[Article] 100 Matches with the Best Deck in Magic



  • Since it has been suggested that new cards could be printed, I have to ask:

    Why is Serenity played so little in this metagame, outside of Dredge sideboards? I feel like I am missing something obvious.



  • @miketheprof Serenity has a couple major problems, the largest of which is that it blows up all your own artifact mana. The card isn't much of a 5 for 1 blowout when you are nuking 1 or more of your own moxes. Additionally, Serenity is incredibly slow. The current iteration of Shops kills so quickly that a 1 turn delay may give the Shops player enough time to kill you, or else set up Ravager+Factory. A 6+ power creature immune from sorcery speed interaction is surprisingly tough for many decks to beat.

    Lastly, when comparing Serenity to other hate cards, it is somewhat similar to Hurkyl's Recall in that it gives you 1 turn to do whatever broken thing you want unencumbered by taxing effects or graveyard hate. There are very very few decks that need a 1 turn window to go off that simultaneously do not need a large base of artifact mana or a key enchantment in play. The only current viable deck that can play it effectively is Dredge or a blue control deck, and the control decks already have effective hate in Ancient Grudge and By Force.



  • @ravager101 I am aware of all of those issues and they don't seem like particularly amazing arguments to me.

    I can see the argument that Serenity is "slow" in that your opponent knows it's coming, of course, and you are correct in that it blows up your own artifact mana.

    But as you mentioned, people are playing Ancient Grudge and By Force. I can see Grudge being better in a way, since the 2-for-1 can be distributed over multiple turns, but then you're getting hit by sphere effects twice over, so it has its downsides. I don't think Serenity is any slower than By Force against a deck that dumps its hand on the table in the first 2 turns. On a side note, I am not sure I'd agree that Ancient Grudge or By Force can be considered "effective hate", but that is an entirely different discussion.

    Also, I wasn't suggesting that you could only rely on Serenity. There are scenarios where Ravager + Factory still kills you, but only about 20% of keepable hands are going to contain that combination. And about 20% of the time, you'd have Swords + Serenity (assuming you're playing 4 of each) as a solution.

    I also don't agree with your comparisons to Hurkyl's. Being able to replay all the cards is significantly different than destroying them when you're not combo-ing out. The lower-to-the-ground variants of Shops will, in many cases, have played most of their hand when you cast Serenity.

    Aside from "I'm not playing white", this isn't making sense to me. There was a whole year where nearly every blue deck was in white for Mentor and we still didn't see anything in sideboards except for 1-for-1 artifact removal (with a few exceptions).

    Have you (or anyone that you know) actually tested this card in the matchup with a significantly large sample? I am happy to be wrong about this, but anecdotal evidence is all I've seen.



  • @miketheprof The issues with Serenity (aside from those mentioned by @ravager101) have to do less with the card but more with the decks in the format.

    1. Most Xerox token decks are moving away from White following Mentors restriction. My current Mentor list has 1 Mentor and 1 Wear/Tear as the only white cards in the main. The main advantage to White has been the Dredge and Oath hate. I'm not even running a copy of Swords in the 75...I find Lightning Bolt better right now. If I wanted to play Serenity, I would have to redo the mana base with more Tundras and basic plains. That would make the deck less consistent and arguably worse against Shops.
    2. The URW decks that are truely 3 color (and not 2 with a white splash), are running 2 or so copies of Stony Silence as hate against Shops and against PO. Is Serenity better than Stony Silence? Maybe in the shops mirror, yes, but almost certainly not against the rest of the field. And Serenity does not interact well with Stony Silence.
    3. The other UW deck that could run Serenity is Landstill. There you have the same issues with destroying your own Stony Silence. As a result, those decks are running Energy Flux as a one-sided serenity against the opponent.
    4. I haven't fooled around too much with Sylvan Mentor recently but blowing up my own Sylvan Libraries is a concern. I keep Sylvan Libraries in on the play as turn 1 Library is great, even against Shops. I board them out against Shops on the draw, but that scenario is when Serenity would likely be at its worst.

    I can see Serenity being very good against Shops. However, there are as many or more PO and Blue Control decks as Shops. That has been the crux of the matter - it's not just enough to beat Shops but you have to beat Shops while remaining competitive against the rest of the field, and that's pretty hard to do.

    Edit: I agree with you on By Force. By Force only makes sense IMO in a deck running the full artifact mana package with Crypt and Vault. Those decks especially don't want the symmetrical effect of Serenity. I've been loving Shattering Spree in my deck as I find I have to cast it for 1 a pretty high percentage of the time.

    Edit 2: I have an idea of a list that could run Serenity. I think it would be good in the Nahiri deck. Once I revisit it, I'll try several copies in the SB.



  • @ChubbyRain I definitely understand that white is not a primary color anymore, etc. Also, I was suggesting Serenity purely as a sideboard option. It doesn't change anything if you're not in white, but I thought I'd make that clear.

    I guess what I am trying to probe is the depth to which sideboard options have truly been explored. Discussions suggesting particular restrictions seem to assume that this exploration has been sufficient, but I've never been convinced of that. I feel that this general plan of playing 1-for-1s (or near enough, anyway) against Shops is akin to jamming a handful of Coffin Purges as your Dredge hate and hoping it works out.

