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15516 Posts in 1177 Topics- by 548 Members - Latest Member: BourbKi
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1  MagicPlayer Highlander / Banned List & Rules / Re: In response to: February 2021 Watchlist Update on: 04-02-2021, 11:03:45 PM
Thanks a lot everyone for your imput.

Just a quick response from my part regarding some cards that were brought up:

Birthing Pod: Hermit Druid is already among the best performing decks and I think giving that strategy another angle of attack is very dangerous. Maybe if Thassa's Oracle was to be banned it would be safer.

Gifts Ungiven: I think this card is severely underrated (especially in comparison to Intuition). The ability to grab 4 cards instead of 3 is a huge difference and a resolved Gifts is a garantueed win without any other setup (for example: Breach/Sevinne's/LED/Brainfreeze or Unearth/Pact/Snapcaster/T.Oracle). I think this is even more dangerous than Pod.

TNN: I am all for unbanning this card. A 3 mana do-nothing on ETB drop in todays tempo decks is very unimpressiv, even if it is very good in creature matchups.

Jitte and Skullclamp I think both of them are banned for valid reasons but are also rightfully on the unban watchlist cause I feel like these cards are the closest to being okay or maybe even fine to be reintroduced into the format. I would definitely welcome some testing of both.

Quote
Tutors in Highlander
Are necessary and vital part of  the format. Problematic Tutor-cards should be cut off the format precisely (f.e. Vampiric, Mystical, Natural Order, SotF, etc.)
+1
Basically my approach as well.

[Sorry for those very short comments. Kaldheim Release mania is taking up a lot of my time and you guys definitely deserve more eloquent and longer answers but I thought I'd rather respond very briefly than not at all.]
2  MagicPlayer Highlander / Banned List & Rules / Re: Could we have some data showing of Artifacts deck dominance? on: 02-11-2020, 12:57:28 AM
Maybe I can point you to this analyse:

Analysing the CamLander and Master Series in Vienna

Appart from that, a personal comment: Of the 14 tournaments that took place in Vienna in the past 3 years, I played decks that featured Tolarian Academy in 10 of those tournaments.
Out of those 10 tournaments I won 7 and placed 3rd in the other 3.
3  MagicPlayer Highlander / Reports / Analysing the CamLander and Master Series Vienna tournaments on: 27-08-2020, 09:57:38 PM
There has always been a lot of discussion about the state of the Highlander metagame but the publification of not only one but two articles in the span of 24 hours that both tackle the subject, shows, that the topic is thought of and theorized about even more than usual.

This is not going to be another article about the direction the format is heading towards but rather a snapshot of what it already looks like right now. A lot of the trends that both Paul and Jan described in their respective articles, in particular the increasing share of the meta by blue decks, can already be seen in drastical fashion by taking a look at some of the most recent tournaments.

I have devoted some time to gathering data from the 12 CamLander tournaments (thanks Dominik for not only organising these tournaments but also putting the available data out there) as well as the 3 Highlander Masters Series tournaments that took place in Vienna this year.

(For some reason I couldn't attach any images so I uploaded them to my imgur account and put in the links instead)

My first step was to put in all the results from the 15 tournaments in an Excel sheet

In total, 195 Decks were submitted and in 61 rounds about 390 matches were played.
I know that there are a lot of different decks represented here but I still think this is a respectable sample size, especially if you group them into bigger categories.

https://imgur.com/a/p6Wu5iC (Picture of all listed decks, includes points and standings)

For quite some time now I have been arguing that the HL metagame can actually be broken down into 7 (really 6) major categories when it comes to decks. Therefore my second step was to lable the listed decks accordingly.

In my opinion the major categories are:

.) Decks that play the delve spells Dig Through Time and/or Treasure Cruise These are mostly tempo decks like Temur or Jeskai as well as Izzet Control. They mainly use counterspells as weapon of choice when it comes to interaction because they are the cleanest available answer no matter the question. They establish board presence via 1-2 threats and protect them with the aforementioned counterspells. Cheap Cantrips help them find their impactful and sometimes matchup specific spells. They are very good at trading up in mana while mostly trading 1 for 1 card wise in the early stages of the game. A resolved Dig Through Time or Treasure cruise is usually game over against any non blue deck as they'll have a hard time competing with this level of cheap card advantage.

