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Unstable Q&A with Mark Rosewater
 
The Dos and Don'ts of Silver-Border Commander
 
Word of Command: Un-believable
  • posted a message on [Primer] Amulet Titan
    Yeah I'm 100% with fpawluzs. I consider it stock to run GQ main and Tec edge board. Card is great!
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on [Primer] Amulet Titan
    @ geedemorris - how have maindeck hornet queen and ballista been, compared to hive mind?
    Also - once Hive Mind ends up in the sideboard, I think I just prefer Ruric Thar. Although they do fairly different things, if you write a list of which match-ups you want either of them in, they tend to be pretty similar. Ruric is obviously tutorable and also just a 1-card combo, whereas Hive Mind is more of a clean winner but 2-cards and not tutorable. It frees up a sideboard slot though.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on [Primer] Amulet Titan
    @ geedemorris r/e the storm game...
    It took me a while, and if you hadn't have said "whats the play", I imagine I don't even think about it (e.g. if i were playing, I'd have just jammed amulet and EE on 2 and passed). @ Jpw234, the Lotus Bloom doesn't come off until next turn.

    I'm assuming the line you took was...
    Play Amulet, 1 mana floating.
    Play Pact for Azusa, play bounceland, play Azusa.
    Play bounceland, play EE
    Play bounceland, Crack EE.

    This leaves you paying for your pact with Lotus Bloom + Simic Growth, then using the simic growth in hand to make 6 (thanks to Azusa) to make a titan.

    Obviously this comes with a few risks. Any remand that tags Lotus Bloom looses you the game. If they have a way to kill Azusa, they'll slow you 3(??) turns. If they have blood moon, you might have been able to beat that with lotus bloom + some land drops, but you're not beating it now.

    On balance however, I think it's MORE likely that they can kill you on turn 3 with baral, than it is they have remand. If they kill Azusa, at least your not dead, and if they have blood moon - again, your still not dead (bloom pays for azusa). I think on balance, its correct to get that baral off the board, but I do think it's a close 1. Its certainly not a line I would have found without some heavy prompting!
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on [Primer] Amulet Titan
    So I proxied a few cards and took the bloom version for a spin today. The sample size was tiny (only about 7 games of MTG), so I have nothing definitive that I can say about the 2 versions. But, a little theory and initial thoughts are worthwhile I guess!

    Lotus Bloom makes the deck more consistent in a number of ways:
    First, and most obvious, is that you are now running 32 mana sources instead of 28
    Second - when mulliganing, you need less actual things. When you try and ramp with a sakura-tribe scout, you still need 6 mana's worth of lands (unless you have amulet). With bloom, you just need 3.
    Which leads to 3rd point - when people interact with your mana (blood moon / ghost quarter etc), its not as bad because bloom gives you 3 mana!
    4th - you end up more consistent because you blank removal. I know that's obvious too, but if an opp has a remand, there's going to be a target for it. Tagging the bloom is annoying, but they were likely going to use remand and hurt us anyway. If they don't have a card like that / abrupt decay, they're pretty much not interacting with the bloom. You make 6 mana very consistently.
    5 - makes your ancient stirrings MUCH better at finding a ramp spell. Being able to find amulet OR bloom makes the card twice as good, pretty much. As a result of that, you find ramp more, so you get to 6 more - e.g. your more consistent!
    6 - you get to run Temple of Mystery. Sakura-tribe scout stops you from running too many tapped lands, but this deck can utilise the scry lands, which aids consistency even further.

    And then there's some other deck-building benefits from Lotus Bloom that don't evolve around consistency...
    1. It encourages you to be more combo orientated - Bloom is a bad topdeck, so the deck is more focused in just killing the opponent when you hit 6, and not really worrying about anything else on the way. As a result of this, you get access to a 2nd pact of negation, the Hive Mind kill and just a faster feel to the deck in general.
    2. Again because you build the deck with bloom in mind, you end up with a more "hoser" like sideboard. The scout lists run a bunch of midrange creatures like tracker / thragtusk etc because it's easy to transform into a midrange deck. Because Lotus Bloom is a bad topdeck (and therefore you want shorter games), and because the deck skimps on creatures already, its harder for this list to incorporate a semi-transformative sideboard plan. As a result, you just use all your sideboard slots as haymakers, like leyline etc. Cards like Leyline are much better when the games are short, since you're less likely to naturally draw the card. Before anyone suggests or asks if not becoming a midrange deck is therefore a negative, it isn't. We only do that to try and beat hate cards like ghost quarter / fulminators, and lotus bloom is better at that than any number of trackers etc.

