Monday, July 17, 2017

WPN events August-Sept

WPN August Events
    Magic: The Gathering

Commander: We have a regular tuesday night meet-up for fans of the commander format. Grab your favorite stack of 100, or 5 of them, and come check us out. Casual atmosphere, welcome new faces.
    Tuesdays: 1,8,15,22,29; 5-9pm

Standard Showdown: $5 standard constructed event geared towards casual play. Promotional items available to participants.
    Sundays: 13,20,27; 12:30-5pm

Friday Night Magic: Our weekly tournament series for Magic the Gathering. All events run Fridays 5:30-9pm
    4th: Standard $7 – Constructed using Battle for Zendikar to current set.
    11th: Chaos Draft $12 – Limited draft using VERY special packs.
    18th: Draft $16 – Most recent draft format. Amonkhet/Hour of Devistation.
    25th: Modern $10 – A constructed format for more experienced and longer term magic players. Goes back to 8th edition core set/mirrodin.

Magic Game Day: $10 Standard constructed. All participants get promotional card. Top 8 get foil promo card, 1st place gets champion playmat.

WPN September Events
    Magic: The Gathering

Standard Showdown: $5 standard constructed event geared towards casual play. Promotional items available to participants.
    Sunday: 3, 10; 12:30-5pm

Commander: We have a regular tuesday night meet-up for fans of the commander format. Grab your favorite stack of 100, or 5 of them, and come check us out. Casual atmosphere, welcome new faces.
    Tuesdays: 5,12,19,26; 5-9pm

Friday Night Magic: Our weekly tournament series for Magic the Gathering. All events run Fridays 5:30-9pm
    1st: Pauper $7 – Constructed using only commons, using the MTGO pauper legality.
    8th: Standard $7 – Constructed using Battle for Zendikar to current set.
    15th: Draft $16 - Most recent draft format. Amonkhet/Hour of Devistation.
    22nd: Modern $10 - A constructed format for more experienced and longer term magic players. Goes back to 8th edition core set/mirrodin.
    29th: Draft $20 – Special 4 pack launch draft featuring Ixlan.
   
Prerelease Ixlan: NDC Butler is once again proud to host an official pre-release for Ixlan. A plane of Pirates, Dinosaurs, and one Planeswalker Gorgon. All events $30 per player. Door prizes each round in each event. Final standing prizes based on attendance (3pks/player), paid out based on Match Points.Note times and formats below:
    Sat23rd: Noon Registration; 2:30pm start; Sealed Deck.
    Sun24th: 11:30 registration; 12:15pm start; 2-headed giant Sealed Deck.

Building Jund: An alternate methodology for building commander.

= Building Jund: An alternate methodology for building commander.

As you may know I play commander, and I try to build decks that are fun for me, interesting, but not overpowered, non-oppressive, nor exceptionally greedy in terms of how much they want to control the game or eat up other player's time.

For a few months now, the Jund shard (black, green, red) has been on tap as my next build, and I've slowly been accumulating cards for it as I usually do for these projects. Jund was the only 3-allied colored shard I did not have a commander deck for, and I decided I wanted to fix that.

For a while I was accumulating powerful hate cards, cards like Hydra Omnivore, Stalking Vengeance, and Archfiend of Depravity to aggressively burn, kill, and otherwise make my opponent's life difficult. As it turns out, I ended up going in a slightly different direction, due in no small part to a new approach to the deck-building process that I tried, and I actually found it quicker and easier to arrive at a final list based on this process than what I usually do.

For the record, most of my commander builds so far have looked quite similar to the Zur the Enchanter build I wrote about quite some time ago [here] http://butlerwpn.blogspot.com/2011/03/its-all-in-cards.html

This new method, I'll call the Skeleton Method, and it works like this:

Step 1: Set aside a build box, fill it with cards. This step is virtually the same as the first step in the old framework. Before we can sit down and physically build the deck, we need to set aside a pool of 'possibles'. This pool should be significantly large, 200+ cards – so that we have ample effects/ choices to choose from.

