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  • posted a message on Azorius Titan/Emeria Control
    Hello Fluff!

    That is kind, and I will wait on more data, but I think it will be quite important to change three things on the homepage as soon as possible in order to keep it relevant.

    1) Make the switch of Seal of Cleansing for Disenchant on my primer list. The synergies with Sun Titan, Detention Sphere, Mistveil Plains and the tapout plan are far too important for the minimal downside of its on-the-board representation during their turns. The mainphase sequencing is also a very nearly irrelevant concern, and as a board control shell Emeria benefits less than usual from hidden information. Consequently, the Enchantment is now my first choice for sideboard Artifact/Enchantment disruption (until the format dictates otherwise).

    2) Put a copy of Sanctum Prelate in over an Aven Mindcensor. It has offered interaction at an affordable rate in matchups that were formerly a "cross your fingers and hope" gameplan for me. In addition, for new players of the archetype it highlights the preferred style of solutions that Emeria, The Sky Ruin wants to focus on, and completely outclasses any countermagic-based plan against noncreature combo, in my estimation, at the cost of only a single slot (though more will surely follow). Finally, it has proved to be situationally backbreaking in the Blitz, Xerox (Phoenix), and Burn matchups, which is an enormously relevant subsection of the metagame right now. Ignoring this powerful new tool may prove frankly irresponsible in the long-term.


    3) Add Kaldra Compleat to the "Other Spells" list for Stoneforge Mystic builds (with a provisional 3/5 rating, in my opinion). The 7-mana drawback is real, but the power level is incredible, and offers a completely unique angle of attack only partly mimicked by Batterskull, whose dynamics are also extremely different. The baseline option of a 5/5 Haste Equipment threat cannot be ignored, and access to it can completely change the texture of games or matchups. Since some may wonder about it, it would be foolish not to bring it up on the homepage as well.


    Finally: I have tested (and played) against the mono-red Prowess deck more than the U/R versions, so I have to do some catch-up work when I can, but when real sessions get back up and running to re-calibrate strategy guides instead of try out new cards I hope that I will be able to get you a matchup guide with my updated list against the deck sometime next week.

    I hope you are having a good weekend,

    -Stéphane Gérard
    Posted in: Control
  • posted a message on Azorius Titan/Emeria Control
    Hello natesroom, good to hear!

    Fluff, thank you for the offer. I think that might be premature in some respects since I haven't formed a solid opinion on Kaldra Compleat yet, and though I would like to remove the 3 Aven Mindcensor for 2 Sanctum Prelate and a Prismatic Ending at present, the testing has not been sufficient to justify these exchanges across the board.

    That being said, my confidence that the Prelate will make the final 75 in some number is high enough that I would support swapping one Mindcensor for a copy so that people can begin to gauge the effectiveness of the 2/2 for themselves - without making the existing matchup guides obsolete. In a different issue, I am confident that the sideboard can immediately swap Seal of Cleansing in over Disenchant with significant upside in all relevant interactions where the write-ups are concerned.

    Moving back to the subject of Prismatic Ending, I realized last night that I needed to re-evaluate my position on the Triomes (specifically Raugrin Triome) with an eye towards increasing its strength and versatility. I remain unconvinced that physically cycling a land is something I would ever wish to do unless it were under extreme duress, but the idea of switching out one Hallowed Fountain for access to a third colour (which would then enable exiling permanents of 3 mana post-board) represents a very serious advantage at very low opportunity cost, similar to that which justified exchanging the fourth Plains-Island for the Mistveil Plains, and thereafter the third for a Prairie Stream. My hope is that at that point the marginal positive value that can be accrued from its Cycling, from Crucible of Worlds, or from Sun Titan will help compensate for always entering tapped.

    I do worry that it may be another case of Idyllic Grange, and Irrigated Farmland, which were both simply not worth the drawbacks given the marginal benefit they provided. On the positive side, however, red mana offers access to new actual lines of play without putting an uncastable spell in the deck in its absence, and in testing the other two lands I found that I very rarely sequence to take two damage from any nonbasic after the first access to blue mana is enabled, and often not at all if I draw a Flooded Strand. In sum, I am cautiously optimistic in this respect. Extracting maximum value from every Plains we put in play is still very much on-theme for the deck, so I will be testing that angle as well once I can guarantee the viability of the more important new cards in Prelate, Kaldra, and obviously Prismatic Ending.

    Incidentally, Chained to the Rocks could then become a vague possibility in the shell, though why this would be preferable over On Thin Ice is beyond me at the moment, and can probably safely be dismissed as an option. If multiple Raugrin Triome are included, Duergar Hedge-Mage also stands a remote chance of resolving some random compound issues for the deck, while things like Worldly Counsel, Unified Front or Exert Influence and (more relevantly) Engineered Explosives also gain a little more power should anyone choose to run them. The same is also true of Goblin Replica and Pyrite Spellbomb, but I hold less hope for any of these than the Explosives, and little enough even there unless recurring it for zero with Sun Titan becomes a relevant advantage.

    In order to be slightly more exhaustive, If an Indatha Triome were assumed as well, there could be a bizarro-world "Next Level White" build of the deck using Golos, Tireless Pilgrim with a very fragile manabase where things like Bringer of the White Dawn, Obelisk of Urd, [EDIT: sorry, that should read Obelisk of Alara] Kenrith, the Returned King, Chamber Sentry, the Mythoi from Ikoria, all of the hybrid Lorwyn Firespout and Ravnica Batwing Brume cards, the remainder of the Steamcore Weird cycle, and a host of off-colour cycling abilities from Shards of Alara would become available to the shell, not to mention Flashback and Unearth costs of all types - where Lingering Souls and things like Viscera Dragger come to mind. This is almost certainly going beyond the deep end of Modern viability, but if anyone was looking for a mad idea to go spend deckbuilding time on I wish them all the best. Magic can appeal to people in many ways, so maybe I should have mentioned the option back when the Triomes were first spoiled.

    I hope this has been helpful, and if testing backs up my intuition I promise to re-write any sideboarding guides as necessary, Fluff.

    -Stéphane Gérard
    Posted in: Control
  • posted a message on Azorius Titan/Emeria Control
    Hello Starstorm!

    If this reaches you in time, I really think you ought to try out maindecking your three Solitude by reducing your Wrath of God and Supreme Verdict count. I know that the sweepers are extraordinarily powerful in the shell, but your pressure is far more valuable so being able to contribute to it may prove far more important. If this is not the case, you should be able to tell pretty quickly, and the surprise value of the new card will only compensate for a power reduction in the short term so I would strike while the iron is hot. In either event, your experiences will let others know what the issues would be with such a strategy, and would be a valuable addition to this thread. (If you have particular matchups where sweepers are indispensable in the lategame, I would in other circumstances recommend you try something like Martial Coup or Realm-Cloaked Giant, but for today I would say the time is now to just keep as many threats as you can by replacing all your sweepers with the new Evoke mythic. A good rule of thumb in Magic generally is to test early, and test in numbers so that better opinions can be formed and applied as swiftly as possible.)