    All this seems great, and it is! However, there's a cost.
    1. Lotus Bloom doesn't create any turn 3 kills (which is kinda obvious I know).
    2. Although remand is already reasonable against us (as I mentioned above), it is better vs lotus bloom.

    And that's about it. So, there's quite a long list of positives (in my opinion) for the bloom list, and only a small number of negatives. HOWEVER, that 1st negative I find is pretty crucial. There's a whole host of decks in modern that try to kill you quickly. On the draw, lotus bloom is coming off on turn 4, and that's not exciting against fast decks like storm or affinity. On top of that, you don't get any mana benefit along the way. With a scout, you may be able to make 3 mana on turn 2, which might give you a chance to rec sage a cranial plating or kozileks return etc.

    As I said above, I don't think my sample size is big enough to say for sure which is better. Both decks have these crazy double-amulet hands where both scout and bloom are irrelevant. There's actually quite a difference between the 2 decks (I changed 15 MAINBOARD cards). What you're actually deciding when looking at bloom and scout is:
    1. Do I want to consistently hit 6 mana on turn 4? Do I want to beat hate cards? OR
    2. Do I want a way to steal game 1 vs the faster decks in the format.

    I did some analysis based on mtgtop8 (i use the word lightly, since i just counted up decks in each category). 40% of decks are trying to kill you quick, and 60% are interacting in some way. A deck like Eldrazi Tron falls into the interactive section whereas burn doesn't - even though they have some relevant interaction for the scout version.

    What that tells me is that the bloom deck is going to be better overall. However, I feel like the stock scout list is pretty reasonable against a good number of the midrange/control decks in the format. Even though I'm running scouts and explores, I still feel favoured against BGx and UWx. So, do I want to change my deck to make it stronger there, or do I want to focus on my Game 1 explosiveness. I'm not sure what the answer is, but wanted to at least try and share my thoughts so far!
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on [Primer] Amulet Titan
    @ BackwardTwo - so Puntthenwhine / Geedemorris is the expert on the Lotus Bloom list, and he isn't running leylines. I dont think they're key, and i'm not even sure if they're preferable.

    The 2 decks play out pretty similarly game 1, but the big change is in the sideboarding. In Games 2 and 3, quite often the "stock" lists become a midrange deck based on Tracker + Explore value, with some disruptive elements like relics or dismembers to help along the way. The Bloom list can't realistically do that, because it has so many cards dedicated to comboing out (they run an extra U-pact, 4 Bloom, 2 Hive Mind more than us, and so cannot feasibly sideboard all that out). As a result, their sideboard plan is more of a "protect what we are doing, and disrupt the very fastest decks" rather than "transforming" to reposition the deck (which is what the stock deck does to try and ignore cards like path / ghost quarter).

    A note on that - your list looks great to me on paper. The only suggestion I would make is to drop the 4th Azusa for the 4th Explore. Although Azusa is the better ramp card in a race, post board games where you go T2 Explore into T3 Tracker are some of the best starts you can make. Azusa sort of clashes with that plan in longer games, and as a result, I prefer the 4th explore currently.

    Like I say, both decks play similarly, and I think both have their pros and cons. Having said that, the Bloom list is certainly getting more results and I would argue is the more consistent deck in terms of hitting 6 mana. The counter argument is that the Scout lists are slightly more explosive at the cost of vunerability to bolts/pushes, because scout + amulet gives you more quicker draws than a turn 4 lotus bloom.

