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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

How do you balance not-MTG to be a game of soft counters (how you play your cards) and not hard (what cards you have)?
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

OgreBattle wrote:
How do you balance not-MTG to be a game of soft counters (how you play your cards) and not hard (what cards you have)?


The more cards you have that are modal, the more player skill is going to come into play. Whether these choices are things like "when you cast this spell, do X or Y" or choices like "every two mana you pump into this spell does something pretty big, so cast it now for a moderate effect or hold out for later when you can use the same card for something back breaking." So things like charms and the new Release the Gremlins are good examples of cards that are more skill intensive than "play the biggest creature you can afford each turn and turn them sideways."

Combat tricks are also more skill intensive on both sides of the table than direct kill spells or big creatures. Arranging your attacks or blocks to maximally blow out your opponent with a well timed trick or get least blown out if you suspect your opponent has a trick is a big deal.

Sweepers are an important escape valve for control decks and a needed counter for swarm decks. But honestly the question of whether to play around a sweeper or not is not a particularly interesting question nor is it particularly deep. The question is "Guess what I have in my hand?" which is a stupid question because the answer is that there is a slightly better than a coin flip's chance that you have a copy of one of your four-of sweepers on the turn you'd like to use it. And if you have shit like Gitaxian Probe where you just get to look at their fucking hand, the question becomes even more stupid because the only hidden information is what's going to be drawn off the top of their deck.

As such, WotC's latest bugaboo about getting decks to care a lot about actions and reactions during the combat step is a good one from the standpoint of increasing the effect of player skill. On the flip side, nonsense like Aetherworks Marvel that lets you play a randomly chosen card off your deck that might be Ulamog the Ceaseless Hunger and might be a Woodworker's Puzzleknot is about as close to competitive coin flipping as Magic gets.

Long story short: there's more skill when you have cards in your hand before you play them and it matters when you play them.

DrP wrote:
Indigo is the color closest to black.


Indigo is not a color at all. It's completely made up by people who had an aesthetic and religious objection to acknowleging that the rainbow had six colors in it. If you need a seventh color, your obvious choice is brown. Which has its own core problem that brown is not a color of the rainbow at all, and is in fact the thing you get when you mix pigments from opposite sides of the wheel. Which in turn makes it an obvious choice for background color of "colorless" things like lands or artifacts. But if you wanted, you could make those things grayscale and no one would fault you on that.

DrP wrote:
Furthermore, total war is boring.


Agreed. Total war is also impossible, because players make their own decks. People are going to make Yellow/Purple and Green/Red decks even if you told them not to. And there's no particular purpose in telling them not to. The meaning of color opposition is entirely arbitrary and it's turtles all the way down. Ultimately the answer to why any two colors are allies or enemies is "because I said so," so there's no actual narrative advantage in having allied colors share opposition colors because both the alliance and the enmity are completely contrived.

The true opposition is simply the opponent's deck. Opposition colors means something much more abstract, where there are expected to be Yellow cards that are good sideboard answers to strategies that often include Purple cards and expected to be Orange cards that are good sideboard answers to strategies that often include Blue cards.

And that is why, by the way, none of the discussion about supporting single colored decks has applied in any way to Control. A Control deck is a deck full of answers that chunks in a victory condition later in the day. Such a deck is probably never going to be single color. First of all, because a Control deck is by definition wanting to take the game long (which as previously noted reduces the cost of having multiple mana types you want to draw), and second of all because a Control deck needs to have answers for all of the major strategies it is likely to encounter in the metagame and the best answers are likely to be distributed across multiple different colors. The only time a control deck can ever be single colored is if the format becomes degenerate (example: all aggresive players are playing Affinity, so control only needs to concern itself with how best to fight artifacts), or because one color has too many toys.

-Frank


Last edited by FrankTrollman on Sun Jan 15, 2017 11:44 am; edited 1 time in total
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 1:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Let's talk a little bit about answers, because I think it's a pretty slam dunk argument for having an even number of colors.

When you have a defined strategy with an associated color, you should be able to look somewhere to find the best answers to it. And if the color pie is working the way it should, the "best" answers should be in a single color that you would logically expect based on what the colors are supposed to do and how effects are divided up into the pie. You should also be able to guess where "second best" or "third best" answers are going to crop up from color pie navel gazing alone.

And yes, sometimes as a designer you're going to be wrong. Maybe the format is dependent enough on cheap artifacts that a one-mana conditional artifact removal is actually better than a 2 mana unconditional removal. Maybe people play enough weird build-around artifacts that the 1 mana conditional removal turns out to be unplayable. It's metagame dependent, and that's subject to a lot of herd decision making and people extrapolating from small sample sizes and such and even if you exhaustively run the numbers of what "should" be the most useful card in any particular format you're going to be wrong sometimes. Sometimes that third-best answer you designed is going to be the one everyone wants because it precisely fits into the slot of the most efficient way to answer decks and combos that are actually being used against them. Such is life. But you're still supposed to try to divide up answers in a way that makes sense from the standpoint of how you've divided up the color pie.

And that's why each color having two opposition colors is basically gibberish. What color is "supposed" to have the best answers to a goblin rush? White? Blue? You don't know. I don't know. Nobody fucking knows, because there are two colors with assigned roles of answering that shit and there's no way to predict what colors are actually getting the answers that are supposed to be good.

But if Red's opposition color is Green, you can guess that the spells that are just generically good against the Goblin Rush strategy are going to be Green. You would not be surprised to see a 1/3 Elf Druid that gave you some life when it entered play or died for 1G. If Green's opposition color is Red, you can imagine a scenario where the Fairy Rush is vulnerable to the storm spell that does a small amount of damage to both players and every flying creature in play, and you would expect that spell to be Red. And the fact that Big Red has a major interest in Dragons, Demons, and Angels that are big flyers and has a bit of synergy with clearing the skies of small flying creatures and the Red Aggro deck would be perfectly happy to get the reach damage even if it didn't kill potential blockers at the same time would make either Red deck happy to run the storm spell.

