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Author Topic: Strategy and Deckbuilding Article    (Read 3073 times)
Peddy Frost
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« on: 28-06-2015, 04:51:46 PM »

Hello Everyone

sry for not posting the following article in english but it was easier for me to write it down in nativ. I hope some people will read this and start debating or even write their own articles and post them here.
Also sry for potential spelling, grammer or punctuation mistakes. hf

Highlander – Ein aussterbendes Format?

Was ist eigentlich los mit meinem Format? Als eingefleischter Cube-Spieler und Drafter hat sich Highlander für mich als einziges constructed Format herauskristallisiert. Ich Baue meine Decks selbst, berechne meine Manakurven und Manabase selbst oder mithilfe von Webseiten (z.B. http://magic.freizeitspieler.de/wahrscheinlichkeiten.php), evaluiere die Performance meiner Decks (z.B. http://www.whycantwedrinkforever.co.uk/hobowars/wincalc.asp) im allgemeinen und gegen diverse Archetypen im speziellen, mache meine eigenen Metagame analysen und diskutiere meine Ergebnisse mit anderen Spielern (Probs gehen raus an Green Bird, Jack Sabbath, etc.). Und immer wieder Frage ich mich, kann das nicht jemand anders für mich machen? Die ernüchternde Antwort bleibt jedoch jedes mal die selbe: „Nö!“ Aus diesem Grund habe ich mich durchgerungen den ersten Magic-Artikel meines Lebens zu schreiben.

Ausschlaggebend war eine Situation auf Cockatrice. Ich hatte wie gewöhnlich mein Game offen und wartete, und wartete, und wartete auf Mitspieler. Als schließlich jemand jointe fragte er mich ob  wir „Canadian Highlander“ spielen könnten, worauf ich entgegnete dass ich nur eine „German Highlander“ Liste hätte. Just in diesem Moment jointe ein Spectator der fragte was es mit diesen Formaten wohl auf sich hätte. Mein Opponent erklärte das kanadische Prinzip und fügte dann in etwa folgendes hinzu: „German Highlander has it's own banned list and no Pointsystem. But the Format is basically solved.“
   
   Halt, halt! Stop. Also das stimmt ja so jetzt nicht!!!!

entgegnete ich. Aber je länger wir darüber diskutierten desto klarer wurde mir das er im Prinzip recht hatte.

Ok ok die Evolution im Format ist etwas langsam aber …
Jaaa es gibt bestimmte dominante Archetypen die schon sehr lange das Metagame bestimmen … Ja Fastbond wurde unbanned, ist super powerfull und hat keinen wirklichen Impact gehabt …

Und so weiter und sofort. Als ich erwähnte welche Arbeit ich mir beim Deckabu und der Metagame Analyse mache fragte er mich ob ich das Gefühl hätte, dass die Anderen das genau so machen und wieder war die Antwort: „Nö!“

Magic ist mit dem Internet und den SuperTeams a la ChannelFireball sehr komfortabel geworden. Die Pro's investieren viel Zeit und Energie und bringen die sanktionierten Formate damit voran. Netdecking ist eine super Strategie um erfolgreich zu sein, und meistens erfolgversprechender als der Homebrew. Erfolgreiche Roguedecks wie das „Lantern Control“, dass kürzlich top16 bei einem  Modern GP gemacht hat, bleiben eher die Ausnahme. Selbstverständlich versucht auch ein Format wie Highlander sich diese Infrastruktur zu nutze zu machen. Das Problem dabei ist, dass Highlander kein sanktioniertes Format ist, es keine wöchentlichen Turniere mit Preisausschüttung im 4-stelligen Bereich und Livecoverage gibt. Es gibt keine Pro's die einem die Arbeit abnehmen weil sie Hauptberuflich GP's grinden. Es ist schön zu sehen, dass auf MtgPulse fleißig Ergebnisse gepostet werden, der Effekt ist jedoch nicht ausschließlich positiv. Hierzu ein kleines Beispiel anhand des 4c-Blood Archetyps, welcher augenscheinlich das Deck to Beat im Format darstellt. Innerhalb der, seit dem Jahresendevent, auf MtgPulse geposteten Events, nimmt das Deck satte 16% im Metabreakdown ein und gewinnt regelmäßig. 3 von 4 geposteten CupTrials, für den Cup in Frankfurt am 28.06.15, hat jeweils eine 4cBlood Liste gewonnen. Alle 3 Listen weisen Starke Ähnlichkeiten auf. Schauen wir uns also ein Detail etwas genauer an:


