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posted in Vintage Strategy read more

@vaughnbros said in Simulating Dredge:

My point was more that thw 3x FKZ is probably better split into other DR finishers as well as the 2x Titan. There are a plethora of other good options, e.g. Kologhan, Laboratory Maniac, Muldrotha, Griselbrand, Hatebound Flayer. This allows the deck to overcome scenarios where you can’t win with Bridge into a bunch of zombies.

I totally agree with this statement. Titan and FKZ can be chained together to win now, but by themselves they are not great.

You go for Titan hoping to Dredge into FKZ. It is safer to just go for a target that hoses your opponent.
It is probably better to replace those with some other targets.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

I had a huge bug against Leylines. Instead of RFGing the cards I was supposed to discard I put them back in my hand. This is why Serum Powder looked so bad post board. I basically got 4 free draws in first two turns.

I fix that bug and a made a few other edits and the Mox Diamonds and Breakthroughs are no longer quite worth it. I essentially have a 20 card sideboard so some maindeck cards have to come out.

Here is the list suggested now. It is probably a bit more conventional:

4 Bazaar Of Baghdad
4 Serum Powder
1 Breakthrough

1 Golgari Grave-Troll
4 Stinkweed Imp
4 Golgari Thug
3 Shambling Shell

4 Hollow One
4 Bridge From Below
4 Fatestitcher
2 Ichorid
1 Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis
4 Narcomoeba

2 Sun Titan
3 Flame-Kin Zealot
4 Dread Return
4 Cabal Therapy

1 City of Brass
2 Cephalid Coliseum
1 Black Lotus
1 Lion's Eye Diamond
1 Lotus Petal
1 Mox Sapphire

sideboard:
2 City of Brass
4 Force of Vigor
4 Nature's Claim
1 Chain of Vapor

Running 4 Nature's Claims with only 5 green mana sources (Not counting Serum Powder) seems pretty shady, but Claim also pitches to Force of Vigor so I suppose it works with 9 other cards. I will read some replays to see how Claim is being used.

With 19 non Dread Return ways to bring out creatures this list is far more robust.

Regarding the Dread Return package: I am not suggesting that Flame-Kin Zealot is the best package at all.
I was just goldfishing so obviously the Win-Now targets are going to reign Supreme.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

Mox Diamond seemed counter-intuitive to me, but I have been testing with it and here is what I am seeing.

Sometimes you have the second land, in which case Mox Diamond is a huge bomb. It likely gives you 2 extra Bazaar activations by turn 2 which greatly improves a turn 2 win percentage.

If you have a breakthrough then you are getting something that is potentially 4 extra dredges all on turn 1 (although the odds of continuing to hit dredgers is in practice quite low)

Sometimes you just don't have a second in land in which case you can just pitch it the graveyard.
In this case it is a risky card with big reward. With 8 other lands in the deck you usually have the second land so getting the big reward is huge.

To Vaughnbros point goldfishing is only is only so helpful and ends up pushing you towards glass cannon builds. I am not saying that this is the ideal build, but I do suspect there may be some good ideas in here.

I added Basking Rootwalla as a new card and it made Force of Vigor a lot better in the sideboard.
I also fixed suboptimal play with Mox Diamond against Leylines and it is looking better in the sideboard.
(Yes, I know it can't flashback with Leyline out)

Really I should add games against Grafdigger's Cage, Wastelands and maybe Containment Priest to find a deck that is robust against a greater diversity of hate.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

A lot of the results I saw were counter to what I expected to see.

My intuition going in was as follows:
I had noticed that the Cyclers were worse. This was largely because once I used a cycle card to dredge my good dredger it was stuck in my hand. If these cycle cards said draw a card and discard a card they would have been great! Instead I would dredge a Shambling Shell and then have no dredgers.

I had a few ideas.

First I wondered if maybe Phantasmagorian would be worth it. That way I could dredge a dredger off of a cycle card, and then discard the dredger to Phantasmagorian.