Step 2: Sort/review pool. By sitting down and sorting the cards by color (for example) we can take a mental inventory of what we've accumulated, what sorts of effects we have to play with, and what kinds of synergies we can take advantage of. It also allows us to cut the duplicate cards, as well as add things that are obviously missing (board wipes, anti-artifact cards, a few ways to deal with troublesome commanders, etc).

Step 3: Build a Skeleton. A skeleton, as I call it, is sort of like a blueprint for your deck. It is not a rigid deck list, where you need exactly cards x,y, and z. But it does give you a framework of what cards to pick. In essence when you build a skeleton, you pre-assign card slots in your deck to a specific function.

My Jund Skeleton looked like this:

1 = Commander: Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper ended up in the command zone for this Jund build. Partially because he was the only appropriately colored legend I had on tap that wasn't a dragon. As it turns out this shaped the rest of my skeleton.
2 = Alternate Commanders:  For Jund I had the partner pair of Tana and Vial Smasher available, and I wanted to make sure I had assigned space to them.
5 = Rocks. Yep I set aside 5 card slots to be consumed by mana producing artifacts. More than any other deck that I have built to date (except esper artifacts). The advantage of Rocks should be obvious since it theoretically allows you to play your 7 mana bomb on turn 5.
5 = Ramp. So in addition to the rocks above, I also wanted 5 cards to go find land in my deck and put it either on the table or in my hand. These two functions are very close, but necessary to play the big explosive cards that I love so much.
4 = Creature wipes. I always play a certain number of cards capable of sweeping the board of creatures. Since this deck has some recursion, cares about creatures dying, and also isn't ALL creatures, I opted for 4.
10 = Art/ench hate. This is something that should be in every deck. However, I usually only end up playing a few of these cards. For this deck I really wanted to go deep on this category of cards to muck up other players plans for generating value or being able to combo off. Of all the allocations for this deck, this is the one that may change the most, since 10 art/enchantment hate cards may cause too many dead draws in some games (we'll find out when we test).
5 = Draw engine. Every deck needs to draw cards, and this deck is no exception. While 5 cards may not seem like much, I want each card to represent a draw engine that is going to draw me extra cards consistently as the game goes on.
5 = Kill stuff dead. Other people are going to have stuff that needs dead. So we allocate 5 card slots to cards that can kill creatures, often repeatedly /every turn if necessary.
5 = Sacrifice Outlets. My commander cares when non-tokens die. So it was pretty clear to me that I wanted more than a few ways to get rid of my own creatures for value.
5 = Dies triggers. What better way to take advantage of stuff getting killed than a few cards with abilities that care when things go to the graveyard.
5 = Graveyard recursion. So because a decent chunk of the deck revolves around stuff going to the grave, it's probably a smart move to run several cards that can bring creatures back out of the graveyard , primarily so they can die again.
10 = Flex spots. Hey even the best skeleton has a few holes in it. So make sure you always set aside several card slots for those holes. This can represent effects that are actually useful for you but aren't covered in the main skeleton. Powerful cards in your color palate that don't fit your theme. Or just, you know, that one 'cute' card that you need to run for fun.
18 = Non-basic lands. For the most part in a 3-color deck I use most of my non basic land slots as color-fixing. However, I did manage to squeeze in 5 utility lands (some tap for colored mana, but most are colorless).
20 = Basic lands. While it might be tempting to dig deeper into the non-basic land pool, I personally have learned to respect basics, and pretty much always run at least 18 of them.
100 = Total. Just in case you hadn't noticed, the total number of card slots in our skeleton is 100 cards, because that's the size of the deck we need to build.