Jede der 3 Listen spielt 7 Manaelfen, was eine prozentuale Wahrscheinlichkeit von 41% on the Play und 47% on the Draw ausmacht, mindestens einen Elfen auf der Starthand zu haben. Die Elfen sind in allen 3 Listen die gleichen (DRS, Noble Hierach, Birds, Avacyn's Pilgrim, Llanowar Elves, Fyndhorn Elves, Elvish Mystic). Ich interpretiere dieses Ergebnis nicht als Zufall sondern als ein bestimmtes Elfensetting, dass sich durchgesetzt zu haben scheint, schaut man sich die Historie der 4cBloodlisten ein wenig genauer an. Auffällig ist, dass keine der Listen Elves of the Deep Shadow spielt. Hier kommt mir als einzige Erklärung der 1 Lifepoint in den Sinn, den man bezahlen muss für das B-Mana. Schaut man sich nun auch die potenziellen Folgeplays an, so fällt auf, dass die Decks auch hier eine Ähnlichkeit aufweisen. Grün und Schwarz sind die einzigen Farben die Doppelmana im 2- und 3drop Bereich aufweisen. Jeder der Listen spielt 2x doppel G (Courser und Witness) und Witness ist häfig kein t2 oder t3 play. Das lässt uns mit einem effektiven doppel G drop in jedem der Decks zurück. Ebenfalls spielen alle Listen mindestens 2 doppel B drops (Lili und Hymn). Eine Liste spielt sogar noch eine Phyrexian Arena. Jedes 4cBlood versucht in den ersten 3 Turns Kurve zu legen und mir fallen nur sehr wenige gegnerische Threats ein, deren Beantwortung eine so hohe Priorität haben, dass dafür der eigene Deckplan unterbrochen werden muss. Elves of the Deep Shadow scheinen also in jedem Fall dem Deckplan zuträglicher zu sein als der dritte MonoG produzierende Elf.

Dieses ist nur ein kleines Beispiel, aber betrachtet man die einzelnen gelisteten Events dann fällt auf, dass sich solche Details in vielen Archetypen finden lassen und ich führe dieses Phänomen auf netdecking zurück. Ließt man sich z.B. „Next Level Deckbuilding“ von Patrick Chapin durch, so sieht man deutlich dass in einem professionellen Umfeld sehr viel Akribie auf solche Details beim Deckbau gelegt wird und Deckpläne sehr genau formuliert werden. Das scheint mit unter anderem Grund dafür zu sein, dass netdecking in Formaten wie Standard oder Modern ein so erfolgreiches  Konzept ist. Im Highlander zumindest scheint dies nicht der Fall zu sein. Ich möchte also an alle Spieler in der Community abschließend folgenden Apell richten:

   „Do the Math!“

Denn ein Format mit einer so geringen Anzahl an Spielern verlangt von jedem Einzelnen ein mehr an Arbeit um das Format lebendig und attraktiv zu halten. Wir rotieren nicht und werden niemals ein so stark evolutionierendes Format haben wie es Standard ist, aber ich denke es gibt noch viel Deckbuildingpotenzial das nicht ausgeschöpft ist und es wäre schade wenn die Spieler in diverse „TinyDuellCanadianCommanderLeader“ Formate abwandern.

Greetz
Peddy
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Maqi
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« Reply #1 on: 29-06-2015, 08:51:23 AM »

First of all, thx for sharing your thoughts! Really interesting read.

I want to adress some of the points you made.

a) The format is solved
Highlander (also the Canadian variant) is a format which is not played by many. And like you correctly assess, development and data throughput is relatively slow. Also the fluctuation of players is rather low, not least because of steep card prices. Metagame shifts might be slower because of those facts.

