9/22/2010 BoaB: "Duel Deckin' Upgrades"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Building on a Budget, which goes live Wednesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
The same 'rules' apply to the Duel Deck that apply to any other preconstructed product:  Buy two (or three, or four), and cut the crappy cards in favor of multiples of the good cards.
A long time ago, The BOAB article would take one of the pre-made decks that came out for a certain block, and tweak it little by little until the deck was as competitive as it could be.  You could go online and buy the deck for 7.99 or w/e, and keep up week by week, making your own changes as well.  It was pretty fun.  Something like that would be good every once in a while.
I have to admit I wasn't too impressed with the self-referential link to the last time poison was around. If I had to give you advice on how best to write this column, I'd suggest setting a budget and building to it each week, showing what could be done relatively inexpensively. I get the impression you're really not sure what the 'casual crowd' want exactly, and can't really empathise with them.

It feels like you're constrained by the nature of the column, as if budget deckbuilding isn't really what you want to be writing about, if that makes sense.
A long time ago, The BOAB article would take one of the pre-made decks that came out for a certain block, and tweak it little by little until the deck was as competitive as it could be.  You could go online and buy the deck for 7.99 or w/e, and keep up week by week, making your own changes as well.  It was pretty fun.  Something like that would be good every once in a while.



This.

I think the main appeal for the casual crowd were the long evolutions: we'd start with a deck, like a preconstructed deck or a deck built around a junk rare (I especially loved the junk rare decks) and evolve it over the course of several weeks. There were usually about ten or twenty match reports per article, which I prefer over the current set-up (I'm aware you probably play a lot more and only pick representative games but if you see more games, you automatically get a better feel for a deck), and the writer would replace cards based on the games. With your articles I sometimes get the feeling it's...well, hasty. You get an idea, make some choices, build a deck, play two games, and throw the deck away so you can build something new next week. Maybe a slower evolution and a better insight in how you tweak the deck would already be more appealing.

I liked the article, though. It's got some interesting ideas, but again, I would've liked to see them thought out a little further (actual changes/game reports).
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I thought the article was pretty good.  I agree with AJ_Impy.  A specific budget needs to be set and the decks you make need to fill that budget.
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I have to admit I wasn't too impressed with the self-referential link to the last time poison was around. If I had to give you advice on how best to write this column, I'd suggest setting a budget and building to it each week, showing what could be done relatively inexpensively. I get the impression you're really not sure what the 'casual crowd' want exactly, and can't really empathise with them.

It feels like you're constrained by the nature of the column, as if budget deckbuilding isn't really what you want to be writing about, if that makes sense.



The assumption that Jacob should write for the casual crowd is way off. Jacob does a great job of helping people compete on a budget. People keep wanting the return to rules set by people who used to write for this columh when the cost of packs was less, and the cost of any given single was less.

If you are a casual player, well, just about every other article on this site is for you. Flores is the only one that is supposed to be for Spike, but he can't even Swim with the Sharks anymore. The decklists he presents plus how the decks actually work is available by the people that are actually winning with them on other sites most of the time.

Sorry if you are a casual guy looking for a deck that does well in the casual room of MODO, and you are down an article. For those of us that don't have 4 Jace 2.0s and want to not get crushed at FNM every week by the people that do, Jacob is a big help.

To pick some nit: Celestial Crusader doesn't fly?

In all honesty, people are only buying this thing because you get all those cards for less than the cost of Elspeth. It probably doesn't matter that much how well it plays.

However, this article shows how out of touch the people making Magic are with the majority of people playing it. The Elspeth deck is overpowered given how most people play Magic. You have to be as good as Jacob and know all the points he makes to win with Tezz. To assume the people playing the decks are good with products like dual decks misses the point. 

The real problem is this line of thinking shows up in entire sets where it does matter. RoE was apparently a good draft format if you and the other 7 people you draft with are good at Magic. If you sit down with 10 people because that is how many showed up to the store for draft and most of them are terrible at Magic, it is a disaster. It is a miserable experience quite frankly.

First, I applaud Jacob for any BoaB article he writes that breaks out of his staid template ("I had an idea for a deck; here are the cards in the deck; here are some games played with the deck"), just for the variety.

This one wasn't a really exciting article, but it had some great tips for playing the Tezzeret deck (many of which carry over to playing Magic in general), and it nicely tied in to this weekend's prerelease as well.  Well done!
Well, I can't dismiss all props to Jacob for trying to appeal to the true casual crowd for once, but for some reason, this leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. I don't know, it feels somewhat hypocritical. This is perhaps the very first JVL article that has little to do with competitive formats (and yes, I consider Pauper, at least his approach to it, as competitive), and I expect it to remain the only one for a long time. I can't help but feel that the only reason he did that is because he didn't want to write about a post-rotation deck without having the full spoiler at the time of writing, and he needed some idea for his article. "Bah, let's throw a bone to the people who don't like what I write, with a liltte luck some will change their mind about me". Really, if he wants to appeal to those people, I think it'll require more than that.

