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Treasure Cruisin' Gifts Storm
 
The Role of Ecosystems in Fantasy Worldbuilding
  • posted a message on UW Control
    @JayJay, your logic is sound—proactive game plans are historically the best ones, a fact which I remind my less experienced friends of often, when they naturally gravitate toward more reactive setups after losing to this or that deck. Having conceded that, I suppose we can probably agree that a draw-go build (and this term applies only in relation to the stock tapout list; my build, at least, is far from pure draw-go, with 6 Planeswalkers and plenty of other Sorcery-speed plays) has rarely looked as appealing as it does now, with the state of the meta such an open question, and the more draw-go oriented cards lining up better against Jace and BBE. In other words, even though UW may still be largely a tapout deck when the dust settles from this meta shift, now is a great time to be testing a more reactive build to see whether it has legs. I’m fairly optimistic, myself.

    One thing I find interesting is that, regardless of diverging opinions regarding the core philosophy of the deck, most in this thread (and some pros who’ve run out UW lists recently) are high on Gideon, AoZ right now. I’ve liked him in this deck for a long time, but never quite managed to make space for him until the unbannings and subsequent changes. Some people are cutting Jura for him, but I’ve been loving a 2/1/1 split between Trials/AoZ/Jura.

    Back to the more reactive, Seas-less setup: the more I think of it, the more Shadow of Doubt as a two-of sounds fantastic. That’s what I’ll be testing next. However, I confess to having no idea whether Opt will be better than Serum in this setup. That’s a tough one to call IMO. Serum may still be king despite Opt’s greater flexibility in a build running Remands and a Spell Snare.

    One thing I will say: although Seas and Mana Leak have performed admirably for me over the last few months, it feels good to be working on a list that eliminates the negative synergies between those cards and Path + Settle. Time will tell whether UW can afford to forego those cards, but for the moment I think alternative options are well worth exploring.
    Posted in: Tier 2 (Modern)
  • posted a message on UW Control
    So I now have several series under my belt with the following list, plus modifications listed below:



    Before playing, I sought to add another Mind Sculptor but was struggling for slots. That led me to cutting all four copies of Seas as an experiment, replacing them with four copies of Remand, which has long been a card that I wanted to like in this shell. One of the recent post-ban UW 5-0s on MTGO ran 3x Remand, so I decided to give it a shot. From there, I shaved a Search in favor of another JtMS and cut the Mana Leaks for a second Cryptic and a third Wall of Omens. Thought about spicing in a Shadow of Doubt as well, but I stopped shy of doing so.

    Secure the Wastes really stood out in this setup. It’s everything from pseudo-removal to chump block factory to finisher (weird to win by going wide with UW, but it happened plenty of times between Warriors, Knight Allies, Snappers, Cliques, Colonnades, and animated Gideons).

    While the meta is still in such flux I know it’s impossible to nail down a perfect build, but I thought I’d share these developments in case anyone wants to try an approach that puts more creatures into the field, usually at instant speed. That said, what I’d really like feedback on is a more broad and overarching string of thoughts that pertains to the underlying philosophy of UWC:

    My first post in this thread, when I began buying into the deck, detailed my perception of UW as either tapout or draw-go, with various choices (like the number of Snapcaster) contingent upon that choice of play style. The consensus was—correctly, in retrospect—that tapout was stronger. I just wonder how true that is post-ban, with BBE decks making the Verdict-or-die setup look a little clunky, and enemy JtMS demanding an immediate answer, whether it be counter magic or instant speed board pressure.

    I believe that the near-painless consistency of our manabase, along with our ability to disrupt the enemy manabase, is possibly the single best reason to play UWC. I am also coming to believe that there is a fundamanetal tension between Spreading Seas and the ability to play draw-go until it’s safe to drop a wincon. Remand in for Seas keeps our consistency levels just as high, and allows us to stall threats through the early and mid game while never being a dead card.

