4/27/2010 LI: "Getting Big"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Limited Information, which goes live Tuesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Despite everything people who write for this site seem to be saying, I'm not entirely convinced that PV isn't right about eldrazi being a trap.

The rest of the article was pretty standard Limited information stuff. Removal and creatures that make more creatures are still good. Who would have guessed.
Despite everything people who write for this site seem to be saying, I'm not entirely convinced that PV isn't right about eldrazi being a trap.

The rest of the article was pretty standard Limited information stuff. Removal and creatures that make more creatures are still good. Who would have guessed.

Probably also depends upon how people are drafting, too.  If there are three blue/white leveler players, and three trying to take the fast green/red/black stuff, then maybe it pays off to draft acceleration and Eldrazi.  On the other hand, if there are four people going for an Eldrazi plan, you don't want to be one of them.
Thanks to everyone who helped with the design of the plane of Golamo in the Great Designer Search 2!
My Decks
These are the decks I have assembled at the moment:
Tournament Decks (4)
Kicker Aggro (Invasion Block) Sunforger/Izzet Guildmage Midrange (Ravnica/Time Spiral/Xth Standard) Dragonstorm Combo (Time Spiral/Lorwyn/Xth Standard) Bant Midrange (Lorwyn/Shards/M10 Standard)
Casual Multiplayer Decks (50)
Angel Resurrection Casual Soul Sisters Sindbad's Adventures with Djinn of Wishes Sphinx-Bone Wand Buyback Morph (No Instants or Sorceries) Cabal Coffers Control Zombie Aggro Hungry, Hungry Greater Gargadon/War Elemental Flashfires/Boil/Ruination - Boom! Call of the Wild Teysa, Orzhov Scion with Twilight Drover, Sun Titan, and Hivestone Slivers Rebels Cairn Wanderer Knights Only Gold and () Spells Captain Sisay Toolbox Spellweaver Helix Combo Merfolk Wizards Izzet Guildmage/The Unspeakable Arcane Combo Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind and his Wizards Creatureless Wild Research/Reins of Power Madness Creatureless Pyromancer Ascension Anarchist Living Death Anvil of Bogardan Madness Shamen with Goblin Game/Wound Reflection Combo Mass damage Quest for Pure Flame Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle/Clear the Land with 40+ Lands Doubling Season Thallids Juniper Order Ranger Graft/Tokens Elf Archer Druids Equilibrium/Aluren Combo Experiment Kraj Combo Reap Combo False Cure/Kavu Predator Combo Savra, Queen of the Golgari Sacrifice/Dredge Elf Warriors Eight-Post Sneak Attack Where Ancients Tread Zur the Enchanter with Opal creatures Tamanoa/Kavu Predator/Collapsing Borders Esper Aggro Mishra, Artificer Prodigy and his Darksteel Reactor Theft and Control Unearth Aggro Soul's Fire Vampires Devour Tokens Phytohydra with Powerstone Minefield Treefolk Friendly? Questing Phelddagrif Slivers Dragon Arch Fun I'm probably forgetting a few...
I'm also not really sure about 18 lands being the rule in this format. It seems like the spawn token deck especially, which will be running growth spasms and ondu giants and battlements and stuff, runs the risk of playing too many mana sources if you are playing 18, and decks like the more aggressive u/w guys with evasion/level up deck doesn't really seem like it needs 18. I'd imagine there are decks where you'd want to be running 18, maybe thats even true the majority of the time, but it doesn't seem like its going to be true all the time.

Of course, I haven't exactly done a ton of drafts, and Sadin is almost certainty better at this game then I am, so I could be completely wrong.
I don't know. No doubt Eldrazi are playable, but being the way to go may be an overstatement. Even when playing ramp decks in Limited, I have sometimes gotten the impression of playing a subpar archetype against other faster decks. Some "aggro" decks with levelers or evasive guys can hold their ousts, regress or even Vendettas and give you a tremendous tempo blowout if all you were doing was ramping into a single Eldrazi. My guess is that Eldrazi decks will be eventually hated out of limited as people learns to play RoE limited.

(Pelekka wurm may be an exception, given the huge comeback it means even if it gets destroyed in a few turns).
If Limited gets in the way of printing good Constructed cards... Screw limited
In my first sealed pool I built a deck with two Kozilek's Predators, a Overgrown Battlement, 2 Ondu Giants, Emrakul's Hatcher and used those along side Splinter Twin to ramp into some ridicilous spells including Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.  Most of the time however I would win on the back of Kiln Fiend and Vent Sential supported by removal. Beastbreaker of Bala Ged and Lord of Shatterskull Pass filled in the middle of that curve for me. I only lost one game to a very similar deck to mine.

Last Saturday I went for a different approach and drafted a U/w deck that valued draw spells highly as well as leveler.  d These allowed me to hit my land drops and stash away my larger cards until I could play them, or to ensure my levelers went off. I was the only blue drafter on the table and the deck manipulation proved invaulable.

