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 Post subject: Re: Spreading the love or picking on someone
AgePosted: 2011-Jan-18 4:35 pm 

Joined: 2009-Dec-17 4:27 am
Age: Dragon
Location: Stockholm
Fugu wrote:
What I find telling is that in almost every story people have told about the time they aggro'd out one player, they admit that they lost the game. Can anyone tell a story in which they kill one player, then kill another, and then another, and actually win the game?


I do so all the time with my Scion of the Ur-Dragon deck, although admittedly I often cripple one guy with a Nicol Bolas swing, kill off some other player and then go back to clean up the first player. Then when the ones most likely to be able to stop me are dead I fill my graveyard with dragons and mass reanimate for some massive damage.

Things went exactly according to plan the last time I used it. The other decks were a Sliver Overlord deck, a Relentless Rats deck with Balthor the Defiled as general, a Jenara, Asura of War deck full of wraths and counterspells and some deck I can't remember. I start out by Nicol Bolasing the Jenara deck, then proceed to kill the sliver deck in two strikes, kill the recovering jenara deck and then mass reanimate dragons for a winning alpha strike.

Fugu wrote:
1. You won't be able to beat that player late game.

But you will be able to beat the other players? Maybe if they're all aggro decks, but what if they aren't? You hope to start from scratch against a guy with a developed board who has had several turns to prepare for you, and with your resources depleted by your first target? And the next guy after him? That is not a realistic strategy.

Furthermore, everyone is concerned about beating the strong player late game, and you don't have to be their policeman. Let him live, and let other players use their resources to foil his plans. That will weaken him and them, making your position in the late game better than you think.


I don't think you understand, always go for the blue player first. They tend to go from looking weak on one turn to winning the game on the next.

Fugu wrote:
2. If you threaten everyone, they'll gang up on you and destroy you.

This is an irrational fear. If it comes to the point that the table considers you the biggest threat and gangs up on you, congratulate yourself. It is a sign that you have a realistic chance of winning. This is what you should strive for! If attacking only one person gave you a realistic chance of winning, people would gang up on you for that, too, but it doesn't, so they don't.


Anyone you put general damage on has a lot to gain from taking you out. General damage is a lot like poison. If you have 9 poison counters your top priority will be to kill the poison player and if you only need to take one more attack from some guys general to die your top priority will be to kill that player. If you spread out your general damage, the damaged opponents will not gang up on you because you have the greatest chance of winning. They will gang up on you because that increases their chances of winning the most.

Fugu wrote:
3. If you split up your damage, it doesn't matter as much.

This is false. Life is a resource; consume it. The best position an aggro deck can be in is if all of its opponents have low life totals, meaning that it can finish off any one opponent nearly at will. The road to that position is to bring down life totals evenly. It's not as if you are adding to the amount of damage you'll have to do before the game ends: those other players' life totals would still be there when you got to them.

...

If you want to win a multi-player game with creature swarms, you can't just pretend you are in a series of duels and hope for the best. Be smart, use politics, play for the long game, and split up your damage!


I see where your confusion stems from now, you are equating aggro with creature swarms. If we take a quick look at the "most popular generals" thread we can see that many of the popular aggro generals, such as Rafiq, Scion, Kresh, Uril, etc. are more likely to try to win through general damage than creature swarms. Only Mayael, Rith and Rhys seem intent on winning through creature swarms. If you are trying to win through creature swarms, then yes, it is often good to split up your damage and wait for an opportunity as the other players squabble amongst themselves. If, however, you are aiming to win through general damage, splitting up your damage is generally very very bad.


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 Post subject: Re: Spreading the love or picking on someone
AgePosted: 2011-Jan-18 5:48 pm 
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Age: Elder Dragon
I have both a Rhys token deck and an Omnath mono green deck. They have both won and continue to win their fair share of games.

You mentioned swarms so we shall start with Rhys. People see Rhys and he tends to eat at least two spot removals before it goes mid-late game. Thats two removal spells that wont be used on Ant Queen or Wolfbriar Elemental. Powering out land and creatures is what the deck does and wrath effects dont hurt it as much as people seem to think it does, especially if the token producer out at the moment is Sacred Mesa or Cloudstone Curio is out. Good token players wont put more than one producer out at a time (minus Rhys of course), wraths happen, people will lose creatures, but smart players will lose an ant queen and a bunch of ants, nothing super amazing that the other players have out on the field. Wrath kill all my Pegasus'? Make some more at EoT. You really shouldn't be overcommiting in a token deck, each producer should require a wrath and if you have bounce mechanics or Genesis in the GY then you should be set.