    On the Eldrazi & Taxes match-up. I've only recently starting boarding out amulets, but its mainly because a good taxes player will hold ghost quarter to respond to an amulet trigger. That basically "turns off" amulet, and its match that tends to go long anyway. I certainly prefer playing without amulet, but its definitely debateable. There's a lot of cards I want to bring in for that matchup though (the 29th land, any creature kill, possibly artifact kill if I've seen a tidehollow, as many threats as I can board in etc), so it's a matter of finding space. And Amulet is likely 1 of the cards we need less. Scout doesn't get killed often, and flashing in a bounceland can save a land from ghost quarter, so I prefer scout to amulet in that match-up.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on [Primer] Amulet Titan
    On 3 forests... they're just great vs path and ghost quarter, which are cards that can cause a headache. The 3rd also increases your odds of finding 1 vs blood moon by 50%. The 4th is too many (tested it, you draw multiples too often). But 3 is sweet
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on Dredge
    Hey Sodek - been a while, think i was here with you at the beginning!
    I agree that Burning Inquiry is a "after you looted already" type of card. Terrible at getting you started, nuts once your already going for it.
    So I dont think you want too many, 2 at the very max. Im struggling to evaluate it as more than a "winmore" card. Are you already pretty happy if you've got a discard outlet and a dredger? Well... usually. But when Inquiry is good, it is bonkers. Hard to make a decision on it, but people are having success with it.

    I realise this topic is as old as time itself but... manabases!?! First question(s):
    1. Do Bojuka Bog or Ghost Quarter warrant any consideration anywhere in the 75?
    2. 19 or 20?
    3. Fetches or gold or a mix?!

    I am leaning towards a few fetches and a few gemstones, with perhaps a ghost quarter as my 20th land. What are people's thoughts on that overall?

    Has anyone seen Emma Handys article on SCG today? She has put a forest in and praised it, since it helps if people go ghost quarter crazy (targetting cards like Copperline). Any thouhgts?!
    Posted in: Tier 2 (Modern)
  • posted a message on [Primer] Amulet Titan
    geedemorris (r/e discarding titans vs living end) - In the dark Game 1 the hand should be a mulligan. Its when you know what the opponent is on before mulligans that it becomes relevant.

    Honestly I could write a full page on this, with sample hands etc etc. In very basic terms, it's something I consider when looking at my 7. If its a slow 7 with a summoner's pact, I'm going to mulligan. If its a slow 7 with a primeval titan, i'm going to keep it and ditch the card. Here's the things I'm looking for:
    1. Am on the draw? If I'm on the play, I likely have to skip 2 turns to make the "discard a titan" play, and so I'm much less likely to try it.
    2. Does the hand have a bounceland? IF so, it's ideal. You can play a land turn 1 (on the draw, you'll have 7 cards in hand after doing this), Turn 2 play bounceland and discard on end step. This is the perfect scenario, since you have made land drops AND made it difficult for your opponent to combo.
    3. Is the hand good enough without discarding? Often you COULD discard to hand size, but you don't actively want to because you have a quick hand.

    I then have a few more sense checks based on how Game 1 (or 2) have gone. Are they heavy on Fulminators, Avalanche Riders and/or Beast Within? If so, I'm more likely to discard to hand size, because I'm less likely to make 6 mana and cast the titan. Did they reveal Fearie Macabre in Game 2? If so, they didn't board it out (which is likely a mistake), and therefore you open yourself up to a blow-out. Same sort of thing for Ingot Chewer. If it's in the deck, there's less chance of Amulet sticking and therefore less chance of a comboy hand.

    For what it's worth, your lotus blooms change the position quite significantly. It's harder for them to stop your ramp with fulminator, rider or ingot chewer, AND it also encourages you to play cards from your hand. I'd much rather suspend Bloom on T1 than discard a titan to hand size and play bloom on T2.

    I guess in answer to your question - a hand ISNT a mulligan if its just too slow and you've decided to discard the titan to hand size. I think it's a legitimate way to buy yourself a significant amount of time, but it comes with huge risks. That's why the 2nd scenario is ideal (bounceland + on the draw) as it lowers the risk involved. IF they don't have the Faerie though, it often forces the opponent into hard-casting fatties mode, which is fairly preferable for us.

