The Comboist Manifesto Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'General CPA Stuff' started by Oversoul, Apr 3, 2014.

  1. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Now that you mention it, although I didn't specifically cover the card, I've probably underrated Doomfall. Both effects are potent things along the lines of what I'm used to for one or two mana, and moving them up to a three-drop is, from a competitive standpoint, a big jump. So I wasn't enthused about the card for that reason. But having the option to do either is perhaps worth the price.

    Sounds fun!

    As someone who's been a fan of "win the game" cards ever since my friend picked up copies of Celestial Convergence and we were trying to sabotage each other in the race to the finish line it entailed, I never really grasped the complaints surrounding that mechanic. I mean, I guess it's just some visceral notion that winning the game should be about things happening in the game because of what the cards do and not a direct effect of a single card that just spells it out, but I never really felt that way. I've encountered it, though. What's great about Magic, at least in theory, is that all of these different and competing modes of playing the game can coexist. Don't like countermagic? Don't play it. Play stuff that's good against it. Don't like the "random card in a graveyard" stuff? Yeah, I hate that one too, so I don't play with it. Hexproof got you down? Good news: Damnation doesn't target.

    I'd even go as far as to say that particularly polarizing mechanics are doubly valuable because they have appeal to the players who like them and they give a villain to the players who don't like them. Winning can be fun in general, but it's more fun to beat something that you despise.

    Thoughtseize and the other one-drop surgical discard spells (thinking mostly of Duress and Cabal Therapy although there are others that can be strong under the right circumstances) are control elements that fill two different roles. I mean, yeah, it's one card and someone can like or dislike the overall effect on its own merits, but I draw the distinction anyway. In a primarily controlling deck, Thoughtseize is used to strip options from the opponent. Take cards away. Slow the opponent down. It used to be a real conundrum in black-heavy control decks with three mana open (perhaps from Dark Ritual) to use Hymn to Tourach first and then to follow up with Thoughtseize or to use Thoughtseize first and then go for Hymn to Tourach. In control decks, Thoughtseize occupies a slot as part of a campaign to constrain and confine the opponent. However, in a combo deck, Thoughtseize is used as a form of protection, as an anti-hate card. Duress in particular has been an especially valuable card to me in that context. "Let's see your hand. Force of Will, huh? Well now, that would be awfully inconvenient for me. Discard it. Now then, with that out of the way, I cast Exhume..."

    I'd caution that it's easy for players (myself included, of course) to think that gameplay might be better without something that is there or with something that isn't there, and it's not always obvious whether that is true. Sometimes we have more fun doing the thing that we didn't, at first, think looked like fun. Sometimes we don't hae fun doing the thing we thought would be fun. There have been formats in which countermagic and/or discard, while perhaps technically possible, were heavily relegated. I'd say results are a mixed bag.
  2. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    At some point I'll do my rant on Mark Rosewater's "psychographic profiles." The topic can be frustrating because people at WotC will employ the concept in a very oversimplified hand-wavey manner and players see that, but then when they complain about something related to the concept, Mark Rosewater tends to note that those players aren't grasping the nuances of his usage of the concept. It's like, pick one, dammit! Either the concept is highly specific and should only be discussed exactly as categorized, or it's vague and applied generally. I'd be tentatively amenable to either, but it's disingenuous to employ the latter, then switch to the former when you get criticism.

    Anyway, if we apply the specific, more rigorous notion of "Spike" it's not necessarily about or related to "fun police" cards. The cards that "Spike" enjoys are ones that are perceived to leverage player skill. Spike sets out to prove himself/herself. Countermagic or discard spells aren't necessarily the most "Spikey" cards, but there is some appeal there because it pays off to correctly gauge what to counter or when/how to use a discard spell.

    Another somewhat vague concept that I've been following with some interest, arguably no more useful than "psychographic profiles" is the "Schools of Magic" theory as Stephen Menendian has been presenting deckbuilding philosophy in the history of competitive Vintage. I've been pondering that if there were a "Bahl School" of Magic, my deckbuilding philosophy would tie into the "Timetwister theory" I laid out when I talked about my use of Arcane Denial. The thesis of the Bahl School might be something along the lines of...

