07/12/2012 PR: "As The Pendulum Swings"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Perilous Research, which goes live Thursday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Just a quick nitpick on the Modern Meta section... This deck is "Soul Sisters" (W Lifegain/Aggro), not "White Weenie" (W Aggro).



BxSci (4-0) Modern Daily #4061029 on 07/07/2012










18  Plains
4  Windbrisk Heights
22 lands

4  Ajani's Pridemate
1  Angel of Jubilation
4  Martyr of Sands
4  Ranger of Eos
4  Serra Ascendant
4  Soul Warden
4  Soul's Attendant
1  Student of Warfare
26 creatures

4  Honor of the Pure
4  Path to Exile
4  Spectral Procession
12 other spells


Sideboard

2  Ethersworn Canonist
4  Grafdigger's Cage
1  Kami of Ancient Law
1  Proclamation of Rebirth
1  Ronom Unicorn
3  Stony Silence
3  Suppression Field
15 sideboard cards

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A more in-depth look at Pauper has given me a better understanding of the format in its current form.


If my job for the last 3 years had been to write about inexpensive decks, I think I'd pause before admitting I didn't know Pauper.  Undecided

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Much better article this time around. I really only have one thing to nit-pick over.

 Last week, the Standard metagame was oscillating toward the control end of the spectrum. Various Delver strategies made more 4–0s than any other strategy, but aggressive black-red and red-green strategies were nipping at Delver's heels. This week, the pendulum has swung in the other direction. More controlling strategies enjoyed huge success last Saturday, no doubt preying on the most aggressive strategies in Standard.

If the pendulum was already moving toward control, it's hardly moving in the other direction when there's MORE control winning events. 

That's all I can really pick out from the article. As a whole it was a lot more personable than last week and held my attention a lot better. I think it's a little early still to be talking about what M13 will be adding, since this is a Magic: Online column and we still have just over two weeks before it becomes available. I also still think the subject is a little thin to be a real weekly column, as I said, I think it's still early to be discussing M13, but I honestly can't think of what else could have been said in it's place this week. Still, an improvement on last week and hopefully it'll continue to.

 
First paragraph under Standard is weird. Paraphrasing, "Controlling decks were good last week, but this week, controlling decks are good."  Huh?  I'm not even sure that the top decks are even very distingishable on that axis, honestly.

Second paragraph has this sentence: "Many of this week's Delver players shaved their third Gut Shot in favor of another cantrip or a third Equipment."  I'm trying to offer constructive criticism here: this kind of sentence needs to eiher be cut or else greatly expounded on, depending on what you're trying to say with it.  Seriously, no one's going to complain if you go off an a speculative spiel about how X/1's are having less overall impact on the metagame and what that might mean.  That's exactly the kind of stuff we want to hear about.

Third paragraph: Augur of Bolas.  Great! Discussion about a new card!  Comparing it to Snapcaster is interesting, although anyone can see it's much worse.  Give us some dicussion points!  Why might it be well-positioned?  Why is it worth doubling up on Snapcaster's effect?  What advantages does it have?

Fourth paragraph: "As I predicted last week"...no.  No stroking your ego, please.  This is not the place, and only earns you disrespect.

Fifth & Sixth paragraph: Interesting discussion of a niche archetype being well-positioned.  Great, again!  But don't say stuff like "The deck is surprisingly strong in the current metagame. Traditional Delver decks and most creature-based strategies are good matchups for the latest versions of the white-black deck. "  Be less dry and a lot more focused on the Why of things.  Focus in on the plays that make the archetype interesting outside of the goldfish experience.

Seventh paragraph: not really a lot of evidence that Delver is going away much, seeing as Delver is cheap (money-wise) and powerful, but you're entitled to your opinion.  Not really much else to say here.

The first paragraph of the Block section was mostly good, but stuff like "Some players have begun including one or two copies of Olivia Voldaren in their lists this week as well" isn't good.  Tell us why.  Tell us why it matters, what matchups they're strengthening, what they're sacrificing, what opportunities it opens up.  Exposition is good!

