The bystander effect is a fascinating and horrifying psychological phenomenon. The bystander effect, or ‘bystander apathy’, is an effect where people are far less likely to offer help to an individual when others are nearby. In crowds and groups, responsibility is diffused across the group; this leads to each individual feeling like someone else is going to offer help or offer better help. The bystander effect can be especially threatening when someone is in danger.
Category: Threat assessment (Page 1 of 2)
In general, I feel that the average quality of EDH writing currently being produced is a bit low, and there isn’t much of it either. However, the stuff by Jason Rice on Brainstorm Brewery, most of it under the “A Unified Theory of Commander” umbrella, is the perfect combination of pragamatism and high-level thinking for my EDH dollar (despite the fact that i end up disagreeing with a lot of his conclusions). In that spirit, I wanted to hearken back to one of our most read posts of 2014, in which Cass takes issue with the foundational theory that kicks of YToC. Dig in, hit us up, and go read Jason’s stuff. Now if only someone would apply this systematic approach to playing the game….
Thanks for tuning in! While we regroup and gear up for the new year (and my god, do we have plans!), we’re going to dig into the vault and shine the spotlight on some hits from days past. If you’ve never read them, these articles should be worth your time to dig in on. If you have read them…well, read them again, dammit.
To get started, I decided to take y’all back to where it all began, three long years ago in Blogspot land (For reference, I was still referring to myself as “DJ”) – The first real post to grace the pages of GeneralDamageControl.com. If nothing else, it’s worth it so see how far we’ve come. (Again, my god. Thanks for sticking it out, everyone. Really.)
Happy holidays, everyone.
Welcome back, wonderful readers! Last time, I explained some of the basics for assessing threats. This week, I’ll look at deciding who to kill and when to make that kill. Threat assessment gets complicated quickly, so I’ll be sticking close to the basics for simplicity.
Three Cards Deep: The Good, The Bad, and the EDH Ugly
- One is Rad: Surprisingly awesome card you’d be just as happy to see an opponent slam down as you would to rip it off the top.
- One is Bad: It’s a bogeyman. Take a trip to frown town with these fun suckers, whether you’re casting or being tortured by them.
- One is Sad: Often popular inclusions, these cards aren’t actually worth a slot.
In honor of my brand new son Paix (almost two weeks old today), this week we’re looking at the Rad, the Rad, and the Rad, because seriously, everything is so awesome right now.
…OK not really.
First, blah blah big mana resource accumulation default strategy because combo is frowned upon blah blah. Ok great. Moving on.
Everybody talks about ramp vaguely as a kind of love to hate to love strategy. I mean, I like casting spells early and I want to jam Gratuitous Violence, Vigor, and Phthisis, in consecutive turns. But I also want to play a fun game of EDH, which means I can’t be the only one getting my jollies off.
Veggies is sweet, the gold standard of fair ramp. It’s the Counterspell of “counterspells,” the Doom Blade (or maybe it should be Murder) of removal. It’s always good, there are better and worse options, and it’s not a gateway drug to breaking the game in half. Some say Cultivate is a better choice because it hits earlier, but in EDH it’s worth a mana to skip ahead two turns.
Veggies ramps, fixes mana, and looks good in a tight tank top. You’re happy casting it on turn six to fix and it helps keep you in the game providing a net bonus in terms of resource accumulation – lands in play – even on turn twelve. But it’s just a small one, not enough lands to break the game in half.
You can make the case for Skyshroud Claim, which obviously can be much better if you have a more expensive mana base. But that’s too obvious, too good, and a legitimate if.
Verdict: If you told me you ran this in every green deck, I would not roll my eyes.
Realms is the king-maker, the enabler of the busted big-mana things that make us all sigh and complain. If jumping ahead two lands on turn four – a 50-percent gain – is good, then jumping ahead seven on turn six or seven – a 100 percent increase assuming no non-land mana sources – is ri-dic-u-lous. Capital “R” as in you’re already set to re-cast Progenitus twice after your realms go unbounded. And that’s basically the minimum entry point for its resource accumulation abilities.
I get that it’s just an enabler and a deck that’s all bears won’t bust any skulls with fourteen lands. But it mixes well with some of the other flagship cards and strategies of the format to create a redundant, unfun play experience. Yes, people should be running more fair answers to ramp (Natural Balance/Keldon Firebombers for President/VP 2014!), just like they need more graveyard hate and personality, but that’s not the point. The point is frown town and how much I hate it.
Verdict: Your realms were already fine. Pretty nice even. Don’t make them boundless.
One-for-one ramp. It really gets me. I have discussed this with multiple players who use them, and yes, I kvetched about Rampant Growth last time. But I keep seeing it. This week it was Farseek. It’s very weak. Its weakness may be disguised by just being one of many ramp spells in a mana advantage deck, in which case it’s part of a cumulative effect that belies the wasted cardboard. And Deep Reconnaissance and Growth Spasm are in the category as well.
