Weekly Reports by Pablo C.

(We mentioned early on that students could easily do short weekly entries instead of having to write a massive paper in the end. Our intention was to have them post to here regularly, but no one ended up doing that. We do have a series of weekly reports from Pablo, however, in digest form. Perhaps you can see the evolution through the class.)

Week 2

I began building my deck by first deciding that I wanted to play a green deck. I looked through the green cards and quickly decided upon a theme, big creatures with trample using mana acceleration to get them in play fast.  I played the deck a few times and have a couple of observations. First of all I found that regeneration was very useful in keeping my creatures on the battlefield, in particular Refresh and Run Wild worked really well in my deck. I also noted that my mana acceleration did not work quite right. I was lacking Llanowar Elves and Wood Elves, but Elvish Pioneer and Elvish Visionary worked well. There was however one major shortfall of my deck which was the lack of a mechanism to deal with flying creatures. I’ve decided that I will be fixing this by modifying my deck to be red/green. I will add red burn cards that will help me maintain a creature advantage on the battlefield and help deal with flying creatures. I still also need to do quite a bit more research into what cards might complement my strategy.

Week 3

Last week I decided that my strategy against flying creatures would be to use burn cards. However, I looked through all of the red cards today and was not really able to find any good burn spells. Most were either too expensive (5 mana or more) or were too weak (only dealing 1-2 damage). I added red cards to my deck anyway and some of them worked pretty well. However, the element of burn I wanted to help deal with flying creatures simply was not there and my deck once again repeatedly lost to flying creatures. I’ve decided that perhaps a better strategy would be to incorporate flying creatures into my deck as well. Next week I will try to replace red with white. Hopefully I will be able to find some decent white flying creatures and add an element of control to my deck.

Week 4

This past weekend was the Zendikar booster draft tournament and I ended up making a pretty good green/blue deck for it. I realized that one of the important themes of Zendikar was landfall and I tried to build my deck around it. The deck ended up working pretty well and ended up going 5-3, with 2 of the losses being due to being mana screwed. For lab this week I decided to scrap my previous deck and try to build upon my booster draft deck. I simply added some of the green cards I already had and then play-tested it. It worked surprisingly well but still needs some modifications. First of all it lacks big creatures for the end game; the deck has plenty of mana acceleration but not many good high cost cards to bring out in the late-game. This should not be hard to fix with the available green cards in the environment. Dealing with flying creatures is no longer an issue as blue has plenty of flying creatures. However, the deck is also not using blue to its full potential, an infusion of card-drawing abilities and spells would definitely be useful.

Week 5

I participated in another Zendikar booster draft tournament this weekend and built a black/red deck that splashed white for Journey to Nowhere. It worked rather well and I managed to get decent cards even though the guy to my left drafted mono black. I won every game but 2 in the tournament and placed third overall. I continued modifying the green/blue deck I had tried the week before and added some of the black cards I got from the draft as well as some of the prizes I got. The deck is now green/blue/black. Surprisingly there is enough mana fixing in the deck that playing three colors has not been a problem at all in the few games I have played with it. On the other hand the creatures/spells in the deck have not been as effective as I had hoped they would be. However, it definitely feels like this deck could end up being successful with a few more tweaks. I will probably spend most of next week play-testing it to figure out its strengths and weaknesses and continue to modify it from there. I may have to end up dropping either blue or black from the deck depending on how things go.

Week 6

I went to office hours before class this week and picked up quite a few Zendikar cards for my deck. I eventually decided to cut blue from the deck and completely reconstructed it as a green/black deck. The deck uses green mana acceleration (Llanowar Elves and Harrow) for two purposes. The first of course is to quickly get more mana and play big creatures. The other purpose is to trigger landfall on Baloth Woodcrasher and Grazing Gladehart. Baloth Woodcrasher can easily become quite deadly when paired with either Harrow or Terramoprhic Expanse (which each trigger landfall twice and could potentially both be played on the same turn) while in the same vein, Grazing Gladehart can earn you quite a bit of life (I’ve reached 30 or more life several times while playing this deck). The black spells in my deck are mostly removal (Hideous End, Disfigure, and Marsh Casualties) and I’ve also included Vampire Nighthawk which can quickly make a big difference in a game if not countered. For support I’ve included Vines of Vastwood which works both as a counter to targeted spells and as a buff as well as Trusty Machete as a longer lived but less powerful buff. Play testing today was very encouraging and it looks like this is the first really solid deck (outside of drafts) that I’ve made. The highlight of the day was buffing Baloth Woodcrasher up to a 20/20 trample by playing Harrow and 2xVines of Vastwood.

Week 7

This week I made very few modifications to my deck but spent quite a bit of time play-testing instead. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that my deck does not fare very well against decks that have a lot of removal and direct damage. I played against two such decks and both ended up being long drawn-out matches where we both traded removal spells and ended up just top-decking for creatures. Choosing when to play Vines of Vastwood to keep my creatures alive was absolutely crucial in these matches. I discovered that it’s often better to keep one in hand for when I eventually get the chance to play Baloth Woodcrasher, since my deck has a much smaller chance of winning without a Baloth Woodcrasher in play. I ended up adding a Cudgel Troll and 2 Khalni Heart Expeditions to my deck and next week I will look into adding a Soul Stair Expedition as well. It may prove useful in getting me more creatures in long drawn-out games such as the ones I played today.

Week 8

I realized today that my deck plays more like a combo deck than an agro deck. Just about the only way I can consistently win is by playing Woodcrasher Baloth with one of the several landfall triggering cards. If I don’t get a Woodcrasher Baloth or if it gets countered or removed in some way then my deck has little chance of winning unless my opponent is having serious issues with lack of mana or something similar. I need to devise some sort of effective Plan B that will still allow me to win without Woodcrasher Baloth. Preferably something that takes advantage of the multiple landfall triggering that my deck already employs. Unfortunately, landfall cards only exist in Zendikar and many are rares or mythic rares and are thus not in the environment. One possibility is to change my deck from green/black to green/red in order to incorporate the red landfall cards Zektar Shrine Expedition and Plated Geopede. I could also probably replace most of my black removal spells with red ones. I will probably try this out at office hours as an experiment.

Week 9

Today was the tournament. I spent most of the last week preparing my deck, making various tweaks and putting together a sideboard. My deck worked almost exactly as I expected it to, there were no real surprises at the tournament. I tied my first match, won the second, lost the third, and tied the fourth. It would have been nice to have a little more time for each round since ties don’t really feel satisfying but I’m reasonably happy with the way the tournament went. I was surprised at how powerful the decks were in the tournament given that they were constructed from relatively worthless cards.

Leave a Reply