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Author Topic: A different take on shops  (Read 1585 times)
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« on: December 01, 2010, 05:18:43 AM »

In a vacuum and theoretically my approach on shops at this moment is completely wrong. Now that is out of the way, let me share my thoughts with you because allthough I can not explain it very well, in testing and tournaments it does work.

Almost nobody here knows me, so I feel I have to justify myself a litle before I start. I am in a testgroup with a lot of good players who frequently top 8 and I have had my own share of top 8 finishes. That doesn't mean that much, but I just want to point out that even though I do not post frequently, I'm not just playing in little tournaments against a lot of scrubby decks. I have been playing competitive vintage for about 5 years now as well in proxy as in no proxy tournaments.

What is the idea I have about shops in todays meta?  (not trying to convince anybody but rather trying to get feedback to further develop the idea)

To put it short: the MUD strategy of dropping sphere after sphere (hopefully) followed by a clock doesn't get there often enough.

To elaborate on it: Lodestone Golem has put MUD on the top tables, but over here MUD feels like it is over its peek. Other decks have adapted, not only in deckbuilding, but also the good players have found a way to deal with this strategy by adapting their playstyle. Also the strategy sometimes backfires: running a 'consistent' deck with all colorless mana and 4-offs can also make the deck less consistent, put you in topdeck mode and give you a lot of dead cards in certain matchups and especially in the mirror.

This made shop players everywhere start looking at serum powder for better starting hands, open discussions on wether or not to run metalworker. Also the drainplayers found a cute little flyer that eats our board and we keep trying to find colorless answers. The fact that a 3cc sorcery speed card like predator or sometimes energy flux can sompletely devastate a deck that goes for manadenial, tells me that something is wrong. Clearly the aproach of proactively locking the opponent out of the game doesn't work very well anymore. Off course the strategy can give you completely busted openings, but all to often a single counter can completely ruin that. A lot of times a busted opening turns into a loss because you do not get a fast enough clock of they let you resolve the sphere effects, counter the clock, develop a manabase and just win.  This off cource comes with the game, but if I play a deck with a clear and straightforward strategy, it'd better do that better. So I went another way and it seems to work (for me) so maybe it can work for others and then they can help me devellop the idea.

So which way did I go? I stepped away from the strategy where you have to drop a lot or permanents and keep them in play to win. Why? Beause all the others are focussing on destroying your permanents and doing a pretty good job at it.

this means:
- running welder to recurr destroyed pieces or nullifying removal spells
- having acces to red blast for predator
- playing creatures you do not mind getting destroyed like titan and wurmcoil
- focus on destroying their permanents in stead of trying to make sure they do not get any: smokestack, crucible + strip mine/wasteland and artifact removal (sometimes paired with liquimetal coating)
- reducing spheres to a point where they are there to make sure your opponent doesn't get to sandbag a lot of moxes and win out of the blue or make a comeback after you put him on zero permanents.

This also means that you get a weak early game where your opponent gets to pretty much do what they want because I did not find room for chalices of more then 3-4 spheres in my approach. (Something I am trying to work on and would like some help with.)
This has always been unacceptable for stax and I had to convince myself to believe my testing results in order to try it in a tournament. And it does work. I just do not get why it does, but it is not because I play against random aggro decks  Smile It is a bonus against these decks, but it also works against the tier one decks.

So I hope to achieve that some else is willing to try this aproach and share their results with me. Try to let go off the spheres, golems and chalices. It will set you free and catch a lot of opponents off guard because of all the strange cards you get to run Wink

I deliberately do not post my decklists here, just to keep you open minded, but you can find 3 reports in the tournament forum that illustrate the thoughtproces I went through and also provide the decklists I tried.
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« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2010, 10:25:26 PM »

You mention that you believe that MUD has reached its peak.  Are you speaking from the standpoint of a European player, or an American player?  

I would caution you that Aggro MUD just won Blue Bell Game Day, a 63 man tournament held in Pennsylvania:

Five MUD decks top 8’d the Council Open #2, with Espresso Stax winning:

I feel that a Mark Twain quote is appropriate here: “Reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated.”  The results from these events aren’t two weeks old yet.  

Serum Powder isn’t about discarding chaff – it’s about finding a hand that is best suited to fight a game.  Shop decks, even 5CStax decks, are built to be redundant.  Sometimes this redundancy is reflected with awkward opening hands.  You’re only ever going to be able to run four Mishra’s Workshop.  As such, you’re going to have hands without them.  You’re going to have hands without any real pressure.  Serum Powder smooths that out, and helps you find a hand more calibrated towards what you need, or believe you need, in order to win.  

In the United States, Trygon Predator has been played, aggressively, since before GenCon.  This has led American Shop pilots to play cards like Maze of Ith and Duplicant.  I run two Duplicants main, a third in the sideboard, and I run three Maze of Ith’s.  While Welder is an answer, running Welder requires running many cards that make Welder good.  He’s not a threat in and of himself.  He’s a threat when you have cards like Bazaar of Baghdad and Crop Rotation.  He’s a threat when you have reached an advanced board state, and have artifacts (like Tangle Wire) in your graveyard.  Both of those things take time to implement.  Rather than expend resources seeking to achieve this board state most MUD pilots have chosen threat redundancy and incredible pressure.  This doesn’t mean that your approach is wrong for your metagame.  Given the success of the American MUD approach to the American metagame, I would say that it’s evident that this approach is acceptable as well, evidenced by the torrid streak that MUD decks have been on.  

