Monday, October 11, 2010, 11:35 AM
I'm an idiot. I can admit it. I missed the link for the GDS2 essay questions until it was friday night and I didn't have time to get them done before the deadline on sunday evening. I'm a busy guy right now; my days are filled with soccer practices and games, ballet classes and recitals, and girl scout meetings, x2. I just didn't have the time to check the site everyday and when I didn't see it on monday I assumed we had another week until they were posted. Oh well right? At least now I can do what american men do best, yell at the TV on sunday and make judgements upon all the coaches and players.
Here are a couple of cards that I designed a month or so ago and was waiting until the GDS2 to use. I really like Phyrexian Arena and I thought making an enchantment for each color along those same lines would be kind of cool. Keep in mind that they are rares and, as of now, they have not been play tested. I'm happy to hear any contructive feedback.
Friday, October 1, 2010, 10:57 AM
Here is the list of lands that I always seem to play, or at least consider playing, in EDH decks with their corresponding colors. I kept the list free of lands that I are strickly mana producers, anything that is rediculously expensive to purchase, lands that I don't think are very good (eg. cyclers), and lands that will only benefit a small number of decks (eg. Wirewood Lodge , Serra's Sanctum ).
- Windbrisk Heights : IMO this is the easiest to cast of all the Hideaways and allows you to play the hidden card at instant speed during or after your attack step.
- Emeria, the Sky Ruin : Great graveyard recursion.
- Sejiri Steppe : This is great if you have a way to cheat it in at instant speed ( Knight of the Reliquary ). Even if you play it as normal and enable a creature to get in for damage it's still a good card.
- Forbidding Watchtower : A 1/5 blocker is always great, even better if you have a tribal soldier deck to fit it into.
- New Benalia : Coming into play tapped is a perfectly acceptable cost if you get to manipulate your next card draw IMO.
- Kjeldoran Outpost : Not a bad land by any means but works best in soldier or token decks.
- Halimar Depths : The best of the Worldwake lands, if you can run it in your deck you should.
- Oboro, Palace in the Clouds : Not great in most decks but if someone in your playgroup plays land destruction then it gets better. If you are playing any kind of landfall ( Roil Elemental ) then it gets bumped to stellar.
- Academy Ruins : Most decks run enough artifacts to make this into a nonartifact based deck. Plus recurring any kind of sacrifice, draw/search artifacts is awesome.
- Tolaria West : Paying 3 to tutor up any land in your deck is really powerful. And you can always search up nonland 0 casting cost cards as well (eg. Chalice of the Void , Pact of Negation ).
- Soldevi Excavations : Again, a land that allows you to manipulate your next draw is pretty awesome.
- Faerie Conclave : Another man-land, not the most powerful but sometimes you just need a blocker.
- Volrath's Stronghold : This is a nice way to recur your general if you don't have the mana to recast.
- Shizo, Death's Storehouse : Gives your general or any other legendary fear, nuff said.
- Cabal Coffers : Allows you to pump large amounts of mana into cards like Consume Spirit or Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief .
- Bojuka Bog : There is a lot of graveyard recursion in EDH, this land helps take those cards you've already dealt with out of the equation.
- Leechridden Swamp : This is a great way to widdle down multiple opponents without getting too much hate.
- Crypt of Agadeem : Great card for dredge decks or even if you are late in the game and need to pay a large amount to cast your general again.
- Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle : Not too tough to get enough mountains to trigger this in EDH.
- Ghitu Encampment : This almost didn't make the list, but, it has first strike and if you play it turn 1 then you can have something to swing with turn 2. So why not play it?
- Keldon Megaliths : Again, almost didn't make the list, but if you are out of cards then you might as well ping someone or something.
- Keldon Necropolis : Kind of steep but it has the possibility to get you something out of a wrath effect before it resolves.
- Oran-Rief, the Vastwood : This card is great with token decks or even if you just want to give your new creature a lasting buff.
- Mosswort Bridge : Not too hard to cast in green and like the other hideaways, you can play the hidden card at instant speed when you meet the requirements.
- Treetop Village : This is a green staple and for good reason. Turn two swing for three is possible but you also have a built in trampler that is easy to pump in green.
- Svogthos, the Restless Tomb : Again, great in a dredge deck but it's also decent late in the game when your graveyard if full from wrath effects.
- Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion : This card has screwed me too many times to count. Double strike is awesome and it's even better to target an opponents creature when they aren't attacking you. Inevitably, I swing into an oppenent and forget that they can give a blocker double strike, which gives it first strike, and thus ruins may carefully laid plans for domination.
- Novijen, Heart of Progress : Great for tolken decks or beefing up creatures that just entered the battlefield.
- Prahv, Spires of Order : Not a bad way to get some breathing room when you need it.
- Skarrg, the Rage Pits : Cheaply gives your creatures a small buff and trample.
- Celestial Colonnade : All the man-lands from Worldwake are on here because they are pretty great for obvious reasons.
- Creeping Tar Pit
- Lavaclaw Reaches
- Raging Ravine
- Stirring Wildwood
- Mutavault : This card really shines in tribal decks but it's not bad on it's own. If nothing else, run it for those times when someone else is playing slivers.
- Strip Mine : You pretty much need to have this in your deck to help deal with those lands that ruin your plays for domination... like Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion .
- Vesuva : Duplicating lands with cool effects is pretty hot but it can also get you out of color problems when needed.
- Dread Statuary : Pretty simple, goes in any deck and gives you a 4/2 creature if and when you need it.
- Tectonic Edge : Again, another way to deal with Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion , any other nonbasics that are giving you problems.
- Ghost Quarter : Another way to deal with problem lands or even just slowing someone down.
- Reliquary Tower : This is a must in every EDH deck. Why would you not run this?
- Gargoyle Castle : Another great card that gives you a creature when you don't need the extra mana.
- Miren, the Moaning Well : Trigger your Grave Pact or just get something out of a wrath effect before it resolves.
- Boseiju, Who Shelters All : This card is almost a little too narrow to make the list but if you have a blue mage in your playgroup who stacks his deck with counters then this guy is a must.
- Hall of the Bandit Lord : The cost is steep for generating one mana to play a creature spell but it's worth it when you are in a jam and need to get things moving.
My previous lists of cards I always seem to play can be found at the following links:
Creatures I Always Seem To Play
Tuesday, September 28, 2010, 12:07 PM
I was only able to make it to one pre-release event this weekend unfortunately, but it gave me enough of a chance to see what works and to check out some cool plays. I posted last week that I thought blue was the weakest color in the set and green and black the most powerful. After actually playing this weekend I can say that blue is still the least powerful, green and black seemed decent, but white rocks pretty hard. While infect makes green and black good color choices, if you aren't drafting infect then you might want to move into white when it's available. Btw, if you are looking to put together an infect deck in limited then you pretty much have to go all in on infect; half and half doesn't get the job done.
Something that is kind of obvious but I think it's important enough to point out is that artifact removal is huge in this set and you should be running it, even if you have to splash a third color. Removal is always a must but regular creature removal just won't cut it in this set. Played white-red on sunday and it did well, but when I lost, I lost because I didn't have artifact removal. I had good creature removal (3 Galvanic Blast ) but my artifact removal was lacking without splashing green to play a Slice in Twain , which in retrospect I should've done. Running that one card would've increased my win percentage significantly.
A couple cards I played that seemed to really shine were Razor Hippogriff , Culling Dais , Glimmerpoint Stag , Perilous Myr , and Ogre Geargrabber . Geargrabber rocked every time I played it because everyone played some sort of equipment and if they were unable to remove him they were faced with the decision of wasting mana to re-equip each turn or just have a dead piece of equipment that only benefited me. Glimmerpoint Stag was an allstar. It created some good interactions by blinking creatures with -1/-1 counters on them and thus removing those counters; it freed up a couple permanents from being enchanted with Arrest and Volition Reins ; it also blinked my Myr Battlesphere which gave me another 4 myr to pump it with. Culling Dais was a great way of making my chum blockers count for something, it also combo'd well with Perilous Myr which was a great card by itself. Razor Hippogriff was great for obvious reasons; 3/3 flier for 5 that brings back an artifact and gains you life, awesome.
One combo that just killed me was Tumble Magnet , Trigon of Corruption , and Contagion Clasp . I had it played against me two different matches and it completely locked my play down. Contagion Clasp was really the pivotal card and it can be used as a catalyst for a number of different combos. I didn't play Tel-Jilad Fallen because I wasn't in green, and while no one played it against me, I heard that it was a solid card choice.
