needle in the current Standard season. I ran two main deck at Regionals, and then stripped them out of the deck entirely for the following PTQ only to add them in on the day.
Pithing Needle is an interesting card. It’s a generic solution to a swath of problems in Standard, but it’s also often a terrible topdeck because you needed to do something other than shut down an activated ability to win the game. Still, there’s a certain appeal to dropping a first-turn Needle on Windbrisk Heights against a tokens player (something I’ve done before).
So, with this little debate running in my head, let’s take a look at the questions and possible answers over the in extended entry.
If I weren’t out of town this weekend, I’d be there. Superstars is running a Standard $5K, and in a very cool new addition to their $5K procedure, they’re having Josh Silvestri provide live coverage. Today is the main event, so there’s a metagame breakdown and feature match coverage.
Click here to read the live $5K coverage at ChannelFireball.com
In recent Standard events, I’ve run Green/White and Black/Green/White big-dude aggro decks. Clearly, I’ve been interested in other concepts, but I think there’s a solid possibility for something along these lines to do well in an upcoming PTQ.
During the recent coverage for PT Honolulu, we saw B/G Elves sweep the LCQs. At the same time, a G/W deck did reasonably well in block itself, which spurred BDM to mention a Tsuyoshi Fujita quote in a deck tech. Paraphrased, it says that playing two colors is a solid choice in a three-color environment, because you’ll win a notable percentage of games on opponent’s mana stumbles. Now, whether this applies in a land of Vivids and Pools is unclear, but I have nonetheless decided to take a look at two-color archetypes in contemporary Standard (despite my continuous desire to splash Maelstrom Pulses into everything).
Click through to the extended entry for a G/W big-dudes aggro deck that’s been refined to fit my perceived version of the potential metagame.
Although my mind has mainly been on things like work and such this week, I’ve also been checking in with all sorts of Magic coverage and considering what I might play well down the road in late June, at our next area PTQ. I’ve bounced between black-green and black-white-green aggro builds, as well as a sort of black-white-green hate-and-aggro deck, a similarly color-combined infinite combo build, and all the other sorts of somewhat midrangey goodness I tend to find myself drawn to. As I found myself continually circling around the same set of ideas, I decided to set myself the task of, instead, focusing on another area of deckbuilding.
Today, I’ve settled on the Grixis color band (blue-black-red), with the immediate thought being some form of control deck centered on my favorite planeswalker, Liliana Vess. Conveniently, iTunes offered up an appropriate song title as the deck’s name.
Click through to the extended for a deck list and some commentary.
Yesterday I attended the first PTQ of the current season at Superstars Game Center. I had a good time as always. We have a good crowd here in Northern California, both judges and players alike, and I think that makes for a great playing environment.
We had a smaller tournament than typical this time, with 122 players. I don’t think that we should generalize from that to the health of the Magic scene, however, since this was a graduation weekend – specifically, the San Jose State University graduation was the same day as the PTQ, a mere three blocks away from us. Combine that with Memorial Day weekend, and it’s understandable that we had a reduced turnout.
The upshot of that number was seven rounds rather than our usual eight.
Thanks go out to our excellent judging staff, this time consisting of Riki (head judge), Eric, NIck, Neil, and Alex.
I went 4-3 this time, and I think this highlights that I am currently very much a 50-50 player. Although I bring some potential trouble to my record by insisting on playing decks of my own design, I can also point directly to some notable play errors that could potentially have led to me winning games, and thus matches. I mention this because I enjoy improving my play, and because I continue to hear players telling each other “bad beat” stories that can be distilled correctly into “the game proceeded as expected, and I lost.” It’s okay to generate this kind of narrative if it makes you feel better, since this is a recreational activity, but if you actually also want to improve as a player, you will have to be honest with yourself and acknowledge those things which can be legitimately influenced by your actions.
Click through to the extended entry for the final deck list I brought on the day, as well as my round-by-round tournament report, and an explanation for why a 4-3 is actually a 3-3.