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Wreckin’ with Raidrinn: The Forge Watch Invitational

Since the newest 24-card update hit our SolForge clients, I’ve been having flashbacks to the first big update. Back in the beginning, when all we had were 6 starter decks worth of cards, all of the creatures and spells were very different. Everything had a sort of flat power level, meaning most cards could be played interchangeably with only moderate impact to the outcome of the game. While fun for starter decks, in the forum games that we played before there was deck construction, it made for very predictable games. Read More »

Analysis of the Forgewatch Invitational Top 8

On Saturday, January 18, we crown the champion of the first ever Forgewatch Invitational.

We have eight players remaining.  Bludex and Darksoul are both playing variants of Grimgaunt Removal decks, although they are splashing different factions so their decks play very differently.  Holyllama, Table1, and TinyGrimes are all playing similar A/U Robots/Thundersaur/Patriarch decks, although again with important variations, while PEsh021 has seemingly adapted a similar list for usage without the Robot synergies.  Xtof is playing a variant of a U/N Patriarch/Deathweaver/Swarm deck that has become very popular lately.  And Whytefyre?  Just keep reading.

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SolForge Report 11-13-2013

Hey everyone! SeomanReborn here with this week’s edition of the SolForge Report. This week StoneBlade issued a summary of the changes in the upcoming Tournament Update. Kibler talks a little bit about the design of the new cards and we also get a look at one of them. We still have  no word about when the patch will be out, but the signs seem to indicate it is just a few weeks away. Let’s get on with the Report!

StoneBlade Update

StoneBlade released an official press release about the upcoming patch. In it, StoneBlade gave their official summary of Drafting and Tournaments. They also talked about the release of the iPhone client as well as the new cards and card changes. Most of it was a recap of things we had previously learned, but if you want to read it you can find it on their website.

Card Preview

Part of the update StoneBlade provided also has a new card spoiler. Check him out!

Thundersaur
We are not sure what rarity he is but his effect feels Legendary. This card has very interesting flavor and design, which means I’m looking forward to collecting him!

Card Changes

We also got another card change this week.


Changes: It now has better stats (Previously 4/8/12 Health), and its ability is an Activate which only lasts the turn with higher Attack debuff values (Previously was -1/-2/-4).

There was a subtle change in the rarity of certain cards in the stream last week that I had missed.  Cull the Weak and Corpse Crawler were both demoted to Common during his draft. I’m not sure what this means for the rarity distribution of the set, but it could work out better for people still trying to collect certain cards.

Misc.

  • Kibler stated that cards are going to be added directly to the current card pool. The packs will be different than the current ones so any that you have stored up will not contain them. He mentioned there will be other ways to obtain them as well, possibly alluding to the statement that they would be part of the tournament rewards a few weeks ago. There will be no packs for just the new cards.
  • The initial algorithm in determining which cards will be taken out more often by the computer during drafts will be based on what the developers drafted during playtesting. After that, the program will base it on player behavior.
  • There were no spoilers on the stream this week, but Kibler stated that the new cards are designed around synergies to make them interesting to play together.

The Stream


Watch live video from StoneBlade on TwitchTV

SolForge Report 11-6-2013

Hello everyone! SeomanReborn here with another exciting SolForge Report. Kibler gave us a full preview of the Tournament and Drafting UI while also showing us some of the changes to a few common cards in the current set. The iPhone release got an update while the PC Client received some nice quality of life changes. Let’s get on with the Report!

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Bracket #20: Reassessing Thicket

First things first: the metagame is pretty stagnant.  I’ll get to the tournament results from the past two weekends below (sorry, I got busy last week and didn’t get them published).  But by now you pretty much know the routine: Lots of Shapers; Grimgaunt Predator; Everflame Phoenix; Zimus, the Undying; and Unheroic Robots.  The one exception is that Decurion has had great success lately (winning last week’s Forgewatch Standard Constructed event, and finishing 8th in the Reddit event) with a mono-Alloyin deck built around Steelforged Avatar, Card Drawing, and Creature Buffs.  Good job, Decurion, in finding a creative way to defeat the standard Shaper-Spell deck we’ve come to know and dislike.

So instead of focusing on what the largely depressing state of the current metagame, I’m going to use today’s rant to discuss a card that I feel is highly under-appreciated, especially in any Limited Rarity format (e.g. Unheroic, Draft, etc.): Cadaverous Thicket.