If he really means it, that's a start, but my opinion is that he should not have thrown that bone at all, because he won't be able to keep it up and he will return to his competitive ways, showing this week's article for what it really is : filler.

Don't get me wrong : his normal competitive style is just fine, IMO. I'm one of the few who can fully appreciate content no matter if it's intended for casual or for competitive players. But I want each author to write according to his strenghts and interests as much as possible. I believe JVL just isn't the right writer for appealing to casual Magic players.

I think the main appeal for the casual crowd were the long evolutions: we'd start with a deck, like a preconstructed deck or a deck built around a junk rare (I especially loved the junk rare decks) and evolve it over the course of several weeks. There were usually about ten or twenty match reports per article, which I prefer over the current set-up (I'm aware you probably play a lot more and only pick representative games but if you see more games, you automatically get a better feel for a deck), and the writer would replace cards based on the games. With your articles I sometimes get the feeling it's...well, hasty. You get an idea, make some choices, build a deck, play two games, and throw the deck away so you can build something new next week. Maybe a slower evolution and a better insight in how you tweak the deck would already be more appealing.

The problem is that JVL's competitive approach really doesn't fit the slow evolution and playtest system used by previous writers. You will never see him start by playtesting a crappy deck, a goofball deck based on a bad rare or a precon against real decks, or do such things as restrict himself to changing only a given number of cards between each playtest. Like most competitive players, he wants to play decks that feel as good as possible to him from the get-go. Also, he is good enough of a deckbuilder to start up with something very close to optimal (within a vague idea of budget) for a deck concept, so evolutions would not be consistently needed, and those he would make would likely not be significative enough to be really interesting most of the time.

Also, for long playtest sessions, the tournament practice room has the disadvantage of presenting you with the same decks over and over. Previous authors' playtest sessions in the casual room were more various and entertaining, but for JVL's purpose, which is winning tournaments on a budget, the casual room just doesn't fit. His approach of simply arranging some games against the most popular decks of the current tournament metagame is a much better fit for what he wants to accomplish.
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First off, I didn't really like this article, because it didn't have much other than tips. That was good, but how about a sample game of Elspeth Vs. Tezzeret where you see the tips in action?
Second, what I really don't like about every single JVL article, speaking as both a casual and a tournament player, is that it doesn't go in depth, and doesn't have variety. Right now, this is the structure:
1. Introduce idea for deck, often one that someone else has talked about recently.
2. Go over card choices for said deck.
3. Make a semi-budget decklist for the idea.
4. Play 2-4 Playtest games. Generally, play 3 games, and go 2-1.
5. MAYBE, if it did really bad, make a few changes.
6. Profit Have a nice Day!
How about this for an idea:
Week 1:
1. Introduce deck idea.
2. quickly go over the card choices that aren't obvious at first.
3. Make a deck that conforms to a budget set for this deck (e.g. for a deck that doesn't need too many expensive support card, 30 tickets on magic online, maybe for a deck with higher-quality cards or one designed to be really compeitive in bigger tournaments than FNM, 50-60 tickets, you get the idea). The set budget can vary, but as long as there is a clear budget for each deck, you can say with a straight face that this is a budget deck; because there's a budget.
4. Test 4-6 games in casual room.
5. Make changes.
6. play some more casual games, then make another round of changes.
Week 2:
1. Recap deck idea.
2. Play 6-8 casual room games if it did badly in the first round of casual games, then make another round of changes. Otherwise, make a sideboard.
3. If you haven't already, make a sideboard.
4. Play some tournament rounds, say 3-4.
5. Make changes.
6. If the idea at a natural stopping point, come back next week for a new deck! If it has more potential, is doing well, and is popular, play in an 8-man tournament on MTGO with it, and see how it does.
7. Come back next week for a new deck!
This structure adds depth to the articles by having twice as much stuff on each deck. It gives information on what level each deck is at, by having casual room matches, tournament room matches, and an actual tournment with results to compare it to. It makes everyone happy because there are casual room matches with variety, and tournament room matches showing how the matchups are with this deck. It allows both casual and tournament players to build the deck to their satisfaction, for their environment.
I actually do BoaB experiments myself, and have written stand-in columns for other sites. I've put a lot of thought into this, and have found a structure like the one above to be simply better.
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I liked this column a little more than the others because it gave a few tips for how to improve an existing deck.  Some of the past articles...while often very original and "johnny"...were just "here's my decklist, my favorite card, add mulldrifter, now play".  this particular article had more regarding what to think about while playing and then improving a deck.

I do like Phantom's idea of upgrading a deck from week to week, that was something that Bleweiss used to do.  However, that is NOT JVL's style.  Each auther will have to define "budget" his/her own way.  I have my own way....I moved it to the end of my post since it's a little irrelevant....