4. Fill in the Skeleton. Filling in the skeleton is the process of actually picking the cards to fill the slots that you have assigned. For example, I've allocated 5 slots to sacrifice outlets. I go through my build box of 200+ cards, and I pull all the sacrifice outlets I've set aside. This could be as few as 5 depending on how stringent I was when I was putting together the build box, but I'm usually pretty loose, so for me this is 15 to 20 cards. Then you have to pick out the 5 among that pile that seem the most interesting, fun, or synergistic with the rest of your deck. Yes, the rest of your deck doesn't exist yet, but because of the skeleton you have an idea of the sorts of effects that will appear, so you can often make very educated decisions about synergy. Do this process for each category/grouping of cards that you have defined. You can leave Basic Land alone for now (The exact distribution will be based on the final list). You can also only assign some (or none) of your flex slots.
    By far the most interesting part of the skeleton process is that if you find a card that does multiple things for your deck, and don't include as part of effect x, you will still consider it for effect y. Ultimately I tend to give these sorts of cards preference even if they aren't the most efficient or powerful, because their flexibility often makes up for it.

5. Revise. Even after you've picked all the cards to fill in your skeleton, that doesn't mean your deck is done. Revising your choices after all the cards are on the table is an important second or third pass on your deck. For Jund I passed through my deck twice. Once I was looking for non-creature cards to replace with creatures. Non-token creatures interacted with my commander and draw engine cards. So if I could run a creature that served a particular function, I did so. And this pass added 3-5 to the creature count of my deck, bringing the total to 35, which I felt was acceptable. My third pass was laying out all the cards by converted mana cost to determine if there were too many CMC 7+ cards, and if I could bring the deck any closer to a more acceptable 4-6 mana range. I changed 2 cards during that process. This is also the time to finalize your 'flex' slots, if you have any left.

6. Land. I still distribute basics in a commander deck using the same color-balance algorithm I used in the Zur build. Count colored mana symbols and note totals to determine the percent of your deck in each color, and add basics based on those percentages.

7. Test. I still perform a two-step testing stage. Step one is to solo/goldfish the deck to make sure that the effects that I put into the skeleton are showing up, and in the right distribution. I also use these solo tests to measure the deck's pacing. How many cards have I drawn by the end of turn 20? If it's 30 the deck is going to be slow (which is not a problem, but changes how I have to play it, or may make me change a few card choices). If it's 40 or better, the deck is either keeping good pace or is slow early with an explosive late game – which is usually where I like to be.
    The second stage of testing is in live games with opponents. Usually the deck plays out significantly different when other people are interacting with your well-laid plans. Did we have enough answers to other people's threats? Were any of our cards dead-draws against certain strategies? Did we manage to keep pace with the game, or at least keep up to our own designed tempo?
    After each round of testing, we often go back and change 2-5 cards in the deck to tweak it to our own personal taste.





Friday, June 23, 2017

Event Report: Magic: The Gathering at Origins Game Fair by Pastimes.

Event Report: Magic: The Gathering at Origins Game Fair by Pastimes.

    My two days floor judging this event was really a lot of fun. Having been to Orgins before with Star City Games, this is a remarkably different experience with several small events firing instead of one or two large events. That being said Pastimes provided an awesome array of scheduled side events that I would have been excited to play in – and was equally excited to judge. The event has a lot of growth potential, and I'm looking forward to going back to origins in some capacity in the future.

    I return to my local scene invigorated and excited about magic. Something both remarkable and important with the recent format fatigue setting into the standard environment. I legitimately want to run some of the events I saw (and saw on the schedule) in my own local gaming store. Things like..
    Sealed Draft – Open 3 packs, draft 3 packs: End up with a busted draft deck.
    Draft-a-thon – Draft, play 3 rounds; Draft, Play 3 rounds; Cut to top 8 and Draft a third time, playing 3 rounds.
    Chaos drafts – A draft containing irregular and often unpredictable product.
    Chase-the-Planes – A limited event where a global effect, AKA: Chaos magic, applies to each round of the event.
    It also occurs to me that the recent Archenemy boxed set would make a great 4-player event using either the provided decks as a preconstructed experience, or in a form of limited. We may have to chalk this one up to a missed opportunity since it just released.

