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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.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

I would probably run Battlefield Scrounger before Tasigur. Could just recycle 2xRegrowth and Time Walk or something, but if my yard is not hated out I would rather just win and if it is hated out, I want creatures that are fatter than 3/3.

What would be the best options for creatures in the sideboard?

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

I had a thought about an improvement to Ziasbond or some variant.

What about running Oath of Druids with no creatures?

The idea would be to Oath your entire library. Then you can Memory's Journey Black Lotus into your library.

Then for 2 mana in play + Lotus you can flash back Sevinne's Reclamation for Fastbond + Crucible and win on the spot.

I have been toying around with 2 lists, which are NOT Ziasbond lists but have some similarities and Oath has been an all-star card because the deck has no need for it whatsoever, yet Oath also wins the game the next turn most of the time.

4 Forbidden Orchard
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Polluted Delta
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Flooded Strand
3 Tropical Island
2 Tundra
1 Cephalid Coliseum
1 Nomad Stadium
1 Strip Mine
4 Wasteland
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
1 Sol Ring
4 Crucible Of World
1 Time Walk
4 Force Of Will
4 Gifts Ungiven
4 Intuition
2 Memory's Journey
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Brainstorm
1 Mental Misstep
1 Spell Pierce
4 Oath Of Druid
4 Fastbond
1 Sevinne's Reclamation
1 Argivian Find

Because you are Oathing your whole library, you can get away with running 1 each of combo pieces like Nomad Stadium and Cephalid Coliseum.

If you only run 1 of each then you really want Gifts and Intution to find all your combo lands in one run.

So you can Intution for 3xCrucible, 3xFastbond, 3xOath or 3xOrchard.
You can Gifts for Fastbond,Crucible, Reclamation and Find to get your combo.
Depending on if your opponent might have Counters you can get Black Lotus.

Gush is a notable exclusion. I am tempted to swap out the Spell Pierce to add Gush, but Gush is randomly dead in hand and not being able to counter creatures is less scary now that I have Oath.

The downside of Oath is Grafdigger's Cage so it is convenient that the rest of the engine works just fine with a Cage in play. You can still Gifts for Fastbond, Crucible, Find and Reclamation to just win through Cage.

I have not settled on a sideboard, but you can easily add a few creatures to use that as an alternate win if your Graveyard is hated out.

I have not tried this in Ziasbond, but it seems you could drop the Inutitions and Gifts and then run more combo lands (Glacial Chasm, Nomad Stadium) and then Oath up Rasputin Dreamweaver to have enough mana to win through your own Resistors.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

Okay, so you have a point about Glacial Chasm having uses that go far beyond Nomad Stadium, but Nomad Stadium is still better.

Glacial Chasm is probably best against something like Dredge. Against Shops, they have Wastelands and their mana denial strategy is greatly enhanced by you playing one land that doesn't tap for mana and then tapping another land.

On top of that you lose life unless you sac the Chasm anyway.

Against Paradoxical you run into the problem that Tendrils is life loss and not damage.

So, assuming that Chasm is for the combo, you are better off running Nomad Stadium because it does not set you back 2 mana before you combo.

There are some decks like 43land.dec where Chasm is surely better than Nomad Stadium.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

I have been testing several Fastbond decks fairly regularly.

The deck that will probably be best is Turbo - Gush:
1 Scalding Tarn
2 Polluted Delta
2 Misty Rainforest
2 Flooded Strand
2 Tropical Island
2 Tundra
3 Island
1 Cephalid Coliseum
1 Nomad Stadium
1 Strip Mine
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
1 Sol Ring
3 Crucible Of Worlds
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Time Walk
1 Ponder
2 Preordain
4 Force Of Will
1 Gush
4 Intuition
4 Gifts Ungiven
4 Accumulated Knowledge
1 Echoing Truth
4 Mana Drain
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Brainstorm
1 Fastbond
1 Regrowth
2 Argivian Find
4 Wasteland
4 Grafdigger's Cage
4 Trygon Predator
3 Pithing Needle

I am not sure how many Fastbonds this deck should run but I am thinking it would be at least 3 and maybe 4. I do not know what to cut.
Ponder has felt like the worst card for a while and Fastbond is a 1 drop.
Also with 3 Fastbonds, perhaps 2 Argivian Find is not needed.
So maybe go -1 Ponder, -1 Argivian Find, +2 Fastbond.
Then you can Gifts for Fastbond, Crucible, Find, Regrowth.

