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 zero-sum resource management and the state of standard.

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workshoptelescope

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PostSubject: zero-sum resource management and the state of standard.   Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:16 am

so, as it is, the state of standard is such that even control decks are playing ramp. it seems that the creatures a player might ramp into casting are such that giving up turns to destroy things or force card advantages through skill and cunning to instead search your library for lands and put 'em on the table is an acceptable strategy. now, i'm oversimplifying things a bit but all variety of u/g/x control decks, essentially "jace the mind titan" decks, are shoving the rest of the meta in a toilet and taking its lunch money. this past weekend's scg charlotte open demonstrated how titanically (*HURRDERP!!) oppressive the titans really are (see also my previous bitch-fests regarding the power of titans, titled something like "titans nailed your mom last night because you weren't playing them").

four in the top 8 and two extra valakut ramp decks in the top 16. There were only four dedicated control decks that weren't also ramp decks. in the whole top 16, there were three decks that didn't have titans in their 75. three. that's f*cking diriculous. two armor combo decks and a goblins list.

since rotation, i've been trying to find a home for vengevine/shaman. what i've been a long-standing critic of regarding dedicated venginevine/shaman decks is for the obvious loss of bloodbraid elf. it's less about the free spell and more about the fact that the free spell came from the top of your library, not from your hand, i.e. the number of cards she let you keep in your hand turn after turn. so, the issues related to building vengevine/shaman decks have changed, again to state the obvious, and the main issue is getting as close to zero-sum mana/resource investment as you can. what i'm hoping to get hashed out is a way of approaching these decks that give some metrics on what's going to keep them a player in the meta (recognizing that none of you really care about such a futile analysis, however), at least until besieged hits stores.

the obvious issues related to any deck, and the ones using a shamanvine engine especially, is the use of mana and the simultaneous value of any one card. broadly considered card advantage but many a pro magic writer has been attempting to propose their own "grand, unified theory of everything" since about february or whenever it was that pro player patrick chapin suggested he had solved it. but directly related to shaman strategies is the problem of games going longer than a few turns. if a faunavine deck can assemble the little engine that could, games go quick. however, every turn that a vengevine dies and needs to be recurred, the fewer cards the pilot has in his hands and, consequently, the fewer opportunities to recur the angry plant, hereafter. this is one of two crucial problems with the engine.

the other is this: if you manage to keep or get another shaman online, you aren't getting much value discarding creatures, save for tutoring up other, bigger/better creatures. you haven't changed the first problem and you've compounded that issue by essentially playing shit that isn't good to begin with (i'm thinking here of memnite. seriously, awesome that it's a zero mana 1/1 but he's really only played to bring back vengevine and discard to shaman. in a titan world, a world of jace the mind sculptor, a world of apparently unanswerable bombs, spending more cards from your hand to attempt to attack with a 4/3 is not sound advice. there is no advantage to that.).
a sample lists from the charlotte open:
B/U/G Fauna (7th place) U/G Fauna (9th place)

Artifacts
1 Ratchet Bomb

Creatures
1 Avenger of Zendikar
3 Birds of Paradise
1 Bloodhusk Ritualist
4 Fauna Shaman
2 Frost Titan
3 Lotus Cobra
1 Vampire Hexmage
3 Vengevine

Instants
3 Doom Blade
4 Mana Leak

Legendary Creatures
1 Ob Nixilis, the Fallen

Planeswalkers
1 Jace Beleren
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Sorceries
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Marsh Casualties

Basic Lands
6 Forest
2 Island
1 Swamp

Lands
4 Creeping Tar Pit
3 Darkslick Shores
1 Drowned Catacomb
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Verdant Catacombs

Sideboard:
2 Nihil Spellbomb
2 Ratchet Bomb
4 Obstinate Baloth
2 Spell Pierce
3 Duress
2 Marsh Casualties

Artifact Creatures
1 Molten-Tail Masticore

Creatures
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Fauna Shaman
3 Frost Titan
4 Lotus Cobra
2 Nest Invader
3 Sea Gate Oracle
4 Vengevine

Instants
4 Mana Leak

Planeswalkers
3 Garruk Wildspeaker
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Basic Lands
6 Forest
6 Island

