måndag 23 april 2018

Adventure Island

A couple of months ago, I marveled at the Serendipity of Sindbad. I had been looking for a new project, and the inconspicuous sailor had caught my eye.

We all have our reasons to play and cards to invoke our zeal. Personally, if I am to truly enjoy a deck over a period of months or years, it should have strange angles and creative lines of play. I like to have an "oops, I win" factor in the deck, but I don't want that to be the only plan. My deck should have a fighting chance against most comers, but it shouldn't be consistently broken. Playing with it should be an experience.
Project M was built with all that in mind. That decks basically has three game plans. Go for Guardian Beast combo with Orb, Disk and Transmute; play control with factories, books and permission cards like Icy Manipulator; or just smash face with beasts like Juzam and Mahamothi. Depending on what you draw and how the opponent plays, your game plan can change many times during a single duel. It is a highly satisfying pile to pilot.
Project M, version that won Arvika Festival 2015.
That deck is my pet deck if I ever had one, and I have no intentions of retiring it. But I do like building new things, and I had a plan for a deck that could potentially hit many of the marks I aimed for with Project M.

Now, I'm not getting that much younger and with a more proper adult life comes more expenses. My wife and I are moving to a new apartment this summer and the new loans will chip away on the nerd budget. In a few years I might want to slow down my work schedule a little in the name of work/life balance. And there might be an expansion of the family somewhere on the horizon. These things combine to a weird sense of nerd-FOMO; a sense that this year, 2018, might be the last year I am fully able to spend money on high-end cardboard rather than proper life events.

So I went a little nuts. I decided that I should be able to build the best version I could of this new deck without moving cards from Project M. I wanted to be able to bring both this deck and Project M to a tournament with no cards overlapping. So Power went back on my want-list. In this weird state of mind, 9/9 suddenly didn't cut it anymore.
It had been a long time since I last went looking for power. Deciding on which cards to get was a little daunting and I clearly couldn't afford everything. Fortunately - or perhaps rashly - I had actually bought some coincidental power cards about a year ago. I had saved some money for a different (non-magic) project that didn't pan out, and by a chance got the opportunity to spend that money on an Ancestral Recall, a Mox Sapphire and a Library of Alexandria instead. I found the cards at a good price and decided to take the opportunity. The original plan might have gone down the drain, but I did have some sweet, sweet cardboard instead.
And after all, these are very nice cards.
Stuff happened, months passed, and after a lot of mental back and forth about my priorities I managed to get my hands on this last n00bcon:
She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts.
This is, like, the best card ever! And now I have two, so I'm beyond living the dream of twelve-year old me. Owning two Lotuses is as sweet as having an elevator in the house, or having multiple lavatory facilities made out of gold.

Anyways, Adventure Island. Power and Libraries may be pretty relics, but they don't add actual personality to a deck. Save a deck like Fork Recursion, power cards are never really needed, they just help you turn the dials up to eleven. Having a lucky clover of four power cards is sweet, but it is not the core. This is the core:
Snap keep!
Yeah, this is a somewhat unconventional pile. Let's start with the main engine; our inconspicuous sailor. For those of you unfamiliar, Sindbad is a 1/1 for 1U with the ability "Tap: Draw a card and reveal it. If it isn't a land card, discard it." That is some sweet oracle wording. It would have been so easy for the template guys at WotC to errata this card to "reveal the top card" instead of actually drawing it. But they held the ball high here and we are drawing, which makes a world of difference.
Treasures and hidden libraries on our island.
Sylvan Library pretty much goes without saying. It is one of the strongest green cards in the format even without any additional synergies, and with Sindbad it is just awesome. Most of the time, Sindbad simply taps to draw an extra card whenever a library is in play, but the fact that you can also self-mill unnecessary cards shouldn't be underestimated. Also, as the deck has a lot of synergies and a few different game plans, so card selection is very valuable. The Library is an easy 4-of.

The other two cards might look a little more odd. Aladdin's Lamp is a 10-mana artifact that says that whenever you you draw a card, you can instead tap the lamp and pay X mana to look at the top X cards of your library and chose one of them to draw, putting the rest at the bottom. So here is another neat synergy with Sindbad; as the sailor actually draws a card, you can replace the Sindbad draw with activating the lamp to get all the benefits from the lamp and zero of the drawbacks from Sindbad. The ten mana price tag might look like a lot, but I have certainly hard cast this during playtesting even without the Power Monolith up and running. As the deck plays a lot of mana sources and has a solid late game, this is not as steep a cost as it may seem. And once the lamp is active, life is easy. In particular if we have managed to have a Power Monolith combo going, then all your draw steps are replaced by Demonic Tutor (which should end the game immediately if you have unlimited mana).