.) Decks that play a proactive discard package of at least Thoughtseize/Duress/Inquisition 4C Blood, Jund or Mardu Aggro are the prime examples of this categorie, while slower, more grindy decks using Life from the Loam occasionally see the light of day as well. These decks rely on their discard to deal with problematic spells by stripping the out of their opponents hand before they can do them any harm. They are usually running a number of highly effective permanent interaction such as Abrupt Decay, Assassin's Trophy or Kolaghan's Command. They mostly seek to close out the game with either a Planeswalker or a powerful midrange creature.

.) Decks that play both packages There are some decks that fit into both category 1 as well as category 2 (so you could argue if this category is even necessary) and are doing a pretty good job of making use of both packages. The most notable example is Sultai Midrange which is capable of playing the aggressor as well as the defender equally well.

.) "Pure" Combo decks Although they often times also overlap with the first 2 categories, their goal to win the game and match is entirely different. Although they can win via several different card interactions, creature combat usually is not one of them. Decks like Storm, Academy and the latest addition Oracle Breach fall into this category.

.) RDW Most of the time mono coloured, in very few cases with a light splash. Oftentimes seen as the "fun police" of the format. As in: If you durdle around too much you will be taken out by this strategy. The most redundant strategy and therefore one of the most consistant.

.) Taxing Decks Some taxing decks actually also fall under the discard category so mostly this includes DnT as well as WW. The gameplan involves denying the opponent proper usage of their resources and finishing them off with a slew of creatures before they can leverage any kind of advantage.

.) Cradle Decks They deserve a seperate category when it comes to "combo" decks because of their reliance on creatures which means they can be interacted with but also win via a different angle. These are the classic Mana Elf into big baddy decks.

.) Others Any deck not falling into one of the above categories. Entries from the tournaments into this category inclued for example Naya Midrange and Bant Bogles

https://imgur.com/a/N9JzcWo (Picture of all decks labled according to their category)

An astonishing 50+% of the decks were running Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise, in most cases alongside Counterspells! Matter of fact, if you check the decklists from the last tournament in Vienna the average deck there [Not the average blue, the average deck!] was running 8 counterspells!
Combo and Discard decks add up for about 30% of the metagame.
This means that 4 in 5 decks (80%) fall into one of the first 4 (or really rather 3) catergories!

https://imgur.com/a/sgzUpZY (Metagame share per category)

Even without any further analysis this already screemed like an unhealty metagame to me, but I wanted to take a deeper look.
So I compared the expected amount of those decks to show up in the Top4 (or Top8 if the tournament had at least 16 participants) to the actual numbers.

https://imgur.com/a/AxJ8HfU (Decks in the winners metagame)

While decks of the first 3 catergories fare slightly worse than expected, decks from the bottom 4 catergories fare even worse.
The big winner is Combo with an overrepresentation among the top decks!
Thanks to the strong showing of combo, decks from the first 4 (really 3) catergories make up a whooping 87% of the winners metagame, compared to the 80% of the overall metagame!

https://imgur.com/a/AUcdACR (winners metagame percentages)

The bottom of the standings were a better representation of the overall metagame with numbers being very similar to the expected values.

https://imgur.com/a/bgq8Zxx (decks in the losers metagame)

Dig/Cruise decks as well as Combo decks were doing just a tad bit better than expected but those are in no way significant outliers when you take the samplesize into consideration.

https://imgur.com/a/kCl8Avt (losers metagame percentages)

Very short Intermezzo:
At this point in my analysis one outlier among the players caught my attention.
Since I don't wanna call anyone out, I am just going to call the player in question X.
X was participating in 6 tournaments where he managed to gathered only a total of 12 points. (an abysmal 16% of the possible points)
I usually don't like to remove specific entries from statistics like this but in my opinion in this case the evidence strongly suggests that the performance of the player and not the decks in question resulted in these stats. I therefore decided to continue my analysis without the inclusion of Xs numbers.


