zondag 24 september 2017

Archetype: Black/Red Reanimate

My cube is very archetype-centered. Most color combinations have two or more distinct archetypes or themes available to them (outside of plain aggro/midrange/control) that overlap with archetypes in other color combinations.

The plan is to eventually talk about all of the archetypes in my cube. Some are quite straightforward, while others might be a little more off-beat.

Today's archetype:

Black/Red Reanimate

The Reanimate deck aims to put large impactful creatures in its graveyard to cheat into play through reanimation spells. Preferably, the creatures are either very hard to deal with or do something when they enter play. The red version of reanimate adds the element of 'haste' to the deck.
You can classify it as a tempo/combo deck. It's main gameplan uses more resources than it takes to answer them in the hope that when it comes together, it puts the game away in short notice.

Historic relevance
Most people know Reanimate historically as either a blue/black or mono black deck. See John Larkin's and Rob Dougherty's decks, respectively, from the top 8 of Pro Tour Houston 2002. Another historical Reanimate deck people might remember is the Angry Ghoul deck from old extended that pairs self-mill with reanimates.
Blue/black reanimate has seen a lot of play in Legacy, especially since Griselbrand got printed, but lately there has been an uprising of black/red reanimate as well.

All the strengths of 'regular' blue/black or even green/black reanimate apply here. There's a reason Pelakka Wurm and Plated Crusher cost 7 mana, and it's not hard to see why it is good to put either of them into play on turn 2-4. Cheating of manacost is powerful, and a fast fatty usually means removal or bust for your opponent. Also, the fun thing about reanimate is that you can pick up the best creature finishers in the cube regardless of their color.
The big difference between red and non-red reanimate is that red reanimate is a lot more aggressive. Where blue 'only' gives you looting and card draw, red also gives you haste. This means your opponent's window just got smaller by a full turn. Imagine reanimating Ulamog's Crusher with Anger in your graveyard. That's usually game over on the spot if it happens fast enough.
Where it gets even more aggressive is that red has access to cards like Bloodrage Brawler and Burning-Fist Minotaur that create a lot of pressure by themselves while also helping you with your reanimate gameplan. Having a solid plan B is great, because:

The biggest weakness of reanimate is that its main gameplan is a three part combo deck. To execute this consistently, you need enough a)reanimation, b)discard outlets and c)reanimate targets. While discard outlets aren't the hardest to find, there are only so much quality reanimates and targets in the cube. You really want at least 3 of each of the latter (and enough card draw/tutoring to find them).
This is both a weakness while drafting (it doesn't always come together) and in gameplay (it can be somewhat inconsistent).
Other weaknesses are:
- Spell-based disruption - discard and counterspells - targeting your reanimation.
- Depending on the fatties, a deck with a lot of removal can be very good against reanimate.
- VERY fast aggro can race. This also depends on the fatties (Pelakka Wurm is super hard to race), but you can pressure and swarm around reanimate. Also, the best reanimate spell, Reanimate, asks for a hefty life payment.
- Red/black do not have great fatties inside their colors, so you don't have the luxury of being able to hardcast your big creatures like Black/green reanimate does. You should have enough discard outlets that you always have use for them if they get stuck in your hand, but it does cut off a back-up plan.

Key cards
Reanimates: Reanimate, Animate Dead, Dance of the Dead, Exhume, Necromancy (and less efficient ones if you can fit them in)
Reanimate targets: Pelakka Wurm, Plated Crusher, Scaled Behemoth, Ulamog's Crusher (and the like), Trostani's Summoner, Jetting Glasskite, etc. Although, anything big is a good substitution. Cycling creatures work as well.
Filling your graveyard: Faithless Looting, Cathartic Reunion, Tormenting Voice, Insolent Neonate, Stinkweed Imp, Bloodrage Brawler, Heir of Falkenrath, Pale Rider of Trostad, Burning-Fist Minotaur, Lightning Axe.
Haste enablers: Anger, Lightning Greaves, Reckless Charge, Bloodlust Inciter

Overlap with other archetypes
The deck overlaps well with other graveyard based decks, like:
- blue/black reanimate
- green/black reanimate
- red/green graveyard midrange
- blue/red graveyard control
- Psychic Spiral

It also overlaps somewhat with some of the more top-heavy red/green Fires of Yavimaya decks.

Experience with the deck
One of our favorite decks to draft. I noticed the other day that I'm often looking for Anger in my last couple of packs.

Powerful deck, and a lot of fun to pilot. Swinging in with a hasty fatty on turn 3 is exhilarating. While sometimes hard to deal with, its kept in check by being somewhat inconsistent. That said, I can see cubes owners not wanting the kind of swingy gameplay B/R Reanimate can bring.