In addition to that, HL is an eternal format. Every new card printed must be measured against proven and strong staples from the past. What's more, since HL is a singleton format, specific synergies enabled by new cards cannot as easily be exploited. For example, Deathmist Raptor and Den Protector might enable new archetypes in Standard all on their own (because they can make up 8/60 of your deck and the synergy is palpable). In HL, those cards will be 1-ofs in a 100 card deck and getting back a Raptor with your Den Protector won't come up nearly as often as to justify their inclusion in the first place.

In my opinion the format is solved in a way that there are clear established archetypes which have to be respected because they have proven themselves to be able to win. As simple as that. And that is not a bad thing. Every format has established decks. It becomes a bad thing, when deckchoice is limited down to very few decks. Like during the Necro-Summer or during Mirrodin when Affinity was the sole best deck and every other deck had to play at least 8-ish maindeck Artifact-hate cards.

Highlander is far from that. There are many viable decks around. Matchups are mostly not worse than 40:60 or something like that. Almost every t8 of recent notable tournaments shows that diversity is there and innovation is possible.

b) People only netdeck and don't do analysis
Dude, seriously. No! Smiley I am a maniac when it comes to this. I have Excel VBA programs which calculate and simulate several aspects of gameplay and deck composition. I can tell you how many times 4c Blood mulled to 6 in 100.000 simulated games. I will go to great lenghts when pondering on deck changes and specific card choices. I compare other formats' decks and ther distribution of card-types with my HL decks, I calculate probabilities of drawing removal or acceleration or lands and whatnot, lol Cheesy You definetely can't say that about me.

I would guess though, only the minority of players does that. However, deck-crafting and metagaming are for sure employed by the players of our format. I would estimate, more than half of our player base has gone through an intensive thought process when choosing/building their deck. Netdecking will happen. But I feel it's not the norm.

c) Elves of Deep Shadow is correct in 4c Blood
I agree with all the arguments you made. It really is that 1-damage-ping per activation, which makes me not play it. There will be metagames though, where it is correct to play the dark elf and I plan to give him another chance in the near future. It also depends on your composition of 2-cmc-gold-spells (E. Call, Helix etc.). Note that the elf won't help very much when casting them, as is true for Voice of Resurgence or Qasali Pridemage for example. Black mana is slightly awkard at times, especially when it comes with a drawback.

(As an aside, I will post an exhaustive primer about 4c-Blood in the near future.)
« Last Edit: 29-06-2015, 09:26:08 AM by Maqi » Logged
Kenshin
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« Reply #2 on: 29-06-2015, 12:33:25 PM »

I do not generally use spreadsheets but I do analysis on my deck, think about numbers and odds. But I have been playing Esper for years now because I did not want to invest in a new deck.

The reason that blood puts up good numbers is that it generally is present at every tournament (Karlsruhe, Mannheim, Frankfurt) that is played regularly and is reported to mtgpulse.
It is a very strong deck, played by some good players regularly and it is one of the most played decks. That in general makes it the deck to beat. It also has a very low skill floor but a sufficiently high skill ceiling which means a trained chimpanzee can play it to some success but a good player will get a lot out of it too. Other decks either have high skill floors (esper and most combo decks) or low skill ceilings (RDW, WW). That makes it appealing to both the good and the less good players.

It has no truly bad matchups, so it is always a solid choice in a format where tournaments are small and metagames shift heavily from one month to the next just because someone has three decks and now wants to play another.

There is a solid core of Blood players around Mannheim that test, play and refine the deck constantly (we should probably call them blood brothers...) so there is some sort of think tank behind that deck. I do not see any other deck having that much manpower invested to keep it on top and make it good.

That brings me to my conclusion that the format is far from solved. The strong archetypes are known but especially if you look at the blue based control decks you usually have close to no consensus on the card choices save a few key cards.. A few months ago the top three decks in Frankfurt were Esper lists but they all three differed in win conditions (creatureless combo, superfriends and midrange) and several card choices. Usually the people that put time and energy in this format have the strongest lists and perform well.

A little side note: From my personal experience Mannheim and Karlsruhe are always brutal tournaments. You have almost only regulars. In Frankfurt there are at least some fluctuating or new players. Even if you are good and your deck is fucking good, you are at the mercy of your days luck because all the others are good too. So this makes it hard for me to draw too many conclusions about the format in general. Most players there switch up decks. Only a few like me (always Esper) stick to their deck. And the blood players seem to always play blood.