The second paragraph is the same.  Restoration Angel and Olivia are filling very similar roles in very similar decks.  Saying some decks played one while some played the other isn't interesting.  Examine this!  Speculate, give people something to talk about.  Why is a 4-mana flier important for the deck in this environment?  What utility is more important?  What is the impact of splashing a third color vs using a more mana-intensive card?

Overall, just be less dry (and to some extent, less pompous).  You don't actually need to cover every decktype in every format every week, either - if you spend a couple paragraphs on something you think is really cool, you can afford to skimp on the stuff where you can't think of anything interesting to say.
It sure is easy to critique other writers without knowing any of the guidelines for their articles, like deadlines, or word limits.

I thought it was nice that you took the results of the online meta-game and translated how you thought it might change come the release of M13 in the real world meta-game, which is what I believe you said would be the point of your article. So props, it was a good read, even for somebody who doesn't have much experience.
This article simply highlights a major problem with Wizards of the Coast and their design department for Magic: The Gathering.

Their utter hatred for White.

You always hear about "Blue/White Control" where the main reason the White is in there is maybe 1 creature and some board wipe.
You always here about "Mono black" or "Blue/Black Control" or "Black/White Control" and it is fairly obvious what Wizards wants out of White. Wizards wants White to be nothing but support for other colors.

You never hear about "Mono-White" decks being tournament competitive.

Blue decks however... Always... And why not? Blue, Black, and Red have all of the good tools.

They have the counters, they have the spot removal, heck Red has one of the best board wipes ever written now with Bonfire of the Damned... Aka Laser Guided Board Wipe.

What does white do better than any other color?

Nothing really useful that is what.

Come on Wizards, make White viable for once. Give it all of the tools. Give it decent spot removal. Give it the ability to accelerate itself (like Black, Red, and Green have!) and give it the ability to compete with the others for a decent spot. Stop making white simply support.
My Main problem is that I got little from the article I didn't get from reading the little blurb on the front page. Give us a reason to open up the article and really read it (this could be many things, but an in-depth why analysis would be good).

@profWalsh: White does a lot of stuff better than other colors. The problem is, that stuff isn't well positioned or it requires multicolor. Oblivion ring and celestial purge come to mind as some of the best removal, and humans certainly are white with support. And white also has arguably the best miracle- Entreat the Angels, and it also has terminus.
This article simply highlights a major problem with Wizards of the Coast and their design department for Magic: The Gathering.

Their utter hatred for White.

You always hear about "Blue/White Control" where the main reason the White is in there is maybe 1 creature and some board wipe.
You always here about "Mono black" or "Blue/Black Control" or "Black/White Control" and it is fairly obvious what Wizards wants out of White. Wizards wants White to be nothing but support for other colors.

You never hear about "Mono-White" decks being tournament competitive.

Blue decks however... Always... And why not? Blue, Black, and Red have all of the good tools.

They have the counters, they have the spot removal, heck Red has one of the best board wipes ever written now with Bonfire of the Damned... Aka Laser Guided Board Wipe.

What does white do better than any other color?

Nothing really useful that is what.

Come on Wizards, make White viable for once. Give it all of the tools. Give it decent spot removal. Give it the ability to accelerate itself (like Black, Red, and Green have!) and give it the ability to compete with the others for a decent spot. Stop making white simply support.



I...
um...

*looks at the mono-white tempered steel decks from a year ago*
*Looks at mono-white human decks that were rogue before the rise of delver*
*Looks at mono-white Kithkin that competed with Faeries before 5-CC rose to prominence*
*Looks at the Soul Sisters deck a whole 5 posts up in the thread*

Yes, of course, what was I thinking?

Edit:
To Expand, it is rare for a mono-colored deck to EVER be successful.  We hear about things like Mono-Black Control specifically because the rarity makes them memorable.  Other than red burn, it'salmost always better to have multiple colors in your deck, as it gives you so many more options.  This is especially true in control archetypes, where the drawback of consistency in drawing your colors is much less severe.

Also, white has, historically, had the best spot removal in the game, frequently better than black (Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, Oblivion Ring).  White is probably the most versatile color, with the ability to play small creatures regularly better than any other color, and some of the strongest control elements in board sweepers and RfG spot removal. 