Thicket appeared in zero decks in the last Unheroic tournament (on 9/13), and appeared in only two of the 256 decks in last Tuesday’s Reddit event.  Raidrinn, one of my fellow Forgewatch columnists, gave the card a zero–that is “Unplayable”–in his recent Uterra Core Set Review.  Clearly the community does not look highly upon Thicket.

But frankly, I think the community is wrong on this one.  (Sorry, Raidrinn.)  In particular, Thicket has two qualities that I value in any card: Read More »

Bracket #19: In Which I Attempt to Shake-Up the Metagame

I’m tired of writing up column after column describing the latest Shaper-dominated decks in SolForge Tournaments.  Until this past weekend, it seemed that the metagame was slowly evolving away from them… unfortunately, from that perspective, we just took a large step backwards.  (More on that later.)

So with that in mind, let’s talk about how to beat Shaper decks.  Hopefully, that might inspire some of you to play something else in the next few tournaments.

Read More »

Bracket #18: Success Isn’t Necessarily Legendary

A common mistake for new players is to assume that success in SolForge tournaments is a solely a function of  who has the most powerful and hard to acquire cards.  I certainly understand how it can feel that way, especially after you’ve been run over in consecutive games by Grimgaunt Devourer, Zimus the Undying, and Lyria, Muse of Varna.

I won’t deny that powerful cards can lead to success.  Surely they can.  But it is very easy to overstate their importance.  In particular, the strongest cards in the world won’t win you any games if you don’t understand their synergies and weaknesses.  Just as one example, there was one player in last weekend’s constructed tournament whose deck contained 18 Legendaries… and yet finished with a losing record.  Meanwhile, Regalian3’s sixth place deck contained only 3 Legendaries–and the core of the deck was largely made up of Rares and Commons.

It isn’t enough to have more Legendaries or Heroics than your opponent.  It is much more important to have a complete grasp of the ones you do have: when to use them, when not to use them, and which supporting cards to use in tandem with them.  Grimgaunt Devourer, for example, is capable of being an extremely powerful, almost game-breaking card.  That being said, I cannot simply throw Grimgaunt into any deck and expect it to dominate.  A good Grimgaunt deck will contain a variety of ways to either generate extra deaths per action (like Death Seeker, Fellwalker, or Echowisp), and/or will contain a variety of ways to kill creatures before combat (either by sacrificing my own or removing my opponents’).  Good players understand that Grimgaunt is most powerful when you can generate deaths in large bundles while Grimgaunt is on the field; otherwise he’s just a weak chump-blocker. Read More »

Bracket #17: Shapers and the Evils of Common Knowledge

On Common Knowledge

I hate common knowledge.  There is nothing more disruptive to a competitive environment.

Common knowledge is a piece of information that everyone “knows” to be true, and that everyone also “knows” that everyone else “knows” it to be true.

Of course, sometimes common knowledge actually is true: it’s common knowledge that humans must eat and breathe to survive.  While there have been some to dispute these things for brief periods of time, those “movements” tend to be short-lived… literally.

But all too often, common knowledge is false.   Read More »

Forging the Deck: You’re a Wizard, Raidrinn! + Tournament Report

Since the Core Set released, decks that contain mostly spells have been on a lot of people’s radar. Why? Because it is a new, unique way to play the game. The challenge of beating an opponent with only a few creatures in your deck is hard to pass up. As someone who likes a challenge, during Gen Con I built my first version of spells; Tempys/Nekrium. The deck had 2 win conditions. A single copy of Lyria, and 1 Scorchmane Dragon (I didn’t have Zimus). The deck was not great. It could win a few games, but not with any consistency. It felt powerful, but there was something missing.

Enter Flameshaper Savant, the man of the hour. Finally I wasn’t just trying to get bits of value with Master of Elements and Static Shock, I now had an engine. But an engine needs fuel, and realizing that Flameshaper Savant was the real centerpiece of the deck, not the fact it was mostly spells, I switched over to Alloyin as my Faction Pair.

The deck’s improvement was immediately noticeable. Ghox and Energy Surge allowed me to consistently find Flameshapers, as well as create far superior spell chains. I settled on 8 creatures for the deck because every creature I added made the spell chains less consistent. After a bit of theory crafting and testing, I settled on this list.