Where you don't want to go is the route of shit like Flashfires and Lifeforce, where cards are simply blunt punishments for having cards of a particular color. Those are "answers" of a sort, but only in the most ludicrously unfair sense of the term. The previously mentioned Lifespring Druid and Thunderstorm cards have utility even outside their position as a means of hampering specific other strategies. You could have them in your deck simply because you wanted the effect, and then be happy when it happened to put the boot in on your opponent's actual strategy. The spell that sits around countering a Green spell every turn is of no utility at all if your opponent isn't a green deck and completely back breaking if they are.

-Frank
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Whipstitch
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Color hosers were so fucking stupid that at one point I had a U/G midrange deck where I would willingly end up casting Choke my own damn self in certain matchups.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Now let us consider the existence of the Land as regards single and multicolored decks. Obviously better color fixing reduces the cost of being a multicolored deck, but the primary costs are going to drop the longer the game goes. A two color Red/Orange deck that has to get by with 12 basic Mountains and 12 basic Wastes is still going to have an Orange source on turn 5 over 95% of the time. If the plan is to cast 4, 5, or even 6+ drops at any point in the game, the need to draw at least one Mountain and at least one Waste to cast your spells is pretty close to meaningless even if there's no fixing at all. Where multilands shine is those early crucial plays and those early crucial decisions to keep or mulligan your hand. After all, the 12 and 12 deck is going to have zero Mountains almost twenty percent of the time in its opening hand. And the next draw only has a 22.6% chance of being a Mountain, so if you need a Red and an Orange source in the first couple of turns you may find yourself mana screwed pretty often. But if your initial hand has no Wastes in it and you have five draws to find one - your no-fixing, no card draw deck is going to get there just by top decking 73.9% of the time.

What this means is actually that if you want to support fast, medium, and slow decks in single-color and two-color versions, color fixing has to be very good. If the color fixing isn't fantastic by current MtG standards, fast decks will gravitate towards being single color regardless of the spell pools. And if there aren't heavy incentives for mid-range and ramp decks to go single color they just won't fucking bother and they'll splash for whatever they damn well feel like whether you give them dual lands or not. This means that while the designers of MtG have decided that Bayous and Taiga and shit are "too good," the reality is that those are about what you should get for a workhorse land in a multicolored deck. The Secluded Estuary is a Swamp and a Dale, it can tap for Purple and it can tap for Blue. That should be your basic uncommon or even common land for most sets. Lands don't need drawbacks until they are making 3+ colors of mana. And even then it could be something like the Remote Watchtower being a Holding that can tap for Red for free or tap for Purple or Orange at a cost of 1 life.

This in turn means that actual single colored lands can and should have nifty abilities. Like Pendelhaven or Blighted Fen. So some of them would give you alternate abilities that could be used over and over again instead of (or at the cost of) mana, and still others would give a big effect you could cash them out for if you really had too many lands in play. Some of them could even give conditional ramp, like a Mountain that could alternately be tapped for 2 red mana that could only be used to activate the abilities of Dragons or a Waste that could tap for 2 Orange that could only be used to cast Orange Sorceries or whatever. Obviously, "ramp lands" are fucking dangerous, as we saw with Eldrazi Winter. Once a ramp land exists, pushed cards that meet the targeting qualifications of a ramp land become double-pushed and that can mean that eternal formats. It means that if you make a Ramp Land for Angels, you have to never ever make a cheap Angel that is pushed enough that it would be unfair if it was even cheaper. You could hardcode that shit in, where maybe your ramp land took 2R and tap to activate and gave you 2RRR to cast or activate Dragons.

But regardless, every land in a competitive deck should do something, and the absolute baseline normal thing it should do is "make 2 different kinds of mana." The thing where sometimes Shadowlands come in tapped when you need them to not do that is not a skill thing. It's a randumb thing that makes the game more irritating for no real advantage. No one plays single colored decks because Shadowlands randomly come in tapped sometimes. No one makes tough deck building decisions based on Shadowland tappedness. It's just a thing that randomly hoses you slightly and sometimes it doesn't matter and sometimes it's crucially important and there is nothing whatever to plan around. The entire question of "What drawbacks do dual lands need?" is based on false pretenses. Dual lands don't need drawbacks. Mono-lands need bonuses. Bonuses that aren't overpowering, but bonuses nonetheless. And Dual Lands need to be exactly like the original set but more available.

-Frank
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Frank is right in that MtG would be a better game if the base model for a land was a Revised and earlier dual-land. BUT if this is discussion of how to make a new sorta-kinda-like MtG game from the ground up, then I vote to ditch the entire concept of Paisley Mana. Nothing gives you better mana-fixing than ditching the entire need for mana fixing in the first place. You can still have colors/factions supported through a bunch of other mechanisms:


  • You could do what Star Realms does and have cards have additional "ally" abilities that trigger when you play a card that shares a color with something you already have in play or which you have previously played this turn. This one has the additional advantage of working pretty well to provide incentives for midrange and slow decks to lean monocolor.
  • You could do what Codex does and hardcode minor additional costs for multicolors into the game. This unfortunately pushes aggro back towards mono-color.
  • You could do what Smash Up does and hardcode into the rules that each deck is exactly N factions. This is probably the worst option.
  • You could do something like what Android Netrunner or Codex (or EDH) and have pregame choice of Runner/Hero/Planeswalker impose some sort of limitation on what colors of cards can be in the deck using that that Runner/Hero/Planeswalker as its face. This can get overly complicated really easily, but existing games have made it work.
  • You can make MtG-Rebel style tap to fetch abilities common within a faction. A Paisley card that lets you tap to fetch a different Paisley Card is an incentive to run multiple Paisley cards.
  • You could have cards with things like "Enters the battlefield: Play a <color> card costing <#> or less from your hand without paying any mana for it. If you print some of those which are $1 cost, but allow a 2-drop in a different color you massively support multicolor aggro, while if you print some that are same colored but allow you to play a second card of cost 4 or more you support monocolor midrange and lategame.
  • etc.


