5/25/2010 LI: "Crashing the Boards"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Limited Information, which goes live Tuesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Before anyone tries to "correct" the article with their own misapprehensions, Valakut Fireboar + Distortion Strike + attacking does indeed leave you with a 7/2, as power-toughness switching is layer 7e, which occurs after the +1/+0 granted in layer 7c.

People keep getting this one wrong, so I figured I'd head it off at the pass. Remember, 7e is the last part of the last layer. Power-toughness switches always come last. Phantasmal Fiend really just has reminder text now.
The article's title makes me think we all need to post as fast as possible and see if we can in fact crash the boards.

Also, Sir Sadin, you might want to double-check your math. Kiln Fiend plus two Distortion Strikes does NOT equal a turn-4 kill unless you have a Shock or something in there somewhere. 1/2, +3/+0 from trigger on casting first Distortion Strike, +1/+0 when it resolves, then +3/+0 and +1/+0 again = 9/2 unblockable Kiln Fiend, and the same the next turn. Very impressive and very painful, but not quiiiite lethal all by itself.

What will kill on turn 4 is Kiln Fiend + Distortion Strike + Virulent Swipe.  You only need to be unblockable once each turn, and Swipe offers the extra power point over a duplicate Distortion which makes this an outright kill.  But this means adding a whole other color to the deck and needing to do a very good job of curving out in order to pull off the kill.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
The article's title makes me think we all need to post as fast as possible and see if we can in fact crash the boards.

Also, Sir Sadin, you might want to double-check your math. Kiln Fiend plus two Distortion Strikes does NOT equal a turn-4 kill unless you have a Shock or something in there somewhere. 1/2, +3/+0 from trigger on casting first Distortion Strike, +1/+0 when it resolves, then +3/+0 and +1/+0 again = 9/2 unblockable Kiln Fiend, and the same the next turn. Very impressive and very painful, but not quiiiite lethal all by itself.

What will kill on turn 4 is Kiln Fiend + Distortion Strike + Virulent Swipe.  You only need to be unblockable once each turn, and Swipe offers the extra power point over a duplicate Distortion which makes this an outright kill.  But this means adding a whole other color to the deck and needing to do a very good job of curving out in order to pull off the kill.



Yes, I think you have to cast another spell on your 4th turn.
From the article:

When you are getting four uses out of a Staggershock, it won't matter if you are picking off your opponents creatures, hammering away at your opponent's life total while you are busy swinging in with evasion creatures, or some combination of the two, your opponent is sure to be in for a world of hurt.


Is that a joke? Did you just say 8 damage over 4 turns is going to put the opponent in "a world of hurt"?
I thought this article was good, but there were several points about which I would argue. For instance, ever including that god awful wall anywhere near the almighty fiend.
I like the rebound mechanic, and I'm actually pretty happy so far with the articles thus far this week. Much better than level up week, that's for sure. Pretty much every article tried to justify sorcery-speed leveling.
I think he means that 1 kiln fiend + 2 distortions can kill in 4 turns... once you have the kiln fiend on the board without summoning sickness.

1/2 kiln fiend + 3 ability + 1 distortion = 5/2 unblockable over 4 turns is - 20 life.
From the article:

When you are getting four uses out of a Staggershock, it won't matter if you are picking off your opponents creatures, hammering away at your opponent's life total while you are busy swinging in with evasion creatures, or some combination of the two, your opponent is sure to be in for a world of hurt.


Is that a joke? Did you just say 8 damage over 4 turns is going to put the opponent in "a world of hurt"?
I thought this article was good, but there were several points about which I would argue. For instance, ever including that god awful wall anywhere near the almighty fiend.
I like the rebound mechanic, and I'm actually pretty happy so far with the articles thus far this week. Much better than level up week, that's for sure. Pretty much every article tried to justify sorcery-speed leveling.


4 Shocks is pretty hard to beat, especially if at least two of them actually hit creatures.

Mnemonic Wall is fine. Getting to replay removal isn't bad.