Both decks opperated on 2 to 3 removal spells and both dealt well with a vairty of opponets. Simply look for decks that enable you to hurt your opponet.  If they play at your pace you are far more likely to win, then if you are at theirs.
There appears to be a misprint in this article. First it says that strategies in Zendikar/Worldwake tend to be very agressive, and then the next paragraph says "But the simple fact that you are drafting a slower deck in Zendikar / Worldwake"... I think that the second occurence was supposed to have been Rise of the Eldrazi.

Coming up with weird ideas to make everyone happy since 2008!

 

I have now started a blog as an appropriate place to put my crazy ideas.

Essence Feed a first pickable card??? I will have to see it played yet, but it seems to me to fall more along the lines of Skittering Invasion, not much bang for your buck unless you need alotta mana.

Or is the life loss/gain significant enough?
I'm guessing Steve misread Essence Feed as hitting creatures as well as players.  There's no question it's not 1st-3rd pick quality.

Lavafume Invoker and I would like to argue your contention that Skittering Invasion "doesn't actually influence the board in any significant way."

Essence Feed a first pickable card??? I will have to see it played yet, but it seems to me to fall more along the lines of Skittering Invasion, not much bang for your buck unless you need alotta mana.

Or is the life loss/gain significant enough?



yeah that card is pretty underwhelming. I played it at the sealed event and eventually it ended up as the only spawn token generator in my sideboard even though my deck played 4-5 spells that costed 8 or more. Depending on the deck it's actually worse than skittering invasion only 1 mana less and it only gives you 3 tokens instead of 5. So if you're looking to cast a 11+ mana creature you may want the skittering invasion instead.
Don't be too smart to have fun
Kozilek's Predator, Emrakul's Hatcher, Essence Feed, Awakening Zone, and Pawn of Ulamog are worth taking extremely early (probably first-through third-pick). Dread Drone, Nest Invader, and Growth Spasm are good to pick up anytime after the first few picks, and even Spawning Breath is a fine card to include in your deck.

With all due respect, I think your evaluations are slightly off for some of these cards.

As an above poster mentionned, Essence Feed is very similar to Skittering Invasion in that it costs a lot for a spell which primary purpose is to accelerate you even further. Granted, 6 mana to push you to 9-10 mana next turn is better than 7 mana to push you to 12-13 considering what are the costs of the more common giant Eldrazi. It is certainly playable in a dedicated Eldrazi Ramp deck, but not a very early pick as you suggest. For the purpose of accelerating from 6 to 9-10, Dreamstone Hedron is much better and IMO worthy of a first pick especially since it means no color commitment, but that's an uncommon.

I find that Pawn of Ulamog is a disapointing card considering how much it's hyped. It has never produced more than two spawns for me. The problem is that in this format, very few if your early and mid-game nontoken creatures go to the graveyard, since very little trading happens. It can be annoying for a red opponent relying on burn, but even then, your pawn is gonna die first and merely replace himself with a token, which is OK but not spectacular. Its mana cost makes him good only in an heavy black deck that wants to ramp into Eldrazi. It certainly is playable in such a deck, but I would not pick it over anything even remotely comparable unless I know I'm clearly going towards that precise archetype.

Dread Drone and Nest Invader are, IMO, better cards than the two aforementionned ones. I wouldn't first-pick them under normal circumstances, but I'd certainly 3rd-pick them in many cases. I'd pick Nest Invader a little higher even, but not over...

Growth Spasm. That one I can certainly see myself first-picking. Seriously, it is the nuts. It ramps you from 3 to 6 (something no other green 3-mana land-fetching spell in history does) and it fixes your mana, a relatively rare commodity in the format. It is without a doubt one of the two best common enablers an Eldrazi ramp deck can ask for, with Emrakul's Hatcher. The idea of playing a Spasm into a turn 4 Hatcher makes me drool. I haven't got the chance to experience this play myself, but I'm sure anyone who did will tell me it feels incredibly good.

On a side note, no mention of Brood Birthing? I think it deserves some discussion. It seems to me that it is great in a deck with enough other spawn producers, but mediocre otherwise, so you cannot pick it early. You grab it mid-to-late pack when you know you're gonna be able to support it. Hand of Emrakul makes it more tempting, especially if you have a number of Spawning Breath and Nest Invader for the much renowned turn 3 Hand play.

The one unconditional Eldrazi Spawn token generator that seems underwhelming to me is Skittering Invasion. Skittering Invasion seems reasonable to me in a deck that is trying to cast one of the largest Eldrazi spells, like Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, or It That Betrays. But otherwise it doesn't quite seem like it's worth spending seven mana on a card that doesn't actually influence the board in any significant way.