My rares consisted of Necrotic Ooze , Ezuri, Renegade Leader , Grand Architect , Semblance Anvil , Darksteel Juggernaut , and Myr Battlesphere . Played the Anvil, Juggernaunt, and Battlesphere and all three were pretty hot. I opened 6 Myr and 2 Origin Spellbomb so when the Myr Battlesphere hit the table it was pretty much game over. Everything else I played was pretty much just draw so I could get to the Sphere, stall so I could draw the Sphere, accelleration to play the Sphere, and recursion so I could get the Sphere back. Pretty easy deck to play lol. Hope everyone else was able to make it to at least one event last weekend and had some fun or at least some good card pulls.
Sunday, September 26, 2010, 5:14 PM
Second day of Scars pre-release is now over with and I hope everyone had a great time playing. My pre-release was ok, but not great. I didn't do badly, and I pulled some decent value cards and cards that I wanted. I unfortunately was matched against a player who had obviously marked his cards and had been playing with an edge over players for most of the day. I posted two weeks ago about cheating and ways to spot it in The Art of the Shuffle pt. 2, and it is no joke that some people will go to lengths to win at Magic just to get some prize packs. I played a guy who had oriented his land upside down in his sleeves and deck so that he could see if he was going to top deck land, and see open sleeves facing him which gave him the ability to know which cards coming up were land. I called him on it after our second game of round 5, which means he'd been doing it all day against other players, and he claimed it was an accident. The judge gave him a warning, which according to the judge is the protocal for marking cards, and we played out the 3 game which he won narrowly. There is no way in hell this guy had not known about his "mistake". He played 4 rounds and never fixed his "mistake". I of course put myself on tilt after the first game when I realized what he was doing. It is what it is, but when I say stay vigilant for cheaters it's for good reason.
I'll posted in the next day or two about what cards stood out for me in the one sealed event I was able to play in this weekend.
**Just after posting this my friend called me who played in the saturday event against this guy and he had done the same thing but my friend didn't realize there was anything fishy.**
Friday, September 24, 2010, 9:25 AM
Well, we've got a full spoiler to look over now and I've put in a pre-order for my must have singles. Here is what's got me excited:
Genesis Wave : Pre-ordered 2 of them at $1 each, which is a steal IMO. Can't wait to fit it into my Azusa, and Elf decks.
Ezuri, Renegade Leader : I was definitely happy to see this guy on the spoiler. The first EDH deck I ever built was an Elf deck and this guy is going to fit perfectly.
Grasp of Darkness : Great removal and it will probably replace Terror in my Drana deck.
Necrotic Ooze : Here is a perfect example of a card that I will force into every deck I play for the next 6 months just because I think it should be awesome but it will only shine once out of every 10 plays.
Sunblast Angel : I don't have a spot for this card yet but I think it will get play so I picked it up while it was still only $2.50.
Etched Champion : Hot, super hot, damn hot. I really like this guy. Definitely going into my Sharuum deck and I probably should've picked up a playset for standard while they were still cheap.
Painful Quandary : This is a hate card, plain and simple. I play this card and I will lose the game because everyone will immediately gun for me. I'll play it a couple times to stir things up but it's a foregone conclusion that it won't stay in my deck for more than a few games.
Steel Hellkite : This will replace Filigree Angel in my Sharuum deck.
Prototype Portal : I'll take another Soul Foundry , thanks!
Liege of the Tangle : Azusa seems to be made for this guy.
Exsanguinate : Wow, this is the best multiplayer card in the whole set and it is already proxied in my Drana deck.
A couple quick cards that caught my eye:
Leonin Arbiter : Going to see some EDH play for sure.
Whitesun's Passage : This is going to be the card that everyone under values for the first month of drafting.
Hand of the Praetors : I think this will see lots of early play in standard, mainly because it's awesome.
Tainted Strike : To me this seems like a really really powerful card and I think it's going piss some players off.
Koth of the Hammer : Jeebus this guy is incredibly overpriced. Look for this to fall to around $30 in the coming months.
Hoard-Smelter Dragon : It's a given that this will see heavy EDH play. I think it will see some maindeck play as well and definitely will fill a lot of sideboards in standard.
Spikeshot Elder : Definitely a bulk rare but I like it.
Asceticism : On paper this seems awesome but I doubt I'll ever actually play it in anything.
