The mechanics of GTC (spoilers)

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So, if you've been keeping up with the future set speculation forums, you'll know the mechanics of GTC.  My question is, what strategies will they encourage, and to what extent?

Boros obviously encourages zerg rush strats, dimir favors guys with evasion, gruul favors being on the offense, simic favors making the game go long, dropping an evolve guy or 2 and getting value every turn until you can just overrun your opponent, and orzhov is curious.  It obviously is better lategame, when you have a ton of mana, and also because it lets you win through stalls, but lifedraining is also a very useful mechanic to have in a race.

Why does everyone think I'm phantom lancer? QFT:

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139359831 wrote:
I hope all this helps you to see things in a greater light—and understand that Magic: the Gathering was really created by extraterrestials using Richard Garfield as a medium. The game itself reflects the socio-psycho realtivity between living beings, and the science that takes precedence over them—to define reality for them all (like telekinesis, weather, scientific reaction, phenomenon, ingenuity, how the brain works, etc.). I'd also bet there is an entity floating thousands of miles above us, looking down on the current state of game, shaking its fist like... "Wtf are you doing?! You're getting it all screwed up!". Awkward—to be evolved, and yet still subject to the ladder that is the concepts of the game. In this case, misconception, corruption, and deception. With the realities of each color becoming distorted (through oblivious designers), leading the game to reflect a false state of reality that warps the understanding that other people have about those things. For example, people thinking that white could be anything except pure good. This shouldn't be too far off though, I mean...Magic is designed based on reality after all, so that entity (those entities) should be subject to those things. Anyways, I guess when you're busy doing space stuff you can't always be around to ensure quality control. It's no wonder they choose Garfield, they're so much alike; that's exactly what happened to him and Magic.
166199665 wrote:
omg snortng so much febbdelicious /intocixated in rl
I'm curious to know which RTR cards will increase in value once gatecrash gets added to the mix. Could something like the lifelink cat become more valuable in a boros deck? Could the green landfetch spell (search the horizon?) be stronger in gruul?Things like that.
Orzhov seems great so far. Like, you just need a couple of guys with extort on them to get huge value. Late game one drops turn into huge life swings. I'm very into it. 
Here's a couple of my thoughts on how each of the guilds will be valued, knowing only what little I know now (The basic gist of each ability):

I think Simic will be rather underdrafted and open at the start.  The reason being that although it is hypothetically possible to get some good sized creatures in the long run, it's going to be difficult to set up a curve which can properly utilize it.  If the majority of simic creatures are 1/1s to 3/3s you run heavily into a plateau, and you simply can't grow from it.  Still, has possibilities but really requires you to hit your early game Evolve drops early.  If you draw them out late game, they run the risk of being possibly overcosted small creatures.  Without more information, it seems that Simic will not be a terribly valued guild as the plateau effect coupled with what appears to be a lack of late game utility in their creatures appears.  It may be the Izzet guild of the set.

Boros is likely to become the Selesnya of the set.  It'll be heavily drafted, however even a mediocre deck is better than a mediocre deck of the other guilds.  The reason being that given what we know about the ability, stacking the field with a few small creatures and some big ones means that you could have 3-5 Battallion triggers all going off at once.  If there are more that are similar to the Firemane, in the sense that they at least deal damage, then you could be looking at clean sweeps of the battlefield before blockers are even declared.  I'm going to assume that even the released one isn't going to be the bombiest, and that there will be plenty of other useful effects.  Even if dealing 1 damage was the effect, which I assume will show up on either a common/uncommon, it can be a real pain.  So I'm thinking Boros is going to be the one to beat for a while.  It's just such a good ability comparatively.