There's an other possible kind of deck where it can shine : one with several global pump effects and other cards that want you to have lots of creatures. There's Lavafume Invoker as Jasid mentionned above, but also Broodwarden and Kabira Vindicator. Bloodthrone Vampire and Bramblesap get a huge boost from an Invasion too. At rare, there's also Mortician Beetle, and perhaps my favorite, Nomad's Assembly. At the Launch Party, I played Invasion followed by it, resulting in 15 soldier tokens. Good times.
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The one unconditional Eldrazi Spawn token generator that seems underwhelming to me is Skittering Invasion. Skittering Invasion seems reasonable to me in a deck that is trying to cast one of the largest Eldrazi spells, like Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, or It That Betrays. But otherwise it doesn't quite seem like it's worth spending seven mana on a card that doesn't actually influence the board in any significant way.

There's an other possible kind of deck where it can shine : one with several global pump effects and other cards that want you to have lots of creatures. There's Lavafume Invoker as Jasid mentionned above, but also Broodwarden and Kabira Vindicator. Bloodthrone Vampire and Bramblesap get a huge boost from an Invasion too. At rare, there's also Mortician Beetle, and perhaps my favorite, Nomad's Assembly. At the Launch Party, I played Invasion followed by it, resulting in 15 soldier tokens. Good times.



don't forget about raid bombardment
Don't be too smart to have fun
Growth Spasm. That one I can certainly see myself first-picking. Seriously, it is the nuts. It ramps you from 3 to 6 (something no other green 3-mana land-fetching spell in history does) and it fixes your mana, a relatively rare commodity in the format.



No, Growth Spasm does not ramp you from 3 to 6. Read the card.
I did happen to win limited games with bloodthrone vampire + goblin tunneler, then, once they tap out, a skittering invasion.  Between that and an eldrazi conscription, goblin tunneler sent a lot of damage through.
Growth Spasm. That one I can certainly see myself first-picking. Seriously, it is the nuts. It ramps you from 3 to 6 (something no other green 3-mana land-fetching spell in history does) and it fixes your mana, a relatively rare commodity in the format.



No, Growth Spasm does not ramp you from 3 to 6. Read the card.



What he's saying is that when you cast it you have 3 mana. Lets say that you're on turn 3 and all you've played is one land each turn. Then on the very next turn you play a land. Now you have 6 mana availible to you. However, this is not unprecedented. though it may not be a green spell keep in mind we've seen this before on cards like coalition relic.
Don't be too smart to have fun
I don't think 18 lands is necessary because i ran 17 and still got mana flooded. I had plenty of eldrazi enablers but i had Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre in my deck and it seemed to just be an over win. I Luckily it was 3rd pack 1st pick... so it didn't interfere with my original game plan. I later cut it from the deck and just ran ulamog's crusher and it was much better.  I would also like to commend Joraga Treespeaker as a great early pick. That card alone led to a very early drops and even a turn 5 Pelakka Wurm it was great.

The biggest Vorthos Ever I'd rather have an awesome mechanic than the most flavor any day. Constantly coming up with cards all the time. So if you see a card you like tell me. Constantly trying to get into card of the week if you see a card you like please nominate.

I don't think 18 lands is necessary because i ran 17 and still got mana flooded. I had plenty of eldrazi enablers but i had Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre in my deck and it seemed to just be an over win. I Luckily it was 3rd pack 1st pick... so it didn't interfere with my original game plan. I later cut it from the deck and just ran ulamog's crusher and it was much better.  I would also like to commend Joraga Treespeaker as a great early pick. That card alone led to a very early drops and even a turn 5 Pelakka Wurm it was great.



I also think 17 lands is fine. Though I had some ancient stirrings which is a great card early on to ensure additional land drops and is also very serviceable late game to help you draw into the big eldrazi spells in the deck. Of course if my finishers were pelakka wurm and other colored spells I would value ancient stirrings much lower. It probably depends on the deck but I think 16-17 mana is fine for (at least) some decks.
Don't be too smart to have fun
I am also a bit underwhelmed by most of the Eldrazis.  Granted, I have only played the format once (a sealed at the release event), but if I had a dime for every time my opponenet FINALLY got their Eldrazi out, just to lose to my flyers the next turn or two, well, I'd have like 30 cents... other times I just beat them before they could cast them at all.  Maybe I just cracked a particularly broken pool, but I managed to go through 5 rounds without losing a single game with a slew of 1 and 2 drop levelers, (the rare merfolk was the highlight), 2 of the 2-drop flyers that go nuts when you have a fully leveled creature, a couple of cheap removal spells (the decoy, guard duty, oust), and topping out at the rebound card that puts a gillion soldiers into play (and gains you a gillion life if you have a sould warden out).  (Oh, yes, I did have Gideon as well, but I only drew him 1 game in 10, even with 2 looters and an oracle).

I played 18 lands and almost always had things to spend mana on, given all of my levelers and card draw.

For the land count, I would say it really depends on your deck, but if you're going for the leveler strategy, I would highly advise you play 18 lands, because as the poster above me mentioned, you'll always have something to spend your mana on.   Furthermore, levelers eat some of your drops, meaning you don't need to draw as many business cards to keep your hand relatively full.

I could see some decks playing 17 lands, especially green ones, but in general, I'll play 18.