Owning, more in the literal rather than the competitive sense

I went to another local City Champs tournament this week. Once again, the draw for me is a Constructed tournament with a range of players, rather than a drive to make it to City Champs to earn an invite to Nationals 2008 (rather a far way off at this point, with Worlds 2007 coming up in a week or so). Last time, I ran W/B Villainess control and found that it tended to lose to tempo-based builds and couldn’t kill a Village or Conclave to save its life. This time around, I tried a U/B Villainess build, almost as described here. I realized, after posting that list, that rather than going with Ancestral Vision, I wanted to use the much more synergistic Mulldrifter, as it can be brought back as needed with Beacon of Unrest. And hey, more ways to actually win.
I went 2-2. Fullish report in the extended.

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Commands in colors

In the most recent Latest Developments column, guest- and former-columnist Aaron Forsythe traces the development of the Commands from Lorwyn. He leads with this:
As a designer, I really enjoy it when sets contain rare cycles of spells that aren’t really in-theme with the rest of what’s going on, for two reasons. One, they give the set another “hook” for players to talk about without adding additional complex layers to the set’s gameplay, and two, they allow us to make things that might excite players that would otherwise not enjoy that set’s particular theme.
Which was interesting to me, because I kept looking at the Command cycle and thinking, “This is a cool cycle, but it feels really out-of-flavor for Lorwyn block.” Turns out, it was. Good to know.
Aaron talks development in that article, but in the extended, I’m going to take a quick look at the power of the Commands, as well as a deck that tries to abuse one of them that has yet to see much use.

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Revisions – Heavy Metal, Villainess Control

Last week, I decided that Liliana needed more Instants. Since then, and after some additional testing against a couple different decks I’ve been tinkering with, I’ve realized that along with Instants, Liliana really, really needs card advantage. With that in mind, I’ve revised the Liliana build. I’ve also switched up my take on Big Mana a little. Both lists are in the extended.

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Deriving a metagame

The “metagame,” broadly speaking, is the set of factors resting outside of individual game play that nonetheless have a big impact on your success in any gaming environment. Succinctly, the Magic metagame amounts to “What kind of decks will other people bring to [this PTQ/this local tournament/this Pro Tour/my house tomorrow], and how should I prepare for them?” This is an intelligence exercise — in the sense of information gathering. If you’re going to a Pro Tour, you watch what decks are being played in the Magic Online Premier events, and you even listen to what people say the night before the PT starts (since you don’t have to register your deck until the morning of). With the rain delay of PT Valencia, the participants had a whole extra day to check in with the other players and decided to change their decks, or not. Notably, event winner Remi Fortier was going to run a U/W Tron build, but in the extra day decided to instead run Manuel B’s “Chase Rare Control” build (I do like that name for it).
My current bit of pondering is “Can you, from the card pool, predict the likely metagame?” This is a bit of Bayesian reasoning problem — we have the evidence of successful builds from events (as well as the unsuccessful builds that the winners had to beat) and the card pool…can we integrate all that information and understand why certain card pools lead to certain builds?
More in the extended.

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Decks for Champs – Heavy Metal and DA

The 2008 City Champs competitive series has started. You can read about it at the Wizards site by clicking here. Although I’m not angling for the ultimate win at the end — an invite to Nationals 2008 — I am looking forward to some Standard Constructed tournaments in our area. I was originally thinking I’d take a WBG Rock-ish deck to the first Constructed City Champs event, but I’m now angling toward the W/B build in the extended. Along with that one, I have an R/G “mana ramp” style build that’s also fun — and its ability to consistently kill off my WBG build convinced me to ditch that one in favor of the W/B.
On a random note, I’m entertained to see that the Los Angeles City Champs series includes not only area game stores and a couple from San Diego, but also a store in Hawaii and one in Saipan. Are the store winners from those islands really going to make the trip to LA? That’s an expensive city championship.
Decklists in the extended.

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“A Game of Dune”

Click here to see a beautifully done custom retheming of “A Game of Thrones” (based on the Martin novels) into “Battle for Dune.” It’s a thorough job, with a new board, new pieces, new cards, the whole deal. I’ve never played AGoT out of a lack of interest in the setting, but this looks like an amazing reworking.