The Play: What Would You Do? #1

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Hi all, I thought it might be interesting to post specific examples of play situations and analyze different lines of play so we can all improve our skills. Ill start with an example.


In my prerelease I lost my first round (before winning the next 6) and the deciding moment came in the first minute of post shuffle play.


I went boros and kept a hand of mountain,plains,boros guildgate,boros elite,skyknight legionnaire,assault griffin, and homing lightning. I was playing a very low curve boros deck light on removal with ~8 two drops and 2 1 drops (elites). I was on the draw vs a player of unknown skill piloting a dimir deck.


Him turn 1: dimir guildgate go

My turn 1: draw madcap skills. I play plains, boros elite.

Him 2: swamp go

My turn 2: Draw cinder elemental.           


Now I have a choice. I can play madcap skills on elite and swing. If he has devour flesh or dimir charm I get very blown out. Also, if I dont draw a land or a 1-2 drop I wont have a play on my next turn because guildgate comes into play tapped.


Pros to playing skills now: If he has no removal, skills likely gets in for at least 6 to 9 extra damage before he has the chance to kill it. If he doesnt have devour flesh the next likely removal spell is grisly spectacle, but by then we will likely be in a commanding position to win.

Cons to playing skills now: If he has the removal we walk right into it, and if our next draw step isnt land/two drop we cant play skyknight. Furthermore we need to drop guildgate eventually, and even if we draw a land we still want to be able to play our 4 drops ASAP. We can see if he kills our flyer, and then if he does, we can play around dimir charm by waiting until he doesn't have the mana to cast in response, and play around devour flesh by waiting until we have at least two creatures. TL;DR if he has the removal we likely lose


So, what would you do?         

EDIT: I am going to include the full decklist, so people can make more informed decisions

I play the guildgate and the second boros elite. I would then attack for 1. Next turn cast the skynight and swing for 8. Probably madcap skills the turn after that and swing for 11. That seems like a reasonable way to win on turn 4. The other way (madcap skills turn 2) is slower (only 4 damage a turn = win on turn 6) and is also riskier. Not really worth missing your turn 3 or turn 4 play by having to play the guildgate as your land drop.

"This list much made Niche barf a lil' in his mouth, so I can be proud of that." -rstnme

Sorry I briefly had a typo in the opening post, I only have 1 elite in my opener. If I had two elite then I definitely would go with the line of playing the second on turn 2
If you want to play around stuff then drop your guildgate and swing for 1. He'll have to tap out sometime. If he plays something then you could play madcap skills, putting him out of dimir charm range, then griffin, then surprise skynight for the battalion. If he doesn't play anything then you don't have to feel too bad about keeping madcap in your hand, for now, just keep developing your board and be consoled by that. Madcap can always come later as a surprise to his blocking math. It's tempting to think "if I play it now and he has no removal then I'm going to blow him out, I don't want to miss that opportunity" but look at it this way: if he has no removal it's unlikely he can win anyway, especially against a madcapped skynight. It's not like dimir creatures are so boss they can win him the game with no removal support. So yeah, play around it by

guildgate, swing for 1.
his turn, if he does nothing again, play skyknight and swing for 3.
if he does something, then you have to choose based on what it is, but you could madcap the elite at this point and plan on playing griffin on turn 4 and then skyknight on turn 5.
Sorry I briefly had a typo in the opening post, I only have 1 elite in my opener. If I had two elite then I definitely would go with the line of playing the second on turn 2

I'd probably just go for the madcap skills turn 2 then.

"This list much made Niche barf a lil' in his mouth, so I can be proud of that." -rstnme

T1) plains, elite
T2) gate
T3) skills, mountain
T4) skynight
T1) plains, elite T2) gate T3) skills, mountain T4) skynight


This is what I would do as well.
No offense, but I don't see why you guys would do that. If you're going to play the madcap skills into untapped mana then you should do it on turn 2, not turn 3. In either scenario you can't play skyknight until turn 4, but in playing the madcap on turn 2 then you've dealt more damage. In my post I outline how my decision tree changes based on whether he casts a creature or not, and the reasoning for keeping madcap.
In the end, I went attack, guildgate go. I considered going attack then cast madcap post combat, as if he has devour flesh he will most likely cast it rather than take 1. That would still get blown out by dimir charm but there is reasonable chance no dimir charm is in his deck, and even if it is, it might not be in his hand.