Killing players with tokens is a bit different than general damage kills and you will end up spreading the love a bit more than say an Uril deck, but focusing on one guy means his answers will no longer matter when his life reaches 0. The board state really does matter but the general rule is Blue player first.

Omnath is a bit different in that he's super flexible. General damage route, ramp, tokens, you can do whatever. I would say that that deck has won more than half its games played. Know how that happens? Killing the blue player first. No blue player means no counterspells. No counterspells means Avenger of Zendikar resolves for the third time this turn (Perilous Forays and Cloudstone Curio do amazing things). With that deck I can kill someone with a 47/47 unblockable Omnath and 147 flying plants at the same time. I know this because I have done it.

Does it win every game it plays? No. Sometimes the combo player gets mana echos to stick and Krosan Grip is nowhere in sight, sometimes its the other aggro players. My point is just because the examples have the aggro players lose, doesnt make it a 90% chance of losing if you focus. Its magic, you can be outplayed, get screwed, be one draw away from a win, w/e.

Generals that use General Damage as a win con cant usually afford to spread the love. If I have 60 Korlash Damage one 3 different people and none of them are out do you know what happens? I get crushed. Why? Because none of them are dead. Now I'm a threat to everyone and unless I have some sort of Contamination lock going on I will lose. Two dead opponents and one hurting one is better than Three angry half dead opponents. General damage scares people because you cant lifegain your way out of it, once its on its on for good. You swing with your general and use your resources to control the hell out of the board.

I think what the problem with most aggro strategies is that some of the decks lack draw. Draw is insanely important if you want to stay in the game, draw is something that Blue does quite well. Lack of draw and overextending will ruin any chance you have of winning.

Sorry for the random tangents I know are in the above wall of text.

/rant

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In related news, water is wet.


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 Post subject: Re: Spreading the love or picking on someone
AgePosted: 2011-Jan-19 4:15 am 
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Age: Drake
I too win my fair share of games playing aggro. I am well over a 50% win rate in multiplayer games in which no one goes infinite (something I do not condone and do not build to counter) or games with my friend playing a similar style deck with Akroma as the general due to mono-blacks lack of effective ways to deal with her. This is magic and I occasionally loose a few games. I lost the game in question here because my hand constituted a few land, an Armirillary Sphere and a dark ritual at the time when we I died. Given a different hand I am absolutely confident I would have won that game.

See Kalterwolf post above but add in the fact that your General has haste (sweepers won't stop him) and the deck can make enough mana to power him out, time and time again. If you spread the love in that situation, people will not be happy.

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 Post subject: Re: Spreading the love or picking on someone
AgePosted: 2011-Jan-19 7:09 am 
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Age: Elder Dragon
Location: New Hampshire
Fugu wrote:
Can anyone tell a story in which they kill one player, then kill another, and then another, and actually win the game?

Yes. I have done this multiple times.
Fugu wrote:
1. You won't be able to beat that player late game.

But you will be able to beat the other players? Maybe if they're all aggro decks, but what if they aren't? You hope to start from scratch against a guy with a developed board who has had several turns to prepare for you, and with your resources depleted by your first target? And the next guy after him? That is not a realistic strategy.

First off, picking the right victim is of the utmost importance. I would argue that that is the biggest strategy element of playing aggro (which is otherwise Step 1: Play dudes, Step 2: Smash face, Step 3: Profit). If you pick your targets correctly, you absolutely can beat the other players. Also there's a difference between "attacking the crap out of one player at a time" and "totally ignoring everything everyone but that one target does". If I'm killing player A and player B drops say, Ulamog, I have no problem using my Path to Exile on Ulamog as I continue beating down player A. Your argument also assumes that the remaining players have just been stockpiling resources and watching you and the first victim fight, which is unlikely as well.
Fugu wrote:
2. If you threaten everyone, they'll gang up on you and destroy you.