The only reason you don't see mono-white is that it plays well with others better than anyone but Green.  Blue has double-blue counters, black has an entire subtheme about swamp/black matters, and red is generally too aggressive to be able to support splashes.
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I am not sure why there is so much hate for Jacob's writing when every week Steve Sadin seems to be desperately trying to reach a word count by filling his columns with mirrored paragraphs. Like from this week's limited information:

"If you are (reasonably) confident you can kill your opponent quickly, or you're very pessimistic about your chances should the game drag on, then by all means use your removal early to help you seal the deal.

Alternatively, if you can tell your opponent is getting off to a big lead and you just need to preserve your life total long enough for your card-drawing or your big threats to take over the game for you, then go ahead and kill that Centaur Courser that's breathing down your neck."


The second paragraph is not necessary! It's all implied by the first.  This wouldn't be a big deal if Sadin's columns didn't do this consistantly, but it's gotten to the point that I can read a paragraph of his column and predict exactly what the next one is going to say.
Much, much better than last week.  I just want to echo one thing:

I am not as concerned about what changes or unique cards there are as to WHY they are there.  Talking to players, especially newer ones, about why certain choices are made helps improve other players' deck building.  Especially since this will be weekly, and therefore we'll be seeing the same decks over and over, let's try and be a little more focused on nuances and why they work maybe?

Those who fear the darkness have never seen what the light can do.

I've seen angels fall from blinding heights. But you yourself are nothing so divine. Just next in line.

191752181 wrote:
All I'm saying is, I don't really see how she goes around petrifying swords and boots and especially mirrors. How the heck does she beat a Panoptic Mirror? It makes no sense for artifacts either. Or enchantments, for that matter. "Well, you see, Jimmy cast this spell to flood the mountain, but then the gorgon just looked at the water really hard and it went away."
I enjoyed the analysis in this article, especially for standard, but I hope that future articles are more focused. If you looked at standard and one other format, there would be more room for deeper analysis. I also agree with Tymestalker that discussion on why certain cards are in a deck or why certain cards are good answers to decks would be helpful. Also, your pauper discussion seems very thrown together. There is no real discussion and the whole thing just seems to be filler. I would love to see some good discussion regarding the pauper metagame, but I would rather you just scrap talking about pauper if it is going to get such brief treatment. I also wonder if only looking at 4-0 decks from weekend events can really give the pauper player a good idea about the metagame. There were only 3 pauper events over the covered period. If you are going to continue looking at pauper I suggest either looking at a week's worth of events or look at 3-1 decks as well.
I enjoyed the analysis in this article, especially for standard, but I hope that future articles are more focused. If you looked at standard and one other format, there would be more room for deeper analysis. I also agree with Tymestalker that discussion on why certain cards are in a deck or why certain cards are good answers to decks would be helpful. Also, your pauper discussion seems very thrown together. There is no real discussion and the whole thing just seems to be filler. I would love to see some good discussion regarding the pauper metagame, but I would rather you just scrap talking about pauper if it is going to get such brief treatment. I also wonder if only looking at 4-0 decks from weekend events can really give the pauper player a good idea about the metagame. There were only 3 pauper events over the covered period. If you are going to continue looking at pauper I suggest either looking at a week's worth of events or look at 3-1 decks as well.



Maybe go with Standard (the most popular) every week, and rotate the other formats?  Standard and Block one week, then Standard and Modern, then Standard and pauper, and so on?

Those who fear the darkness have never seen what the light can do.

I've seen angels fall from blinding heights. But you yourself are nothing so divine. Just next in line.

191752181 wrote:
All I'm saying is, I don't really see how she goes around petrifying swords and boots and especially mirrors. How the heck does she beat a Panoptic Mirror? It makes no sense for artifacts either. Or enchantments, for that matter. "Well, you see, Jimmy cast this spell to flood the mountain, but then the gorgon just looked at the water really hard and it went away."
Maybe go with Standard (the most popular) every week, and rotate the other formats?  Standard and Block one week, then Standard and Modern, then Standard and pauper, and so on?