    Hope that helps a bit!
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on [Primer] Amulet Titan
    @ geedemorris - I found Grudge quite underwhelming when I had it, just as a heads-up. Although you CAN play it vs Eldrazi Tron, I think you're better off with just a Seal of Primordium since it beats our most annoying card. It's not worth "splashing" grudge for eldrazi tron + affinity imo. It just wasn't that stunning.
    I think you'd be better off with Creeping Corrosion. Its easy enough to cast, and a bigger bomb vs Affinity / Lantern. I dont think you'd want it vs Chalice decks though, but I just wasn't impressed with Grudge in the slightest. I may be wrong, but I dont recommend it.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on [Primer] Amulet Titan
    remcodeman - ahh yeah that makes sense. SSG is a real luxury card though, and primal command is completely fine.

    As far RG Ponza - surprisingly my results against that deck aren't tooooo bad. Tracker is just immense if you manage to untap with it, even with a blood moon in play. You can draw through your deck, play azusa, draw some more. And then find a 2nd forest fairly quickly (fingers crossed).
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on [Primer] Amulet Titan
    @remcodeman - list looks great to be honest. I'd be tempted to drop the baloth for either a courser or a tracker (depending if your gunning for burn or not). The card is fine, but in the matches where opponents go after your lands, tracker and courser are preferable to baloth, and you're a little light on a copy of those.
    With Field of Ruin - it won't be as good as ghost quarter but it honestly could be fine. However, I think you need the 3rd basic forest, probably in place of botanical. Most of us are on 3 basics as standard now anyway, and having field makes you want it even more.

    On Primal Command - IF you keep this maindeck, I don't think you need baloth (and it should become a tracker imo). However, you could easily swap Primal Command for a 2nd Tracker or a Spirit Guide. If you chance command to tracker, then leaving the baloth in the board makes more sense. I tested Command briefly and actually quite liked it. However, tracker is just great, and I have moved towards more copies maindeck and side because it just does a lot of what I want (e.g. a threat when down on mana).

    Good luck at Madrid, I'll be cheering you on!
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on [Primer] Amulet Titan
    @ blargenspargle - there's not tooo many scenarios. There's been a couple of me, but they're pretty corner-case scenarios.
    1. Against the TTB / Emrakul deck, I knew I was dead to the annihilator on Emrakul but could beat anything else. I had a titan already, and had enough life to take the hit. I tutored up tracker, attacked with titan and then made a land drop for 3 clues. My Opp had the emrakul and I sacced clues and amulet so that I was hardly set back at all (plus my tracker grew since technically I had Sacced the clues).
    2. When I run out of titans! Pretty obvious, but it can happen against decks like UW in some wierd cases, and can happen vs Thoughtseize + Surgical. For what it's worth, if I suspect surgical I nearly always board out a pact and a titan, and board in a couple of relics (target self in response to surgical).
    The most common case is:
    3. Against a fulminator, ghost quarter or perhaps even a blood moon deck. You want to get a threat that gives value, but you don't feel like you're hitting 6 mana any time soon. In this scenario, it's worth tutoring for tracker and grabbing the first clue. Even if it eats removal, you were unlikely to be doing anything next turn anyway (since you are not close to hitting 6 mana), so paying for the pact isn't a big deal. If you manage to untap with it, you'll get a 2nd clue, and then likely the tracker is a big enough threat to actually win the game. It won't happen much, but it's worthwhile in some cases.
    In all honesty, I just want to naturally draw the tracker most of the time. That's why having multiples is good.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on Burn
    Hey Guys,
    I've played a tiny bit of burn before, but not a tonne, and I've just come back to play some more - I want to get the reps in to make it a viable deck for myself.
    I thought i'd share a little testing I did yesterday (just 10 matches, so obviously a small sample size). I took the GP Birmingham winning list and copied it card for card and just ran it. For those unaware, its a Shrine of Burning Rage list rather than Eidolon.

    In the very first match, I got a great G1 hand that put my opp to 1 on turn 3, with 3 swiftspears in play. My opp moans. G2 they get a turn 2 thought-knot seer with a double-temple hand and win. G3 I keep a 3-land 4 spells hand and end the game with 6 spells 7 lands, and opp at 3. I bemoan bad luck, and feel a bit salty because my opp had complained about how "ridiculous" burn is, when lets be honest, there's more broken things you can be doing!