So what's the argument for keeping mana-colors as the primary mechanism differentiating in-game factions instead of just having a single resource and using various card effects to encourage or discourage thematical-appropriate deckbuilding?
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Lord Mistborn
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
Ultimately it is a problem when one of the factions is "Time and Space" (which is "everything that actually exists") and another faction is "Mind" (which is a thing that doesn't actually exist). You get the Mage: the Ascension problem where it's trivial to justify new effects for the "everywhere and everything" power type and quite difficult to justify new effects for the "control of a thing that isn't real" power type. Even if your initial card set cuts out a balanced swathe of abilities for the two factions, the faction that's broader conceptually is going to tend to get more different stuff in future expansions. And in a deck building card game, having access to more different stuff makes you better as the number of card options increase. Time and Space may be balanced with Void magic in the core set, it might even be balanced in the latest set, but if the game goes on long enough Time and Space is going to fucking wreck you in eternal formats.

I'd argue that in a fantasy setting all 5 elements have a sufficiently deep bench conceptually. The overwhelming dominance of blue decks in MtG's eternal formats isn't because of blues larger conceptual space. It's because only blue gets counters and card selection in a big way, and that's fucked up.

Every color ought to have some method of getting ahead on cards and/or filtering their draws and the fact that 2-4 colors in magic often do not have access to those kinds of effects is terrible. So Void has pay life/sacrifice a thing draw some cards. Light get's scry which get's attached to business spells it can filter it's draws while pursuing an active plan. Nature get's various ramp/creature tutor effects that net card advantage like Cultivate, Borderland Ranger, and Collected Company. Time just straight up casts Divination/Concentrate/Tidings while Mind casts Sleight of Hand/Anticipate/Dig through Time. I suppose you could have Orange with discard then draw effects but I'd be hard pressed to think up another "big" concept like the other five.
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Lord Mistborn wrote:
Every color ought to have some method of getting ahead on cards and/or filtering their draws and the fact that 2-4 colors in magic often do not have access to those kinds of effects is terrible. So Void has pay life/sacrifice a thing draw some cards. Light get's scry which get's attached to business spells it can filter it's draws while pursuing an active plan. Nature get's various ramp/creature tutor effects that net card advantage like Cultivate, Borderland Ranger, and Collected Company. Time just straight up casts Divination/Concentrate/Tidings while Mind casts Sleight of Hand/Anticipate/Dig through Time. I suppose you could have Orange with discard then draw effects but I'd be hard pressed to think up another "big" concept like the other five.


Agreed. But here are some additional card ratio / filtering effects:

Void gets cards with a delve-like "ghost" mechanic where you can pay $ to exile a Void card from your discard in order to draw a card. Void also gets cards which are self-milling and other "animate dead" like cards which let you search your discard for specific cards.

Light gets soft-counter effects which reward foresight by granting bonus draws when the opponent does a specific thing. "Whenever target opponent plays more than one nonland card in a single turn, draw a card"

Nature gets a bunch of creatures that are cantrips and let you draw a card when they enter the battlefield. Possibly even going along the lines of MtG's Raven familiar with effects that don't merely draw a random card, but let you pick one of your top three cards to draw.

Time gets a couple "look at your top card, you may shuffle your library, draw a card" sorting cantripes. But the bigger deal is Pursuit-of-Knowledge like investment effects: Skip a draw now to get more draws later.

Mind is about outthinking the opponent, so it gets a bunch of double-bluff draw effects that work like Fact or Fiction or Phyrexian Portal where an opponent divides things and you choose.

Orange gets effects that grant bonus draws when things leave the battlefield as well as things that can sacrifice themselves to draw a card.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Josh wrote:
So what's the argument for keeping mana-colors as the primary mechanism differentiating in-game factions instead of just having a single resource and using various card effects to encourage or discourage thematical-appropriate deckbuilding?


Putting out resource generators drawn directly from your deck is a generally good idea. Making your mana curve slow down and become a big question mark later in the game allows for nonlinearity of mid range and ramp plays, which means that the aggro/midrange matchup is not a solved or solvable math problem but instead still a game of chance. The fact that on turn 1 neither player knows when either player will be able to play a five drop makes the game more interesting than a game like Force of Will where the answer is "after you've tapped your J-Ruler five times" or whatever. I can definitely see the argument for instituting rules and card effects that make mana screw and mana flood less common - but actually guaranteeing all the players a smooth mana curve makes for a shit game.

Once you're putting the resources into the deck as actual cards, giving the different factions different resource cards helps differentiate them. I mean, you could put your lands down upside down and have them all be the same like Codex does, but that's shit. It's ugly and it's uninteresting. Another thing is that while MtG hasn't played much with the design space apart from a few notable exceptions like Karakas - mono-colored land can and should be given side abilities to help give colors their identity. Some of that can simply be tribal, where the Ramp lands and Boost lands for Vampires are Purple while the Ramp lands and Boost lands for Elves are in Green. But you can also have lands that do random overcosted stuff like a Swamp that taps and pays 3 mana to give Deathtouch to a creature for a turn that's a rarely used but nice to have option that helps your deck "feel Purple" even when you haven't actually cast anything yet. And even before that, putting down lands is information that your opponent can use. If someone plays a Prairie Stream on turn one, I've got a pretty good idea what they are playing and that I should consider playing around Spell Quellers later in the game even when they haven't cast any spells.

In short, I think the argument for putting the resources into the same deck as the resource consuming cards is pretty solid. Once you've done that, you're giving up a lot of potential faction identity for no real reason if the resource producing cards aren't faction aligned.




So we've had a bit of discussion about what would make mono-color viable in a midrange format (colored mana sinks, needed in-color early game plays, strategically relevant abilities on mono-lands, and tribal boosters, for example), but why do people make dual color decks?