Orzhov will likely be relatively highly valued as well.  Given how cheap Extort is to pay for, getting a couple Extort permanents on the field and paying for them all shouldn't be an issue methinks.  I'm willing to bet there will be a few efficient extorters.  The huge life swings that go through stalls will be a royal pain for opponents.  The life gain will allow you to take some hits you normally wouldn't, and if they don't have blockers open the life-loss will wreck them even if they do attack.  I'm going to say this is the more long-term style deck that is stands a good chance without specific cards.  It could function as a long-game stalling deck, and probably will do that the best.  Much like Golgari is now.

Gruul will likely be undervalued at first, however become a real monster to play against.  When all of your creatures become combat tricks (And from what I can see, at least relatively efficient ones), it turns from trying to figure out if they have a trick in their hand to a game of figuring if they are going to play said trick.  A straight gruul deck could rather easily be 17 lands, 23 creatures and still function very well methinks if they get enough playables.  It's the sleeping dragon, so to speak, and if there are efficient low-cost creatures in either Green or Red, the curve shouldn't be hard to make.

Dimir, quite frankly, is beyond me at this point.  As the Cipher ability can be pretty much anything, the strategies involved with the dimir deck could be all over the place.  I honestly have no idea how this one will play, nor how valued it will be.  That said, I'm thinking it'll be a splash guild for the most part to gain the benefits of good Cipher cards.  Without knowing what will be in Blue or Black as commons/uncommons it's difficult to say how well going straight U/B is going to be.  I do think it will take considerable more work to make it function that an other guild, so I'm thinking it may drive players away from it at first.  Infact, I think it may very well be the least drafted guild in the set just based on the current ability.

With that over, my thinking is that Boros and Gruul will be the big showers at the Pre-release events and leading into early drafting.  Orzhov will be next up and perform well.  Just from what I see with Evolve, I think Simic won't do so well, and Dimir is just beyond me.
Without knowing the commons, there's no way to predict the relative power levels of the guilds, which is why I wanted to discuss the strategies instead.

Anyways, I think the dimir mechanic will be like populate, in that its power will depend on you getting a critical mass, as well as a critical mass of enablers.  Instead of token makers, you'll want evasive guys.  And if you go deep enough, you'll be able to pick up the crappy enablers because the synergy will give you so much value.  Unless the common keyword cards are on the same power level as the overload commons. 

Why does everyone think I'm phantom lancer? QFT:

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139359831 wrote:
I hope all this helps you to see things in a greater light—and understand that Magic: the Gathering was really created by extraterrestials using Richard Garfield as a medium. The game itself reflects the socio-psycho realtivity between living beings, and the science that takes precedence over them—to define reality for them all (like telekinesis, weather, scientific reaction, phenomenon, ingenuity, how the brain works, etc.). I'd also bet there is an entity floating thousands of miles above us, looking down on the current state of game, shaking its fist like... "Wtf are you doing?! You're getting it all screwed up!". Awkward—to be evolved, and yet still subject to the ladder that is the concepts of the game. In this case, misconception, corruption, and deception. With the realities of each color becoming distorted (through oblivious designers), leading the game to reflect a false state of reality that warps the understanding that other people have about those things. For example, people thinking that white could be anything except pure good. This shouldn't be too far off though, I mean...Magic is designed based on reality after all, so that entity (those entities) should be subject to those things. Anyways, I guess when you're busy doing space stuff you can't always be around to ensure quality control. It's no wonder they choose Garfield, they're so much alike; that's exactly what happened to him and Magic.
166199665 wrote:
omg snortng so much febbdelicious /intocixated in rl
Without knowing the commons, there's no way to predict the relative power levels of the guilds, which is why I wanted to discuss the strategies instead.



Which is why I said that knowing what little we know.  Still, you can tell a lot about probable power level based on these abilities and knowing how the colors work together usually.  Reason R/W will likely be strong is because both those colors in combination with one another are known for rather efficient small creatures.  It won't be difficult to get the needed number of attackers out.  Give how the ability functions, also, means that you can get several triggers going off per turn.  As I said, it's not unreasonable to assume that there will be a small creature with a damage trigger at Common/Uncommon.  Even if there isn't, the sure overwhelming force that you can get off of the ability is incredible with any number of effects.  I'm guessing that Boros strategy will involve getting a bunch of small creatures out with a couple bombs to sweep the game.