The Deck

Creatures:
3 x Flameshaper Savant
3 x Master of Elements
2 x Ghox, Metamind Paragon
Spells:
3 x Energy Prison
3 x Energy Surge
3 x Static Shock
3 x Lightning Spark
3 x Uranti Bolt
3 x Firestorm
2 x Metasculpt
2 x Disintegrate

Flameshaper Savant
The deck may be named spells, but this is the true engine of the deck. One of the mistakes people seem to make is clogging their deck with other… stuff. The deck doesn’t need stuff, it needs Flameshaper and cards that make Flameshaper better.

Master of Elements
Massive body and free spells = winner.

Ghox, Metamind Paragon
“Why Ghox?” some ask. “Why not Stasis Warden?” others inquire. The answer is actually very simple.

You don’t have to level Ghox.

I must stress the importance of leveling in this deck. When you level the wrong cards at the wrong times, you lose. It’s that simple. There are already 9 cards that are completely level dependent, why would you want to add more? Every level dependant card that is added is another card that is useless after Player Level 1.

Energy Prison
The obvious use is to lock down creatures that are too large for your damage based removal to handle, but there is an even more important function this card provides…

Giving your own creatures Defender.

One of the most powerful plays this deck has is locking down either your Flameshaper or your Ghox from attacking. Unless your opponent has a removal spell or large Aggressive creature, your engines will sit on the field for the rest of the game.

Static Shock
Free spells without a large body still = winner.

Lightning Spark
Kills creatures, goes to the face when the board is clear.

Uranti Bolt
This one is more interesting. Leveling this card is not really a priorit,y because the Defender clause remains useful all game. I’ll often cast one a turn on an abnormally difficult creature while I wait for an Energy Prison.

Firestorm
Aggressive Echowisp is a problem, this is your answer.

Metasculpt
I saw someone on the SolForgeGame Forums say, “…and we all know Metasculpt is terrible.” I couldn’t believe it. This is subtly one of the most powerful cards in the game. Can’t kill a Grimgaunt when its about to get huge? Sculpt it. Arboris 100/101? Sculpt it. Fleshfiend 3? You get the picture. On top of this, the card doesn’t need to be leveled until Player Level 2. That’s very important as card leveling order is critical.

Disintegrate
This is the card that I get the most flak about. I will be the first to admit that this card is awful. I hate that I need to play this in the deck. Looking at the current card pool, I’ve exhausted all the playable removal that doesn’t need to be leveled (except for Sonic Pulse and Electro Net, but those cards playtested awfully). On top of that, the problem I started running into was not a “need more removal” problem, but a “need cards that don’t target creatures” problem. Disintegrate is a card I can cast that doesn’t need a target, and until better options come along, its probably staying in.

The Gameplan

Spells is hands down the most difficult deck to pilot that I’ve used in SolForge. Spell sequencing, draw percentages, spell and combat math, as well as when to block, when to take damage, and when to just race your opponent to 0. Even in the finals match of the Tournament, I made many mistakes and I’m very practiced with the deck.

Player Level 1: Cast Flameshaper
The spell order is as follows:

Flameshaper Savant
Flameshaper Savant
Flameshaper Savant
Master of Elements
Energy Prison
Energy Surge

If you have Flameshaper in hand, find a way to cast it. I don’t care how much damage you are taking, if you can’t cast Flameshaper you lose. Of course there is the rare game where you draw only 1 or even 0 Flameshapers. That’s ok; don’t panic. That’s why you are allowed to level Energy Surge. Even in the games where you don’t have Flameshapers leveled, Energy Surge will dig them up for you. There was at least one occasion during the tournament where I only leveled one Flameshaper the entire game, and Ghox/Energy Surge made sure I found it every time.

Player Level 2: Stay Alive
Flameshapers and Masters usually do a pretty good job of clogging the board but you are often battling from behind at this point. Now you finally get the opportunity to cast all those other spells you haven’t even looked at yet. It’s common to be able to play Flameshaper 2, Master 2, Static Shock 1, and any other spell. This will easily help you battle back from most board states. You’re objective is to clear the board and keep it clear for the rest of the game.