Once I removed X from the equation, the combo decks categories number shot up again! Not only was combo doing much better when it comes to overperforming and putting people into the Top4 (or Top8) but the low numbers in the losers metagame already indicate, that the archetype was doing very well overall!

https://imgur.com/a/5HbYpw0 (losers metagame percentages after removing X)

I concluded my analysis by adding up the points individual decks made over the course of the 15 tournaments and compared them to the points they could have made, which is basically another way to get a win %.
Finally I sorted them by win % and took a look at all decks with at least 3 entries.

https://imgur.com/a/sxaeTvi (Win % of decks with 3 or more entries MP1 is taking into account that multiple entries of the same deck can't all possibly win one tournament, while MP2 is removing points for rounds not played after a drop. % numbers are calculated with MP2)

Although the metagame appears to be about as hostile as it can get (with ~77% of the other decks running counterspells, discard or both), Combo still managed to put 2 decks into the Top4! From the 6 match losses Breach took in those tournaments all 6 happened against decks with counterspells.
Academy proofed once again that it is still a contender when it comes to winning tournaments.
With Sultai Midrange and Izzet Control 2 decks that pack delve spells to win the attrition game put up insane numbers as well.

Other decks over 50% winrate with 3 or more entries: https://imgur.com/a/mvhgvKK

My conclusion:

The metagame is wrapped around combo decks (that somehow still manage to win) and decks running delve card draw.
Especially Sultai is the perfect embodiment of what a competitive deck has to look like right now:
Discard - cheap threats - counterspells - Delve Card Draw to pull ahead once you have traded 1 for 1 long enough
Izzet on the other hand has Blood Moon and Back to Basics at it's disposal as well as the recent addition of Mystic Sanctuary (which was already discussed quite a bit by Paul in his article)

Non blue decks can no longer compete with the combo decks unless they overload on hate pieces which, for them, usually happen to be fragile, undersized creatures that fare poorly against the rest of the meta.

In my opinion it is time for changes that go beyond just banning one single card.
Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise are putting blue decks ahead of every other colour that is trying to win a fair fight while Academy and Breach have shown that despite the dominant number of counters and discard spells as well as the increasing number of hate cards out of blue decks, combo is still looming over the format.
4  MagicPlayer Highlander / General Discussion / Top 10 Ikoria Commons and Uncommons on: 14-05-2020, 01:27:03 AM
This Friday May 15th 2020 is the official release date for Ikoria: Lair of Behemots and with it a lot of exciting new cards become available to play in Highlander.
A lot has been said already about future format staples, the Triomes, or potentially powerful cards like Fiend Artisan, the new Planeswalkers or Lurrus. I therefore won’t bother writing about these cards here because so much has been talked about them already and I don’t feel like I would be offering anything particularly new or interesting.
Instead I want to take a closer look at the Commons and Uncommons of the set that, in my opinion, will see Highlander play. They might not be as flashy as the Rares or Mythics but nonetheless will have an impact on our format.
Without further ado, here are my top 10 Ikoria Commons/Uncommons:

10.Ominous Sea
I am sure this card wouldn’t warrant an inclusion if it was just for the fact that you can make a big Kraken turn 11. Luckily, we have an abundance of card draw in this format and especially with cards like Time Twister or Wheel of Fortune Ominous Sea can unleash a sea monster rather quickly. The main reason to put this card on my list though is the interaction with Greater Good. If you happen to make one Kraken with Ominous Sea you will be able to draw your entire library and winning from there shouldn’t really be a problem.

9.Footfall Crater
This unassuming enchantment can speed up anything from reanimated fatties to Eldrazi that were put into play with Show and Tell or Oath of Druids. Personally, I will try Footfall Crater with Hermit Druid to win the same turn I play it.

8.Boon of the Wish-Giver
6 mana for sorcery speed draw 4 is on the lower end of mana-to-card output. Boon of the Wish-Giver has the huge advantage that unlike other late game card draw spells it is not being stuck in your hand early on because you can just cycle it for the very low price of one mana. It is also not vulnerable to graveyard hate or the diminishing returns of running multiple delve spells like Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise alongside Gurmag Angler and Tasigur. Quite the contrary, Boon can fuel these cards if you cycle it early and is therefore less of a burden on your gameplay.