    Most of the two days I was there was standard judge fare. Pushing in chairs, picking up trash, straightening table-rows and fixing tablecloths is actually a important part of maintaining a smooth event transition. There were up to three events running simultaneously at any given time – Sealed deck, draft, modern, commander. General floor coverage and knowing that event A was competitive REL but all the others were regular REL was important. As one of the few Lv2 judges present I was also 'on tap' for other judges to clarify rulings or appeals if necessary.

    As most of these events go, I took notes on interesting rules questions. Some of these I saw personally, others were brought to my attention by other members of the judge staff. For the sake of discussion, assume all the scenarios occurred at Regular REL.

Rebound
    A untaps, goes to cast a Prey's Vengeance (G; Target creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn; Rebound) from exile, animates an Inkmoth Nexus, and points the spell at it. In this case the Staff were questioning if the Rebound spell could be cast since the intended target, Inkmoth Nexus, was not a creature at the start of the upkeep.
    Rebound is a complex ability. The first time the spell is cast it creates a replacement effect that sends it to the exile zone. It also creates a delayed triggered ability that resolves during that player's next upkeep. So there is a triggered ability on the stack that A can respond to, animating the Inkmoth Nexus in time for it to be targeted by the spell.
    I also pointed out to the staff the possibility that we could be looking at Out of Order sequencing (MTR 4.3). Which allows “for players to engage in a block of actions that, while technically in an incorrect order, arrive at a legal and clearly understood game state once they are complete.” The staff decided that this play was effectively Out of Order Sequencing after reviewing that policy, so A did get their pump spell as they intended.

Dark Depths Trigger   
    A untaps, draws, and plays Thespian's Stage “T: add C; 2, T: Thespian's Stage becomes a copy of target land and gains this ability.” They then activate the Thespian's stage's ability targeting their own Dark Depths. The ability resolves, and they put into the graveyard the original Dark Depths due to the legend rule. Then the Thespian's Stage copy of Dark Depths triggers “When Dark Depths has no ice counters on it, sacrifice it. If you do, create a legendary 20/20 black Avatar creature token with flying and indestructible named Marit Lage.” It is at this point that N responds with stifle targeting this trigger. A agrees, but then indicates that the Trigger should resolve a second time – Which N does not believe is so.
    The Dark Depths Trigger is a state trigger. State triggers are unique in that if the game state that causes them remains true, they will trigger again if removed from the stack (CR 603.8). So A is correct, their Dark Depths trigger will fire again, and presuming no responses from N – they will get their Marit Lage Token.
    As a quick strategic aside, N could have played Stifle targeting the activated ability of Thespian's Stage, which would probably bought them at least a turn.

Humble
    A casts Humble Targeting their opponent's Twisted Abomination (5B; 5/3; B: Regenerate). Humble reads “Until end of turn, target creature loses all abilities and has base power and toughness 0/1.” These players are in the middle of combat, and the Twisted Abomination is blocking a creature with at least 3 power. N calls you over and wants to know if they pay B to activate Regeneration, what will happen in the Combat Damage Step?
    First thing's first. It is certainly legal to activate the Regeneration ability at this time, since Humble is still on the stack and the Twisted Abomination does not lose it's abilities until that spell resolves. Secondly, the resolution of that ability creates a replacement effect, namely the regeneration 'shield'. IE: The next time this creature would be destroyed instead tap it, remove it from combat, and remove all damage marked on it. Humble does not interact with this replacement effect. The end result being that Twisted Abomination will be a 0/1, but will regenerate if dealt lethal damage in combat.

Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and Madness
    N activates Jace's ability at the end of A's turn. “T: Draw a card, then discard a card. If there are five or more cards in your graveyard, exile Jace, then return him to the battlefield transformed under his owner's control.” they discard an Alchemist's Greeting (Sorcery; 4R; 4 Damage to target creature; Madness 1R). They intend to pay madness to cast this spell and want to know if Jace will transform?
    This interaction was explicitly covered when we got new madness cards in standard back in Shadows over Innistrad. However it all goes down based on the exact way Madness works (CR 702.34). When such a card is discarded, it goes to the exile zone instead of the graveyard, and waits for the madness trigger to resolve before it goes to the graveyard (not cast), or stack (cast). The point is that it's definitely not there during the resolution of Jace's Activated ability, so there is no transformation.

Multiple Attackers AND multiple blockers
    A attacks with two vanilla 2/2s and N has a vanilla 2/2 and a Truehart Duelist (1W; 2/2; May block an additional creature each combat; Embalm 2W). Needless to say there was some confusion for both the players and some staff on exactly how this combat could play out given that Multiple blockers can be assigned to a single attacker, and Truehart Duelist can be assigned to both attackers.
    This all boils down to damage assignment order. As part of the turn based action of declaring blockers, the attacking player has to put all the blockers in front of their creatures into an order. IE: This first, that second, etc. The defending player does the same for each of their blockers that are blocking multiple attackers.
    The thing is this damage assignment order does not determine the sequence of damage, since all combat damage is simultaneous. It does however determine which creatures might die since you have to assign lethal damage to creature #1 first. It's also important to note that while the combat damage order is determined when blockers are declared, the actual assignment of damage does not occur until the combat damage step. This allows damage prevention effects, or more likely pump spells to create interesting results.
    See CR 509.2; 509.3; 510.1c; 510.1d;
   
Draft Issues
    In pack 2 of a draft a player calls judge during the draft portion. The draft is suspended. P3 informs the judge that there is an unaccounted for card on the table between himself and the player proceeding them in the draft. They are unsure if it should be in their pick pile, with the pack they just selected from, or possibly with the pack that is being passed to them now. How do we proceed?
    I felt this was probably the most important situation that arose during the day. The solution I saw implemented by the Head Judge of that event was quick and effective. They had the player that called them re-count the cards in their draft pile, as well as the two packs adjacent to them. Quite simply the pack they were about to pass had N cards in it, the pack they were about to receive also had N cards in it, but their pile of picks was 1 card short. So the extra card was added to that player's draft picks.
    The reason I believe that this is important is because drafts happen a lot in magic, every weekend even. But there's no official policy on how to fix a broken draft. How to fix a broken draft is actually fairly complex because the procedure and algorithm of how a draft plays out is itself complex. Also a large number of things can happen in a draft that would cause it to be broken.
    I would like to encourage the judge community to talk more publicly about how their drafts broke, and what was done to fix them. I myself and going to be on the lookout for broken drafts and fixes in the future. I don't expect an official policy to form, as I say it's probably too complex of an issue. However, it would be nice to have a written 'toolbox' of draft fixes so that we can better educate store staff and judges who often have to perform these fixes.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

WPN events July,Aug

WPN July Events
    Magic: The Gathering

Commander: We have a regular tuesday night meet-up for fans of the commander format. Grab your favorite stack of 100, or 5 of them, and come check us out. Casual atmosphere, welcome new faces.
    Tuesdays: 4,11,18,25; 5-9pm

Open house: An open invitation to all magic players to come check out the store, learn about the standard format, and participate in a FREE standard constructed event.
    Saturday 1; 2-4= Demo and learn-to-play; 5pm FREE standard event.

Standard Showdown: $5 standard constructed event geared towards casual play. Promotional items available to participants.
    Sundays: 2,9,23; 12noon-5pm

Friday Night Magic: $7 Standard constructed. Promotional items available to some participants.
    Friday, 21; 5:30-9pm.

Friday Night Magic – Modern: $10 Modern Format. Promotional items available to all participants.
    Friday 7, 5:30-9pm.

