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 Post subject: Breakdown of EDH Duels
AgePosted: 2008-Jul-10 5:45 am 

Joined: 2008-Feb-24 1:27 pm
Age: Dragon
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Ever since the Duel and Team Play section of the forum opened, there has been a large debate about whether or not one card should be banned or not and also about various "broken plays" that are problematic. However, a lot of the arguments that have been given have been about cards or combinations of cards that specific playgroups seem to have a problem with and not as a general concensus. I'm going to move forward and try and get to the bottom of this. (People, prepare for a long-winded speech.)

First of all, I'd like to take a look at the cards discussed as being ban-worthy. They are:

Sol Ring
Tinker
Mindslaver
Flash
Hulk
Lion's Eye Diamond
Auriok Salvagers

I think somewhere in the Rules Discussion forum, there was a long thread about the Flash-Hulk and Bomberman combo. There was also a thread in the duels thread that mentioned this. However, the most prominent arguments have been for Sol Ring, Tinker, and Mindslaver.

Sol Ring: Yes, this card is powerful. Yes, this card is the nuts when you draw it. That's kind of the point why this card is so good. However, I contemplated on the arguments, and I realized something; Sol Ring is in a very special position. It's at the top of its category. As soon as its taken off the list, someone new takes its place and people start complaining about it. As it stands, my question becomes, what does Sol Ring set you up for? Turn 1, you have your Sol Ring, and you can turn that into a signet. This should be a common play. However, an equally obscene play is to go Ancient Tomb into Mind Stone into Mana Vault. (Workshop-style deck that someone mentioned.) In this case, Sol Ring isn't only problem, is it? Basically, any card that adds more mana than the amount of cards put into it is deemed good. In that case, why wasn't Tolarian Academy a large candidate for the ban-hammer? I will admit, the power level is astounding, but I still am in the party of NOT banning this.

Tinker: Now this is where things get juicy. Recently, I've been helping a friend design his Arcum Dagsson deck, and this card is responsible for the quickest concessions. However, the lethal play isn't to Tinker for Darksteel Colossus. No, it's just to find Mr. 7/10 and knock you out of the game before the attack phase. In fact, Tinker for Darksteel Colossus is actually EASY to deal with. You actually have a chance of using your Echoing Truth/Capsize/Condemn/etc. to save yourself from the beats. Sundering Titan doesn't even give you that chance. That, or I can just use Possessed Portal. My vote is for making this ban-worthy.

Mindslaver: This card looks extremely powerful on the surface, doesn't it? However, the problem lies in the cost. It costs 10 mana. It will never costs 6 and 4, simply because of the disruption that it has against it. It can be cheated into play via Tinker, but in that case, it still costs 7, so it still requires turns, in which case, you can be stopped by Shadow of Doubt, or Aven Mindcensor, or even just a counterspell. Also, at any time, you can have the ability countered by Voidslime, Voidmage Husher, Trickbind, Stifle. In a well-tuned deck, at the mana it costs you to use Mindslaver effectively, you should have already won even earlier. I can easily mana screw you out of the game via Strip Mine/Wasteland + Life from the Loam lock or just use Sundering Titan. Or, I could have taken away your hand using Mind Twist (more on this later). This is a powerful card on its own, yes, it can win the game for you, but at its cost, I'm hesitant to vote for ban material.

The rest: Lion's Eye Diamond, Auriok Salvagers, Flash, Hulk. I really hate the arguments for these cards. First, the Bomberman combo. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of a way to use LED well without using Auriok Salvagers. However, Auriok Salvagers itself is not a bad card. It can recur Aether Spellbomb (format staple for blue decks for Trinket Mage toolbox), and just become a draw engine. However, at the mana that's being commited, this is far inferior to Life from the Loam. Only the Bomberman combo is what makes these cards truly ban-worthy. I find this argument to be a weak excuse for players to run less disruption in their decks. On the other hand, Flash-Hulk is more resilient. Hulk on it's own is still a respectable card. I've heard of Flash - Sundering Titan, which is also pretty neat. However, other than that, Flash is pretty much a 1-trick pony. The true power DOES lie in the Hulk portion. Hulk IS a Hulk. This green meanie can work even without Flash. Footsteps of the Goryo and Through the Breach both enable Hulk to find the same pieces. Hulk is also an amazing reanimation target, and I wouldn't be surprised by the play of Entomb/Buried Alive for Hulk followed by a Necromancy. In fact, I'm surprised that I have yet played against this strategy. Thus, I will vote in favor of banning only Hulk.

