7/26/2011 SF: "On an Angel's Wings"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Serious Fun, which goes live Tuesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
I love Sunforger, but it seems like having Basandra out makes it less awesome than it can be.  One of my favorite cards in multiplayer (which you can get with the Sunforger) is Blood Frenzy.  You can potentially get a 2 for 1 when the target is blocked, or just kill one of their best creatures while doing an extra 4 damage to the other player if it's unblocked.

The poll is a hard question to answer (the main article meant little to me because I hate the format).  Should a new player start with Sealed Deck?  Well, they kinda-sorta are starting there, aren't they?  How far apart is sealed from constructed when you've got just a few boosters to work with, but need to get up to 60 cards?

I voted "No", because I think a new player should probably start with a constructed deck borrowed from one of their friends.  Even if the deck has tricks, the fact that they can't or won't see them is irrelevant.  Unless your deck is depending on some complex rules interactions to pull off your win (like with some combo decks), any random aggro deck is not too hard to play if they're willing to attack, and control decks suit the people who aren't.

I think you've got too much equipment and not enough on-board tricks. For example, Helm of Possession will allow you to better defend yourself and go on offense than sword of body and mind. You can add lands that'll make the tokens to support it.

I think your biggest problem is that Bassandra isn't always that useful. She'd be better in a Naya deck where you can search for her if you need her, and she can be paired with Vigor. I think your problems are stemming from focusing on a narrow aspect of the game too much and falling behind when players are busy doing something else.

The deck seems sort of half-baked; it has a few nods to Basandra's Bullwhip ability, but the choices somewhat odd, and the omissions even odder. If you're running Vow of Duty, why no Vow of Lightning? If it's simply a matter of space, replace VoD with VoL so that you're not handing out Vigilance to the creature you're forcing to attack -- half the value in forcing a creature to attack is that it cannot block it's controller during the following round of opponents' turns. Crawlspace doesn't give any incentive not to attack you with the biggest two creatures around each turn, so something like Ghostly Prison or Windborn Muse seems more likely to turn attackers away from you. And while I suppose Sunweb and Woolly Razorback have some synergy with Bassandra, they're terrible. The format is slow enough to simply pay an additional two mana, and insert any big fat angel or dragon in the space; such a creature will kill creatures coming your way too, but you won't have to suffer restrictions when you want to attack with your own guys.

As was already mentioned, some of the Sunforger toolbox is lacking in synergy with your general. Master Warcraft, Order, and Grab the Reins (when stealing a creature to block with). Bassandra also interferes with running such great Sunforger targets as Condemn, Fight to the Death, and Wing Shards. These are all cards that I would suggest you try out, but having them in a deck with a general that makes them useless seems awkward. Bassandra has always felt like a poorly-designed general to me, as she is at odds with what her colors do well; she's making your deck work against itself. 

If the deck is how you enjoy playing it, then don't change a thing. I understand this format is more about fun than anything else; I'm just expressing what I think would be more fun for me to play with. Hopefully, you'll find something in my post that enhances your experience with the deck (even if it's just mulling over the ideas you eventually discard).

Sealed Deck is better for new players than any of the various Draft or Constructed formats, but only once they're ready to start building decks.

For a player's first few games, there's enough to learn in just playing the game, without worrying about which cards to put in your deck when you've no idea what any of them do. I actually keep a set of new-player friendly decks around (5 monocolour 8th Edition decks, all built out of the same box of boosters, with more of an eye on including the colour's traditional strengths and iconic cards than making finely-tuned competitive decks) but even being handed a finely-tuned blue-black control-combo deck that aims to win before it kills itself is easier to get to grips with than being handed a pile of cards and told "build a deck".

Once a player is ready to start building decks, constructed is fine if they have the money to acquire a reasonable card-pool, or if you're willing to let them build from your pool, but if they don't have access to more than, say, $50 worth of cards, then going Limited rather than Constructed means their opponents' decks are built under the same restrictions.

Draft formats all have the problem that you can seriously screw yourself over during the draft, and leave yourself with no way of building a reasonable deck. With a sealed pool, you can still get screwed by chance, but, provided your opponents' patience holds out, you always have the chance to rebuild your deck into the best possible configuration - you're never locked into a bad choice.