    I don’t know which strategy will prove to be more powerful as the dust from the unbannings settles, but I do think it’s going to be useful to conceive of UW tapout and UW draw-go as two separate shells, at least for now, since the superiority of the former setup is no longer necessarily a given. Am I overrating the potential of draw-go?
    Posted in: Tier 2 (Modern)
  • posted a message on UW Control
    Yeah, you’re right, especially for testing purposes. I’ll find a cut somewhere for a second JtMS before I get any games in.
    Posted in: Tier 2 (Modern)
  • posted a message on UW Control
    Exciting times for UWC!

    I’ve been tinkering with some builds in anticipation of how the meta will unfold over the next several weeks. I see that BennyHillz’s recent 5-0 is a fairly stock list with 2x Wall and 3x JtMS, the latter replacing Jura, Jace AoT, and a Search. He also ran a Terminus in place of the third Verdict, with six total wrath effects in the 75 (including Engineered Explosives).

    That’s certainly one direction in which to take the deck—maybe even the best direction. Wall into Gideon OTT into Verdict is still an extremely strong progression against plenty of decks. However, some in this thread have voiced concern that BBE decks and other linear aggro decks with a prevalence of haste creatures might make Verdict look a little clunky. If that turns out to be the case, here’s the list I’ve put together that focuses on generating a beefier board state, allowing us to interact favorably with the linear aggro decks which aim to get in under Verdict, while presenting the potential for a strong clock against combo:



    I haven’t drawn up a sideboard yet because its contents will be contingent on the main, which I’m not sure is a total mess or not. Grin

    It’s a bit strange: I started off with the idea of building around JtMS (extra fetches, 2x Wall, Secure the Wastes over Rev due to the utility of instant speed blockers, etc). But that line of thinking led me to Gideon, AoZ, which in turn led me to the full Gid Squad and only one copy of Modern’s new overlord. Strictly incorrect? That’s possible, but the Gideons have always been incredible for me, and this is the sort of shell in which AoZ could shine.

    Any feedback? I’ll be testing over the long weekend, but ironing out any glaring weaknesses beforehand would be sweet.
    Posted in: Tier 2 (Modern)
  • posted a message on RW Norin
    Just built this deck in paper and on MTGO and I’ve been having a blast playing it. The most WTF moment I’ve experienced so far in MTGO leagues was taking a G1 off of Tron with only one land! T1 Champion of the Parish, T2 Norin and swing for 2, T3 Sister and swing for 5, T4 Berseker and swing for 10. At 3 life, the opponent throws down Ugin and wrecks my board. I untap and Bolt face for the GG.

    Went 3-1 at my LGS debut, although that record included a bye. Surprisingly, I beat Shadow twice (Grixis and Traverse) while dropping the 3-0 game to Burn. The crucial decision, which was probably an incorrect one, came in G1 when I kept (on the draw) a four-land hand with Norin, Chamber, and Thraben Inspector. My rationalization was that I’d only take two hits from creatures at most—with T1 Norin into T2 Chamber, I could chump his T3 attack and trade from there on out, with the Norin loop to turn the corner once I found a value engine and Inspector to mitigate flood. Unfortunately, my opponent’s progression was Guide into a flurry of burn spells, while I flooded out despite Guide triggers and cracking a Clue. Should I have mulliganed agggressively for a Sister? That feels risky against Searing Blaze.

    Although I’m new to the deck, I think the unbans are going to be just fine for us. Yes, Jund is a lot more powerful now, but I think our matchup against them is improved from their prior iterations. BBE alone isn’t so bad—I agree that Kalitas is worse for us unless we’re sitting on a Path—but more importantly, BBE incentivizes then to play less discard and fewer conditional answers like Fatal Push. Their more creature-heavy build plays into our hands, and although they still run outs to our combo pieces, those can be clunky if we’re pressuring them with a big Champion.
    Posted in: Deck Creation (Modern)
  • posted a message on RW Norin
    Quote from binmaa10 »
    Crumble to dust is probably to slow as the opponent can already resolve something with Tron before you can react to it. Manabase wise the Ghost Quarters and Fields are both doable as we can play them instead of Westvale Abbey/Keral Keep.