The first is card quality. In any set of cards, there will be cards that are good, cards that are bad, and cards that are in between. All things being equal, the larger a card set you have to look at, the more good cards you will have access to. More good cards to choose from means that you can have more good cards and less mediocre cards in your deck. Consider back to The Deck in the early days of MtG history: you splashed Green for Regrowth, not for Craw Wurm. In a constructed environment, there simply are going to be good cards in every color, and you're going to have more good cards to build your deck out of if you have two colors to draw upon than one.

The second is synergies. If you have X cards to select from you have X^2 two card combinations (which includes the card and another copy of the card, which it is correct to do because there's shit like Decoction Modules and Relentless Rats). If you have 2X cards, you have 4X^2 card combinations possible. Doubling the amount of cards to consider quadruples the number of possible combos. Without a conscious effort to create in-color synergy, a particular two-card combo you want to pull off is five times more likely to be across two colors than it is to be in only one.

The third is cheating the Color Pie. If the color pie designers have decided that the best Enchantment removal is going to be in Yellow and that Purple has shitty Enchantment answers, then you can jolly well splash Yellow rather than play bad cards. And of course the more controlling your deck is and the better the mana fixing is, the better a trade that will be.

And of course, there are intentional multicolored shenanigans. From Sedge Trolls to Winding Constrictors, you got cards that simply require more than one color of mana and are literally unplayable in a deck that can't generate both. It's interesting to note that cards that require XY mana are actually easier to cast in most multi-colored decks than cards that need XX. If you have a dual land a mono-land then you can always play the XY card, but you can only play the XX card if the mono-land matches the X. Multicolored cards are easy to cast for the decks that want them but only available to a smaller section of the play space.

What this all means is that while you can and should leave a few bread crumbs for people to latch onto in order to make multicolored decks (the Elf booster forests work just as well on Purple shadow-elves, to give an obvious example), you're really not going to have to work very hard. Chances are very good that a lot of people are going to put together multi-colored lists to take advantage of combos you never even thought of.

Lord Mistborn wrote:
Every color ought to have some method of getting ahead on cards and/or filtering their draws and the fact that 2-4 colors in magic often do not have access to those kinds of effects is terrible.


That's narrowly true. A deck that wants to go for the long haul is required by law to have card selection and/or drawing in there because otherwise it's difficult to see where you are going to get the kind of incremental advantage an inevitability deck needs to get by. Having those effects live exclusively in Blue and Black (or more recently, Blue and Green) means that White and Red cannot do Control on their own. You end up needing to be Jeskai Control or Grixis Control or something.

Now as I mentioned earlier, it's pretty much inevitable that control decks in the standard sense are going to need to be several colors because they need to adapt the best answers to a bunch of potential threats and also expect to play a long game where they will see a lot of their lands and eventually catch all their mana types in practically every game. But having any of the colors have a monopoly or near monopoly on card advantage or card selection is pretty fucked.

But yes, there are ways to make digging into your deck and getting incremental advantage over time feel different for different factions. Burnished Gold can make "investments" where they set a card aside for a turn and draw it back with an extra card on a later turn. Blood Ruby can discard its hand and draw new cards. You could even combine those to put away cards you'd like to keep and then get them back after looking at a new hand. Or whatever.

The key is that making essential features available to six factions and still having those features feel different in play is not actually all that hard. Making it balanced is a fucking shit storm, but simply coming up with six methods of doing a thing that Aggro, Mid-Range, or Control needs to do that feel different in play is not actually that hard. The hard parts are just identifying the things that different deck types need to do and then making the different methods remotely game balanced.

-Frank
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ultimately making your six factions is pretty much madlibs. You can flavor things pretty much however you want, and there is a great deal of leeway there. There's also a lot of filler that you have to do. Every faction is going to need small, medium, and large creatures because there is sealed deck games where you don't get the luxury of using only good cards or of tightly focusing your deck's curve or going for redundant combos. Every faction needs combat tricks because those are key in limited play even if most of them will never see Constructed play.

So a generic below-curve 3/2 for 3 mana could logically appear in a common slot of any color. It will be mediocre filler for draft decks that are otherwise short of playables. But you could make it "feel Green" or "feel Purple" by having it be an Elf Scout or Elf Rogue. Tribal stickers and art choices can make otherwise generic filler cards add to color identity. And you can make it slightly better (but still below curve) by giving it a minor ability like Trample. If you hand out similar abilities to a lot of bullshit creatures and some of the good creatures in a color, it will again add to color identity.

And you're going to have to have crappy removal spells at common (the crappy ones have to be common to keep draft play from turning into premium removal showdown slog fests). And you can arrange some color identity just by fucking with the numbers of these things. If one of the factions has one common removal spell and another has three, then removal will be part of the latter faction's color identity in Limited. However to get that to stick, you also have to put the rarer "better" versions that you expect people to put into Constructed Decks into the same color. Many times WotC design has shat the bed by saying "Well, the best creature removal spell, but it's at Uncommon (or Rare), so Black is still the creature removal color." That is horseshit and absolutely does not fly.

That being said, you're going to want to have a bunch of variations on common effects that you can feed into color identity in cards people actually use in Constructed play as well as cards that people use in kitchen table games or draft events. So let's say that you have a "martyrdom" theme with Orange cards where you get to have your creatures detonate themselves in various contexts to draw you cards. Like, you could have a Fight Card where you have to select one of your creatures and one of their creatures with a higher power, but then you draw two cards. So even if you're just 2-for-1ing yourself, you can at least be trading a card and a token for 2 cards. And if you figured out ways to trade your creatures up, then you're trading like two cards for 2 cards and killing a dude, which puts you ahead by a lot. Obvious synergies with cheap deathtouch units are obvious. And you could have a bunch of other cantrips and divinations that involve putting your creatures in harm's way or sacrificing your creatures outright. If enough of those were constructed playable, Orange would have that theme.

If colors don't have an appropriate theme in their constructed playable cards, things get weird. The Deck mained a bunch of Red mana sources, but it used them for Red Elemental Blast and Wheel of Fortune. Making Red's actual felt presence in those days be "counterspells and card draw" which is fucking bizarre.

But basically you have types of threats and you have types of answers and you rank how the colors are supposed to get those answers and you can hand them out as appropriate.