Glint Hawk Idol : I think this will be a solid pick 4-5 in draft but we'll see.
Kuldotha Forgemaster : This thing was built for the Johnny EDH player.
Lux Cannon : I really wanted to pick up a couple of these but they are overpriced right now by default for being a mythic.
Mox Opal : I can't believe people are valuing this at more than $30. You can't have more than 1 on the board at once and it hinges on the number of artifacts you have in play. This is maybe a $20 card IMO.
Nim Deathmantle : This is probably the best equipment in the set; besides Sword of Body and Mind of course.
Infiltration Lens : Probably the second best equipment in the set.
At a glance I'd say that blue is going to be the weakest color in the set, infect make black and green the strongest, drafting a straight infect deck is probably going to be tough because creatures dealing damage in -1/-1 counters makes them great in any deck, and myr will probably get picked pretty high (as they should). I think I might proxy up a standard myr deck. It seems like you'd be able to play all the best cards from multiple colors pretty easily in a myr deck and still have a decent amount of early aggression.
Good luck to anyone playing in pre-releases this weekend!
Monday, September 20, 2010, 2:06 PM
We are winding down the lists of cards that always seem to find a spot on my EDH decklists. As usual, I'm not listing cards that are too expensive or there usage is too narrow outside of a particular deck theme. I also separated enchantments into two catagories: regular enchantments and enchantments that target permanents.
Luminarch Ascension : This card is flippin' crazy in multi-player. It is considered a "hate card" in our play group, when it hits the table you are immediately considered the biggest threat at the table.
Ghostly Prison : The implications of this card being played are often times overlooked until it's too late. It makes you a convenient target, in that, you aren't creating a threat when you play it but you are hindering play itself. A deck that has support for this card can be pretty annoying.
Aura of Silence : I put this card in every white EDH deck. It's that good.
Endless Horizons : I don't think this is ever a dead card; play it early but with restraint and you'll have land drops for the next 7-8 turns and if it's destroyed then so beat it. Play it late and you can make sure you only draw playable cards.
Leyline of Anticipation : There are a lot of cool cards that only get better when played at instant speed. Flashing in a Frost Titan before then end of a turn, tapping down a permanent, attacking on your turn and tapping down another permanent - none of which untap next turn. That's pretty cool.
Soothsaying : It's tough to name a bigger turn one play in blue than this. Manipulating your next draw is insanely powerful and the ability to have complete control over it is just nutty.
War Tax : Here we have another card that gets undervalued until it's too late, and again, if your deck has support for this card then it really shines.
Grave Pact : Why would you not play this card? Even if you are not sacrificing your own creatures to control the board, people don't like the idea of having to sac their own stuff so you get a free pass more often than not until they draw some kind of enchant removal.
Necropotence : Tough to play sometimes but once you get the hang of it you can exploit it easily and net a hefty gain, even at the steep cost.
Phyrexian Arena : 1 life every turn in EDH is easily given to keep card advantage.
Dauthi Embrace : Making creatures virtually unblockable seems pretty good. Probably because it is.
Furnace of Rath : <-- Another "hate card" here. It's powerful but it's a global effect so be careful it doesn't backfire on you.
Captive Flame : All of your creatures get firebreathing! And, you can manipulate other players creatures when they attack other players!
Dragon Roost : This is a steep casting cost for the enchant itself and then also for making the actual tokens. Then again, you will get a 5/5 flier whenever you want if you have the mana, and we all know in EDH that's not hard to come by.
Lurking Predators : I could explain why this card is awesome but we all know I don't need to.
Beastmaster Ascension : This card has a chance to fly under the radar for the first few times it hits the table but prepare for groans and hate to come your way once people connect the dots.
Greater Good : It seems like a steep cost for card draw but if your dude is hitting the graveyard anyway then why not? And how often will you be drawing more than 3 cards when you are sacrificing green beasties? Often.
Glare of Subdual : Decent control value here, especially if you can run some tokens out.
Everlasting Torment : One of my all time favorite enchants. Everything gets wither, life gain is out, and you can't stop me from hurting you. Awesome.
Maelstrom Nexus : If you are playing 5 color then you should be playing this card. It's that good.
Debtors' Knell : It costs... well, a lot. But take a close look at it. Any graveyard is fair game and that makes it worth it.