The other card might be even less familiar than the lamp:
The first Wish.
Again, we have a replacement effect on a draw which Sindbad is more than happy to help out with. The ring really over-performed during playtesting and I should try to find space for a second copy. Again, this card will just win if you have Power Monolith going, fetching Fireball if you have a City of Brass in play or Stream of Life if your mana is more constrained. During more normal circumstances it can fetch removal (Tranquility, Crumble, Control Magic), protection (Mirror Universe, Forcefield), or just a big spell on curve to close out the game (Force of Nature or Amnesia). It can also fetch a part of the Monolith combo if needed. This is a deceptively strong card somehow.
Power Monolith package.
The Power Monolith package is not necessarily the main wincon, but rather something that can win out of nowhere and the opponent must spend resources to defend against. Stream of Life is very sweet with Sylvan Library, as you will be able to ignore the life payments on extra cards if the combo is assembled. The Power Monolith win can often look kinda convoluted, one example from play testing was gaining unlimited mana while on the ropes and having Sindbad, two blue and one green mana available. I could then Transmute the Monolith to Aladdin's Lamp, replacing the Sindbad draw with tutoring for Stream of Life via the lamp, and use the last green mana to gain a few Graham's Numbers wort of life. Sometimes you want to wait out a combo that actually wins you the game on the spot, but when time is of the essence the Stream is a very solid Plan B. This is the transmute package:
I think I will replace Tetravus with Triskelion to get a better game against weenies, but other than that this feels good enough. Transmute have a nice synergy with Sylvan Library as well, giving you a shuffle when the top cards fail to deliver.
We will occasionally mill a relevant card or just lose a synergistic permanent to removal, so to mitigate this we have a suit of resurrection spells as well:
Reconstruction is another deceptively capable card.
I should probably test out playing two Recalls main deck now that it just got unrestricted. At the very least, I should have a second copy in my wish-sideboard. But they are kinda hard to find right now, and I don't have a playset of them yet (I have an extra copy in Project M, but again, one of the plans here is to not move cards from that deck). Some more testing will have to decide if I should take the plunge and buy another one for the main deck here. Other than that, these cards make it easier to be aggressive with Sindbad and trade resources with far less fear for the late game.
Playtesting at a local pub in Oslo. 
So, we can win with Sindbad advantage or Power Monolith combo. That can't be all now, can it? Of course not. Let's take a look at the star players of the battlefield:
The glorious Master with his graceful wolves. Yep, clearly wolves.
Before someone (looking at you, Gordon) comes in to say that these cards are bad and I retort by telling that person to suck both my dicks, I'd like to argue why the Wolfmasters are actually kinda solid. Step one is synergy. In a deck where you can get infinite mana, paying GG to get a 1/1 with something close to banding is good. The hunters doesn't tap to create a token, which makes them far superior to things like The Hive or Serpent Generator as swarmyards go. Another part of the synergy equation is that they can run under Meekstone, a Transmutable sideboard card in this deck.

Second, they are deceptively good at handling removal. They don't die to Blasts nor City in a Bottle, they laugh in the face of an Abyss, and the cards that actually kill them will often have to decide between targeting them or Sindbad. If they are removed by a Swords to Plowshares, that is a Sword that didn't hit Sindbad, and if we got to build a wolf or two in the process, we are back in value town. A weird but kinda fun fact is also that Chaos Orb can't kill tokens. I don't know if that will ever be relevant, but it is at least something I guess.

Third, the wolves keep coming and they all have Bands with other. While not fully as strong as proper banding, this can make combat a nightmare for the opponent. They will pretty much never be able to kill more than a single wolf each combat. If you have four or five wolves, there are very few summons that can stand in your way. If you get to untap with Master of the Hunt a few turns things easily get out of hand.

With that into account, I'm not saying that they are obscenely powerful nor that they should be played in every green deck. They are four-drops that die to Lightning Bolt after all, and they take a lot of mana before they win the game. But in a pile like this they offer another attack plan that demands an answer, and they strike from an angle that may be hard to defend against. They have not disappointed during playtesting, and I believe that they may be underestimated in the format.
A few more cards on the defensive side, and a stellar draw spell.
So all-in-all we find ourselves with an UG deck with a wish-board that can take the control role when necessary, randomly win with an infinite combo, smash down with bands of tokens, do stupid things with draw steps, transmute into strange artifacts and recur broken spells. Every now and then a Force of Nature enters the battlefield, and every now and then we get to cast Stream of Life for value. A sailor traveling to a tropical island to dig for rare artifacts and hidden libraries in the company of wolves. I present the latest voyage to Port Durdle:
Adventure Island, v1.6
For some additional Sindbad discussions, check out this episode of All Tings Considered. Some solid tech right there. And when you are surfing around, I can't reccomend the post Not even Venarian Gold from Music City Old School Mtg enough. It is a fairly short post, but really manages to capture the spirit of the format in a fantastic way.

Next time we're gonna look at a proper tournament report from one of our friends in Italy. Until then, I wish you brisk winds on your travels.

4 kommentarer:

  1. Hey Magnus, have you considered Field of Dreams in the deck? It's not as solid as Library (and it shouldn't replace it) but it's on curve with Sindbad (can T1 both with Lotus ^_^) and lets you know what your opponent's got planned.

    1. Hi! Yes, it was a card i considered, but in the end I felt that it didn't cut it. Without Sindbad in play it does almost nothing here, and even when the Sailor is in play it doesn't affect that much. I mean, a land would still be on top even if I didn't see it, and I would probably always use Sindbad anyway unless the top card is something like ancestral, so it wouldn't change how much extra cards I got. And for all the info I get from the opponent's deck, they get info from me as well. So unless the gameplan involves millstone, I think I prefer to have feilds on the sidelines.

      It is a very fun answer to nether void and the abyss though... Maybe should see if one could fit in the sideboard for style points :)

  2. Nice pile there, dude. The last time I saw that deck it was in penny sleeves and being fished as we all were bolting out the door. v1.6 is a bit further up the play ladder of my v1.3 Sindbad deck. Perhaps in the future we can square the two off, see who truly gets the booty.

    M Silenus

    1. Looking forward to it! I have some techy updates in the pipe for v1.7 til then ;) Pendelhaven is a surprisingly good card here that I for some reason forgot about.