7.Bastion of Remembrance
This is another nice payoff card for Aristocrats style decks. 3 mana for just one 1/1 is pretty expensive but the ability is not attached to the body which is quite convenient.
 
6.Memory Leak
3 mana is quite expensive for a discard spell but it has the added value of functioning as a piece of graveyard interaction and can cycle for just one mana if neither is needed. If you are up against a lot of combo and graveyard centred decks and want more interaction (and have already included Cling to Dust) Memory Leak might be the card for you.

5.Neutralize
Déjà vu. 3 mana. Quite expensive. Powerful effect. Cycling. Nice!

4.Migration Path
This is one of the better cards printed for ramp strategies like Scapeshift or Bant ramp.
How many more times are you comfortable with reading that cycling makes cards like this playable?

3.Easy Prey/Heartless Act/Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor
Okay, I am cheating a bit here because I am actually including 3 cards on place 3 but they are all removal spells so we are good right?

Easy Prey gets a nod because it is a removal spell that checks both the boxes for Deathrite Shaman as well as Scavenging Ooze. And you know, one last time: Cycling.

Heartless Act is certainly the one that will see most play out of the 3 cards. Although it sometimes will fail to kill Scavenging Ooze it is not limited by converted mana cost of its target and has a very neat interaction with your own Thing in the Ice!

Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor gives Blue Moon decks a nice removal spell that can take care of a resolved Planeswalker, something that can be troublesome to deal with right now. It is also a clean answer to cards like Kitchen Finks which is a nice bonus.

2.Call of the Death-Dweller
I am very excited for this card as it singlehandedly reanimates the Cephalid Illusionist + Nomads en-Kor combo. But even if you are not returning any combos (or you know, just Hermit Druid) it is a pretty powerful tool for any creature-based strategy as it provides card advantage and boosts your creature with a deathtouch and a menace counter!

1.Sprite Dragon
Even if this was a Top 10 Ikoria list with no rarity restriction Sprite Dragon would be on it. This is a cheap evasive creature that grows to epic proportions rather quick. I have no doubt that we’ll be seeing a LOT of this Faerie Dragon in the future!


With 7 out of 12 cards on my list having Cycling it is pretty clear that I rate this ability very high. Usually running situational cards can be a liability but when you have the opportunity to cash them in for a redraw their inclusion feels much safer.

Did I miss any major card you think is going to be viable in Highlander? Did I overrate something you think is not going to see the light of day in our format at all?
And last but not least: What are the Commons or Uncommons YOU are most excited about in Ikoria?
5  MagicPlayer Highlander / General Discussion / You Should Be Playing Cling To Dust on: 10-03-2020, 09:02:08 PM
Theros: Beyond Death introduced a lot of powerful new cards to Highlander: Underworld Breach, the Titans Uro and Kroxa, Thassa’s Oracle, Klothys and many more.

One very unassuming and in my opinion severely underplayed card from the new set is Cling to Dust.

For just one black Mana you get to remove a card from a graveyard at instant speed and either gain 3 life or, even better, draw a card. While this doesn’t seem like much at first, you get to do it all over again in the mid to lategame thanks to the Escape mechanic. This possible card advantage should not be underestimated but is not the only reason to run the card.

The small downside in comparison to cards like Tormod’s Crypt, Relic of Progenitus, Nihil Spellbomb or even Bojuka Bog is that Cling to Dust only removes one card at a time. This downside is, in my opinion, neglectable when considering the biggest upside Cling has over all these cards: It is an Instant for just one mana and thus the opponent has little idea that it is coming. (Maybe this will change when more people catch on but even then it is still harder to play around than any permanent based grave removal)
Crypt, Relic and Spellbomb all need to be on the battlefield to be used. There is no denying that you will be able to delay the opponents game plan with the permanent based graveyard removal but it comes at the expense of giving the opponent the information as to what he has to play around. Exiling an opponents graveyard in response to a Snapcaster Mage or Reanimate that he willingly cast to get rid of your grave interaction is not quite the same blowout as if you happen to remove the targeted card with Cling to Dust.