Player Level 3 and Beyond: Win the Game
Once Player Level 3 gets going, you’ll have a large percentage of your engines leveled. You are likely drawing extra cards and generating excess damage which you send at the opponent. Besides continuing to keep the board clear, your priorities now change to locking your own Flameshaper with an Energy Prison, or just chaining tons of cards with Ghox and Energy Surge. Usually, if you have made it this far and are above 40 life, you are golden.

The Tournament

In the minutes before the tournament, I’ll admit I was sweating a bit. I had spent some time looking through the decks, and while a majority of the tournament was playing Nekrium or Uterra midrange style decks (both of which are great matchups for Spells), there were a couple of decks I knew would be problematic with if pairings did not go in my favor. SeomanReborn, I’m looking at you and your 3 Jet Packs.

Pairings went up and I breathed a sigh of relief. While I was in one of the pods where I would have to play a winner (which means a potentially stronger deck) both builds were Nekrium midrange and therefore pretty favorable with my Energy Prisons and Metasculpts set to snap off the scariest of the threats. The Jet Pack deck was safely on the other side of the bracket, so I wouldn’t need to worry about facing it early on. Sadly for MNPaladin, who was playing the same 30 as myself, he got paired up with SeomanReborn and lost a close 3-game match.

Both seraphimscall and Voidhawk played very well. Early on, I had to stave off aggressively-leveled Fleshfiends, Zimus, and Lyria from seraphimscall as well as the Xrath, the Dreadknight of Varna in conjunction with Unrelenting Dead from Voidhawk. Its value and ability combinations like these where Metasculpt really shined for me. If I couldn’t kill or lock down a creature with Flameshaper or Energy Prison, Metasculpt made sure I would be able to do so on the following turn. Four intense matches later, I faced MrHyde.

MrHyde played a card that I hadn’t considered during testing, and it bit me hard in that first game. During Game 1, he aggressively leveled 2 Explosive Demise which countered my Prisons and in the end killed me only a turn or two before I could have had the game myself. I needed a change in strategy. Game 2, I mostly eschewed Energy Prison in favor of aggressively leveling Energy Surge. This would allow me better chains in the mid and late game for the extra damage needed to remove his creatures from the board instead of locking them down with Prison. The strategy was very effective. While I had to make concessions in the early game and take a lot of damage, I was able to stabilize at around 40 life each game and render his Explosive Demises useless by never leaving a creature alive on his side of the field.

Skies had me worried; the combination of large Aggressive creatures and Phoenix to finish off my life total during the end-game seemed very dangerous. I was fortunate in the fact that instead he played a more controlling role with the deck. I was able to out chain his Flameshapers with my own and move on to the quarterfinals.

Decurion’s deck had an interesting focus on recurring creatures and removal using Scourgeflame Sorcerer as its main engine. Sadly, he was unprepared for Metasculpt and Energy Prison. Once the Flameshaper engine was revved, I raced to the finals.

The final match was the only match that got officially recorded. You can watch the match yourself here. The pressure and length of time I had been playing must have started getting to me because there are a number of misplays I made that, while not costing me the match, show that I still have much to learn about this game.

Epilogue
I have to say, its pretty fantastic to have won my first official Stoneblade sponsored SolForge tournament. I had played in many of the previous community tournaments, and while I had fun, I didn’t do as well as I could have. This was an awesome tournament put on by an amazing community of people. I’d like to specifically thank Kit101, Racecar0, and MNPaladin for all their help just letting me grind games against them all. May you all draw your Flameshapers and play them often.

The Bracket #16: The First Constructed Event

Last weekend I organized the first Set 1 Constructed deck SolForge tournament.  Seventy-six people played at least one game; an unprecedented number.  And while we had a few server issues that brought the event to a premature close, we did get in enough Swiss rounds to be able to declare a winner, Zrandles, who earned his victory by going undefeated through six rounds.

So clearly the metagame is in its infancy, but we did learn a little bit about how people are approaching deck designs so far.  Among  the submitted decks, the most common theme was that people love their Grimgaunts.  More than half the field played a deck that featured Grimgaunt Devourer, Grimgaunt Predator, and/or Rite of the Grimgaunt. Additionally, Nekrium was by far the most played faction.

These basic trends were visible among our most successful decks as well.  Here’s a breakdown of the decks used by the top eight finishers (in order): (Please note that I’m moving away from the deck archetype system I used previously, as I try to understand the current metagame.) Read More »

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