Feedback Thread: A Timing Attack on Modern Theory

Discussion in 'General CPA Stuff' started by Spiderman, Oct 19, 2017.

  1. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

  2. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    That is all the writing from me at the moment, and I thank you all for your patience with my expositions.

    To Oversoul specifically and anyone reading generally, I would be very interested in any optimization passes to Chronarch (or MetaEsper) that maintain their core weirdness potential and Modern legal status. Will be watching and listening. :)
  3. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    My feedback on MetaEsper is somewhere on a spectrum from aloof fascination to gushing enthusiasm, but I want to actually explore some specific nuances and options at some point. Like I said before (in a thread, but I forget which one), I'm into decks that approach the game from different and unusual axes. Some of the ones I've assembled myself (not necessarily designed myself, as some of them were copied unmodified from another person's decklist) include a 9-land Stompy deck, a multiplayer Dream Halls "cast all of the spells all over the place" deck, an almost-all-cycling Fluctuator deck (6 cards without Cycling 2 and 54 cards with Cycling 2), a 43-land deck, a landless "Oops, All Spells" deck, one-land Belcher, two-land Belcher, three-land Belcher, various Dredge decks, a completely manaless "Pitch" deck, a 150-card green ramp deck, creatureless monored Burn decks, Hypergenesis Cascade, a Zur's Weirding lockdown deck with no kill condition other than decking the opponent, a Land's Edge control deck, a Chance Encounter coinflip deck, a Swamp Mosquito deck, a TurboLich Mirror Universe deck, a Divine Intervention "we'll call it a draw" deck, a Eureka deck (unfinished), a Worldgorger Dragon combo deck, a Transcendence + Forsaken Wastes "die slowly" deck, a Brand-based Varchild's War-Riders deck (from before the relevant rules change), various Mogg Maniac damage redirection builds, an artifact prison deck based around Null Brooch, and some others that I don't even remember right now. Oh, and of course my Relentless Pony deck, which makes lots of token copies of Ring of Ma'Ruf and uses them to draw my entire Magic card collection into my hand. In short, I like weird stuff. And MetaEsper is about as weird as they come.

    Chronarch is trickier and when I have more time I want to sit and figure out what your boundary conditions are supposed to be. It's interesting but I don't yet know what to think...
  4. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    You Legacy players and your Rings of Ma'Ruf ;) I shall attempt to give you a well posed question that illustrates a difficulty for the type of comprehensive theory I am thinking is affected by Chronarch: I just designed this new "Etherium Sculptor and Treasure Mage early game with Aetherize and Settle the Wreckage into casting Delay in response to my own Platinum Angel going on the stack with one or more Dust of Moments in hand to bring Platinum Angel onto the stack at instant speed in response to what would otherwise serve as a win condition for another player" deck. My question for theory is, "How will choosing to add either a playset of Angel's Grace or a playset of Winds of Rebuke or adding two of each affect my game percentages (choices relative to one another) in a matchup with Chronarch, given that my primary win disruption (instant speed Platinum Angel) is insufficient against Worldfire and Pull from Eternity?"
  5. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Ah, but I built that deck when I was in high school, which was before the Legacy format existed. :p

    Well, in the first place, I hinted at this before but don't think I spelled it out: I suspect that a clean "theory of everything" in Magic does not exist and isn't possible. I mean, in principle, it might be possible for people to write down a "theory" that encompasses every possible consideration in the game, but it would be much longer than the IRS code. And even if such a document existed, a severe deficiency for it is that there is not a set number of variant formats. Theory that successfully models the official Modern format might not hold for "no ban list Modern" and then there's your "Modern, but with constraints on the percentage of shared cards in your deck construction and these here decklists right here." But that's just the tip of the iceberg. We could have "no creatures Modern." Or how about, let's see "Modern, but Planechase too, except the planar decks are randomized pulls from the planes in the Planechase Anthology set, players start at 15 life, mana burn is reinstituted, everyone starts with a free Wall of Wood that isn't part of your deck, also you have to use one planeswalker of each color and one multicolored planeswalker and you don't get to use any other planeswalker cards"?

    I contend that for any attempt at Magic theory that is clear, concise, and specific enough to have practical applications, we can contrive an environment in which that theory fails. I do think that theories can be useful, I just don't think "comprehensive" is on the table.

    As for Chronarch, what are the prospects for just beating the player to death before Worldfire can be cast? Certainly many decks could achieve it, but it seems like that's outside the scope of what you're going for?
  6. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    We agree then on comprehensive. It may not even be very important in any practical sense, the idea just seemed odd to me for the kinds of reasons other people were outlining - theory seems both comprehensive and robust for games such as Chess, Poker, and Bridge, to the point that we can take limiting subsets within those games (Chess without rooks, the case that 2s are wild, a specific opening and development in Bridge) and make a seemingly complete analysis with theory given perfect information.

