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  • posted a message on The thread formerly known as GBX Constrictor
    I'm having success with this.

    Karn is really powerful and does just about everything this archetype really wants. Card advantage, board presence, resilience to creature removal, even fills a spot on the curve (4) that's been awkward throughout the archetype's history.

    I dislike Servant of the Conduit and am looking for literally anything remotely playable that has more than 1 toughness. I've had Merfolk Branchwalker in here for the synergy between Rishkar and Explore, and I'm even considering playing 2x Treasure Map and a 3rd Harvester, banking on Harvester + Gearhulk being unbeatable for red and calling it a day.

    I cut Siphoner because Ballista, Goblin Chainwhirler and Fanatical Firebrand are everywhere. This might be wrong, but I think it's actually fine since Karn generates card advantage and there's no free energy anymore to keep Siphoner humming anyway.


    I think splashing for a third color that isn't red is basically impossible to do smoothly with the available mana, and I also don't think red adds anything as a splash color. Abrade would be a nice pickup, but trying to play it early strains the mana, and you also don't need it anyway.


    I know Karn is expensive and availability is a concern, but I strongly urge y'all to at least print proxies of Karn to test with your buddies. He's really powerful and adds two different angles of attack that this shell doesn't have, and which it very much likes.
    Posted in: Standard Archives
  • posted a message on Karn should not exist in standard.
    Karn temporarily broke the format because there exists a critical mass of playable artifacts from Kaladesh. It's currently running roughshod over the format and isn't going to stop until Kaladesh rotates, but it will fade back into second-rate status very quickly afterward.
    Posted in: Standard Archives
  • posted a message on [Primer] Mardu (Dega/BWR) Midrange
    I skimmed the OP and didn't see anything about Mardu Pyromancer. Is this the right thread for discussion of that deck? If so is there a primer on the deck posted anywhere? TIA!
    Posted in: Modern Archives - Proven
  • posted a message on The thread formerly known as GBX Constrictor
    Quote from Sugarshark17 »
    countdown to GP Seattle

    I know Jadelight Ranger is a 3 or 4 of in every list but I'm finding turn 3 of my matches pretty vulnerable, where the Ranger probably won't cut it and unless I have a 2 drop & Blossoming Defense or my opponent did nothing to my turn 2 drop(which is never) I don't feel great moving forward or waiting a turn to have Blossom up.
    I saw some lists trying out Claim // Fame as a way to recover your dead 2 drop and lay another 2mana spell on turn 3. I think that might be okay but there's still Magma Spray out there; but if its a snek at least it's safe. Maybe it's good enough for me because I also run Gifted Aetherborn

    all the Sultai lists I see now are identical and I don't know how to keep the tempo going, I miss charms and multimodal spells
    maybe maindeck Thrashing Brontodon or Greenbelt Rampager could live to see my turn 4, or I'll cave and just run the Shapers' Sanctuary

    Ranger is essential for churning into your combo pieces and flipping Climb. It's rough sometimes but I don't think you can afford to cut too many copies, maybe down to 3 copies at the minimum.
    Thrashing Brontodon is a nice out to have in the maindeck, but it's off-plan and only really good against red decks, so I would avoid going too heavily on that. Maybe swap the 4th Ranger for Brontodon if you want, but realistically if you're running into a lot of red decks, you should be playing a different deck instead of trying to tech this one for red, because this archetype has never had good red matchups and this iteration is the worst yet in this regard.
    I haven't tried Greenbelt Rampager in this version of the deck, but the card's rate is a lot less efficient without the freebie energy lying around, and it was barely playable even when we had all the free energy sources. Hard to imagine anything's changed.
    Posted in: Standard Archives
  • posted a message on Amount of Utility Lands
    Quote from Xenoclops »
    I've seen this addressed for Commander but I can't really find anything about it for 60 card decks. How many colorless mana producing utility lands can you get away with without being in too much danger of drawing a bunch right near the beginning?

    I'm playing a mono black midrange deck in standard right now and I have 24 lands: 4 Ifnir Deadlands, 2 Field of Ruin and 18 swamps. I want to take out a few swamps and add 2 Scavenger Grounds and 1 or 2 Arch of Orazca. How do you think this will work out?

    What spells are you trying to cast?
    Unless you're a very aggressive deck (which doesn't seem to be the case) you will probably need to hit these parameters:
    - two pips by turn 2
    - three pips by turn 4
    - four pips by turn 6

    This means you'll want around 21 sources of black mana. Right now you have 22, so you can probably afford to cut one or at most two.

