Tuesday, November 26, 2013

MTG - BR Aggro in my Cube

Another aggro archetype I wanted to support in the cube was BR.  This time moving away from white and going the more aggressive and risky but in my opinion better able to close out games due to the direct damage capabilities of red and removal of black.

Black, much like white, is blessed to have an abundance of aggressive creatures but they tend to have drawbacks.  Compare say Elite Vanguard to Vampire Lacerator.  Both are 2 power creatures for 1 mana, but the Vampire Lacerator can potentially kill you (the tradeoff is that it has 1 extra toughness over Elite Vanguard).  Similarly Diregraf Ghoul is also a 2/2 creature for 1 but comes into play tapped.  Not as big of a drawback as the 1 life per turn but useless late game if you need a blocker right away.

Red also has a lot of efficient creatures like Firedrinker Satyr and Reckless Waif.  These ones don't have as big of a drawback as the black ones so they are easier to use.  The amount of cheap creatures gives the deck a plethora of early plays so you can guarantee some early damage from creatures early on as most decks don't want to trade their early creatures (either because they help ramp or are their main source of damage in the case of another aggressive deck)

The better early creatures you would want, aside from the ones mentioned above, are:
The downside of the deck is that since all the creatures so small if the game persists to mid-game or late-game you lose a lot of power as they can be easily outclasses by the larger creatures available in the cube.  At this point, the removal power of both red and black make their presence known.
Adding cards like
gives the deck ways to clear away troublesome creatures and force through more damage.  The red cards also do double duty in that they can be pointed at your opponent's head to finish them off.

Alternatively there are some larger aggressive creatures in both colours that can be added to give the deck some more mid-game punch.  Things like
provide the deck more power in the mid-game and some extra reach.  Tymaret, the Murder King makes your small creatures useful again as fodder to throw at your opponent and Carnage Gladiator can make blocking your attackers a dangerous prospect especially when combined with the zombie king.

BR aggro is definitely an all-in balls-to-the-wall deck that rewards aggression.  In my experiences, the archetype tends to win big (especially if it curves out properly) or lose big (when it can't curve out properly).

Monday, November 25, 2013

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

League of Legends - End of Season 3 thoughts

Season 3 ended a little over a week ago and I did not make my goal of getting to Gold (made it Silver 4 though).  I vastly underestimated the difficulty in climbing Silver and also vastly overestimated my own skills.  Not a bad thing as I've been forced to get better by refining a lot of my skills as a League player.

Here are a few things I learned while trying to climb Silver to Gold.

  1. Learn to play as a Support.
    This has got to be the best thing that happened to me in my solo-queue adventures.  I used to play as a jungler exclusively and if that was taken, I would play ADC or top.  I got frustrated though that as ADC I rarely got a good support who knew how to ward or how to peel or how to initiate and as such made laning much more difficult.  Didn't help that at the time I was not a good ADC (my last hitting skills and positioning were horrid so my terrible laning phase was not all due to the poor supports I got)
    I decided to play the other side one day and picked up Sona (my only other support was Janna but I gave up on her after going on a massive losing streak with her) and proceeded to play a bunch of ranked games with her.  Having a good support made such a difference with how the ADC performed (I tried my best to emulate good support players like Xpecial and Krepo).
    Good ward placement meant my ADC almost never got ganked and even helped our jungler gank for us as they would know when/where the enemy wards were.  I've actually taken to just buying an Aegis (and eventually Locket) and wards as my items for the entirety of the game.  If I get more gold I'll look to get a Frozen Heart or Randiun's but that's about it.  I almost never leave base without 2 pink wards and 2 green wards or an Oracle's and wards.
    Similarly knowing when to initiate with a good flash + crescendo meant we could secure lane dominance very well and really helped ganks out.  I currently have a 60% win rate with Sona over ~50 games.
    But it got even better once I started playing Leona.  She is so much tankier than Sona and her style of initiation is very reminiscent of Jarvan (who is my favourite champion).   I have a 70% win rate over ~30 games using Leona and most of the time I get congratulated by my ADC or the other team for my outstanding play.  I can obviously get better at the role as I am only in Silver 4 but playing Support has certainly boosted my win rate immensely.
  2. Ward everywhere.
    This is important no matter what role you are.  The pro's tell you do it, the YouTube tutorial videos tell you to do it, and the Riot Teamwork OP videos/posters tell you do to it.  Surprisingly very few people ward oustide of the support and then wonder why they get ganked or get no jungle support.  For those who top lane or mid lane, junglers generally don't want to gank your lane if you don't have wards up.  It just begs to be counter-ganked or have your targets flee and waste the junglers time.
    On the flip side, I can't remember how many times my team (or the other team in some cases) has set up good initiations based on all the wards thrown around the map (I almost always have 4 wards on me when I leave base and I throw those around at the good spots so my team has great vision).
  3. Don't rage or dwell on a loss but always reflect on what could have been better.
    The hardest thing to do in this game is accept a loss or accept that no matter how well you do, some games just weren't meant to be won by your side.  Whether it was because I initiated a bad fight or just misclicked/missed an ult or someone fed or whatever, I've learned to accept my losses (most of the time), reflect on what I could have done better and then move on.  Because of this attitude I've improved my ability to peel for my carries (I now try to use each of my crowd control abilities on a different champion so I can maximize their effect on a team fight or chain them properly so when one effect ends, the next effect starts), I've improved my ability to initiate (I am better at gauging when I can initiate and survive) and improved my overall game awareness (I'm better at predicting a jungle gank or where the enemy is so we can hit an objective).
I'm surprisingly happy about being in Silver 4 despite being 4 divisions out of Gold and I think that's because my attitude has changed considerably since the start of my ranked play.  I'm looking forward to Season 4 and I might have some duo-queue partners as a few of my friends want to take the plunge into ranked games.  My friends and I have been playing some normal draft games and practicing some team compositions and we've even considered starting a ranked team once 5 of us hit 30 (4 of us are at 30 and we have two other friends in their mid-20s).