I like to look at more from the point of "If I kill that guy before he gets the answers, that's one less source of answers, possibly one less kind of answer, depending on the decks involved (kill the only blue player, no more counterspells, kill the only W/B player, no more wrath, etc). Yes, it's possible the other players will let you kill the first and then wrath/stone/disk whatever. That's why you shouldn't overextend.
Fugu wrote:
3. If you split up your damage, it doesn't matter as much.

What Silvermannen, Kalterwolf & Rishana said.

EDIT: Should this thread be in Strategy?

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 Post subject: Re: Spreading the love or picking on someone
AgePosted: 2011-Jan-19 11:21 am 
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Age: Elder Dragon
Fugu wrote:
If you split up your damage, it doesn't matter as much [is false].

That's so wrong.

Say it takes you two swings to kill someone (say your general has 11+ power). Then, in a 5 player game, you can take out 1 player in 2 turns. Now, assume the game state is fairly tame - one card drawn per turn.

Your turn 1: Attack with general
Opponents: Draw 4 cards (1 each)
Your turn 2: Attack with general - kill opp.
Opponents: Draw 3 cards (1 each).
Your turn 3: Attack with general
Opponents: Draw 3 cards (1 each)
Your turn 4: Attack with general - kill opp.
Opponents: Draw 2 cards (1 each).

You had 4 attacks, and they have drawn 12 cards.

So you can see, as you focus your attacks on a single person, you cause your opponents to naturally draw fewer cards compared to what you draw. If instead you had spread it out, attacking each opponent once, then they would have drawn 16 cards instead of 12.

Focusing on one person at a time to eliminate them faster is the basic way to reduce the amount of cards drawn by your opponents - which will reduce the likelihood that someone will have drawn something to stop you.

Now, other effects (such as card draw) will alter the situation slightly - but the core effect remains the same. Spreading out your damage is a way to dilute your effectiveness when playing aggro.


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 Post subject: Re: Spreading the love or picking on someone
AgePosted: 2011-Jan-19 11:40 am 

Joined: 2008-Jun-08 6:41 pm
Age: Drake
I'd think this can safely be moved to strategy at this point.

Otherwise, I would have to say all my experience playing multiplayer Magic says that attacking one person until they are dead when playing aggro is what works. It's not even a theory thing where you're looking for the fastest route to take their life total away; usually it's logistics. Who can you attack into profitably? For how long? The defensive positions are pretty much always asymmetrical. My aggro decks can't attack into No Mercy guy, and the Doran guy with three giant Treefolk blockers doesn't look too good to hit either. What about Controlly McWrath on the sideline with his Weathered Wayfarer? Not only is he going to be able to basically deactivate my deck later on, but he's also the best target right now. This is such a common situation that's it's ingrained attacking one guy to death into me so hard that it would take some pretty wild experiences to convince me otherwise.

There's virtually always more value in attacking one guy, at least as far as 'damage' is concerned. When we're looking at things like general damage and poison, then it becomes more important to spread the love, but the principle remains because you have to keep hitting one person with that kind of damage over and over to make it worthwhile.

As far as aggro decks killing whole tables, good aggro decks do it all the time. That's what makes them good. Bad, boring, or unfocused aggro decks aren't really worth considering here. I have a friend with a mono-B Korlash deck who has on multiple occasions killed EVERYONE at the table. Two guys to general damage, one guy to poison, and the last guy with standard damage. A well designed aggro deck is still at a disadvantage but their best, or really ONLY, good bet is to kill the biggest threat to their gameplan first, then systematically hammer the table into submission one player at a time. This is the only way I've ever seen an aggro deck truly be responsible for winning.

When the 'aggro' player sits back and picks away at life totals, one of three things most commonly happen:

1) They are pretty much irrelevant to the game, as their boards develop and get wrathed a few times, they inflict maybe 20-40 damage among 3-6 players, and then they lose.

2) Everyone gets annoyed by the guy sending 5 damage around the table randomly and the aggro player gets stomped out. Everyone then plays a game without the distraction they offer.

3) They win 'by accident'; for example, they resolve a Vicious Shadows and everyone's already depleted their answers for it. In that case, I don't think playing 'aggro' is really what they're doing so much as 'sitting and waiting', which any deck can do.