Now, I'd like to take a look at cards that, I'm surprised, HAVEN'T been stated. Most importantly, the card I am most surprised about: Mind Twist.

This is the single best game-wrecking spell black has to offer. This can be set to kill you as soon as turn 2. In fact, being Mind Twist'd anytime before turn 5 will kill you. Assuming that our opponent runs a decent amount of artifact mana/acceleration spells, and has kept a decent hand of 3+ lands, a Mind Twist will rip has hand down to 2 cards by turn 4 (assumption of a signet, land/artifact that produces more than 1 extra mana; i.e. Mana Vault/Ancient Tomb/City of Traitors/Sol Ring). During the first 4 turns, your game plan is basically to smooth out your hand and field, so the typical play is to have 2 lands and a signet by turn 2, followed by a land drop and another artifact mana or a draw spell on turn 4. In that case, you're stuck with 2 cards, of which some may even be a land leaving you with a nigh-useless hand. There is no recovery to this if this hits early on, and you might as well scoop. Late game, you may survive a Mind Twist, but it can shift the game out of your favor.

Another card that doesn't seem to get mentioned is Land Tax. There are SO many strategies involved with a turn 1 Land Tax. This is not only a card engine, but it's a deck thinner. It ensures your land drops for the rest of the game. This is critical, because many games are lost because of missed land drops. (In fact, there's a funny story about this. I once had someone watching a game between a friend and I, and they wondered why my friend conceded after missing his 5th land drop. I told him how critical it was, and he wouldn't believe me, so I took him to the side for a game, and a Wasteland-on-a-bounceland later, the cards were scooped up.) Land Tax ensures you're never put into that situation. And there's no mana commitment like Journeyer's Kite. You just wait for that upkeep, and you get 3 new lands.

For now, this is what I can see as possibilities. I didn't want to put any bias, so I just left the facts there. What I do notice is a trend in the styles of decks played; however, I don't have any hard evidence of this, so I'd actually like to hear some opinions about this before giving my thoughts. I'd also like to hear the other side of the arguments if that's possible.


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AgePosted: 2008-Jul-20 4:10 am 

Joined: 2008-Feb-24 1:27 pm
Age: Dragon
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Been getting a small uprise in the competitiveness of the local duel metagame. The fastest clock has been turn 5. This has been achieved by Arcum Dagsson. Achieved through fast mana-ing (Sol Ring, Lotus Petal, Mana Vault, Ancient Tomb, Crystal Vein) into a quick Arcum Dagsson which can sacrifice a creature to achieve one of it's many two-card combos (Mana Severance + Goblin Charbelcher, Hurkyll's Recall + Mycosynth Lattice) or just 1-card kill artifacts (Mishra's Helix, Phyrexian Processor, Possessed Portal.) Counterspell decks are very much favored, and the only decks that seem to be able to fight this are the other counterspell decks (COUNTERSPELL FIGHT!!!) or the WBG decks (Doran and Teneb) that utilize all the disruptive anti-control elements (Duress, Thoughtseize, Mind Twist, Stonecloaker, Aven Mindcensor, Dosan, Gaddock Teeg, Aether Vial, etc.) Strip Mine and Wasteland have also become win conditions in their own right. The guy who gets Strip'd/Waste'd first (Haha, Wasted) and stumbles will lose.


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AgePosted: 2008-Jul-23 1:16 pm 
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Joined: 2007-Sep-21 8:22 am
Age: Elder Dragon
cmb_master wrote:
Been getting a small uprise in the competitiveness of the local duel metagame. The fastest clock has been turn 5. This has been achieved by Arcum Dagsson. Achieved through fast mana-ing (Sol Ring, Lotus Petal, Mana Vault, Ancient Tomb, Crystal Vein) into a quick Arcum Dagsson which can sacrifice a creature. Strip Mine and Wasteland have also become win conditions in their own right. The guy who gets Strip'd/Waste'd first (Haha, Wasted) and stumbles will lose.