However, there's nothing wrong with recycling our old decks and improving them as new cards are introduced to standard.  

 
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Just for gits and shiggles...I'll explain my version of "budget".  For my FIRST deck, I'll only allow $20 to be spent on it.  Perhaps we can even keep it in block format or something.  The following week, I "assumably" receive another paycheck and can spend $20 more on that deck, thus I can use last week's cards as well as purchase $20 of new cards.  The third week, I can do this again, and continue to add $20 of cards to my collection each week.  After few months, we'll have enough cards to build some pretty insane decks.  Although, this method would require some keeping track of which cards that BOAB has "purchased".    

How about this for an idea:
Week 1:
1. Introduce deck idea.
2. quickly go over the card choices that aren't obvious at first.
3. Make a deck that conforms to a budget set for this deck (e.g. for a deck that doesn't need too many expensive support card, 30 tickets on magic online, maybe for a deck with higher-quality cards or one designed to be really compeitive in bigger tournaments than FNM, 50-60 tickets, you get the idea). The set budget can vary, but as long as there is a clear budget for each deck, you can say with a straight face that this is a budget deck; because there's a budget.
4. Test 4-6 games in casual room.
5. Make changes.
6. play some more casual games, then make another round of changes.
Week 2:
1. Recap deck idea.
2. Play 6-8 casual room games if it did badly in the first round of casual games, then make another round of changes. Otherwise, make a sideboard.
3. If you haven't already, make a sideboard.
4. Play some tournament rounds, say 3-4.
5. Make changes.
6. If the idea at a natural stopping point, come back next week for a new deck! If it has more potential, is doing well, and is popular, play in an 8-man tournament on MTGO with it, and see how it does.
7. Come back next week for a new deck!
This structure adds depth to the articles by having twice as much stuff on each deck. It gives information on what level each deck is at, by having casual room matches, tournament room matches, and an actual tournment with results to compare it to. It makes everyone happy because there are casual room matches with variety, and tournament room matches showing how the matchups are with this deck. It allows both casual and tournament players to build the deck to their satisfaction, for their environment.
I actually do BoaB experiments myself, and have written stand-in columns for other sites. I've put a lot of thought into this, and have found a structure like the one above to be simply better.

There are some elements that could be used in your structure idea, but I wholeheartedly disagree with the idea of doing any kind of playtest in the casual room, because the casual room has a way too high proportion of bad decks that cannot challenge a serious, competitive deck. JVL builds only competitive decks, so his report of such a playtest session would risk being a succession of "I crushed him, he whines about my deck being unfair for reason X". He would usually not come up with any necessary changes thanks to these sessions, because he would not face enough opposition to notice weaknesses (other than those goldfishing would have revealed). There are some good, polished decks in that room that are simply rogue and budget, but I'd venture they're not the majority.

I agree there could be more a bit more playtest, let's say 4 full matches against different tournament decks, with sideboard, per week. That'd be a reasonable setup and telling enough about the deck's good and bad matchups. Some changes could then be suggested if needed.

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What the hell is a 'ticket'? Wouldn't money make more sense? MTGO players know the worth of a dollar, people who actually play with real people don't know the value of a ticket. 
What the hell is a 'ticket'? Wouldn't money make more sense? MTGO players know the worth of a dollar, people who actually play with real people don't know the value of a ticket. 



A ticket (or tix) is MTGO's currency for the secondary market. It's an event ticket which you can use to enter tournies and the like. It also costs roughly $1 which makes for a nice unit to deal with.

MTGO players actually play with real people.
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Not sure if this will get to the right people, but since it's regarding the E v T duel deck, I'll try.

The wife and I finally got to play with this latest duel deck last night, I took Elspeth 2-0, but my wife gets to play Magic even less than I do and really struggled with some of the Tezzert deck's tricks.  

One thing that we both kept hitting, and that I've mentioned before (regarding Phyrexia vs The Coalition) is the problem of mana-screw in the mono-colored decks. The game of Magic as a whole I think could really use some common cycling creatures for mono-colored decks, or at the very least start putting in one or two of those older cycling lands in the mono decks. 


And to forestall the reponses: yadda yadda proper shuffling yadda yadda mulligan yadda yadda. 

Not interested.  
Proud member of C.A.R.D. - Campaign Against Rare Duals "...but the time has come when lands just need to be better. Creatures have gotten stronger, spells have always been insane, and lands just sat in this awkward place of necessity." Jacob Van Lunen on the refuge duals, 16 Sep 2009. "While it made thematic sense to separate enemy and allied color fixing in the past, we have come around to the definite conclusion that it is just plain incorrect from a game-play perspective. This is one of these situations where game play should just trump flavor." - Sam Stoddard on ending the separation of allied/enemy dual lands. 05 July 2013
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