    But those numbers are guesses and could be wrong depending on your list, so send it over!
    Posted in: Standard Archives
  • posted a message on GBx Constrictor Considerations


    Looks like a huge upgrade in a deck with 4x Blossoming Defense and 8x unbeatable 2-drops -or- 4x Jadelight Ranger.
    Posted in: Standard Archives
  • posted a message on The thread formerly known as GBX Constrictor
    Quote from chaos021 »
    I think you have an interesting rationale for the deck you've made, but I also believe you seriously underestimate the importance of Fatal Push on the draw. If you think it doesn't make a difference most of the time, I would be interested to know what decks you have been facing. I literally don't have any problem swith red decks so long as I don't flood out on lands. More importantly, trying to race a deck that's literally built for it is a mistake imo. You should be playing the control against R/X decks until you're ready to finish them off.

    Maybe I'm just weird, but I like Fatal Push against anything playing Glint-Sleeve Siphoner (Grixis Energy, Sultai Aggro), RG Monsters, GW Aggro, BW Aggro, BR Aggro and R/X Aggro. That's just from my experience playing locally and online. I think you're idea banks too much on the idea of being on the play in G1 against aggro decks.

    I've run against the whole gauntlet. You can't actually play the control role against R/x decks with the Hadana's Climb build with any reliability. Outside of Kari Zev, Push doesn't do very much against their deck, and I'd rather play my own 2-drop and try to set up a Hadana's Climb kill as quickly as possible. I acknowledge it's hard to race them -- that's why the matchup is bad: you start on the backfoot and don't have any really good mechanisms for breaking serve in a meaningful way, except for combo-killing with Climb.

    Push is good against Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, but you have Walking Ballista to deal with Siphoner if you need to take it out ASAP for whatever reason. Push is typically awful against Siphoner decks, since Siphoner is the only good target for it. Drawing Push against Grixis when they just don't draw Siphoner is effectively a mulligan, ditto against UB. (Sultai Constrictor is the exception, and I listed that as the one place where I think not running Push costs me percentage points.) Push is flat-out awful against RG Monsters (their only targets are all 2-for-1s), GW Aggro (same thing), BW Aggro (they have Legion's Lieutenant which is an important target, but otherwise same thing), and we've talked about the R/x decks earlier.
    Posted in: Standard Archives
  • posted a message on The thread formerly known as GBX Constrictor
    This is the deck I played at a weekly tonight.

    Game 1, you are a beatdown-combo deck against everybody, no matter how good or bad that might be against the opposing deck. Hadana's Climb + Winding Constrictor can "combo-kill" from a high opposing life total, and Bristling Hydra can wear the counters like a champion. Winding Constrictor separately enables very explosive draws involving Verdurous Gearhulk or Bristling Hydra, and powers up the already-great Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and Walking Ballista. I opted to have the bare minimum interaction in Blossoming Defense (a "combo" piece with Winged Temple that usually buys a turn) and Vraska's Contempt (expensive but necessary to handle over-the-top threats).

    Probably the most eye-catching tuning decision was cutting Fatal Push from the maindeck, and I did that because the addition of Hadana's Climb to the deck and the construction of the red deck really invalidates Push as a way to win a race.
    Having a random Fatal Push somewhere in your curve is not making the difference most of the time -- there's really nothing good to tag. Their 1-drops mostly suck and exist to get cards out of their hand for Hazoret (if they also get one out of yours, great!), Earthshaker Khenra (and Scrapheap Scrounger in the black splash) comes back, and everything else laughs at it. It's good if you can tag exactly Kari Zev while deploying another threat, that's it.
    Furthermore, having Hadana's Climb in your deck forces you down this road of always having a creature play on turn 2 no matter how rough of a play it is. Hadana's Climb flipping into Winged Temple of Orazca is your ticket to flipping the race on its head and winning, but it doesn't work if you don't play out threats continually and get it flipped before Hazoret can kill you. And since their whole deck is a pile of hasty creatures with Hammerhand stapled to them, those creatures can do one thing: attack. Attacking is good here since your chip-shot damage is probably enough to put them into Winged Temple OHKO range.
    I frankly think trying to race red is a losing proposition, but the addition of Hadana's Climb and the construction of the red deck just structurally puts us in a terrible place. You need them to brick on some aspect of their draw, that's just how it is. Given that you need this anyway, you might as well maximize your good draws against them, which tend to involve 2-drop -> Climb -> Hydra or two 2-drops -> flip Climb, go to clown town.
    The only place I like Fatal Push is the mirror, where you might need it on the draw in order to catch up against an opponent's explosive Constrictor -> Climb or 2-drop -> 2-drop + Push your 2-drop draw. I'm willing to give up percentage points in those situations because I've noticed that the quick "snowball" draws don't happen nearly as often with Longtusk Cub effectively banned from the deck. Once Bristling Hydra hits the field for both players, profitable attacks tend to go away quickly until Hadana's Climb flips. Since the game gets grotesquely uninteractive once the board stalls out, I'd rather draw more threats and make land drops to use Winged Temple or Walking Ballista effectively instead of drawing Pushes.
    Against everyone else, Fatal Push is anywhere from "marginal and probably worse than a threat, Blossoming Defense or Vraska's Contempt" to "outright terrible." Not having them in your deck is an upgrade.