-Frank
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So here's a list of things you need to do for every color:

  • Assign at least one constructed viable "aggro" strategy.
  • Assign at least one constructed viable "midrange" strategy.
  • Assign at least one common "combat trick"
  • Assign at least one common creature removal.
  • Assign at least one tribe that you can get common and constructed viable examples of.
  • Assign a tribe for signature Bombs to appear at Rare (with baby versions at Uncommon).
  • Assign a method of card selection/advantage.
  • Assign some "best answers."
  • Assign some secondary answers
  • Assign some bad answers and/or holes.


So let's start spinning the wheels:

Aggro
ColorDeckDescription
RedOrcsTraditional aggressive creatures plus burn for reach
OrangeClericsUse lifelink and deathtouch and fight cantrips to trade creatures and damage favorably.
YellowAdvisorsTurbo mill. Fog effects and hand wheeling for reach.
GreenFairiesEvasive aggro with tempo plays to get creatures through.
BlueSnakesUnblocked attacks advance alternate win condition. Unblockability cantrips for reach.
PurpleRatsCreatures start small but voltron together to be big threats if they can get a board presence.


Mono-Color Mid Range
Note that Mid-Range inherently wants to be multicolor because the mana consistency price is small. So the question is merely "what is the sales pitch to go mono-color at all rather than being an all-star list of 4-5 cost cards from 2 or 3 colors?"
ColorKey CardEnticement
RedDragonBottomless Red Mana sink.
OrangeFanaticismDraw a card whenever one of your Orange creatures dies. Boost all attacking Orange creatures.
YellowBreath of LifeReanimate effect requires early Milling plays for maximum benefit.
GreenTree FolkBottomless Green Mana sink.
BlueHydra's TeachingsBlue creatures gain Flanking and are hard to block.
PurpleBog WitchMaximum benefit requires you to be playing curses for first few turns.


Card Advantage
ColorExampleEffect
RedDragon's HoardDraw an extra card each turn if you have the creature with the highest Power.
OrangeStand AgainstTarget creature you control fights target creature you don't contorl with a higher Power stat. Draw 2 cards.
YellowRegime ChangeBoth players discard their hands and draw four new cards.
GreenTake RootPay 2 life, Scry 1 and draw two cards.
BlueHidden SecretsExile a card at the end of your turn. If you have an exiled card during your upkeep, put it back in your hand and draw a card.
PurpleHurtful LiesYou and your opponent discard a card. Then you draw 2 cards.


And so on. Like I said, Mad Libs.

-Frank
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Now to talk a bit about the constraints of limited as redgards the alternate victory conditions like Poison and Mill. Obviously, if you don't hit critical mass with those, they are not going to ever get to the win condition and then any cards for that style of deck are dead cards in limited. There is actually a certain amount of actually dead cards that's simply OK to have - a limited deck is 40 cards and 22-24 of them are spells and you draft 45 cards. Granted some of them will be lands and some of them will be off-color cards you get at the end of the pack because you have no choice and some of them will be speculative picks from the first couple of packs that didn't pan out, and so on and so on. But the point is that there's still room for a few cards in your colors that simply don't "get there" and end up on the cutting room because you didn't get the other pieces.

Fortunately, limited is also a slower environment where both players are using bad lands and bad spells. Also when it comes specifically to Mill, players start with 40 cards in their deck instead of 60, which essentially means that players start with 33 "mill life" instead of 53, and that's a big deal. So a mill deck in Constructed has like 6 turns to mill 47 cards if it is to be considered a real threat. A limited mill deck has more like a dozen turns to mill 21 cards - which means that the quality and density of mill effects can be much lower and still be viable. A couple of mill effects and some decent blockers can win you games.

Poison isn't nearly as helped by this process. There's nothing organic about the limited environment that would make the poison easier to achieve. You have longer to do it and your opponent is filling up their board with worse stuff, so you don't need to be nearly as streamlined or quick. But the total number of successful poison attacks you need to make is exactly the same. And that means you do need a critical density of poisonous threats.

What that means is that if Poison is going to be a supported thing, it has to be supported to the level that you can hit critical mass in Draft - which necessarily means that poison has to appear in more than one color. But it also means that poison cards need to be functional in a deck where poison is not your win condition. So... no Infect. Infect literally does not combine with attacks for damage at all, since the Infect creatures land poison tokens instead of damage. To be viable in limited, poison would have to be a rider on regular damage - like Ingest.

A good example of a poison creature might be a single Blue mana for a 1/1 that gives a poison counter if unblocked and can be given +1/+1 until end of turn for 2 mana. Similar to the Sludge Crawler from Zendikar days. The threat of activation will let it get through often even on crowded boards, and the poison counter will be relevant for decks that are trying to do that. But it can also be used to trade off or do moderate regular damage if you happen to be sitting around with mana you aren't using. Another possibility is a 1/1 poisoner with Deathtouch for 1 and Blue. The non-poison deck could use it for blocking and the poison could get through on many boards where your opponent only has blockers they don't want to trade for a 2 drop. But you also need Poisonous creatures that show up in other colors. Remember that these critters being Poison means nothing outside of a poison deck, so they should be statted up as if they didn't have that ability. And further note that the off color poison creatures probably won't see constructed play at all.

So like, the Stone Spider in Red can jolly well also drop poison tokens in case it happens to get drafted in a Blue/Red deck that had a lot of poison in it. And the Orange Desert Scorpion could give out poison counters just in case it happens to get drafted in a Blue/Orange deck that cares about such things. And you wouldn't really expect Orange or Red decks to use either of those cards in Constructed because those colors have more relevant things like Orcish Marauders or Sand Speakers.

-Frank
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momothefiddler
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Frank wrote:
Where you don't want to go is the route of shit like Flashfires and Lifeforce, where cards are simply blunt punishments for having cards of a particular color.

