6/18/2010 LD: "Villainy 101"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's The Week That Was, which goes live Friday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Am I correct in assuming that at the release events, players will use their sealed Archenemy deck at all times, whether they are the archenemy or not? If this is true, it makes the undead deck seem like kind of a bad choice (at the release event), since it won't do very well without the schemes.

Edit: Wait, the first post in this thread is wrong. It should say "Latest Developments" instead of "The Week that Was" and the link needs to be fixed accordingly (to fit with the thread title at least). I didn't notice until now because I was just linked here from the article.

A similar mixup appears on the MTG Daily site, with the description, "Listen up, class, and you'll hear about the new Extended format," showing up next to the Villiany 101 article, which definitely doesn't talk about extended at all.

IMAGE(http://steamsignature.com/status/default/76561197995631463.png) No longer a commander as of 7/29/13.

I'm still wondering why the "Self or Others" schemes are so underpowered.  Why would you give the opponents a choice of one taking 6 damage, or the others taking 3, when you could have a scheme that makes everyone lose 3 life, AND you gain that much?  It's more total life lost, less ability for the opponents to evade it (by making a choice favorable for them), AND you get to gain a lot of life!


Or there's the scheme where one opponent sacrifices two creatures or everyone else sacrifices one... which you can compare to the scheme that make all opponents sacrifice a creature, and then everyone who couldn't discards two cards!  I don't really understand the rationale behind making the most interesting schemes the least effective.  Did I mention that the Self or Others schemes stop working at all once you're down to only one opponent?

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 still wondering why the "Self or Others" schemes are so underpowered.  Why would you give the opponents a choice of one taking 6 damage, or the others taking 3, when you could have a scheme that makes everyone lose 3 life, AND you gain that much?  It's more total life lost, less ability for the opponents to evade it (by making a choice favorable for them), AND you get to gain a lot of life!



Or there's the scheme where one opponent sacrifices two creatures or everyone else sacrifices one... which you can compare to the scheme that make all opponents sacrifice a creature, and then everyone who couldn't discards two cards!  I don't really understand the rationale behind making the most interesting schemes the least effective.  Did I mention that the Self or Others schemes stop working at all once you're down to only one opponent?




I think that is the point. It gives some randomness to the fight when you're down to one opponent and pull one of those schemes it will give that guy his opportunity.

Don't be too smart to have fun
This article contained very little useful information and was thoroughly disappointing.  I wanted to hear about how the process of desiging and testing the game, altering scheme rules and balancing decks to properly capture the correct "diabolical plan" feel, which I think is a huge failure in this design.  Instead, all we get is more "buy our new cool thing, because it's cool and new, and I will tell you that it's new and how cool it is so that you will buy it".  Pathetic.

Poll answers - "I don't know" and "I don't know".  Stop making polls that don't acknowledge ambivalence!  I kinda want to buy a deck, but probably won't, but I might.  That's all you get from me; thanks a lot for not acknowledging that opinion.
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
This thread is for discussion of this week's The Week That Was, which goes live Friday morning on magicthegathering.com.




I don't think that's correct...


I think that is the point. It gives some randomness to the fight when you're down to one opponent and pull one of those schemes it will give that guy his opportunity.



That still doesn't exuse the fact that they're strictly inferior to other schemes. If they were superior with many opponents and then worse with only 1, they'd be worth playing. As is, once you construct your own deck of schemes, the mechanics discourage you from including them.

Let's try expressing your point another way:  We have two schemes to consider: Scheme A says "Choose a player.  That player chooses Self or Others.  If he chooses Self, he sacrifices two creatures.  If he chooses Others, each other player sacrifices a creature."  Scheme B says "Each player sacrifices a creature." 

Now, if we play Scheme A, and choose a player, and that player says Others, then the card is worse than Scheme B.  If he chooses Self, then he would only have chosen that if it was a clearly better choose than selecting Others, which means it would have been a better scenario than Scheme B.  There is no situation in which Scheme A would be better than Scheme B.
Let's try expressing your point another way:  We have two schemes to consider: Scheme A says "Choose a player.  That player chooses Self or Others.  If he chooses Self, he sacrifices two creatures.  If he chooses Others, each other player sacrifices a creature."  Scheme B says "Each player sacrifices a creature." 

Now, if we play Scheme A, and choose a player, and that player says Others, then the card is worse than Scheme B.  If he chooses Self, then he would only have chosen that if it was a clearly better choose than selecting Others, which means it would have been a better scenario than Scheme B.  There is no situation in which Scheme A would be better than Scheme B.



I understand that. Trust me I am not among those players who say dash hopes is a good card. I am not saying that it was the right thing to do either, but they may have included schemes like that to balance the archenemy decks against the planechase decks or to make the tension of flipping the schemes higher by having a wider range of power amongst the effects.
Don't be too smart to have fun
I played a small Archenemy release event today, with the Assemble the Doomsday Machine deck. It won every game; mine, another archenemy with the same deck, and three times against the other decks, taking huge chunks of life with Magister Sphinx. Trample Civilization Underfoot has very little defense against flying and just dies to the Sphinx. The deck is a little awkward because it can take out the Archenemy so suddenly, but also hurts the other heroes with Sundering Titan and Lodestone Golem. One of the more casual players even suggested banning Magister Sphinx right there and then in our play group.
I understand that. Trust me I am not among those players who say dash hopes is a good card. I am not saying that it was the right thing to do either, but they may have included schemes like that to balance the archenemy decks against the planechase decks or to make the tension of flipping the schemes higher by having a wider range of power amongst the effects.

