Home Forums Discussion Magic Discussion [Highlander] The Legion of Doom – Cruel Planeswalker Control

This topic contains 11 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Golden Ladybug Golden Ladybug 5 years, 2 months ago.

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #273
    Golden Ladybug
    Golden Ladybug
    Participant

    I’m not going to lie to anyone today; I’m only playing Highlander because I wanted to resolve Cruel Ultimatum in a format and have it not be terrible. Its not legal in Standard, seven mana might as well be infinity mana in Legacy and Vintage, and its awful in EDH. Most of the things I love are awful in EDH. Turns out that Highlander was the place for me to do everything that I love doing in MTG, all at the same time.

    I’m going to briefly detail why I’ve chosen each card after each section. I haven’t actually played any real games of Highlander yet, and my understanding of the metagame and trends are purely based on hearsay and observations of games played in Canberra, so my presumptions may be entirely incorrect.

    Planeswalkers 7
    1 Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
    1 Chandra, Pyromaster
    1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
    1 Liliana of the Veil
    1 Sorin Markov
    1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
    1 Vraska, the Unseen
    1 Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker

    Planeswalker is my favourite card type, and Grixis provides me with a threatening Legion indeed. I decided to choose this selection of Planeswalkers because I thought that all of them had the potential to produce backbreaking card advantage and win the game single handedly if I defended them well enough. In a format where it seems to be agreed that the best strategy is a Skullclamp-based Green/X/X Midrange deck, there’s also a lot to be said about forcing my opponent to choose between my life total and my Planeswalker’s loyalty.

    Ashiok is only as good as the creatures she can steal, and in a format where necessity dictates that everyone plays high impact spells and creatures, there’s a non-zero benefit to stripping away cards from the opponent’s library. Since he exiles, Ashiok doesn’t feed Graveyard based strategies, and occasionally she can mise away important combo pieces and win-conditions.

    Chandra is probably the loosest inclusion in my Planeswalker roster I think, but in a world where the Skullclamped man is king, being able to painlessly and cardlessly deal 1 damage to a creature seems like a good meta call. Drawing an additional card each turn is rarely bad, since even when I hit a spell I don’t have the mana to cast right now, at least I’m not drawing a card I can’t cast next turn. The slim chance of casting three Cruel Ultimatums at once also feels awesome.

    Jace the Mind Sculptor is an extremely broken magic card.

    Liliana is a repeatable Edict and pressures opposing control and combo decks. I’m not the biggest fan of discarding my own cards, but since I’m not only the one controlling her +1s, but also using a Legion of Planeswalkers to provide value from the board rather than my hand she’s a very easy card to include in the list.

    Sorin Markov is little more than a removal spell and clock on a stick, as I find it hilariously unlikely that I’ll ever need to reset an infinite life gain combo (but if that ever happens, oh boy). He’s also the most effective way I possess of pressuring enemy Planeswalkers, dealing more damage than most ‘walkers can gain, and growing out of reach as he does so. The minor life gain is also significant enough to matter, especially since Grixis has few powerful and native ways to gain life, certainly not in the sense of Lightning Helix or Sphinx’s Revelation, and the padding that Sorin will occasionally provide is certainly a nice upside. Finally, even if Mindslavering an Opponent isn’t enough to win the game, I can use it as an opportunity to search their deck or look at their sideboard (as per the Gatherer Ruling on 7/1/2012), and greater than perfect information is pretty good I hear.

    Tamiyo can keep a singular threat on lock down forever, as well as stifling mana development or shutting down something like a Birthing Pod, but when the time comes to reload my hand she’s no slouch at that either. It is impossible to loose after resolving her ultimate, so that is also a plus.

    Vraska is me being super greedy. Like, just so full of avarice that I decided to splash for a double Vindicate on five (only four that are relevant, of course) fetchlands and a single searchable green source. But double Vindicate is one hell of a drug, and if by some bizarre circumstance I find myself in a situation where my only out is to start jamming 1/1 Phages, then I guess I’ll be glad I indulged in this greed.

    Finally, Nicol Bolas, the Greater Power himself. All of his abilities are just dominatingly powerful. It is very hard to lose with Nicol Bolas on the board, his loyalty just rising so damn fast and his abilities just being so damn powerful. If protected, the fact that he survives his Ultimate is just bonkers. For eight mana, he gives his money worth, and he’s the closest thing I’m going to get to playing two Cruel Ultimatums.

    Creatures 3
    1 Grave Titan
    1 Olivia Voldaren
    1 Snapcaster Mage

    A much shorter list, and less in the way of explanation here as well. The Clown Car that is Grave Titan stabilises a grounded board like its his day job, and can quickly overwhelm an unprepared opponent. Fair magic is pretty hard to play when your opponent has resolved a 6/6 that spits out Grizzly Bears whenever you look at it funny. Olivia Voldaren can clear out boards and quickly grows to be too large to really deal with. She also spits out Control Magics, as a little bit of added value.

    Tiago Chan made a pretty powerful magic card. Guess I’d better play it.

    Sorceries 6
    1 Anger of the Gods
    1 Chainer’s Edict
    1 Cruel Ultimatum
    1 Dreadbore
    1 Mind Twist [2 Points]
    1Thoughtseize

    Anger of the Gods is, again, a concession to the seeming power of Skullclamp decks. Clears away aggressive boards and keeps them gone. Exiling cards seems extremely powerful in this and indeed any format, and strips away any of that extra value from Persist or Undying creatures (a good trait to have in a deck that is going to be primarly fighting opponents by trading spells for creatures until I can take control with my Planeswalkers). Chainer’s Edict is perhaps a bit greedy, but I’m planning to get to seven plus mana anyway, so why not chase that 2-for-1 dream? Cruel Ultimatum is too sweet not to play, and is probably my favourite card in all of MTG. Since I’m playing so many Planeswalkers myself, I’m distinctly aware of how broken they can be, and Dreadbore gives me a clean answer to them that also happens to kill any creature I point it at. Mind Twist is almost certainly a suboptimal choice for 2 points… but its also the only pointed card I actually own, and that probably counts for something. Finally, Thoughtseize is probably just too powerful not to play. In Black, play Thoughtseize.