His Turn 3 was: Swamp go.  I untapped and drew another land. Would those that didnt madcap turn 2 still play skills T3? Would anyone play skyknight? Do nothing?

(In the end, I cast skyknight on turn 3)
Dropping the skills is very appealing, as the chance of getting in 8-12 damage is pretty good. That being said, your opening hand seems stacked, and because of this it would seem unwise to hang the whole game(which you are already favored) on an early high-variance play. I would go gate turn 2, then play out my fliers/whatever from there. Once you have baited out his removal, you can madcap something and go to town.

So, in the end, I did go with the plan longwalrus and krarks_pinky suggest.
Turn 3 I cast skyknight legionnaire, which got countered by the counter, mill 2 card.
He untapped into balustrade spy (milling 2 or 3, I forget) to which I responded with assault griffin (I drew a second copy, and wanted to try to get batallion). His turn he once agains plays... land go.   
here you can either madcap the griffin and be aggressive, or just attack with griffin, still looking good, and play cinder. I like the latter to be honest. I don't mind saving the madcap for after some of his removal is spent and it'll surprise his blocking math, as long as you're winning.
I'm playing the guildgate on turn two.

I'm eyeing madcap kills on my Skyknight.
bulletd Guidelines: 5.0: I will take this card no matter what. Creature 1 or playable 1 or hate 1.Archangel of Thune 4.5: Bomb and splashable. Creature 1-2, playable 1-2, removal 1. Jace, Memory Adept 4.0: Excellent first pick first pack, will sway me into same colors. Creatures 1-4, removal 1. Haunted Plate Mail 3.5: Excellent first pack pick two, will confirm colors or possibly sway into second color. Doom Blade 3.0: Good in-color addition, or splashable removal/creature. Creatures 3-9, removal 1-3. wall of Frost 2.5: Solid pick in-color; creatures 5-12, removal 3-5. Dark Favor 2.0: Creatures 10-16; removal 6-7. Elvish Mystic 1.5: My 23rd or 22nd card, depending on removal. Act of Treason 1.0: 23rd card if I don't maindeck an additional land. Lay of the Land 0.5: This card will sometimes be sideboarded in. Brave the Elements 0.0: I will shred this card for counters. Darksteel Forge
@urzas It turns out I have a lot of 4 drops at that point, making madcapping skyknight somewhat inefficient (also he countered my skyknight)

@since he has a 2/3 flyer I am relunctant to trade off my griffin as it really does do much but make battalion harder to get and my massive raid and 2x foundry champion weaker. I didn't note I had those cards before but the promo is a given, and I think avoiding this kind of trade is probably best in many boros decks. I chose to try and cast my second asault griffin, rather than my cinder elemental, for a couple reasons. Since he has a 2/3 flyer, and I dont plan to trade off, casting assault griffin will enable me to begin beating down with boros elite as a 3/3. If he does have removal, I'd probably he rather kill my griffin than my elemental anyways, although its a close call. Also, I have 2x martial gloryin my deck, which will enable me to hopefully trade a trick rather than removal spell for his flier. 

 
@urzas It turns out I have a lot of 4 drops at that point, making madcapping skyknight somewhat inefficient (also he countered my skyknight)

@since he has a 2/3 flyer I am relunctant to trade off my griffin as it really does do much but make battalion harder to get and my massive raid and 2x foundry champion weaker. I didn't note I had those cards before but the promo is a given, and I think avoiding this kind of trade is probably best in many boros decks. I chose to try and cast my second asault griffin, rather than my cinder elemental, for a couple reasons. Since he has a 2/3 flyer, and I dont plan to trade off, casting assault griffin will enable me to begin beating down with boros elite as a 3/3. If he does have removal, I'd probably he rather kill my griffin than my elemental anyways, although its a close call. Also, I have 2x martial gloryin my deck, which will enable me to hopefully trade a trick rather than removal spell for his flier. 

 



Well we don't have any of that information.