This was going to be my suggestion, as well; it just looks like he's tackling a bit too much to get the depth that readers are really looking for. I think it would be easier on him and more enjoyable for the readers if he narrowed down the list of environments he covered each week - possibly highlighting those in which the changes have significant or interesting implications - and simply rotated between those as necessary. This article felt a bit like JVL didn't have a chance to stop for breath, because he simply had so many disconnected points he wanted to cover - it felt a little tense. I think it would be best for everyone if the column simply covered what it really wants to each week, and then worried about covering those topics extremely well...
Maybe go with Standard (the most popular) every week, and rotate the other formats?  Standard and Block one week, then Standard and Modern, then Standard and pauper, and so on?

This was going to be my suggestion, as well; it just looks like he's tackling a bit too much to get the depth that readers are really looking for. I think it would be easier on him and more enjoyable for the readers if he narrowed down the list of environments he covered each week - possibly highlighting those in which the changes have significant or interesting implications - and simply rotated between those as necessary. This article felt a bit like JVL didn't have a chance to stop for breath, because he simply had so many disconnected points he wanted to cover - it felt a little tense. I think it would be best for everyone if the column simply covered what it really wants to each week, and then worried about covering those topics extremely well...




That was my feel as well.  It felt like he had too much information to cover in too small a space.  That's why I like a rotating schedule for other formats.  Standard stays because it's the most popular, of course, but then he could devote more time to 1-3 decks or nuances in standard and go into more detail, then go into the format of rotation and do 1-2 decks there and go into detail as well.

Those who fear the darkness have never seen what the light can do.

I've seen angels fall from blinding heights. But you yourself are nothing so divine. Just next in line.

191752181 wrote:
All I'm saying is, I don't really see how she goes around petrifying swords and boots and especially mirrors. How the heck does she beat a Panoptic Mirror? It makes no sense for artifacts either. Or enchantments, for that matter. "Well, you see, Jimmy cast this spell to flood the mountain, but then the gorgon just looked at the water really hard and it went away."
Can't you at least put a link to all of the decks you don't post a decklist for?

You post a list of four Modern decks that 4-0'd, then instead of posting any of those lists, you post something you threw together and haven't even tested?
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" class="mceContentBody " contenteditable="true" />Maybe go with Standard (the most popular) every week, and rotate the other formats?  Standard and Block one week, then Standard and Modern, then Standard and pauper, and so on?



Yes! Great idea.
Maybe go with Standard (the most popular) every week, and rotate the other formats?  Standard and Block one week, then Standard and Modern, then Standard and pauper, and so on?

This was going to be my suggestion, as well; it just looks like he's tackling a bit too much to get the depth that readers are really looking for. I think it would be easier on him and more enjoyable for the readers if he narrowed down the list of environments he covered each week - possibly highlighting those in which the changes have significant or interesting implications - and simply rotated between those as necessary. This article felt a bit like JVL didn't have a chance to stop for breath, because he simply had so many disconnected points he wanted to cover - it felt a little tense. I think it would be best for everyone if the column simply covered what it really wants to each week, and then worried about covering those topics extremely well...

I like the idea of rotating formats each week with standard being the only constant and perhaps occasionally devoting an entire article to one format, such as the current PTQ format.

A more in-depth look at Pauper has given me a better understanding of the format in its current form.


If my job for the last 3 years had been to write about inexpensive decks, I think I'd pause before admitting I didn't know Pauper.  




well....Pauper is a pretty different scene from Standard, which was the format he mostly made decks for... 
Nice article Jacob.  It was a good read.  You know what might be cool?  Ocasional interviews with the players who make innovative changes -- it would give a depth of insight into the format that can be hard to achieve otherwise.  For example, why did DaKriket add Restoration Angel to Jund in Block?  The answer probably has a lot to do with the current format and certain synergies that are available.  (I'm not DaKriket, heh).

Another idea: once you're far enough in, you can start tracking trends in the meta -- albeit it's a bit hard with just the data that Wizards provides.  It would be nice if they posted ALL the decklists, winners and losers, so that you can really get a feel for what works and what is just popular.
Maybe go with Standard (the most popular) every week, and rotate the other formats?  Standard and Block one week, then Standard and Modern, then Standard and pauper, and so on?