I played my first RoE draft yesterday, and I can attest to the power of Distortion Strike. I was playing U/W skies with a splash of red for Staggershock and Heat Ray, and I won every time I drew the Strike. Now, I had my work cut out for me, to be sure, to get my opponent to the point where I could do that, but considering the Strike turned my Venerated Teacher into an unblockable Ball Lightning, I'd say it's pretty good.

As for the Fireboar issue, I was under the impression that you would attack with it, let its ability resolve, then cast the Distortion Strike on it at the end of the declare attackers step. That way, the Fireboar is an 8/1 and unblockable. Then the declare blockers step starts, and your opponent is making a little sad face. Is this incorrect?

Edit: Nevermind. Brain farted and I forgot Distortion Strike is a sorcery. Still, an unblockable Fireboar basically means 14 points of damage over two turns if your opponent has no removal. I'd say that's still pretty good.

As for the Fireboar issue, I was under the impression that you would attack with it, let its ability resolve, then cast the Distortion Strike on it at the end of the declare attackers step. That way, the Fireboar is an 8/1 and unblockable. Then the declare blockers step starts, and your opponent is making a little sad face. Is this incorrect?

Edit: Nevermind. Brain farted and I forgot Distortion Strike is a sorcery. Still, an unblockable Fireboar basically means 14 points of damage over two turns if your opponent has no removal. I'd say that's still pretty good.


It would never work like this because of layers. Power and Toughness switching is applied after effects that modify power and toughness, so if you say Fleeting Distraction a fireboar who's power and toughness have already switched, it will be a 0/7, the the power toughness layer will apply, so it will be a 7/0 (virulent swipe, another card similar to distortion strike, will always make an attacking boar a 7/3). The example at the end of 613.3e explains this. Its pretty unintuitive (and I'm not sure I would trust me, I'm no rules expert).

Pretty much every article tried to justify sorcery-speed leveling.



How would instant-speed leveling have been a good thing for the game? Do you remember how insanely broken Figure of Destiny was? Because as someone who never had any, the one thing I would dread would be seeing hit the board was Figure unless I had a Shock/Terror in hand. Aaaaaanyway...

Mnemonic Wall is amazing in limited. I've seen it tried, tested and proven. At the Prerelease (which was Sealed, but still) I had two decks. An aggressive Eldrazi deck with a couple of black levelers, and a white-blue defensive deck. Trust me when I say that Lone Missionary curves beautifully into Survival Cache on turn three. The deck ran multiples of both, then used 2 Mnemonic Walls to occasionally refresh the almost never ending stream of card-draw and life-gain. What was the win-condition? Guard Gomazoa+Warmonger's Chariot. Together they're almost impossible to deal with. It's basically a flying, higher-toughness version of Cho-Manno(sp?), Revolutionary. Would this deck be difficult to assemble in draft? Probably. Would it wreak havoc on your opponent? Definitely. The games I won at the Prerelease were by landslides. The first game I played with it saw me gaining 16 life by turn four. It's kind of tough to deal with that kind of life-advantage.

As for the Fireboar issue, I was under the impression that you would attack with it, let its ability resolve, then cast the Distortion Strike on it at the end of the declare attackers step. That way, the Fireboar is an 8/1 and unblockable. Then the declare blockers step starts, and your opponent is making a little sad face. Is this incorrect?

Edit: Nevermind. Brain farted and I forgot Distortion Strike is a sorcery. Still, an unblockable Fireboar basically means 14 points of damage over two turns if your opponent has no removal. I'd say that's still pretty good.



It would never work like this because of layers. Power and Toughness switching is applied after effects that modify power and toughness, so if you say Fleeting Distraction a fireboar who's power and toughness have already switched, it will be a 0/7, the the power toughness layer will apply, so it will be a 7/0 (virulent swipe, another card similar to distortion strike, will always make an attacking boar a 7/3). The example at the end of 613.3e explains this. Its pretty unintuitive (and I'm not sure I would trust me, I'm no rules expert).



I do have to say that is pretty bizarre, though I suppose such things should be expected from a rule book that is 180 pages long. Actually, I'm pretty impressed this kind of stuff doesn't happen a lot more often.

