07/26/2011 LI: "Combat Bluffing Fundamentals"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Limited Information, which goes live Tuesday morning on magicthegathering.com.

At 7 life, if I can still win without the flameblast dragon, I'm calling that bluff. M12 is fast enough that lava axe actually makes the cut, and I'm not going to lose to it if I don't have to.
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I enjoyed this article. The level of bluff you can get away with depends upon the sophistication of your opponent, as well as how sophisticated your opponent thinks you are (you want more of the former and less of the latter), but it's always worth keeping the option in mind.
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This was a great article, if a bit short. The very first scenario (attacking into a stronger blocker of an opponent who is forced to block) reminded me of one of the most important stratagems when bluffing (or just playing, really): Never force your opponent to make the right move. In this case, if you don't have anthing to help that runeclaw bear, don't attack. He might not block if he was at 15 life, but he's not! And he's forced to block, and you're down a creature.

It's sort of like Chess; If you see that an enemy piece can perform some deadly move, the correct move is to cut off that possibility. Not to threaten the piece, forcing him to move it.

I think I'd always Doom Blade that Peregrine pre-combat, by the way. SS just emphasized that every point of damage counts and I don't feel sure that an opponent wouldn't block. But I could see it happening. It's just not a risk I'd run.
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I think I swing my lone runeclaw bear into a flameblast dragon pretty much every time. If it's my only creature, he's just going to send in the dragon and burn the bear on his turn anyway? The only time he wouldn't is if he thinks we have a haste dude or titanic growth. If we had a titanic growth we'd definitely be attacking though, so I don't think it's much of a decision usually?
I must admit I was ignoring the dragon's abillity, I was just thinking of it as "huge flier".
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I think I swing my lone runeclaw bear into a flameblast dragon pretty much every time. If it's my only creature, he's just going to send in the dragon and burn the bear on his turn anyway? The only time he wouldn't is if he thinks we have a haste dude or titanic growth. If we had a titanic growth we'd definitely be attacking though, so I don't think it's much of a decision usually?



My counterargument would be that, by holding back, you are still forcing him to pay 3 mana to kill the bears.  This could mean he won't be able to play a post-combat Vastwood Gorger, or something similar.
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You're on 4 life. Your board consists of a freshly cast Flameblast Dragon and a bunch of tapped lands. You have nothing relevant in your hand. Your opponent, who is on 20 life and has a Runeclaw Bear, 3 Mountains, 3 Forests, and two cards in hand, attacks with Runeclaw Bear.

What do you do?




First you hold your head in shame that you are going to potentially lose to Runeclaw Bear!

More seriously though as Fractal said, it really depends on the level of your opponent. I don't know how many times in a pre-release I thought I was bluffing the opponent when he replied to the bluff in a laugh: "Ah wow you forgot to block, I'm so lucky". Explaining a bluff kind of defeat the purpose, so you need to make sure when bluffing that your opponent is good enough to analyze your bluff.  

In most of the cases in the article though, it's often preferable to always block. If your opponent kills your dragon, he'll be stuck with 1 or 0 cards depending how much  he needs to pay to finish it off. At 4 life left, that means he has been beating you up for a while. If he only has 6 lands in play and 2 cards in hand, I'd bet one of those is a land ;) 
Against a creature other than Flameblast Dragon, I doubt I'd attack.  In most Sealed or Draft decks, the best way to beat an opponent with low life is to attack with enough creatures that lethal damage has to get through.  And you have more creatures than combat tricks in your deck.

In the final example, how often will not getting that two points of damage in cause you to lose the game, compared to the benefit from your opponent misplaying because he's playing around Titanic Growth?  The first seems more likely; you'll be a turn behind in a race situation.  I try to get the removal out of my opponent's hands, hopefully used on my #2 creature instead of my #1.

Predarek: I must truly hold my head in shame: I lost to the Goblin token from the red Chancellor.  Had the removal for everything else, but so did my opponent, and that little 1/1 stuck around to finish me off.

You're on 4 life. Your board consists of a freshly cast Flameblast Dragon and a bunch of tapped lands. You have nothing relevant in your hand. Your opponent, who is on 20 life and has a Runeclaw Bear, 3 Mountains, 3 Forests, and two cards in hand, attacks with Runeclaw Bear.

What do you do?




First you hold your head in shame that you are going to potentially lose to Runeclaw Bear!

More seriously though as Fractal said, it really depends on the level of your opponent. I don't know how many times in a pre-release I thought I was bluffing the opponent when he replied to the bluff in a laugh: "Ah wow you forgot to block, I'm so lucky". Explaining a bluff kind of defeat the purpose, so you need to make sure when bluffing that your opponent is good enough to analyze your bluff.  

In most of the cases in the article though, it's often preferable to always block. If your opponent kills your dragon, he'll be stuck with 1 or 0 cards depending how much  he needs to pay to finish it off. At 4 life left, that means he has been beating you up for a while. If he only has 6 lands in play and 2 cards in hand, I'd bet one of those is a land ;) 



In that particular example, it doesn't matter whether your opponent is bluffing or not. If he "has it" (no matter whether "it" is the shock, the incinerate, the titanic growth, or the chandra's outrage), you're still better off blocking since if you don't he can use any of those cards to kill you instead of your dragon. If he doesn't have it, it's obviously better to block, because you save save two precious life points and will be able to hit your opponent with the dragon's fire instead of the bear. Whether he has it or not, you want to block, so you block.
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I think I'd always Doom Blade that Peregrine pre-combat, by the way. SS just emphasized that every point of damage counts and I don't feel sure that an opponent wouldn't block. But I could see it happening. It's just not a risk I'd run.


And that's exactly why, once in a while, you can get away with that play.

Magic is just like poker in this respect. A bluff is more convincing if it's coming from someone who hasn't been bluffing all night. If so far you've had the Titanic Growth every time you make a swing like that, your opponent is probably going to figure you for having it this time.
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I think I'd always Doom Blade that Peregrine pre-combat, by the way. SS just emphasized that every point of damage counts and I don't feel sure that an opponent wouldn't block. But I could see it happening. It's just not a risk I'd run.


And that's exactly why, once in a while, you can get away with that play.

Magic is just like poker in this respect. A bluff is more convincing if it's coming from someone who hasn't been bluffing all night. If so far you've had the Titanic Growth every time you make a swing like that, your opponent is probably going to figure you for having it this time.



Yeah, I know. I figured if I "read" the opponent enough to believe he'd fall for it, I might try it in this situation (where all it costs me is a hit for 2), but not in a more dire situation (where it might cost me the 2/2 creature if he doesn't buy it).
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Even if you were at six block all day