    Chronarch certainly can win without utilizing the big theory attack. To give some examples, let us say we are playing an Approach deck. We have solid draws, play Enduring turn 4 with some Manamorphose help, which gives us the Heartless Summoning and Composite Golem combo available turn 5 with a Sylvan Caryatid on the battlefield. If we had one of the 4 copies of Wall of Mulch or 1 copy of Enter the Infinite in hand we would be able to exile everything, so for our example we are dealing with a game in which those are not available. Bitter Ordeal combines with the mana engine in such a way that a player could simply remove all libraries from the game, pass turn, and thereby win the table in most situations.

    There are a few other choices one can make there, however, at least to demonstrate theory. One is to remove all cards in all other players libraries that are not basic lands, then pass the turn and wait for Chronarch to draw into one of the library drawing cards. Another interesting facet of the deck is that you can optionally use Bitter Ordeal before having the engine in place at all to effectively win in certain situations. Taking my Abzan Approach Standard legal deck as an example, it only has a single means to victory, and that is casting Approach twice. Because it is a casual teaching deck, focused on demonstrating among other things the principle of no direct damage combined with no nonland permanents, my Approach deck simply loses if Chronarch can make a play such as, "Sacrifice Composite Golem for WUBRG, spend the G to use Wall of Mulch ability on Wall of Vines to draw a card, tap a land for second G to sacrifice Wall of Mulch itself, use WUB to cast Bitter Ordeal with three Gravestorm copies, then exile all copies of Approach of the Second Sun." Mnemonic Nexus assures that Chronarch can retrieve that Bitter Ordeal for the big theory finish once it draws into the complete engine, if this is a game with a player who has not seen it before. Otherwise, a player who has piloted the deck before, or a similar deck that relies heavily on a certain set of pieces (Battle of Wits comes to mind again), may simply concede once Bitter Ordeal and its copies go on the stack.
  7. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    My initial article contains an implicit technical error in my understanding of the stack, and also fails to properly address the flashback and rebound mechanic implications on exiling everything.

    I have a revision submitted that properly incorporates Past in Flames and Life Goes On to both properly allow for exiling the entire set of cards players began the game with and providing another interesting interaction to consider with cards such as Staggershock (Chronarch can put a flashback copy of Life Goes On on the stack before putting the flashback copy of Worldfire on the stack, thereby properly exiling its own graveyard completely before setting its own life total to 9).
  8. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    The revisions are up (I did it yesterday but forgot to post here :) )
    Psarketos likes this.
  9. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    Had a chance to think through a first optimization pass, changed the engine such that it can be in place turn 4 rather than 5 at the earliest, made the lands less eccentric while providing the potential for more card draw:

    -4 Composite Golem --> +4 Teardrop Kami
    -4 Heartless Summoning --> +4 Oasis Ritualist
    -4 Manamorphose --> +4 Wall of Omens

    16 Forest
    5 Plains
    3 Sunpetal Grove

    Going to build this version and test next week so that I can report practical results for Turgy ;)
  10. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    How do you test? Do you have a playgroup?
  11. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    I teach Magic to a group of high school kids certain days after school gets out, and I even got a few positive responses to the question of seeing Chronarch in action. Some of them are very capable at the game, some are still learning the basics and deckbuilding - one of the highlights this past week was getting schooled by a tournament level UW Approach deck, but the player had not heard of the new Sunbirds Invocation variant that has been making the rounds, so I can point out things like that even after getting stomped by 20 counterspells and a Torrential Gearhulk. Sending you a revision to the decklist for Chronarch for posting, might as well in case there is any interesting feedback from playtesting next week :)
  12. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Wow, nice. I'll look for it tonight.
  13. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Deck revision in the article is done.
  14. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    So now I can't stop pondering the following convoluted Magical Christmasland fantasy...
    1. Bait out Worldfire somehow.
    2. Ertai's Meddling to delay Worldfire for later.
    3. Barren Glory.
    4. Oblivion Ring on Barren Glory.
    5. Let Worldfire go off.
    6. Win?
    Too bad I don't know anyone who plays Worldfire. I'd have to play my own Worldfire, and that's not the same at all!
  15. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    Could do this, but I actually had a reasonably effective Barren Glory combo that worked like this: creatureless, control focus, 5 lands Enchanted Evening, 6 lands put Barren Glory on the stack, cast Patricians Scorn without mana cost which resolves first, destroying all permanents before Barren Glory hits the field. Sunscour was used to clear hand of cards while simultaneously clearing the battlefield of creatures most times (Path to Exile spot removal), Safewright Quest for early land drop securing and if drawn later it can remove itself from hand.

    Not a bad deck, but opponents did not like the drawn out control style at all, and I prefer piloting less control oriented decks myself.
  16. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    I actually like Barren Glory so much that I was, dubiously, using it before it existed by bringing The Cheese Stands Alone into games where Unglued cards were allowed and even trying to fetch it with Ring of Ma'Ruf in games where they were not (I do not contend that this has the same legitimacy as using Ring to fetch "ante" cards, but I tried to talk some people into letting me do it at the time). The more practical version is probably Kaervek's Spite + Academy Rector, which I also used. But more practical than that is probably Plunge into Darkness + Academy Rector for Near-Death Experience.

