Thursday, October 18, 2007

This post is about Magic: the Gathering. Feel free to skip it.

Lorwyn Constructed thoughts

I've been thinking a lot about Magic lately, having had a lot of fun playing in these Lorwyn tournaments. I mentioned last post that I made maybe 5 different decks for Lorwyn Constructed - a format that may never really exist in the tournament environment, at least not until the next set comes out. In fact, Aaron Forsythe of WotC research and Development (I think, maybe it was someone else) said something to the effect of "Lorwyn wasn't designed or tested to be played in Block Constructed all by itself" - which, if its true, I think is a huge shame. My favorite format was always Block Constructed.

The format that is relevant at the moment is probably Lorwyn Standard, which is the new Type II, after Lorwyn rotates in. State Championships will be that format, and they're coming up like this or next weekend. I think this weekend is too soon for me, but if it's next weekend I may consider going to States... but if that's the case I'll have to get some cards to supplement the Lorwyn cards I have made decks out of, and I should probably do my due diligence and look at which cards are legal and etc.

I'd much rather just take my sub-optimal Lorwyn Constructed decks to Friday Night Magic and pit them against the Type II decks people use there. I'll probably lose to the good players, but I bet I wouldn't go 0-4... at least 2 of my Lorwyn decks are probably good enough to do alright at a local tournament (where the competition isn't necessarily top notch).

Lorwyn is all about Tribes. Each color has about 2 tribes represented, and each tribe is represented in about 2 different colors. A quick search on Wikipedia will show a little chart indicating which tribes are in which colors, etc. Here's a quick rundown of the decks I made, more or less from worst to best...

There are a lot of Merfolk in Lorwyn, some of them sound pretty good such as Silvergill Adept, a 2/1 Merfolk creature for 1U (a pretty good start) which says When Silvergill Adept comes into play, draw a card. That's probably the best Merfolk ever printed. Aside from the Adept, the card that will probably make any successful Merfolk deck is Merrow Reejerey - another "All Merfolk get +1/+1" card like Lord of Atlantis, but this one also lets you tap or untap a permanent when it comes into play. At first I figured that ability would likely be used to tap blockers (and indeed, in limited play that's probably what happened) - but then I realized you could untap a land with that ability. In constructed play that's likely going to be a popular use of the card... it allows Merfolk to be played with a rebate, meaning you could play them out faster, or you could play Merfolk and still keep counterspell mana untapped.

This particular pile of Merfolk I put together doesn't seem particularly good - it's just a mess of Merfolk with 3 on the high end of the mana curve, and splashing Oblivion Ring and Nameless Inversion - 2 of the best removal cards in the set. As an experiment I replaced a few lands with Wanderer's Twig, a 1cc artifact which you can sac to get a basic land into your hand. I'm not sure if I like it or not, but I figure it's nearly as good as a land as long as you have 1 land already, and it thins land out of your deck so you don't draw it. On the down side, it's slow.

There exists a 6cc Merfolk that does something like "Whenever ~this deals combat damage to a player, take an additional turn after this one." It seems like there should be a way to take advantage of that in a control style deck and basically take infinite turns. However it does require that you have at least 1 Merfolk in play when you play that guy... I don't think he'd fit in this "super low casting cost" version of a Merfolk deck, but maybe in a more regular one. Today I was actually thinking there could be a Green/Blue deck with a lot of Changelings in it which runs the Time Walk Merfolk (and of course, Silvergill Adept) - it could also use the Shapeshifter guy which changes any Changeling creature into a copy of any creature on the board, so once the Time Walk guy is in play, you could theoretically be attacking with several of them.

Current decklist:
14 Island
4 Vivid Creek
3 Wanderwine Hub
4 Wanderer's Twig
2 Runed Stalactite
4 Ponder
4 Tideshaper Mystic
4 Silvergill Adept
4 Deeptread Merrow
3 Nameless Inversion
2 Merrow Reejerey (should be 4)
4 Paperfin Rascal (should be 2, or none)
4 Oblivion Ring
4 Faerie Trickery

The Giant Package
Aside from an amusing name, there's a subset of Giant cards that strikes me as a good, solid base of a deck. There's a "package" of about 10 cards that could comprise part of a deck - 4x Blind Spot Giant, 3x Thundercloud Shaman, and 2-3x Giant's Ire. Along with these there are some staple red removal spells (Tarfire and Lash Out) which are obvious for just about any deck with Mountains. And the common red Free Agent (Fire-Belly Changeling) is a pretty good deal for the casting cost, so he should probably be in the deck as well. I hadn't thought about the bigger Free Agent (4cc, Haste, Champion a creature), but I suppose that wouldn't be bad either.

I initially wanted to try this package with some of the Kithkin white weenies, as the Greatheart guy synergizes well with the Giants, the Runed Stalactite would help the 2 teams play nice, and White means Oblivion Ring. My first attempt may have leaned too far toward the Kithkin White Weenie side though, as the new White Knight (Knight of Meadowgrain) and the Crusade on Wheels (Wizened Cenn) both require WW to cast, which probably wants a mono-W land base, or at least doesn't go well with a deck that would like to case Blind Spot on turn 3. My second attempt was more an attempt at forcing as much direct damage on my opponent as possible by combining with Black. Adding a few Goblin spells - Mudbutton Torchrunner, Nameless Inversion, Boggart Harbinger, and Fodder Launch) might be the key to a really fast and dangerous deck, but I doubt it. Giant's Ire + Fodder Launch does bring a lot of burn to the a table already littered with Tarfire and Moonglove Extract, and the Torchrunner acts as either direct damage or creature D that the opponent really can't do much about.