    In the sideboard, I have a package of Scarab God, Vraska, Lifecrafter's Bestiary and Nissa that I bring in for situations where I think I'm unlikely to be able to set up a combo -- control decks are one example, but also GR Monsters, which can back up early aggression with the godlike duo of Chandra and Glorybringer, who are typically lights-out against this strategy. How much of these elements I bring in depends upon the specific deck I'm up against, but the general idea is that I stacked my g1 deck heavily toward explosive draws and Winged Temple combos, and in g2/g3 I expect my opponents to be better able to disrupt me, so if they're already packing good disruption as part of their deck, I want to be off the explosive plan altogether and try to level them by being a little bit bigger midrange deck. Brontodons are beefy idiots for red that also make sure I don't have to register Naturalize or the crappy equivalents that we had from Kaladesh. Cartouche of Ambition is probably the best card (aside from perhaps Aethersphere Harvester?) for executing the "race red" plan, since Harvesters can actually block and Cartouche on a Hydra is lights out. I'm not going to try very hard to beat red with this deck but I'm willing to give myself that much of a shot. Duress is generic disruption for control decks.
    Posted in: Standard Archives
  • posted a message on Grixis Midrange/Energy
    Quote from hoser2 »
    Interesting article by Andrea Mengucci on ChannelFireball: https://www.channelfireball.com/articles/5th-place-with-grixis-energy-at-grand-prix-madrid/ . He prefers the 4 Scarab God, no Phoenix, no Glorybringer version. He says he tried the good red creatures, but Confiscation Coup was too much of a beating. Can we beat Coup with disruption and countermagic?

    What about Hostage Taker against Coup? Whether we kill Hostage Taker or they do, we get our creature back. The only bad scenario is that they also Coup our Hostage Taker and are able to cast the creature before we kill the Hostage Taker.

    Edit: A review of midrange decks is here. Whether you agree with the conclusions or not, it seems like an informed overview worth considering.

    I don't think they can cast the hostage if they use Coup on Hostage Taker, right? "You" in the ability refers to the controller of the ETB trigger of Hostage Taker, so taking control of the Hostage Taker after it's hit the field shouldn't affect who has the ability to cast the card from exile.

    I think Mengucci is right that Coup causes a lot of problems for players on the 4-5cc threats like my list, but I also don't think Coup is actually seeing significant play right now: it's only showing up in any amount in one deck (Grixis Energy) and at most as a 1-of, and often not even that. I don't think Coup should be the reason we're off of it.
    But with that said, if you really need an answer to Coup, then Hostage Taker is pretty clean.

    I think the real question to be asked is this: can you beat Hazored aggro decks with the higher density of creatures?
    I used to think they would give an edge, since you turn the corner quicker with Phoenix and Glorybringer.
    I'm starting to think that isn't really true for two reasons: (1) Scarab God "turns the corner" about as fast, even though it's a slower clock than Glorybringer; (2) playing the extra threats means you have less spot removal, and you want a lot of it to beat red's early draws reliably. Phoenix is great, but maybe Glorybringer isn't what we really want?

    Glorybringer's real edge is against the white go-wide decks more than anything else -- being able to fly over tokens and clock is a big deal. The exert ability is also a big deal against Winding Constrictor decks. I'm starting to wonder if maybe Phoenix is good enough at that job on his own, though, and whether we might benefit from cutting Glorybringer for extra interaction (or maybe even something like Gearhulk up the curve).