This, I will respond to. You're speaking of a deck that had a ton of fast mana, a ton of low casting cost artifact creatures, and you're able to win almost unstoppably? Except for any disruption whatsoever including Strip Mine and Wasteland? This is the funniest metagame ever...you need to get rid of your suicide combo infestation and fast. Combine 2 parts bad with one part budget, add a little disruption for zing and a few big creatures and you're good to go. Seriously suicide combo is the stupidest format of dumb if you're not talking Vintage or Block (and hence the implied tournament). Take a good control disruption based deck and pow pow, combo is deader'n a doornail. Srsly you named a bunch of uber cards but the homogeneity, the synergy....dude it's nothing like what you imagine. Tell me how you break Possessed Portal in a monoblue deck again?

Edit: Removed politics from the discussion at request. War is wrong, end of story.


Last edited by warble on 2008-Jul-24 10:27 am, edited 6 times in total.

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AgePosted: 2008-Jul-23 1:38 pm 

Joined: 2008-May-29 11:36 am
Age: Wyvern
EDIT: Removed off topic comment.


Last edited by Lioge on 2008-Jul-24 10:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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AgePosted: 2008-Jul-23 1:40 pm 

Joined: 2008-Jun-26 8:19 am
Age: Drake
I generally don't really mingle in the discussion about what should be banned and what should be left alone, but I would like to say something about the whole Hulk-Flash think.

Like everyone knows, you really only need to remove one of these pieces to take away the problem. Personally, I'd vouch for taking away Flash. This is because Protean Hulk is still a good, fun card without Flash. I play Hulk in my decks. Whereas I don't think anybody will play Flash without Hulk. Therefore, removing Flash will grieve fewer players, while removing the Hulk will make at least some people sad. I sure would be. I like Hulk in my Sek'Kuar deck!

So yeah, if somebody really feels like banning something, I'd suggest Flash, not Protean Hulk.


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AgePosted: 2008-Jul-23 6:16 pm 

Joined: 2007-Jun-04 6:34 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Gainsville, FL
Gidgets wrote:
I generally don't really mingle in the discussion about what should be banned and what should be left alone, but I would like to say something about the whole Hulk-Flash think.

Like everyone knows, you really only need to remove one of these pieces to take away the problem. Personally, I'd vouch for taking away Flash. This is because Protean Hulk is still a good, fun card without Flash. I play Hulk in my decks. Whereas I don't think anybody will play Flash without Hulk. Therefore, removing Flash will grieve fewer players, while removing the Hulk will make at least some people sad. I sure would be. I like Hulk in my Sek'Kuar deck!

So yeah, if somebody really feels like banning something, I'd suggest Flash, not Protean Hulk.


Hulk is also yummy in my Savra deck; I use it to get Kuon's Essence into play at the end of turn; I love that enchantment; it doesn't target, it says sacrifice, and stays in play even when there are no creatures in play - it's the best of the Abyss/ Call to the Grave category.

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Growing Darkness, taking Dawn; I was me, but now he is gone - Metallica, "Fade to Black"


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AgePosted: 2008-Jul-24 12:16 am 
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Joined: 2007-Aug-25 2:26 am
Age: Dragon
Location: Rennes, Fr
Gidgets wrote:
I generally don't really mingle in the discussion about what should be banned and what should be left alone, but I would like to say something about the whole Hulk-Flash think.

Like everyone knows, you really only need to remove one of these pieces to take away the problem. Personally, I'd vouch for taking away Flash. This is because Protean Hulk is still a good, fun card without Flash. I play Hulk in my decks. Whereas I don't think anybody will play Flash without Hulk. Therefore, removing Flash will grieve fewer players, while removing the Hulk will make at least some people sad. I sure would be. I like Hulk in my Sek'Kuar deck!

So yeah, if somebody really feels like banning something, I'd suggest Flash, not Protean Hulk.


Very true. I love my protean hulk in my Intet, and it doesn't even include a flash.