    Instants 18
    1 Ancestral Recall [4 Points]
    1 Brainstorm
    1 Consume the Meek
    1 Counterspell
    1 Cryptic Command
    1 Dismember
    1 Doom Blade
    1 Electrolyze
    1 Fire // Ice
    1 Force of Will [1 Point]
    1 Lightning Bolt
    1 Mana Leak
    1 Mental Misstep
    1 Mystical Teachings
    1 Punishing Fire
    1 Shadow of Doubt
    1 Terminate
    1 Think Twice

    Since I’m building this deck in the short term to compete in the CELE 15 Proxy Highlander League, I couldn’t see a reason not to mess around with some Power. Ancestral Recall is nuts. Absolutely bonkers. Can’t go wrong with that kind of value. Brainstorm is almost as good as Ancestral Recall, and it has a few other applications that simply drawing three cards can’t quite match. Nowhere near as good, but still extremely powerful. Consume the Meek has a fair rate for an instant speed Wrath effect, and the interaction between Mystical Teachings is extremely sweet. I can’t play Counterspell in any other format that I want to play, so I’ll be damned if I don’t play it here. Card is good. Cryptic Command is even better. It does everything you could possibly need, and also draws you a card.

    Dismember is pretty fantastic even in a deck that can’t produce black mana. Its a clean answer to a lot of powerful threats, and extremely easy on the mana (if hard on the life total). Being able, and indeed encouraged, to cast it for 1 makes it a pretty sweet Teachings target as well. Doom Blade should probably be a Go for the Throat, but its super sick and iconic. Too stylish to pass up on. I’ll change it after I lose to a bunch of black creatures with it sitting in my hand. Electrolyze and Fire // Ice both give me some sweet two for ones and card draw action, and make me want to play a Dack Fayden to try and live that emblem dream. Lots of formats have decks that ask “Force of Will or bust” and I’m sure this is one of them, so I’m more than willing to spend a point to play it. I’m playing red, so I’m also playing Lightning Bolt. Card is, as I’m sure many have said before me, bonkers. Mana Leak is a solid piece of counter magic, and is definitely a solid contender for number three on the “best CMC 2 Counterspells” list. Mental Misstep is pretty good, or so I hear. Might be fun to try it out, since its only here and Vintage that I’m allowed to jam it. Mystical Teachings is another copy of every instant and Snapcaster Mage in my deck, just costing 3U more. And then it is another copy of another other Instant or Snapcaster Mage for 5B. That seems pretty bonkers in a singleton format, and its a pretty good way of getting ahead on resources.

    Punishing Fire is half the reason I’m playing Vraska, to be honest with you. I knew that I wanted to play both Punishing Fire and Grove of the Burnwillows, because its pretty hard for fair creature decks to beat an infinite supply of shocks, and even if it takes a while, being able to chip away at an opponent’s life total with Fires aimed at the head is a workable win condition. Kinda. That said, I didn’t want to just be playing a Mountain that died to Wasteland, so I justified playing a Mountain that dies to Wasteland by pretending that it let me cast a powerful off-colour Planeswalker.

    Shadow of Doubt is a cantrip that blows my opponent out sometimes, pretending to be either a stifle, an edict or a counterspell, depending on the situation. Terminate is the most universally effective spot removal I have access to at CMC2, and intrigues me with its esoteric flavour text. Finally, Think Twice is some half decent cantrip power, and something to do with my mana when nothing else is happening.

    Lands 25
    1 Badlands
    1 Blood Crypt
    1xBloodstained Mire
    1 Creeping Tar Pit
    1 Desolate Lighthouse
    1 Dreadship Reef
    1 Drowned Catacomb
    1 Graven Cairns
    1 Grove of the Burnwillows
    2 Island
    1 Misty Rainforest
    1 Mountain
    1 Polluted Delta
    1 Scalding Tarn
    1 Steam Vents
    1 Sulfur Falls
    1 Sunken Ruins
    1 Swamp
    1 Tropical Island
    1 Underground Sea
    1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
    1 Volcanic Island
    1 Watery Grave
    1 Wooded Foothills

    Not much to say about the mana base. ABUR Duals and Shocklands are the best lands on offer, with a suite of both Fetchlands and m10 Buddy Lands to complement them. Everything should be fairly obvious, although I suppose the Dreadship Reef is a little suspect. I still really like it, and I like to think that the potential pay off is worth the negative tempo inherent in the storage lands.

    Desolate Lighthouse was the only dedicated spell land that I decided to play, because in a deck with so much redundancy I can happily pitch cards to get closer to the sort of effect I’m looking for to start closing out the game, and I’ve got enough graveyard synergy to lower the potential downsides.

    #275
    Golden Ladybug
    Golden Ladybug
    Participant

    Firstly, my point line up is probably wrong in the extreme. Its entirely possible that I should be playing something akin to this:

    Sol Ring [3 Points]
    Mystical Tutor [2 Points]
    Force of Will [1 Point]
    Mana Drain [1 Point]

    Mind Twist can be pretty backbreaking, but so can Hymn to Tourach, and I’m not so sure that spending 2 Points to play a slightly better Hymn to Tourach is where I should be with this deck. Ancestral Recall is bonkers, but its also very costly. Throwing down some other extremely powerful blue spells and ways of quickly powering out my Planeswalkers ahead of schedule might just be a more synergistic route to take. Mystical Tutor doesn’t seem unreasonable to just use for value, since my spells are already fairly toolbox-y.

    The next thing that worries me is the Sideboard; I don’t have one, and I don’t actually know what qualities I should be looking for when building one. At the moment, I have this vague skeleton pencilled out:

    1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
    1 Venser, Shaper Savant
    1 Notion Thief
    1 Damnation
    1 Mindbreak Trap
    1 Ravenous Trap
    1 Trapmaker’s Snare
    1 Duress
    1 Inquisition of Kozilek
    6 ???