This was going to be my suggestion, as well; it just looks like he's tackling a bit too much to get the depth that readers are really looking for. I think it would be easier on him and more enjoyable for the readers if he narrowed down the list of environments he covered each week - possibly highlighting those in which the changes have significant or interesting implications - and simply rotated between those as necessary. This article felt a bit like JVL didn't have a chance to stop for breath, because he simply had so many disconnected points he wanted to cover - it felt a little tense. I think it would be best for everyone if the column simply covered what it really wants to each week, and then worried about covering those topics extremely well...

I like the idea of rotating formats each week with standard being the only constant and perhaps occasionally devoting an entire article to one format, such as the current PTQ format.

This was my thought as well. I think instead of just doing standard + a format, it could/should be the current PTQ format or something tailored to an upcoming real-world GP, plus rotating the formats. This will really help us see at one time how decks have evolved and the metagames may have shifted over say a 3-4 week period. Discussing all briefly in one article does seem ok about 4 times a year though (the week a new set comes out to discuss changes).

Modern is still so new and unexplored that providing a few decklists (of the 4-0) and actually discussing the cards/synergies would be awesome! Overall I liked the information you had, but I think discussing each format leaves too little room to actually discuss the most important information (like what the winning decks are and play, rather than the name of the deck only). I really liked your additional takes on potential brews to try, though. I just wish it had been supplemented with more of the other decklists and information. Then you could spend more time explaining just how your brew is meant to combat the format as it stands. Overal a decent read, but lacking a bit in good, applicable information. 
  It would be nice if they posted ALL the decklists, winners and losers, so that you can really get a feel for what works and what is just popular.



They've already done that for years. Check out the Friday's Daily Activity called Decks of the Week. It actually lists all the 4 - 0 and 3 - 1 decklists from every constructed event that fired in the past week. It's partially what makes this column kind of pointless. JVL needs to make sure what he writes actually enhances the articles so that the column is not just a cluttered up version of the Daily Activity.
I am not sure why there is so much hate for Jacob's writing when every week Steve Sadin seems to be desperately trying to reach a word count by filling his columns with mirrored paragraphs. Like from this week's limited information:

"If you are (reasonably) confident you can kill your opponent quickly, or you're very pessimistic about your chances should the game drag on, then by all means use your removal early to help you seal the deal.

Alternatively, if you can tell your opponent is getting off to a big lead and you just need to preserve your life total long enough for your card-drawing or your big threats to take over the game for you, then go ahead and kill that Centaur Courser that's breathing down your neck."


The second paragraph is not necessary! It's all implied by the first.  This wouldn't be a big deal if Sadin's columns didn't do this consistantly, but it's gotten to the point that I can read a paragraph of his column and predict exactly what the next one is going to say.


This. I'm not gonna say JVL's column is the best, but it seems unfair to me that so many people pick on him when there are far less interesting colums like Sadin's. I usually skim over Serious Fun as well..

IMAGE(http://i1.minus.com/jbcBXM4z66fMtK.jpg)

192884403 wrote:
surely one can't say complex conditional passive language is bad grammar ?
I am not sure why there is so much hate for Jacob's writing when every week Steve Sadin seems to be desperately trying to reach a word count by filling his columns with mirrored paragraphs. Like from this week's limited information:

"If you are (reasonably) confident you can kill your opponent quickly, or you're very pessimistic about your chances should the game drag on, then by all means use your removal early to help you seal the deal.

Alternatively, if you can tell your opponent is getting off to a big lead and you just need to preserve your life total long enough for your card-drawing or your big threats to take over the game for you, then go ahead and kill that Centaur Courser that's breathing down your neck."


The second paragraph is not necessary! It's all implied by the first.  This wouldn't be a big deal if Sadin's columns didn't do this consistantly, but it's gotten to the point that I can read a paragraph of his column and predict exactly what the next one is going to say.


This. I'm not gonna say JVL's column is the best, but it seems unfair to me that so many people pick on him when there are far less interesting colums like Sadin's. I usually skim over Serious Fun as well..

I like serious fun. But I can see why some people don't.
Open Invitation To JVL

Jacob, you are more than welcome to utilize my Modern meta info for your article research. Note tabs at bottom of spreadsheet for navigation.




Link to Q3 meta spreadsheets. Note tabs at bottom for navigation.


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