    I then went 4-0 in the rest of that league, so finished 4-1, with a sense of "that could easily have been 5-0".

    I jumped into another league. I miss-sequenced against UWR to throw a game (1 damage short and I misplayed with the shrine triggers) and lost it 2-1. A better player would have won that. I then played against Skred. On the draw, on my 2nd turn I decided to play lava spike + lightning bolt rather than playing lightning helix. There was some logic to it at the time, but I couldn't tell you now what it was! I totally forgot to play around moon, and they slammed it turn 3. I was left stranded with 2 helix in hand, and drew a 3rd. The game ended with my opponent on 3, so had I played helix first and then spike + bolt the following turn, I'd have won. I then sideboarded poorly Game 2 (no destructive revelry) and they played out T2 Dragons Claw T3 Dragons Claw. I managed to win with 2 swiftspear and 2 shrines making up for the dragons claws. Game 3 I loose but not really anything I can do about it. Anyway, that was a 2nd match I would have won had I played correctly G1, and I also learnt some important info about sideboarding / moons etc.

    I finished the rest of the league 3-0.

    I realise that pairings might have changed (though its MODO, so who knows), and I realise play/draw etc all makes a difference, but I felt I could easily have gone 9-1 or even 10-0 on another day.

    My feedback on the Shrines vs Eidolons at this early stage basically becomes - shrine lets you be the control deck sometimes. Even against something like Jeskai, if you can concentrate on landing shrine, it makes things really awkward for the opponent. You can just make land drops and pass the turn, and as long as there's no clock, you don't have to do anything. When you finally start playing spells in their end step, they're almost forced to cryptic bounce your shrine - which puts you in a position to either crack it in response, force through more spells, or just untap and cast it again. That eats their resources in a way other cards don't (e.g. if they can counter-draw, they just 2-1ed, if they counter bounce, its just a 1 for 1).
    I didn't play against storm, and obviously Eidolon will be great there. I dont know what the match-up is like without Eidolon? I imagine pretty miserable?

    Also - I ran 2 Grim Lavamancer in the sideboard, and I just didn't like them at all. I am going to change those for Volcanic Fallout. I quite like the idea of boarding out 8 creatures and bringing in 8 spells vs control decks. Volcanic Fallout does 2 to the dome, so its better than a lavamancer that gets bolted most of the time. In match-ups like affinity, where lavamancer plays the control role nicely, fallout is just as good most of the time.

    Just my thoughts.

    Also - elconquistador - those figures are immense! Its a lot of information to take in, and I think you're better off just playing a tonne of games and get a feel for what people might have. But, if you don't have time for jamming games, this is a great way to learn whilst on the toilet at work lol.
    Posted in: Tier 1 (Modern)
  • posted a message on [Primer] Amulet Titan
    yeah it did suck, really hurt morale! I have been dropping the odd game to misplays lately, but I felt I played pretty well yesterday and it just didn't happen for me.
    I think the differences in the lists are starting to show too. Because I run Kessig, lantern feels pretty favourable, to the point where I dont miss Ruric at all. However, when i replaced it with Tormod's Crypt... this is the GY hate I had
    2 Relic
    1 Tormods
    1 Bojuka Bog
    4 Stirrings to find those cards
    4 Titan + Summoner's Pact that find Bog
    3 T-west that finds bog or crypt

    Probably way too much! Dredge was a cake-walk, and it just felt unnecessary. Dropping a relic for a crypt sounds good to me, although I do love relic vs Snapcaster and Goyf decks, and crypt sucks there!

    I did leave yesterday hoping for an extra slot for blood moons now! Not surprising, but man that card upset me yesterday haha. Also, I've been beating moons with trackers and it's felt great. Just stunning. Shame its still not enough though!
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on [Primer] Amulet Titan
    And pretty much teh last update here!

    Round 5 vs Mardu Blood Moon (again) - they blood moon Game 1 and I cant beat it. Game 2 they blood moon, I Rec Sage (but i'm still behind), draw blanks and they draw another Blood Moon. Following turn I draw Pact of Negation! Grrr. I doubt I win anyway, but still.

    At 2-3 I dont think I can get some fun-points from modo, so I pick em up!
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
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