    So far, so good, but its just a collection of stuff. Good stuff, certainly, but nothing that has much of a reason for its inclusion at this stage. Jamming Teferi, Venser and Notion Thief against control shells, Damnation against fair creature decks, the Trapboard and extra CMC1 Discard spells against combo decks that use Storm count or the Graveyard to go off. That’s some pretty broad strokes sideboard planning; what should I be targetting down, and is there anything in particular that I should be looking into? Is this a format where silver bullet boarding is rewarded, or will I have better luck just trying to adjust my list against my opponent’s deck to have a more favourable composition?

    #276
    Shane
    Shane
    Keymaster

    I think you’ve got some cool things going on there. I actually built a grixis deck for someone recently, and it’s cool to see your ideas. I’m going to steal some of them.

    Just a few quick thoughts:

    – I think you still want to be on a call for your points, but you need some mainboard ramp. Maybe talisman of dominance/dimir signet/rakdos signet etc?
    – I think some mix of library/drain/merchant scroll are better places to put your points
    – Punishing fire is cool, but I think it’s a little awkward trying to force it in here, particularly since you aren’t on green as a main colour. I don’t think punishing fire is really good outside a deck that can really exploit it, like maybe a deck built around loam.
    – You’ve missed some good cards like toxic deluge and innocent blood!
    – You need some catch all removal. This is a bit of a weakness for grixis, the UWx builds have oblivion ring, detention sphere and the new vindicate thingie from Conspiracy. I use Crosis’s charm, venser and engineered explosives.

    Here’s my list for some inspiration. It’s alot different to yours because it isn’t based around planeswalkers, so it’s structured a little differently:

    1 Damnation
    1 Innocent Blood
    1 Ponder
    1 Thoughtseize
    1 Toxic Deluge
    1 Ancestral Recall
    1 Brainstorm
    1 Counterspell
    1 Lightning Bolt
    1 Mana Leak
    1 Mental Misstep
    1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
    1 Sensei’s Divining Top
    1 Anger of the Gods
    1 Spell Snare
    1 Spell Pierce
    1 Force of Will
    1 Mana Drain
    1 Wurmcoil Engine
    1 Electrolyze
    1 Snapcaster Mage
    1 Venser, Shaper Savant
    1 Vendilion Clique
    1 Fact or Fiction
    1 Trinket Mage
    1 Riptide Laboratory
    1 Pithing Needle
    1 Crosis’s Charm
    1 The Abyss
    1 Engineered Explosives
    1 Academy Ruins
    1 Creeping Tar Pit
    1 Badlands
    1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
    1 Underground Sea
    1 Volcanic Island
    1 Steam Vents
    1 Watery Grave
    1 Blood Crypt
    1 Dragonskull Summit
    1 Drowned Catacomb
    1 Sulfur Falls
    1 Darkslick Shores
    1 Island
    1 Mountain
    1 Swamp
    1 Bloodstained Mire
    1 Polluted Delta
    1 Scalding Tarn
    1 Misty Rainforest
    1 Flooded Strand
    1 Marsh Flats
    1 Ancestral Vision
    1 Vedalken Shackles
    1 Mishra’s Factory
    1 Baleful Strix
    1 Terminate
    1 Dreadbore
    1 Cryptic Command
    1 Mystical Teachings
    SB: 1 Duress
    SB: 1 Red Elemental Blast
    SB: 1 Misdirection
    SB: 1 Pyroclasm
    SB: 1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
    SB: 1 Cursed Totem
    SB: 1 Chaos Warp
    SB: 1 Rakdos Charm
    SB: 1 Nihil Spellbomb
    SB: 1 Virtue’s Ruin
    SB: 1 Grafdigger’s Cage
    SB: 1 Extract
    SB: 1 Faerie Macabre
    SB: 1 Energy Flux
    SB: 1 Flusterstorm

    Cursed totem is my favourite card in the board. I’m always carrying on about it. It does amazing things against bant decks. I think rakdos charm is a really versatile board card. Grixis is a little weaker in highlander I think, because it doesn’t have the power of alot of the recent printings that U/W/x decks have gotten (Will of the Council, Sphinx’s Rev etc). The lack of life gain causes it some grief against zoo too.

    #277
    Shane
    Shane
    Keymaster

    The Abyss is really good reusable removal too if you’re relying on planeswalkers to win.

    #282
    Golden Ladybug
    Golden Ladybug
    Participant

    Yeah, Ancestral Recall is pretty bonkers. Every time I’ve resolved it in testing, its felt awesome and broken; It isn’t going to take much convincing for me to leave it in the deck. I have never played with Library of Alexandria in any context, but I’ve read the stories, and it certainly reads like a powerful, powerful magic card. Mana Drain is bonkers, and untapping on turn 3 to slam a Sorin or a Tamiyo seems extremely fair and balanced. Merchant Scroll didn’t seem fantastic on my first impression, but taking a moment to think about it, it seems pretty good. Tutoring for Ancestral Recall is pretty good, and being able to find some Burn or Countermagic on demand is handy. The Abyss is totally sexy, and I’m on board for trying it out.

    I agree that Punishing Fire seems super clunky, and it probably isn’t correct to be using it. It might have a place if I ever try out a Dack Fayden build, but right now I’m probably playing CMC2 Shock.

    I can’t believe I didn’t know Crosis’s Charm existed. Stapling Boomerang, Doom Blade and Smelt together is a fantastic idea that I can get behind.

    I don’t know where I’d fit some ramp into the deck (although its probably extremely obvious to someone outside my head), because my feeling would be that I’d need to drop card draw or removal spells to do it. If I were to put two Signets into the deck, I suppose I could shave a land, and if I’m cutting Punishing Fire + Grove, then I’m probably also cutting Vraska. Welp, found space.