I have played many, many games with 5CStax, and I can speak from experience when I say that I know how devastating Energy Flux can be.  It’s terribly difficult to fight no matter what kind of Shop build you’re playing.  5C has Welders.  MUD has a full set of Ancient Tombs.  Both cards help fight Flux.  If your opponent has landed a Flux against you early enough in the game, the outcome is probably not in your favor, regardless of your build.

If I find my hand to be ‘busted’, I generally don’t find that I lose.  Still, it happens on occasion.  While playing 5C, more than a year ago now, I opened with the following hand:

Black Lotus, Trinisphere, Mox Ruby, Goblin Welder, Ancestral Recall, City of Brass, City of Brass

I lost this game because I was on the draw, and because my opponent assembled Tezzeret/Vault on turn one.  There is nothing that I did to misplay this, and 5C was no better equipped to fight that than any other Shop deck.

Shop decks are permanent based decks.  It’s because they’re built on the back of Mishra’s Workshop, which is only able to power out permanents.  You say that you deviated from a strategy ‘where you have to drop a lot of permanents and keep them in play to win.”  There are 52 permanents in your deck, as opposed to a straight 60 in a MUD build.  The average blue deck runs around 30 permanents.  Your game plan is all about playing permanents, and having them stick around.  Welder affords you some brokenness in the mid-late game at the cost of efficiency in the early game.    

Your deck may be properly constructed for your metagame, but American Shop pilots have responded to the American metagame by running a Shop deck that is more geared towards beating the opponent in the first three turns.  Maybe you find that you have additional time to win the game (proxy vs. no proxy environments warp metagames.)  MUD is the most successful Shop deck, right now, in the United States.  I respect your finish, and congratulate you on your performance, but I would mention that the divergent metagames may have helped foster your opinion regarding the superiority of a multi color Shop build as opposed to a MUD build.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2010, 05:09:01 PM by Prospero » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2010, 02:48:49 PM »

Nick, I treasure all of your posts...when I get my Stax bible bound into hardback, you are gonna have some miracles in there.

P's strategy is similar to the Menendian-crop-rot strategy immediately post b/r update:  go for the midgame and the big threats...I have never been a proponent of this as blue player can accelerate past you, making your big threat look much smaller by comparison.

If blue players really do go to 10+ mana artifacts and 15 lands(13 nonbasic)- I will be packing a full set of chalices and rods in lieu of spheres.

I too am a proponent of a more diverse set of lock components...spheres do seem redundant sometimes.  But I am not sure a better option exists currently.
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« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2010, 09:22:08 AM »

I don't want to get into a debate of 5c versus MUD. Prospero is right in everything he says, but I strongly believe the proxy or no-proxy metagame does not matter. Maybe there are just less good MUD players around here that causes me to believe that I need to find another shopdeck.

So I'll continue on my idea for the 'other shopdeck' that goes for the long game and runs less spheres.

I'm toying with liquimetal coating combined with mox monkey, welder, ancient grudge and sylvok replica.

The base for the deck is the usual manabase + mox opal
4 welder
4 liquimetal coating
2/3 shaman
3 ancient grudge
2/3 replica
4 tangle wire
4 smokestack
3/4 crucible

The cards I combine with the liquimetal coating are all cards I believe are good on their own in a stax shell. Also in the shopmirror (and there are a lot of shops in my meta) these cards clearly give an edge over running spheres. The ancient grudges and replicas are also very good against the blue decks because they have to be carefull assembling TV key and replica can take care of their sphinx.

Liquimetal coating on its own is a dead card. Also in the shop mirror it seems very weak (allthough it gives you extra means of killing their lands), but spheres are also bad topdecks in that matchup.

Against ichorid and combo the deck is weaker. You don't have the fast beats to race ichorid game 1, something MUD can sometimes do and you lack chalices and spheres against combo. So my anti combo SB consists of mindbreak traps and REB. Not the best plan, but it can take them by suprise, also sometimes they will miss-sideboard by going for 'plan B' with creatures of oath and this deck has a great aggro(-control) matchup and can take out oaths.
Even before SB you have a chance against combo (not against ANT) because they will drop their mana for you to destroy, but then you need a sphere to seal the deal because otherwise they sculpt their hand and just win.

So I added demonic, vampiric and tinker to the list. Balance also takes care of opponents trying to sculpt their hand.
The only spheres I run are 1 trini and 2/3 resistors

The deck is still a work in progress because there are so many cards I want to put in the deck. I'm also still looking for the right amount of artifact removal to put into the deck, the 'best' robot(s) and so on.

A list of cards that did not make it:
because of bad synergy with cards in the deck:
lodestone golem
chalice of the void (can be good in certain circumstances)

Because of lack of space / metagame calls:
ancestral recall (allthough I did run it in one tournament nd it makes mulligans a lot better)
time walk (also not very good with smokestack and tangle)
imperial seal
crop rotation
bazaar of baghdad
ancient tomb (to better fight MUD through their spheres)
key (to make better use of coating)

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