Thursday, 14 December 2017

Results for Rotisserie V

Me (aluren) and Swanker (grixis delver delve tempo) 5-1

Farlo (ironworks combo) and The Phyrexian (RDW) 3-3

Old Fava Beens (uw control) 2-4

Sideshow Cob (white weenie) and Action Dan (the rock) 1-5

The specific match breakdown is below;

Action DanSideshow CobOld Fava BeensThe PhyrexianMeFarloSwanker
Action Dan-1 - 21-21-20 - 22-10-2
Sideshow Cob2 - 1-2-11-21-20-2
Old Fava Beens2-12-1-1-20-21-20-2
The Phyrexian2-11-22-1-1-22-11-2
Me2 - 02-12-02-1-2-10-2

I consider this more of a victory for Swanker than myself as I was pretty lucky in a number of my games and also got thoroughly smashed by Swanker himself. He lost his only match to Farlo which was a highly favourable matchup for Swanker. He could have done the clean sweep far more easily than anyone else. His deck was very well suited to the meta.

This event solidified some opinions I have of this format. Primarily that is that both fair decks and linear decks are rather a liability. The Phyrexian was who I thought would be taking this event down. His deck was beastly and had good matchups. What ended up happening was that he lost a game to a brutal sideboard card in most matches. He lost to my Auriok Champion, Cob's Kor Firewalker, a Witchbane Orb, a Righteous Confluence, a Sphinx of the Steel Wind, etc. This effectively made him 0-1 down going into every best of three and as such a small amount of flood and screw cost him far more than expected. His performance did not reflect the general power of his deck. In a known meta with few people and sideboards the red deck is not quite such a big name. It was much like my affinity list in the previous rotisserie. I thought the deck was one of the best possible versions of one of the best possible decks in general. It just came rather unstuck to people who prepared well against it and it had little ability to counter their counters or their main game plan. 

My Aluren deck was linear in a different way to the RDW list, it was reliant on too many singleton cards which in turn made it quite vulnerable. My backup plan was super limp aggression which is a poor backup in most cases! Farlo at least had multiple combos within his list thus making him more robust. Ashiok and Gonti had good odds on shutting down my combo in one hit. Extract would have been a brutal sideboard card against me. I was lucky to dodge such things, mostly I think due to having a deck (appropriately) not regarded as tier one. I was actually aiming at a Melira Pod combo deck to begin with so that I could run several combos in the one list for that added safety. Sideshow Cob took crucial cards for that plan early on in the draft so I had to change direction. I knew this was a very real possibility and so had opened with taking all the good fixing thus remaining incredibly flexible for a long way into the draft. 

The fair decks include the white weenie, the uw control and the rock lists in this event. They typically have little opportunity to use the format to wildly increase their own power when compared with a simple cube booster draft yet they had to compete with exotic combo decks that are not possibile in the booster drafts. Narrow decks gain access to loads of cool cards that are not in most drafting cubes, indeed rotisserie has a vast array of potential archetypes that would dwarf even formats like modern and legacy. All the best cards for the three archetypes being looked at here are pretty much all in the drafting cube already! In a booster draft you don't have to worry about all the mental things that can happen in magic and so nice solid fair decks do very well just with high card power level. In a format like rotisserie you really need to be doing something a little bit extra. The meta is so much wider that fair lists are pulled to hard in different directions and end up insufficiently capable of handling what is going on. Even Swanker was concerned about being overly fair and was thinking about tossing in a Donate / Domic Pact or Spliter Twin combo into his list to give him that extra punch. When I did a Azorius based control deck I lent on miracles and Isochron Scepter to be my unfair things. Basically, the fair decks lose to the unfair decks and the linear decks lose to the sideboards (in concert with the complete information). 

Swanker attributed his and my success to lots of card quality and selection. Certainly it is known to be a good thing to have in magic in general and certainly it has more impact when you are playing with tailored sideboards and high synergy decklists! I attribute Swankers success mostly to the well placed archetype. It had disruption so as to handle the unfair decks, it was proactive so that it could capitalize on it's disruption and force the issue and it had very high power level individual cards so that it could go toe to toe with the fair decks. I thought he would fold to the RDW list but he was sufficiently cheap that he could avoid taking critical early damage and won out with more card advantage effects. Swanker managed to be proactive without being linear, he managed to be disruptive and interactive without being stretched too thin by the broad meta, and he managed to make a deck sufficiently in the middle ground that no one really had any good sideboard tools to bring in against him. 


  1. "Basically, the fair decks lose to the unfair decks and the linear decks lose to the sideboards."

    Do you believe this has always been the case or has the game (cubing specifically) evolved to this point over time (i.e. how much can be attributed simply to the evolution of modern Magic)?

  2. Wow! This is like an exam question! I think it probably has always been true in the general sense, or as true as a sweeping statement can be in magic at least. I think as the game evolves and the collective understanding of it grows these aspects become more established and ultimately obvious. When I started the idea of a mana curve was still to be properly understood and now it is quite an early thing you learn about. I have seen a decent number of these developments over the years. They always existed but they were a lot less relevant before people became generally aware of them.