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 Post subject:
AgePosted: 2008-Jul-24 12:49 am 

Joined: 2008-Feb-24 1:27 pm
Age: Dragon
Location: Toronto, Ontario
warble wrote:
cmb_master wrote:
Been getting a small uprise in the competitiveness of the local duel metagame. The fastest clock has been turn 5. This has been achieved by Arcum Dagsson. Achieved through fast mana-ing (Sol Ring, Lotus Petal, Mana Vault, Ancient Tomb, Crystal Vein) into a quick Arcum Dagsson which can sacrifice a creature. Strip Mine and Wasteland have also become win conditions in their own right. The guy who gets Strip'd/Waste'd first (Haha, Wasted) and stumbles will lose.


This, I will respond to. You're speaking of a deck that had a ton of fast mana, a ton of low casting cost artifact creatures, and you're able to win almost unstoppably? Except for any disruption whatsoever including Strip Mine and Wasteland? This is the funniest metagame ever...you need to get rid of your suicide combo infestation and fast. Combine 2 parts bad with one part budget, add a little disruption for zing and a few big creatures and you're good to go. Seriously suicide combo is the stupidest format of dumb if you're not talking Vintage or Block (and hence the implied tournament). Take a good control disruption based deck and pow pow, combo is deader'n Bush's army. Srsly you named a bunch of uber cards but the homogeneity, the synergy....dude it's nothing like what you imagine. Tell me how you break Possessed Portal in a monoblue deck again?


I'm only posting my observations. Until you've actually played against a deck as such, I don't think you can make any conclusions based on it. The problem is, not only is your library 99 cards, you also are limited to having all your non - [basic land] - cards as restricted. You simply don't have enough fast disruption or control elements to stop it. Arcum Dagsson is in itself a tutor, so it solves that problem. You think we don't play disruption? In my metagame, we actually scrounge around for the next best "tech" disruption there is. Why do you think I keep advocating for Imp's Mischief? In fact, almost my entire deck is based on disruption.

Also, your arguments are quite subjective, and I find that quite ignorant. First of all, yes, I did name a lot of "uber cards" but you know what? Some people actually do have the money to spend for said cards. You can argue that some players play on a budget, but guess what? Some people don't. If you don't like playing said deck, then don't play it. Just don't try and force your ideals onto others. You can say that "suicide combo decks are stupid", etc. etc. but you know what? I actually enjoy playing against it. It provides a good challenge. I also enjoy playing broken decks or irritating control decks; to me, I find this fun. It's all relative.

I actually did a huge part of designing the Arcum Dagsson deck. The idea is to basically use fast mana and permission spells to get Arcum Dagsson through. Once that happens, you find one of the core pieces of the combo. If you already hold a Merchant Scroll or Mystical Tutor, you can find Mana Severance or Hurkyll's Recall to combo out (as said before). Or you can use Painter's Servant-Grindstone, which is even easier to assemble. However, other options are to simply lock out the mana with Mishra's Helix or stomp your opponent with 13/13 Minion tokens off of the Phyrexian Processor (make 1 token, then another = 2 combat phases, 39 damage). Possessed Portal makes it so that your opponent will never draw an answer again. This is also prevalent in the Vintage deck known as Cerebral Assassin. An early Mystical Tutor for Tinker into Sundering Titan will also kill because of the land base that are common (Ravnica shocklands).

I've done a lot of testing for this format on my own, and can safely say I am quite familiar with the inner workings of it. You can say the metagame is funny or stupid and whatnot, but it doesn't change the fact that it's still going to exist. We tried playing like it's "casual" once. It was pretty boring. It just happens that our meta has evolved this way.

I know I'm probably going to get a replies like "EDH is supposed to be casual" or "You're an ass". You know what? Casual is relative. My definition of casual is playing unsanctioned (still hoping we can get the format sanctioned). And I'll admit, I am an ass.

EDIT: The problem with banning Flash instead of Hulk is, I can just use a different way to abuse Hulk and one-turn-kill with it, and you'd complain all over again. Sure, Hulk is fun and all. I'm sure you all have fun playing it. However, halfway around the world, some Japanese guy is probably building an EDH deck built around the Flash Hulk combo. What you're basically doing is playing a good card, but not using it to its full potential. Can you blame us for using a card to its full power? I don't think so.

In this case, I can think of two solutions. Either ban Protean Hulk (like I suggested) or don't ban either piece at all (hahaha, I will use this to be a jerk). If you like the Hulk portion so much, you must accept Flash, because they are like some weird Marvel + D.C. team-up.