    I’ll give the Punishing Fire and Vraska a try in one round of the league, but I think you’re right on the money about it being a less than optimal choice.

    And I’ll definitely mine that list for cool ideas (is five Islands really enough for Vedalken Shackles, though?), especially the Sideboard

    #283
    Shane
    Shane
    Keymaster

    It’s Ok because of the fetches, but I did refine it a little last night (the factory became a basic island).

    #327
    Golden Ladybug
    Golden Ladybug
    Participant

    So, I just played my two games of Highlander for this round of the League, and I’m sitting at a proud 0-2, and I don’t think that’s because the deck is bad, although that is entirely possible. I guess I’ll talk about my games here rather than make a thread in the Tournament Reports section, since that seems wasteful and slightly egocentric.

    My first game was against a player using Naya Zoo, an Archetype that I’m not even slightly surprised to see. There has been more than enough good creatures in those colours that fit a quick, aggressive strategy, without a doubt. I had registered two decklists for this week, one of which was experimenting with Tinker (a direction that I now believe to be entirely wrong for this build, but obviously is very powerful in the right shell), and I was playing the Tinker list in this game. I kept a hand of four lands, Edict, JTMS and Chandra, Pyromaster in game one. Not knowing how fast I could expect his start to be, I thought that leaning on my edict to stem some early damage so that I could get to my planeswalkers and pull ahead would be an acceptable plan, but unfortunately a combination of misplay and drawing my Blightsteel Colossus and additional lands rather than spells made that a delusion.

    The second game was entirely sweet; a mulligan to 5 left me with two lands, two removal spells and an Inkwell Leviathan (I didn’t think there was a four that was much better). I somehow managed to drag this game all the way to double digit turns, successfully casting Inkwell Leviathan with the help of Dreadship Reef and having it removed by Council’s Judgement, answering every threat he threw out, Casting Tamiyo and losing her to a Red Elemental Blast the turn after and finally dying one turn away from hardcasting Blightsteel Colossus (I also had the pleasure of Tinkering for Sensei’s Divining Top). It was a sweet game, and I had a lot of fun.

    The second round was against G/B Loam. In game 1, on the draw, I had my land Sinkholed and then got locked out by Wasteland + Life from the Loam. I continued to trudge on, waiting for him to actually kill me rather than just conceding in frustration (since every dredge showed me more of how his deck was constructed, whereas all he was seeing from me where the lands in my graveyard), but I will admit that I was very salty about the way things were going. If, by some coincidence, my opponent happens to wander over to this thread, I apologise for my attitude in that particular game.

    Game 2 was very much the opposite; his land destruction plan was much less aggressive this game, and I was able to resolve an Ashiok in the midgame (keeping a three land hand and losing one of them to some LD slowed more board development significantly), followed by a JTMS and then a Tamiyo. Besides a set of Manlands and a Bloodghast, he had hardly any ways of interacting with my ‘walkers at all. Ashiok’s Ultimate stripped him of his graveyard and Jace fatesealed a Crucible of Worlds into my Counterspell, leading to a concession.

    Game 3 was more back and forth, as I was able to get both Ashiok and JTMS online, but he was firing all his Manlands and stripping away resources with Liliana of the Veil. I simply drew the wrong half of my deck, finding my sideboarded graveyard hate and sorceries that I didn’t have the Mana to use. There was a drought of any instant speed removal to clear away his Treetop Village and his Mutavault, so my ‘walkers sadly fell as I desperately looked for some card draw or more impactful spells. Liliana of the Veil was able to resolve her Ultimate, leaving me with no permanents besides a Dreadship Reef and a Steam Vents. Playing to my outs, I charged my Reef to 5 counters and hoped to draw Land into Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker, but unfortunately that was not the case.

    So, Mediocre Beats story over – What did we learn?

    I learned that I need to be more aggressive with my Mulligans: Round 1 Game 1 had some major issues rooted in deck construction, but I shouldn’t have kept that hand. One piece of limited interaction is not enough to reach turn 4 with any degree of certainty, and I didn’t have any of the tools to protect my walkers once I cast them. There was definitely a better six card hand.

    I need to be more conservative with my Edict effects. I just can’t afford to throw them away for little value. I also believe that I shouldn’t be playing Chainer’s Edict over Diabolic Edict, since the flexibility of instant speed just sits better than the potential value of the flashback, especially in a deck that is making it its business to try and cast Mystical Teachings.

    Five pieces of countermagic seemed a touch too little, but I may be wrong there. I’m leaning towards including a Spell Pierce or a Negate, or possibly go a different direction an play a Hymn to Tourach or Inquisition of Kozilek.

    Vraska and Grave Titan simply did not seem good – my curve always felt really high, and I didn’t want to be tapping out to cast them ever. The splash never seemed an issue (I always felt like I could make it possible to cast Vraska if I wanted to), but they were never what I wanted.

    I want another way to kill Planeswalkers, which means I’m probably playing a Hero’s Downfall. Liliana sitting around on my opponent’s board beat me 100% in that third game, as being unable to profitably interact with her until she reached her ultimate was simply unacceptable. Increasing my outs to a very commonly played card that might just straight up beat me is probably correct.

    Following that thought, I might also consider replacing my own Liliana of the Veil with either a Jace Beleren or Dack Fayden (and in the world I’m playing a CMC3 Walker that draws me cards, I’m definitely replacing Chandra, Pyromaster with Ral Zarek), since running out of cards was a big problem in all of my games so far. On the subject of Planeswalkers, I might attempt a White splash for Ajani Vengeant.

    Dreadship Reef was time and again my favourite land in the deck. Storing mana in the Reef gave me so many more lines of play than I would’ve had otherwise, and it gave me a plan when I’m just trying to contain my opponent’s board with my removal spells – every turn I was buying with those removal spells was a turn that got me more mana to turn the game around later. I’m strongly considering replacing Graven Cairns or Dragonskull Summit with Molten Slagheap, but I feel in my gut that two storage lands is too many.

