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Unstable Q&A with Mark Rosewater
The Dos and Don'ts of Silver-Border Commander
Word of Command: Un-believable
  • posted a message on Azourius Titan/Emeria Control
    I generally haven't had it too rough against those deck types, because even if they can handle Supreme Verdict, I have Flickerwisp, Lone Missionary, and Path to Exile to buy me time until Sun Titan gives me infinite recursion on blockers. I'd think running Restoration Angel helps too. But yeah, I guess Wall of Omens not being a great blocker does make it a harder matchup.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on Skred Red
    Quote from Magihyren »
    Just started playing my Skred deck again. I went 3-1 at my lgs, playing against, affinity, mono-white death and taxes, bant eldrazi,and losing to Grixis Death's Shadow in the final round. What's the general strategy against DS? Also does Obliterate seem like a worthy sb card with all these big mana decks showing up from the last GP results?

    Regarding Obliterate: I played with it a bit. It probably doesn't fix what we need fixed. Decks like Tron will reach the number they need to do obscene things well before you resolve Obliterate. Their Wurmcoil Engines, Karn, Ugin, and Ulamog all survive it to varying degrees. For it to have an impact, you'll need to draw it, land a Blood Moon in time to stall them, and then use a Karn or Chandra to hopefully cast it a bit earlier. The best case is you get this to happen turn 5, but it's more likely too late.

    Where Obliterate is amazing is when we are fighting true, long-game control decks. Particularly, decks which use blue and rely heavily on countermagic often keel over and die to the one or two Obliterates in your library because they literally can do nothing about it, and can't outrace you. However, it's not as relatively powerful as it was back in 2001 because control decks (a) often have a faster clock now, in the form of an aggro-plan or combo-plan, (b) may in fact have answers, since discard and ban-effects are increasingly prevalent, and (3) we're a red deck that can actually crush control in a fair fight anyway, because we usually have way more good threats than they have good answers. If I was that worried about blue, I'd actually prefer Boil. Against Tron, Molten and Stone Rain seem better (or Crumble to Dust, if you're a gambling sort).

    Regarding GDS: I haven't really had THAT much of a problem with it, once I got experienced in the matchup. You can have problems if they get an active Tsaigur or Angler on turn 2, but usually that doesn't happen. Be aggressive with Relic, prioritizing casting it, and cleaning the GY before they'd get the opportunity to cast the Delve creature. Eventually, these things can just be removed by Skred or blocked by a Monstrous Stormbreath Dragon. PnKN tends to buy a lot of time as well, unless they have TBR (which I've gotten blown out by, I think it's coming back into style). Blood Moon can sometimes just shut most of their deck down. Boros Reckoner will give them fits if they don't have Fatal Push handy, and they often just can't remove Stormbreath. Also, save your Bolts and other ways of dealing direct damage, because sometimes they will just do enough of your work for you.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on [Primer] Green Nykthos Devotion (includes Tooth & Nail)
    Regarding Reason // Believe:

    This card just looks to me like a less impressive Summoner's Trap. I see the synergy with Courser of Kruphix, but digging that much deeper to find the big creature is probably more effective. Plus, it's instant speed.


    Welcome to the board.

    I started with a more Stompy Devotion build as well, using Leatherback Baloth, Strangleroot Geist, and a lot of the same cards you did. My finisher was to dump that devotion-mana into a Genesis Wave. These days, Collected Company is almost certainly stronger in that role.

    I think in your case, you might benefit more from running Rhonas the Indomitable over Nylea, God of the Hunt. He's cheaper mana-wise, you have lots of creatures that activate him on his own, he blocks and kills Death's Shadow, and he more efficiently pumps your offense as well.

    As for the role of Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, there was a post a few pages back by one of the players that did pretty well in tournaments. I asked him pretty much the exact question, because I didn't understand Nissa VozZ's place in the deck either. The way he explained it, Nissa VoZ does a lot of things that add up to being really good: (1) making tokens to chump-block, (2) making tokens to overrun with Garruk, Wildspeaker or Craterhoof Behemoth, (3) adding two devotion at the ideal cost of 1GG (since colorless lands can make GGG difficult), (4) occasionally pumping your team, (5) being a non-creature and thus harder to remove, and (6) threatening to set up a win by giving you lots of cards and life. It turns out, once I appreciated the importance of (6) and how powerful the effect really was, I liked her a lot more in my build.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on Skred Red
    Quote from TexasGoyf »

    ... Affinity (one of my worst matchups), Burn (literally dependent on the die roll in my experience: whoever takes the first turn wins!)...
    Quote from voffel »

    Affinity: In affinity's favour, but 1 or 2 more dedicated sideboard cards could tip it in our favour. dont be afraid to bolt turn 1 plays even if you have a sweeper. Hard but possible.
    Burn: Super hard matchup, needs 4 dragons claw in sideboard to have a chance, running 3, and it's not enough. Hard but can be done.