    The rest of this post will likely not be relevant to tonight, so if you are in a hurry please read it later when you have the time. In terms of 23 things to pitch, I agree that this is sufficient number to support the card, but my comment is a direct extrapolation from near-decades of playing with pitch spells in a variety of formats. They tend to have an issue with deciding which cards to get rid of, since the decision is made on casting and the results of their resolution can dramatically alter whether the right decision was made. The upshot is that the more options for fodder a deck has in the absolute deckbuilding sense, the better the pitch spells become. I will accept pitching my game-breaking Ancestral Recall against a control deck to Force of Will if that is what it takes to avoid losing the game on turn one when playing a list that has just barely enough blue chaff to "support" the latter card, but the more pieces of cardboard I can put in my deck that can take the load off my premium cards in any given matchup, the less often I have to make these kinds of plays. The issue is far less obvious, but just as real in Modern. If I Mulligan, or if I have a draw which relied on a Stoneforge Mystic or a Wall of Omens to smooth out my curve, I will more often have to pitch a Sun Titan which might have won me the game if I need to Solitude early, given my relatively high count of colourless cards, lands, and Court Hussar. My point is simply that mono-white would have to do so less often.

    Next, on infinite lifegain and the Heliod/Ballista combo, the reason why I think my advice will not be viable for you is that my stance in the matchup is radically different due to the presence of Mistveil Plains in my list. Your deck has a 2/3/2+2 curve that cannot afford more "Enters the Battlefield Tapped" lands than you are currently playing (which is one reason why I think my list has some advantages in the abstract - I get to comfortably play as if I have up to 7 taplands and take less damage from my manabase as a result. As I have mentioned elsewhere, Emeria, the Sky Ruin has much more of a cost in decks where its primary drawback has fewer sequencing options that will disrupt the curve, as is the case when pressure is your primary win condition. Attrition therefore suits the card far better as a strategy whenever possible). In any event, I try to actively encourage my opponents to combo for infinite life, since that will then expose them to removal and sweepers for value and/or tempo plays, and decking doesn't care about how much life they have when their total amount of mana is capped at around 30 mana's worth of plays before Path to Exile and Ghost Quarter start to intentionally run them out of basics. Your Ashiok and Gideon are reasonable options for decking as well, but the problem with them is that they take up a spell slot that can be interacted with far more easily, and sometimes cost you games by not beating their combos.

    Finally, I have not yet tested against Burn with the new Equipment package, and since I had favourable impressions of a sideboarded Shadowspear in the past I may revert to a copy for precisely the reasons you mentioned given the loss of one Batterskull. I have noticed that the number of 1-toughness creatures has dramatically reduced as a response to the presence of Gut Shot and Lava Dart, though, so perhaps I will have to consider dropping down to 2 Mortarpod in the near future. I would then have to decide whether the maindeck Shadowspear would be better than the second Batterskull, because given the drawback of Kaldra Compleat being a seven-mana play I have been slightly concerned about my curve these past few days - even despite its indestructibility. The point may be moot, however, because upon reflection Sanctum Prelate has far too high an upside and too broad an application to ignore, which affects the Burn and Prowess matchups directly and significantly. My complete 75 with current recommended sideboard, therefore, is as follows as of Modern Horizons 2:



    Should the 1-mana equipment make it into the sideboard, it will probably at this point be in favour of the Blessed Alliance, because it covers the same primary targets of Bogles and Burn, with applications against Infect, while being approximately as cheap and offering interaction for two important keywords (Hexproof and Indestructible). As a tiny bonus, it also allows Germs to attack for 1, and makes an extra 1/1 if Batterskull and sufficient mana are available. I will likely be testing the list as-is with these things in mind until paper tournaments open up.

    Hoping this finds you all well, and good luck!

    -Stéphane Gérard
    Posted in: Control
  • posted a message on Azorius Titan/Emeria Control
    Hello Starstorm!

    You made two very good points I want to address: first Solitude vs Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. This is an interaction that had completely escaped my attention, and affects my rating by a few percentage points. I still think that the guaranteed 2-for-1 negative exchange rate is too costly for an effect which will remain otherwise unavailable until turn 5 at minimum in my card economy-conscious build, but if there was a specific problem that threatened extremely early lethal attacks more often I would now be certain of it as a justifiable inclusion maindeck. For builds without Stoneforge Mystic filling the 5-drop slot with access to Batterskull as a bridge, this is almost assuredly better in the abstract than Gideon Jura, Cavalier of Dawn, and Geist-Honored Monk (with a far higher base power level, barring other synergies). It may ultimately find its best home in mono-white in any event, which will have far better options on a consistent basis as to what to pitch to it, much like the advantage Legacy Merfolk enjoys when casting Force of Will and Force of Negation. In your build, the Flash body is already a resource of interest, and I wonder whether you might consider removing your sweepers for it instead of your Path/Gideon/Teferi? You might at this point have reached critical mass for spot removal to move the sweepers to the sideboard, making you better against control, and using Equipment, Pressure, trading in combat, Evoke, and the Hussar trick with Teferi, Time Raveler to make your Emeria, the Sky Ruin trigger.

    (As an extensive aside on that issue, with significantly more aggressive creatures in your deck, you will need to enable far fewer Emeria activations to win the game, which is actually the reason I have built my deck the way it is by focusing on the aggro matchups. This has bearing on your possible confusion when you were discussing how you felt against Burn compared to Blitz. Feel free to tell me if I am wrong, but based on your list the effective "window" for winning the most games occurs during turns 6-12 for you, and decreases in comparison to mine every turn after that. Mine almost literally cannot win games before turn 7, which assumes that a Stoneforge Mystic was sent immediately to fetch Kaldra Compleat and survived to put it into play. Since this is not a bet I am comfortable making, my "window" begins on turn 8, and my chances of winning increase relative to every other deck in the format afterwards, which can hypothetically extend outward indefinitely if necessary. This is a double-edged sword when it comes to the kinds of plays you and I have incentive to make, where yours can look to stabilize or contain an issue for two to four turns - consider Elite Spellbinder and Skyclave Apparition for instance - while mine wants to assume permanent containment of an issue with minimal risk and maximal 1-for-1 guarantees whenever possible otherwise. This means that even though I am generally not as threatened by a typical Prowess turn as you are, I nearly always need to deal with three or even four waves of their explosive turns, where you cut off at least one and more likely two of these waves by threatening lethal well before I do. The inverse is my most likely culprit for the discrepancy in our Burn dynamic, where if I can achieve stability with a Lone Missionary or a Blessed Alliance to drag things out at 2-for-1 rate, the game becomes a quick concession. At an average maximum rate of 2 damage per turn after turn 7, I only have to show them a Batterskull when their hand is empty, and their next draw step must provide lethal lest the Germ coming back every turn spell a soft-lock they have no burst card advantage to dig out of. Of the two Burn is, in truth, the more difficult of the two decks due to the capacity you mention of purely pointing seven Lightning Bolt at a life total, but their resilience is far, far lower than Prowess, and in practice they are mathematically guaranteed to draw a string of useless Creatures or Lands at some point. My job in the matchup is therefore extremely easy: survive until the math wins. With Prowess, the shoe is on the other foot. I have to assume that I must be able to deal with every single corner case, on any given turn. A single 2-for-1 is essentially never enough to pull me into or keep me in the lead. The difference lies in the type of losses that we can each accept. When I lose a game to Burn, they had it all and there was nothing I could do. When I lose to Prowess after turn 3, I know that I had the game in hand somewhere along the line and fumbled an excellent matchup.)