In any case, I think the key card in the Giant Package is not the 3 casting cost 4/3 creature, but the 5cc 4/4 Wrath of God. Thundercloud Shaman is the only reason I really want to play Giants at all.

Current decklist:
16 Mountain
5 Swamp
3 Auntie's Hovel
4 Tarfire
3 Lash Out
2 Nameless Inversion
4 Fire-Belly Changeling
4 Blind-Spot Giant
4 Boggart Harbinger
4 Mudbutton Torchrunner
4 Moonglave Extract
2 Giant's Ire
2 Fodder Launch
3 Thundercloud Shaman

Kithkin WW
Some of the more attractive cards in the set are white and cost 2 or 3 mana. The most notable of them might be Knight of Meadowgrain and Oblivion Ring. I'm personally a fan of Kithkin Greatheart as well, but that may be because I also like Runed Stalactite, and attacking for 4 with 1 creature on turn 3 seems like a good deal. The rest of the deck doesn't seem as stellar - Neck Snap is effective against those nasty fatties or 3/3 Deathtouch elves, but it costs a lot of mana. I chose it over Crib Swap because (a) it doesn't leave a blocker, and (b) I actually didn't have any Crib Swaps on me when I made the deck. I seem to put Moonglave Extract into just about every deck I build, but I'm not sure if the 3cc price tag is really worth it - in a creature rush deck I think you could do worse for creature D. Of course the Kithkin weenie deck will be using the new Savannah Lions (Goldmeadow Stalwart) and the Crusade (Wizened Cenn, but the creature options after that are questionable. I'm trying Kinsbaile Skirmisher in the first draft, and a couple Avian Changelings - mostly because they are Free Agents and therefore immune to the Elf Terror (and nice to play after Greatheart), and because I liked them a lot in Sealed Deck. Yes, I realize that's a bad reason to use a card in a constructed format. Finally, Surge of Thoughtweft seems a natural to go in the deck, but in the end maybe that Kithkin Militia enchantment might be better.

Current decklist:
22 Plains (too many?)
3 Runed Stalactite
4 Glodmeadow Stalwart
4 Knight of Meadowgrain
3 Wizened Cenn (4 if I had them)
4 Kithkin Greatheart
3 Kinsbaile Skirmisher
3 Surge of Thoughtweft
3 Avian Changeling
4 Moonglave Extract
4 Oblivion Ring
3 Neck Snap

G/B Elves
Green/Black is probably one of the best decks I can think of. Outside of Oblivion Ring, Black has the best creature D in the set - Nameless Inversion can be tutored for with any Harbinger, Eyeblight's Ending flat out kills anything except Elves and Changelings, no matter how big, and Shriekmaw kills just about anything the Elf Terror doesn't - and it leaves a 3/2 creature in play! Green's creatures are amazing, and this time even more than usual they work together really well. Initially there were Fertile Grounds in the deck, and between them and the Leaf Gliders, one could easily play a turn 3 3/3 that makes Elf tokens, or 5/5 that makes Wolf tokens. Since then I dropped the enchantments in favor of more good creatures. With the potential for so many elves in play, the Jagged-Scar Archers seem like a good deal at 3 mana. Wrens Run Vanquisher is a powerhouse on turn 2, and bombs like Wren's Run Packmaster and Vigor seem to fit well in the deck. At the pre-release I opened 2 of those legends which make your opponent discard at random and put an elf into play every turn - seems like they should go right in the deck, but as yet they're not in there (I forgot!) Finally, there are 2 cards which I'm trying out in the deck which I think are pretty solid... Final Revels can be a Wrath of God in a match against Goblins or Kithkin (or other Elves!), even if some of my creatures are susceptible. The fact that it can turn into a finisher if I happen to have a number of Elves/Wolves in play I think makes it definitely worth playing. At the moment I only have 1, but I think I'd like to go to 2 at least. The other card I'm trying out, which I think I'm going to really like in general even if not in this deck, is Hoarder's Greed. A deck like this doesn't mind drawing cards, and if you win 1 clash then it goes from being an "OK card drawer" to a "really good hand refill". Anything more than that just gets better, with the slim possibility that you'll be in a situation where you effectively kill yourself by playing it. I bet that'll be rare though.

Current decklist:
13 Forest
7 Swamp
4 [B/G dualland]
4 Nameless Inversion
4 Leaf Glider
4 Wren's Run Vanquisher
3 Woodland Changeling
3 Jagged-Scar Archers
2 Elvish Harbinger
2 Eyeblight's Ending
3 Moonglove Extract
3 Lys Alana Huntmaster
2 Wren's Run Packmaster
2 Hoarder's Greed
2 Shriekmaw
1 Final Revels
1 Vigor

And, saving the best for last...
[This post is still under construction, I will come back and finish with what I think is probably the best deck idea to come out of lorwyn]


Anonymous said...

Worst merfolk deck i have ever seen

Seth Jaffee said...

I don't disagree. I guess that's what you get from a non-magic blog... bad decklists.