8/22/2012 Limited Information: Chump Blocking

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Limited Information, which goes live on Wednesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
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This is something that happened in an online M2013 release draft.
I was on 8 life and my opponent had 20.
I was playing red/white - mostly red and had 6 lands including at least 2 plains and at least 2 mountains.
I had 3 1/1 soldier tokens, a Knight of Glory (2/1) and a Griffin Protector (2/3)
My opponent was also playing white, with green I think.
He had a pacified creature, and two Griffin Protectors.
He also had a Ring of Thune, which had pummped one of his grififns up to 4/5 and he had just switched it to the other.
I had 4 cards in hand.
I attacked with everything.

My opponent chose not to block.

Presumably (and corectly) he thought I had a combat trick in hand.

Would you have done the same?

Show
I had Trumpet Blast in hand - two copies - and won the game with that attack.
Depends on any number of factors (most importantly: does he know a trumpet blast is in your deck?, is this the first game, the second or the third? does he have enchantment removal? and so on) but yes, I think blocking is the right move. There are very few instants that can turn a 7-point lifeswing into lethal in one go and only a double-shot of trumpet blast, or an unblocked-attackers-into-trumpet-blast + burn to the face seem to do it. Can't really fault him for assuming you don't have both, but he should at least play around you having the one trumpet blast since it's one of the most likely cards a red/white aggro deck would play.

If he doesn't block, then you having the trumpet blast will almost certainly win the game for you. He absolutely has to draw a creature or any spell that directly affects the board or outright lose. Even then a totally random safe passage might win you the game. Not blocking would put him at 3 life, and not having kill-blocked anything last turn, that means he'd get overwhelmed and lose on your next combat step. And going to 3 life against a red deck is a precarious position to be in anyway. It's possible he draws a creature and instantly wins, but it's probably not worth risking it all for that. So he should block with at least one creature, possibly both.

I've been going over this quite a bit, but honestly, it's too varied to really call it. There are many combat tricks you could play now or during your opponent's next attack step that would all require a different approach. You may or may not have a burn spell on hand. He may or may not draw a creature next turn, or a removal spell, or something to get rid of the pacifism. You might play a flier during your second main phase to buy yourself a turn even if he does draw a creature to buff his own fliers. It's all up in the air, but the most likely threats he should be thinking about are Trumpet Blast, Kindled Fury, Searing Spear and Flames of the Firebrand.
Given all of that, I'd say he should block at least one creature.

On the whole, I'd say that as long as you have two trumpet blasts (like you did) or a trumpet blast and kindled fury or a trumpet blast and a burn spell, he pretty much loses either way no matter how and if he blocks unless he topdecks a big trump card we don't know about.

I agree with Darion, it's very hard to answer without knowing more. Does he know about Trumpet Blast? What cards does he have in hand?

I'd probably consider your attack a desperate attempt to bluff or race. AFAIK, there is no single card trick that makes this attack favorable, which makes your attack a doble trick or a bluff, or possibly Planar Cleansing. Either way, it is almost surely correct to block, but maybe only with the 2/3 (though that won't help against 2x Trumpet Blast). He still has you on a 2-turn clock even if you manage to kill his 2/3.
I used to really look forward to Steve's articles, but MAN they have been lacking in depth lately.

This is an article about chump-blocking, and the current limited format is M13, and we can't even get a few paragraphs about how Exalted changes the way you determine "when is it right to start chump blocking".
A HUGE part of determining when it's right to chump block (ESPECIALLY in M13 limited) is "How much longer am I going to be able to use this creature to chump block?"
For example, If your opponent has a bunch of exalted dudes and you're in a slow race (say you're getting damage in with a Harbor Bandit, while your opponent is swinging back with an Exalted Walking Corpse 5/5 or 6/6)... you might need to start chump blocking with that Ravenous Rats or Augur of Bolas now even if you're at 20 life, because the second your opponent gets an evasion creature out, your chances to use those ground puds to suck up 5-6 damage might be long gone.
Rancor makes for a similar consideration. Sure, its generally not right to chump block your opponent's 5/5 with your Elvish Visionary, but if it's game 2 and you've seen Rancor from your opponent before, if you're currently racing, you might want to chump block that 5/5 now before it gets trample.

Sad to see Steve not really address that element of chump blocking, especially when it's extremely important to success in M13 limited.
I agree with Darion, it's very hard to answer without knowing more. Does he know about Trumpet Blast? What cards does he have in hand?

I'd probably consider your attack a desperate attempt to bluff or race. AFAIK, there is no single card trick that makes this attack favorable, which makes your attack a doble trick or a bluff, or possibly Planar Cleansing. Either way, it is almost surely correct to block, but maybe only with the 2/3 (though that won't help against 2x Trumpet Blast). He still has you on a 2-turn clock even if you manage to kill his 2/3.

I think it was the second game, but I hadn't played a trumpet blast in the first, I am not certain.
He would have seen them going around the draft though.
I don't know what cards he had in hand.
I guess he had something that would have let him win with his next attack, since not blocking would have been bad even if I had only one trumper blast.
This is tricky. There are a variety of things you *could* have. Here's going through them, assuming I have nothing and/or am tapped out, from the point of view of your opponent:

If you had Turn to Slag, you would have killed one of my Griffin Protectors already, so it's unlikely that you have it. Same with Volcanic Geyser.
If you have Searing Spear, I want to avoid blocking a 2-power creature with my 4/5, but my 2/3 is probably dead no matter what, so I might block with the 2/3 regardless, but I should only block a 1/1 with the 4/5.
If you have Show of Valor, then I don't want to block with my 2/3; same with blocking a 2-power creature and Glorious Charge.
If you have Trumpet Blast, then I don't want to block with my 2/3 either; I can survive without blocking, but you might have Chandra's Fury to finish me off.

It's hard to play around a combination of tricks, but if you only get one creature for two tricks, that's not too bad.

So I would block a 1/1 with the 4/5, and take the rest. That's only 6 damage, 14 if you have the Blast, which would leave me at a not-particularly-comfortable 6, but out of range of anything but two more burn spells...which I'm probably dead to ANYWAY.

Yes, that's still lethal with TWO Blasts. I don't think that can be reasonably expected and played around unless I'd already seen both.
I learned this in poker...when your opponent is "representing" something very clearly, even if it is unlikely (from a purely mathematical standpoint) that he has it, then more often than not he actually has it.  True, he may be bluffing, but people bluff FAR less often than they represent what they truly have.

In this context, if you're attacking with a whole lot of creatures, and the only way you win the game is through Trumpet Blast, then you probably have it.  It could be one last desperate bluff, or maybe, just maybe you have the Trumpet Blast.  

If I were your opponent I would have blocked the Knight only, looking for a profitable trade.  And I would have lost anyway lol.


Double Trumpet Blast is a sick beat.        
Even the "good" block leaves him at 5 life with an empty board facing down three 1/1s, so unless he had Attended Knight in hand, maybe playing around double Trumpet Blast just isn't worth it.
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I think blocking the griffing was probably better than blocking the knight.
They have the same power, but the griffing could block his flyers.
I agree playing around double trumpet blast is not reasonable, but he should have assumed I had one.
Blocking my 2/3 griffin with his 4/5 one with one trumpet blast means I need another burn spell to kill his creature, which might be better sent at his head.
I'd have 5 power in creatures, but he would have 2 potential blokers, one with vigilance from the ring. He could on his next turn if he has no way to kill me, let the ring grow the smaller griffin, swap it to the bigger one, attack with that one reducing me to 4 and swap back, so that the turn after either could kill me.