I also expected Once Upon a Time to be very good because finding a second Bazaar is amazing and the next most important cards were dredgers and they are all creatures.

I was thinking that between Once Upon and Time and Noxious Revival I could pretty consistently hit a turn 2 Bazaar. That might allow me to go back to running Bloodghasts without needing to add mana lands. Then I could use Force of Vigor and Hollow One (who can also be found with Once Upon a Time) and I could still have a decent game against Leyline post board. So I expected to have Ichorids and Bloodghasts and then maybe Narcomoebas and Prized Amalgams along with Bridge Tokens to beat down with.

At first I only added the cards that I expected to be good and my main takeaways were stuff like Dakmoor Salvage is terrible and Phantasmagorian is pretty bad, or at least worse than Shambling Shell.

Then I figured I might as well add Rainbow lands, Emerald Charm, Nature's Claim and Chain of Vapor. That was too see if I could do better post board.

Those clearly came out above Force of Vigor and once Force of Vigor was removed Noxious Revival started to look terrible.

Then I had so many mana lands, that I added Fatestitchers. At first they looked like a 2-3 of, but then I added Black Lotus and LED and the Fatestitchers immediately jumped to a mandatory 4 of. This reminded me that nsammael had been pushing for an aggressive Fatestitcher build, so I went back and read some of his comments.

He had theorized that 4xDakmoor Salvage might good. I did not find that at all, but he had also pushed Mox Sapphire, Lotus Petal and Mox Diamond.

I was unimpressed with the Mox Diamond idea. I have a lot of experience with that card from Turboland decks with like 30 lands and I did not particularly like it them. I did not see how a deck with at most 10 lands was going to support them. I was wrong and he was right! Mox Diamond is great.

I suspect I have a suboptimal heuristic post board. I might be using a City of Brass to remove Leyline instead of discarding it to Mox Diamond. I will try that tomorrow. I am also a little bit suspicious that the Breakthroughs drove away the Hollow Ones. I need to make sure I did not do something retarded like forget to cast a free Hollow One before casting Breakthrough. Intuitively Breakthrough makes Hollow One worse since Breakthrough gets more stuff in the yard where Hollow One is mostly dead, but I did not expect it go from 4 to 0.

There are a few cards that I have left out and I plan to add:
Chrome Mox: RFGing a Narcomoeba to Chrome Mox seems pretty solid. I doubt I want to RFG Breakthrough and Fatestitcher I want in the yard, so I am not sure about this.
Ancestral Recall: Draw 3 is good.
Brainstorm: Draw 3 is still good.
Careful Study: Decent.
Faithless Looting:Slight chance of Flashback, but does not work with Cephalid Coliseum so probably worse than Careful Study.
Burning Inquiry: Draw 3, Discard 3 is actually really good, but your discard is random. Can also mess up opponents or really help them out by loading their yard. After London Mulligan players that mulliganed will have on average good quality cards so Burning Inquiry should usually mess them up a bit.
Cephalid Sage: Originally I added Sun Titan to return a Bazaar to bring back Bloodghasts, but instead he frequently brings back Lotus and LED. Since I am not running Bloodghasts at the moment it occurs to me that Cephalid Sage might be more consistent about getting to draw 3, although not being able to play a bunch of Fatestitchers is a drawback. Being blue means he could pitch to Chrome Mox.

My intuition is that between Breakthroughs and Fatestitchers I already have a lot of good things to do with my mana, so Ancestral Recall, Brainstorm and Careful Study won't be worth it.

I think Chrome Mox won't have enough blue cards to support it, but I thought the same thing about Mox Diamond. Also Mox Sapphire did not even make the cut post board because it cannot tap for Green to cast Nature's Claim so I doubt Chrome Mox will make the cut post board. That leaves it with heavy competition pre-board.