    I'm very interested in your results from that Nahiri deck though, whenever you get around to it :)



  • @protoaddct
    The following card will be printed in Dominaria.

    Damping Sphere
    { 2 }
    Artifact
    If a land is tapped to produce two or more mana, it produces { ◇ } instead of any other type and amount.
    Each spell a player casts costs { 1 } more to cast for each other spell that player has cast this turn.



  • Judging by my recent experience in leagues, this article has apparently caused a huge uptick in both Workshops players and awareness in non-Workshop deck building. I have zero trophies since you've published this and three during the week prior, and I'd call myself a mediocre-at-best player with the deck. I've also found myself and the Vintage streamers I follow running up against the deck much more often. I agree with all of the points in this amazing article, but it is a snapshot of that time and the field has adapted.



  • @hierarchnoble isn't that the amazing thing with leagues? I swear I have seen more Oath and Dredge in my last 10 league matches than in the 30 before that.



  • Shops has seemed more prevalent, but I think it's more likely that you are experiencing variance than the format actually adjusting with regards to your win rate. Based on the last challenge, Shops was 35% of the metagame and still had a 60% win rate against the field. I wrote the statistics complement to this article to make the point that it's really hard to gauge metagame dynamics from a sample size of one. Keep your head up, Mike. We all have those nights where we forget to register Time Walk and Tinker in our Blightsteel deck...

    Also, it's really hard to actually 5-0 a league. I have a 60+% win percentage, which I'm pretty happy with as I play a wide variety of decks with many being brews. The odds of me 5-0'ing a given league are around 8% or 1/12 leagues. At 20 leagues, I'm running below average with a grand total of 0 trophies... It gets frustrating to be be on the wrong side of variance but that's just how it is. I think the math would say you were running way above average to get 3 trophies in a week, and this current losing spree is a regression towards the mean.



  • @smmenen said in [Article] 100 Matches with the Best Deck in Magic:

    Actually, Max's article is a devastating argument against the case for restricting Misstep. Restricting Misstep will just replace those slots with other cards that are bad against Shops, so restricting Misstep will have no net effect on Shops.

    Restricting Misstep won't make Shops weaker in the metagame.

    If Missteps get replaced by Pyroblasts, that indeed will have little effect on the blue-vs-blue match, and also on the blue-vs-shops match. However, there can be effects on other matchups that can theoretically have cascading effects.

    Misstep differs from Pyroblast in that it has utility against non-blue decks, some of which might match up favorably against shops. For example, Vintage Lands. Restricting Misstep could make a deck like Vintage Lands more playable, which could force shops to devote more sideboard slots to that matchup, which could weaken shops as a whole.

    As it stands, shops decks are effectively able to pack hate against Vintage Lands without using up a single slot in their 75. Instead, they are packing the required hate in the 75 of their blue opponents.



  • @dshin Dedicating SB slots to a specific matchup doesn't necessarily weaken Shops against the field - rather it shifts win rates from one matchup to another. Dedicating slots to the mirror weakens Shops matchups against the field, but that's unlikely at the 20-30% metagame slice.

    Also, why do people assume Vintage Lands will beat Shops at a significant rate? People have been repeatedly saying this about Oath, and the data disproves that. And why do people assume that Vintage Lands will increase in play while assuming combo decks like Belcher and DPS (statistically good matchups for Shops) stay suppressed? Doesn't a Misstep restriction make Dark Ritual and Expedition Map better, just like Crop Rotation? And will Shops stay the same or will people change their lists and incorporate more 1 drops, like Skullclamp?

    Restricting Misstep thinking it will hurt Shops is a really tenuous position at best.



  • @dshin said in [Article] 100 Matches with the Best Deck in Magic:

    @smmenen said in [Article] 100 Matches with the Best Deck in Magic:

    Actually, Max's article is a devastating argument against the case for restricting Misstep. Restricting Misstep will just replace those slots with other cards that are bad against Shops, so restricting Misstep will have no net effect on Shops.

    Restricting Misstep won't make Shops weaker in the metagame.

    If Missteps get replaced by Pyroblasts, that indeed will have little effect on the blue-vs-blue match, and also on the blue-vs-shops match. However, there can be effects on other matchups that can theoretically have cascading effects.

    Misstep differs from Pyroblast in that it has utility against non-blue decks, some of which might match up favorably against shops. For example, Vintage Lands. Restricting Misstep could make a deck like Vintage Lands more playable, which could force shops to devote more sideboard slots to that matchup, which could weaken shops as a whole.

    As it stands, shops decks are effectively able to pack hate against Vintage Lands without using up a single slot in their 75. Instead, they are packing the required hate in the 75 of their blue opponents.

    Vintage.. Lands!? Well, since that deck couldn't be any less playable than it already is, I guess you're right.

    The only thing restricting Misstep accomplishes is that even more start playing red in combination with blue than what we already see right now. Color combinations like UWB will get pushed out in the dark.


 

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