    Interesting that neither of you like the Burn or Affinity matchups; I've found them to be amongst our better Tier 1 matchups. Both decks have some things we struggle hugely with (e.g. hands with all spells and no creatures from Burn; Etched Champion with Cranial Plating from Affinity), but their average draws line up pretty poorly with ours.

    I find Burn to be 50-50 when we win the toss, and 65-35 when we lose the toss. Games 2 and 3 are definitely better than game 1, but even on the play they're far from a lock. Closing down the ground game is easy, but outracing them is hard when our clock typically finishes the game on turn 6 at best.

    As for Tron, the problem there is closing out the game before Wurmcoil Engines and the like take over. With Blood Moon, this is reasonable: our clock can often slightly outpace their threats if they only hit one land per turn. Without Blood Moon, this is usually a losing battle. The game gets somewhat worse after sideboarding too, since they start bringing in enchantment removal.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on [Primer] Green Nykthos Devotion (includes Tooth & Nail)
    Keep in mind, he also ran two copies of Garruk Relentless which can act as green Volcanic Hammers, sort of. But yeah, I found that wasn't enough, personally. I have three copies, plus two Polukranos, World-Eater and occasionally play a copy of Dragonlord Atarka as well.

    I maintain Ballistae in my Command list. It functions as both removal and combo-finisher, there.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on [Primer] Green Nykthos Devotion (includes Tooth & Nail)
    Quote from Dos_Rouge »
    just pondering, but with summoner's pact do you dig up any green creature to impact opponents lands, other than acidic slime?

    I run a copy of Terastodon in my SB as well.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on [Primer] Green Nykthos Devotion (includes Tooth & Nail)
    I call my Command variant "Primal Devotion." Like my adaptation of AS's take, "Relentless Devotion," they feel like they conjure powerful images in addition to describing the deck.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on Burn
    2 Plateau with 12 fetchlands is probably fine.
    Posted in: Aggro & Tempo
  • posted a message on Burn
    If you're playing Path, you probably want 14 total fetches + W-sources.
    Posted in: Aggro & Tempo
  • posted a message on [Primer] Green Nykthos Devotion (includes Tooth & Nail)
    Personally, I strongly agree with the Ballista choice. Ballista at X=4 or more starts edging into an auto-win against an increasing number of decks.

    I think the two Emrakuls are debatable. The hardcast trigger on tPE is much easier to reach, but tAT is much more resistant to removal and wrecks the board in a way that cripples most opponents even if they survive a hit. For that reason, I prefer tAT. Let's face it: they both have CMC=9 anyway, and you're running tons of mana ramping.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on [Primer] Green Nykthos Devotion (includes Tooth & Nail)
    Unyaro Bees is pretty clever! My problem with Bridge has mostly been in Lantern though, where it isn't "having a card that wins" which is the problem so much as "getting the card that wins" and "not lunging across the table to choke your troll opponent," which probably still gets at least a match loss.

    I do think Bees belongs in the same class as stuff like Chameleon Colossus, though. Not as good generally, but worthy of consideration.

    Bees is also light creature removal, though really inefficient at it.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on [Primer] Green Nykthos Devotion (includes Tooth & Nail)
    Quote from Aethelianmage »
    Hey all, been a while since I posted here.

    I am (the last person here?) playing T&N. While it's a lot of fun it is also just annoyingly mediocre. After about 100 matches (FNM at a spikey lgs mostly), I'm at almost exactly 50% and wanting to do better. I feel like my list is not quite tuned and wondering if you guys have advice

    Gr Tooth and Nail:

    Ideas I've had:
    The only MB card i really don't like is Primal Command. It just seems a little too clunky. I want to replace it with something less mana intensive, and preferably a permanent for devotion, but I'm not sure what.

    I don't really like my sideboard. The biggest problem is that very few of my cards add devotion, so boarding dilutes my plan. However, individually I like all the cards except the roast, natures claim, and Thrun. That leaves 3 SB spaces open. Genesis Hydra? Engineered Explosives? More Blood Moon?

    I also might want a white splash with a Temple Garden or a few birds in main, which lets me hardcast leyline easier, and gives me better sideboard options. EE on x = 3 or 4, Path, Dragonlord Dromoka?

    I'm not experienced with TNN, but your list doesn't really look bad. The key thing is that you're looking for 9 mana, whereas most variants can do most of what they need with 8. Overgrowth is a card you may want to consider: it provides 2 mana in a single card, and is also doubled by Arbor Elf or Garruk WS. Try swapping your Caryatids for 3 Overgrowth and 1 Bird.

    I like your Titan backup plan: it feeds directly into casting TNN, and that mana is also great with Kessig. Another option is to chuck some more Treetop Villages in. Having 2-3 means that you can just get 2 with Titan, which is pretty dangerous irrespective of board state. Ballista also works nicely here.

    I agree that this may not be the best build for Command, though you certainly can generate a lot of mana to fuel it. Similarly, I'm not crazy about Nissa VoZ: the creatures only act as chump blockers and you don't really have a huge team worth pumping, even if the ultimate might be huge. This may be a better deck for Courser to buy you time, and get some CA (plus synergizing with Titan). Another option might be Tireless Tracker.