I will post if I find anything new. I think the most likely improvement I make will be to discard a Rainbow land to Mox Diamond to remove Leyline on turn 1.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

Re: More Cycle in Dredge?

This is an extension of the previous post.

Cycle Dredge was off to a great start in testing for me before the restriction of Grave-Troll.

When Troll was restricted I responding by making a the conservative change of going -3 Troll, +3 Shell.
When a deck is already tops it seems that less is more.

The deck was a disaster. It went from first to worst. Basically I was using the cycle cards to replace normal cards in hand with extra draws. When those draws were Dredges for 6 it was great because my dredge normally hit another Dredger. When those draws became Dredges or 3 it was much worse. I might not even hit a dredger.

I was also inspired by the some of the ideas at the bottom of the thread I am referencing.

nsammael was pushing for an aggressive version of Fatestitcher Dredge.

That version was performing poorly for me the last time I tested it, but that was in a world where Mental Misstep was unrestricted. Maybe now that Misstep is restricted Chain of Vapor and Nature's Claim are better.

I spent the past weekend writing a program to simulate millions of Dredge games. I had two modes.
One was goldfish mode. The other was goldfish against a Leyline mode.

I hard coded that 4 Cabal Therapies are needed in the main.

From there I asked which lists had the fastest average goldfish. I did not count turns past 7, so if you fizzle it counts the same as a turn 7 win.

Here is what I found:

Maindeck:
4 BAZAAR_OF_BAGHDAD
1 GOLGARI_GRAVE_TROLL
4 STINKWEED_IMP
4 GOLGARI_THUG
2 HOLLOW_ONE
1 BLACK_LOTUS
4 BRIDGE_FROM_BELOW
4 FATESTITCHER
4 DREAD_RETURN
3 FLAMEKIN_ZEALOT
4 CABAL_THERAPY
4 CEPHALID_COLISEUM
1 MOX_SAPPHIRE
3 MOX_DIAMOND
1 STREET_WRAITH
2 HOGAAK_ARISEN_NECROPOLIS
2 SHAMBLING_SHELL
2 SUN_TITAN
1 ONCE_UPON_A_TIME
1 LIONS_EYE_DIAMOND
4 NARCOMOEBA
4 SERUM_POWDER

sideboard: (only 14 listed)
2 Hollow One
1 Flame-Kin Zealot
4 Chain of Vapor
3 Tropical Island (Could be City of Brass. Needs access to U/G)
1 Lotus Petal
3 Nature's Claim

sideboard out:
3 Golgari Thug
3 Mox Diamond
3 Serum Powder
2 Shambling Shell
1 Cephalid Coliseum
1 Hogaak Arisen Necropolis
1 Once upon a Time

The simulations are not using any kind of intelligent. It is all totally heuristic driven so the plays are not optimal.

Just looking at some of the replays I have noticed that I am not always happen about when LED is cracked or which target Sun Titan picks. Even the cards that are discarded to Bazaar can be wrong.

The goldfish speed of the main deck is about turn 2.73. This would be the equivalent of about 27% turn 2 wins and 73% turn 3 wins. That is not what happens there are a few turn 1 wins and a lot of turn 4 wins and the turn 2 win percentage is over 27%.

The goldfish speed vs Leyline post board is about 3.83, so just Leyline slows you down by about 1.1 turns.

Note that there is no possibility of your Leyline removal being countered.

Also, the 4th Nature's Claim was already super close to optimal.

Post board the worst cards in the deck are Sun Titan#2 and Hollow One#4.
The best cards left out were Tropical Island#4 and Bloodghast #1.

The worst card in the main is Shambling Shell #2 and the best card left out is Once Upon a Time #1.

I also tried limiting my sideboard to 11 cards. This way I would leave room for 4 Leyline of the Void.
When I do that the Mox Diamonds leave the main deck and Tropical Islands come in.