    "Make your cards more valuable than your opponents cards." By using mana acceleration to cast spells that find more cards and by using those cards to themselves find more mana acceleration, it is possible to ignore most of the cards the opponent has. I cast Wheel of Fortune? Virtually all of the cards I draw count because my deck is constructed to be able to use them, whereas the only cards you draw that count are the ones you can use to stop me. And with such a philosophy, it doesn't matter that you draw more cards off Arcane Denial than I do because the cards I draw are potentially going to kill you and the cards you draw only matter if they're the ones that can stop me. Duress is a great tool for such a deck because I can use it to interact with those few cards that can stop me (Force of Will, Mindbreak Trap, perhaps Counterspell or Flusterstorm, etc.).

    I'm not trying to win converts to my "School." But I present this because it gives some real value to cards like Counterspell and Duress. Without cards like Counterspell, my school can't exist because it's broken: there's no point in it because if a deck with my philosophy is good enough to play, people need tools to stop it, and Counterspell-like cards are good for that. Without cards like Duress, my school can't really work either because it becomes a glass cannon. I need some form of protection, even if it's not perfect, or my whole deck might fold to a single instance of disruption.

    I mean, Approach isn't really strong enough for Legacy, my main competitive focus, but I think it's a very cool card anyway. It's employed successfully in Standard, though, but it seems that you aren't fond of the way it is employed. I suppose that's fair. Using a card you like, but not in the way you'd like to use it, right? That's sort of my reaction to Duress being used in a control deck. Sure, it works, but that's now what I want the card for. I wanna use it to protect my combo!

    Have you looked into Approach in the Brawl format?
  3. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    My Kambal deck in Brawl is functional without being a dominating force, so far. Not a lot of games played, but the mechanics follow the concept fine. I miss green splash, and find the Standard legendary requirement constraining.

    I do have three years of anecdotal evidence of what Magic is like without counter discard elements. Each of those years, one student had an interest in heavy control, and the remaining half dozen a strong disinterest. The first year I built a monogreen uncounterable, protection from blue and black, haste / flash / undying aggro deck that shifted the environment pretty fast. The second year I responded by out controlling with my own Approach deck (which became the villain deck). This year kids responded to my Approach shenanigans with Draw Go and Torment of Hailfire discard, which I have successfully driven away for the moment with monowhite Indestructible Hatebears. A majority of the interesting and fun tinkering happens outside that Dimir vs anti-Dimir fight though, and is what I like to play and see based on experience.
  4. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    I'm confused. You mention an environment without counter/discard elements, and then describe gameplay with counter/discard elements. Presumably the green uncounterable stuff worked because it circumvented countermagic. And Draw-Go usually means countermagic. Torment of Hailfire is discard. So what exactly is it you're talking about? Is this Magic without counter/discard stuff or isn't it? :confused:

    And I assume that because of my confusion on that part that I'm missing your point, but saying "a majority of the interesting and fun tinkering happens outside that Dimir vs. Dimir fight" strikes me as oddly petty because Dimir is, by definition, a minority of the available options. Just breaking things down by colors, there are colorless decks, five different monocolored options, ten different two-color pairs, ten different three-color combinations, five different four-color combinations, and there's five-color. That's, uh *counts*, thirty-two things. By the nature of gameplay some are more prevalent than others: a card pool needs a significant depth of playable artifacts for a colorless deck to work, and four/five-color decks require a card pool with excellent mana-fixing to be consistent. But however much each of those categories counts, it seems strange to single one of the thirty-two out and note that it is, indeed, the minority. Like, yep, the majority of interesting things occupy the space outside of Dimir. The majority of uninteresting things also occupy the space outside Dimir. The majority of things in general occupy the space outside Dimir. To put it in mathematical terms, 31>1. But that's tautological!
  5. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Also, I bring this up about the Dimir because they like it when you forget about them, Psarketos. Getting you to try to de-emphasize them is all part of their master plan. I offer this warning as a loyal denizen of the best guild of all.