    As for your second critical point, I actually cannot think of why Sanctum Prelate slipped my mind, other than perhaps the fact that I had it filed under "Legacy and Vintage playable only" for so long. This was a massive oversight, and I thank you for bringing it up. It actually competes with Kaldra Compleat for number one most impactful new card in the base-white board control archetype, covering a huge number of unfair cards and forcing interaction for may other fair ones. I will now have to think it over, but it may in fact pull far more weight than my two sideboard Containment Priest at the moment. It is a touch expensive for the sideboard at three mana, and the downside of shutting off Wrath of God against Collected Company decks is real, but I strongly suspect that its combination of high-power and high-flexibility on a recursion-ready body likely more than compensate for these issues by interacting with massive headaches such as Bring to Light, Scapeshift, Ad Nauseam, Gifts Ungiven, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, and even Karn Liberated.

    Returning to the format in general at the moment, I believe that even with his excellent Protection body Sanctifier En-Vec is currently poorly positioned against the current graveyard threats, as is (unfortunately) Containment Priest, though I will point out that my Mortarpod-heavy build makes the latter's anti-synergies very rare indeed. I also like that you mentioned public enemy number one in Living End, where Curator of Mysteries, Striped Riverwinder, and Windcaller Aven make a bit of a mockery of the colour restrictions of the first while the wording of Living Death would laugh at even an infinite series of flash 2/2 Human Clerics. The preferred interaction in this instance remains Remorseful Cleric in my opinion, whose evasive body you might appreciate more with your Equipment. I have found that two in play is the magic number that generally guarantees a game win (so that they cannot cycle more creatures as they hold priority after they force one to activate by putting their global reanimation on the stack) but finding even one begins a game-changing dynamic by crippling their first swarm of monsters while returning itself to play for free after the resolution of a Battlefield/Graveyard swap.

    Next up, Seal of Cleansing has been great for me, and I would mention that it (and Aura of Silence) can combine with your sideboard Shadowspear to deal with Heliod, Sun-Crowned. I have not yet considered whether that will be viable with your current sideboard plan in the matchup, but it is worth the time to say it if you haven't had the chance to evaluate the interaction yet. The two enchantments also work very well with tapout sequencing in that they protect you from early Walking Ballista combo attempts while you set up stabilizing plays and/or find equipment to interact, for whatever that is worth to you. I have found anecdotally that the Aura is particularly irritating for them, typically making their damage combo prohibitively expensive until after their manabase comes under threat from Emeria/Titan recursion of Ghost Quarter effects, but you are far more susceptible to infinite lifegain, so perhaps the threat is too great from Spike Feeder in your case.

    On the Skyclave Apparition/Detention Sphere debate, besides the cost restriction and the chances of card advantage - which I do think are mildly relevant considerations - there are two major points of difference. First that putting an Illusion in play with a sweeper is a much more frequent danger for my list, and second that I weigh the fragility of a creature much more strenuously than that of an enchantment in attrition-based control. The "nontoken" clause is also very unfortunate on the 2/2 at times, but I agree that the creature's permanent exile effect is stronger and that your deck makes use of the body much better. Your version has more 2-drops and more board presence with fewer sweepers, so this also means that Prismatic Ending should more be a supplement to your exile suite (essentially, you specifically may have less need of the "cheapness" factor that was so impressive to me, particularly now that you are also running Solitude. If this is true, perhaps you could test a singleton Deputy of Detention to see if its trigger is more worthwhile?

    Let me know how it all works out for you, and good luck in your next tournament!

    Hoping this finds you well,

    -Stéphane Gérard
    Posted in: Control
  • posted a message on Azorius Titan/Emeria Control
    For the record;

    Though I would currently assume Starstorm's tempo/disruption and clock are more relevant, my recommended list for those who wish to maximise the grind which Emeria inherently rewards, below is my current (workshopped and minimally-tested) build. The full 75 should now be the following as of the release of Modern Masters 2:



    As of this moment, I have more or less completely conceded land-based strategies in the sideboard, with my maindeck Field of Ruin and Ghost Quarter effects backed up by Sun Titan and Crucible of Worlds taking the brunt of the charge on that front. Ultimately, without Zur's Weirding it was clear that Aven Mindcensor was insufficiently consistent unless more sideboard space was devoted to support him, and I have thus returned to the old standby of "maindeck or bust" in ramp matchups. The banning of Field of the Dead was a very large part of this decision, as things have calmed down significantly in those matchups since its departure.

    -Stéphane Gérard

    P.S. : One final word is in favour of the Sanctifier, whose Protection abilities and exile clause from the Library are powerful enough that I will bump him up in priority for testing.
    Posted in: Control
  • posted a message on Azorius Titan/Emeria Control
    Hello to you as well, Starstorm!

    First, congratulations on the FNM results (both the fact that you got to play them, and the combined 7-2 record). Well done !

    Next, I am very glad to be of service, and very much hope the thread will pick up again. In these uncertain times the unsettled environment goes some way towards incentivising your aggressive variant by providing free wins when untested strategies stumble, and so I expect my recommended builds will (or should) take a back seat until the ability to tune for a specific metagame begins to reward the inevitability strategy once more.

    Thank you as well for your takes on cards, specifically Elite Spellbinder and Skyclave Apparition. Stress-testing significant numbers of these was something I was not certain I would be able to justify, and your maindeck inclusion of them for real events will give a much better impression than playtesting ever could.

    In terms of responding to specific suggestions, please do not feel obligated to cover everything I mention, I simply wanted to provide a jumping-off point for anyone questioning whether these are initially viable, and a forum for anyone with actual games with them to weigh in on. If you haven't played with a card, just ignore it and others will either defend or dismiss it based on their experiences.

    Speaking of real experiences, I was able to invite a few friends over for a testing session, which gives a little more context for some Modern Horizons 2 cards. First, I will have to disagree with your evaluation of Kaldra Compleat, as it can absolutely replace Batterskull in some versions. I value lifegain and my curve highly enough in my build that I have made a 1/1 split of them at the moment, where before I had been very happy with 2 copies of the New Phyrexia Living Weapon, but the indestructible exiling First Strike and Trample combination particularly excels as a one-man wrecking crew against non-white midrange or a fantastically high-impact clock versus control or combo - pressuring Planeswalkers immediately and being extraordinarily difficult to remove barring exile effects. Some builds may definitely want access to it as an equipment more than any other enhancement.