EDIT: I also had Emerald Charm originally, which was prefered to Nature's Claim since I am only testing against Leyline and not Grafdigger's Cage. I handled that by banning Emerald Charm but allowing up to 8 Nature's Claim.

One of the things I found was that Serum Powder was not particularly good post board. This surprised me. It is actually not amazing in the main either. You can drop to 7 Serum Powders taking very little hit. When I made room for Leylines, I only had 7 Serum Powders in the main.

The Mox Diamonds are pretty solid. They frequently lead to turn 2 wins. You can discard a 2nd Bazaar or a Coliseum to play Mox Diamond on turn 1 and then get a second Bazaar activation if you have Fatestitcher. Then turn 2 you get 2 more Bazaar activations assuming you find a 2nd Fatestitcher.

Running all the artifact mana and few lands made Bloodghast pretty bad.

I added Breakthrough and it is definitely worth it:
New list that saves room for 4 Leylines which I also think are worth it:

eck {
4 BAZAAR_OF_BAGHDAD
1 GOLGARI_GRAVE_TROLL
4 STINKWEED_IMP
4 GOLGARI_THUG
4 BREAKTHROUGH
1 BLACK_LOTUS
4 BRIDGE_FROM_BELOW
4 FATESTITCHER
4 DREAD_RETURN
3 FLAMEKIN_ZEALOT
4 CABAL_THERAPY
2 CITY_OF_BRASS
3 CEPHALID_COLISEUM
1 MOX_SAPPHIRE
3 MOX_DIAMOND
1 STREET_WRAITH
1 HOGAAK_ARISEN_NECROPOLIS
1 SHAMBLING_SHELL
2 SUN_TITAN
1 ONCE_UPON_A_TIME
1 LIONS_EYE_DIAMOND
4 NARCOMOEBA
3 SERUM_POWDER
} end deck
sideboard {
4 CHAIN_OF_VAPOR
3 MANA_CONFLUENCE
1 LOTUS_PETAL
3 NATURES_CLAIM
} end sideboard
out {
1 GOLGARI_THUG
1 CEPHALID_COLISEUM
1 MOX_SAPPHIRE
3 MOX_DIAMOND
1 SHAMBLING_SHELL
1 ONCE_UPON_A_TIME
3 SERUM_POWDER
} out

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

Thank you for the correction!
That makes Archon a lot better. It is more on par with Dramoka.

Dramoka was outstanding in Game 1s in lists where I ran a bunch of combo pieces and hoped to hit them before Dramoka. The problem is that weakened the overall maindeck because these decks did not want to do stuff like run 3 Nomad Stadiums.

In games 2 and 3 I wanted something that was a bit scarier as a beatstick.

The 3 worst cards in the list I posted are Fastbond #4, Crucible #4 and the lone Spell Pierce. I might swap those out, but I am not sure what I would swap them for. I mostly need defense at this point. Gush is still an option since it allows my to win after Oathing with just two blue mana which I cannot do without it. Jace, Oko and Narset are options. Narset seems strong, but messes up my win condition, so I don't think that is an option in game 1.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

I have been testing mostly my list and here is what I have found. The most important role for Oath creatures is to fight graveyard hate.

The protection creatures like Dramoka and Archon are great in game 1 protecting you against counters, but weaker post board. Because Archon is triggered it does not save you from Ravenous Trap. Dramoka is better, but the beatdown plan is fairly weak compared to the alternatives. Too many times I have had Oath, my opponent Tinkers for Blightsteel and then I flip Dramoka and realize I am dead if I don't draw the win this turn.

Emrakul is very good by itself. If you pull off the normal Turboland combo, but are scared to use Coliseum as a kill condition you can just draw coliseum into Emrakul and then hardcast with infinite mana. The problem is that annihilator let's your opponent sack all tokens and then Oath themselves. This has not burned me, but I always get this bad feeling in my stomach. What if they flip Duplicant or Griselbrand.

