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Xallista
11-05-2013, 12:35 AM
http://hex.tcgbrowser.com/#!/deck=3612

Biggest issue would probably be the lack of direct removal - Inner Conflict is very nice but does nothing to stop passive effects that benefits other opposing troops/champion. Tried 4 repels, but the high costs meant that I barely get to use them at all. This is why I swapped out 2 of them for 2 Sapper's Charge, which is sadly just an inferior version of Burn (R).

-Palamedes, The Righteous is chosen as the champion due to his versatile ability (+1/1 to a troop).
-Flock of seagulls provide a very solid undying blocker, and becomes a reliable walling-destroyer when combined with Air Superiority.
-Living Totem is a very versatile card that I can power up to suit the situation, either as an aggressive attacker, or a defensive tank.
-Ancenstor's Chosen/Specter combo fits really nicely into the deck with Air Superiority support.
-Thunderbirds are the aggressive (2) drop that works very well due to the low opposition against flight based creatures in general. The rage in combination with Air Superiority can ramp up its attack rather quickly.
-Mimic gives me more options depending on the situation, getting another seagull/thunderbird for extra protection/attacker, or simply an enemy troop as a mirror counter to it.

Been trying out the deck on alpha with reasonable success, wanted some critiques/suggestions on improving it.

EDIT: I have no prior experience in MTG. The only TCG I've played before was Yugioh, which has no resource system in place. I apologize if the mana curve and resource amount seem funky.

LLCoolDave
11-05-2013, 01:20 AM
Here's a couple of thoughts:

This is a deck that in general wants to be aggressive and beat down, if given the possibilities. It is slower and bigger than the beatdown ruby and blood decks, so it will need some defensive measures against those. Repel is terrible at doing either. It is a very slow removal spell when you are aggressive, as it costs most of your turn at a cost of 4, and they need to block before you can even destroy the creature, which costs you a turn of dealing damage to them. Against the smaller troop decks spending 4, on THEIR turn, to remove one of their plentiful individually unremarkable troops is just letting you fall back further and further. There might very well be decks that want Repel in this format, but it really strikes me as the wrong choice for this deck.

Inner Conflict is rather well fighting. This deck lives in the combat zone, and Inner Conflict keeps creatures out of it. It's cheap enough for you to be able to play it and another threat on the same turn right around when you can expect problematic troops to show up on the opponents side. It doesn't shut down passive abilities and activated abilities, but if they are actually important than you wouldn't get to Repel those troops anyway as they wouldn't be involved in combat! Inner Conflict is just much much better suited for this style of deck. Sapper's Charge might be a necessity depending on the meta, but so far I haven't really felt the need for it in the games I played.

I feel Feather Drifting Downriver is just a better choice as a Champion. There aren't enough good Flight creatures right now to build a deck purely with them and the ability to run utility ground troops and giving them flying strikes me as much more valuable. With an Air Superiority out it even acts very close to Palamedes.

Flock of Seagulls looks like it blocks well but in reality it really doesn't do much. Your deck has enough other troops that are reasonable targets for removal so it stands a chance to actually live and block (unlike many other decks that run it, and just turn on their opponents otherwise dead removal with it, doing effectively nothing at all then), it feels very schizophrenic to run both the very aggressive 2 cost Thunderbird alongside the very passive Flock of Seagulls 2-drop. There can't really be a coherent game plan that involves both of these creatures, so one of them probably has to give. I know which of those two I don't want in my deck.

Living Totem is indeed a very versatile card. The fact that Air Superiority allows you to combine two of its modes into one is very frequently relevant and useful. I've been very happy with the card in this style of deck.

The Ancestor's Chosen is way too slow of an engine for a deck like this. You get rewarded with Ancestral Specters at a way slower rate than people intuitively believe and you really don't want games to go that long. The 1/1 body is just more or less useless in this deck and you can't expect to get two Specters out of the deal before having the Chosen stick around for 8 or 9 Turns. You don't want games to go that long, and if they do, your Chosen probably fell under the wheel somewhere along the lines, making Specters all the more unlikely. Your list doesn't even run Phoenix Guard Scout, a card which is almost strictly better than The Ancestor's Chosen in this deck!

With that in mind, here's the version of the list I currently run. The numbers aren't fine tuned yet, the shards especially are a bit awkward as you run almost as much diamond as sapphire but need double sapphire on turn 2.

http://hex.tcgbrowser.com/#!/deck=3257

Wodahs
11-05-2013, 10:12 AM
It's a good deck. LlcoolDave is right that you can play 24 resources with a higher saph/diam ratio (the 3 diamond cards I'd play all have 1threshold : totem, conflict and phoenix). Same with repel and seagull that should be out. You do need another win condition other than aggro flight rush. Buccaneers bring needed tempo/soft removal and a body, the pirates are in! For the rest, I disagree with Dave's list/reasoning.