    I’m going to explore some other point configurations, the first of which is going to be Time Walk, Sol Ring, Force of Will, since Time Walk and Sol Ring both seem really good with Planeswalkers. Ancestral Visions will be picking up the “Draw 3 Cards” slack. Its also entirely possible that I’ll try a non-Teachings build next week, replacing my Teachings and Consume the Meek with Fact or Fiction and Damnation. Doing so might just be better, even though I’m a massive fan of Teachings. Massive fan.

    My Sideboard needs some work, and I don’t really know how to fix it. I’m just really awful at building sideboards.

    Cruel Ultimatum and Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker have yet to be cast, which saddens me greatly.

    Going into the next round, I’m going to be starting with this list and working from there:

    Creatures 3
    1 Venser, Shaper Savant
    1 Baleful Strix OR Trinket Mage
    1 Snapcaster Mage

    Planeswalkers 7
    1 Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
    1 Sorin Markov
    1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
    1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
    1 Ral Zarek
    1 Lilianna of the Veil OR Jace Beleren OR Dack Fayden
    1 Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver

    Sorceries 5
    1 Cruel Ultimatum
    1 Time Walk [3pts]
    1 Dreadbore
    1 Thoughtseize
    1 Ancestral Visions

    Instants 19
    1 Consume the Meek
    1 Force of Will [1pt]
    1 Cryptic Command
    1 Mystical Teachings
    1 Crosis’s Charm
    1 Hero’s Downfall
    1 Electrolyze
    1 Dismember
    1 Think Twice OR Shadow of Doubt
    1 Fire // Ice
    1 Doom Blade
    1 Go for the Throat
    1 Terminate
    1 Diabolic Edict
    1 Counterspell
    1 Mana Leak
    1 Brainstorm
    1 Lightning Bolt
    1 Mental Misstep

    Artifacts 2
    1 Engineered Explosives
    1 Sol Ring [3pts]

    Lands 24
    1 Badlands
    1 Volcanic Island
    1 Underground Sea
    1 Blood Crypt
    1 Watery Grave
    1 Steam Vents
    1 Bloodstained Mire
    1 Polluted Delta
    1 Scalding Tarn
    1 Misty Rainforest
    1 Marsh Flats
    2 Island
    1 Swamp
    1 Mountain
    1 Dreadship Reef
    1 Creeping Tar Pit
    1 Graven Cairns
    1 Sunken Ruins
    1 Dragonskull Summit
    1 Drowned Catacomb
    1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
    1 Riptide Laboratory
    1 Desolate Lighthouse OR Seat of the Synod OR Academy Ruins

    #330
    Lachlan Ward-Smith
    Lachlan Ward-Smith
    Participant

    Nice report, the deck looks great.

    I’m planning on playing a different deck each week in the league so I’ll be sure to give this a try. When I play it the points will probably look like: Recall [4], Mana Drain [1], True Name Nemesis [1], Merchant Scroll/Force/Wasteland [1]. I feel like Mana Drain will be fantastic with all the walkers, and that True Name Nemesis is too good in highlander not to run. (Although perhaps not if you’re running The Abyss…)

    Also if you want to keep your green splash then another card you can consider for ramp is Deathrite Shaman, as it’s also a Planeswalker, even providing that aforementioned life-gain. (Again not a great option with The Abyss).

    You definitely want Baleful Strix.

    I assume the Seat is for the potential Trinket Mage, but it’s really bad vs Bant decks, giving them random targets for Sex Monkeys and Predators, both of which are tutorable. If you are going to go with Trinket Mage you probably want a Diving Top too.

    If you’re going to be running the Lab you really want to consider Vendillion Clique. After Snapcaster and TTN its easily one of the most efficient blue creatures ever printed, and its another card you can mystical teachings for.

    Another card that hasn’t shown up in any of the lists here that’s also worth considering is Batterskull.

    #333
    Golden Ladybug
    Golden Ladybug
    Participant

    Nice report, the deck looks great.

    I’m planning on playing a different deck each week in the league so I’ll be sure to give this a try.

    thankslachlanialsothinkyourdecksarecool…

    But lets stop gushing over even the smallest of praise, and respond to your comments intelligently.

    Since every single person who has given me advice has led off by saying “You should be playing Mana Drain”, perhaps I should finally take some of that advice. Providing access to these powerhouse Planeswalkers before I should have any right to them, and stopping an opponent’s play in the bargain seems really strong. There’s probably a reason you’re only allowed to play it in Vintage and Highlander.

    I’ve thought about TNN a few times so far, and each time I’ve hum’d and haa’d about whether it was worth spending the point, whether I wanted to play a typically aggressive creature in a deck that isn’t likely to win damage in any non-glacial span of time or if I’d be playing more than a glorified Wall of Denial. But lets be real, TNN is bonkers and it is almost certainly correct to play it. Planeswalkers need defending, and my current defensive strategy of threat overload and well-timed removal spells could probably use some tweaking, and a 3/1 Progenitus plonked down in front of them might be just what the doctor ordered (plus, you know, I could use it to kill my opponents. Wouldn’t that be fun?).

    DRS is again, probably correct. He ramps, he blocks, he giveth and taketh life and he gets hit by their removal spells. I should be playing a lone Green or White source even if I’m /not/ splashing for any green cards, in case I need to set Sunburst at 4 with Engineered Explosives, and that definitely makes including DRS a rather painless decision (and, even though its reliability might be a bit suspect, DRS gives me an option to get Sunburst to 5).

    The Abyss just seems like a bit of a nonbo with any amount of Creatures at all, really.

    Baleful Strix seems like a good card, but is it better than Trinket Mage in that slot? Honestly, probably way better, Trinket Mage isn’t providing me with much utility right now (besides maybe a potential sideboard package. I don’t have much raw card draw in the deck (well, I do, but I could always stand to have more) and I’m not currently playing any way to beat Sigarda, Host of Herons. Seems good at both those things.