Griselbrand is very good because card draw is good in Fastbond decks. Also the life gain can help.

Gisela is good because she cancels both Fastbond and Orchard token damage. She synergize well with Griselbrand because you get double the lifeline.

There is an order dependency where you want Griselbrand first.

My favorite has been running 2xTyrant + Oona. With infinite mana I can straight up deck an opponent with Oona. Just having her is a nice alternative to using Coliseum as the win condition.

The Tyrants are also good because I can bounce various hate and also generate infinite mana with Moxes. Having 4 Gifts I sometimes Gifts for 4 moxes with Tyrant out.

Both creatures are blue which helps support Force.

The main drawback is that being blue they also are vulnerable to Pyroblast. It is nice that both creatures can actually do something at instant speed if they are immediately blasted.

Neither is vulnerable to Karakas.

I would run Griselbrand, Emrakul and Gisela, but I hate having them stuck in hand when Brainstorm and Coliseum are my only options for trading them and they are nearly impossible to hardcast.

I had two more ideas I have not tried yet. Lavinia seems very good in Turboland so I should try a version with her. Also I could run a bunch of Coliseums and Narsets. Then I could use coliseum as a discard 3 effect on my opponent. If I do it on their upkeep they draw 1 and discard 3 and then lose their draw step. That seems good, but establishing threshold is hard to do early in the game.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

Meloku does too much damage with Fastbond, but can go infinite with Gisela, Blade of Goldnight. The problem is Meloku is weak without Fastbond.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

I liked all 4 ideas for creatures.

Dragonlord and Archon are nice in that they protect the combo, are decent beat down creatures and are hard cast able. For my list, their biggest downside is they are not blue, but in Ziasbond they are super strong.

Sun Titan also has some potential. The downside with Titan is because he does not fly his ability to beat down is diminished. You run the risk of your opponent blocking with Orchard Tokens and Oathing into something better. So if your yard is hated out, Titan is problematic.

Sanctum Prelate is probably not powerful enough, although being so easily castable is certainly an advantage.

There is a question of whether Dragon Breath makes sense with Titan since it allows grabbing both Crucible and Fastbond in a single turn. I think it does not since the card is dead otherwise and a lot of time you either have a combo piece or you can grab Fastbond and dredge Loam which should be enough to buy you a turn.

There used to be a Tidespout Tyrant combo with Triskelivus or Oona. I wonder if it is worth running some variant on that since it can ignore the yard or remove hate or beat down.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

There are 27 mana sources + Argivan Find which functions as an any color Dark Ritual so the 3rd mana is not too hard to find.
If you miss your turn 2 land drop you are usually in trouble either way.
If you have Fastbond + Crucible in hand then you can win with just the 2 mana you used for Oath.

If you really just don't have the win, then throw back Sol Ring and Black Lotus with your Memory's Journey and win on turn 3 instead of turn 2. As far as hands missing a turn 2 land drop, winning on turn 3 is pretty decent.

It is TERRIBLE to lose to one counterspell after Oathing and that is why there is a 2nd Memory's Journey.
If first Journey is countered, you have a second. The second one is very important and you brought up an excellent point!

I have even considered a 3rd Memory's Journey in the Spell Pierce slot. The graveyard hate is decent. Pitching to Force is decent. Occasionally I want to Flashback one Memory's Journey to use the other two to keep refilling my library so I never deck myself. Mostly this shows up if Coliseum was exiled and I have infinite life (which most decks just can't handle right now) so I just try to assemble a hand full of counters and wait for my opponent to deck themselves. This situation is rare enough that I consider the 3rd Memory's Journey not worth it.

So basically if you have 3 mana out and your Sevinne's Reclamation gets countered, then the next turn you can throw back Fastbond + Crucible + Argivian Find. You won't get them all in one turn, but it now takes a total of 3 Counter Spells to stop your win. I am not saying this is ideal, but it is better than just losing to a single counterspell.