    I really do like Phoenix above the extra marginal interactive spells though.
    Posted in: Standard Archives
  • posted a message on Grixis Midrange/Energy
    Had to cut a little clunk to get the deck running smoothly again. Added some fun ones along the way, current version:


    Since the last update, I cut down some of the expensive spells, which at one point included cutting the 4th Glorybringer. I'm back on it because I realized my issue wasn't the top end but the bottom end -- I didn't have consistent enough interaction with red's early drops, which made all the high drops a liability, since I couldn't block well enough to get to them at a stable life total.
    I cut Daredevil, although I still think it's a very good card in the archetype. It's good but wasn't doing quite what I needed against red consistently; if they just don't draw a Lightning Strike or Shock and you don't have a Siphoner to hit, it's hard to play Daredevil in a timely manner.
    I added Champion of Wits in the slot that I had previously devoted to Chart a Course, because I wanted to affect the board. Champ occasionally has some lategame power that comes in handy. Most Grixis players have used Champ in here at some point so I'll save on further elaboration.

    In the sideboard, I added a pair of Ammit Eternal in order to put pressure on control decks and durdly decks. Eternal lines up really well against UB Control's removal: they have to have a revolt trigger for Fatal Push or two Moment of Craving to kill it without resorting to premium spells like Vraska's Contempt or a counterspell, and the more threats you have like this, the more likely you are to run them out of answers. Against decks that play one spell a turn and don't affect the board much (Ramp, GPG come to mind), Eternal is clocking for four a turn. I really like how this guy has played out of the board in this exact shell. I don't think stock Grixis can leverage him since stock Grixis doesn't have a clock to complement the Ammit, and Ammit isn't quite good enough to carry the load on his own. Curving him into Phoenix and Glorybringer is a hell of a different story.


    I cut Confiscation Coup despite its high power level because it encouraged me to stretch the manabase too hard. I cut Chart for Champ and Daredevil for more removal spells (which is 99% of what Daredevil does anyhow) in an effort to shore up the red matchup. I'm experimenting with Cut // Ribbons and really digging it, the extra reach is pretty clutch when so many play patterns in midrange mirrors involve spending two turns playing Scarab God and then making a 4/4. If the 4/4 can't block fliers then the Phoenix -> Glorybringer -> Ribbons curve really punishes that line of play; hell it's straight 20 damage if you make your sixth land drop!
    I'm up to four Sprays and two Abrades because of red.
    The two interesting one-ofs in the maindeck are Arguel's Blood Fast and Sweltering Suns. Suns is a game 1 out to tokens and some red draws. Since it cycles, the opportunity cost of maindecking one is pretty low. Blood Fast is a hammer in attrition games, which can be difficult for this build of Grixis, and has some narrow splash utility against red by "naturally" flipping into Temple of Aclazotz and gaining life repeatedly with Scarab God and Phoenix.

    In the sideboard, I cut Tetzimoc and the third Sweltering Suns for a pair of Hour of Devastation. These are primarily for the go-wide token decks, but could be justified against red aggressive decks of all kinds (monored/Rx aggro, GR/GRx monsters).


    Since I cut Coup, I got to streamline the manabase more. Not much to say except that it's great now. I cut the 27th land because I added Champ and Blood Fast.
    Posted in: Standard Archives
  • posted a message on Grixis Midrange/Energy
    Dire Fleet Daredevil is great. It plays better than it reads because a 2/1 first strike body is a brick wall against aggro decks in this format. I wouldn't play more than two but I'm really happy to have two of them.

    Harnessed Lightning obviously has some synergies with the other energy cards, but what I found was that without the "free" energy from the green cards that got banned in January, it didn't reliably kill what I needed to kill anymore. The format has also shifted more heavily toward creatures with hexproof (Bristling Hydra, Carnage Tyrant), indestructible (Hazoret the Fervent), or pseudo-indestructible (The Scarab God, Rekindling Phoenix). The remaining threats that matter are Torrential Gearhulk, which dies to Abrade much more reliably than Lightning; and Glorybringer, the one premier threat in the format for which I would actively be happy to have Lightning.
    I like the broader coverage from Abrade more than Lightning's ability to hit Glorybringer, so I play Abrade instead.
    Posted in: Standard Archives
  • posted a message on Grixis Midrange/Energy
    I forgot I haven't updated in here! I've gotten a lot of work done on the archetype.

    I'll piggyback off my last post which explained the basic angle I'm trying to take.