    Haven't seen the Enchanted Evening method before, but I like it. Great use of Patrician's Scorn. Might have to try something like that some day. This stuff always brings me back to how great of a set Future Sight is and how it's too bad we'll probably never see its like again.

    But mostly, I am amused at the convoluted ways of your Chronarch deck and want convoluted ways to thwart it, like turning Worldfire against it with Ertai's Meddling. I know Ransac would approve. :p
  17. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    You could use Delay + Dust of Moments at instant speed to ensure that Worldfire hit the stack at its casters next upkeep. A problem with that approach is that we are presuming that you have something in play to obviate not having a library from Bitter Ordeal, and Chronarch can respond to the Wildfire on the stack with Mnemonic Nexus, thereby creating a library for itself to survive its draw step and pass turn again. It could even Pull from Eternity the Wildfire to its graveyard before using Mnemonic Nexus, draw it on step or after using the engine, and cast it again, meaning you would have to have two copies of whatever trick you were using to change the timing.

    Turgy's Tournament Report! Segueing from that, the best response Chronarch got from the high school kids was in its first game against a Modern legal Simic combo deck. After my opponent countered Bitter Ordeal I explained that the Gravestorm copies still went on the stack, so he then countered the Worldfire, which I fetched back with Mnemonic Nexus and cast again for the big theory win. The verbal response was pretty gratifying - "That is really impressive." The next game I won by hard casting Enter the Infinite with enough mana to cast Enduring Renewal after drawing the library with a third Teardrop Kami of the turn providing the win. Took that set of games 3-1.

    Before that however, I went 0-2 against my own Abzan Approach Standard legal deck, which was disappointing despite the fact it is quite possibly my favorite deck I have built (a new twist on zero nonland permanents in Standard was a welcome addition to the game for me). I also went 1-2 against a different Abzan Standard legal deck built by one of the kids, and was then crushed by a Modern legal Rakdos aggro deck to the extent that we did not bother playing past the first game.

    Synopsis to this point: A fun kitchen table deck on power level and effect that has no pretensions of being able to handle competitive level Modern or even Standard legal decks. Worth playing in a casual setting for sure :)
  18. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Bitter Ordeal is one of those cards that came out in a power-packed set and didn't really have a niche for tournament gameplay, so it kind of flew under the radar despite having a great deal of latent power behind it. For cards in that category, many are reborn as Commander boogeymen. Bitter Ordeal continues to elude that distinction, leaving it one of those exceptional cards that just never became "mainstream" as something powerful despite possessing considerable power. I think dealing with Bitter Ordeal poses a bigger problem than most of the rest of Chronarch, in part because of that very "copies still go on the stack" point you mentioned.
  19. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    Made a second optimization pass that ended up building an entirely new deck, one that I think is more flexible, powerful, elegant, and hopefully more interesting to play. Going to get this one built in the near future. No plans to change original article, as this is its own thing yet also just another facet of the original concepts. For your viewing critique:

    Temurfire (temporary name, suggestions welcome) - Modern legal deck (60 cards)


    24 Forest

    Creatures (21)

    4 Burning-Tree Emissary
    1 Loaming Shaman
    4 Overgrown Battlement
    1 Riftsweeper
    4 Silkweaver Elite
    4 Sylvan Caryatid
    3 Wistful Selkie

    Spells (15)

    1 Altar of the Brood
    4 Cloudstone Curio
    4 Flameshadow Conjuring
    1 Leyline of Anticipation
    3 Manamorphose
    1 Sentinel Totem
    1 Worldfire
  20. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    Oversoul, thanks in part to your shenanigans-oriented feedback, I added a single copy of Grand Abolisher to the most recent iteration of my exiling all decks face up concept, which also gave the iteration a name. Decklist:

    Abolisher - Modern legal deck (60 cards)


    24 Forest

    Creatures (24 total)

    4 Burning-Tree Emissary
    1 Grand Abolisher
    1 Loaming Shaman
    4 Overgrown Battlement
    1 Riftsweeper
    3 Silkweaver Elite
    4 Sylvan Caryatid
    3 Verdant Eidolon
    3 Wistful Selkie

    Spells (12 total)

    1 Altar of the Brood
    4 Cloudstone Curio
    4 Flameshadow Conjuring
    1 Leyline of Anticipation
    1 Sentinel Totem
    1 Worldfire

    To answer an earlier query of yours in relation to this iteration, the engine itself can provide an unbounded number of 2/2 creature tokens with haste, in case you want to end the game and have no draw the library options in hand. If you have the rest of the engine and card draw while awaiting an Emissary, you have "GGGR: draw two cards" every turn recursively, which means if you have six mana available you can play the Emissary immediately into the big combo when you draw into it. I have this physically built except for the last two Cloudstone Curio copies, very much looking forward to testing in this form once I get a hold of them.
    Spiderman likes this.

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