    Magic is great because it has so much wiggle room. A meta will evolve to reach an equilibrium point of sorts so you can have decks that "lose" to other decks and decks that "lose" to sideboard cards and it can all still work out nicely due to the counter play options in deck design and RNG in games. The term "lose" in magic in this kind of sense always just translates to some unfavourable win percentage. So while there may be a sideboard card out there that knocks a massive 10% off your win percentage that might just be fine based on the starting matchup percentages being enough in your favour. The fair and linear decks do have consistency on their side, often speed too, which puts them in a good starting position. I certainly don't think my statement is something that is a problem, more just a useful trend to be aware of when selecting an archetype.

    Specifically to cube is rather harder to answer as cubes differ as do the ways in which they are played. This particular format we used (rotisserie) involves the most savage of sideboard cards and they are highly relevant to the event. In my booster draft and sealed games of cube the sideboards are frequently not touched and even when they are they don't have a massive effect on the game. Much of that is my cube design which involves very few cards that hose specific strategies or colours. I would say that the trend applies to most, if not all, magic formats but to rather differing degrees. The more constructed the formats the more it is true, the more limited in nature the less so.

    1. Awesome. Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

      I didn't intend for it to sound like an exam question, but now that I re-read what I posted, it totally does. LOL. I agree with your assessment. Magic is such a dynamic game that some of this took the community I think a long time to fully understand. I'm still uncovering quite a bit of depth even after more than a decade playing. Cube has really offered me opportunities to confirm assumptions I had about the game (and disprove many others). Cubing has been somewhat humbling truthfully.

      On the subject of winning/losing... I find the final record often poorly reflects how games actually play out. By that I mean, I've had plenty of "losing" decks that were extremely competitive and just ran into a lucky play or bad draw. Or maybe the game came down to one card and my opponent drew it first, etc. Basically, on a different night the deck could have easily run the table. And then on the flip side of the coin, you have decks that "win", but it ends up being more match-up related and/or your opponents just got some slow starts or whatever.

      I think I feel the best about how things go not based on win/loss but on how many competitive games there were and how often a game is decided not by specific cards but by play decisions. For that reason, I have a love/hate relationship with obtuse sideboard specific cards and much prefer drafting cubes where these types of cards are generally excluded (sideboard tech thereby being somewhat muted).

    2. I totally agree, I assess the quality of games in much the same way. A good game in an involved one where choices matter and no one card dominates the game. There is definitely a time and a place for sideboards and they do add to the overall game. Drafting cubes are not the time or the place for sideboard only cards at least!

      Also entirely agree about the relevance of record on the day. A Bo3 is pretty laughable in terms of its ability to reflect a win percentage, a Bo5 isn't that much better either. I always say you need about 100 games before you can start to comment on match percentages and even then it will be pretty rough. Thousands of games would be far better and offer a greater degree of precision!

  3. Are there other archetypes that cross section with Aluren? I want to try that card in my cube.

    1. Not really at all. If you want to use cards like that the best ways are the open card pool formats like rotisserie. Aluren would be one of the more difficult combos to add to a drafting cube.

  4. Off topic of this article but i had an issue come up in a recent team sealed that i though warrants discussion. I was playing a Grixis control deck in peasant w 2 signets, sol ring, renegade map, and 14 lands. I also had everflowibg chalice which I chose not to include because I did not want to go below 14 actual lands and did not want to flood. As it was I found that I flooded in several games.

    This led me to to think about what the optimal number of mana rocks in a deck is. And the related question of how many lands can you trim for mana rocks. Obviously a complex question depending on archetype and type of rock. Moxes are easy since you can just sub 1 for 1 for lands. Sol ring is essentially the same. But once you get up to signets and bigger rocks like thrun dynamo I am not sure what the optimal mix is.

    1. Alas, mana rocks should rarely be considered as substitutes for lands. Even Mox lose much of their value if you substitute them too much for lands. The strength of a Mox is that you can lay it and a land thus providing ramp and immediate tempo. If you don't make a land the Mox is simply as good as a land. The Signet example is more appreciable, three lands is a lot better than two lands and a Signet. Both produce three mana on turn three but the Signet line doesn't have any spare mana to do other things on turn two.

      The reason to play mana rocks is not to cut lands but to increase the average CMC of your deck. Mana rocks let you play bombs like Karn and Ugin. There is enough power in such cards so as to offset playing a much higher proportion of mana sources in your deck. The other thing to try and do when playing lots of mana rocks is to include card quality, filtering and draw as well as mana sink cards. Walking Ballista, Thirst for Knowledge, Merfolk Looter, Pull from Tomorrow etc are the kind of cards you want to play in decks with lots of ramp. This is how you avoid screws and floods.

      Flooding with 14 is just bad luck, it will happen but less than it will with more land obviously. Floods also feel more like floods when you have extra mana sources! Just offset with more filtering etc.