    In a different dynamic, Out of Time and Prismatic Ending (the first maindecked and the second as a singleton out of the sideboard) were exceedingly potent as delaying tactics versus Red Prowess. Despite its disadvantages (which have convinced me to reduce its numbers again, particularly given the awkward Phasing and Living Weapon interaction) the enchantment coming down on turn three was incredibly relevant, being the difference between staying alive to stabilise on the draw against two or three Prowess creatures or dying with an uncast Supreme Verdict in hand. The fact that it is killable is actually a bonus in may situations, as the Seal of Cleansing effects can then be used to interact with the board during the opponent's attack step by providing blockers at instant-speed. All in all, however, it was not ultimately enough for me to include the card, but I could see a world where Modern was aggressive enough that I would want the effect more than the Doomskar that offers the only other such option on 3 mana.

    Prismatic Ending, on the other hand, is rock solid and has impressed me quite a bit. A one-mana option which is essentially a Sorcery-speed Isolate with Kicker equal to your number of total colours played is a real boon, and it can even hit the zero CMC nonland permanents that the instant irritatingly never could. With Teferi, Time Raveler in the deck already, its coverage was almost identical at baseline, and could exile Dark Confidant and Scavenging Ooze with equal ease early in the game (something which I stress would be a liability to do with either Path to Exile or Skyclave Apparition, and a frequent impossibility with the latter on the draw at 3 mana). The fact that I could also lower my curve against Bomat Courier, Champion of the Parish, Glistener Elf, Death's Shadow, Monastery Swiftspear, or Birds of Paradise while covering my bases against Aether Vial, Amulet of Vigor, and Hardened Scales, plus scaling up (even minimally) to Stoneforge Mystic, Meddling Mage, Tarmogoyf, Scourge of the Skyclaves, or even such curve-balls as Pyromancer Ascension, Bitterblossom, Suppression Field, Torpor Orb, and much more, all of this combined to a highly favourable first impression. As of now, the spell has earned a permanent place in my expanded sideboard rotation, and may ultimately prove to be one of the more impactful inclusions there in slower gameplans. Though I was never much bothered by the cards, it is also worth mentioning that Chalice of the Void set to any number at all becomes a near complete non-issue whenever Prismatic Ending is available, and it even provides a very cute theoretical extra answer to Blood Moon in my strictly two-colour shell.

    The sideboard cards are far more nebulous to me still, though I am currently running 3-2 split of Remorseful Cleric with a pair of Containment Priest as interaction for Collected Company, Neoform, and Through the Breach where none was available before, but this package may soon include a singleton Sanctifier En-Vec somewhere if Dredge picks up in popularity. Archon of Emeria is also a clear contender for similarly splitting up Ethersworn Canonist, Eidolon of Rhetoric, and Damping Sphere to diversify against Storm-like strategies when that package is necessary, though dying to Lightning Bolt where the Eidolon does not is a real blow.

    Last up in the options I have seriously considered for updating my build are the two blue cantrip enchantments at CMC 2, Confounding Conundrum and Dress Down. Both of them critically provide their effects at card parity, and so have warranted further inquiries even with their less-than-ideal blue casting cost early. The first was a very promising layer of protection against Titan decks, where blunting their acceleration by any means possible granted extra draw steps and pulled the games back into reach. The second I have no experience at all with, but will remember as a card advantage play that can be accrued for free on the attack step or on ETB by Sun Titan. I have no idea yet what deck the effect might be best against, but even if only by removing Haste and the protection ability from a Reality Smasher or the first trigger of Thought-Knot Seer the card will surely have applications at the very least versus Eldrazi Tron.

    These nine cards are the ones I considered to be true contenders for my more grindy gameplan, and the ones I have actually put effort towards evaluating since my last posted decklist here. Skyclave Apparition and Elite Spellbinder may also sometimes feature in particular metagames for me, but have drawbacks on the order of Out Of Time which will require contextual justification or a clear transformative strategy in my opinion. In order of playability, then, I believe as of now that the eight remaining spells are therefore ranked:

    1-Kaldra Compleat (Immediate auto-include due to power level alone, pending verification over the next month.)
    2-Prismatic Ending (Immediate sideboard contender due to versatility and cost, possibly in numbers or even maindeckable in extremis.)
    3-Containment Priest (Immediate sideboard contender on versatility and coverage of high-intensity threats, depending on format texture.)
    4-Blossoming Calm (Medium power-level, low-versatility targeted effect interaction and lifegain, boosted by premium flexibility and cost.)
    5-Dress Down (Medium power-level, high versatility creature interaction, including applications versus some combo and inherent synergy.)
    6-Sanctifier En-Vec (High power-level, lower-versatility creature-based graveyard hate sideboard contender, depending on format.)
    7-Confounding Conundrum (Medium power-level and low versatility permanent-based interaction for multiple land per turn ramp, corner-case applications elsewhere and synergy with Ghost Quarter, Field of Ruin, Path to Exile, Winds of Abandon and Settle the Wreckage.)
    8-Archon of Emeria (Medium power-level, high-versatility evasive creature-based additional option with curve-disrupting upside, high cost for effect.)

    Skyclave likely falls between number 2 and number 3 on that list, and Spellbinder between number 3 and number 6. The rest of the cards I mentioned were simply to note the possibilities now available to alternative builds. More blue-heavy curves using Realmwright and attempting to support Glint-Nest Crane or Arcanist's Owl are likely more interested in the existence of Chrome Courier, for instance. I should also clarify that Solitude seems sadly to be too much card disadvantage for my tastes, though it is obviously a very strong combination with Ephemerate (which is true of the entire cycle, in truth). The same trick with Grief is another reason why I am certain paper tournaments may be extremely volatile for some time yet, as there will need to be some major adjustments to its presence if it can be made viable, regardless of the fact that land-based attrition is at a marked advantage versus its specific form of interaction.

    Hoping this finds you all well, and let me know if you disagree with any specifics!

    -Stéphane Gérard

    P.S. : As an edit, I should mention that Seal of Cleansing has now officially replaced Disenchant for me as well, which I had previously attempted to do illegally when the card was printed in Eternal Masters.
    Posted in: Control
  • posted a message on Azorius Titan/Emeria Control
    Hello Starstorm and Fluff, welcome Plichow!

    I am very glad to see that things have started to pick up again here, I was saddened when so many jumped ship to a different platform as I felt that this site's value as an archive was always an important feature that other forums lacked. Checking up on what felt like a ghost town was getting depressing, but I think now that there is more activity as the pandemic winds down I must thank Fluff for keeping the thread alive!