    I didn’t even think of that, but Seat seems so awful right now. That’s possibly the worst feeling tempo loss ever, and I’m not even that hyped on Trinket Mage at the moment. Sensei’s Divining Top should probably be in here anyway, regardless of whether Trinket Mage is also there. Card is good.

    Is it bad that the thing that convinced me to finally give in and try Vendilion Clique was “its another card you can mystical teachings for”?

    Batterskull has, at various times, been on the list, but every single time I think to myself “this lacks synergy with Cruel Ultimatum, I’ll just replace it with a Wurmcoil Engine” which is closely followed by “I never like casting Wurmcoil Engine, since its so easy to remove and prevent me from getting the tokens, and six mana is a lot” then I cut it from the list. This line of thinking is probably flawed, and Batterskull seems very good combined with a potential inclusion of True-Name Nemesis.

    Thanks so much for the feedback, Lachlan, and hopefully we don’t end up playing the mirror in the next round of the league 😛

    #341
    Golden Ladybug
    Golden Ladybug
    Participant

    So, its been a while, but I’ve finally managed to complete both my games for this round of the Highlander League and I have moved to an exceptionally strong 1-3. That’s the sort of record that makes me feel confident for going to an actual event tomorrow!

    Anyway, lets chat about what happened.

    My first opponent of the round was on Channel Mirror, although I didn’t know that until midway through the second game. I’m not that well versed in Highlander, after all, and when your opponent is playing a bunch of mana dorks, eggs and transmute cards it could really be anything. Neither of us really enacted our game plan in the first game anyway. I resolved a Baleful Strix followed by a True-Name Nemesis, and that was apparently good enough. Crosis’s Charm, Thoughtseize and some Counterspells kept my opponent from assembling a critical mass, along with what I presume poor draws on his part. The only “business” spell, if you could call it that, I saw was the Skyship Weatherlight, which confused the hell out of me.

    I boarded in my artifact destruction and discard spells, removing the top end of my curve. Game 2 was exceptionally similar, although it certainly contained much more Snapcaster Mage and Riptide Laboratory. Five 1CMC discard spells cast during as many turns makes the life of any combo mage quite difficult. Venser got involved, wizards were bouncing back and forth, I snagged a Lich’s Mirror with a Duress and everything just sort of worked out.

    That entire game, I was entirely unsure of what it was I should be doing or what my opponent was trying to accomplish, and I feel like it could’ve definitely been worse for me. My opponent never had a window to transmute for his Channel, and everything just seemed super clunky on his side. Still, mana denial plan worked out.

    My second opponent for the round was on Alluren + Food Chain + FlashHulk combo, and that was certainly stressful. In game 1, I was able to interrupt the combo with a timely Consume the Meek. A card my opponent had clearly not thought would ever be cast against him in this format. With my opponent tapped out, creatureless and running low on cards, I proceeded to ultimate both Tamiyo and Liliana of the Veil.

    Game 2 was a different beast, with my opponent casting Flash in his own endstep when I tapped low to charge my Dreadship Reef. He fetched up Viscera Seer and Karmic Guide, fetching up DRS and Kiki-Jiki with the Protean Hulk that came on back. I lose in his next upkeep, and it is entirely my fault – I have a removal spell for his Viscera Seer, and I just fuck up and die because I don’t sequence it properly. I still don’t like my chances in the game where my opponent has an unmolested Kiki-Jiki, but at least he wouldn’t have been able to make an infinite number of Karmic Guides to kill me with right then and there.

    Game 3 was very back and forth. Dreadship Reef was an allstar, making up for a clunky draw and allowing me to keep up mana for Consume the Meek for basically the entire stretch, but unfortunately I was never able to get that decisive blowout of the first game. Tamiyo and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir provided me with a certain amount of inevitability, but his board of multiple dumb idiots threatened a combo at any time, especially since he’s found a Cavern Harpy at some point. He casts a Flash, putting in Academy Rector and going off to find Food Chain.

    Now, once again, I lose to my own awful sequencing here. There are two spots that I could’ve acted, on reflection, that keep me in the game. The first is right here. I can Consume the Meek, to eat his board of <CMC3 guys (he would return a Cavern Harpy, of course) and allow him to find his Enchantment of choice. This would be incorrect, based on what his hand turned out to have, but it would’ve been fine based on what I knew at that time. My opponent fetches up a Food Chain.

    He proceeds to cast a Misthollow Griffin, and proceeds to infinite mana town. He follows it up with both Elvish Visionary and Mulldrifter, and this is where I make my second mistake. He pays 1 life to return his Cavern Harpy, and if there was any chance of stopping him from going off it was now, hoping that he just didn’t have the win in hand. I had the mana to cast both my Crosis’s Charm and Consume the Meek, and if I use the Charm to Doom Blade his Mulldrifter, I prevent him from rebuying his “draw a card” effects and hopefully bottleneck him on cards – even if he can make a billion, zillion mana, if he still needs to cantrip into a way of converting that into a win, then I at least have a chance.

    It turns out I do neither of those things, and in fact let him combo off unopposed. We were on a rather strict “if you don’t finish in the next five minutes, we will kick you out of the store” kind of clock, and I had been playing magic all day, but that is still bad feelings. I should’ve at least tried to interrupt him winning. Neither of the lines I detailed above were particularly good, but they are least had some chance of preventing me from straight up losing. Reflection is better than not thinking about it at all, but I’m guessing that I really need to be able to start deciphering combo decks, and actually take a moment to think about my lines before letting stuff happen or committing to a course of action. Pretty important lessons in general, I suppose.

    So, in about 10 hours, I’m taking a slightly tweaked list to an actual event. That’ll be fun.

    #342
    Golden Ladybug
    Golden Ladybug
    Participant

    So, I wasn’t able to get a Recall. I ended up playing Mana Drain, Force of Will, Sol Ring and Mind Twist. Five rounds of swiss, and I left with a 1-4 record. I’m slightly dejected about that, as I’m sure you can imagine.