Sorry if I started to ramble a little.
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Maqi
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« Reply #3 on: 29-06-2015, 12:38:50 PM »

[4c Blood] is a very strong deck, played by some good players regularly and it is one of the most played decks. That in general makes it the deck to beat. It also has a very low skill floor but a sufficiently high skill ceiling which means a trained chimpanzee can play it to some success but a good player will get a lot out of it too. Other decks either have high skill floors (esper and most combo decks) or low skill ceilings (RDW, WW). That makes it appealing to both the good and the less good players.

Very precise observation imo.
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Bat
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« Reply #4 on: 29-06-2015, 09:13:08 PM »

a) The format is solved

I also agree that the format is far from that. Almost every week in our playgroup somebody comes with his new homebrew, sometimes they fizzle, and sometimes they are just amazing.
BUG Midrange for example, the guy played his deck yesterday and nearly missed the top8 with 5:2. I think that there are still other decks around which are in tier1. But nobody plays them, so nobody sees the decklist online. But i also think that the format is not very appealing for new players. Most of them are too much into standard and modern, for the others its way too expensive.

For the deckbuilding... even the "Blood players" tinker like crazy on different brews, but most times when the tournament day strikes. They stick to "their" deck.
But the format is still very healthy and the metagame is good and versatile.

One big point which adds the most to: Was ist eigentlich mit meinem Format los? ((Whats going on in my format?)

is that the format itself, and by that i mean the players and this forum, doesnt do much to advertise it. To get started with highlander is hard enough when it comes to card costs. But the fact that there is no information on the internet about Highlander is almost a nail in the coffin.
I started with magic when Avacyn Restored hit the shelfs, and even then, this page was very outdated. I did not know if i was on the right page, or if this "edh" page was the right spot. The Last ban update is from 2013, the last grand prix report from 2008 and the latest tournament reports from 2007... Looks like a dead site to me.

Even the highlander subforum on the german main mtg forum "mtg-forum.de" is way outdated, and the decklists postet there as "primers" are far from competetive. Most of the times the forum is misunderstood as the edh forum and visa versa.
The newest addition to the web are the tournament videos from Berlin and Mannheim, which are hard to find if you dont know what you are searching for.
Youtube is booming with content creators about mtg, podcasts about edh, the modern bannings, standard gameplay, spoiler videos, etc.
The highlander format has to jump on that train, the sooner the better. (i have something planned, but dont hope for it soon)

So before arguing about whats wrong with the metagame, the mulligan or even the ban list. This page here needs a makeover.
« Last Edit: 29-06-2015, 10:03:49 PM by Bat » Logged
Kenshin
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« Reply #5 on: 29-06-2015, 10:54:30 PM »

Yeah, I agree on that. The site is some sort of unliving thing. Sometimes stirring, but mostly just sitting there.

To the admins: If you need help or anything done to improve the site just pm me. I have no skills at all but I have a shitload of time on my hands :-)
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Promole
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« Reply #6 on: 30-06-2015, 01:51:17 PM »

I agree with Peddy in his last point. The opportunity to just netdecking isn´t that useful for the evolution of this format. In Frankfurt for example there are always a couple of decks which can be seen as the Tier1 Decks of the format (Jeskai, 4C Blood, Izzet, Esper). But when you look over the results this year you will recognize, that we have different decks with 3:1 results or better and that decks aren´t always the tier 1 decks. When you look at the results of the Cup, there are 3 4C Blood in the Top 16, but there are 11 different archetypes in the Top 16 over all ! This shows how far away we are from a conflip format. It would be interesting if someone has some statistics about the general performance of the tier decks. I would say that the opportunity to create new decks in our format which are at a competetive level is still possible. In Frankfurt for example there is a group of players who are playing some kind of green based ramp decks which nearly destroys every Goodstuff/Midrange deck without blue. I think espacially in a highlander format people have to try new things and they will be rewarded for that by just using the tools peddy described.
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W0lf
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« Reply #7 on: 30-06-2015, 06:15:25 PM »

Yupp ramp decks destroy non blue goodstuff pretty easy but are very difficult to play against tempo/control decks. Also they are very much draw dependent which can be frustrating sometimes, still ramping into a random fattie is unmatched fun :-)
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