The diamond cards he uses seem meh in this deck (wizard/citizenry). I'd put 2 storm colossus for a late game win condition. And I'd keep the Mimics, maybe try a mix of Mesmerize/Mimic depending how the deck feels when played.

And the chosens are essential. Especially if you use 3 oracle songs. I won't get here into the complex probability calculation of reaping the rewards of stuffing your deck with specters, and yes people overestimate them a bit, but they are still fantastic 1drop. And with Downriver and air superiority the chosen becomes a specter too.

So -1 ressource -2 repel -4 seagull -1 phoenix -1 mimic +4 buccaneers + 3 oracle song +2 colossus

Xallista
11-05-2013, 11:27 AM
Based on the feedback I did a little bit of adjustments to the deck.

-2 repel -1 diamond shard - 1 phoenix -1 mimic -2 Sapper's Charge / +4 buccaneers +3 oracle's song

Kept the seagulls though, their infinite block (and removal bait) is too good to pass up. An Air Superiority or two, plus the champion's charge makes the seagull far more than a mere "useless 0/1 blocker". If the HEX mechanics for attacking/defending were decisions made by the attacking side instead of the defense (where the attacker choses the blocker to target), then I would agree that seagulls are totally useless. But they are not. The only weakness to this I've face thus far were crush cards (that can neutered with Air Superiority/champion's charge) and unblockables, which isnt exactly a problem exclusive to seagulls.

I agree with Wodahs that Ancestors are too good to change out for the deck. Phoenix Guard Scouts are merely "okay" in my opinion, they are essentially Ancestral Specters with 3 costs instead of 1 AND without the card draw to replace itself. The specters will never be truly a dead card even if you draw into them late game, since 1 cost for a 2/2 flight creature that also draws you another card is just that good.

I have tried out 6-7 cost cards, and to me it is too inconsistent for a S/D deck, unlike say, a pure or hybrid W deck with all its crazy shard gain cards.

As for alternative win conditions, I'm looking forward to the release of Menacing Gralk as a replacement to the phoenix guards. The effective shutdown of the opponent's defense for two turns/offense for one turn, allowing your other units to smack the opposing champion for the finish seems FAR better of an option compared to Storm Colossus being a 6/6 flight/spellshield creature. If you are losing to big creatures or a large swarm, the colossus does very little. 7 cost in a 24/60 resource deck (without alternative methods of gaining shards) would be a dead card far too often I believe.

Thanks for the feedback LLCoolDave and Wodahs.

LLCoolDave
11-05-2013, 04:29 PM
An Ancestral Specter is never a dead draw. The Ancestor's Chosen is. It's a downright terrible card outside of its ability to potentially make Specters down the line. The average time it needs to stick around and that you need to wait to get a Specter is far far too high. I've written an article on the issue, please make sure to read it if you don't believe my assessment that it's a card that is very actively bad in this deck, even given the limited pool of cards to replace it with: http://pastebin.com/iQjjvrHp

Phoenix Guard Scout is a lot better than The Ancestor's Chosen in this deck. I also strongly disagree that this is an Oracle Song deck. The last thing you want to do is spend a turn and not have any board impact. A 3 mana card draw spell is far too clunky for a deck like this.

Xallista
11-07-2013, 12:25 AM
"Dead Draw" can also apply to Phoenix Guards as well, depending on the situation.

If you are up against a high health creature while losing, neither the scout nor the chosen would do you any good. At best they will block a hit.
If you are in a winning situation, you aren't going to get an insane advantage with the scout over the chosen.
Whether you are in an advantageous or disadvantageous situation, if your resource pool is low and you have another 2-3 cost card you need to play, the chosen would by definition be better because you would actually be able to play it along with the other card (removal/another creature/etc).

The "Dead Draw" argument can be applied to many other cards too, does that make them bad as well?

Also, in regards to Phoenix Scout Guard:

Effigy of Nulzann with a flight gem > Phoenix Scout Guard.
Ruby has Gem-Crazed Berserker, outright better than both Effigy and Phoenix Scout.
Wild has Nelebrin Scout, also better than both.
Diamond has Grim Skull Scorcerer, which can be argued to being better as a flight troop in terms of stats/costs due to it being a 2 cost 2/1 flight troop, versus 3 cost for a 2/2.
Blood has Xentoth's Inquisitor, which is a 3/1 that can be replayed after death. When the cost gets too high it can be a potential scapegoat against card discard effects (Giant Corpse Fly for example).

There's literally no reason to run Phoenix Scout Guards unless you actually want more than 4 (3 cost) flight troops in a pure sapphire deck. X/Sapphire decks have better options, as listed above.