There was an era maybe a year or so ago when this was the very top performing deck in my meta. That sounds weird, but it worked out at the time because Grafdigger's Cage had convinced a lot of people to drop their other Graveyard hate from their board. Grafdigger's cage does nothing against this deck. You can still play lands from the yard and AK for 4 and Argivian Find Fastbond etc. So a bunch of decks had little to no sideboard plan.

Recently the meta had turned against this deck. Because Dredge became so strong there was actually some main deck hate and that had more or less crushed it. Also decks running a lot of Mental Missteps are problematic.

This deck is very, very powerful but it is also fragile.

All of you running Glacial Chasm should probably switch to Nomad Stadium.
If you run a Nomad Stadium and a 1 Tundra then you can gain infinite life and ignore Fastbond damage.
Nomad Stadium taps for mana and does not sacrifice a land.

EDIT: The sideboard I listed was for a prior meta where I was mostly worried about Dredge and Workshop Aggro. I don't know what I would use right now.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

@wfain So the cycle spells are only "air" in the graveyard, which is the point that Smmenen was right to emphasize. This is a concern. The loss of Narcomoeba does matter. Ultimately I am more than willing to give up Narcomoebas to start turn 2 with 7 cards in my yard rather than 3. So my cards are on average worse in my graveyard, but I get more of them. The bigger concern is the loss of the blue Forces.

In your example with Preordain, the issue is you end up tying your mana up trying to draw cards instead of doing stuff. In this case the cyclers are free so no mana is being tied up and no tempo is lost.

The list I am considering now is:

21 draw:
4 Bazaar of Baghdad
4 Serum Powder
4 Street Wraith
4 Mishra's Bauble
4 Urza's Bauble
1 Gitaxian Probe

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

15: Win
3 Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis
4 Ichorid
4 Bridge From Below
4 Prized Amalgam

12: Defense
4 Mental Misstep
4 Cabal Therapy
1 Strip Mine
1 Chalice of the Void
2 Force of Vigor

4 Leyline of the Void
4 Force of Will
4 Force of Negation
2 Force of Vigor
1 Noxious Revival

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

That is a good point. Compared to your list I dropped 4 Narcomoeba from my reanimation suite.
They are missed for sure, but the extra cycles are nice as well.

The bigger change was dropping the maindeck blue Forces. I miss those a lot.

Here are the comparisons to consider. The downside is the loss of dredging into Narcomoeba. Lets consider the following scenarios: We will label 4 Naromoebas, 6 Forces and 2 Fields as your "questionable" cards. My questionable cards are 8 Baubles and 4 Street Wraiths.

What if we have 0 in our hand? - In this case you deck is clearly better because you can dredge into Narcomoebas and I cannot.

What if we have 1 in our hand? - If you have a Narcomoeba it is dead. If you have a Force then it is great IF you have a Prized Amalgam. Without a Prized Amalgam the Force is dead too. My extra Bauble means I am likely to dredge 5 extra cards off of an Imp so I start turn 2 with 7 cards in my yard instead of 3. That is a huge difference!

What if we have 2 in our hand? - Now you can pitch one blue card to a Force so this extra counter is fantastic. You can feel much safer. I have 2 extra cyclers so I am likely to start turn 2 with 12 cards in my graveyard rather than 3, which means I am likely to be half way through my deck by the begining of my main phase.

To me by far the biggest weakness of the Baubles is the loss of the blue Forces.

I am not sure about Thug vs Shambling Shell.

In Magic there are some games where you blow your opponent out and there are others where you get blown out. The trick is to win the ones in the middle where it could go either way. Cards that primarily effect that middle are most important. Other cards are "win more" or "lose less." Typically if you have Stinkweed Imp or Grave-Troll pre-board you are doing very well and very likely to win. If you have no dredger at all you are in a lot of trouble. Wasteland will just wreck you. One could argue that 0 dredgers is in the middle, but it is close to you getting blown out.