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AgePosted: 2008-Jul-24 11:02 am 
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Joined: 2007-Sep-21 8:22 am
Age: Elder Dragon
cmb_master wrote:
Can you blame us for using a card to its full power? I don't think so.


I don't blame you, I blame the format for stupidness like hulk flash because I knew you existed and I tried to get you a stable format for you to build your suicide combo in. The problem is, it's not EDH...not yet. This is one of the core reasons I suggest you don't make your sui combo unless you're trying to improve the banlist, and that you should be using a more extensive banlist especially if you are primarily duelling and using what it seems like is a lot of sui combo. What you need is some semblance of consistency to combat suicide combo with metagaming and disruption/control elements. You can achieve this by narrowing the ability of combos in highlander decks to certain avenues to victory. You can also reign in those combos by restricting their use altogether (painter's servant/grindstone). If you continue to not improve your own banlist, however, go with someone who will be updating and trying to construct a valid duel banlist please. Just breaking the butt-donkeys out of EDH's multiplayer banlist is kinda pointless...you probably already isolated some candidates now take them out of the deck and see what you can break without them.


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AgePosted: 2008-Jul-26 10:50 pm 

Joined: 2008-Feb-24 1:27 pm
Age: Dragon
Location: Toronto, Ontario
The reason I don't want to do that is because if I were to compile my own banlist that bans anything close to broken, I would come off as a whining noob who complains just because he can't win.

The way things are, the format should feel like Vintage. If you can't deal with that kind of power level, I just have to say that's your own problem; don't play with those people in that case and stick to people of your own level.


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AgePosted: 2008-Aug-03 9:25 am 

Joined: 2008-Aug-02 10:17 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Arcum Dagson can easily be turned into an outrageous general. He basically allows you to tinker every turn for 0 mana if you built the deck correctly. If you know why tinker was restricted then you know why Arcum's power level is close to that of Rofellos - plus he's also blue, the most powerfull color in Magic

I would definitly not ban him though, he just shows the power EDH decks can have.

Sol Ring: i think you have a valid point. I think Sol Ring is boring, im gonna order more next week just so i dont have to proxy it in every EDH deck. the problem is, there is no good reason not to put it in your EDH deck. First turn sol ring is an amazing play, and in duals will give you amazing advantage (3rd turn play and attack with Scion of Ur Dragon for example). That it is in every deck doesnt warrant a ban though. Id rather have to spend 50 euro extra to get 4 more sol rings than retire the 2 i have because its banned. im not rich, im a working student and only make around 800 a month, but its a matter of principle.

Tinker: Natural Order for artifacts. Yes this card is ALWAYS a good play, but even if there is a deck that will ALWAYS win the game if this spell is (successfully) cast i dont see a reason to ban it. It's 1/99 cards: Magic will always have some element of chance in it.

Regarding the Flash/Hulk combo's: banning flash would definitly seem favourable to me than banning the hulk, since no one in their right mind would play flash in any deck other than a combo deck. It doesnt solve the problem fully though, since there's a red replacement for it. Id like the hulk in my Teneb deck, that will make amazing plays, but so will suspending 2 random fatties along with an apocalyse or jokulhaups with Jhoira.

Mindslaver: ive rarely seen this card make much of a difference (unless its in an infinite combo). Stealing a turn is annoying, and i often get 2 of my lands killed (assuming my wasteland was tapped when my opponent played it) or lose my good cards (demonic tutor, find basic land), but its nearly always either been a win-more or desperate act. It costs 10 to use and play, can be shattered if not done in one turn, can be stifled, voidmaged or trickbound. Dont get me wrong, i hate it when i see this card against me, but thats no reason to ban it.

Bomberman: I can picture a Hanna deck like this working in EDH, but is it really THAT powerfull? Auriok Salvager shouldnt be banned, and the draw engine it creates isnt that good without LED (4 mana, isnt that a whispers of the muse + memory crystal?). 2 card infinite mana combs are not that rare (Palinchron + mana flare, Palinchron + Sneak Attack, sliver queen+ mana echoes, power artifact + grim monolith)

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Hanna, Ship's Navigator
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oro, Ageless Ascetic
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