Frank wrote:
Boost all attacking Orange creatures

Why is color-keyed hate bad but color-keyed love is good? Is it because you can control what's in your deck but not what you're facing?
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

momothefiddler wrote:
Frank wrote:
Where you don't want to go is the route of shit like Flashfires and Lifeforce, where cards are simply blunt punishments for having cards of a particular color.

Frank wrote:
Boost all attacking Orange creatures

Why is color-keyed hate bad but color-keyed love is good? Is it because you can control what's in your deck but not what you're facing?


You got the first part of it. The other part is that synergy effects that make your deck work better make playing your deck more fun while hosers that make your opponent's deck work worse make your opponent's deck less fun to play.

But the really big issue is that color hosers are randomly overpowered or worthless depending on who you are sitting down to play with. That's an awful lot of the game being determined based on what is in essence a pre-game die roll.

Now I know what you're going to ask: Hey Frank, aren't people running Creatureless Decks in order to turn enemy creature removal into blank cards basically the same thing? Creature removal is quite good when your opponent is casting creature spells for generally more mana and literally a blank card against a creatureless deck. In that instance, the player with the creatureless deck is making a deckbuilding decision to take a personal handicap in order to blank their opponent's cards. Creatures are pretty good both as defense and as win conditions, so eschewing them is a high price to pay. It's entirely reasonable for a player to make a deck that purposefully avoids popular and powerful cards in order to pre-emptively counter peoples' answers. It's a good way to catch people with their pants down in game 1.

Meanwhile, if you have a card that boosts you for playing Orange creatures or boosts you for playing Vampires or whatever, that's entirely different. That's you accepting a deck building constraint on yourself in order to have more internal synergy. There might be a better creature in Purple or Yellow that isn't a Vampire, but you're sticking to the Vampire creatures in order to keep your synergy bonuses. There may be better creatures that are not Orange, but you're sticking to Orange creatures to get the synergy bonus.

Whether it's better to make high synergy decks or skip it for higher card quality varies tremendously in different formats. In the last standard format, G/B Delirium was a high synergy deck where pretty much every card interacted with the graveyard filling plan in one way or another, and U/W Flash was a high card quality deck with no cards that particularly acknowledged each other in any context. Ideally you'd make an environment where the synergy bonuses were enough to make the synergy decks viable without locking people all the way out of Zoo strategies that depend on card quality to get the job done.

-Frank
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Lord Mistborn
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm not sold on ever color needing a dedicated aggro deck and especially not sold on milling or fucking poison as said aggro decks. Colors need to occupy more than one space on the meta wheel but by no means must the occupy all spaces.

For instance if Time/Blue has bounce as it's primary theme then time decks are naturally really good at aggro control and hybrid control because those bounce effects generate massive tempo advantage. You even get a natural split between the Aggro-Control decks that want more Unsumons/Unsubstantaite effects because the plan to win before the card disadvantage kicks in while the hybrid control decks want Repeals and bigger ticket stuff like Concenrates because they're playing longer game. But both might want Remands and Man'o war.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I don't think Midrange-Control is a thing. Like, at all. I don't trust any chart that puts Mid-range control as a co-equal spot on the meta, because it's not a separate entity.

Midrange is my favorite deck archetype next to combo because I am addicted to 4-6 mana threats that do weird shit. And every mid-range deck has a turn 1-3 gameplan of:
  • Use kill spells or speed bumps to control enemy threats before your beef hits the table.
  • Play ramp effects to get your beef out faster or even bigger beef.
  • Hope that your opponent doesn't run you over before you stabilize with a rhinoceros parade or whatever.


There really isn't a plan D there to be had, and most Midrange decks will have a little of both of the first two options, causing them to rely on Option C more than they'd care to admit. Midrange Beatdown and Midrange Control are thus the same thing, and cannot be otherwise.

Aggro-Control is of course a thing, but people usually call it "Tempo" these days. "Hybrid Control" is of course not a thing, because you've already mentioned "Aggro-Control" which is what Hybrid is.

So you've got a chart with six dots and two of those dots represent things that aren't real. And it doesn't mention Combo, and what the actual fuck?

Lord Mistborn wrote:
I'm not sold on ever color needing a dedicated aggro deck and especially not sold on milling or fucking poison as said aggro decks. Colors need to occupy more than one space on the meta wheel but by no means must the occupy all spaces.


First of all, yes every color has to occupy every spot on the meta wheel. Otherwise you get shit like Redless Summer where there were literally no Red decks because Red only provided pieces for Aggro and Tempo and everyone was playing Midrange or Control. You can't fully predict the herd mentality of the metagame, and if you delineate a pie wedge of deck archetypes that a color can contribute to, there is no guaranty those archetypes will be represented in the meta at all. And then you have a fail color.

Second, no I don't think Mill or Poison are particularly necessary. Those were examples based on the alternate win conditions that Magic happens to have. They could just as easily be Turbo-Honor and Ring Searching if you had L5R's alternate win conditions. I think it's important for a game to have alternate win conditions hard wired into the system and I think it's important for there to be aggro decks that directly aspire towards those alternate win conditions. But I don't think that Mill or Poison counters are particularly elegant. I think L5R's Honor Victory and Shadowfist's Conquest Victory are better examples of victory conditions that aren't "eliminate the other players with damage." For one thing, both work much better in a four player game.

Making a hypothetical game, I would think that having some kind of "count up" victory condition hard wired into the game is a gimme. And having an "aggro" deck that simply pushes that victory condition early and hard without pressuring their opponent's board in other ways seems like an obvious thing that would happen. Like an L5R Crane deck.

-Frank


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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
Making a hypothetical game, I would think that having some kind of "count up" victory condition hard wired into the game is a gimme. And having an "aggro" deck that simply pushes that victory condition early and hard without pressuring their opponent's board in other ways seems like an obvious thing that would happen. Like an L5R Crane deck.

I see a few ways to approach that:

1. The count-up mechanic uses the tally that's already in the game, Life Total, and you just declare that Felidar Sovereign's win condition is inherent.
Pro: Life point attack/defense is already a key part of gameplay.
Con: Might cause very draggy games and/or be an unreasonably bad match-up for rush-burn aggro.