On Oracle's Song:
I don't see the issue really. It helps speed up the deck and brings more consistency, 3 cost is not that difficult to hit even in bad resource draws, and has synergy with Ancestral Specter. Drawing 2 cards at 3 cost is not the best option at times depending on the board, but that does not necessarily mean its a bad move.

Again, you should consider various situations and not just situations where using a particular card is bad.

LLCoolDave
11-07-2013, 04:52 AM
"Dead Draw" can also apply to Phoenix Guards as well, depending on the situation.

If you are up against a high health creature while losing, neither the scout nor the chosen would do you any good. At best they will block a hit.


Yes, sure. That's always the issue with playing smaller creatures. At least the Guard naturally flies so there's a chance it can at least attack back if there's a shot of still winning the race, whereas the chosen does really very much nothing at that point. None of the cards in these decklists are any good at stabilizing, but that is true regardless of whose template you pick. This archetype is just inherently bad at playing from the back against creature decks.


If you are in a winning situation, you aren't going to get an insane advantage with the scout over the chosen.

Yes, but the Guard at least gets to be in play on turn 3. It doesn't turn a late game state into a winning state, but almost none of our possible creatures do. What it does allow you to do is build up on curve early pressure to help create an initially dangerous board state while both players still struggle to get relevant threats on the table. The Chosen is in itself super non threatening, and the Specters only start showing up when your opposition has likely deployed his serious threats. If you think a Phoenix Guard Scout is bad on turn 5 or 6 as a creature, then so is a Specter.


Whether you are in an advantageous or disadvantageous situation, if your resource pool is low and you have another 2-3 cost card you need to play, the chosen would by definition be better because you would actually be able to play it along with the other card (removal/another creature/etc).

But what good is the ability to play another card if that card has close to no impact, like a Chosen on turn 4 or 5? It doesn't help stabilize, it doesn't help win at that point, so why bother playing it at all?


The "Dead Draw" argument can be applied to many other cards too, does that make them bad as well?

A lot of cards can be dead draws, yes, but you have to look at both the up and downsides of all the cards in question. The downside to the Chosen is very obvious. A 1/1 is entirely irrelevant at any stage of the game past turn 2, and the Specter creating ability is only potentially good if it gets time to work. If you play one on turn 4 you can't even bank on getting one Specter out of it so eh. The card is just terrible after, say, turn 2 on the play. This gives it a rather marginal window of being useful, namely in your opening hand or a very early draw. The issue is that even if you get to play one in this window, it isn't actually that impressive, if you've looked at the stats in my article. It just doesn't give you enough expected Specters to be strong. It's terrible when it's not on time and it's rather mediocre, even in comparison to the alternatives we have, when it works. That's why it's a bad card in this archetype. Thunderbird is almost (but not quite) as bad when drawn late, but provides a strong clock and threat when you get one out early. Lower downside, better upside, better card. Phoenix Guard Scout is a super mediocre card. I never said it was good, but it fits what the deck tries to do. It's an evasive beater with a borderline relevant power. It gets to play when YOU want it to, not when the gods of RNG have decided that the time to give you a Specter has come. I don't like playing the card, I don't think it's a good card at all. But what it is, at the very least, is a BETTER card than The Ancestor's Chosen.



Also, in regards to Phoenix Scout Guard:

Effigy of Nulzann with a flight gem > Phoenix Scout Guard.
Ruby has Gem-Crazed Berserker, outright better than both Effigy and Phoenix Scout.
Wild has Nelebrin Scout, also better than both.
Diamond has Grim Skull Scorcerer, which can be argued to being better as a flight troop in terms of stats/costs due to it being a 2 cost 2/1 flight troop, versus 3 cost for a 2/2.
Blood has Xentoth's Inquisitor, which is a 3/1 that can be replayed after death. When the cost gets too high it can be a potential scapegoat against card discard effects (Giant Corpse Fly for example).

There's literally no reason to run Phoenix Scout Guards unless you actually want more than 4 (3 cost) flight troops in a pure sapphire deck. X/Sapphire decks have better options, as listed above.

Yup, now that gems are working properly we have a lot more relevant cards we can actually play. They will allow us to replace those rather mediocre 4 drops I had to pick in Diamond due to a lack of other relevant cards (they all at least provide 4 power for a 4-cost troop). If all of the cards above are better than Phoenix Guard Scouts than they are also all better the Ancestor's Chosen. The main reasons I wanted to initially pair diamond with sapphire for this archetype is that Inner Conflict is the best removal for the strategy, Living Totem is a very solid troop that fits the strategy well and can provide reasonable defense and lifedrain in a pinch when necessary, and Phoenix Guard Aeronaut being one of the few creatures that, with an Air Supporiority in play, has a profound board impact on a single card.