Sure there's variations, but that's my experience. I know everyone including me says aggro is at a disadvantage in EDH but I don't think spreading damage is the answer. Being cutthroat is. If you're already conceding the ease of interaction-free combo victories to your opponents in a format where they're obviously the best way to win, then you have to take what edges you can get. If somebody gets annoyed for being 'bullied', like you said, they need to think about why. Maybe it's because people think they're the 'bullies' in the late game once their control deck works?

Aggro out one guy
Ruthless, like the winter's chill
That's how beatdown wins

A quick Haiku to close things out. Get on my level.


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 Post subject: Re: Spreading the love or picking on someone
AgePosted: 2011-Jan-19 11:49 am 
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Age: Elder Dragon
Location: New Hampshire
GHoooSTS wrote:
A quick Haiku to close things out. Get on my level.

Haiku was funny
Then you go and ruin it
With snobby remark

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 Post subject: Re: Spreading the love or picking on someone
AgePosted: 2011-Jan-19 11:55 am 

Joined: 2008-Jun-08 6:41 pm
Age: Drake
Sid the Chicken wrote:
GHoooSTS wrote:
A quick Haiku to close things out. Get on my level.

Haiku was funny
Then you go and ruin it
With snobby remark


If... you consider that 'snobby', I really don't know what to tell you. I'll just finish this Cristal, finish shining my monocle and move along.


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 Post subject: Re: Spreading the love or picking on someone
AgePosted: 2011-Jan-19 12:16 pm 
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The "Get on my level" bit comes off as being very arrogant to me, but I would be prepared to accept that I'm reading it wrong.

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 Post subject: Re: Spreading the love or picking on someone
AgePosted: 2011-Jan-19 3:12 pm 

Joined: 2008-Jun-08 6:41 pm
Age: Drake
I can't stress enough how bad I am at Magic. You never have to worry about me claiming to be remotely talented in that department.

I was referring to the haiku-ing. :P


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 Post subject: Re: Spreading the love or picking on someone
AgePosted: 2011-Jan-19 3:32 pm 
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It's about time we had a real debate about strategy on this forum. Am I the only person who holds my view so far? I've written a lot below, so go ahead and read it in chunks if you like. This is worth talking a lot about. Let me be clearer about one thing, though: Weakening all opponents continuously is my strategic priority, but it isn't a hard rule. When I am in a game, I continuously evaluate the game state and choose targets based on board position, hand size, deck type, my life total and general damage total, etc. Dealing damage evenly has all of the benefits that I've described, but sometimes those are trumped by other factors. Naturally, the same qualifications apply to attacking one player as a priority. I believe that weakening all opponents continuously is a superior priority.

Silvermannen wrote:
If, however, you are aiming to win through general damage, splitting up your damage is generally very very bad.
I agree on this. I do use the term 'aggro' to mean creature swarms. A general damage win, to me, is independent of the term 'aggro'. I've played a Wydwen deck that won with general damage and a control strategy. A lot of decks that can win with general damage play an aggro strategy simulatenously with creature swarms, and those swarms are more effective if you attack multiple other players in the meantime, rather than just one other player. I agree that you should aim to concentrate your general on one player, circumstances permitting. All of my arguments are about creature swarms and normal damage.

***

One of the themes I've noticed in people's posts is the persistent belief that their aggro decks will be ganged up on as the major threat in the late game. This belief is incompatible with the rationale that you have to attack the strongest player to stop him from taking over the late game. If you attack that player as well as other players and leave him alive with a chance of taking over the late game, he will be viewed as a major threat and draw attention away from you. Part of your strength at this point in the game is the mystery of who is best positioned. When you kill players in sequence, it will be quite clear at the end whether or not you are going to win. If you weaken all opponents continuously, your trump cards like World at War or Eldrazi Monument can catch everyone off guard and win a game they weren't expecting you to.

Silvermannen wrote:
If you have 9 poison counters your top priority will be to kill the poison player and if you only need to take one more attack from some guys general to die your top priority will be to kill that player.
When you're one hit from killing someone, you have the advantage. Kill them, or if they're weak, bully them into doing what you want, but don't believe that you've made a mistake. If somehow all of your opponents are an attack step from death, rejoice! You did something right! Sure, folks will fear you and want to neutralize you however they can. But they don't have much time to do it in. You have the higher ground. Now kill them all in one turn.