Nature’s Lore is slightly better. And to the Farseek player’s credit, he was only running Nature’s Lore and Three Visits (land comes into play untapped), Farseek to get duals, and the signets. All of these are a spot better than Rampant Growth.
Here’s the thing. Every card obviously has opportunity cost, and different ramp spells advance different game plans. So if you always want four mana of three colors on turn three to windmill slam Rafiq of the Many, the two mana guys (including a bunch of other really bad ones like Edge of Autumn) do get the job done.
But predicating card selection on tempo-based needs means you have to include cards that are dead draws late, which is a higher risk in a format defined by variance and slower matches. However, less tempo-dependent ramp and fixing like Veggies is a dead draw far less of the time. If you build a strategy around less narrow goals, you have a broader range of conditions by which you can successfully execute your game plan, so you won’t end up running narrow, time-conditional spells like Farseek.
Verdict: Even when I step down from a high horse on a soap box, it still looks bad to me.
Weekly Lesson: Convincing people to target the ramp player can be difficult if s/he is crafty. Everybody knows to blow up Mirari’s Wake, but the guy who sits behind a few rocks, a middling beater or two, and the lands from having cast seven ramp spells in ten turns might fly under the radar if he’s good at the “strategy of second best.” Yet if you try too hard (perhaps because you’ve been thinking about card evaluation a lot and realize what the third ramp spell in a row means for future abilities to recover) to convince people that Rampy McRamperson is the threat, you sound whiny and people still aren’t convinced. More people need to read Cassidy’s (and Mr. P’s) articles about proper threat assessment to make this easier for me.
9:59 AMMe: What do I write about today? Give me a topic.10:01 AMMr. P: so game last night: Andrew plays turn one Sol Ring, turn two Sylvan Library, turn three cultivate, something else, turn 4 dragon broodmother, turn 5 perilous forays. I play 6 straight lands and then play primetime, which gets countered.write about improper threat assessment.10:04 AMMe: Andrew comboed everyone out, correct?10:05 AMMr. P: he didno one disrupted him at all
“’Situational Awareness’ is the same thing as ‘Improper Threat Assessment’. You complain about that enough as is.”
“If you never talk about ‘proper threat assessment’, there is no distinction!”
By reading the following, you (the reader) recognize that I (the author) reserves the right to get a little fired up and possibly talk some $#!? about some or all of the players and games he was involved in that lead to this post. I’ll remove the names to protect the people involved. (Except possibly for my partner-in-crime Mr. P, if he’s involved…just because.)
Furthermore, while I may rip a person, their deck, or a play decision they made to shreds here, I in no way mean it as a personal offense and in no way hold a grudge against that person going forward.
Lastly, if I haven’t made it clear before now, I fully understand that I’m a bad player myself, make some of the most terrible plays ever and punt games like I get a check from Wizards Of The Coast monthly for it, and I accept that I tend to view things frequently through rose-colored glasses. That need cleaning. And a new prescription.
EDH PLAYERS ARE THE WORST THREAT ASSESSORS PLAYING MAGIC.
IT’S ALWAYS PERSONAL.
None of those will ever happen…
“THE CARD YOUR DECK IS BUILT AROUND:That’s right…you’re now running a Rooftop Storm combo deck. Ok, well sorta. The way I see it, Zombies go like this:BLACK-because that’s what 99% of Zombies are. If you want a second color you go into…RED-because they really want haste, and also Deathbringer Thoctar! From there you can either go into…WHITE- for Necromancer’s Covenant or…BLUE-for Rooftop Storm or…(if you’re uncreative you can go into…)GREEN-for ummmm…mana ramp?So anyways it’s really either Mono Black, Black-Red, or a tri-color. If you’re in Blue you obviously are there for Rooftop Storm, so let’s break the s**t out of that thing.”
“THE CARDS THAT BREAK ROOFTOP STORM:-Leyline of AnticipationRooftop Storm lets you play guys for free. You know what goes well with that? Being able to play your guys as instants.”RECURSION:-Empty The Catacombs-Soulquake-Evacuation-Infernal CaretakerHey look, a handful of free Zombies!-Patriarch’s Bidding-Living Death-Twilight’s Call-Balthor The DefiledAs long as one of the zombies coming in is Noxious Ghoul, nothing except zombies will survive.”
Stairwell Tombstone-Vicious Shadows”
“COUNTERS:The paradox here is that by going more tribal, you should probably run more counters. Since theoretically you’ll have Rooftop Storm out, you should theoretically be able to keep counter mana open.-Cryptic Command-Dismiss-Hinder”