    In the first round, I’m playing against MonoGreen Wave.

    The first game is an exercise in trying to get to Consume the Meek mana, but my opponent’s Wasteland is exactly enough to make a speculative keep with huge upside basically just a goldfish. I do eventually manage to fling a Consume the Meek at a field of mana dorks, but a follow up of Fyndhorn Elves and Natural Order puts the game far out of reach. Sometimes Terastodon is a triple stone rain and that’s good enough. I had a Mental Misstep when he played the Fyndhorn Elves, but only four life. With the benefit of hindsight, I should’ve countered it, 100% of the time. It was not going to do much more than trade for a 1/1, and in this case it would have also protected three of my lands from becoming Elephants. Live and learn, I guess.

    Game 2 also looks pretty bad, although my opponent’s start is much less explosive than a turn 3 Primeval Titan. I resolve an Ashiok on turn 3 despite a sketchy mana base of Dreadship Reef, Sunken Ruins and Riptide Laboratory (sometimes you keep a hand because it can make an Ashiok and nothing else, and that’s enough). My opponent uses a Primal Command to chuck one of my lands on top and tutor up a Thrun, the Last Troll and I get Ashiok up to a healthy seven loyalty and hit a creature (previous exile had been Garruk, Primal Hunter, Gaea’s Cradle and Sylvan Library, from memory) – Primeval Titan. This neatly solves my mana issues, puts the breaks on my opponent’s ability to pressure me and gives me a clock. Planeswalkers and Consume the Meek quickly follow, and a concession after that.

    Game 3 is a little rough. I keep a Mana Drain hand that leads into Tamiyo, with two removal spells and a healthy mix of lands. Can’t ask for more than that. So, when my opponent plays a Turn 3 Thrun, the Last Troll and I happily put a Mana Drain on the stack, already feeling happy that I dodged that bullet, I neglect to actually read the freakin’ card. So, Mana Drain in the graveyard and 4 colourless mana ready to enter my mana pool, I somehow need to find an answer to a Thrun. Again, with the benefit of hindsight, this was almost certainly correct – my opponent doesn’t need to cast a single spell from this point onwards, and vaulting ahead to casting Tamiyo and a removal spell gives me the most possible outs. I need to find a Damnation or Removal Spell + Edict to get the Troll off of the board, but Tamiyo can play defence and give me some virtual lifegain while I do so. I sequence my spells as best as possible and see as many draw steps as I can, but this is not the story of how I managed to beat the T3 Thrun and miraculously pulled ahead.

    My second round opponent had received a game loss due to issues with his decklist, so I only needed to win one game to take the match. He elected to play first, and on his second turn resolved a Blood Moon. Makes my Tropical Island into Sol Ring seem downright embarrassing. I, of course, draw my Force of Will on my second turn – just in time! Unable to fetch out my Basic Islands, I was unable to fight his Jace, the Mind Sculptor with Misdirection backup. I am Fatesealed into many a mountain, and despite being able to cast three whole spells in my 60, I am unable to dispatch the Jace.

    Game “3” starts off a little better. I land Swamp into Deathrite Shaman, and fetch a basic Island on my second turn, following it up with a Sol Ring. My opponent, once again, plays a Turn 2 Blood Moon. He follows it up with an Engineered Explosives, with Sunburst at 1. Dejected, but still putting up a fight, I find a second basic Island and multiple nonbasic Mountains. Things are still looking okay until my opponent Sneak Attacks a Sundering Titan into play, taking my entire mana base down in one fell swoop. Emrakul sneaks in a turn or two later and finishes the job.

    So, that was pretty rough. I’m called aside by our resident superstar judge Fry, who informs me that I’ve only recorded 59 cards in my maindeck. I figure out what I missed, fix up the mistake, and get given a game loss for round 3.

    Round 3… I get the bye. Unfortunately, this does not mean that I’m allowed to record the results of that round as 2/1 in my favour.

    Round 4, I inform my opponent that he wins the first game and that I will play in Game 2. On turn two, he plays Kiora’s Follower. On turn 3, a Time Vault goes on the stack. Hilariously, the game doesn’t actually end there. Go for the Throat takes care of the Follower. The turn after that, Derevi is cast, and Venser, Shaper Savant bounces the Time Vault. Lightning Bolt takes care of Derevi. A Reveillark threatens to bring back both of them, but Snapcaster flashed back a Brainstorm and found the clutch Mana Drain (Hats off to Mana Burn no longer existing, as that mana was spent on nothing at all). Consume the Meek clears out a field of Blade Splicer, Phantasmal Image and two Golems, and through it all Venser keeps heading on in for the Wizard beats. A Vendilion Clique clears away a relevant spell, his Venser meets a Doom Blade and my Shaper Savant finally goes the distance from 16 or so to 0. Not exactly how I planned to win my games, but you take what you can get.

    Game “3”, I keep a very risky seven (there was almost certainly a better six). Temple of Malice (fun times with not being able to borrow a Badlands), Riptide Laboratory, Duress, Liliana of the Veil, Chandra, Pyromaster, Consume the Meek and Mana Leak. I have certainly kept better. I scry away a Snapcaster Mage with my Temple, rip an Island off the top. He’d played a Time Vault on his turn 2 (difficult to stop with a tapped RB land), and I make the out and out mistake of casting Ancient Grudge during my main phase. I suppose there are some games I lose because he sees an extra card (find a daze or Spell Pierce or something), but I don’t think this is one of them. Leaving up Mana Leak and killing it in his end step seems much better, on the whole. On my third turn, I cast my Duress and take his Birthing Pod I believe. I really should’ve written this all down, because unfortunately I can’t remember what I used my Mana Leak on, because it certainly wasn’t his Huntmaster of the Fells and I can’t remember why. So, with Huntmaster transformed into Ravager, I need to draw a running lands to sweep away his board and get back in the game with Chandra and Liliana. I draw the fourth land and pass the turn, and he slams his Wolves into my face. At 8 life, I draw for the turn and find… Thoughtseize. Less than ideal at this stage of the game. I cast Liliana of the Veil and immediately regret my decision – I should have cast Chandra, Pyromaster and used her 0 ability in the hopes of turning over a land. The top card of my deck needs to be a land anyway, and if it is a spell I need it out of the way to draw that land next turn. If he turns his Wolves on Chandra then I’m still in fine shape at a respectable 8 life. Liliana does so little, trading 2 loyalty for his Wolf. I want to go back in time and slap myself for pursuing what was clearly the wrong line of play.