    But if you want to put something in your sideboard I'd probably go for Fulminator Mage it is cheaper than Crumble to Dust and costs the opponent a land.


    Fulminator is a good call. EtB triggers into LD, and it fits into a mostly vacant spot on the curve. Definitely playable.

    I think I’m going to try working at least one Field of Ruin into the manabase, perhaps two.

    On a related note, has anyone ever tried Weathered Wayfarer? I always felt this guy was a nice addition to the deck when I played mono-white Death and Taxes, and he could be even better here. The downside is that we don’t play through Vial so we’re less likely to have free mana for his activates ability, but the upsides are numerous:

    - Yet another CMC 1 Human to efficiently trigger all of our advantage engines. Some might say that our curve is already low enough, but for those playing a full set of Thraben Inspector, a low curve feels great.
    - Can help tilt a hand that would otherwise be a mulligan into a possible keep, but this is only advisable when you know what you’re up against.
    - His ability should be live most of the time, between our low land count and our Paths ramping the opponent.
    - The tutoring ability is quite relevant here beyond just hitting land drops and color fixing (which are already quite nice). Tutoring for Kher Keep for value, Westvale Abbey to end the game, or Field/GQ when LD is necessary to live is some real power.
    - Feel like a pro when you side him out on the play and then back in on the draw. #tinyedges

    I’ll be testing him as a one-of. Any thoughts?
    Posted in: Deck Creation (Modern)
  • posted a message on RW Norin
    ^ I’d love to hear some more discussion on how we handle Tron and Valakut. People over the last few pages have been discussing Blood Moon—what numbers, whether to main or side it—and that’s probably the first card that should be in consideration. Beyond that:

    - Is Crumble to Dust too slow and/or too hard to reliably cast on curve with 20 lands?
    - Is tossing a Ghost Quarter in the side as a hedge against certain land-based strategies worth a slot?
    - Can we accommodate Field of Ruin in the maindeck? I play a lot of UW Control, and Field is sometimes the best card in the entire 75. We’re only two colors, and we play plenty of basics, which seems to be a shell that Field slots well into (UWC, GB midrange etc). Still, including a pair or so of Fields would probably mean losing utility lands like Kher Keep and Westvale Abbey, which have been great in my games so far. Speaking of which:

    Results after switching to the Human tribal subtheme have been even better than before. T1 Champion really changes the dynamic of the deck. The full playset of Thraben Inspector has been fantastic as well. It replaces itself, goes wide, provides another EtB trigger for all of our nonsense, and cuts down opposing Myr tokens like nobody’s businesses, all for W. I’d encourage people who haven’t tried her out yet to do so.
    Posted in: Deck Creation (Modern)
  • posted a message on RW Norin
    Quote from agua_benta »
    @SavageGaulAlso, human tribal theme allow us to avoid counterspells in certain creatures under cavern of souls' protection. 1 Blood Moon Main deck and +1 in the sideboard. Is it really better than any other card?
    I tried Rabblemaster and didn't worth it back then. MWM I didn't think about it. But I did think about Squadron Hawk!


    Yep, Hawk has always got to be at least in the maybeboard, I’d say. As for Moon, I’m not sure. It hasn’t really impressed me so far, which is strange, because it feels so well-positioned in the format as a whole. Maybe we just can’t afford slots for cards that fail to advance our Plan A as much as other decks can. But how do we handle Tron decks otherwise? Crumble to Dust?