    Quote from Rendroc »
    @Dos_Rogue if I play Primal Command I definitely have a single Magus of the Moon in my mainboard.

    Unfortunately, I find the Primal Command deck to be a bit worse than my deck which uses a couple Pacts

    I might have to consider a copy of Magus in my Command-variant's SB. I'm not convinced the Command build is worse, but I'm enjoying Pact because it's faster and different (I'd been on Command builds for over a year prior).
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on [Primer] Green Nykthos Devotion (includes Tooth & Nail)
    Quote from Blackhoundo »
    As someone who is fairly new to to this deck I was wondering about summoners pact vs primal command. I know they both tutor for a creature but what advantages/disadvantages do they have over each other ?

    I've historically been a huge advocate of Command, though these days I play a Pact-focused list.

    The advantage of Command is that it does things that can be way more efficient. You can get rid of a troublesome permanent, including a land to set the opponent back a turn. You can gain a bunch of life to throw off the Burn math, or give the opponent a bunch of life to throw off a Death's Shadow player. You can shuffle away a graveyard to mess with Reanimator, Dredge, Delve, and Flashback. You can also tutor ANY creature, including off-color things like Walking Ballista. Most importantly, you can tutor up Eternal Witness to reuse Command over and over, effectively locking out an opponent. Command should be viewed in this context as a powerful and sometimes game-winning weapon in its own right.

    Summoner's Pact is different. It gets the creature now and cast it straightaway, with the tradeoff that it's likely to chew up the next turn. Also, the creature must be green. However, if you're using this to grab BTE for a big Nykthos turn, or Craterhoof Behemoth to crash through and end the game, or a Primeval Titan to put massive mana and a Kessig Wolf Run on the board, the downsides are pretty minimal. Pact is almost like a tutor in an explosive combo deck.

    The other card worth considering is Chord of Calling, which is somewhere between the two in difficulty to cast. It can get anything that doesn't have a cost of X, can chuck it right into play (without a worry of interfering countermagic), and is an Instant (so is Pact, though you can rarely use it as such).

    The question of which to play is not about which is better in an absolute way, but which is better with the deck you're building. Command excels in more grindy, controlling builds. Pact is great in more explosive, BTE-based builds. Chord is solid in some combo builds. Each have their place.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on Where do you get your news from?
    Don't trust any "news" source. Take your sources, figure out the slant, decipher the reality for yourself.

    I read Reuters, Associated Press, Lawfare Blog, CNN, Fox, NY Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic. They're all filled with various propaganda or poisoned by ideology, but reality peeks through the cracks. Put it through the lens of some real historical philosophers, ask "who benefits" a lot, and it's pretty easy to figure out.
    Posted in: Real-Life Advice
  • posted a message on Percieved Weakness in Regards to a Polarizing Topic
    I'm not going to get into the particular issue at hand, because that's not really what the important thing is in this matter. I will say that there are good arguments in favor of either approach that have nothing to do with weakness on anyone's part.

    What is important is the question of your friendship.

    Strong friendships can weather deep disagreements about morality and other elements of philosophy. However, what they cannot weather is a lack of mutual respect.

    To the OP: Do you feel there is something here that must be resolved? If so, why? Is it because you think one of you is wrong and you'd like to arrive at a solution? Is it because you can't stand the idea that someone close disagrees with you? Or is it because you worry that how your friend arrived at a different decision says that you two are incompatible (say, irreconcilable moral outlooks)?

    Each of these speaks to a different type of personality on your part, your perception of your friend, and the quality of your friendship.

    - If you don't feel anything needs to be resolved, then you need to take a good look in the mirror to figure out why you're so uncomfortable. If you're past resolving anything, this friendship is basically already over.

    - If you think this issue is a meaningful one, and deeper conversation might help you and he arrive at a better understanding, that's the best thing possible.

    - If you can't stand the idea of being disagreed with, well, then you don't respect your friend, period.

    - If you think this issue signifies some irreconcilable difference in character, than you don't trust your friend enough to assume he has a good reason for thinking the way he does.

    The bottom line is that your friendship is already damaged because something is bothering you and you don't trust something about the reason he disagrees. Once you realize that, you either have to either (a) accept a damaged friendship (because this will still gnaw at you, and you'll never fully trust them until it's resolved); (b) realize the problem is on your end, and figure out how to accept the difference of opinion while trusting that they got to a different place in a still good way, or (c) decide to have a conversation that risks blowing up the friendship or, if your connection is deep enough and you're both of good character, will probably end up actually making it stronger.

    From my perspective, it's always best to have the conversation. For every close tie I have, there is something something deep and meaningful that we disagree about. However, in having those discussions, I learned how good people can arrive at conclusions different than my own (and occasionally changed each other's minds). I lost few friends this way, but those friends weren't really worth having anyway.
    Posted in: Real-Life Advice
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