It's actually rather easy. The way power/toughness switching works, you won't have to remember the order in which you got that Distortion Strike, combat trigger, Virulent Swipe, Fleeting Distraction, etc. Just add all bonuses, swap the two values and you're done. How could it be more intuitive?
It's actually rather easy. The way power/toughness switching works, you won't have to remember the order in which you got that Distortion Strike, combat trigger, Virulent Swipe, Fleeting Distraction, etc. Just add all bonuses, swap the two values and you're done. How could it be more intuitive?

Most of the "wha?" comes from the usual order of things being in, well, order.  It's not very difficult to see how a situation wherein a 1/8 (or so) creature gets p/t-swapped, then some other stuff resolves, then something else messes with the creature's p/t can get a bit confusing.

The "intuitive" response is to consider the p/t-swap a discrete event rather than a temporary state.

Pretty much every article tried to justify sorcery-speed leveling.



How would instant-speed leveling have been a good thing for the game?



Maybe it would have made them... I don't know... not suck?
It's actually rather easy. The way power/toughness switching works, you won't have to remember the order in which you got that Distortion Strike, combat trigger, Virulent Swipe, Fleeting Distraction, etc. Just add all bonuses, swap the two values and you're done. How could it be more intuitive?


Making them occur in time stamp order would make the most sense I think, its pretty much how everyone instinctively thinks it works. Of course, it would make pretty much most of the other power and toughness layer things more confusing (all the ones that are relevant beyond one combat step), and it would probably cause some other rules issues.


Pretty much every article tried to justify sorcery-speed leveling.



How would instant-speed leveling have been a good thing for the game?



Maybe it would have made them... I don't know... not suck?


So you think Mnemonic Wall, Staggershock, and Level up creatures all suck in limited. Have you ever actually played limited?

Pretty much every article tried to justify sorcery-speed leveling.



How would instant-speed leveling have been a good thing for the game?



Maybe it would have made them... I don't know... not suck?



If you think that Transcendent Master sucks, then please mail all of your copies of it to me.  Or Coralhelm Commander, or Hedron-Field Purists...actually the only leveler that comes even close to being weak is Ikiral Outrider, whose levels cost 4 each and whose only advantage when leveling is a really fat butt.  Virtually all of the others are extremely potent.  Yes they die to removal, but when common creatures have the potential to turn into game-ending rares, they all become must-kills, and sooner or later the opponent will probably run out of kill spells.  I don't know if they're top tier, but they're definitely not weak - and I am not speaking only of Limited.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi

So you think Mnemonic Wall, Staggershock, and Level up creatures all suck in limited. Have you ever actually played limited?




If you think that Transcendent Master sucks, then please mail all of your copies of it to me.  Or Coralhelm Commander, or Hedron-Field Purists...actually the only leveler that comes even close to being weak is Ikiral Outrider, whose levels cost 4 each and whose only advantage when leveling is a really fat butt.  Virtually all of the others are extremely potent.  Yes they die to removal, but when common creatures have the potential to turn into game-ending rares, they all become must-kills, and sooner or later the opponent will probably run out of kill spells.  I don't know if they're top tier, but they're definitely not weak - and I am not speaking only of Limited.



Thanks for sticking up for me lol.
Distortion Spike makes Arrogant Bloodlord GOOD!
Levelers are most definitely better left at instant speed.  It actually makes for interesting play decisions, and opens up more risk/reward situations.

It also lessens confusion of the board state, while doing all of the above.  I'm happy with Wizzard's decision here. 
Levelers are most definitely better left at instant speed.  It actually makes for interesting play decisions, and opens up more risk/reward situations.

It also lessens confusion of the board state, while doing all of the above.  I'm happy with Wizzard's decision here. 