Its existence in the cube creates depth by being an archetype that operates on a different axis than other decks. I love having enough decks that use the graveyard in general, but this deck both has a different speed than most decks and requires different play patterns with and against it.

If you support graveyard decks in general, and want the fat anyway because you have ramp in your cube, it's not super hard to support. However, some of the red cards are specific to red supporting the graveyard, which is not something every cube does. You also need to run enough reanimate spells to make the archetype not a complete trap to draft.

Like U/B Reanimate, it's a fragile deck that does not always come together. It's probably even more fragile because B/R has less card draw and worse (reverse) looting.

If Reanimate is something you like supporting and playing with, give this a spin. It has replaced Blue/Black Reanimate as our go-to 'traditional' all-inreanimate deck, with U/B taking the role of slightly-slower-but-more-consistent Reanimate.

zaterdag 9 september 2017

Iconic Masters downgrades for Peasant Cube

What better to write about than one of my favorite things for peasant cube: Masters.

Masters sets (like Commander) have been great sources of rare-to-uncommon downgrades. Sometimes it's in the form of general good stuff like Epochrasite, sometimes it's something archetype-specific like Mesa Enchantress.

The official spoiler isn't out yet, but for this year's Iconic Masters, it looks like we're getting these:

Mahamoti Djinn
Awesome. For me personally, this is super iconic. I remember one of my buddies playing some sort of terrible deck with 4 Serra Angel and 4 Mahamoti Djinn.
It might not be the most resilient finisher we have access to, but it's still a huge flyer. There are a couple of 5/5 flyers in peasant, but they either cost more than 6 mana or have a huge drawback. The closest I can think of is Death by Dragons.
I will definitely include this, if only because I can.

Indulgent Tormentor
5 mana 5 power flyer is quite nice. Dies to bolt and doesn't block very well, which isn't a great quality for a 5-drop, but it's a sweet high-end card for black aggro decks.
Will try this one out.

Sanguine Bond

Dragon Tempest
As much as I would want to support dragons as a tribe, it's just not an option at our rarity (or power level, for that matter).

Hoarding Dragon
I have no idea if red wants a 4/4 flyer for 5, but it is something we don't have in the color. The tutor ability is not completely irrelevant either, but not the main selling point.
Funny enough, I don't run any 5+ drop creatures in red at the moment. I wonder if this is the one that stays.
Also good to mention that a lot of people do not run Serra Angel and Sengir Vampire anymore, but maybe the lack of red's playable fives makes this different.

Assault Formation
Cool card, but no.

Heroes' Bane
I like this one. As a 4/4 for 5 it's not great, but not terrible either. My cube has a ton of +1/+1 counter matters, which this plays well with. Also, as a threat for ramp it finishes the game kinda quickly with enough spare mana. It's fragile, sure, but it's a threat that must be answered.
Having said that, I don't expect this to make it into most peasant cubes simply because there are a lot of cards that are either more resilient as a finisher or are more than a mindless beater.

Ivy Elemental
It's funny that this and Heroes' Bane are in the same set, because they're quite similar. This is more flexible, but also slightly less efficient (and less scary when when it's in play). I'm intending to try both, because of the +1/+1 counters, but I don't think everyone should.

Bladewing the Risen
Not planning to pay 7 mana for a 4/4 flyer that supports a tribe we can't run. Swift Warkite is the better Rakdos dragon. Sadly.

Corpsejack Menace
Love it. It's not for everybody, but if your cube has +1/+1 counters as supported archetype this looks like a good include.
However, there are two issues I have with the card. First, I don't really want to cut anything from my Golgari section (what a bad position to be in, right?) and, second, black is not really the color with a lot of natural +1/+1 counters. This (along with its snake buddy) does make me want to include more though, and green should have quite enough for this to create some great Golgari +1/+1 counter decks.
Even though I will include the card, the fact that black doesn't have many +1/+1 counters is a big downside in my opinion. I try to make sure that my guild cards somewhat loud about which archetypes are supported and want them to be playable as 2-color decks. There's piles of overlap in other colors for most archetypes, and sometimes 3-color decks are the way to go, but I don't want it to be the baseline. Also, it feels bad if you are in an archetype because that's what mono colored cards push you towards, only to get passed an archetype support card IN THE WRONG COLORS.
Long story short, I will include this, but I'm planning to at least put more +1/+1 counters into black.

Rosheen Meanderer
Super fun card, this. I don't think anyone runs nearly enough X-cost spells to make this worth it. I guess this being a hybrid, easily castable and not having terrible stats to begin with might make this an option for people looking for a Gruul hybrid to even out hybrids.


In conclusion, there are a couple of cards I'm excited to try but nothing ridiculous. Nothing to patch up holes or to make entirely new archetypes viable. Some fun cards though, and I'm happy I can cast Mahamoti Djinn again for a while.