2. The count-up mechanic uses an unrelated number, very similar to L5R honor.
Pros: Opens up design space for Imperial Favor type effects where you get benefit for your count being either at a particular threshold or just higher than the other guy's.
Cons: Is another abstract number to keep track of, possibly confusing. Because it is orthogonal to ordinary gameplay, it can only be slowed with specific effects.

On reflection, the other approaches wind up being variants of those two. If the count were # of cards in your discard, that doesn't add an abstract number, but it would kill any mill decks and you'd have to be much more restrained with your graveyard interaction design.

The best I can think of is that you would have cards that gave the opponent a choice between either giving you some sort of underpriced conventional advantage, or exiling the card to your 'victory count.' So your opponent could insulate themselves against your victory count by having conventional advantages. "Sure, deal that damage or summon that token or whatever instead of getting 1/Xth of your victory condition, I can handle it."

Thoughts?
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...You Lost Me
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

An important consideration for Poison is that the Ingest//Poison hybrid is much less likely to end up degenerate, because pump effects like Become Immense and Mutagenic Growth don't increase Poison counters.

I'm less of a fan of mill, but not because it's abnormal. It just plays really weirdly with enemies who use Graveyard-based mechanics. Delirium, Delve, Dredge, reanimator effects, Necrotic Ooze, Flashback, Spider Spawning, etc. Those are all really cool design spaces, but including mill as a core strategy is going to limit the exploration of those spaces unless you want mill to have weirdly swingy match-ups.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I think Energy has shown that the game can handle players having a second die that counts up and starts at zero. Indeed, if there was just a standing rule that you won the game on hitting 20 Energy that would be fine. You'd probably need an option to attack the other guy's energy reserve like you can attack planeswalkers, but basically that section wouldn't need to change much.

Both Pokemon and Final Fantasy use cards exiled into a trophy pile to count up to victory. In Pokemon the cards come from your deck and are set aside at the beginning of the game to be flipped over later, and in Final Fantasy the cards are pulled off your opponent's deck when you advance your agenda. But neither is particularly elegant. There's some abstract benefit about being able to play with nothing but your deck, but in practice I wouldn't say the requirement to carry around some dice is particularly onerous. For one thing, you end up having to keep track of counters on cards anyway, so I don't think it even delivers on that premise.

In an entirely related note, there's clearly a desire to have cards that affect the game but aren't drawn from your deck. Commanders and Conspiracies have been very popular despite being things that don't play nicely with the normal game. Force of Will's J-Rulers are ridiculously unbalanced but definitely kinda fun. L5R's Strongholds certainly had winners and losers, but they also definitely added to the game.

So probably people should start with a non-zero amount of Planeswalker power, with the ability to spend some of it on Conspiracies or Battle Arenas or whatever to influence the progress of the game. And you just assume that in constructed play, people are going to buy as many of those things as they can afford to start with. Which should probably be two or three things max, because you don't want this shit getting too complicated (but you still want people to find combos, so the number should be higher than 1).

-Frank
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Lord Mistborn
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 2:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
I don't think Midrange-Control is a thing. Like, at all. I don't trust any chart that puts Mid-range control as a co-equal spot on the meta, because it's not a separate entity.

...

Aggro-Control is of course a thing, but people usually call it "Tempo" these days. "Hybrid Control" is of course not a thing, because you've already mentioned "Aggro-Control" which is what Hybrid is.

The distinction of Midrange-control and Hybrid Control has in some senses been lost as Magic has gotten dumber. Midrange is Lanowar Elves and Loxodon Hierarch. Midrange-Control is like the old Tapout decks that would slam Tidings Keiga with confidence because nothing you were going to do while they were tapped out was going to be better. Those sorts of decks play different than Control Classic which often plays less then four actual finishers.

I'll admit that Hybrid Control is a bit more nebulous. The term got floated around Pickles and Fairies then later got post hoc applied to Psychatog. Those are decks that played very differently then the Aggro-Control decks and their small creatures backed by permission spells.
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

On a tangent, I would like to submit a request for some folks to do some in-depth reviews of some of the other not-MtGs out there. I've already written an absurd amount on Codex, but some other comparison points are


  • Pokemon
  • Yugi-o
  • L5R
  • Shadowfist
  • Hearthstone
  • On the Edge
  • Blue Moon Legends
  • Epic
  • Android Netrunner
  • Ortus Regni ( has anyone who doesn't have their own review podcast ever even played this? )


and I'd be interesting in hearing about their design aspects (as well as how their marketing worked or failed)
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DSMatticus
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 7:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Control deck does not mean "a deck which has control cards in it." Even straight aggro decks run creature removal because of course they do. A control deck is a specific kind of deck which attempts to win the game by leveraging superior card value as opposed to leveraging superior tempo, and it is thusly named because late game strategies don't work if you can't answer your opponent's threats while waiting for the late game to start - so they run (you guessed it) shit for controlling the board. MtG deck classification really just boils down to two pretty obvious facts:
1) The more powerful a card is, the more expensive it is.
2) The more expensive a card is, the later it will hit the board.

And that's it. That's the whole story on where aggro and control come from. Aggro decks put cheap threats on the table early and need to win the game before they end up topdecking two-drops on a pile of a six mana and everyone's laughing at them. Tempo over card value. Control decks put insurmountable threats on the table late and need to survive long enough for the resources on the board to reach the point where those threats are playable, which requires them to keep opponent's threats off the board or otherwise under control. Card value over tempo. It's just a trade-off between those two things. But that obviously isn't a binary trade-off; it's a spectrum, and that is where the term midrange comes in. A midrange deck is just a deck with superior card value to an aggro deck and superior tempo to a control deck.

So, in that context, what in the fuck actually are those six spots on that diagram?

Aggro: Sure, this is a real deck type. I know what you mean when you say aggro deck. It's going to hit hard early and if the game drags on to a stalemate the relatively low value of their cards is going to put them in a bad position.