    @binmaa10, Traveler is a good call. May well be worth testing! To be clear, my questions about the Goblins pertained to the idea of them in the Norin Sisters shell as a whole, not alongside the Human subtheme.
    Posted in: Deck Creation (Modern)
  • posted a message on RW Norin
    So I was able to get a bunch of proxied games in this weekend. I ran this deck:



    Results were great considering it was my first time piloting the deck (and also considering the issues I had with the build, which I’ll expand upon later). These were the numbers:

    7-3 vs UW Control (no sideboarding)
    4-1 vs Vengevine
    4-0 vs Skred Red
    2-3 vs Mono-U Merfolk
    2-3 vs Bant Knightfall

    The UW Control matches had me wanting to play a 4th Tremors (as a commenter upthread noted, resolving a T2 Tremors provides a ton of inevitability in such a matchup), but against the faster, more creature-based decks, I quickly realized that Tremors isn’t usually the T2 play we’re looking for. That said, I still like the card a lot, and am happy with the “safe” option of 3 Tremors and 1 Purphoros in my updated version of the deck (below), at least for now, with an eye toward trying out a 2/2 split later.

    My biggest issue across the above games was simply not finding enough creatures. Most of my losses (or slow, stumbling wins which would have been losses if my opponent had drawn well early on) were due to having all the right pieces down but not enough creatures to cast. With my above list, having a Norin looping endlessly feels nearly unstoppable, while a progression without Norin is distinctly lacking.

    Norin is the namesake card, of course, so that’s to be expected to some degree, but the most significant conclusion from those games remains that the above list is too light on creatures. The first change I made toward a higher creature count was to add more Thraben Inspectors—they have been consistent overperformers. From there, the creatures with Human tribal synergies became too appealing to ignore:

    -2 Boros Charm
    -1 Spirit Bonds
    -1 Blood Moon
    -1 Purphoros
    -1 Impact Tremors
    -1 Soul Warden
    -2 Smuggler’s Copter
    -1 Path to Exile

    +4 Thraben Inspector
    +4 Champion of the Parish
    +2 Thalia’s Lieutenant

    I’ll be testing those changes soon. Champion of the Parish seems guaranteed to thrive in this setup. Lieutenant I’m less sure of, with his anthem effect more hit-or-miss than it is in most Human builds, but even as Champion 5+6 he may prove valuable, much like Berserker is nice as Norin 5+6. 4 Thraben Inspector has the potential to be a little clunky on land-light progressions, but I think the draws are necessary with Copter relegated to the maybeboard for the moment.

    Any thoughts on these changes? It may be a while before I can test again, so discussion would be welcome.

    One last thought: for the non-Human builds, have people tried cards like Mogg War Marshal or Goblin Rabblemaster? This is a definite stretch, but is a Goblin sub-theme worth exploring as a fun alternative? Legion Loyalist is still a hell of a card.
    Posted in: Deck Creation (Modern)
  • posted a message on RW Norin
    Quote from binmaa10 »
    Even though this probably did not help wiht your deck. This post was something I wanted to write for a long time in order to share the point of view I am having on this deck and I hope that I'll be able to start some discussion with it.


    On the contrary, this was quite a useful little writeup. Thanks for sharing. From my inexperienced perspective, the numbers and prioritization of your groupings looks right on.

    For now, I’ve settled on the 4th Attendant and a lone Inspector for my two undecided slots. I hope to get some proxied games in relatively soon.
    Posted in: Deck Creation (Modern)
  • posted a message on RW Norin
    Thanks, I appreciate the feedback.

    Let’s say I shave down to 4 such effects (1 Purphoros, 3 Tremors). My first thought is to add the 8th Soul Sister and the third Copter; my second thought is to try out a pair of Thraben Inspectors. Either way, I’m adding a little more emphasis to the draw/filter aspect of the deck, which does seem necessary.
    Posted in: Deck Creation (Modern)
  • posted a message on RW Norin
    Giving this thread its first post of 2018, as I’m thinking of tossing Norin Sisters together. The way I see it—and my perspective is very much not steeped in experience, so correct me if I’m wrong—this deck can be built three major ways: 1) Human tribal subtheme; 2) all in on EtB effects; 3) a happy medium between the two with something like Ajani’s Pridemate involved.

