Monday, December 5, 2016

Free Hugs: Update

So I was actually able to build and play the list in my last update, the group hug deck. Got in a total of 4 games, and managed to win 2 of them (one win was possibly undeserved as one player scooping out of frustration clenched my victory, though as I was resolving a Vicious Shadows when that player scooped, it seems pretty likely I'd have come out ahead anyway. Vicious Shadows is not exactly a "fair" Magic card!).

More importantly, the games I lost were pretty fun and epic, too. I like the way group hug plays when you're actually using it as a strategy for winning, rather than simply propelling whoever gets luckiest or has the best deck to an easy victory. That said, there were times when I felt like I was helping out one player more than the others, so a BIT more spot-removal and other utility to keep things relatively fair and balanced might be in order.

Oh, and there were a few more changes I made after the first game or two...

1. Cut Arcane Denial for Gaea's Blessing. This change was inspired by my realization that playing Oath of Druids in a deck with only about 20 creatures is not actually brilliant. I managed to make myself quite sad almost every time I resolved an Oath trigger, milling away lots of goodies. Blessing is essential if you're keeping Oath but running a low creature count. I'd also consider Elixir of Immortality as well (in case you draw Blessing, as I did once).

2. Couldn't find the Mystifying Maze that I recommended adding in the last post (I know I have a few of them, but for some reason just couldn't locate any), so I put in Alchemist's Refuge instead. Well, that was a very fortuitous happenstance, as it turns out flashing in Group Hug stuff like Heartbeat of Spring so you get to benefit first is actually really good. No matter what version of this deck you build, the Refuge is almost certainly one of the best lands you can have. Run it!

3. Cut Prismatic Geoscope for Well of Ideas. After a few games I just really wanted more draw, but I still didn't want to add back in Howling Mine or something like Font of Mythos. Then I remembered Well of Ideas was in my Essential Additions post, yet I didn't add it! Oops! Well, turns out my instincts were good on that point, because it played really well once I slotted it in. Wasn't sure what to cut for it, but Geoscope showed up a few times and was never very good for me. I either badly needed to cast other things and couldn't afford to take a turn off to play a ETBF-tapped, five mana, do-nothing mana rock, or I had tons of mana already and it just didn't matter.

Another issue I had was in the early game, not having quite enough mana. I figured their would be enough ramp, plus our commander enabling extra land drops, but most of the games I played had some tense early turns where I was praying for either land or a cheap ramp spell (another reason I cut the Geoscope - the only times I ever WANTED to draw ramp was when I was stuck on 3 or 4 lands).

I did have one game where I got to play Kynaios and Tiro on turn two thanks to a T1 Burgeoning and having a bounceland in hand. That was actually a game I lost, though, believe it or not!

Anyway, cutting two lands seemed like a great idea at the time, but I was having trouble getting enough land to have a natural land drop each turn AND have a land to play off K&T. That said, most of the time I'd still rather be drawing actual gas and not just barfing lands to no real effect.

All things considered, though, I did enjoy the deck quite a bit and found it fun to play, despite normally hating group hug decks. I think gearing the deck toward actually wanting to win some games and not just enable others to win is a big improvement, for me at least. It's never going to be my favorite deck to play and it's certainly not going to win a ton of games, but I like it well enough to keep around.

EDIT: Update to my update - I just realized I missed Alliance of Arms. You see, I somehow mistakenly believed it was already in the pre-constructed list to begin with, but obviously that is not true. Alliance of Arms definitely needs to be in the deck as well. I am not sure what to cut, but it 100% for sure has to go in. Sorry!

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