The important middle section is when you get that Thug or Shambling Shell. Basically if Shell/Thug is your only dredger, then getting 4 chances to dredge into something rather than 3 is a pretty big different and impacts the important games where things can go either way.

Unfortunately there is a very serious downside and it shows up in two ways.
First is your opponent goes turn 1 Oath and you have no green spell to pitch to Force of Vigor.
The second is you do have a green card to pitch, but said green card is Golgari Grave-Troll. I would MUCH rather pitch a Shell so I can dredge my Grave-Troll rather than pitch my Grave-Troll so I can dredge a Thug.

There are also games where I end up with 2 Thugs in my hand. Since I run 4 of them this is actually reasonably likely after a Bazaar activation. For this reason I think running 4 Thugs and 0 Shells is the wrong ratio. I think at least 1 Shell is worth it, maybe 2.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

So Force of Vigor is obviously a really good card and it allows us to go completely away from mana, but then Leyline of the Void becomes a big problem as there are only 4 solutions in the deck rather than 8-10 as I generally prefer.

The main deck's primary threat is losing to Wasteland. Noxious Revival seemed like a great solution to Wasteland and sort of decent against Leyline in that it pitches to Force of Vigor. I may go back down that route.

Gitaxian Probe seemed highly suspect to me at first.

As I thought and thought about how to find Force of Vigor more reliably I contemplated adding mana back in.
Chain of Vapor could pitch to the counterspells which is decent.

Then there was a game where I probed into Vigor. That seemed good. Then I thought about adding more free cyclers.

In particular I contemplated adding 4 Mishra's Bauble, 4 Urza's Bauble and 4 Street Wraith.

Against a Leyline each cycle speeds you up by 1/3 a turn. By the time you are 12 cards deep you may find 3 cycles which means you are 15 cards deep. If you found an extra cycler then 16 cards deep. It is a lot more likely to find Force of Vigor by then.

Testing around with this a bit I first found that this makes the Force cards way worse since none of the new cards to pitch to anything.

I also found that the deck becomes a lot faster. It is very common to get 2-3 extra dredges by turn 2.

The deck also becomes far more resilient to Wasteland. For instance if I have 2 Baubles on turn 1 and you waste my Bazaar I can still get 3 dredges on turn 3. This is not as good as Noxious Revival at all but still not bad.

Turn 2 Ichorid which chains into a bunch of other stuff is far more likely if you are dredging several times before your second turn starts. Noxious Revival can't do this.

Note that the Baubles give valuable information about your opponent's current and future hand and make it
more likely to hit with your first Cabal Therapy.

Finally post board when 17/60 cards cycle for free it all of sudden becomes a lot more likely to find that Force of Vigor against Leyline of the Void

Lets say you are on the play post board and your opponent drops Leyline.
You have 2 cycles in your opening hand so you cycle twice.
Then you play and activate Bazaar. This draws you a 3rd cycler so you cycle a 3rd time.
You are now a full turn ahead of where you would be without the cycles. On average you do not quite get 2 non Bazaar cycles in your opening hand, but you average more than 1.

My testing was done assuming opponents were boarding out their countermagic. This may not be optimal. I have been of the opinion that non Mental Misstep countermagic is sub optimal post board. The role of the Leyline is not turn the other deck into a prison deck, but instead to act as a road block to let the other deck combo out first. Now that there are only 4 Leyline removal spells in the whole deck, the whole prison strategy becomes a lot better.

You cannot cut dredgers below 12 because you really want to dredge and not draw pre-board.

I pulled out Chalice of the Void because it seemed bad with 8 Baubles, but I can just drop the Baubles first. When I don't have a dredger I might draw into a Bauble but a dead Bauble is not the end of the world because Bazaar.

Probably Chalice belongs.

The Unmasks in the board were in case of Jailer or a similar creature. I was thinking about using them on the play only, but I did not use them much at all.
I would consider all of the other usual suspects including Noxious Revival, Misdirection, Hollow One, Contagion, Spinning Darkness, Ravenous Trap and Dakmoor Salvage. Losing to Wasteland when I boarded out the Baubles was a problem so I am currently leaning towards Noxious Revival.

If your opponent does not have Leyline then you can bring in the Forces and remove some of cycle cards so you can counter hate spells.