Hour of Devestation Prerelease: Please note information below, as times have changed. Each event offers $30 sealed deck, with random door prizes.
    Saturday 8, 2pm reg; 3-8pm
    Saturday 8, 4pm reg; 5-9pm
    Sunday 9, 11:30am reg; 12:15-5pm; 2-headed giant.

WPN August Events
    Magic: The Gathering

Commander: We have a regular tuesday night meet-up for fans of the commander format. Grab your favorite stack of 100, or 5 of them, and come check us out. Casual atmosphere, welcome new faces.
    Tuesdays: 1,8,15,22,29; 5-9pm

Standard Showdown: $5 standard constructed event geared towards casual play. Promotional items available to participants.
    Sundays: 13,20,27; 12:30-5pm

Friday Night Magic: Our weekly tournament series for Magic the Gathering. All events run Fridays 5:30-9pm
    4th: Standard $7 – Constructed using Battle for Zendikar to current set.
    11th: Chaos Draft $12 – Limited draft using VERY special packs.
    18th: Draft $16 – Most recent draft format. Amonkhet/Hour of Devistation.
    25th: Modern $10 – A constructed format for more experienced and longer term magic players. Goes back to 8th edition core set/mirrodin.

Magic Game Day: $10 Standard constructed. All participants get promotional card. Top 8 get foil promo card, 1st place gets champion playmat.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

WPN events June-July

WPN June Events
    Magic: The Gathering

    Magic: The Gathering: Casual Play: Here, you rule. Come to play, trade, or build decks for Magic: the Gathering. New Players Welcome. Also frequently run odd formats such as planechase, archenemy, commander, emperor, multiplayer, etc.
    Tuesdays: 6,13,20,27

    Friday Night Magic: Here, you rule. Standard type 2 constructed event. $7.00 entry. Hosted by Dan Regewitz.
    Fridays: 2,9,23; 5:30pm - 9:00pm

    Standard Showdown: $5.00 standard event. All participants get promotional items.
    Sundays: 4,11,18,25; 12:30-5pm

    Friday Night Magic Draft: Here, you rule. Join us for our monthly draft event. $16.00 entry. Hosted by Dan Regewitz.
    Friday 16; 5:30pm - 9:00pm

    Friday Night Magic; Modern: Modern is non-cycling format that allows any card printed after 8th edition or Mirrodin block for use, excluding cards on the Modern banned list. Come enjoy this wonderfully diverse format. $20 entry. Eternal Masters packs will be available for prizes.
    Friday, 30th 5:30-9:00pm

    Special Draft: We will either be doing a $16 Conspiracy: take the crown draft, or a slightly more awesome $10 cube draft (the cube uses a lot of conspiracy cards and is geared towards multiplayer chaos).
    Tuesday, June 20; 5-9pm

WPN July Events
    Magic: The Gathering

Commander: We have a regular tuesday night meet-up for fans of the commander format. Grab your favorite stack of 100, or 5 of them, and come check us out. Casual atmosphere, welcome new faces.
    Tuesdays: 4,11,18,25; 5-9pm

Open house: An open invitation to all magic players to come check out the store, learn about the standard format, and participate in a FREE standard constructed event.
    Saturday 1; 2-4= Demo and learn-to-play; 5pm FREE standard event.

Standard Showdown: $5 standard constructed event geared towards casual play. Promotional items available to participants.
    Sundays: 2,9,23; 12noon-5pm

Friday Night Magic: $7 Standard constructed. Promotional items available to some participants.
    Friday, 21; 5:30-9pm.

Friday Night Magic – Modern: $10 Modern Format. Promotional items available to all participants.
    Friday 7, 5:30-9pm.

Hour of Devestation Prerelease: Please note information below, as times have changed. Each event offers $30 sealed deck, with random door prizes.
    Saturday 8, 2pm reg; 3-8pm
    Saturday 8, 4pm reg; 5-9pm
    Sunday 9, 11:30am reg; 12:15-5pm; 2-headed giant.