Auras & Enchantments That Target Permanents:
Oblivion Ring : Pretty much a mainstay in every white deck because it gets rid of almost everything and you can get some shenanigans going if you are able to manipulate the stack when it's played.
Faith's Fetters : This guy is the answer to a lot of generals and a lot of powerful cards.
Prison Term : I love this card. Play it early and you will still be able to address late game bombs with it. Plus you can work some multi-player politics with it as well.
Pacifism : This enchantment has been reprinted 13 times because it's a good cheap answer to flashy beatsticks that would otherwise wreck you.
Journey to Nowhere : Somewhat better than Pacifism because it takes the creature completely out of the equation while the enchantment itself is in play, and again, if you can manipulate the stack when you play it then there is a chance for some shenanigans.
Followed Footsteps : A great way to deal with big thumpies late in the game or if you can copy creatures with "comes into play" effects as well.
Fool's Demise : Continually get your creature back or team it with some form of removal and get someone elses creature back.
Mind Control : I have never drawn this and been disappointed. Play any creature you want my friend!
Traveler's Cloak : "Wow." That's what you should say when you read this card. My dude gets any landwalk I want, and I get to draw a card - for 3 mana.
Nettlevine Blight : This card has been on countless decklists for me but it always ends up being my 101st card. I still love it though.
Vampiric Link : Neutralize a creature that is attacking you by gaining the life it deals or benefit when someone else is getting a beating. All for 1 mana.
Seal of Doom : This card is good for the same reason that Brittle Effigy is good. It's a threat to everyone (well, almost) and no one wants to be the target.
Dragon Breath : Awesome enchant. Give your creature haste and firebreathing, and it has built in recursion.
**I really wanted to have at least 3 red enchants but, red enchantments seem to kind of suck and I didn't want to sell some crap card to you just to fill space. Please feel free to suggest some red enchants. I neglected to include Arcane Teachings and Splinter Twin because they just aren't solid card choices IMO.**
Rancor : Plus +2 power and trample for 1 mana is good. Getting it back to play on other creatures makes this card a EDH mainstay.
Lignify : This card is completely underrated. You are giving them an 0/4 blocker, yes, but you are forgetting that you basically can answer all of those threats that would otherwise not fall to your big thumpies.
Snake Umbra : Card draw and totem armor makes this card rock.
Canopy Cover : Give any creature troll shroud and possibly unblockable.
Armadillo Cloak : +2/+2, trample, and what is essentially lifelink for 3 mana will make any creature a threat.
Shield of the Oversoul : Even if you are only going to take advantage of one of the effects on this guy it's still pretty hot.
Scourge of the Nobilis : Firebreathing is awesome, and lifelink is good, but the ability to have a firebreather with lifelink is just stupid.
Friday, September 17, 2010, 2:52 PM
If you missed part 1 you can find it here. I'm just going to quickly touch on bombs and win condition cards then get right into how to spot and prevent cheating. Like last post I did some real basic demonstations of how cards shuffle into your deck and why you need card draw and mana fixing. I did the same thing here to demonstate how your bombs and win conditions are shuffled in and why you need tutors and card draw.
i1) 4 bombs on top of a 60 card deck.
i2) Rifle shuffled 11 times and ended with 3 bombs in the top 15 cards.
i3) 4 bombs cut into about every 1/4 of the deck, then shuffled.
i4) After 11 rifle shuffles you get 1 bomb in the top 22 cards.
i5) 11 rifle shuffles and drew 1 bomb in opening hand; top 20 cards had 3 bombs.
So basically, with only 4 cards in your deck that will guarantee you a win if it resolves you rarely end up with the amount you need. Heavy handed cards are notoriously high mana cost cards and drawing more than 2 a game can easily stall you out and you may not recover. On the other hand, never drawing them will make for hard fought matches win or lose. When you consider that many decks require combos for win conditions then the feast or famine problem becomes even more prevalent. Moral of the story here is to make sure you play card draw and tutors so you can get the cards that you need for the win without sacrificing slots in your deck for early plays that secure your board position.