I'm especially excited for the increased gold supports and junglers are going to get as that means I can buy things other than wards!  I am not looking forward to vision being everyone's job as people are going to take a while to adjust to that and if I can only place 4 wards total (3 greens + 1 pink) the amount of vision I can give my team is going to be very limited compared to Season 3.

Can I hit gold in Season 4?  I hope so and if not I will definitely be a better player throughout this next season.

Monday, November 18, 2013

MTG - Wx Aggro in my Cube

This was perhaps the hardest archetype to try and include in my cube.  Mostly because Wx aggro decks tend to be composed of a bunch of small creatures and these small creatures tend not to be that cool looking at first glance.  Think of say Elite Vanguard vs a dragon like Moltensteel Dragon.  One card is a vanilla 2/1 creature while the other is a 4/4 flying fire-breathing monstrosity.  For a newish player, who isn't familiar with all the MTG archetypes, the choice tends to lean towards the dragon.

So a good majority of the good aggro cards would not get picked up because my cube contained a lot of dragons and other large creatures.  That's partly my fault though as my first cube incarnation was very Timmy focused.  I've since moved away from that and have started to put some more support for fast aggro.

With that said, my cube can support Wx aggro quite easily now I think.  There are a number of fairly efficient white creatures like
and a lot of support cards like
Many of the white creatures also come packed with Heroic abilities so auras and combat tricks are doubly effective.  With that as your core you just need to fill it out with either more white creatures or pair it up with another colour.

I don't think there is a best partner as each colour provides a unique quality to the aggro deck but here are few cards I would look for in each of the possible colour pairings with white.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

MTG - Tokens in my Cube

Tokens decks I've found are always fun decks to play.  Making a huge horde of creatures and then just overrunning your opponent always appealed to me so I made a concerted effort to include enough token generators and token helpers to make Tokens a viable archetype in my cube.

To start, you'd need token generators like the following.

With cards like that it provides a good base of token creatures as well as some support (the Splicers bonus abilities make the golem tokens better and Captain of the Watch makes the soldiers better).

To make the deck better it needs some good support cards.  Usually things that globally pump creatures or make more tokens.  Once the core token producer cards have been taken, support cards like the following are drafted next
This gives the deck a lot of punch as the Spear of HeliodPhantom General and Collective Blessing make each token scarier.  Those 1/1 birds suddenly don't look so tiny with pump effects like that in play.

At some point though you need something to bust through so a few finisher cards are necessary.  That's part of the reason to grab a card like Victory's Herald that can make all your tokens flying.  Similarly a card like Predatory Rampage can be enough to force through enough tokens for the kill.

This archetype is fairly obvious but for some reason no one but me seems to draft it whenever we draft the cube.  Tokens is a lot of fun and if allowed to grow their army, hard to stop.