Ahhh!  It’s a glorious Thursday, fearless readers.  And by ‘glorious’, I mean running on four hours’ sleep and heading shortly to a doctor’s appointment for a throat virus that my beautiful little son lovingly brought Daddy home from daycare.
Life is…good?
Anyway, I’m still in good spirits, as I was finally able to make the trip down to my (now semi-) regular Wednesday-night EDH game, and have it go all the way to completion.  Two games completed!  Nearly unheard of these days. 
And I will also admit I’m fired up more than usual with the outcome of both.  The first, a test drive of a very loose pile of an aggro-Sharuum first take, gave me a ton of solid feedback that I think we can apply very strongly to our ongoing Project.  We’ll get to that next Monday, when we resume things with a look at card draw.  Put on your thinking caps, and if you haven’t, look back at this past Monday to give me some feedback on lands for this deck. 
As for right now, though…oh man, I love the release that comes from going off about threat assessment.  Shall we?
 CATHARSIS FOR DUMMIES
Before we get going, let’s toss out a disclaimer:

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.)
(Because it’s my blog, dammit…)

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.
(DJ loves everyone!  Er…in a platonic way, not a biblical one…)

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.
(Something something glass house something something throw stones…)

.   .   .   .   .

My thesis statement is plain and simple: EDH may be a casual format, but that does not mean that one should use that as an excuse to toss proper threat assessment out the window.  There were two instances last night that pinged my radar; one (directly involving me) was pretty egregious, and one (of which I was a bystander) was a bit more subtle.  I think I’ll channel my vast teaching experience (read: one year as a para-educator) by grading and commenting on the two. 

Incident #1:

The Setup: I was running Sisters Of Stone Death in the second game.  Other generals included Brion Stoutarm to my right, Oros to my left, and Sen Triplets and Silvos, Rogue Elemental (Nice choice, man!) across the table from me.

Additional Info:  I jumped out to a fairly threatening lead, ramping into Sisters, an Abundance/Sylvan Library combo, and Darksteel Plate and Swiftfoot Boots (both equipped on Sisters) as well as Lightning Greaves.  I decided to get tricky, going for Dark Depths into Aether Snap, but my Marit Lage token was stolen by Mr. P and sacrificed to his Greater Gargadon before I could get it moving.  I had been beaten down to about 25 life, and people were slowly dealing me damage and dealing with my things.  (Abundance was destroyed, as was a Mimic Vat I tried to stick…)  As a result, I was sitting on my Booted, Plated Sisters for defense and not attacking.

Important Notes About The GameState:  Sen Triplets has Mirrorworks out, and is copying everything from Sol Ring to Nihil Spellbomb to Steel Hellkite.  Silvos is sitting on Sword Of Feast And Famine and Sword Of Vengeance.  (Possibly a Skullclamp too.)  More importantly, Mr. P is being allowed to equip Brion with his own Skullclamp, sacrifice him to Miren, The Moaning Well to gain life, draw two cards, and return him to play with Nim Deathmantle every turn.  His current life total is sitting somewhere north of seventy-five and climbing.

The Play: Oros untaps, draws, gets very excited, informs the table that he can “deal with that thing finally!”, and plays Into The Core, targeting Darksteel Plate.
…And Swiftfoot Boots.

The Grade:  D+

Comments:  No amount of trying to retroactively explain how this was the right play saves you on this one.  It’s simply not, and not only because it directly hurt my board.  There’s a reason that two of the other three players at the table were sitting there with their jaws dropped, laughing; Swiftfoot Boots was a huge blunder.  (This isn’t an “F” because Darksteel Plate was the right call.)
At the point when Core was played, my Swiftfoot Boots were about the 6th-most threatening artifacts on the board, compounded by the fact that I had a nearidentical effect with Greaves right next to them that he couldn’t also take without letting the Plate survive.  The sheer card advantage that Mirrorworks was providing was jaw dropping, and Nim Deathmantle was directly responsible for Mr. P doubling his life and making it impossible for his general to be destroyed.  And this isn’t taking into account what happens when a mono-green player is given free reign with a Seedborn Muse effect. 

Final Thoughts:  This is just a terrible play.  That said, I understand that there’s another important element related to threat assessment at work here; the Oros player and I have been at odds with each-other in the past, and I tend to show up as a recurring target for him as a result from week to week, no matter what I’m playing.  I’m not trying to divest blame from myself either; the resulting feud has me then throwing threat assessment out the window myself for the rest of the game in favor of trying to wreck him in return.  (In this case, it didn’t help that he was lecturing the Sen Triplets player not long afterward on not making power plays because “it’s a casual format”.  Want to fire me up in a hurry?  This reads like a master course in exactly how to do that.  In fact, I bit my tongue and said nothing about the play at all until he did this, at which point I kind of unloaded on him.  Apologies, man…) 
The point is that it’s a very slippery slope to let a personal beef get in the way of solid play, and there’s a real snowball effect when this kind of thing happens.  The result is about what you’d imagine; Brion made endgame due to his huge lead in life total, and Sen Triplets nearly took everyone down with multiple copies of Hellkites and Wurmcoil Engines. 
(I may or may not have taken advantage of the ensuing carnage to *ahem* sneak in a lethal attack on Triplets, followed by *ahem* a huge Drain Life on Brion to win the game…) 