    So, I edict away his token, he attacks me down to 4 and leaves four mana up. I successfully draw a land, making last turn’s mistake even worse, since its a Steam Vents. I play it out, losing 2 life. As expected, he has a Restoration Angel to blink his Huntmaster and make another wolf. With me at 2 life, he simply passes his turn without doing anything, allowing his Huntmaster to flip and shoot me down. I don’t even get to die with dignity.

    In the fifth round, I am hilariously paired up, against an opponent playing MonoWhite Weenies. The games were unspectacular. I finally cast Mind Twist, grabbing my opponent’s entire hand and Vendilion Clique sails on across for the full 21. In the second game, I get stuck with a hand of red spells and a field of blue and black mana after my Deathrite Shaman went plowing and a Wasteland came to call, and despite my best efforts I am unable to staunch the bleeding while my opponent gets in with 2/1s and an increasingly threatening Student of Warfare. In game 3, he keeps a one lander with no action and a curve that goes from 2 to 4, and draws his Aether Vial off the top. The thing about one landers is that they contain six spells, and the Vial lets him cast each and every one of them. He never finds another land, but the fun thing about Vial is that you rarely need to. Deathrite eats another Plow, Restoration Angel and Soldier of the Pantheon blank a bunch of removal spells and I am overwhelmed by a tide of white idiots.

    Like before, Mind Twist was extremely underwhelming. I never wanted it in my deck, even in the fifth game where it did its best Wits End impression. Sol Ring was also awful, although that said the only games I saw it in were mono-turn 2 Blood Moon. I feel like I would’ve been able to do better if I had an Ancestral Recall in my deck, but I struggle to think of a time where that wouldn’t be true.

    Consume the Meek was MVP all day. It seemed like every game, I was just all about resolving Consume. It just seemed like it was going to win me the game every single time, and even though that is not the case, It always felt extremely impactful. Mystical Teachings did not make an appearance today, but I’m sure it would’ve been good (maybe). I cast Mana Drain twice, as a Dark Ritual and as a Counterspell. Seemed meh, really. Force of Will was unsuccessful at countering a single thing, but I always felt better when I had it in hand. No Cruel Ultimatums were cast. Nicol Bolas did not get a chance to be a greater power. Jace, the Mind Sculptor was not present to be better than all. Dreadship Reef did not get a chance to leverage much mana advantage in any of the games I had it (those were the ones I was tapping out every turn in a desperate attempt to not die). Sideboarding always felt awful, both because I haven’t practised boarding enough with this deck, I’m bad at Sideboarding in general (and I don’t know how to get better) and it never seemed like any of the cards in my 15 were really what I wanted.

    All in all, this was not a good day for the Legion of Doom. If all I’ve learnt today is “your deck is not good, and you will continue to lose if you play it in this format” then that’s pretty depressing, Of the three individual games I won, two were entirely on the back of my small contingent of Wizards sailing on into the red zone, and claiming that the third was not the result of some very fortunate variance would be lying.

    I’m a bit dejected at the moment, and I’m sure that some time to reflect on what the hell I need to be doing would be wise.

    #355
    Golden Ladybug
    Golden Ladybug
    Participant

    OH YEAH, I WAS TALKING ABOUT HOW MY GAMES WENT

    So, I got the round 3 bye in one of the brackets; and if there’s anything that makes you feel like a winner, its getting the round 3 bye. It was a hard fought battle, but I was able to defeat my opponent.

    In the other bracket, I finally got to face off against a midrange fair creature deck. And it was glorious.

    The first game went pretty much according to the script. My opponent played Mother of Runes into Scavenging Ooze into Kitchen Finks, and I played a True-Name Nemesis. Turns out that True-Name Nemesis is pretty good at blocking. Since this state of affairs doesn’t go anywhere for my opponent, he laid down a Noble Hierarch to buff the Scavenging Ooze, and Mother of Runes forces it through. I happily take the damage and Fire // Ice his Mother of Runes and Hierarch. Value. He clones my True-Name Nemesis with a Phyrexian Metamorph, and a few more dorky creatures join the battlefield, to be met with some dorky removal spells from me. I use a Cryptic Command to keep his team down, then the turn afterwards I Consume the Meek.

    And when you’ve been aggressively trading resources and then the board is wiped, I think its fair to say that the Ancestral Recall and Cruel Ultimatum deck is favoured. And you’d be right. With Jace, Architect of Thought and Tamiyo, the Moon Sage both threatening to ultimate, we go to a second game.

    In the second game, my opponent goes in on his own True-Name Nemesis, which is swept away by a Damnation. We’re both choked on mana, preventing my opponent from truly leveraging his Survival of the Fittest and keeping me from overwhelming him with powerful spells. But with both of us restricted to casting one or two spells a turn, Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver quickly takes over the game. I steal his Phyrexian Revoker to shut down his Survival of the Fittest early on, and I’m able to protect both with some Baleful Strix and Removal spells. My answers are better than his threats, and I beat him to death with his own creatures.

    I don’t think I did much wrong in this game, although my sequencing probably could have been better. Everything finally went according to plan! I didn’t have to scramble to race against the obscure combo deck, or try to gain advantage under extreme mana denial. Finally, just a fair creature deck doing fair things (I could’ve had this experience earlier, if I hadn’t dabbled in an awful tinker build).

    So, with a combined 3-3-0 Record, I probably need to go undefeated from now on if I want to get into the top 8. Should be easy, right?

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.