Simic seems like it will win by the spells in the color more than creatures themselves.  THe problem I have with Evolve is not one where I actually need to see the rest of the set:  It's very likely to plateau early, and late game drops of evolve creatures will not be useful.  If all you have in your hand on turn 3-4 is 1/1s, 2/2s, or 3/3s your evolve creature will reach their critical mass and remain at their current size.  Now, there will probably be spells that play around with +1/+1 counters, so that would change the strategy.  Still, it's a late game strategy that relies heavily on getting lucky with your draws. 

Orzhov will likely be a late game strategy that tries to stall the board for a while, sort of like Lobber Crew decks on steroids.  Slowly take out the opponent, gain board position, and swing for the win late game.  Just from what I can tell about the ability.

Gruul will likely be a beat your face in deck without much intricacies in place. Simple beatdown deck, with efficient creatures and as many Bloodrushers as a player can manage.  Swing big, swing always, make your opponents pay for each block they make


Anyways, I think the dimir mechanic will be like populate, in that its power will depend on you getting a critical mass, as well as a critical mass of enablers.  Instead of token makers, you'll want evasive guys.  And if you go deep enough, you'll be able to pick up the crappy enablers because the synergy will give you so much value.  Unless the common keyword cards are on the same power level as the overload commons. 



And this brings us to dimir.  This is very likely.  Still, I'm not sure how dimir plans to function really.  There is such a wide variance in the ability that about the only thing I can say is that it will work towards getting evasive critters, like you said.  I imagine there will be a common milling Cipher cards(Probably top 2 or 3 cards, I imagine).  So I think Dimir might be able to work towards a mill strategy, maybe.  I dont know really.  It's hard to get a proper read on it.
I would say GUr and RWb decks, or variants, would be worth trying.

GUr has green's fixing, and the evolve mechanic will sync well with Gruul's larger creatures.

RW will have cheap creatures and work synergistically by itself, but later stalls/gridlocks will need Orzhov's extort to push through for lethal.

I think we'll also see a lot of UBw decks too, since CA meshes well with extort.

It's hard to strategize without looking at commons though.

I found Carmen Sandiego before you were born unless you're Zlehtnoba.

I think all the mechanics have the potential to be extremely powerful in Limited.

Battalion:  Given how creature based Limited tends to be, the ability to turn chump attackers into huge forces/effects seems to be pretty bonkers.  Anything that screws with combat math is pretty powerful.

Bloodrush:  See above.  In addition, the ability to turn creatures with no impact on the board into pump spells (assuming that's all the mechanic does) is pretty insane.

Extort:  Appears to be a great way to stabilize as a control deck and acts as a big mana sink.  Since Limited is all about who can use their mana more efficiently/effectively, being able to drain your opponent when you draw a dead creature late should be pretty powerful.

Evolve:  Given the limited amount of sweepers in every Limited set, you don't get punished for playing more creatures all that often.  The ability to turn your small early threats into late game powerhouses is going to be insane.

Cipher:  I think this one is the most questionable right now.  If the format has lots of removal and few blue/black hexproof creatures or other ways to protect creatures, this will be a very bad mechanic.  You'll constantly be 2-for-1ing yourself when you use the ability.  That said, if there are some choice enablers (like Invisible Stalker) and good effects, the mechanic is going to be broken.

Of course, it's very difficult to make any judgments when we only have one example of each of the mechanics to look at.  We have no idea if the effects are static or if different effects will get tacked on.  We also don't have any rulings on them.  There simply isn't enough information to hold effective rational discussion on the mechanics yet.