Now, lets get to the real art of shuffling, cheating. My reasons for posting this demonstation is simply to educate players in how to spot it. I do not condone cheating but it happens, regardless if I post about it or not. There are lots of ways to cheat by deck manipulation, one of the most common is known as the double nickel and it works with the pile shuffle.
iA) Start with all of lands (blue) on the top, or bottom, of your deck.
iB) Pile shuffle out 5 piles clockwise, or counter-clockwise, staying in order.
iC) Pick up the piles and redistribute same as before, into 5 piles.
iD) Looks like a shuffled deck right? You even watched and it looked like they were shuffling.
iE) Here is what the deck actually looks like; 3 land opening hand followed by spell-land-spell-spell-land-spell-land, spell-land-spell-spell-land-spell-land.
The deck continues in that pattern all the way through so cutting makes little to no difference. Your opponent never has to muligan because of land and if your opponent organizes their spells by mana cost or type then those can also be orchestrated perfectly as well. It doesn't have to be 5 piles, it can be 7, or whatever. It doesn't have to be an obvious pattern either. This is a basic and common cheat and the only way to actually make sure it doesn't happen is by rifle shuffing your opponents deck when they offer it to cut. It's perfectly legal and in any major sanctioned events you actually have to randomize your opponents deck, whether you trust them or not.
Is everyone who pile shuffles a cheater? Of course not. As I said in my last post, pile shuffling has it's place in tournament play, but I always watch closely when it's done and I always rifle shuffle their deck afterwards. A couple other things that should peek your curiousity is anyone who sits down and immediately wants to play. I've had players sit down in front of me, place their deck onto the table and basically say "lets play!" eventhough I never saw them shuffle their deck.
People who play with bombs that are foils is something that might require a second look. Foils are notorious for not staying flat and that can lead to cutting right to them. It's perfectly fine to require proxies for foiled cards. Bent or discolored sleeves can also easily be used to cheat by sleeving lands so they know what they will be drawing into on their opening hand. This gives them a lot more information for whether or not to muligan. Players will also try and play with less than the legal number of cards so that they increase the percentage of drawing their more powerful plays. Remember, just because someone is playing with one less card or bent sleeves doesn't automatically mean that they are cheating. If you think that someone is possibly cheating then call a judge and delicately suggest how it may be happening. There are lots of ways to cheat and this post I'm sure only covers a small portion of it. Keep a vigilant eye out and you should be fine, but if you walk away with only one thing from this post it should be this. SHUFFLE YOUR OPPONENTS DECK! They offer a cut, and you should shuffle it. Every time.
This doesn't just happen at your local FNM either. Pros have been trying to get an edge by cheating for as long as there have been prizes. Ben Bliewiess just did a great article on Star City about a similar subject (you can find it here).
Tuesday, September 14, 2010, 10:51 AM
I did a little shuffle experiment the other day with a 60 card deck and it scared the hell out of me. I've always been an advocate of building decks with mana fixing and card draw, but when I was done with my little experiment I realized that I'll never build a deck without both again.
So what I did was pretty basic and I'm sure I'm not the first to have done it. I sleeved up 60 cards with two different colored sleeves, red being spells (37) and blue being land (23). Then I shuffled. I varied my shuffling style and how cards were reintroduced back into the deck after play. Really, there are only two widely used methods of shuffling magic cards, hand/rifle shuffling and pile shuffling. I used rifle shuffling and then a combination of both. Pile shuffling takes so long and really doesn't make for a better shuffle when you get down to it. In the following exercises the only thing taken into account on whether to keep a hand is the number of land in the first 7 cards drawn; less than 2 land is mulled, more than 4 land is mulled. Games are automatically played out to turn 10 and then shuffled up. Lets get started:
iA) Land is stacked on the bottom
iB) Rifle shuffle
iC) After 4 shuffles
iD) After 11 shuffles
So after 11 rifle shuffles we ended up with a relatively decent hand and draws. 10 cards were then drawn to simulate a 10 turn game and then shuffled.
iE) Land stacked on the bottom
iF) After 11 rifle shuffles
Simulating the beginning of a second match, we've just drawn 4 land and kept. Of the top 13 cards, 9 were land unfortunately. Again, simulated 10 turn game. Lands and spells were shuffled then put on the top to be rifle shuffled 11 times.
iG) 11 rifle shuffles
Here we have a favorable shuffle for the top cards, however, I haven't been cutting because the purpose of cutting is to have an added measure by an opponent to make sure you aren't cheating. I'm obviously not cheating so I haven't bothered with cutting. If I had, take a look at the second half of the deck. Assuming the opponent does the auto-cut of half and half, you've just been screwed. Simulated 10 turn, lands and spells stacked on top.
iH) 11 rifle shuffles, 1 land in opening hand so default muligan (top 16 cards, only 2 were land)
iI) 11 rifle shuffles leads to a 2 land, 6 card hand and a default keep
So we just kept this hand because it had 2 lands and then we got mana screwed. Of the 13 cards, 2 were land.