I can't speak to what happens post board because I have not settled on a sideboard and I have not even settled on how to board against this deck. Is Grafdigger's Cage even worth it?

Pre-board against the top decks according to mtggoldfish the two main forms of maindeck hate are Ziasbond using Crop Rotation for Bojuka Bog, Survival having Deathrite Shaman and White Eldrazi having Thalia who makes my land be tapped.

Deathrite Shaman is a disaster, but the list on mtg goldfish only has 2 and usually you can race them if have to use Survival to find Shaman. Also you might have Mental Misstep or Force for Shaman. Thalia is scary, but occasionally too slow and there are no tutors to find Thalia, but she is a huge problem.
Crop Rotation for Bojuka Bog just beats me if I don't have the counter. One of the knocks on Spell Pierce is that Ziasbond is likely to have the extra 2 mana to ignore my Spell Pierce on Crop Rotation.
These three hate pieces are one of the main reasons that I badly need Force of Will and to a lesser extent Mental Misstep. Shaman and Thalia are huge knocks against Spell Pierce. Force of Negation won't work either.
I also tested Daze which is solid against Thalia, but frequently too slow against Shaman and is even less likely to work against Ziasbond.

Getting back to the counters. Of the top 8 decks on mtggoldfish only 2 even run counters. Those are Paradoxical and Dreadhorde. Paradoxical runs 4 relevant counters because Mental Misstep can't counter Reclamation or Memory's Journey. Paradoxical will need to use 3 of its 4 Force of Wills over 4 turns and hope that you have none of your counters. I am comfortable conceding the loss in a situation that rare.

Dreadhorde runs 6-9 relevant counters. 3 Pyroblasts can only counter the Memory's Journey which is why there is a second. This is probably what you had in mind, but it is still unlikely that Dread Horde can assemble 3 non Pyro counters over 4 turns or double Pyro in one turn or Pyro one turns and then 3 non pyro counters the next 3 turns. Imagine you are the Dreadhorde player and you have like 3 counters in hand. I am pretty sure you just counter Oath. Non need to risk some huge creature coming into play next turn.

Dreadehorde is actually a major motivation for adding the Oaths. Basically you can't keep up in card advantage against Dreadhorde and mana denial is ineffective. Oath is one of the best ways to deal with Dreadhorde. Ziasbond keeps its Dreadhorde matchup decent by running 0 blue spells and zero creatures so Swords, Bolt and Pyro lack targets. The lists that I have been testing all either had blue cards to Pyroblast or Ramunap Excavator or Collector Ouphe to bold or Swords. Oath is actually really good in that matchup!

So as far as maindeck hate goes I worry about Thalia, Crop Rotation for Bojuka Bog and Shaman far more than seeing 3 Force of Wills over 4 turns while having no counters myself.

If going a single creature route then another thought I had is Muldrotha the Gravetide.

She lets you play both Fastbond and Crucible out of the yard for a total of 4 mana. Since you can get one land from your yard to begin with you really only need 3 mana, so she is an alternative to Rasputin Dreamweaver and actually has some synergy with Ziasbond in general although her colors are wrong. I liked Rasputin in the Ziasbond variant because on problem is the Resistors can make it touch to combo out and Rasputin just dodges that because the 7 mana is plenty.

For my list Muldrotha has the benefit of being reasonable to hardcast (if I can find a black source) and being blue. Any creature that can be pitched to Force is huge because a limitation of my list is it only has 19 Blue cards so every blue card helps to keep Force viable.

I am still leaning towards creatureless in the maindeck because I just don't have room for multiple Stadiums or Coliseums and then creatures that ignore the graveyard post board since I will mostly want them when my yard is hated out.

Because of the maindeck hate I am tempted to add a Chain of Vapor in place of Spell Pierce. A singleton Chain helps a lot against Thalia. A main drawback is having fewer counters for Crop Rotation.