On top of being instant speed, it also replaces itself for just one Mana (in comparison to the 2 of Relic or Spellbomb) or at the very least gives you 3 life. Sometimes a Healing Salve is all that is needed to outrace the opponent. (And removing a Hellspark Elemental or Hell's Thunder against Mono Red is a winning play right there!)

As for the use in different matchups of the card:

The cellar
If for some reason (Rest in Peace f.e.) both graveyards are entirely empty, the card is dead. Then again so are a bunch of other cards. I doubt that this will come up very often...


The Floor
Realistically Cling is at it’s worst against an opponent who doesn’t interact with their or your graveyard as main game plan.
Against these decks Cling will often just cycles for another card at the cost of B. That’s not great, but it isn’t too bad either and sometimes you get to win a race because you gained 3-6 life.

What's in the middle?
Because the graveyard is such an important resource and even though a lot of cards don’t work directly with it, there are a ton of relevant cards (Tarmogoyf, Knight of the Reliquary, etc) that at least rely on the graveyard somewhat.
Against most decks, Cling will be able to deny the opponent card advantage or screw up important lines in their game plan (Whether it is a Flashback target or a land that is about to be returned to hand with Wrenn and Six, there are tons of interactions). Just a quick check of the most powerful cards from Theros: Beyond Death reveals 3 (4 if you count Klothys) cards that are graveyard centered. If you take a look at the decklists from our last local tournament you will come to notice that out of 23 decks only 1 (MonoWhite) didn't have any interaction with the graveyard at all.


The ceiling
While messing up lines of gameplay is already great, Cling is obviously best against dedicated graveyard strategies like Reanimator or Breach Storm where the instant speed lets you disrupt your opponent when they "go for it". Here it has the potential to throw the opponent several turns back.


And all of that for the very low cost of one black mana.
You should definitly be playing Cling to Dust.
6  MagicPlayer Highlander / Reports / Breaching to win at Highlander Masters Series 2020 February at SpielRaum Vienna on: 16-02-2020, 07:12:58 PM
Preparing for the tournament

After I took a more or less untested Bant Bogles list for a spin at our last local Highlander tournament in November I decided to approach the first tournament of the new decade more seriously.
The introduction of the Highlander Masters Series 2020 means that there is now more on the line than "just" winning one tournament because naturally I do want to qualify for the end-of-the-year finals and hopefully claim the titel. To qualify for the finals I do have to earn enough points over multiple events and so durdeling around with tier "just for fun" decks is only an option after I have secured one of the precious slots.

My default deck for winning tournaments, which has served my quite well in the past, taking the trophy a total of 4 times already, is my beloved 5C Taking Turns Academy.
Because the metagame had become more hostile for the deck I wanted to test a few of my other options as well, to see which deck would give me the best shot at claiming first place.
With the rise of Blue-based tempo decks and the resurgence of Blue Moon in Vienna I thought that my BG Delirium list might be the best pick to battle in the tournament.

When testing for a tournament, discussing HL related topics or just Magic stuff in general, Markus is my go-to guy. He is not only one of my best friends and nicest guys there is and brewing and tuning decks with him is one of the best ways to spend time but he is also very smart at evaluating cards and decks as well as finding interesting new builds. So when he introduced a new combo brew at one of our Highlander sessions, about 1 1/2 weeks before the tournament I was intrigued.
The list did not only feature my beloved Tolarian Academy (although only in a supporting role) and format all star Oath of Druids, but also the newly released card Underworld Breach.
The combo involved Breach, Lion's Eye Diamond and Brain Freeze. LED would be used to generate mana while Brain Freeze would first fuel your engine and then function as a win condition.
Plan B of the deck was to get out Oath of Druids, milling your entire library, putting Underworld Breach on top of your deck with Memory's Journey and then winning from there.