Control: Sure, this is a real deck type. I know what you mean when you say control deck. They have an essentially unanswerable threat somewhere in their deck, and if they can't keep things stable until it's on the table they're in a bad position.

Aggro Control: I'm pretty sure aggro control is a stupid way to say "aggro, but with blue in it." Consider the following two situations:
1) Your opponent puts down a 2/2 blocker to stop your 3/2 attacker. You slap removal on their blocker and swing through. End result: your creature is alive, they take 3 damage, and you traded one of your cards for one of the enemy's cards.
2) Your opponent slaps removal on your 3/2 attacker. You counter the removal and swing through. End result: your creature is alive, they take 3 damage, and you traded one of your cards for one of the enemy's cards.
Aggro control isn't a real fucking deck. It's just an aggro deck that - like every other aggro deck in existence - has cards meant to help you keep control of the tempo, because if you stall out for a turn you lose.

Hybrid Control: I have no idea what you're even trying to tell me.

Midrange Beatdown: Sure, this is a real deck type. I know what you mean when you say midrange beatdown. Midrange means the value of individual cards is higher than in an aggro deck, but it comes online later and stalls out later. Beatdown just means the finishing blow is going to be creatures, which is basically a given in MtG, because in terms of dealing damage to players creatures are the most card-efficient way to do that.

Midrange Control: I don't know what you're trying to tell me. Are you trying to tell me this is a midrange deck with control cards in it? Because every deck has control cards in it. Aggro is going to run creature removal because of course it is, and we don't call that aggro control (unless you do, but that's dumb, so don't). Are you trying to tell me it's slower than a midrange deck, but faster than a control deck? How much granularity do you think we need? I'm pretty sure that like aggro control is a stupid way to say "aggro with blue in it" this is a stupid way to say "midrange with blue in it."

Combo: Hey, why has no one mentioned combo decks? Well, you'll note that when I discussed aggro, midrange, and control, I specifically did not mention what those threats were. 90% of the time in MtG, a threat is a creature. You pay the cost once and then the threat persists, which means you can get a fuckton of value out of a single card. In a 6-turn game a 1-drop can swing 5 times, and that is incredible value. If there were cheap enchantments that did damage to the enemy player every turn, I'm sure aggro decks would consider running them because there's the potential for a lot of card value there. Anyway, I'd argue that combo decks are not really a unique kind of deck. They're just decks whose finishers have lots of moving parts. Some rush for their combo (aggro/midrange), some stall the game until they can put their combo together (control), and I think that says more about the deck than the finisher itself. If you take the combo out of a combo-control deck and put in big scary monsters, you probably still have a viable deck.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Aggro Control is shit like the old Delver of Secrets decks, that sticks an early threat and then rides it to victory with control cards. It's different from the traditional Aggro deck in that threat density is relatively low and you aren't attempting to put your opponent away particularly fast. A Delver game plan often involves chipping away for a turn 8 victory - but your first threat hit the table on turn 1 like you were playing Goblins. That's often the game plan of Blue/White Flash - stick a copter and then let it chip away for victory protected by counterspells and stasis snares.

But again, these days we don't actually call decks like that "aggro control" we call them Tempo decks and move on with our lives.

I have no idea what Lord Mistborn is trying to say about Midrange Control and Midrange Beatdown, because those are terms that are not different and don't make sense. Nor is "Hybrid Control" a thing if we already have Aggro-Control on our chart.

I suspect that Lord Mistborn is trying to differentiate inevitability decks that run large late-game threats that they can delay until they can be played and inevitability decks that run incremental value engines that they delay until they can pay off. That is of course ridiculous, because such decks routinely sideboard into each other after seeing the opposition or just to try to psych people out into playing bad answers. Whether the higher card value is coming from incremental value like Dynavolt Tower or from expensive in-your-face value like Gearhulks, the value is there. And having a deck full of answers to trade off mana and cards with your opponent and a few high value cards to be your win condition(s) makes you a regular Control deck.

-Frank
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Lord Mistborn
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm not the person who coined those terms, but they seem to draw a distinction between old-style control decks that played 2-4 cards like Rainbow Efreet, Hammer of Bogardon, or Firemane Angel as a concession to them having to win somehow as opposed to decks like Jushi Blue or Solar Flare that ran 5-8 Kamigawa legends and were planning on taping out around turn 6 for something big every time.

Hybrid Control is a lot more nebulous with strategic moment articles usually only naming one of two decks. The term if probably overly specific to "decks that use temporary mana denial effects like Brine Elemental or Mistbind Clique to create a window to close out the game." You could argue that the Wildfire and Upheaval decks of formats past are similar in nature, but even then it's still probably overly narrow.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Lord Mistborn wrote:
I'm not the person who coined those terms, but they seem to draw a distinction between old-style control decks that played 2-4 cards like Rainbow Efreet, Hammer of Bogardon, or Firemane Angel as a concession to them having to win somehow as opposed to decks like Jushi Blue or Solar Flare that ran 5-8 Kamigawa legends and were planning on taping out around turn 6 for something big every time.

Hybrid Control is a lot more nebulous with strategic moment articles usually only naming one of two decks. The term if probably overly specific to "decks that use temporary mana denial effects like Brine Elemental or Mistbind Clique to create a window to close out the game." You could argue that the Wildfire and Upheaval decks of formats past are similar in nature, but even then it's still probably overly narrow.


I see. It's someone who is talking themselves in circles trying to define Fairies as special. Fairies is a tempo deck, the end. It's really not that complicated. It's not a fundamentally different role, it's just a tempo deck.

What tempo decks are good or bad will depend on the speed of the format. Because what you're trying to do in a Tempo deck is to deny your opponent the fruits of critical turns while chip away to victory with something that came in under that. If you're in a turn 5 format, you're going to be trying to deny your opponent turn 5. If you're in a turn 4 format, you better deny your opponent turn 4. In a turn 3 format... that becomes kind of tricky to do. But regardless, delaying your opponent on critical turns is always the Tempo strategy, and which turns are considered critical and thus which tempo cards are good or bad will always vary with the format.

-Frank
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