You can get to that point if you weaken all opponents continuously. Is it your belief that if you attack each player once you will instantly become the archvillain? Do you consider a single attack against you to be the initiation of a blood feud? It's actually less dangerous for me to attack multiple people than to start a fight to the death with one other guy, especially if he's the strongest player. If he gets the chance, he'll take me out. Each player is less motivated to take me out while I'm attacking everyone. Every point of damage I deal to one of your opponents helps you, too, so it's good strategy to leave me alive for as long as you can defend yourself personally.

When I get to the point where everyone is afraid of me and wants me dead, that is what I was trying to achieve. Now I'll enter my end game and try to kill multiple players in one turn with one of my tricks. And since life totals are low, my opponents will also be afraid of each other, and may take opportunities to kill each other. This is all to my advantage.

***

More than one person's arguments have been founded on the notion of hard card advantage that we have all learned from playing duels. A card I draw is card advantage +1, and a card drawn by my opponents is card advantage -1. This model breaks down in multiplayer. Every card I draw is card advantage roughly +1/x, where x is the number of opponents, and every card drawn by an opponent is roughly -1/x. It fluctuates based on the threat levels of each player. If we apply that to Carthain's explanation:

[quote-Carthain]Your turn 1: Attack with general
Opponents: Draw 4 cards (1 each)
Your turn 2: Attack with general - kill opp.
Opponents: Draw 3 cards (1 each).
Your turn 3: Attack with general
Opponents: Draw 3 cards (1 each)
Your turn 4: Attack with general - kill opp.
Opponents: Draw 2 cards (1 each).

You had 4 attacks, and they have drawn 12 cards.[/quote]

We get this:

Your turn 1: Attack with general
Opponents: Draw 4/4 cards (1 each)
Your turn 2: Attack with general - kill opp.
Opponents: Draw 3/3 cards (1 each).
Your turn 3: Attack with general
Opponents: Draw 3/3 cards (1 each)
Your turn 4: Attack with general - kill opp.
Opponents: Draw 2/2 cards (1 each).

You had 4 attacks, and they have drawn 4 cards. If instead you kill no one during those 4 turns, your opponents draw 4/4 cards each turn, which totals 4 cards. (As I noted, the real value fluctuates with threat levels, but I've addressed the exaggerated fear of being the archvillain above.) You can see multiplayer card advantage in action in the example of the guy playing counterspells. The logic being offered for killing him is that there will be no more counterspells, and all of your spells will resolve. True enough, but if there are no more counterspells, everyone else's spells will resolve, too. It's pretty easy to push creature spells through a counterspell defense these days, with all the recursion and cheat-into-play effects. Counters are much more important against noncreature spells like Insurrection, Identity Crisis, or Nicol Bolas. Speaking of Identity Crisis, where do you think that haymaker is likely to go while the blue player is still alive? Can you be so sure once he's dead? Taking out a player post-haste is not a clear path to advantage.

***

Quote:
1) They are pretty much irrelevant to the game, as their boards develop and get wrathed a few times, they inflict maybe 20-40 damage among 3-6 players, and then they lose.

2) Everyone gets annoyed by the guy sending 5 damage around the table randomly and the aggro player gets stomped out. Everyone then plays a game without the distraction they offer.
If this happens, the aggro player did something wrong, but it wasn't weaking all opponents continuously. Either they didn't play defensively when they should have, they didn't hold back enough, they played crappy cards, or some other strategy issue.

My final thought is that if you built your deck planning to attack one player at a time, you may benefit from changing cards around before you switch strategies. In the long run, I think that a deck built to weaken all opponents continuously is a more effective aggro deck than one built to attack one player at a time.

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 Post subject: Re: Spreading the love or picking on someone
AgePosted: 2011-Jan-19 5:15 pm 
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Age: Elder Dragon
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I play an aggro deck and I win very often with it. And it never targets one player. It has 60 creatures, that's an aggro deck!

Targeting one player is just a tactic that people *think* is good but actually sucks. It's like the 4 move checkmate in chess. You're just bad at magic.

For your information as well Rishana, you targeted a "blue" deck with zero of the control type cards people hate.