Even when playing the first few times with the deck it quickly became apparent that the core combo had immense potential so I picked up the deck and started tuning it. I cut the Oath of Druids because I felt it was too easily disrupted and didn't really function as a backup plan because it was using the same resource as the main game plan. Once I cut Oath there wasn't really a point in running green anymore and even though the deck could certainly profit from Veil of Summer I feel like the improved consistency in the mana base more than makes up for that. Because you basically never won through a regular storm kill I cut the expensive Tendrils of Agony as well. I still wanted to have a backup plan for when my graveyard was under attack and as we were already playing Tainted Pact I put Thassa's Oracle and Demonic Consultation in the deck. This change, in my opinion, is what really put the deck over the top.
During our final testing session before the tournament the Breach deck performed very well even against what I thought would be one of the toughest matchups, Grixis Tempo. After losing only 2 games against Markus who had major influence in creating the deck and thus knew the ins and outs of the deck (as opposed to a random opponent at the event itself) I was certain that we had found the right core to win the tournament.

You can find the list I submitted here:

https://deckstats.net/decks/70231/1554066-hauser-matthias-breach-combo-w/de

The tournament

23 players showed up for the tournament at SpielRaum. The number of new Highlander players in Vienna is still growing and I am convinced that we haven't reached our full potential yet.

Round 1 was very unexciting for me as I got a Bye. I used the time to check out what the metagame looked like. As expected, there were a lot of blue based decks and I was happy with my last minute inclusion of Thought Erasure.
1-0

In Round 2 I was paired against Thomas Fabian on 4C Blood. Although this was Thomas' first Highlander tournament he knows how to play midrange decks very well as he is a regular player at our Modern tournaments.
While Thomas went first and had a decent start with Birds of Paradise into threat in game 1 I managed to cast an Intuition off of a Mox Diamond at the end of his third turn, finding Underworld Breach, Lion's Eye Diamond and Sevinne's Reclamation. Thanks to Wheel of Fortune I was able to keep the fuel flowing and won on my turn 3.
Game 2 on a mulligan to 6 I kept a hand with 2 Lands, Wishclaw Talisman, UB Talisman, Ponder and Treasure Cruise. Thomas, who was on a mulligan as well, went turn 1 Elf into turn 2 Dark Confidant. My Ponder found Demonic Consultation and when my Thoughtseize revealed that there was no interaction to be expected of Thomas, I went for a turn 4 win with Thassa's Oracle that I had tutored for with Wishclaw Talisman.
2-0

Round 3 I sat down across from Joachim who was playing 5C Scapeshift. He is usually on a 4C version but went to try out all colours this time. In game 1 Joachim leads with tapped Land into turn 2 ramp for untapped Plains. I have a very strong opening hand with turn 1 Wishclaw Talisman and when my drawstep yields LED I combo on turn 2 thanks to the Brain Freeze in my hand. Game 2 Joachim starts with Thoughtseize for my Wishclaw Talisman and follows that up with a Teferi, Time Raveler to bounce back my Dimir Signet. Thanks to the plus ability of the Planeswalker he is able to flash in another discard spell after my draw phase to take away my Dig Through Time and the Intuition I can resolve that sets up my win for the next turn is one turn too late as he kills me with Scapeshift. In Game 3 my Gitaxian Probe reveals that Joachim has yet another Thoughtseize lined up for turn 1 but this time I can put my Wishclaw Talisman onto the battlefield beforehand thanks to a Mox Diamond. We both resolve discard spells the following turns and we play "draw-land-go" for a few turns. At a point where Joachim knows the content of my hand (LED and Mystical Dispute) he decided that he has to start pressuring me somehow because his soft counters don't protect him any longer and runs his Titania into my counterspell. This sets him up to potentially resolve some more threats next turn. Unfortunately for him, the top of my deck offers me a Ponder that finds a Tainted Pact. I generously grant Joachim my Wishclaw Talisman and a few seconds later Thassa's Oracle grants me the matchwin.
3-0

In Round 4 I unfortunately get paired against Markus on his Grixis deck. My plan to meet him in the finals and draw with him for the shared tournament win didn't work out.
Game 1 is a drawn out battle where we trade resources early and Markus pressures me with a Brazen Borrower. At a key moment I decide to forego casting LED because Markus can respond with a Vendilion Clique to take out my Wheel of Fortune which is my only business spell at that point. I rather run the Wheel straight out, he responds with Vendilion Clique to remove my LED and my Karakas "kills" the Clique by sending it back to the now-to-be-discarded hand. Although Markus went on to resolve a Dig Through Time and hit me with both a Hymn and a Fall, I managed to win the following turn thanks to Sevinne's Reclamation getting back Underworld Breach.
I win a shorter, but not by any means less intense, game 2 after Markus fails to find any discard spells while my deck provides me an Inquisition of Kozilek at a critical point to break through his counter defense.
4-0