Sure, some schemes could be weaker, nothing wrong with that (although it seems silly to have some that are strictly dominated by others).  However, why choose to make the "Self or Others" ones always be the weak ones, and why make them so much weaker?  In many ways the "Self or Others" schemes are the most interesting, but when people construct their own scheme decks, those schemes will almost always be left out (unless the builder either can't recognize card power, or isn't trying to maximize the deck's strength).
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...
The format was a great success in our playing group. We played a dozen games this weekend and both the Reanimator as the Dragon deck made fun archenemies (we´ll try the other decks next time).

Just like Planechase, it certainly is a very random format. Sometimes the archenemy has bad luck with his Schemes and they don´t affect the board much. But on other times 2-3 Schemes create a devastating combo and the team gets virtually annihilated.

In the long run it evens out and unlike Planechase (in our opinion) its not as annoying to loose the game to a random effect - The team´s  players expected  impressive moves; and loosing and/or winning together is just much more entertaining then loosing to a single opponent because of lucky die-rolling.

Only 2 points to moan about: Setting schemes in motion AFTER the draw phase feels a little akward. We believe it feels much more smooth to set them im motion at the beginning of the upkeep instead of breaking up magic´s basic phase order (although it certainly is an advantage for the Archenemy to draw the card before planing his scheme). Also we believe it was much more entertaining to allow blocking as a team. While that is certainly a disadvantage for the Archenemy, it really improves the feeling that you play as a team.

Next goal: playing Archenemy with Planechase ;)
A strategy tip that I discovered the hard way - the deck Bring About the Undead Apocalypse is something of an exception to the rule about it always being wisest to kill a player when you can. Since the deck is all about swiping other players' creatures, you want to be careful that you don't kill the owner of your best creatures at the wrong moment, as it can leave you disarmed. Additionally, the scheme "Mortal Flesh is Weak" can cut all your opponents down to the life total of whoever's lowest, so beating an opponent down to 1 or 2 life and then leaving them there can be very handy.

Actually your own minions (the Zombie tokens created by Rotted Ones Lay Siege, or creatures raised from enemy graveyards by The Dead Shall Serve) can be a liability in this deck since they compulsively attack their targets. Piloting this deck is a potentially brain-melting experience, and I highly recommend using token cards for your Zombies, as well as making sure that you keep careful track of which creatures are required to attack which players. You'd be a lousy evil overlord if you let yourself get in trouble for forgetting to obey a game rule! I had a lot of trouble keeping track of when creatures were tapped or untapped because I had pointed them toward the player they were required to attack; next time I'll be more careful about how I set up the table.

I also tried Archenemy with Planechase - IMO it's too much.  Both formats are very neat, but combining them overtaxed my brain, and I'm no slouch in the thinking department.  Besides, it doubles up on the random factor and creates an increased sense of screwage, even for the Archenemy.  Not an experience I plan to repeat.
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 also tried Archenemy with Planechase - IMO it's too much.  Both formats are very neat, but combining them overtaxed my brain, and I'm no slouch in the thinking department.  Besides, it doubles up on the random factor and creates an increased sense of screwage, even for the Archenemy.  Not an experience I plan to repeat.



How about making it so that whenever a player other than the archenemy rolls the planar dice, they roll two dice instead, and nothing happens unless the symbols on both dice are the same.

This should result in far less walking (unless you're the archenemy) but still allows the heroes to escape from a particularly brutal plane.
"We will all be purified in Wurm. What is good will be used to heal Wurm, or grow Wurm, or to fuel Wurm's path. What is vile will be extruded, and we will be free of it forever." --Prophet of the Cult of Wurm
I also tried Archenemy with Planechase - IMO it's too much.  Both formats are very neat, but combining them overtaxed my brain, and I'm no slouch in the thinking department.  Besides, it doubles up on the random factor and creates an increased sense of screwage, even for the Archenemy.  Not an experience I plan to repeat.




How about making it so that whenever a player other than the archenemy rolls the planar dice, they roll two dice instead, and nothing happens unless the symbols on both dice are the same.

This should result in far less walking (unless you're the archenemy) but still allows the heroes to escape from a particularly brutal plane.



That's a pretty steep penalty; the odds of a successful walk or chaos would be only 1 in 36.
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
archenemy is very neat, i won all three games we played, with the dragon deck.
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Yeah I played some Archenemy games with my friends and I was pleasantly surprised. I played the Reanimator deck and won both times. It was me playing against 3 friends and my wife. Two of my friends were playing pretty legit decks. One was a GW Mythic Ramp deck featuring Lotus Cobra, Baneslayer Angel, Gideon Jurra, Eldrazi Monument and other silly cards. The other was playing a RDW with Kiln Fiend, the Devastating Package and plenty of burn. But I got great scheme cards like the one that let me play a creature from my hand of search my library for a creature and put it in my hand. I got sac effect scheme cards when I needed them and the discard one was always nice for me to see.

I didn't figure the stock Archenemy deck would do so well. My wife played the Dragon one against us all but the scheme cards didn't work out for her. She got the one that lets you take control of all your opponents nonland permanents, untap, and give them haste as her first card. Then she got the one where your opponents can only play one spell. And she just never really got rolling. But it was still kind of fun. I can't wait until I combine the 2 scheme decks and use the best ones and come up with a great deck to compliment it.
I think there's deliberately a lot of variance in the scheme cards... drawing schemes at the wrong time is what gives two heroes a chance against an Archenemy, while pulling schemes in the perfect order is what grants an Archenemy the ability to take on four heroes with strong decks.  Since many of the schemes don't scale very well to the number of opponents, this randomness is important.
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 was at the store looking for "scorch the world with dragonfire" however, they didn't have it. They had 2x each of the others but 0 of the one I wanted. I'll just wait for the next shipment.
Don't be too smart to have fun