Thursday, May 13, 2010

Grabbing from the Mailbag

Ian emailed to write:

"How did the matches against the PW deck go?  I found with Conscription that G1 you were a dog, but G2/3 were much more favorable due to the fact that the deck was essentially running as a combo engine with counter backup.

I've been playing Mythic w/ conscription, and I  feel like the problem I'm running into with Conscription is that in the mirror, you get eviscerated by Mind Control and Pridemage out of the sideboard.  The other problem appears to be Path to Exile suddenly showing up in many lists as a 4x.  Conscription can deal with Terminate all day long, but Path screws with the deck hard- I learned that the hard way when my buddy (who's been playing U/W nonstop) started pathing the Hierarch T2 during my upkeep causing me to miss my T2 drop if I didn't have a cobra or second mana dork.  (The almost insane amount of Mulligans the deck has to do are also aggravating me like nothing else.)  You've gotta run well to win, but I think the deck's gonna be crazy inconsistent - this is absolutely the most I have ever had to mulligan with a deck.  Might be the MWS vs IRL shuffling thing, but after losing in the T8 of a GPT after mulling to 5, I feel like I could use some consistency."

RE: the Planeswalker Matchup
I have not yet tested the Conscription vs UWR matchup in any capacity, so I can't comment on how the Conscription deck does here, but I wrote up a thing on how my Mythic does against UWx a couple posts ago. (I'm so helpful!)

RE: the Mirror
I did some testing with my Mythic versus the Conscription deck recently (piloted by Josh Harris). Here are some cursory observations.
Me vs Him
Preboard: 2 - 3
Postboard: 3 - 1

We only tested 9 games, I guess, but from what I can tell, the Conscription deck is very difficult to battle pre-board. Mythic has 0 answers to the combo, and even Gideon only "fogs" for a turn -- if you use him to destroy the first Conscripted creature, they will just grab their second one and kill you. It's always the second Conscription that kills you. :( 

As long as things are going smoothly for both players, the Conscription deck will tend to win game 1. 

The reason I was capable of winning game 1's was the awkward/bad hands Josh was getting. He mulled a lot. Of course, after the first mull, I always let my opponents take 6 (for testing purposes). But he was mulling a lot anyway. I blame variance. But there were two instances where he got stuck with two Conscriptions in hand. I think this won't happen too often, but it certainly CAN happen. So it's good to be aware of this risk. 

Postboard, I think the matchup is still fairly even. My current sideboard has Paths, Pridemage, and more Jaces, and we have found Jace to be very advantageous in the mirror. But Conscription still has the blowout effect and can still randomly take games, out of nowhere. I'm not sure what the Conscription sideboard looks like right now, but as long as they sideboard correctly and do not strain their mana too hard, I think they may have the edge post-board as well. 

But honestly I haven't fully fleshed it out yet and must test more to give a straight answer. 

For this weekend, I would be fine playing Conscriptions. I think the Conscription version is better, currently, in more matchups. Although I still enjoy the incredible resiliency and speed of my Finest Hour Mythic list. And just from personal preference I would probably still play Finest Hours in any Mythic deck I run. There is something also to be said for running Rhox War Monks in the current metagame because I think red decks will make a significant showing at the next event. 

To give a straight-edge answer, my current understanding of Standard leads me to believe the Wrapter Jund deck is the best tool for this weekend. And I would run that list this weekend if I were playing. But I strongly believe one should run a deck one feels absolutely comfortable with. So if you're still making a decision, I think it's important to weigh all of the following:
  • Your comfort level with the deck (how fast you can make mulliganing and in-game decisions)
  • Your experience level with the deck (playtesting is important, pre- and post-board games!)
  • How strong the deck is in general
  • How well-positioned the deck is in the metagame
  • How much fun you have playing the deck (can you last 10+ rounds with it?)
For myself, the only two decks that even fit in this category currently are Jund and Mythic, although I'm good with any flavor of either. I could pick up UWR planeswalkers, but I've noticed my decisions take much longer, and I doubt the mirror would be any fun for me. So I would avoid the deck even if I thought it had a slight edge over the rest of the metagame. But I don't think it does, so I would go with Wrapter Jund. 

As for lists that aren't Tier 1, I rarely recommend them. But that's because I am just not the type of person that feels more comfortable playing with her own rogue-ish list. Some people feel better piloting something of their own creation or something that's a little off-color. I say, go with what you find interesting and have a good time. If the list is genuinely good, has game, and you know what you're doing, it has as good a chance as anything. 

RE: Pathing Hierarch on your Upkeep
I see why that can work sometimes. On the other hand... if you DO have another manadork or a Cobra, that play seems awful. (Calculating the probability, there is slightly greater than 50% chance of drawing two or more manadorks by turn 2. If you're on the draw, this probability increases to almost 60%. Assuming my math is right.) 

This seems like the kind of move someone would be willing to pull in a playtest session (because she gets to test many games), but at a tournament, where each decision she makes is going to result in one outcome - win or lose - this seems like a very random thing to do. She's basically relying on you to be on the wrong side of a coin flip. The coin flip isn't even 50/50, it's slightly rigged against her. 

I'm preeetty sure this isn't a good play regardless. It slows you down by a turn. That isn't that big of a deal. And they just wasted their Path on a non-threat. It's not even like the UWR deck has infinite Paths it can just dish out willy-nilly. Save some for the manlands. 

RE: Mulliganing Lots
I don't know how much to blame variance here. The Conscription list does seem to run less lands, which might be a problem. As well as... well, you know... more 8-mana enchantments. And more genuine 6-drops. And it also runs a bunch of UU spells next to WW spells while obviously needing turn one G.

All of these little things are going to result in a certain amount of inconsistency and straight-up useless hands. But I think Jaces are the way you fix that. That's why you run 3 in the main. 

Not having touched the Conscription lists myself, out of what I assume is just pure stubborness and aversion to new-fangled things, I can't tell exactly how well it mulligans or how often. Watching other people and hearing about it from you, it sounds like it gets some awkward hands. But I also presume that's an appropriate trade-in for improving your matchups across almost the whole board. 

I can just tell you that my Mythic build is super-consistent, mulls little, and mulls well to 6 cards. I've been unhappy with it on occasion... but I think at those moments I was skimping on the shuffling. My testing opponents just tend to complain a lot when I take forever shuffling, so I appease them by shuffling less. But I think the correct response is to shuffle more and berate them while I shuffle.