This really strikes the central argument for this deck: If we don't actually want 3 cost 2 power flight troops, but they are the best thing we could possibly do in this archetype, why play the deck at all? As far as I can tell, there's two reasons why one might consider running a deck like this: You want to run creatures with evasion so you can completely bypass other creature decks. Outside of playing their own Flight creatures, most decks have no meaningful interaction with this Archetype that they don't also have with all other creature decks in general (pinpoint removal). Being able to ignore their troops' defensive abilities allows you to produce a constant stream of damage to them, hopefully outracing their troops because they still have to deal with getting past your troops that didn't attack and trading is good for you if you have the evasive threats and they don't. The second thing this deck does is that with Air Superiorities your individually troops become larger threats in the late game against control deck compared to other aggressive decks. With two Air Superiority in play any troop you play is a serious threat to a control deck they'll need to handle quickly. Other Aggressive decks have a harder time keeping up pressure after a board wipe.

However, it turns out that this deck is just not good enough at either of those game plans. It just attacks for less than other comparable decks, and it still doesn't get into a favorable long game with the Blood control decks. Part of the reason is probably that we HAVE to play 3-cost 2 power Flight creatures to make the game plan work at all. Going smaller doesn't really help because there are no good smaller options. This deck looks to close out games by turn 6 or 7 as it just falls too far behind going longer. At that target for our critical turn The Ancestor's Chosen just doesn't have enough time to get to work. We can expect a Specter in that timeframe, which is not really any better than having a Phoenix Guard Scout instead of a Chosen in our opening hand. The Scout at least has a couple more drawsteps to show up to be just as relevant. The Diamond 1 cost 1/1 Flight is also not really impressive and only really puts in work if we have double Air Superiority. Going longer and for bigger creatures is not really an option either because the larger stuff we gain access too isn't really any more threatening either. We lose ground against other creature decks that we can't regain with our bigger threats and we take off pressure against control. Not a winning move, either. What the deck is decent at, at least, is dodging Heat Wave with Air Superiority. I just don't feel like this Archetype is well positioned right now.


On Oracle's Song:
I don't see the issue really. It helps speed up the deck and brings more consistency, 3 cost is not that difficult to hit even in bad resource draws, and has synergy with Ancestral Specter. Drawing 2 cards at 3 cost is not the best option at times depending on the board, but that does not necessarily mean its a bad move.

Oracle song provides no speed at all. It slows you down because you trade time for an additional card. This is useful in decks that have time, i.e. try to go into a long game, and decks that are digging for specific cards because the things they have are situational. Neither of those hold true for this archetype. We need to close out fast because we fall behind relatively quickly, and almost all of our cards do essentially the same. The way to balance these types of decks is by building a good curve, so the essentially same cards are more likely to show up in a cost ratio that maximizes their impact on the board. Spending a turn off on drawing cards is bad because it doesn't increase our pressure while also not helping us find high impact cards to make up for the lost tempo because the deck doesn't actually have any of those. Oracle Song is just way too expensive to be playable in this deck because we can't play anything meaningful alongside and we already have access to many more proactive 3-drops to play instead (not that they are GOOD, but they again are at least BETTER for what the deck is trying to do).

LLCoolDave
11-07-2013, 04:52 AM
*Cut in two due to post length restrictions*


Again, you should consider various situations and not just situations where using a particular card is bad.

That's what I actually do for The Ancestor's Chosen. The issue is, as I pointed out, that it isn't actually particularly good in the situation where everyone thinks it is insane. When it works it's not really any better than a Phoenix Guard Scout in an aggressive deck like this and when it doesn't it's much worse. That's why it is a bad card. The situation where it shines just doesn't come up frequently enough to warrant playing it. On that note, please keep in mind that The Ancestor's Chosen is NOT a card drawing engine. The Ancestral Specters don't actually draw you any cards, all they do is get you to the card you would have gotten anyway without the Specter being there. They don't allow you to dig deeper into your deck for specific cards, they don't give you access to more Non-Specter cards. All The Ancestor's Chosen does is give you an occasional 2/2 Flight troop, but at a rather unpredictable pace and a rate that is much lower than what people expect it to be (and also too low to get any real profit from in most games). The Ancestral Specters are also not "free" because they have the very real cost of spending an initial card on playing an otherwise unremarkable Chosen, and the very real opportunity cost of not playing something more impactful than a Chosen in that deck slot instead (and as I argued, it doesn't really take much to fill that role, even something as bad as Phoenix Guard Scout does the job). You really need to get two Specters to make the card worth playing, and my article shows that that happens too infrequently to make the Chosen a reliable card.

This is my updated build of the deck, but I still don't think it is very good: http://hex.tcgbrowser.com/#!/deck=3257

Zarien
11-07-2013, 01:23 PM
These are some good discussions. But some of you guys need to space out/format your walls of texts to give our eyes a little breathing room lol.