MTG Pauper Deck Idea: R/G Humans

Pauper is a primarily MTGO based format where you can only use commons, specifically cards printed as common on MTGO. Which means no Hymn to Tourach for example. It’s also the only Constructed format I play since it allows me to use most of the cards I draft and most things are rather cheap and it’s possible to trade with bots for some good cards with draft junk.

Avacyn Restored gave us some good red humans, specifically Riot Ringleader but to a lesser extent Kruin Striker and Thatcher’s Revolt. The block as a whole also gave us some good green cards like Young Wolf and Hunger of the Howlpack. My idea was to use the cards I already had to see if I could build a R/G deck that took advantage of Riot Ringleader being one of the few lords in Pauper and beat my way to victory. The result so far? It works to a certain extent but it’s clear that there’s more work that needs to be done. This was mostly built with the cards I already had and some trades I could manage with bots.

The Deck:

Land

9x Mountain

10x Forest

3x Terramorphic Expanse

I keep tweaking this but I still tend to either get flooded or screwed on mana. This being the first deck I’m building from scratch instead of compiling together from primers I’m not really sure how to make a good mana base.

1 drops

2x Geistflame

2x Hunger of the Howlpack

1x Ranger’s Guile

2x Abundant Growth

4x Skarrgan Pit Skull

2x Somberwald Vigilante

4x Young Wolf

The Geistflames are for triggering bloodthrist, spot removal, and a bit of reach by going for the dome. The Hunger of the Howlpacks are meant to take advantage of the tokens being created from Thatcher’s Revolt get sacrificed and trigger morbid. The Ranger’s Guile is a counter against creature removal, I should probably increase it, but I’m not sure what to cut. The Abundant Growths help with color fixing and cantrip. Skarrgan Pit Skulls are solid value creatures. The Somberwald Vigilantes are literally the only cmc 1 human printed in green or red and I had two of them. The young wolves are also solid and help with my curve.

2 drops

1x Gruul Signet

4x Kruin Striker

2x Timberland Guide

The signet is fixing, anymore than 1 is awkward I’ve already found. Kruin Striker gets big from its ability and counters and ideally pushes through for the win. Timberland Guide in theory is meant to pump my other creatures but isn’t working so well in practice, I’m not sure what to replace him for.

3 drops 

4x Thatcher’s Revolt

3x Brimstone Volley

2x Borderland Ranger

1x Fervent Cathar

4x Riot Ringleader

Thatcher’s Revolt and Riot Ringleader were part of what inspired me to make the deck and are kinda of the core idea. Brimstone volley is because I don’t have Chain Lightning  or Lightning Bolt. Sometimes I’m able to cast it with Morbid active and it’s worth it; but it’s not the most efficient spell I could be using; just the most efficient I have. Borderland Ranger is to help with mana. Fervent Cathar stopping a creature from blocking is a good way to push through enough damage to win.

What works: In general I’m relying upon quality creatures and some synergies to maintain pressure and beat down on the opponent.

What doesn’t work: The manabase, I’m not convinced that I have the numbers right and the Gruul bounceland would almost definitely help. There are better cards that I could be using as mentioned above, and I need to do something about my curve, too often I find myself with a bunch of three drops and unable to meaningfully impact the board.

What I need: Better burn, bouncelands,  improve my mana curve, sideboard(I don’t need this right now since I can just play single games instead of matches)

Overall I think there’s a decent deck here that can be built if I get the right pieces, and while I know what some of the pieces are, there are some others that I don’t since Pauper is an eternal format and I started playing last October.

Thoughts? Recommendations?

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Steam Summer Sale: I survived

Before getting on with this week’s post, I just want to take a moment to say that my prayers go to the victims of the Colorado shooting. 

Another Steam sale has come and gone, and the above picture has been shown to be true for a lot of people again. For those of you who don’t know, Steam has sales where prices are reduced to a point meant to engender en masse impulse buys to make money. It works, really well, contrary to what David Demartini claims, this approach actually doesn’t cheapen IP but brings in people.