You can't understand how to draft well until you have at least some understanding of deck construction, and you can't understand deck construction without at least some grasp of how to play, so, for most players, the place to start is by playing before introducing other skills to master...
M:tG Rules Advisor
With Sunforger, a plethora of equipment, and a particularly synergistic general ability, dispense justice belongs in this deck.
My general rule of thumb when building commander decks (get it? general... ) is to include cards that have either

1) A reusable effect
2) A HUGE one-time effect or
3) Fit the deck's theme somehow

So for instance, I would play Aura Shards, Nullmage Shepherd before I would play Krosan Grip, or even Return to Dust because they're reusable effects. Things like the Kazuul in the Basandra deck I like because of the reusable effect and it fits the theme.

I did a quick search and found some things that might work all right in the Basandra Deck.

No Quarter - Just play some fat, fat, fatties and run their guys into them without fear of having to trade
Powerstone Minefield/Lightmine Field - if they're playing lots of little guys
Luminarch Ascension - insane if you play it turn two in multiplayer and does what Basandra does in a sense by making your opponents want to attack
War's Toll - spend one mana to get all their guys attacking instead of 4 or 5
Trap Runner - "don't have to worry about THAT guy anymore"

But the best of all is probably Martyr's Bond especially if you play some sort of token generator like Myr Turbine or Mobilization or Elspeth Tirel... Just run their guys into your chump blockers and they sac a creature.

Hi Adam,

I really liked this article.  I have a couple of further questions/comments for you:

1. How many players were you typically facing when you tested out the deck?  I've played a lot of 1 on 1 Commander lately while I wait for my play group to get their decks built, and I've noticed the games change in huge amounts.  Just curious.

2. You didn't mention the part about Stranglehold stopping library searching.  From the games I've played, that is more crucial than stopping multiple turns (nobody has done that yet).  Stopping library searching means no Demonic Tutor or Rampant Growth, or other things.  It also makes Path to Exile a lot more interesting.

3. You didn't really mention spot removal VS board removal.  I think that's a sensitive debate that gets people talking about a lot of things.  What I've seemed to gather/read is that you want both, but how much always kinds of depends on what cards you are playing, and what your meta is like.  I'm curious to know your opinion on the matter.

4. I noticed a lot of spells that seem like they want to be played during combat.  This kind of seems to go against your Commander, and it hinders your deck.  I'm still new to the format, but I have been building my deck with the thought that having my Commander will make everything better, not restrict me.  What about using other cards instead?  Trap Runner blocks something, Shield Dancer re-directs damage, ect.  These cards might not be the best examples, but they have abilities that can be played during combat which can give you similar/different, more interesting effects.  This would allow you to play cards that don't turn dead when your Commander is in play.

All in all, very cool.  Keep up the good work!
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As to the poll, personally I think that draft is much easier on new players than sealed.  I think it's because being able to control your card pool and make those decisions by choosing one card repeatedly from only single pack's worth of cards and then building your deck when you already have an idea of where you are going with it is easier in my mind than having to build your deck right away from a pool of cards you have no control over.
~ Current Decks I'm Playing or Building ~ (Click a deck's name to see list) [] CorpseJunk Menace/Township Counters (Standard) [] Reanimation/Clerics Theme Deck - Commander: Ghost Dad [] Devouring Tokens (Planechase, Multiplayer) [] Krark-Clan Ironworks: 2012 Edition (Modern) [] Azorious Turbo Fog (Modern)
Oh Gods!! Why no cards like Lightmine Field, or Ghostly Prison??? This Commandeer SCREAMS to have such cards played in her deck, cards that would make attacking you a costly and unwanted option.

There is this new 1(P/w)(P/w) Enchantement in New Phyrexia that would be awesome with this Comandeer, too bad I can't remember the name!
Ghostly Prison actually works against you in this deck... They could just say they don't want to pay the cost for it and not attack with anyone, so you probably don't want it in this deck.  But yes, Lightmine Field could be cool.  And Gideon's Avenger would be great.
Ghostly Prison actually works against you in this deck... They could just say they don't want to pay the cost for it and not attack with anyone, so you probably don't want it in this deck.  But yes, Lightmine Field could be cool.  And Gideon's Avenger would be great.

In multiplayer wouldn't they be forced to attack someone else if they opted not to pay the ?
Ghostly Prison actually works against you in this deck... They could just say they don't want to pay the cost for it and not attack with anyone, so you probably don't want it in this deck.  But yes, Lightmine Field could be cool.  And Gideon's Avenger would be great.

In multiplayer wouldn't they be forced to attack someone else if they opted not to pay the ?

You're right... it would work that way in multi-player.  But in a heads-up match, they can just decline to pay.  They don't have to pay and attach you, which is what I think the other guy was indicating.

Plus, I hate having to switch out multi-player cards with heads-up cards when I switch between the two so I try to find cards that are awesome in either case. lol  :-)

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