Saturday, February 26, 2011

MBS Release Sealed #3

Getting a bunch of these in since im going out of town for a few days. I take the lesson learned from the last sealed and get greedy... maybe too greedy.

note: it seems the audio is desynched in the deckbuilding, I'm trying to figure out how to fix it, but until then it's still an interesting build... even on mute :).

note2: now fixed! I cut out the first minute where the audio was missing, but not much but rare sorting there.

Looking back:

So was this too greedy? I'm not sure. I guess i would've been fine not splashing blue and leaving furnace celebration in the board. Hard to judge the celebration since i didn't draw it often, and the one time it hit play it was promptly removed. One thing I'm pretty sure about is that I was playing at least one too many fatties, but I'm not sure which one. Potentially the giant infector since that's the one I sideboarded out most often, but that was just the way the matchups worked out, so I'm not 100% sure. I certainly had too much "clunk" in my draws, and a hill giant would have eased that up a bit.

An interesting card is lead the stampede. It was clearly bonkers for me here, but is it always an autoplay? Here are some interesting numbers I crunched.

 The numbers at the top, ranging from 13-18, are the number of creatures in your deck, and the numbers on the left represent how many creatures you can possibly draw of LTS. The first table shows the probability of drawing X creatures off of LTS. The second table has cumulative probabilities of drawing X or more creatures. The important number for the third table is the sum at the bottom. It represents the expected (or average if you prefer) number of creatures to be drawn. (The numbers within the third table shows each X's contribution to the EV).

I only included 13-18, since I figure you arent normally going to run less than 13 creatures and also play green, since green doesn't have much else. Running more than 18 creatures seems pretty rare, but obviously LTS just gets better in that strange all creature + 2x LTS pool.

So what do all those numbers tell us? I think the best card to compare it with is counsel of the soratami. We see that at 16 creatures, LTS is on average a counsel, except it only draw creatures. That is pretty much always better than counsel unless you are digging for a land or a non-creature answer. I guess there's some risk involved, but we see it only completely whiffs less than 7% of the time. And it draws 2 or more 2/3s of the time. A quarter of the time its drawing only 1 creature, but thats somewhat similar to drawing a creature and a land off of a counsel, at least when you dont need the land. The bottom line is, I think that at 16 creatures or more, it should only very rarely be cut, and I honestly don't think I ever would. I never cut counsels in a blue deck, and I've even splashed them occasionally.

Now what about at less than 16, say 13-14 creatures? Or less? I think here there's two things to look at. At what point does the risk of whiffing get too high, and how willing are we to play a card that just draws a single creature. I think the answer to both questions lies in what bombs you have. If you have bombtastic creatures to dig into, like in this pool, I think its almost always going to be worth the risk. Much like I have no problem playing clone shell in a deck with something like carniflex demon and myr battlesphere but only 8 creatures total. Even if you whiff, its still at least digging towards your bombs. With the added bonus of sometimes just hitting the nuts, I think in this format, that's always going to be worth it.
I think the only time I cut it when I'm green is if I have less than 12 creatures and none of them great, but in that case, I'm not sure what the hell i'd be doing playing green....

MBS Release Sealed # 2

Hi again! It seems from the comments that people really do prefer the live recordings of the matches. The result is videos that are way longer, but otherwise i don't mind. The video for round 2 got corrupted unfortunately (I won!) so it jumps from round 1 to round 3.

Looking back:

If I could rebuild the deck, I'd play the version with black in it that I sideboarded into. We have the classic argument of power vs consistency here, but I don't think that's the whole story. Usually we think of consistency in terms of being reliably able to cast your spells and hit your curve. I think in this format, consistency can also be defined in terms of being able to consistently be able to cast your bombs and deal with your opponents bombs. Curving out is all fun and games until someone drops a carniflex demon, or a hordesmelter dragon, or a battlesphere, or a massacre wurm, or a sunblast angel.... you get the picture. I think its more likely that a game in sealed in this format will be decided by an unanswered bomb hitting the table then who can curve out better in the first 4-5 turns.