  6. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    Izzet? With apologies for the lack of clarity, let me specify:

    My main Magic environment at the moment occurs during the school year, so approximately a six month half of the past three or four years. In that arc of time, there has been a pattern to this point. Maybe one month out of those six in arc is generally one person working out what heavy control deck they want to dominate with, and me leading a corresponding countercharge of "this deck may lose to a lot but it definitely wont lose to counterspells or discard (what I am paraphrasing as Dimir, because evil ;) )".

    The other 5 months of play time are a wild spectrum of homebrew aggro, combo, and harder to define indirect pseudo control weirdness (like Lich Weirding without discard or counters). I enjoy fighting in the Dimir month, and the Dimir player briefly enjoys stomping every 1v1 matchup that comes their way before the environment rallies. Everyone enjoys the other 5 months when no one has to worry about never resolving a spell or playing only lands from their dead hands, and that is my point - the "Dimir doesnt exist" months are my favorite, and are widely enjoyed by casuals and learners.

    Not saying they are inherently better, just that I (and many others on the interwebs) wish there were queues and options to play the 5 months way in a public and game structure supported way without concern for the Dimir stuff that others will always love about the game.
  7. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    To frame that another way: one of the perennial problems Wizards has refused to address, as we have discussed, is a player wanting to engage in a public venue Magic game with their homebrew shenanigans deck and not having the option to play against something other than a National Tournament winning deck.

    That should be fixed on its own, but here is the framing device: if you gave some of us, many of us even, an option -"You have to play a National Tournament winning deck, but you get to chose Bogles or Grixis Control (or Lantern Control...)."

    We would pick Bogles. Every. Single. Time. Forever.

    Give us that filter! In practice, its never that bad a binary. There are enough people in the world interested in enough avenues that when you filter out counter discard, you are not left with just Bogles (or just Hollow One). In my experience, it can even prod people into bringing really interesting surprises that are fun to lose against (which is never, for those of us I am speaking for, any deck with Control in the name).

    I think we know what we are asking for, generally, and I think it would be easy for Wizards to make spaces accommodating. I think an unfounded fear and a misguided profit vision prevent that so far, to the detriment of the game as a whole (though probably not people who love the aforementioned play style).
  8. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    Also Spidey, mad props on giving Oversoul his proper title for the tag line on Part 5. That will teach him to bring a Workshop deck to Tribal Wars! :)
  9. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    With their powerful dragon guildmaster, Niv-Mizzet, Draconerd. What kind of a card has math in its flavor text? Mathematicians are not cool! The Golgari are biologists, though. And biologists get laid all the time, I am told. Sadly, I majored in chemistry. :p

    Also we get Life from the Loam.

    Yeah, I could see that. But it kinda reminds me of a couple of tournament grinders I met who were emphatic that the best format was something like "the first two weeks of Standard after rotation." And it's like, good for you, but that's not actually a format, just an ephemeral circumstance. If your Magic experience is based around anything that's cyclical, there's going to be some pattern that emerges and you're bound to like one part of the cycle more than another. The way you've presented this, I suspect you're well aware of that, but yeah.

    There seems to be the implicit assumption that within your cyclical pattern, the outside disruption of the schoolyear calendar rotation puts an end to a stable, terminal phase in the cycle. But isn't it entirely likely that if you had the same kind of environment and eliminated the disruption, the environment wouldn't remain in that stable configuration indefinitely? That's how it works in most places. Yeah, you might have accurately captured a pattern where the environment evolves from one form into another and then another, settling down into something apparently stable in the last five months. But if those weren't the last five months, if the environment kept going, it probably stay like that in perpetuity. It'd move into some other phase, perhaps dramatically different than anything in your observed pattern.

    I should note that there is a slight element of facetiousness in what I'm saying in all this. Here are the median prices on 3rd Edition dual lands...