I assume you meant "at sorcery speed".  If so, I agree profoundly.  They'd be utter no-brainers as instants.  However I wouldn't have minded Wizards throwing us a bone with some rare creature who gives the ability "You may activate level up abilities whenever you could cast an instant."  That way, you'd have the ability to build a deck around cute instant-speed leveling tricks, but they would only happen when a particular card, of which your deck contains four copies at most, is in play and hasn't yet been killed.  He'd be costly and small-sized, making the killing fairly easy, and all of this would ensure that even the most potent levelers would only gain a mediocre advantage from being around him.  That way, you're giving Johnny a deckbuilding tool without entirely ruining Limited Spike's day, and Tournament Spike is getting only part of what he wants.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
I'm going to disagree a bit with Mr. Sadin's relative disdain for Survival Cache. While it's true that the card may not be as useful late game if you haven't had the chance to prep for it early game, the benefit you get in the early game far outweighs the possible issues with it late game, IMO. Part of the reason is that ROE-only draft tends to be far slower as an environment than Zen-Wwk, and part is that, against the players who do try 'race'-type draft strategies, there are ways to counter. Consider:

Turn 2 -- second land drop (at least one being W), Wall of Omens [draw a card]
Turn 3 -- third land drop, Survival Cache

Unless your opponent was able to ding you for two prior to your turn 2 (because he's unlikely to have a one-drop that can punch through a Wall of Omens), you're up a card as well as life, otherwise just the life.

Turn 4 -- Survival Cache on upkeep...

Even if you didn't draw on turn 3, you're likely drawing here, so you're getting at least one additional card. That'll help the next play.

...fourth land drop

Now you've got options. Maybe you have a Prophetic Prism you can now play for another card (and so that you don't have to worry about any of your land drops being U). Maybe you've got G to Harrow with to accelerate mana. Maybe you just take advantage of the turn to drop and pop your Evolving Wilds for color-balancing (or to get that U you need for turn 5). Maybe you want to get your offense going with an evasion leveler. Even more to the point, you've had at least one, possibly as many as three extra cards to pull those additional options into your hand.

Now if you assume you're going up against the best drafter at the table, then sure, maybe he's got an answer for this.  And sure, you're not going to get this opening every game, especially to follow up with...

Turn 5 - Mnemonic Wall returning Survival Cache

Now, by the start of your turn 7 main phase, at the very minimum, you've gotten eight additional life for a total of 4WW spent over two different turns, and you've got good-sized defenders. As a core idea, you can branch off from there to different win-conditions. Splash red for Vent Sentinel? Play your big Eldrazi? The Cache/Mnemonic 'engine' is a survival package to help you get to that late-game win condition, whatever it is.

Even if you are going for a 'speed win' with the various other combos in this article, a base of Mnemonic Wall/Survival Cache gives you time and frequently additional speed in getting those combos into your hand. Heck, replace the turn 2 Wall of Omens with a turn 2 Kiln Fiend (though you're running a more dangerous mana-base to do so) and you're in an even better position to take advantage of Survival Cache card drawing (again, assuming you're comfortable running very light U or have many other options for generating it by turn 5).

I'd recommend anybody considering drafting ROE U/W to consider taking Survival Cache if no other more obvious pick is available. Play it, and see what you think.

--

Pauper

 

"Nothing in my view is more reprehensible than those habits of mind in the intellectual that induce avoidance, that characteristic turning away from a difficult and principled position, which you know to be the right one, but which you decide not to take. You do not want to appear too political; you are afraid of seeming controversial; you want to keep a reputation for being balanced, objective, moderate; your hope is to be asked back, to consult, to be on a board or prestigious committee, and so to remain within the responsible mainstream...."  -Edward Said

I'm a little uncomfortable running a card that will often do nothing (or just gain 4 life and cantrip) over cards that actually do stuff. I'm sure its fine as a 22nd or 23rd card if you are short on playables, but I can't see myself cutting cards that do stuff for it. It seems pretty mediocre.
I greatly enjoy Survival Cache; it's one of my favorite cards in the set.  The design is very clever, and the play of it is rewarding.  It's basically a Divination with free lifegain for decks that are very defensive, which admittedly don't really need the lifegain but they don't mind it either.  I have a WB control deck that leans very heavily on Hedron-Field Purists and Wall of Omens (the black part I'll admit doesn't really interact there), and the Cache virtually never fails to draw both times for it.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
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