    Modern's landscape has changed quite a bit during that time, and I have a few cards that I tested with and/or theorycrafted as potential alternatives for Emeria Control, but a word to the wise would be to wait until things settle down into a steady metagame once more - I have no idea whether Emeria is even viable at the moment, since its preferred prey (Midrange) could well be pushed out of the format entirely by the new power level of Modern Masters 2. In any event, the following paragraphs are intended as a kickoff point for discussion of any developments which occurred during the shutdown, in preparation for tuning and updating lists to the paper environment that may soon to be re-opened.

    Progressing forward from Ikoria, then, where the last word was that the Yorion, Sky Nomad builds sacrificed a good deal for the unquestioned benefits of a synergistic companion, I will begin my recap by stating that Zendikar Rising offered mostly supplemental sideboard options in the thematic Archon of Emeria, in the non-Lukka half of Mila, Crafty Companion and in the extremely intriguing Confounding Conundrum as a splash-colour piece of ramp/fetchland interaction. The real meat of the set (unless a rogue build can count Lithoform Engine as a viable effect which might mimic Panharmonicon in certain ways) is found in Skyclave Apparition. My personal preferences aside, the card is very, very strong, and may warp deckbuilding accordingly. I currently have it as a unique sideboard option to combat Heliod/Ballista, but mileage may vary (as evidenced by Starstorm's blink-happy variant above - how is it working for you so far ?).

    Next, in Core Set 2021, a very interesting alternative to Remorseful Cleric is now available in Containment Priest, whose anti-synergies with our own Emerias and Titans may be mitigated by its strength and versatility as a surprise play, and could also be sacrificed or otherwise removed once sufficient value has been accrued from the body. Speaking of Flash plays, Niambi, Esteemed Speaker is a variant on Whitemane Lion that some blue-heavy builds may entertain. The last significant card, for my money, is found in Angelic Ascension as an alternative extra piece of immediate hard removal for resilient creatures or planeswalkers - albeit one with a hefty drawback.

    Kaldheim offered more or less a similar range of cards to our palette, though in light of recent developments Halvar, God of Battle and his associated Sword of the Realms may be of minimal consideration for more Equipment-themed builds in the future. Similarly being affected by new cards is my evaluation of Doomskar as a possible turn-3 play, which would now require far more to justify its inclusion. Another marginal effect from the set (though one covering a much broader swath of corner cases) is found in Reidane, God of the Worthy and her back half of Valkmira, Protector's Shield. In strange Snow builds, there is a far more substantial addition than these in Search For Glory to enable some kinds of toolboxes, where The Raven's Warning or Niko Defies Destiny might possibly be justifiable (these last being underwhelming otherwise). Speaking of Niko Aris, though the double-blue cost excludes it from viability in my eyes, others may find its ability to scale well a valuable asset in longer games, on a conveniently 3-CMC permanent.

    In Strixhaven, the Learn mechanic notably gave an ETB looting effect to white on the 2-drop Professor of Symbology, which may be enough on its own as a curve pseudo-analogue to Wall of Omens to open up a variant of the Yorion builds, giving maindeck filtering for Wraths in matchups where these are dead, and incidentally providing access to "card advantage" in the form of Environmental Sciences, Introduction to Prophecy, Expanded Anatomy, Introduction to Annihilation, Mascot Exhibition, Academic Probation, Reduce to Memory, and the lessons of all other colours as well for those lists running Triomes to freeroll. The mechanic bears one small additional notable bonus, since the Yorion builds I tested had difficulty reliably seeing their sideboard cards, the power of the Professor might incentivize Sparring Regimen and possibly even Divide by Zero or Rise of Extus as extra ways to mitigate this effect by gaining reliable access to "pre-boarding" through a critical mass of Learn cards. Study Break is likely too narrow, however, and Guiding Voice would be a real leap to me.

    Moving on in the same set, Divine Gambit is a risky though cheap piece of spell-based exile for a range of permanents, and on that note I was much more interested in the flexibility provided by Devastating Mastery. Both, however, proved unreliable to me in the absence of other support. These were at their best in Mono-white builds, though, which brings me to a the consistent small-time value of Pilgrim of the Ages, which was probably good enough to supplement Pilgrim's Eye in that specific configuration. That spirit, however, was much less of a new effect for the shell than another in Strict Proctor, whose power will sadly not fit ideally in attrition decks. His inclusion is for that reason discretionary as a sideboard choice, where a Death and Taxes-style pivot may be viable to some. In that vein, Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa's invitational card of Elite Spellbinder is a near-revolutionary new effect in White's colour identity, and may in fact be what the Flickerwisp versions are in the market for. In other builds, his value and pressure are less reliable, and yet he remains available should the need arise.

    Finally, the largest shake-up has come from the Modern Horizons 2 set, and its upcoming roll-out will permit the testing of four categories of cards. First, the chaff and the jank: Ethersworn Sphinx, Serra's Emissary, Late to Dinner, Search the Premises, Subtlety, Solitary Confinement, Nettlecyst, Barbed Spike, Soul Snare, and Blacksmith's Skill. The previous list ranges from the thought-provoking to the outright hilarious, and may have very little use long-term.

    Second, the sideboard fodder. Void Mirror for cost-cheating, Cursed Totem against a wide variety of creatures, Sanctifier En-Vec and Tormod's Cryptkeeper against graveyards, Seal of Cleansing against Artifacts and Enchantments, Seal of Removal against creatures and as a value play, Blossoming Calm against Burn, Storm, and Discard, Dress Down against all manner of synergies - the whole gamut is legitimately now up for grabs. Incidentally, I will also note that the utility of Lose Focus may offer a very interesting new tool in stack wars, which may become more prevalent in the wake of a timeless classic's return: Counterspell. It is this card's reprinting which more than anything else influences my doubt as to Emeria's position going forward.

    Third, the build-arounds are led by Abiding Grace as a soft-lock with Kami of False Hope, which I will note also plays passably well with things like Hope of Ghirapur, Burrenton Forge-Tender, Heap Doll, Judge's Familiar and even Esper Sentinel. I will take the time to observe for the record (in a carefully neutral tone) that anyone who has played with Proclamation of Rebirth in the past will likely have fond memories of the game-warping effects available to Martyr of Sands recursion. Back to Emeria, however, other potential avenues are also now available in Karmic Guide and Chrome Courier, with each offering a sort of incentive for debatable costs.