    With that in mind, I’m leaning toward going all in on the EtBs. Here’s the list I drew up:



    Any thoughts on this as a starting point? I love the Spirit Bonds tech mentioned upthread, but one is the most I’d want to see in most games, so I think it’s fine as a one-of. Same goes for Moon: if it catches someone, fine, and if not, there aren’t too many slots committed to it.

    I also love Thraben Inspector, but there just doesn’t seem to be room for a playset. Two could be squeezed in (perhaps for a Tremors and a Sister?), but that may be too cute for a jumping-off point in terms of getting reps in with the deck.
    Posted in: Deck Creation (Modern)
  • posted a message on UW Control
    Took UW for another spin yesterday at my LGS’s Modern store championship. I finally acquired a second Search for Azcanta, which came in for the second Jace. Other notable changes to my previous list were replacing a Wall with Runed Halo, and trying out a Remand (borderline blasphemous, but I’ve seen it in a few lists lately and always need to play a little spice) in place of my second Mana Leak.

    Round 1 vs RG Ponza: Opponent won the die roll and did this: T1 Arbor Elf, T2 Stone Rain, T3 Mwonvuli Acid-Moss, T4 Stone Rain and Magus of the Moon, T5 Thragtusk. I scooped without playing a single spell. G2 wasn’t much better; I kept a 5-land opener that was resilient to land destruction, but not to Blood Moon, and he had the T2 Moon. Oof. On T3 I found a second Plains off the top that allowed me to resolve a Gideon, but he flooded the board with big goons and I quickly lost. Casting one spell in two games as a UW Control player was not the most auspicious start I’ve ever had.

    Round 2 vs Heartless Mill: Opponent’s T1 Altar of the Brood gave me a vague idea that I was against some kind of infinite mill combo, although I’d never seen it played and wasn’t familiar with its mechanics. My answers lined up well: T3 D-Sphere for his Heartless Summoning, Cryptic for his Trinket Mage, T5 Gideon OTT into emblem, T6 Snap and Cryptic to start the beats. G2 played out like an entirely different matchup, with my Spreading Seas and Fields keeping him off black mana for quite some time. Once more, it was Gideon and Snapcaster that closed out the game, with an assist on the lethal turn from Colonnade.

    Round 3 vs Taking Turns: These games were wild. I tapped out for a T2 Search, which allowed him to resolve Thing in the Ice. We played chicken for a while, resolving cantrips, and at the crucial moment I cast Cryptic to bounce Thing and counter a free turn spell, with Negate mana still open. My opponent then topdecked Temporal Mastery and cast it for its Miracle cost. I countered, but then my shields were down and he cast another free turn spell and started going off, with a cantrip into Exhaustion into another few turns and a flipped Thing. Awoken Horror swung twice on an open board before he fizzled, and I was able to stabilize with Azcanta into Path and then Gideon OTT with counter backup. Yet again, Gideon got me there.

    Round 2 my opponent took a mull to 6, while I kept a strong 7. His start was a little halting, while I curved out nicely with T1 Serum, T2 Search, and T3 land and pass with Negate up in case of As Foretold or other shenanigans. My opponent missed his fourth land drop and passed, so I flashed in Clique on the end step, and saw a hand of Temporal Mastery, the six mana turn spell, and Gigadrowse. About to untap with a threat down and a Cryptic, a Negate, and a fourth land in my own hand, I felt confident in taking away the Gigadrowse, so I did...and off Clique’s ability he found another Mastery, which he cast for its Miracle cost and started going off. Had to laugh at that one. That sequence got him back into the game, but my progression was still too strong to handle. Clique and Snapcaster did the beating while I interacted with the stack and used Azcanta to stay ahead on resources.