Cipher:  I think this one is the most questionable right now.  If the format has lots of removal and few blue/black hexproof creatures or other ways to protect creatures, this will be a very bad mechanic.  You'll constantly be 2-for-1ing yourself when you use the ability.  That said, if there are some choice enablers (like Invisible Stalker) and good effects, the mechanic is going to be broken.



You won't really be getting two-for-oned though, you will have already cast the spell and gotten it's effect before it is encoded on a creature. If they kill a creature in response to casting the Cipher spell, you can pick a different creature. If they kill the creature after you have encoded it, then you have already resolved the spell. It's pretty much a free aura assuming the spell's effect is powerful enough to be playing it in the first place.
I totally misread the card.  I thought cipher was like imprint, i.e. that you could "encode" a creature without casting the spell.  There goes my visions of going all in on an Invisible Stalker on turn 2 and wrecking people...
Nivmagus Elemental, Blistercoil Weird, Lobber Crew, and Izzet Staticaster (among others) should go up in value (once Dragon's Maze is released and it is the DGM, GTC, RTR draft format). Cipher allows you to cast the instant or sorcery spell (activating the former two, and potentially activating the latter two). Unless I'm reading this incorrectly.
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Nivmagus Elemental, Blistercoil Weird, Lobber Crew, and Izzet Staticaster (among others) should go up in value (once Dragon's Maze is released and it is the DGM, GTC, RTR draft format). Cipher allows you to cast the instant or sorcery spell (activating the former two, and potentially activating the latter two). Unless I'm reading this incorrectly.

It seems like you are reading it correctly, but I can't see what interaction it has with Izzet Staticaster.  Perhaps you were thinking of GuttersnipePyroconvergence may also have a use in that deck.

Cheers
Just force a red guild and burn anything that has a non-Gruul keyword. All of these mechanics are going to be powerful if the game goes late, so make sure it doesn't.

Or buy into it, I guess. The mechanic I have the highest hopes for is Orzhov's, but it needs to be on something that isn't 6-drops to be good. I'd basically play anything if it cost 1 and had extort.
Preparing for the M14 Prerelease - New article up! IN THE TANK - my very own blog for rambling about Magic!
Yeah. I meant Guttersnipe.
I'm not sure how Staticaster got added to the list. Hah. 
Contest-Specific Redeemable Prizes: DaytimeLantern - +5 points on any score-based contest. Redeemable once. If contest is multiple rounds, only redeemable in a single round.
So, lot more spoilers to consider now. I think the WB angel will be a strong limited card because of it's body and posibility of recursion. 

Simic evolve guys are looking okay too.  
I really like the evolve mechanic. It's entirely possible to build an on-curve deck that grows as you play.

I think Rubblehulk is going to be great in constructed. Same for Burning-Tree Emissary. Gruul's my guild though, so it's probably just the belligerent fanatic in me.

I found Carmen Sandiego before you were born unless you're Zlehtnoba.

After today's spoilers, my hopes for Simic and Orzhov are up. Dimir is still looking less like a home run but definitely a key player in the format.
Preparing for the M14 Prerelease - New article up! IN THE TANK - my very own blog for rambling about Magic!
I'm gonna go through the spoilers:

Burning-tree emissary:  Solid card.  Curving out with 2 drop 3 drop 4 drop is usually game.  Curving out with 2 drop 2 drop 3 drop 4 drop, backed up with combat tricks if they drop an annoying blocker is really hard to beat.  Its value will obviously vary by the number of 2 drops in those colors, but I think you play it every time in gruul.

Call of the nightwing:  bitterblossom!  I mean, even at 4 cmc and vulnerable to removal, it's still going to kill your opponent by turn 10 if they can't race you, and you can always slow yourself down a bit by chumping or just trading 2 of them for their bear.  I could see p1p1ing this in a weak pack, and I'll always play it.

Murder investigation:  this is bringing back bad tmemories of that 3cmc black aura from AVR that got back your guy from the 'yard.  That thing was terrible.  I would play a basic land over this.

Illusionist's bracers:  EDH jank.