Markus and I are already joking with Stefan Klein, who is my Finals opponent on 4C Blood that I will probably lose to insane topdecks by Stefan even though the matchup is supposed to be very good for me, when Mr. Little indeed wins game 1 after hitting me with Tidehollow Sculler into Gerrard's Verdict. My deck doesn't let me down though and delivers as I win game 2 with a line that includes me using Wishclaw Talisman 3 times in one turn by bouncing it back to my hand with Chain of Vapor. While Stefan is forced to mulligan in the deciding game and can only come up with a Courser of Kruphix, I meet his turn 3 play with an end of turn Lim-Dul's Vault, that puts a Thassa's Oracle on top of my library. With the Oracle's ability on the stack I do ponder a moment but fail to come up with anything other to name than the classic "Abandon Hope" for the game winning Demonic Consultation.
5-0

I am very happy that the tuning and testing payed off and I could transition the positiv testing results to real tournament play. Although the competition was tough and a few of the games came down to the wire I think I played the most broken deck in the room and that gave me the edge over the field.

You can find all the decklists of the tournament here:

https://deckstats.net/decks/70231/f68261/?lng=de

After-tournament thoughts on the deck

Although the core of the deck is very powerful and Markus and I certainly managed to come up with a great decklist even though we didn't have that much time to prepare I still think there is room for improvement. Pact of Negation is a great card to protect you during the combo turn because you can play it for free out of the graveyard but Force of Will was just outright horrible and I never wanted to cast it. It feels like the deck needs less counterspells and more discard, as you can no longer protect yourself once you binned your whole hand with LED.
Tolarian Academy was good in one game as it provided 3 mana but was otherwise just a one mana land and even almost cost me one game because I didn't have any artifacts at all. I might try a version without it in the future.

I can only recommend to try out the deck yourselfs if you have any upcoming tournaments as I feel like this might be the most powerful thing you can be doing in all of Highlander right now!
7  MagicPlayer Highlander / General Discussion / Re: The future of highlander on: 23-07-2018, 02:06:38 AM
my feeling is that our beloved highlander format is slowly dying.


Here in Vienna things look quite different.
Although our community is not very big right now it is constantly growing and more and more people are getting into it.

We ran 3 tournaments this year so far with around 16 participants each time.

The main thing that is preventing more people from playing the format at tournaments certainly is the cost associated with Reserved List cards (especially Dual Lands) but appart from that a lot of people are proxying and brewing up new decks.

To convert to Canadian Highlander wouldn't solve any problems in this regard at all and any bans in regards to card prizes will end up hurting the format more than it will help.

8  MagicPlayer Highlander / Banned List & Rules / Re: 01. April 2018 Ban list community discussion on: 25-02-2018, 08:12:20 PM
Here are my opinions on the cards in consideration for a ban/unban on April 1st:

Back to Basics/Blood Moon:
While I think that Back to Basics is a very annoying card to play against, the fact, that you still get to use your main colours to get rid of the enchantment make it a bit easier to deal with than Blood Moon. The problem of BtB in my opinion is its colour. Because it is blue you can easily pair it with Counterspells that deal with any answers your opponent can come up while simultaneously shutting him out of the game.
Blood Moon on the other hand is just about the most dreadful card to play against since it not only shuts down plan A of most decks, it often also disables any ways of beating it by making answers uncastable.
With cards like Wasteland, Sinkhole, Ruination and the recently introduced Field of Ruins problematic non-basic lands can already be dealt with quite well while it is still possible for the player on the receiving end of those effects to make a comeback.

My conclusion: Ban Blood Moon and Back to Basics


Demonic Tutor:
There is no need to discuss the powerlevel of this spell. Paying 2 Mana to get the best card out of your deck in any situation is a ridiculous effect.  
Despite the obvious strength of this card I still think it is very healthy for the metagame! It is rather easy to cast (and splashed for) which means it doesn’t benefit one colour or type of deck a lot more than another. And while it is certainly more of a cornerstone in combo-oriented decks that can find their pieces more easily, at the same time it is helping “fair” decks find answers to the unfair things other decks might be tutoring up!
You could argue that DT balances itself.