So how does that apply to my build? I think deciding to run certarch over spread the sickness is mistake number 1. Even if I don't go heavy into the black, while I can certainly cast certarch mroe consistently, spread the sickness does what I actually want it to do (ie. kill bombs) waaaaaay more consistently. There is simply no question that spread the sickness needed to be in the deck considering the overall lack of removal in the pool.

Mistake number 2 was undervaluing the black in general. I got a bit blinded by the dragon and corrupted conscience, and as we saw I could very greedily include them and the black anyways. For the record, there is  no way I cut corrupted conscience or hordesmelter-dragon from a main deck unless its for something better. If black had a carniflex demon or massacre wurm then maybe I might consider cutting the conscience or the dragon and play two colors.

Keep in mind, even though I say I'd start with the really greedy three color deck, that doesn't mean that I wouldn't sideboard into the more (traditionally) consistent 2 color deck. It just means that I think you're more likely to play against a bombcentric deck then an aggro deck (that is actually any good, most aggro decks I've played seem pretty terrible!).  As we saw in round 4, against a particularly aggressive deck, especially one that doesn't seem to be defined by any ridiculous bombs, the extra removal is not as important as just keeping up pace on the board. Especially since the cards you are going to need to use the removal on are on average going to be way worse, especially if you stumble on mana before you're able to cast them.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

MBS Release Sealed #1

The deckbuilding and the rounds are all contained in the one video below. I've decided to record the replays of the matches rather than the live match. I feel like this will condense the length of the videos and eliminate boring stretches and dead air. It also removes my ability to blame play errors on talking and playing at the same time :).

One of the main advantages of supplementing the videos with a blog is that it gives me an outlet for all the random ramblings rumbling around my ahead without cluttering up the videos too much (and without eating too much of the time on my clock!). So here goes:
In terms of deckbuilding I think I want to elaborate on my approach. Basically, due to the high number of playable artifacts, the deckbuilding process can get really cluttered by the vast number of available builds and the excessive number of playables within those builds. The large number of playable artifacts also means that you can almost always play your bombs regardless of how deep their corresponding colors are. So, in order to simplify the deckbuilding process I start by ignoring everything other than bombs and high quality removal(note that I would include volition reigns and corrupted conscience as bombs, as well as maybe a few other uncommons). So, while I'll likely be happy to play small but efficient flyers, solid midrange/utility creatures or big fatties if they're on color with my bombs and removal, I won't allow them to pull me towards playing their color. The logic is that other than bombs and removal, the rest is usually replaceable by similar cards in your other colors and artifacts, even if they are a bit worse. I think the payoff is usually going to be far greater if you build the deck to maximize the quality of the top 4-5 cards  rather than the quality of the average random creature, partially because of the larger than normal discrepency in the power level of the bombs and the rest of the set. Of course, this all falls apart when you don't open any bombs. And I'm sure once in awhile you'll just open a completely nuts aggro deck (or aggro infect) with all the right tools where it might be ok to ignore a bomb or two. But I think that this is at least a good way of approaching most pools and ensuring you end up with at least a serviceable deck within the time limit, especially for those of us new to the format.

Looking back:
- I think I should've cut myr galvanizer for either dross ripper or flayer husk. Most likely the flayer husk since I was already pretty heavy on the 4-drops. It just didn't do anything without propagator, whereas flayer husk at least provides some extra game after it chump block, and dross ripper is an actual relevant creature by itself. Playing a vanilla 2/2 (or smaller) that does pretty much nothing else seems pretty awful in this format. All in all, the change is pretty marginal, and I think I'm happy with how I built the deck.

-I don't know why, since it never really turned out to be that relevant, but it felt really good to cast pierce strider. I have a feeling I'll be drafting that card a lot higher than I should.

-I'm sure Into the Core will be the cause of many blowouts over the next little while, but as we saw here, there will also be times where you just wish it was a shatter. I think I will stop dreaming of the gigantic blowout every time I draw it, and be a lot more willing to play it when there is at least one reasonable target + any other artifact on the other side of the table. It ended up in my hand as I died twice, when there were opportunities to have played it that, as it turned out, would have prevented me from dying! Also, I'm going to have to remember to play around it when I can do so easily. Hint: You don't HAVE to play Sphere of the Suns when you have more mana than you will ever know what to do with and no splashes!