I have to admit, this week has been fun. At first, I was dreading the responsibility of writing the Dailies. When Craig asked me I didn’t have any good reason to decline the request, and after I had gotten him to push pack the Daily stint once already, I felt like any more hiding would just be pathetic. I resigned myself to fate, and promptly forgot about it. Until Craig emailed me Sunday night asking for the Monday edition. I’m a retired journalist and a potential career student, so it doesn’t take much more than an impending deadline to actually get me to sit down and write.
Aside: I think journalism is, at worst, despicable and evil (see the perverted relationship between politics and mass media), but even at it’s best and most ideal, I think it’s little more than trivial. Overall, a waste of time. Like my favorite MC says:
“You wanna read the press, stick to the sports and comics.
The rest is just incest and politics, whores and nonsense.”
Anyway, the writing has been fun. I’ve gotten to shoot from the hip and talk about some things that aren’t always talked about. And I got to tie it into Magic simply on the basis that all of players are people too. For the last issue, I’d like to focus, to write about something that interests us strictly as players… maybe even more narrowly, as competitive players.
That’s right. I’m gonna attempt to strategize.
For some reason (complete laziness), I never wrote about my experiences at the Honolulu Pro Tour. I’m still not going to, because the time has passed and my notes went through the washing machine a few times, but I do have this tropical lesson to share.
Giant Solifuge is an amazing creature. Every time I sided it in, I felt like I couldn’t lose, that the only thing I had to do was to play so that it resolved and I was gold. Or at least hybrid. It was obvious from my finish, as well as Prof’s and Heezy’s, that the Spider was super in an aggro deck. But I found it just as interesting how effective Solifuge was in Osyp’s Tron deck. I wanted to figure a control list whose primary win condition was big and hasty and untargetable and relatively cheap in the endgame.
If I had spent more time looking at the format since the PT, maybe I would have a Standard decklist for you. I don’t. Because I’ve been looking at Block ever since. I know there’s a third set to come, and from the early spoiling, it’s bound to shake things up (loosely, since there’s no real Block metagame to speak of). But I like to get an early start on Constructed formats, so that I have plenty of time for brainstorming and to try some of my more extreme ideas.
Here’s the initial version of the list I’ve been working, and I’m somewhat happy with it:
The basic plan is to keep the board relatively clear through the use of burn spells and countermagic, until you have an opening to drop ‘Fuge and smash, hopefully with more counter back-up. It’s not a bad plan, and if you get to the midgame the way you want to the bug really is a beating. It’s not just that he hits hard. He also invalidates the typical answers people have for threats. Spell-wise, Savage Twister and Rolling Spoil get him, as do Hour of Reckoning and Rain of Embers. I don’t expect the latter two to see much play and the former, well, should be countered. Sure, pretty much any creature can take down the Solifuge, but that’s why the other half of your gameplan is to keep the board clear. Draws with early Remands and Electrolyzes performed well. Those without were a lot of work.
I was happy until I played against BWG good stuff. Two cards in particular seemed impossible to beat, almost. Carven Caryatid is impossible to kill without using two cards or a huge Invoke. Fortunately, there is enough burn and card drawing in the deck that you can afford kill the wall (or your opponent) when you’re ready to set up the game. And, as good as a 2/5 cantripping wall is, it doesn’t actually put you on any clock.
The real problem card is the Vitu Ghazi, the City-Tree. I’m sure you can see how infinite, uncounterable 1/1’s could be a problem for a card-conscious control deck that tries to win with an amazing beatstick that just happens to only die to chump blocking. The clock the tree puts you on isn’t the fastest, but it’s enough to force your hand early, aim some burn at the dome, and hope to top deck that finishing fire.
I liked the list. And I was satisfied with Solifuge, but I needed to find answers to those two particular problems. While Vedalken Plotter has some sideboard potential, it’s just not the most exciting. Maybe, if the deck was a dominating force in the metagame and that was the only weakness it needed to shore up, but it’s not at that point yet.
I turned to White, which not only provides the deck with the very excellent Lightning Helix and the super-versatile Faith’s Fetters, it also sets the 3rd pack up quite nicely. Remember, you always want to keep yourself open for a guild in each pack.
That said, here’s the most recent list:
4 Lightning Helix
4 Muddle the Mixture
4 Izzet Signet
4 Faith’s Fetters
4 Giant Solifuge
2 Invoke the Firemind
I haven’t got to test this most recent list much, as I’ve been busy with the Daily. I’m sure it’s only a rough estimate of the final polished machine. I’d be very interested to hear what you think of it, what suggestions you might have, etc.