Is that the question?
I miss Bad Moon…
You know I used to pummel people with Black Knights, Stone-Throwing Devils, Unholy Strength – and then drop the Bad Moon. Take that first strike hit…. But those days are gone, and there doesn’t seem to be black beats anymore. Black is down like a Bog Wraith steeped in a Louisiana still… except as a hate color.
In this flurry of Type Two building for States, I’d like to think that this past article might help some folks out. The ideas expressed in it still are very influential in my designs and my changes to other people’s decks. Of late, I’ve been in debate with a friend over his design and my changes to make me feel comfortable with these ideas…
As it is, my favor of U/B Ankh Tide has moved over to U/W, because basically one white card looks to be dominant in the on-board card advantage market: Wrath of God. So my prediction is that, much like Armageddon, you will either be playing with it or against it. From here, I’ll go on in a little more detail about some theory on top decks and color.
Mostly at the urging of my good buddy Greg Smith, we got into a conversation about top decks. Greg said something to the effect that Richard Garfield had said something about a proof that there were only three top decks in any environment. Initially, I had wanted to see that proof – as, well, the demarcation of three seems rather one of preference, or perhaps more precisely, an ideal. But as we went on, we regurgitated some ideas. One was this: The three top decks will be fast beatdown, aggro-midgame control, and then finally the long late-game control deck… and that you will likely have a sort of that old Rock/Paper/Scissors analogy. My idea in addition to this old theory was that there was a dominant color, then a second most powerful, a strong allied color, and then a hate color, and lastly the poor Red-headed stepchild.
I chose white as last season’s strongest color. The second was Green. The Allied color was Blue, and the hate was black. To emphasize this, let me repeat myself from last week: Probably the best deck over the course of the season was Replenish, which was a White deck. The kill advantage cards of Opalescence and Replenish were white, along with Parallax Wave. Blue was added in not for its primary counter ability, but because of its library manipulation, mostly in the Attunement enchantment. Other white powers were Academy Rector, which powered two fairly successful decks in Bargain and Sexy Rector. Add in the mega-powerful search engine in Rebels, which was one of the few Masques mechanics to have an impact on the Standard Constructed environment and take a Regional, and I think you get the picture.
Green was always strong with Stompy and had a moment with Trinity. There were other designs that used it well as a basis, including Angry Hermit and Squirrel Prison.
Blue had a moment with Accelerated Blue, and made a showing with Fish and Magpile on occasion. It was often added into other decks, including Replenish, Sexy Rector, and Squirrel Prison.
Black was the hate color, as it opposed the strong White and Green. John Finkel used this ability to win the US Nationals. It was also rooted in the Bargain deck, which initially splashed but wound up moving away from favor.
Red was Dead. Few made it a lead color in any design, although Ponza held sway with some and made its showings. Red beats and Sligh were not in the card pool, although red was a good splash color – as in Angry Hermit – and saw its moments as a Green hater (although not of the classic variety) in response to Trinity with RDW2K. In fact, a large part of this idea of mine was rooted in an interview with a WotC employee (who it was escapes me), who admitted that they had sent Red into the lowest-powered ranking of the colors on purpose in response to its previous strength. I believe he said that they purposely increased and decreased the strength of the colors through the sets… That leads us in a bit of a circle, back to the question of what is strong now?
I think it is still white. Anyone with a Magic pulse, anyone that reads the Magic sites, knows that these two on-board card advantage giants are swinging often this season. And why not? The combo is dead. The early beats are being lamented. Price and Burn are probably looking up Wakefield… or at least thinking about it. Ahhh, they’re probably just knee-deep in Drafting and Extended or something. Anyway, back to white. Did I mention the Rebel engine? Monowhite is perhaps the only mono-colored deck that is getting the ink. So white is still strong. What about the rest? It seems that Stompy is dead. Green is favored, but it’s for mana production and that one untargetable, short-lived beatstick. Blue has gained. ANY time that the environment slows, that UU staple – THE original Counterspell – gains… and so it has. Blue is the basis for several of what appears to be the best decks, and all sorts of crazy ideas are cropping up with Fact of Fiction. (I’m playing a friendly game today of Two-Headed Giant, and Phunny Phil makes the two piles under the table and won’t let me see more than the top card. I missed the Wrath). Red is up! It lacks Sligh Speed, but rejoice! Red is up. The burn is good… the creatures are, perhaps, not. Black is down, I think excepting that one punk that won’t stay dead except in a mass grave… but of course, it still hates white – and as Mr. Nether shows us, he cares not for either ‘Geddon OR Wrath.
Welcome to the long winter of long control…
At least until another set comes along, I think we are looking at the most grueling tournament format since MBC. No drawing out at the end of these suckers because you’ve probably already got one or two… but I’m just guessing…
I’ve only been rushed once in about fifty-odd random games on Apprentice. That was a Dark Ritual, Sengir Autocrat, alternate-cast Delraich pounding from my man Scott… but that thing ain’t going off enough but for fun.
I’m tired. This article from the beginning is a week old. Everyone here has an ear infection. The house I moved out of was supposed to be sold a month ago and clear me about $15K. As it is, I’m broke, and if the thing doesn’t make final sale before next weekend I’ll probably be home for States. Meanwhile, like all things they are, assuring me that it’ll be done by then. I’ll just have to go without reservations and sleep in my van…
I’m glued to Flores’ column. Is there anything close to a deck that can go early beats and then find some control? The Accelerated Blue model? I’m not sure, but I think the game is stunted right now. Invasion needs a kick in the pants from Planeshift. A little more speed, please? Thank you. Actually, I think the boys in R&D are doing okay… that is, if they can follow up this set with some good in Planeshift. Urza’s wasn’t all broken at the start – at least from my guesstimates.
I need your help. Everyone that watches the Cartoon Network needs to buy that Anne Murray CD so they’ll take the frickin’ commercial off the air. We have to BUY THEM ALL so there are no more to sell. It’s killing me. Killing me softly with her song… Blame Canada! That’s where she’s from, eh?
See, this is where the Magic mind goes right before the standard shift. All over the place. Scattered. Near-broken in the bad way. Concentration is shot. I’m wondering if Zvi is walking around in a daze muttering, "I know there’s a combo here somewhere." Price replies, "Scroll you."
Let’s lose our sensibilities and civility over three cards in a team effort on one deck. Sorry, man…
Let’s get back on track. Where’s Jason Standlea? You’re about due, man! (Jason’s been having serious computer problems, actually, and will be back as soon as his PC is up – he actually had a column written and it got saved over, and then his computer crashed AGAIN, which is always a pain – The Ferrett) I was thinking of you last night as I built the five mono-colored, all-common decks for my son and assorted youngsters to play. There’s some good stuff there. The Red is pretty quick and seems the best at the moment. We rolled that one over some crispy enough Pyre Zombie. Flying Rebels isn’t bad… and it’s all kinda fun…
But back to the colors. Things look to be a bit trickier now. Invasion is the multi colored set, allied colors to be specific, and we might need to address, to look into trying to figure out which allied PAIR will be, or looks to be, the most powerful. Do we start with white and its compliments? We might. IF you read the latest Flores, he talks about it definitively…
….as in, U/W he feels will be defining. Heck, I’ll take his word. I’m taking more than a few folks’ words on the environment. No doubt we should remember that U/W isn’t unconditionally best, just defining. You need to think about beating it to get in the game. Think about it.
Come on over to Dalnet
Lyrics to Sonic Youth’s EVOL