    Fourth and most importantly, however, are the direct competition for maindeck slots, beginning with Kaldra Compleat (as already mentioned by Fluff and Starstorm). The fifth point of power and the ability Haste make the card an absolutely unparalleled clock for any Stoneforge Mystic archetype, and I have (regretfully) already put one of my two Batterskull on the chopping block in anticipation of its presence. The keyword potpourri it also features is (once sufficient thought is devoted to it) also not at all bad at stabilizing the board, and I will be very surprised if the combination of these two factors does not earn it a permanent place in my maindeck. Others, who do not share my aversion to tempo removal plays from the opposition, will possibly find Sword of Hearth and Home to be an asset, which may well be a very good one in Solitude-centric variants fuelled by Squadron Hawk. Timeless Dragon represents yet another Mono-White option which can fetch nonbasic plains in splash builds, and adds incrementally to the count of Dragons required to make Orator of Ojutai a possible contender someday. Prismatic Ending is a surprisingly effective and cheap answer to everything from Hangarback Walker to Wrenn and Six, and three-colour versions of Emeria may find it to be a much better singleton than the Oblivion Ring that sometimes makes appearances there. Finally, the shockingly powerful Out of Time is a very real supplement or even alternative to Wraths, critically coming down a turn earlier, and synergizing very oddly indeed with Sun Titan. In combination with this last and with Detention Sphere and Aura of Silence or Seal of Cleansing, the effect becomes both abusable at instant-speed, and possibly even repeatable ad infinitum.

    I think this covers the cards I have dealt with directly, as well as those which I felt had potential applications in the base W/u Emeria shell.

    Please feel free to tell me of anything else I overlooked during the period mentioned, and I hope we may have events to anticipate soon!

    -Stéphane Gérard


    Posted in: Control
  • posted a message on Seasons Past Pioneer
    Hello to anyone still alive on this thread ;

    I have recently built an independent version of this deck to bring out to a weekly paper tournament. Here in Saskatchewan we have been fairly lucky in that the pandemic never got too severe (more due to lower population density than anything else, I would guess), and some local stores are cautiously returning to in-person events on a limited scale.

    In any event, my experience with the format is negligible (two actual FNMs from quite a while ago, plus casual exposure from assorted online articles), so if anyone had suggestions on the following list I would be grateful. My take is based on three major philosophies: 1) - remaining completely spell-based to blank removal, and to minimize nightmare scenarios where Spell Mastery becomes awkward to achieve through pressure, 2) - deliberately optimizing mana and cost requirements with painless untapped sources wherever possible (and specifically remaining base-black until the lategame by avoiding GG costs before 6 CMC), 3) - maximizing the Vintage-restricted mode of Dark Petition as much as possible due to points #1 and #2, largely by selecting the 3-drops to synergize best with it and by gaining access to the sideboard with Mastermind's Acquisition.

    Here is my list at the moment, then:



    The sideboard would then be the following :



    The first two are a split that is essentially forced by the relative strength of the maindeck against creatures. The next two are interaction with non-creature, non-planeswalker permanents. After these Golgari Charm has always impressed me in contol decks across multiple formats, and The Elderspell is the type of card that is sometimes necessary against Superfriends strategies. Next up are five spells that can be cast off of a Dark Ritual effect, beginning with two different answers to Uro or Omnath, with different strengths and weaknesses against various combo decks. Two situational sweepers follow these to supplement the maindeck Reckoning, the first excellent against Mono-Black Aggro and the second much better against Spirits. Finally, I am hoping the Ashiok will be a good answer to the "Oops - All Spells" deck running around. Moving up the curve, I included one more alternative exile-based sweeper to supplement the relatively thin four-drops of the maindeck, and the same logic aplies to the only "early" GG spell which acts as a versatile piece of interaction that can be prioritized in post-board mana development while providing a serious threat to opposing control manabases. The extra copy of the deck's namesake spell is in the sideboard to play around Niv to Light's maindeck Slaughter Games in combination with Acquisition, and last but not least Ugin's global reset button with upside needs little explanation.

    Testing so far has made me very happy with the cycling spells in particular, in addition to the variety of options present on average for the first big refill, mostly rendered possible with value-added Escalation of Collective Brutality. A couple of points of concern are whether more significant lifegain is required (Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet has always been the default here), and whether an alternative win condition is necessary for the maindeck (Ob Nixilis Reignited might be the only viable option given my preferences, though the weak board presence of Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage could possibly fit extremely well with the endgame I am trying to set up).

    There is only so much that goldfishing a dynamic control deck can do, though, and I generally anticipate losing badly for the first few weeks until I get a handle on the major points of interaction for the format. On the other hand the shell is very strong in the abstract, and the decision trees will certainly be engaging enough that I am committing to it for the next month or so.

    I welcome any thoughts on these matters, or indeed any related issues!

    -Stéphane Gérard
    Posted in: Pioneer
  • posted a message on Azorius Titan/Emeria Control
    Hello again, Titan.

    One other possibility would be to test this version of the deck, which I abandoned when testing revealed The Birth of Meletis to be a bit too unreliable:



    This version replaces Wraths in the four-drop slot with Solemn Simulacrum, which curved extremely well into six-drops (hence the extra copies of Hour of Revelation and the overload-kicker on Winds of Abandon). It also replaced the synergy of Mortarpod, Batterskull, and Stoneforge Mystic with Thraben Inspector, Generous Gift, and more Cavalier of Dawn. The result gives more assorted card advantage overall, but with a few interesting trade-offs.

    The sideboard made for the best use I have yet seen of Ranger-captain of Eos, which is much better when finding silver bullets in specific matchups, and took advantage of the mono-white manabase a little better as well. Mistveil Plains and Thraben Inspector provided redundancy or backup value targets for the Captain, which was recurred extremely aggressively to set up locks against Combo or Aggro (the latter based on Kami of False Hope). If this proves more valuable than anticipated, the Devout Lightcaster can become a fourth Ranger-Captain. As a note, the space to sideboard these packages in is generally created by removing Hour and some copies of Simulacrum/Cavalier, so that synergy board-states can be preserved.

    If this speaks to you more than the first list I mentioned, I would adapt it immediately by removing the Sagas which had so under-preformed. They did, however, enable a lower land count, so two of the four slots thus freed up would immediately need to become extra mana sources, probably a Plains and a maindeck Ghost Quarter based on your desire to be prepared for Amulet Titan. The other two slots would unfortunately have to become card-disadvantage two-drops to replace them, but since with them gone the maindeck lifegain disappears I would also trim the luxury fourth Sun Titan to at least fit in one Lone Missionary whose inflexibility would be complemented by a more versatile two-of in Charming Prince. The extra card advantage in this version should be able to offset these (which are generally card-down investments to stabilize the boardstate). You could also reasonably go with the opposite split, or even a three-of in either direction, depending on your preferences and metagame.

    One major strength of this configuration is to replace Detention Sphere directly with Hour of Revelation, which deals with "wide" boardstates much better (although obviously not as cheaply). Solemn Simulacrum is obviously very strong in this build, granting more power to to Cavalier, Gift, Hour, and Titan, while incidentally accelerating Emeria. The result would then look like this before you made any modifications for preference:



    If Combo gives you difficulties, a couple of cards to consider (in any mono-white version) are Gideon of the Trials, Runed Halo, Nevermore, and Gideon's Intervention. They all have their downsides, but can protect you from such unorthodox strategies as Infect kills, Thassa's Oracle wins, Valakut triggers, and targeted effects like Gifts Ungiven or Walking Ballista pings. If you want to draw some raised eyebrows (and likely high-fives from long-time players), I might even expand the list to include Voidstone Gargoyle, whose expensive cost is slightly offset in that it can be recurred by Emeria.