The deck has no time walks of any kind.
No bribery, acquire, or any of the stealing enchantments.
Zero future sights.
No capsize.
The only counterspells are: Spelljack, Voidslime, and Overwhelming Intellect. That's the definition of not having to fight through counterspells.
No insurrection (it's a red deck too).
No genesis wave (it's a green deck too).
No Eldrazi.
No tuck spells.

Instead it plays cards like:
Clockspinning.
Blunt the Assault.
Electrolyze.
Krosan grip, mystic melting, slice in twain, relic crush (you've advised you had no way of removing artifacts and enchantments).
Mnemonic Nexus.
Plagiarize.
Shifting borders.
Submerge.
Sudden Shock.
Turnabout.

You advised you run no creature removal, I have 10 creatures in the deck.

I flat out believe you picked on the wrong player, and decided to keep picking on them because you don't want to think during a game of magic. I had a bad game, and I don't want to play against your deck again.

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 Post subject: Re: Spreading the love or picking on someone
AgePosted: 2011-Jan-19 5:44 pm 
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Onlainari, it is quite possible that the person who attacked you out of that game was making a poor tactical decision. We don't know, we weren't there. I can even understand getting annoyed about it - it's frustrating to lose due to an opponent's bad threat assessment.

But you claimed that you were broadly disagreeing with a playstyle, not talking about a single game. Every time you bring up specifics about how unthreatening your deck was and how wronged you were, it takes us off the subject of strategy and back to you complaining about a game you lost.

Magic strategy is very complicated, and multiplayer strategy even more so. Saying, "Your strategy is wrong and you're bad at Magic" doesn't carry much weight, and turning this into a rating-measuring contest will get us nowhere. You have to support your claims with actual argument, not just claimed win percentages. None of us know how our respective playgroups compare to eachother.

Finally, aggro strategy is both deck-dependent and situation-dependent. My Karrthus deck almost always wants to focus-fire one or two players, whereas my Hazezon deck strongly prefers to knock everyone down evenly until it can take the table in one swing. But there have certainly been circumstances where either deck would go the other way.

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 Post subject: Re: Spreading the love or picking on someone
AgePosted: 2011-Jan-19 5:49 pm 
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Slivermannen wrote:
I do so all the time with my Scion of the Ur-Dragon deck, although admittedly I often cripple one guy with a Nicol Bolas swing, kill off some other player and then go back to clean up the first player. Then when the ones most likely to be able to stop me are dead I fill my graveyard with dragons and mass reanimate for some massive damage.

Effectively, Rishana's strategy was to hit a player with nicol bolas and then keep attacking them until they died before realising there are other players. You've created a strawman to seemingly counter Fugu's point, however you haven't actually countered his point because you changed it first.

obsidiandice wrote:
But you claimed that you were broadly disagreeing with a playstyle, not talking about a single game. Every time you bring up specifics about how unthreatening your deck was and how wronged you were, it takes us off the subject of strategy and back to you complaining about a game you lost.

That's because I lost the fight to stop people talking about the game.

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 Post subject: Re: Spreading the love or picking on someone
AgePosted: 2011-Jan-19 6:39 pm 

Joined: 2009-Dec-17 4:27 am
Age: Dragon
Location: Stockholm
onlainari wrote:
Slivermannen wrote:
I do so all the time with my Scion of the Ur-Dragon deck, although admittedly I often cripple one guy with a Nicol Bolas swing, kill off some other player and then go back to clean up the first player. Then when the ones most likely to be able to stop me are dead I fill my graveyard with dragons and mass reanimate for some massive damage.

Effectively, Rishana's strategy was to hit a player with nicol bolas and then keep attacking them until they died before realising there are other players. You've created a strawman to seemingly counter Fugu's point, however you haven't actually countered his point because you changed it first.

From what I've gathered about the specific game you are talking about, I would have done exactly what Rishana was doing. All he did was power through your defences and kill you. That is what his general and I assume, deck does. Spreading out general damage is not a good thing. The only reason I can send Scion off to Nicol Bolas someone and then go for someone else without it backfiring on me is that the Nicol Bolased player won't have the resources to do anything about it. If Rishana had had some disruption to cripple another player while killing you that would have been awesome, but he didn't, so he did the only thing he could do and pressed the attack (no, waiting for you to recover, build up your defences and then kill him to be safe from his general would not have been a good option).


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