The big thing is that people like the Steam Sales, they know when to expect them more or less and buy things. It opens up impulse buys and those who are on a tight budget to buy games. Once you’ve bought something then you’re using the interface and are going to be aware of the next sale; encouraging future sales. In short, it’s building a base of buyers. The reason why this works is because of sheer numbers; by lowering the prices to such a point that enough people are going to buy it. Everything I bought I only bought because of how cheap it was.

David Demartini is free to think whatever he wants and use that to plan his business strategy, but that kind of mentality means I won’t be a customer because I can’t afford to be one. What little money I have for gaming I have to maximize and Steam Sales allow me to do that. I’m not the only one in that position and there are people with bad blood towards Origin to begin with. I’m also willing to admit that Origin is still young, so time will tell how the whole thing plays out.  As this however, this is a part of the problem I was talking about last week in that EA’s PR is kind of terrible at actually encouraging me to buy their stuff and like them as a company.

On a personal note I picked up the following: Crusader Kings II+Sword of Islam, Binding of Isaac+Wrath of Lamb, Galactic Civilization II Ultimate Edition and Fallout New Vegas Ultimate Edition.  GalCiv 2 and F:NV were the two things I was really looking forward to and grabbed them. I didn’t expect CK2 to go on sale but since I was really looking forward to it since I was a fan of the first one and in general a fan of Paradox. BoI I picked up because it was less than two dollars and the demo was fun enough that I figured I would get 2 dollars worth of entertainment at the very least.  So far I seem to be right about that; although BoI has gotten me thinking about it as a game, so expect a post about it in the not so distant future.

New Ultima F2P Game by Bioware

So Bioware Mythic is making a free to play Ultima game. When I first heard this I was shocked, mainly because of how incredibly stupid this entire plan sounds. It’s proverbially like striking a hornet’s nest that’s already unsettled. How, you may be wondering let me count the ways.

First, it’s Bioware, and to a lesser extent, EA. Bioware Mythic is actually the studio behind Warhammer Online and they’ve been given a Bioware label cause they work on RPGs. Bioware isn’t in good PR territory right now because of ME3, and the fact that’s Bioware is going to be tossed around a lot more than it’s Mythic. The fact that it’s EA can’t really be changed but it’s not gong to win anyone over; in fact it’s part of the problem as it brings me to my next point.

EA bought out Origin(the company, which for some reason they decided to call their online platform) and hasn’t done anything good with it. In fact whenever I see this brought up in discussion it’s some level of disgruntled/angry/remorse/generally not pleasant. So I have to wonder, why? Why does it seem like bringing this up in half hearted ways is going to be do anything productive? Whatever value the IP has is being eroded by two things: time(people who actually care about Ultima are going to become a smaller part of the gaming population as time goes on) and handling it poorly. This game could be generic fantasy rpg no.213 of 2012 and no one would approach this game with ire. But no, instead it’s almost like the purpose of the any of the IP from Origin you hold is just to get people talking about mediocre projects that no one would know about otherwise. But do people actually play these games? All the exposure in the world doesn’t do anything if it doesn’t get you sales, so I honestly want to know, does this actually work?

But wait, this completely bizarre approach to PR also applies to the people working on this game.  I’ll let Paul Barnett, the creative director at Bioware Mythic speak for himself on this one:

(Barnett)he compared it to Battleship Potemkin, a 1925 Soviet film that pioneered many techniques that nearly all movies have used since. “I mean, I’m aware that Battleship Potemkin defined modern cinema, but it’s not a great view. You watch it and go, ‘it’s black and white and a bit crap, I’d rather watch something else.’ And that’s basically the problem we’ve been faced with, is how to reimagine and reboot a classic and make it so that there’s a new generation that can have an Ultima.”

This is from a Kotaku article, link

This quote boggles the mind on so many levels. This whole “black and white and a bit crap” is utter nonsense that I hope is only a stereotype rather than actual truth. Go watch Battleship Potemkin, it’s short, it’s good. Moving back on topic, ” black and white and a bit crap” is not how you endear yourselves to fans of the original games, or show that you even value the source material. Also low production value generic action rpg no.213 of 2012 isn’t how you’re going to reboot a classic and provide a new generation with Ultima. This entire thing has left me perplexed, how does this approach being a good idea in the slightest? What is actually gained in the long run from this that’s positive?

Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut

Beware ye who enter of spoilers for the Mass Effect series. 

I know I said I would do this 2 weeks ago; but between the sheer frustration this whole thing causes and back pain that made it an utter pain to type anything, so here it is.

On Tuesday June 26th, Bioware released their damage control DLC, officially known as the Extended Cut. For those who somehow missed this back in March, Mass Effect 3 was released to much fanfare and within 48 hours of its release, fans were greeting it widespread disgust. Sales dropped enormously  after the first week and the internet basically got consumed in one really big flamewar. There are two things that caused it to die down. One, Bioware announced that they were releasing an extended cut to ‘clarify’ the ending and two, it ran out of fuel. What I’m not going to do, is break down the endings and my many, many problems with them. Mainly because it’s been done, repeatedly and it’s not worth the frustration of typing it all up. I’m also going to be approaching the actual content of the Extended Cut with a somewhat broad brush instead of getting caught up in every single detail.

What the extended cut primarily did was revise the final part of the game, where Shepard is talking to the Catalyst a.k.a. TSH(tiny space hitler) a.k.a Starchild a.k.a a bunch of different names. As well as new ending cinematics. As well as add a new ending. It also made minor changes to Earth that also warrant discussion.

In chronological order, the new stuff on Earth is first, during the final run up to the transporter beam, your squadmates get medevaced and you get a nice touching scene. Except the scene makes no sense, how did the Normandy get down without being shot? being the biggest one. It’s a set piece that does not make sense but is designed to elicit emotions. But it does address the point of how did my squad on Earth get up to the Normandy? So we can check that off.

Now we get to the meat of it, talking with TSH wherein its possible to talk to him and get more of his  nonsense. The idea that the Reapers exist in response to organics and synthetics always fighting was to create a synthetic race of killers that harvest organics every 50k years or so. In response to people saying that’s stupid, the writers decided to…make that explanation more detailed. They also decided to allude to the Zeroeth Law, as if it validates an ideal that is empirically false. It doesn’t, poor reproduction of other stories does not make yours good, it’s like the guy who wants to run a tabletop game based off of this awesome book he read or show he watched.

He does establish what the Crucible does…sort of. It’s basically a piece of technology that has forced TSH to do…something different. Which doesn’t make any sense. When they looked at the plans I don’t think these scientists thought that they were doing anything of the sort. Which begs the question of why they built it. Regardless this is an actual explanation of some sorts.

The three choices are given more of an explanation and most notably the relays aren’t destroyed as an effect of this. After choosing you’re treated to a nice cinematic that actually establish some differences that aren’t based on purely extrapolation. Also, EDI is definitely dead in the Destroy ending instead of it glitching her to live.  On one hand this goes a long way towards making the endings less bad, if nothing else. On the other hand, they still have problems, the Normandy crashing does nothing and should had been cut for example. The stinger with Buzz Aldrin is tonally very different than the rest of the ending now and doesn’t seem like it should be there. If these had been the endings that shipped with the game then the response would have been, well not as vitriol, as what happened. The endings still have problems, and that wasn’t going to be changed, and all of the problems have been well documented already. It also did what planned to, clarify the endings and produce new “speculation from everybody”. And by “speculation” I mean new flamewars, old flamewars, and a lot of giving up when you realize that the clarified endings are still poorly defined. And part of the clarification was pushing the mass relays out of the ending aside from being the source of space magic.

Speaking of the mass relays, this raises the question of why they felt the need to retcon that point. In the post release panic to try to salvage whatever they could, Bioware had stated that all of the scientists in Sol meant that fixing the problem of the relays being gone was easily feasible. Leaving aside the issues with that explanation, it did contribute to their hamfisted idea of the Reapers are a part of the past and this allows the younger species to grow outside of the cycle. Maybe they realized it was too dumb and just excising the bit was easier.