Lets move onto the rifle/pile shuffle combo. Statistically, pile shuffling isn't going to be any better than rifle shuffling. Randomized is randomized, it's just a matter of how many shuffles in how much time. I did feel the need however to at least present some form of pile shuffling because it does have value in tournament play; it allows you the opportunity to check your opponents deck count and could conceivably lead to an auto win if they are playing with an illegal amount of cards. As a side note, if you think that your opponent is playing with an illegal deck, don't wait till after play to say something to a judge because by then there is no proof that the player didn't play with the legal amount. I know this from experience and it was the difference between a 3rd place finish and a 9th place finish in a packed release tournament.
iJ) 5 pile shuffle
iK) Pile shuffled 3 times clockwise and 8 rifle shuffles leads to a 1 land hand and default muligan
iL) Pile shuffled 3 times randomly and 8 rifle shuffles leads to a 2 land hand and default keep, of the top 16 cards 4 were land
Now lets get down to it. I unfortunately don't have the time (or want, for that matter) to sit down and do a few hundred of these exercises in order to get a solid set of core statistics for you, but then again, I don't need to. Every deck is going to be different with their amounts of land, mana curve, and acceleration. What my point is, and what I think these exercises illustrate is that if you aren't playing with some form of card draw and/or mana fixing then you are setting yourself up to fail. Probably more often then you realize.
Later in the week I'll post part 2 where I'll do a short illustration of the importance of tutors and then get down to the only real art of shuffling: cheating, and some tips for spotting it.
Monday, September 13, 2010, 9:56 PM
Gran Prix, Portland is over. It's been over for almost 24 hours now and I'm still going to need another day before I really recover from it all. It was my first large tournament event and it was a little overwhelming at times. There was a lot of people, which I expected, but there was more to do than I expected. Lots of booths, artists, and of course Magic.
I've played a lot of local tournaments over the past 2 years and I've played with lots of good players so tournament play isn't all that new to me. I don't get intimidated by players with endless resumes of tournament wins and top 8s, so I thought I was fairly well prepared for this; I wasn't. The one factor that eluded me with all of this was the grind of it all. Hours of Magic is not new to me. Even days of Magic isn't all that foreign, but it's always been casual play. Tournament play is another monster entirely because of the necessity of having to be in a constant tournament state of mind for hours, upon hours, for 3 days.
By the end of the third day my brain was basically just oatmeal. I was making the most basic play mistakes by the end of day two in side events and the PTQ on sunday was just a disgrace. Most of this was my fault. I didn't sleep much and I didn't eat enough. There was so much to do that I went 8 hours without even having a snack before I realised it. Then of course you have to find some decent food. Don't get me wrong, there were food vendors but I'm on a diet, and licorise whips and ice cream aren't on it. Of course going to sleep at 2am and waking up at 6 and 7am only exasperated things. Next time I won't make these kinds of mistakes and hopefully I'll have a better showing.
A few of the highlights were seeing some of the top players in the world play (like Tomoharu Saito and Luis Scott-Vargas), meeting Richard Garfield (the creator of Magic), getting art and cards signed by top fantasy artists, and trading and selling cards that have just been sitting in my binder collecting dust. I made a couple hundred bucks from selling a bunch of cards that are about to rotate out of standard and stuff that I just don't play. In doing so I also got a chance to chat with Ben Bleiweiss (the former WotC weekly columnist, Pro Tour player, and current GM of Acquisitions for Star City Gaming), who is a really nice guy. I know it's his job to know everything Magic but the way he whips out card values is kind of crazy. And of course being able to meet people from all over was pretty cool too. For every pretentious Magic player I came across I met 10 others that were really friendly.
There haven't been any annoucements for a Pacific Northwest event for next year yet but I'd be surprised if they didn't have one after the turn out they had this weekend. 1373 players participated in the GP and I know more were there just to play in unsanctioned events.
Thursday, September 9, 2010, 12:23 AM