Monday, May 04, 2009

Because You Have To

When Ravnica was about to come out, there was a preview card: Watchwolf. In the article, it said that "every green/white deck should run Watchwolf, unless the theme is so tight that you can't run Watchwolf." Basically, Watchwolf is a very, very efficient creature, and it should always be in a deck. However, if the deck has a theme, then putting a vanilla 3/3 creature in the deck won't help the theme out, and therefore you won't run Watchwolf.

Similarly, I was just thinking to myself, how can Vinh's "clash" deck be better? In case you're wondering, the deck is based on the "clash" mechanic in Lorwyn. The deck is a red-green-white deck, and it was created when Lorwyn was out and hasn't been greatly modified since then; a few Naya-lands were inserted and some Vivid lands were taken out, but not much else. So I thought to myself... the power level has obviously increased since Lorwyn, so should we put in Naya cards? Well, yes. Put in Woolly Thoctar!

Like Watchwolf, Woolly Thoctar is amazingly efficient, and a very scary card on turn 3, or basically on any turn. The problem is, Woolly Thoctar, like Watchwolf, does nothing to help the "clash" theme. So, there's an obvious conflict.

If you want to win more games, you put in more Woolly Thoctars and Watchwolves. But a goal of a theme deck isn't really to win; it's to play out the theme. Winning should be a consequence of having the theme work. So on one hand, you'll feel good if your theme deck wins because of the theme. On the other hand, it's frustrating and annoying when your deck keeps losing.

So... yeah. There's a conflict. You want your theme deck to do well, so that other decks will have both fun and a challenging time when facing it... but you don't really want to detract from the theme.

Anyway, there's another card I wanted to talk about, because it detracts from themes. Like Watchwolf and Woolly Thoctar, it's a good card that should be in any decks that could run them. That card is... well, it's not just a card. It's a whole type of card. That type is... removal.

It's really annoying to have to put in removal cards in theme decks. The other day I was talking about making a deck with Time Sieve, and how there are cards in it to help you activate it, and other cards that help you find it. So there were cards that help with making artifact tokens. Then there are cards that help you find and cast those artifact-token-makers quicker, earlier, and more reliably in the game. There are cards that help you draw cards; that said, drawing cards is almost always good, no matter what the theme is. But I digress.

With all these cards helping one another, it's really annoying to have to put removal into the deck. Removal does nothing to help you find and cast Time Sieve, but you know that you'll need it if you want to win games. It's... so annoying though!

That's basically what I wanted to say in this article - removal is good, like, very good, like Woolly Thoctars, but it's hard to find a place in a theme deck. Anyway, I would stop this article here, but I thought about it some more, and there are a few solutions to this problem.

The first, which is something that Wizards has to do that we can't, is to make cards that are removal, but also deal with the theme. Like, you wouldn't run Lightning Bolt in a clash deck, but you would run Lash Out; it acts like a Lightning Bolt, but it also clashes, which goes with the clash theme. Or you wouldn't run Cone of Flame in my Necroskitter/Wither deck, but you would run Incremental Blight. So, there are cards that Wizards make, that are removal, but also deal with the theme.

The second thing is... make your theme such that these necessary cards also help your theme! For example, if you have a typical Naya deck that cares about creatures with power 5 or greater, you wouldn't feel bad for running Woolly Thoctar, because it helps with your theme (but you still won't run Watchwolf). If you're running a re-animation deck, removal like Knollspine Invocation is quite welcome. If you're running a deck with Kresh and Hissing Igunar, you'd also love a lot of removal.

Maybe it's these decks that are the most fun. They have removal and big creatures, which are both great factors in winning, but they also incorporate a theme which works very nicely with these cards.

2 Comments:

OpenID silpheed-tandy said...

also don't forget, it's okay to make a themed deck that is generally not a very strong deck, but can have a chance against other weak decks! obviously i'm a timmy and not a spike, but i think that the funnest games we've had are when we're playing decks that are similar in how good they are. it's okay to make a weak deck, so long as there are other decks that are as weak and so will match up well against it!

12:13 AM  
Blogger Theomnifish said...

Yup, it is annoying to have to put in removal sometimes. At least they've gotten better at making more flavourful cards recently, so that you can at least try to imagine that some of the removal that you put in could be flavourfully related to your theme.

10:54 AM  

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