    Hopefully this gives you enough to think about!

    -Stéphane
    Posted in: Control
  • posted a message on Azorius Titan/Emeria Control
    Hello Titan, welcome!

    I assume that the majority of people have now moved onto the Discord (the link for which can be found in Chanty9Y's post in the middle of page 74 of this thread) to discuss the new companion-based Yorion version, but since the rule change the power offered by the 80-card adaptation has been muted to the point the other builds are back in the running. If you are looking for a 60-card mono-white build, I could recommend the following:




    This is a direct modification of the W/u version that I champion (the current build of which is found on the front page of this thread). The advice that I give in the primer for most matchups will hold roughly true with it, but I have taken the liberty of cutting a land to give you more action in order to compensate for the loss of Court Hussar, which the mono-white versions have no clean replacement for. The copies of Skyscanner are there to fill that all-important 3-drop slot on the curve, and should you find yourself doing better against Prowess and Aggro than anticipated, you should immediately increase the number of these at the expense of Lone Missionary.

    I added two of the Kor Cleric to the maindeck to fit your described metagame, and other modifications include Cavalier of Dawn as additional lategame power that yields a self-contained combo for a stream of golems with an active Emeria, a fourth copy of Field of Ruin in your less demanding manabase against big mana decks, and two copies of Generous Gift as extra ways to smooth out the lategame with a poor Detention Sphere impression that can Vindicate any problem permanents, including lands, in a pinch. They also accelerate the mana-denial lock and jump-start recursion loops when Emeria is active. If these are too much of a liability against aggro, I recommend the classic Oblivion Ring, which will grant extra synergy to the Cavalier. It has been less thoroughly tested than all the other slots apart from Generous Gift, but the Cavalier's restrictive WWW requirement is at home in this deck better than anywhere else, and I would be very keen to hear your impressions of it. If it does not suit you, Geist-honored Monk is an excellent stabilizing play that can also be recurred for immediate board presence or quick pressure. It was my standby for many years, even in the W/u version.

    Apart from this, the Wraths are all mono-white instead of including Supreme Verdict, which is arguably the next most important concession to straight white mana after the loss of Hussar and D-Sphere, but overall things should give you a good impression of what the deck is supposed to do if you choose to commit to the attrition plan that I advocate. One last tweak that you might like to make is to replace some Wraths and/or Settle the Wreckage with a few copies of Hour of Revelation, as this is a very powerful catch-all tool available to the mono-white manabase in the right environments. The Planar Cleansing effect is extremely well adapted to the deck's main strategy, and can be completely unfair at the cheapened rate, but the downside of making the draws more unwieldy is a very real cost when the four-mana slot is so important, and there are also decks which can ignore it entirely.

    For a sideboard, I would recommend the following initial cards sight unseen:



    The fourth Missionary, Cleric, and Mindcensor may each be warranted in different number configurations, as could the third Ghost Quarter, and you may wish to heavily consider Specter's Shroud as an early aggressive plan with your extra cheap attacking plays in a supplemental angle for Stoneforge Mystic to pressure Control/Prison/Combo opponents, but I will leave these strategic concerns up to your discretion.

    I hope that this will be a reasonable starting place for you, and if you have any other questions I would be happy to give you advice on which cards might be candidates to swap out for any particularly valuable effects, or counsel to guide general play patterns if you wish it.

    Best of luck with everything!

    -Stéphane

    Posted in: Control
  • posted a message on Azorius Titan/Emeria Control
    Hello Chantu9Y, glad to hear it went all right.

    Three small pieces for advice with sideboarding, I hope they can help you in the future.

    1) Against your Mardu Pyromancer opponent in round 2, I would not bring in enchantment destruction. It is too likely to stay dead in hand if they have no targets, which means it gets taken by every single piece of hand disruption they care to leave in. Celestial Purge covers the dangerous threats while hedging against infrequent awkward Blood Moon or Leyline of the Void situations, and Detention Sphere covers any oddball inclusions after that. This is a midrange battle where you just want every spell to help grind against every one of their resources, so Aura of Silence and Disenchant are poor.

    2) The very next round, I would advise the exact opposite against Amulet, because even if they might have a lot of attrition, this is a Combo versus Control matchup. You can afford your cards to be dead sometimes because the situations where they don't have a target will likely be going a little better for you in allowing you to reach the later game where we begin to be advantaged naturally. Amulet of Vigor is dangerous, as is sometimes Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, so Aura of Silence and Disenchant are important to bring in. To be honest though, this pairing takes a long, long time to get accustomed to on both sides, so experience will count for a ton. I would say the mistakes are far more forgiving on their side, though, and I think my primer on the homepage conveys the consequentially embattled mindset this entails fairly well. I was wondering, however, if a third Ghost Quarter might be warranted in the 80-card build.

    Finally, were you just hedging against Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver with the Celestial Purge here? If so, I probably wouldn't consider that enough reason to bring them in. In my experience, Ashiok is far more irrelevant than he might appear. He is irritating, but I have found that unless he is messing with a crucial Field of Ruin he can be played around with the maindeck successfully and attacked down easily by random creatures, if required.

    3) In the last match against Humans, I would simply not bring in Disenchant. Similar to the Pyromancer situation, you want your cards to affect the board, but this is even more important against Aggro/Fish style strategies so I don't like dead cards. For non-creature interaction I start by bringing in a single Pithing Needle for Aether Vial if I won game one, maybe two to be safe if I am down a game, but never more than that even when I played a full four copies in my sideboard back in the heyday of Affinity. It is just too likely that the second copy will be dead when any other maindeck spell will stabilize. Against Humans, I am more looking to get my copies of Celestial Purge in, because Kitesail Freebooter and Mantis Rider are very strong targets for them, and these cards are one of their few ways to steal wins from our otherwise overpowering natural advantages.

    Let me know if there was anything else you wanted to discuss!
    Posted in: Control
  • posted a message on Azorius Titan/Emeria Control
    Hey Fluff;

    I think the Companion mechanic is worth being banned entirely for the damage it causes the game as a whole, but I strongly doubt Yorion, Sky Nomad will be banned before Lurrus of the Dream-Den does. The synergy with Field of Ruin, Ghost Quarter, and Path to Exile is real for Oust as well, thanks for mentioning it, and here follows my discussion of one last contender from the Discord:

    "I tested out Condemn for a time, but it is horrible against anything with a tap ability, and nothing feels worse than waiting for Dark Confidant, Tireless Tracker, or Inkmoth Nexus to reach the red zone before being able to do anything about it. It is fantastic against Death's Shadow, though, so there is that."