    After some testing, Seekers' Squire and Champion of Wits were good and I will stand by them forever... but... I realized once I added a 27th land that I didn't really need all the smoothing. I happened upon Chart a Course which was sick and filled in the gap left by those guys. Champion gave the deck a bit of lategame edge it's now lacking, but it's not a huge loss -- it's almost a benefit not to have to play the front side, which was already really stretching the imagination to be Constructed-caliber.

    I wanted another two-drop, and I ended up trying out Dire Fleet Daredevil. Daredevil is awesome! The body plays better than it looks; you can totally just run it out on turn 2 to get on the board. Daredevil scales admirably as the game goes long. I don't think you can play four of him, because you'd rather not have to make him your turn 2 play. But, counting Chart a Course, you now have eight proactive t2 plays that you're not embarrassed about making, in addition to being able to hold up removal.

    I also found that I liked Glorybringer more than The Scarab God, so I cut a God for a Glorybringer. Glorybringer turns the corner quicker and for less mana investment than the God.

    Speaking of removal, I tuned that some more too. Harnessed Lightning wasn't what I wanted it to be. It's still a great card, but all the spells I have in here do more things that I want. Magma Spray costs one mana and exiles, Abrade hits artifacts, Contempt hits everything I need to hit, Coup is Contempt on steroids, and Essence Scatter is a miser card that has a timing restriction compared to Lightning, but is more efficient when you can play through the restriction.

    In the sideboard, I favor a discard-focused approach to control decks. I'm thinking about Lost Legacy as a hammer against fringe strategies, but also as a way to strip The Scarab God from opposing decks, because TSG decks' overall power level plummets without him available as a draw, to the point where I think I can fight through being down a card. I also have four sweeper effects to beat go-wide decks, which have been a problem. I play two Chandra as an extra threat, Tetzimoc as a hybrid sweeper + midrange trump, Chandra's Defeat for Hazoret and Phoenix/Glorybringer decks, and another Essence Scatter as a clean answer to the format's best threats.
    Posted in: Standard Archives
  • posted a message on Grixis Midrange/Energy
    This is the first draft of the deck I think I'm going to play in a Team Constructed tournament in a couple weeks.

    I drew this up myself after playing other builds of Grixis, and some of the Naya/GR Monsters decks, to get an idea of what the format is about. I built it closer in style to the Monsters deck.

    My main "innovations" are to the mana base and the inclusion of Seekers' Squire and Champion of Wits.
    The more "stock" manabases with Grixis are fine, but I was nonetheless able to get the numbers to a very comfortable spot while including a lot of lands that will virtually always enter untapped. Four Aether Hub and six basics will always enter untapped, and the four Dragonskull Summit have twelve lands that will let them enter untapped (eight duals of the right type, four Mountain, one Swamp), which means that they should reliably be online by turn 3 or so, with exception to the games where you draw multiple Spirebluff Canal and rightfully play those out first.
    You have eight untapped turn-1 red sources that aren't Aether Hub, which means you can have Magma Spray online around 2/3 of the time for turn 1. You will probably choose to have it online much less frequently because you want to play a tapped land to get your colors online, but you do have the option.
    The mana has been excellent thus far. I have seventeen black sources and six creatures that can dig for lands, so I can reliably cast Vraska's Contempt, the only double-black spell. I have fourteen blue sources, which is enough for the light touch of blue that the deck makes; and I have nineteen red sources, which is ample to do anything I want with the many red spells in the deck.

    I added the creatures for a couple of reasons.
    (1) I'm more comfortable playing a deck with a lot of creatures in it. These guys are taking up the 11th-17th removal/interactive slots, and I prefer not to play too many reactive cards. They're essentially the same as the umpteenth removal spells, but they can get in chip shots, which make a significant difference when you're loaded up on 4-power flying beaters.
    (2) In this format, most of the cards that cost under 4cc aren't major threats. You don't need a big pile of spot removal to beat them, just need to play to board and buy time for your mythics to outclass them.
    (3) The creatures are very good at making sure you hit land drops. This deck needs three things: its curve-topping mythics that win the game, lands to cast those mythics, and time to make those land drops. The creatures help find the lands and block or otherwise play to board, making time. They even dig to those mythics as well.

    The sideboard is a total scattershot mess right now, I'm just testing a bunch of cards that might interest me. Once I get some more game 1 reps in with this deck against the field, I'll have an idea of what I'm supposed to be playing in the sideboard.

    This deck feels like old-school Elspeth-Siege Rhino Abzan. Highly recommend taking it for a spin!
    Posted in: Standard Archives
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