    Savannah: $107.98
    Plateau: $112.48
    Taiga: $144.74
    Scrubland: $127.25
    Badlands: $179.45
    Bayou: $240.88
    Tundra: $260.35
    Tropical Island: $267.50
    Volcanic Island: $430.63
    Underground Sea: $462.61

    Now, momentarily setting aside the big issue of "Holy crap, those prices are way too high" and looking at the colors, it's pretty clearly representative of something. Yeah, a lot of this is influenced by the nuances of competitive Legacy archetypes (and even Commander). I can see some evidence of that. The prevalence of Deathrite Shaman in Legacy drives the number up on Bayou, the banning of Sensei's Divining Top weakened the best white/blue deck and drives the number down on Tundra (which is still higher than any non-blue dual). Legacy trends (or Commander trends, for that matter) don't necessarily carry over to Magic as a whole. But still, this is bigger than that. It represents a history, nearly 25 years, of blue simply getting the best tools and black getting the best support to act as a secondary color for those blue decks. It's not universal. Many formats with smaller card pools have allowed another color to shine brightest. It's been the case in Standard at times that red decks were the best, etc. But the pattern is there.
  10. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Holy cow. I don't know the number exactly, but if I were to actually get those prices, I'd have $1500-2000 worth of dual lands... :eek:
  11. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    I do love Golgari. Your dual lands point alludes to a lot of my underlying critique of the game in relation to blue black color identity historically. Mathematicians may be cool or not, but mathematics is always both cool and foundational to other cool things :)
  12. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    I don't know of a solution to that. I know I mentioned the format separation in Hearthstone and how dramatic the community response was. It didn't even really noticeable affect my own games, but it was still kind of disheartening. Granted Magic players aren't necessarily the same as Hearthstone players, but I suspect it's the same in this context. Most players will mindlessly flock to emulate whatever is perceived to be "the best." There might be a superior deck in their cards that they haven't found because they never looked for it and it didn't catch on yet with the minority who are actually innovating. And it takes something to break people away from that habit. I get it. Deckbuilding is, for most of us, work. It takes me forever to build a new deck.

    I would totally pick Lantern in that example.

    Of course, up front, I'll just say it's my own bias talking because I'm so hung-up on this point, but I maintain that it all goes back to the problem of game design moving away from dedicated aggro, dedicated control, and dedicated combo being potent. My theory is that they've shied away from what worked in the past because of "bad beats stories." When any of those three are too good, or when randomness makes a game very one-sided in their favor, the outcome is brutal and the victim is left with a poignant tale of woe. "He killed me before I could even do anything." The other side of that coin, the thing for which those bad beats are the corollary, is that when there is counterplay, when a format is balanced and when random luck doesn't tilt things too far, games are more interesting than anywhere else. You get the worst bad beats, but you also get the best stories of intense games: blazingly fast aggro vs. combo races, epic control mirrors, highly strategic fights to stabilize before your opponent can finish you off or to finish your opponent off before your opponent can stabilize, etc.

    As a side effect of this, we get JTMS and Snapcaster Mage thrown into a pile of random good cards along the general theme of answers and it's what passes for a respectable "control deck" in Modern. Well, like I said, I'm biased. But I want to be clear about this and not just make it sound like I'm pining for the good 'ole days of yore. I'm saying that there's an ongoing problem within the framework of the way the game is built. When the old stuff was good, it was mostly about powerful engines and synergies. But we're approaching a kind of critical mass of just generally valuable effects stapled onto valuable effects that decks are trending away from meaningful choices and moving more toward just "play the best stuff."