    In the 80-card build, the lower relative density of Court Hussar is an issue that was the subject of another discussion, and I weighed in with my experiences there as well:

    "When it comes to the 3-drops, the best options in Colourless are Skyscanner, Skittering Surveyor, and the new Farfinder, likely in that order. They all have downsides, though, since Skyscanner can't guarantee land drops and the other two don't fly.

    The other options at 3 CMC in White that I would be willing to entertain are Ranger-Captain of Eos (if Kami of False hope was already in the main), Militia Bugler, Vizier of Deferment, Vesperlark, and Trusty Packbeast (or the strictly worse for us Treasure Hunter), roughly in that order. All of these are inconsistent and also require new deckbuilding concessions. With the Kami, the presence of Mistveil Plains to recycle it in response to an ETB trigger probably makes Ranger-Captain the least odious of these sub-par role-players.

    As a proxy for Court Hussar, though, Sea Gate Oracle takes the cake. However, the downgrade in power from 3 to 2 cards is significant, so if you are willing to look into splashable Blue creatures I could then see Cloudkin Seer being a slightly better body than Skyscanner, and Mulldrifter would be able to keep both cards (without the body), and then become much better in the lategame.

    Going well outside of the beaten path, now, If there were more targets, I might consider the Mage supercycle, obviously beginning with Trinket Mage given the presence of Arcum's Astrolabe already, then Tribute Mage which can get Mortarpod, and Trophy Mage to get Pilgrim's Eye or Crucible of Worlds if it was still in the deck.

    Ultimately, even Treasure Mage might be viable in some weird scenario where there were extra six-drop value targets available. I suppose if someone ran a full set of Teferi, Time Raveler and a few extra Lavinia, Azorius Renegade it might just be possible to get away with assembling the Knowledge Pool lock semi-reliably in an 80-card list, but I would be quite confident taht the card does too little on its own to justify such a warping of the maindeck.

    As for the other targets, almost all of these will just be throwing gasoline on a fire that will already be burning well by the time six mana is reached, but for the sake of completeness I will list the best of the 6-drop artifacts here: Planar Bridge's power is likely too expensive to matter, Duplicant has historically been excellent on ETB, Staff of Nin has immediate utility with a personal Howling Mine attached, and the same can be said for The Immortal Sun, which fits perfectly into the deck if the singleton Teferi leaves and has fantastic bonus synergies with Batterskull, but these are also offered by a card that can sometimes cost less than six in The Circle of Loyalty. The last option has Court Hussar to support it naturally, and would give extra layers of synergy to Yorion, Sky Nomad and Lavinia, Azorius Renegade while being a great mana sink. There would be a huge number of variables at play by this point, so I doubt any of these are viable, but there they are if anyone feels inclined to try them out."
    Posted in: Control
  • posted a message on Azorius Titan/Emeria Control
    Hey Fluff,

    Very good suggestion. Oust is sorcery-speed only, poor against ETB creatures, and can never deal with threats permanently given that we are trying to drag out the game, but on the positive side it can interact with Indestructible or Regenerating creatures, has a drawback that I would tend to ignore almost completely, plus sandbagging opposing draw steps and providing incidental lifegain when used to reset our own value Creatures could give enough versatility to be worth it. I think it definitely competes with On Thin Ice at minimum.

    Nice find, keep thinking on those lines if you can!
    Posted in: Control
  • posted a message on Azorius Titan/Emeria Control
    Hey Fluff.

    It still seems like overkill to me, but all right. Good luck with your testing, then.

    As for Dispatch, I am fully aware of the of the card's obvious weaknesses, but something has to be attempted at this point. It fulfills the requirement of delaying lethal creatures on turns 1/2/3, potentially allowing the one extra turn until Wrath of God comes online, and is less than completely embarrassing in the lategame so I am willing to test it. The problem is that all the one-mana answers have massive drawbacks when compared to Path to Exile, and yet I find myself in a position of needing more of them.

    The only other analogues I can think of require even more concessions, and have a far worse fail-case. Blazing Hope and Reciprocate are too likely to be irrelevant until it is too late, Gaze of Justice and Swallow Whole do literally nothing without creatures plural, and Isolate seems far too narrow to be maindeckable. I suppose being able to cleanly hit an Amulet of Vigor, an Expedition Map, a Hardened Scales or a Birds of Paradise on top of more aggressive 1-mana plays might give a little more credit to the last option, but I honestly doubt these will come up more often than wanting to delay anything from a Celestial Colonnade to a Gurmag Angler to a Primeval Titan for just one more turn.

    Maybe I have to just bite the bullet, give up on removal entirely, and play Niveous Wisps. If no removal is going to be reliable, Wisps will at least be able to draw a card by targeting a Wall of Omens (on their end-step, if need be).
    Posted in: Control
  • posted a message on Azorius Titan/Emeria Control
    Hello all.

    New results to report on the 80-card experiment, will be posted on the Discord as well:

    "After more sample hands, it definitely feels like the quality of my openers has been compromised, and it has to do with the reduced chances of drawing effects like Path, Hussar, and Teferi, Time Raveler. The last piece might be fixable, since I was running a 4-1 split of Detention Sphere and it which can cleanly be swapped to a 3-2, but it looks like it is far more likely that 4-ofs are hiding in the bottom 60 cards of the deck now, which probably makes sense because of the new total number of permutations, which has increased dramatically. The difference between games where Court Hussar and Path show up and the ones where they don't is a significant drop in consistency. As a consequence, there appears to be a need to overshoot on effects that are unique, and so I am currently stuck on data until I can see how the extra card Yorion represents will affect game 1 wins in a live tournament.

    On Thin Ice, sub-optimal as it is, was intended to be a two-of to resolve this (specifically coming at the expense of Crucible of Worlds and Settle the Wreckage, because singletons are almost entirely unreliable now), but I am no longer certain that addresses the main issue sufficiently. As an aside on Enchantment hate, in my experience, cards like Abrupt Decay and Maelstrom Pulse are horrible for Jund against value creatures, but they are often forced to keep them in games 2 and 3 for lack of better options, and that is my point about sideboarding. I am always wary of giving opponents value unless it would lead to losses NOT to. On the Crucible front, Yorion, Sky Nomad can now blink Sun Titan to simulate that effect if I need it. This behaves totally differently and occurs much later as a synergy, but does recur manabase disruption reliably, where the chances of Crucible not showing up at all are extremely high.

    In a related point, while Winds of Abandon has been a fine card, as a 2-drop sorcery it does not slot nearly as easily into and around the curve. An effect that mimics this quality of Path to Exile is essential because it is able to catch up on lost Tempo in as many situations as possible, keeping focus on ideal sequencing, and is easily hidden by representing a simple end-step fetch. I am beginning to wonder if the Arcum's Astrolabe version might be able to support Dispatch, but there will be a lot to unpack before I get there."
    Posted in: Control
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