All in all, this shows that the development cycle for ME3 was rushed and given more time then they would have produced something better, in form if nothing else. Yet the content feels like a check list of what people complained about and then went about ‘fixing’ it. The feeling I get is that its rather blunt in implementation. That being said, the ending is still stupid but-oh right I’m not done. They added a new ending, Refusal, which warrants its own discussion.

One of the biggest complaints was that you’re handed the options on a platter by the AI that created the Reapers. The things that you’ve spent the past three games fighting against now wants you to meekly choose the ending; despite the fact that his logic is nonexistent and the Reapers being established as malevolent. Naturally this idea was repulsive to a great many people and wanted an option where you told TSH to die and then the War Assets you accumulated would destroy the Reapers. Well part of this happened, in that you could choose to not go along with these options…and then TSH decides to go Harbinger on you and everyone dies. Jump ahead to the next cycle and there’s Liara’s capsule telling them not to make the same mistake. The mistake of not trusting TSH. Again, I’m not going to explore most of the textual problems of this, but rather focus on the metatextual. Giving TSH Harbinger’s voice implies that Shepard is talking to Harbinger, who was established as a firmly malevolent entity and there’s no reason to trust him; yet that’s required for the various “good” endings.

Having gotten the main textual issue that’s not an inevitable retread of issues raised when the game was first released, let’s look at the metatextual. Casey Hudson and Mac Walters thought that the original ending was good, in a cerebral sort of way. And then there was the ME3 post-release where the ending is hated by most of the fans. So they add in a new ending along with the rest of the Extended Cut that amounts to a petty insult of author/DM fiat as ‘rocks fall everyone dies’. It’s petty, insulting and unprofessional. Or the other explanation is that they don’t understand and thought this is what people wanted.  Either way, it really doesn’t help the situation, at all.

So my honest and full opinion of the Extended Cut? Refusal leaves a bad taste in my mouth, the other three endings are ‘acceptable’ in presentation if nothing else. Given the need for damage control in order to make paid DLC appealing again, it works, but then I come back to Refusal and I get that bad taste again. We’ll see what happens, but right now I’m just done with ME3; I can’t or won’t bring myself to care since it’s a hopeless cause.

Edit: So we have details of the Leviathan DLC, and it doesn’t sound interesting. The Reapers have an origin story, contradicting that only makes the ending worse. Gaining him as a war asset is meaningless, so the only thing left is that it might provide some kind of cool set piece? I honestly don’t see what you do with this premise, but wait and see.

M13 Full Set released impressions

So Monday saw the full set of m13 getting revealed and while I was originally going to do a full set review, card by card, the formatting got eaten by wordpress. So I’ll just do something more general. I’m also probably not going to draft m13 unless I hear good things about since I need to save my money; and why draft something that isn’t DII or as good as DII when I still have the ability?

First, the art for this set is all around good and nice to look at. The flavor pulls from a bunch of different places as well.

In terms of actually drafting, Green on first look seems to be the best color due to creature quality, Rancor, and Prey Upon. Mainly since the first point allows the second and third point to be utilized. The worst color seems to be blue, since the creatures are bad and the noncreature spells are either hit or miss. Avoid blue as your main color if you can. I’m not all that fond of red, but that could just be a matter of personal preference. White seems solid and has some good removal. Black seems to really want to be monoblack but I imagine it’s playable in a way that Black in AVR isn’t.

I don’t know what to make of Exatled, mainly since I wasn’t around during Alara

Core Sets aren’t known for being synergistic, so archetypes are more along the lines of drafting the strongest things you can. The only unusual thing might be a mill deck that works off of taking stuff no one else wants. Otherwise, hope you’re in green, try to stay away from blue. And Nicol Bolas probably isn’t playable. In terms of speed I think it’s going to be slower than AVR but still on the fast side.

 

Let’s see how my predictions pan out this weekend from reports from the prelease. I’m probably going to be mostly wrong, but this is a good start in starting to think about sets a bit more critically. Return to Ravnica I’ll figure out how to do a full set review without wordpress eating the formatting.