    Round 4 vs Infect: I felt that the first couple turns were about as good as it gets against Infect on the draw: opponent has no T1 play, while I lay a Colonnade; then he plays a Blighted Agent, which I name with T2 Runed Halo. So far so good, but he kept drawing gas and I eventually ran out of answers. There was also an incident in which I let him correct a misplay (he responded to my Field activation on his Nexus by casting Blossoming Defense without activating the land first). Later in this same game, I had a Path up and ready for his Elf. He swung, and after mo blocks he cast a kicked Vines of Vastwood. I said “yeah...hmmm”, while still thinking about what else he might have in hand, and about five seconds later said “I’ll respond.” He claimed it was too late, the spell had already resolved, and called the judge, who ruled in his favor. In all honesty the ruling was acceptable in a vacuum—I should have been clearer—but in light of a fact that I’d let him take back a misplay a couple minutes earlier it was quite distasteful.

    Round 2 his three early threats were Glistener Elf and two Nexi, which I answered with Path and a pair of Fields. I Mana Leaked his fourth threat (Agent, I believe) and then slammed Gideon Jura, which closed out the game nice and quickly. Opponent muttered something about lucky draws. Round 3 I once more had an early Field for his Nexus and an early Path for his Elf. Some time in those early turns I found a Blessed Alliance off the top, and settled on a strategy of funneling him into attacking with a lone creature and dumping his hand for a one-shot kill. T5 I played a Wall and passed, then he untapped and laid down a Blighted Agent. I made a point of looking alarmed, checked my hand repeatedly, and at last let it resolve. Sure enough, next turn he tested the waters with a mainphase Might of Old Krosa. I let it resolve despite Cryptic in hand. He swung, and after no blocks were declared he dumped two more spells for what would have been lethal if not for the sack effect from Blessed Alliance, which was a nice blowout. He was pissed, and scooped to my next turn Gideon OTT.

    Normally I don’t indulge in any gamesmanship like that, but if I’m honest, this opponent was a bit of a prick. Refused the handshake and GG at the end, and then went whining to the judge about how I tried to slime him. Lmao, some people!

    Finished 3-1 in a four-way tie for second. The Ponza player who gave me the business in Round 1 ended up being the lone 4-0 and champion, so all in all I’ll call this another successful night with UW Control. The Second Search was great, Gideon OTT and Field of Ruin were my MVPs, and, in reference to all the discussion surrounding Mana Leak’s shortcomings, the card showed up huge for me last night, in situations where none of the alternatives would have bailed me out.
    Posted in: Tier 2 (Modern)
  • posted a message on UW Control
    Agree with all of what has been said about Azor so far. Either Flash or freeing his ability from timing restrictions would make him worth testing.

    Quote from jayjayhooks »
    How does Baffling End stack up against Journey to nowhere? I think 3/3 is definitely easier to handle than whatever creature you're going to hit is, but is the drawback of hitting <4cmc too high? I guess the real question is, does journey get destroyed often enough to worry about that kind of thing? Probably not right, I mean d-sphere rarely gets hit.


    The companion question to yours is this: how often will the ability to bounce and recast Baffling End come into play? Flickerwisp players may have perked up when this card was spoiled (the trampling 3/3 is a downside, but can be dealt with profitably by common D&T cards like Restoration Angel, Blade Splicer’s token, and Thalia, Heretic Cathar).

    For us, the prospect of bouncing and replaying Baffling End with Cryptic is definitely live. I personally don’t find myself doing so often with D-Sphere, but End will typically be a better target for that. Wall of Omens lines up perfectly against the 3/3 token, as does Gideon of the Trials assuming a board that’s otherwise under control. Baffling End may well be worth testing.
    Posted in: Tier 2 (Modern)
  • posted a message on UW Control


    Really putting the Sphinx in Sphinx’s Revelation!

    I can’t see it doing much for us since his ability can only be fired off during attacks, putting us shields down for the next turn and a half. At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, Rev is only playable because it’s an Instant.

    Still, I really want to somehow justify this dude.
    Posted in: Tier 2 (Modern)
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