My conclusion: Don’t ban Demonic Tutor

Dig Through Time/Treasure Cruise:

These are the cards on this list I am least certain but also least concerned about.
Both cards are certainly very powerful but come with the downside of being dead draws early on.
Later in the game drawing 3 cards seem fine to me while getting 2 out of 7 might be a bit too strong sometimes. Since traditional control decks are not at their height at the moment and Dig and Cruise are two of their strongest weapons, I consider both of them fine at the moment.

My conclusion: Don’t ban Dig Through Time
Don’t ban Treasure Cruise


Entomb:

This card gave a huge boost to Reanimator strategies while working well with Life from the Loam engines at the same time.
I’d rather give this card some more time to be in the spotlight and let people adapt to it before putting it on the list again but if this was a now or never situation my vote would be to get rid of it again.

My conclusion: Don’t ban Entomb (with a very big BUT!)

Imperial Seal:

You can read my explanation on Demonic Tutor and apply it to Seal aswell.
It is one mana cheaper but costs 2 life (which is a real deal against any creature deck or Burn) and your next draw. In my books that makes it a worse card in almost any cases (disregarding Miracle spells and playing vs Discard). With DT being a safe card for Highlander I think Imperial Seal is even more so!

My conclusion: Don’t ban Imperial Seal

Mana Drain:

Control and Counterspells in general have been falling out of favour recently (most likely because of the Mystical Tutor ban). At the same time setting up the perfect post-Mana Drain turn hasn’t gotten any easier. While Mana Drain still remains one of the best answers for control decks, I think giving them some powerful tools is necessary.

My conclusion: Don’t ban Mana Drain

Oath of Druids/Tolarian Academy:

Even though Oath and Academy function in very different ways they are very similar in other regards.
Both are very powerful if left unchecked and will certainly take over the game but they both demand very specific decks to be built around them. The upside of being able to play with either card is kept in check by the fact that your deck sometimes doesn’t do anything at all if you don’t have your build-around card and that there are plenty of answers to either one.

My conclusion: Don’t ban Oath of Druids
Don’t ban Tolarian Academy


Tainted Pact:

This is the card I would be most happy to see banned.
This card asks very little in regards to deck design in a singleton format in return to being THE best tutor for any midrange deck. Because those decks have mostly redundant cards, the ability to get an answer to basically any situation at instant speed without losing vital parts of your library (like a combo deck would have to do to get a specific card) pushes this card over the edge.
The decks that are most consistent in disrupting your gameplay both with hand disruption and utility creatures while being the best at applying pressure both with creatures and planeswalkers shouldn’t also be the ones getting the best tutor in the format!

My conclusion: Ban Tainted Pact

Yawgmoth’s Will:

Certainly a powerful card, Yawg Will is a mixture of a value card (similar to Dig and Cruise) and a build-around card (similar to Oath and Academy), depending on your choice of deck.
Although Will definitely profits from this “flexibility” I don’t think it is too strong to be banned right now.

My conclusion: Don’t ban Yawgmoth’s Will

Gifts Ungiven:

Although four mana is a hefty investment you get one of the best combo enablers of all time in exchange. Eternal Witness, Life from the Loam, Snapcaster Mage, Regrowth and similar effects are all seeing play already so it wouldn’t take much slots to fit this powerful card in a consistent shell.
Combo decks already got some powerful tools with the unbanning of Entomb and Imperial Seal last time around. Gifts would certainly push those decks even more.

My conclusion: Don’t unban Gifts

Mystical Tutor:

Mystical Tutor definitely had to go with the last bannings and I don’t see a reason to bring it back right now unless you take BtB/Blood Moon or Dig/Cruise away from Izzet Decks.

My conclusion: Don’t unban Mystical Tutor


Although I do obviously advocate to ban the cards I proposed I think it would be an even bigger mistake to make changes (bans or unbans) in regards to any other card in comparison to making no changes at all!
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