    When the best stuff is, like Delver of Secrets (a creature fueled by spells), Young Pyromancer (a creature fueled by spells), Snapcaster Mage (a creature fueled by spells), Gurmag Angler (a creature fueled by spells), well, why bother with a dedicated aggro or dedicated control deck? Why set up meaningful synergies when you can vomit out a stream of cantrips alongside the most efficient creatures ever?
  13. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Yeah, of course there's always the caveat that those are prices online vendors are listing them at and not representative of what a player looking to liquidate a collection of cards could actually get. Also, I notice that while a median is the most practical way to avoid getting a skewed measurement in this context, there's a trend on those websites that probably skews things one way or another. Looking at the high and low ends, there are some sellers listing damaged copies and other sellers with ridiculously high prices. Whichever of those there are numerically more of presumably skew the median, but yeah, the main point of interest is probably just that the card prices have skyrocketed.

    I know, but I have to ham it up for the good old Izzet/Golgari rivalry. In truth, I think the Izzet are very cool. For that matter, the Dimir are cool too. But yeah, there needs to be balance and WotC have a track record of breaking the balance in such a way that blue gets to keep being the best most of the time and so that black supporting blue just pushes it over the top.
  14. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    Those dual land prices are lower than my local store, which can charge a bit of a premium for being farther from major market hubs. To further support and cross-reference your point, Countervailing Winds would have struggled to be mediocre outside graveyard focused decks in past environments, and it is the increasing focus on spell churn more universally now that renders it decent (brilliant in my view, with the understanding that I am biased. I would rank it as the best counterspell since Force of Will. Have I mentioned I <3 Amonkhet block?).

    That you would chose Lantern is the core of our cosmic Magic oppositeness. Despite our preferences, we both play and play against everything anyway and enjoy the game similarly.
  15. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    While I do like cycling, I'm not too keen on three-mana countermagic. Time has shown the two is kind of a sweet spot on that stuff. If a one-mana spell is reliably good enough at countering things, it tends to be overpowered (fortunately, this has mostly been confined to Circular Logic, Spell Pierce, and Spell Snare, and even those have some limitations). And at three mana, the early turns are already gone and it's an investment to actually keep the mana open. It's a huge difference. I might even almost be willing to play Miscalculation over Countervailing Winds. Three mana for a counter is really not a comfortable spot for me (the main exception being Forbid, for obvious reasons).

    I've come around on it a bit, moreso Amonkhet itself than Hour of Devastation, which really has too high a concentration of overcosted stuff, despite some gems. Mostly, I just had nerdrage over the set's ostensible "Egyptian" theme. Like, I guess it's probably consistent with their applications of real-world inspiration in other sets, but man, some of this crap was just egregious. No griffins when griffins were already in the game anyway? Bricks? Why bricks? Every ancient civilization invented bricks. You need bricks to build city walls and you need city walls because duh. Anyway...
  16. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    1 mana slot is where Magma Spray, Mana Tithe, and Scarab Feast go.
    2 mana is for Echoing Truth, Manamorphose, and Lightning Helix
    3 mana is for Ritual of Rejuvenation, Anger of the Gods, and Doomfall.

    For me, Countervailing Winds rarely enters the equation before turn 4, outside opportunistic cycling :)
  17. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    See, even in an environment like what I think you're describing, I'd rather have a two-drop counter. Perhaps on turn 4 I see an opportunity for Echoing Truth. I can't cast Countervailing Winds and Echoing Truth, but I could use a two-drop counter and then Echoing Truth. There are too many situations in which the difference between two mana and three mana is essential. Counterspell doesn't feel merely 50% better than Cancel. On the other hand, if you're also using Mana Tithe, that does mitigate things somewhat. You've got an early answer to cover things if you're running both in the same deck...
  18. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    So I wrote a new article. Should I try to email it or try to PM it, Spidey? I wasn't sure if you ever got the email last time, although I don't know why it wouldn't go through...
  19. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Ha, no, I actually got the email, but it's better to PM it because then I can access it here at work. I can't get to personal emails from work.
  20. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Ah, good to know. Well, I submitted it via the PM system. It wound up being too long to put into one message, but a lot of that was just because of a list of cards. I don't think this one actually conforms to Melkor's Law of Bite-Size Articles, but it's not my worst episode of garrulity ever. I had intended it to be one article and didn't give thought to a breaking point, but do what you think it best with the length...

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