Lands
4 Misty Rainforest
2 Scalding Tarn
3 Tectonic Edge
4 Verdant Catacombs

Sideboard:
1 Acidic Slime
3 Obstinate Baloth
1 Tajuru Preserver
4 Spreading Seas
2 Volition Reins
2 Flashfreeze
2 Sleep

both of these lists hope to capitalize on the inclusion of the f/v engine, while trying to keep resource management working for it. they do this in different ways, however. the b/u/g deck is actually a titan control deck with the nearly vestigial f/v appended for a bit more win (and let me be what appears to be the first to point out that the inclusion of ob nixilis in just about any decklist makes little sense, much less one that could have easily just played something better like grave titan or sphinx of lost wallets).
the u/g deck is more dedicated to the engine with a viable stage 3 plan including frosty, the underestimated titan. jace obviously makes any deck better just by putting him in it. it doesn't matter if you can ever cast it in your red deck, it's better with jace, trust me. it also helps with the cards-in-hand problem. as does sea gate oracle, who is as close to zero-sum as that deck can get.
so, the decks that i've put together in recent weeks also try to answer these problems in a variety of ways (let me say outright that i don't own any jake the tubthumpers, so the possibility of me getting actual metrics on the state of vengevine/shaman are probably impossible). what i think i've realized is the engine can't be the force of the deck. by itself, it isn't strong enough to pull weight, no matter how early it comes down. so, what i'm working on now is finding ways of solving the second part of the vengeproblem.
enter necrotic ooze. the first logical application that players made for the ooze was in vengevine decks. using him with gigantomancer made some players tremble in anticipation. then... well, i don't know what really happened. the first few tournaments after rotation failed to produce a single interesting or viable vengestrategy. what the ooze brings to the engine is a whole other gameplan. the toolbox the deck has been looking for all along. it solves the second problem by turning every discarded creature into a net loss of very little, at times a benefit (thinking of molded-tail masticator and giglimancer).
though the inclusion of three four-drops means no room for jaqueline the hump jumper, it does mean that you've increased the number of creatures in the deck that do things on their own and contribute to the numbers needed to make vengevine as nightmarish and consistent as he(she? dunno...) can be.

possible decklists in the future...


Last edited by workshoptelescope on Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:06 am; edited 1 time in total
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workshoptelescope

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PostSubject: Re: zero-sum resource management and the state of standard.   Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:31 am

alternate title would have been A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Animate Plants of Poor Shamanic Elves in Standard from Being a Burden to Their Owners or Advocates, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Meta

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Yoman



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PostSubject: Re: zero-sum resource management and the state of standard.   Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:22 am

As an aggro player, I'm very unhappy with standard magic right now.

I can only say I hate Jace, the Mind Sculptor so many times. It is the strongest card in standard, and I would love to hear someone debate that.

I'm sorry to say that Vengevine has lost a lot of power since Shards rotation. More than just losing Bloodbraid, your opponents answers have gotten better. U/W control (the deck to beat regardless of Gerry T. saying it's overrated or whatever) has Condemn...and now (because of Eldrazi Green) has Journey to Nowhere, Brittle Effigy, and Mindbreak Trap as answers for Emrakuul/Ulamog, which just happen to be great answers for Vengevine too.

Does anybody else think it's ridiculous that cards like Baneslayer, Elspeth, Venser, and Firewalker don't need to see play because they're unnecessary? Having the balance of card power skewed that much between the colors is really disappointing.

Also, did Proliferate just straight up fail as an ability in standard? I remember everyone talking about how synergistic it is with planeswalkers, yet no one seems to be playing proliferating planeswalkers, or proliferating anything for that matter. Once again, unnecessary (like above)? I really hope it does something when the next set comes out or else I'm afraid it will suffer the same fate as Domain.
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Knepps

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PostSubject: Re: zero-sum resource management and the state of standard.   Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:13 am

So is something like this the silver bullet?

4 Duress
4 Inquisition
4 Mind Rot
4 Lilianas spectre
4 Mimic Vat
4 Doom Blade
4 Slavering Nulls
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Nantuko Shade
4 Sign in blood
4 Gruul Draz Spectre

4 Lavaclaw reaches
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 B/R Scars land
6 Swamp
6 mountain

Like is going heavy discard enough to screw the rampers over?
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Yoman



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PostSubject: Re: zero-sum resource management and the state of standard.   Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:47 am

Knepps wrote:
So is something like this the silver bullet?

4 Duress
4 Inquisition
4 Mind Rot
4 Lilianas spectre
4 Mimic Vat
4 Doom Blade
4 Slavering Nulls
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Nantuko Shade
4 Sign in blood
4 Gruul Draz Spectre

4 Lavaclaw reaches
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 B/R Scars land
6 Swamp
6 mountain

Like is going heavy discard enough to screw the rampers over?

I'm not sure if discard has ever really shined. The reason why removing stuff from your opponent's hand isn't as bad as removing it from the board is that your opponent hasn't invested anything in what you've just taken away. I'm not a fan of discard, but if you playtest that and beat U/W control consistently (50% or more)...I will jump on the discard bandwagon.
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Blacrowe

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PostSubject: Re: zero-sum resource management and the state of standard.   Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:49 pm

In my limited experience, discard is not a win con. Throw in a grave titan or 2, perhaps...abyssal persecutor w a brittle effigy...?
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chops

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PostSubject: Re: zero-sum resource management and the state of standard.   Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:26 pm

Well say this Andrew...playing a u/b/g vengvine list might be the best version
You play douple ganger and go for more of an all in variant making jace unnecessary and maybe even playing mimic vat to help balance the equasion...
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