We can only play off the information you give us.


bulletd Guidelines: 5.0: I will take this card no matter what. Creature 1 or playable 1 or hate 1.Archangel of Thune 4.5: Bomb and splashable. Creature 1-2, playable 1-2, removal 1. Jace, Memory Adept 4.0: Excellent first pick first pack, will sway me into same colors. Creatures 1-4, removal 1. Haunted Plate Mail 3.5: Excellent first pack pick two, will confirm colors or possibly sway into second color. Doom Blade 3.0: Good in-color addition, or splashable removal/creature. Creatures 3-9, removal 1-3. wall of Frost 2.5: Solid pick in-color; creatures 5-12, removal 3-5. Dark Favor 2.0: Creatures 10-16; removal 6-7. Elvish Mystic 1.5: My 23rd or 22nd card, depending on removal. Act of Treason 1.0: 23rd card if I don't maindeck an additional land. Lay of the Land 0.5: This card will sometimes be sideboarded in. Brave the Elements 0.0: I will shred this card for counters. Darksteel Forge
Ah, I forgot the balustrade spy was 2/3 flyer, I was thinking of something else.
Yeah this is a predicament. I would not play madcap here or attack, I would play cinder elemental and pass. 
@urzasapprentice I mentioned cinder elemental and assault griffin in the initial post. In later posts I mentioned what happened as the game progressed, so that people can see turn by turn what happened. I agree that more info is better, so I did an edit of the OP to include the decklist. Sorry for not including it originally I agree it can very much affect the decisions.

@krarks: The issue with cinder elemental pass is that you will have the elemental, the griffin, and the boros elite up against his balustrade spy, but you cannot attack with those 3 into the spy. Its true you can use cinder to kill spy and likely get in for 3, but that seems like using a lot of resources, and at that point you might as well just homing lightning the spy. In the end I played assault griffin go, with the plan of being able to attack with elite and 2x griffin for battalion, trading a griffin for spy, and following up with another creature to hopefully get battalion the following turn.

As it turns out, he had a second copy of psychic strike to counter the griffin.

Ill recap the game thus far

Him1: dimir guildgate go
Me1: (drawing madcap skills) plains, boros elite  (griffin,homing lightning, guildgate, mountain, skyknight in hand)
Him2: swamp go
Me2: (drawing a cinder elemental)swing, guildgate go
Him3: swamp go
Me 3: (drawing a mountain) skyknight legionnaire gets countered by psychic strike (milling truefire paladin and land)
Him4: balustrade spy milling land, daring skyjek 
Me4: (drawing second griffin) cast griffin #1 go
Him 5: island go
Me 5: cast griffin #2, killed by a [c]grisly spectacle[c/] eot (milling boros elite and land)
Him 6: land, cast consuming abberation (8/8)

At this point the turn sequence gets fuzzy, but i think it involves me topdecking a lot of 2-3 drops and trying to just get there with skills on griffin while chumping. After getting in for 6 twice with griffin and to deal 1+1+6+6=14 total before falling to a 20/20 abberation when he has a second grisly spectacle, to which my deck has no answer. 

assuming he has spectacle on turn 4, i deal 8 with elite before it goes down. Its a close call whether I play guildgate on 3 or skyknight into strike mana. Considering hes not playing creatutes and getting beaten 4 a turn I might play around strike. If I does then he spectacles on 4, while I play griffin

he responds with spy and i homing lighting swing for 3
he responds with abberation I swing for 5 after casting a skyknight (he has taken 4+4+3+5 and is at 4). If he answers one of my fliers I can probably still chump and race with the second, winning in a close game.

Of course, how the game actually played out doesnt change whether or not it was right to play madcap on 2. I went on to crush the second game on turn 5 or so, and in g3 I mull to a mediocre six and lose to abberation again. 
 
Ah so you had a second griffin in hand, yeah i may have cast that instead too. Apparently it's hard for me to keep up with all the details, sorry.
Sounds like you would have been in pretty good shape if it weren't for the other guy's promo card. It will be nice to go back to regular prereleases, where everyone doesn't have a guranteed giant bomb monster in their pool.
@longwalrus Im torn on the guildpack. It was fun considering which guild was best, but I didnt open much removal (no act of treason, angelic edict, mugging, etc) which meant that a player who wasn't able to win another match crushed me with his promo by having it early each game. Interestingly I didn't find the other promos as brutal, so maybe it was just the dimir promo. If everyone has fewer bombs games go longer and it gives more opportunities for players to make mistakes. But, bombs are the nature of sealed so I cant really complain.