Zurr-taa swine:  This is exactly what you want.  It's good early-game to smash through their biggest blocker, or lategame as a golgari longlegs or lava axe to make your alpha strike lethal.  There's going to have to be something pretty good to make this not the best gruul common.

Deathpact angel:  I don't think I really need to say anything about this. 

Experiment one:  I like this card, although it makes me wish damage still stacked.  I can't say how good it is without playing it, but I think you play it every time you pick it, it's a pretty nasty aggro guy if you can follow it up.

Basilica guards:  This is exactly what you want in an extort creature.  It creates board stalls, it blocks without trading, and it makes the game go long.

Tin-street market:  Rummaging goblin was pretty good, but I'd rather not have to tap a land to loot, or not be able to start until turn 6.

cloudfin raptor:  see experiment one.  I think these are a bit like anti-miracles, as in they become a lot worse when you topdeck them.  Simic seems to actually be an aggro deck.  Still, dropping this turn 1 is a great way to start a game.

Gridlock:  reminds me of blustersquall and wave of indifference, and its quality will depend greatly on the aggressiveness of the blue guilds and the number of board stalls.

Viashino shanktail:  This is another solid bloodrush creature, with both sides being playable, though meh cards on their own.  Put them together though, and you get a pretty solid card.

Gateway shade:  not that much better than looming shade, although looming shade is a card that varies in power level by format.  I can't really rate this until seeing it in play.  It becomes better in stalled boards, but sucks at creating them, decreasing its worth in orzhov, and it's worth noting that the threat of pump makes it pseudo-evasive, so it might work well with dimir.

Boros elite:  It's too bad this is uncommon.  Regardless, its power depends on the ability to enable batallion.  I can't say much now.

Drakewing Krasis:  3 power evasive beater for 3.  Pretty strong.

Finally, I'd like to say that rubblehulk just isn't good enough to see constructed play.  Decks that get 6 mana will pretty much never care about its bloodrush, and other than that, it's just a big vanilla beatstick.

Why does everyone think I'm phantom lancer? QFT:

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139359831 wrote:
I hope all this helps you to see things in a greater light—and understand that Magic: the Gathering was really created by extraterrestials using Richard Garfield as a medium. The game itself reflects the socio-psycho realtivity between living beings, and the science that takes precedence over them—to define reality for them all (like telekinesis, weather, scientific reaction, phenomenon, ingenuity, how the brain works, etc.). I'd also bet there is an entity floating thousands of miles above us, looking down on the current state of game, shaking its fist like... "Wtf are you doing?! You're getting it all screwed up!". Awkward—to be evolved, and yet still subject to the ladder that is the concepts of the game. In this case, misconception, corruption, and deception. With the realities of each color becoming distorted (through oblivious designers), leading the game to reflect a false state of reality that warps the understanding that other people have about those things. For example, people thinking that white could be anything except pure good. This shouldn't be too far off though, I mean...Magic is designed based on reality after all, so that entity (those entities) should be subject to those things. Anyways, I guess when you're busy doing space stuff you can't always be around to ensure quality control. It's no wonder they choose Garfield, they're so much alike; that's exactly what happened to him and Magic.
166199665 wrote:
omg snortng so much febbdelicious /intocixated in rl
Based on what we've seen so far, I think Gruul is going to be the strongest for limited, followed closely by Simic. Having so many creatures that can double as combat tricks is going to make it difficult for opponents to trade effectively against Gruul. Simic is going to get there with the incremental advantage of evolve. That the two guilds overlap in green is going to make drafting a headache.

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I agree, Gruul has so much upside. Lots of creatures can be bad top decks late in the game so the mechanic is just really great when you need to push damage through a stalled board. Love it. 
Murder Investigation looks like it could do some work in Boros (battalion) and Orzhov (lots of chumping) both.
Preparing for the M14 Prerelease - New article up! IN THE TANK - my very own blog for rambling about Magic!
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