Incident #2:

The Setup:  Game one of the evening.  I have Sharuum; to my right is Mr. P with his Johan “Farming” theme deck, to my left is Silvos, and across the table from me is Zur and Ulasht.  (Yes…the Ulasht I need a decklist on for you guys.  It should be on the way shortly…)

Additional Info: I don’t think Mr. P would mind in the slightest if I characterized the Johan Farming deck as “not good”.  He’d probably use stronger language that that himself.  It’s strictly an exercise in making a deck dedicated to farming at the expense of all else…and by all else, I mean he’s running Farmstead. 

Let that sink in.  While you’re at it, imagine that you and your buddy have each bought a pack of Revised off of EBay.  You open Farmstead as your rare; he opens UndergroundSea. 
Moving on, then?

Important Notes About The GameState:  Ulasht has done an admirable job of handling most of the board; most recently, he dropped a Terastodon, wiping out (if memory serves) my Mimic Vat, and some other good things from other players.  He also has Skarrg, The Rage Pits active.  Mr. P has just decided to open a stud farm, playing Storm Herd for thirty-four horses.  We are all at less than thirty-four life.

The Play:  Ulasht declares attacks, swinging at Mr. P with his Terastodon and activating Skaarg to make it a trampling 10/10.  Mr. P blocks with ten horse tokens, at which point Ulasht plays out an entwined Savage Beating.  Mr. P loses ten horses and takes ten trample damage. 
Ulasht then untaps and moves to his second attack phase.  He then swings at Mr. P for another twenty damage.  Mr. P is a bit shocked, and just takes the damage.

The Grade:  A solid “C”

Comments:  I’m really on the fence on this one.  On the one hand, I need to give credit to Ulasht, who is a solid player and a solid deckbuilder.  He nearly always takes his time to properly assess the board to make the correct play, and he’s among the players in the shop with the most wins.
It’s also important to also take into context the fact that thirty-four flying horses was enough to deal lethal damage to any of the rest of us.  I see what he was doing, protecting his game-state by forcing Mr. P to commit enough of his horses to prevent him from representing lethal damage to any of us.
The problem I have here is the second attack.  After getting Mr. P to bite on gang-blocking the Terastodon the first time, it should have been obvious that he wasn’t planning on alpha-striking anyone out of the game, and he no longer had an army big enough to do so anyway.  The compounding factors in my mind are that Mr. P has spent the game doing nothing but playing things like Argothian Swine (because it’s a pig!), and…well, that’s about it.  It was clear that the Storm Heard was the only real power play the deck had, and with that neutralized, there were far-more threatening things happening elsewhere; I had Scarecrone and was recurring everything that hit my yard with Sharuum as a result, and Zur was in position to do his Zur thing.  (To be fair both ways, his deck – like mine – was noted as a “non-threatening” version, but also had locked in Solitary Confinement at one point, and had both an original Phyrexian Arena and a copy, which was allowing him to see an obscene amount of cards each turn.)
Simply put, I feel there were better places to send the second attack.

Final Thoughts:  I think what was happening here was that Ulasht was a bit tunnel-vision-ed on the play in question.  It’s very easy to fall into such a state in that situation; you’ve spent time identifying a threat and building a strategy that will allow you to neutralize it, and auto-pilot can kick in once things are in motion.  It’s not technically a bad play per se, but once the second attack was sent at Mr. P, an opportunity was lost to put pressure on players that were more deserving of it, and Mr. P was noticeably frustrated, resulting in him reacting much as I did in game two, placing an undue and possibly overextended amount of pressure on Ulasht for the rest of the game in retribution.  The result is that Ulasht had to use resources to fight off Mr. P, leaving him a bit short in the end when Zur was able to recur enough flying threats to clear the table out in one turn.  (At that point, Mr. P and I were both dead.)
I’ll say it again – Yeah, EDH is casual.  That doesn’t mean that loose play won’t have consequences.

.   .   .   .   .

That’s it for this week, faithful readers.  Again, thanks to the Worlds Apart crew for some great games last night, and I mean it when I say that I hold no ill will toward anyone I may have commented on in this (or any other) post on here.  You guys are all the best.
We’ll see you Monday!  I’ll give you a taste of my discoveries from last night’s adventure with Sharuum ver. 1.0, and we can put a dent in what’s left of this project. 
Enjoy your weekends!

àDJ