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Improved Shandalar General Playtesting & Feedback Thread

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Re: Improved Shandalar General Playtesting & Feedback Thread

Postby Thesaguy » 22 Dec 2015, 17:01

Just wanted to say I'm having a ton of fun.
Love the starting lands.

It's brutal not being able to pay off enemies (Known but that fixed in next release)
Started with a White/Blue/Artifact deck.

I got two protection from red creatures, so I decided to attack red a lot and that's working for me.
Got a few duplicate card of your choice from killing Sorcerer, so that helped me and made up for some goods cards lost.

Current stats below:
Color Creature Win/Loss
Black - Witch 0/1
Green - Druid 1/0
Green - Elvish Magi 1/2
Green - Forest Dragon 1/0
Green - Beast Master 0/1
Red - Sorceress 8/1
Red - Sorcerer 4/2
Red - Troll Shaman 1/0
Red - Hydra 2/0
Red - Sedge Beast 1/0
Red - Ape Lord 1/1
White - Lord of Fate 1/0

Found a broken card Mistmood Griffin and reported it.
AI does badly against a boosted Band Sureblade. As if they don't realize it has first strike once boosted.

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Re: Improved Shandalar General Playtesting & Feedback Thread

Postby lujo » 22 Dec 2015, 21:50

Oh, wow, seeing tose 2 wins on elvish magi is a complete relief - I've been murdering him with red and was worried he was a pushover.

Also, I like te fact that the Sorcerer got 2 wins despite being up against pro:red.

The starting lands are a lifesaver, trying to navigate a higher difficulty without them would be impossible. The initial card-type distribution could also use some looking into.

As for the first strike - the AI seems to be having a hard time with recognizing many abilities, might be part of a larger issue.

Can you access my dropbox link? If yes, do pick up the stuff in the "current folder" there's some important tweaks there. I would've done more, but I'm a bit exhausted :( I've got another Goblin Lord rework that's not in there yet, too.

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Re: Improved Shandalar General Playtesting & Feedback Thread

Postby Thesaguy » 27 Dec 2015, 22:14

Drop box works good.

So soon after my last post I came across a bazaar with about 3k gold, so I bought myself a white/artifact deck.
So I bought probably about 6 cards, plus some lands, so the additional results are against a slightly better deck.
Is there a way to export my deck easily?

So all the wizards have two taps at the moment. My life is down to 14 again after losing some mana taps.

Here are my current stats:

Black - Witch 0/1
Black - Undead Knight 1/3
Black - Vampire Lord 3/0
Black - Nether Fiend 0/3
White - Lord of Fate 2/0
White - Cleric 1/0
White - Priestess 4/0
White - Crusader 4/0
White - Arch Angel 2/3
Blue - Seer 3/0
Blue - Merfolk Shaman 0/1
Blue - Conjurer 2/0
Blue - Sea Dragon 4/1
Blue - Shapeshifter 0/2
Green - Druid 3/0
Green - Elvish Magi 1/3
Green - Enchantress 5/0
Green - Forest Dragon 6/0
Green - Beast Master 2/4
Green - Summoner 0/1
Red - Sorceress 10/1
Red - Sorcerer 5/2
Red - Troll Shaman 3/0
Red - Goblin Lord 3/0
Red - Hydra 2/0
Red - War Mage 2/0
Red - Tusk Gardian 3/5
Red - Sedge Beast 3/1
Red - Ape Lord 2/2
Green - Centaur Shaman 2/0
White - Winged Stallion 4/3
Green - Fungus Master 2/1
Blue - Mind Stealer 1/2
Red - Elementalist 1/0
Black - Aga Galneer 3/0
Green - Alt-A-Kesh 2/0
Red - Queltos 1/0
Red - Dracur 0/1
White - Kiska-Ra 0/1

(Most blue was in the dungeon)

Shapeshifter - I ran into my first shapeshifter in a dungeon. I had 150 life and just got the first of the reward cards, Black Lotus, yay, and then fought the Shapeshifter. I was not worries at all. I was dead 6 turns later...
He milled me so fast, it was unreal :)

Beast Master - With the right opening hand this guy is almost impossible. He casts those little guys that can only be blocked by something with more power than it, then boosts it with two +2/0 and you're dead.

Don't get me wrong, I love these strong opponents that you are afraid to face!
It's just brutal on the current build where I can't pay them off. :)
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Re: Improved Shandalar General Playtesting & Feedback Thread

Postby lujo » 31 Dec 2015, 00:05

Thank you sooooo much for this, I've been out of town and didn't bring anything I could reply from on purpose (regretted it when I saw your reply!). The numbers mean a lot and I'll reply properly (and probably apply some tweaks too) in the next few days.

I think I've overdone it a bit with the Shapeshifter, to be honest - Hedron Crabs and Halimar Excavators are very dangerous cards, especially in a deck loaded with clones. What has me extra worried about that deck is that it's all permanent based mill, and blue is bad at dealing with permanents (and these are quite resistant to the limitide ways in which blue can do it somewhat, too).

As for Beastmaster - I certainly overdid him. I just got too frustrated with the inherent problems with trying to make a creature-based deck work out in green. What ended up happening is what you describe there, it gets large unblockable critters and gg.

You seem to be doing really well vs. Enchantress and Forest Dragon, though, what are your thoughts on those?

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Re: Improved Shandalar General Playtesting & Feedback Thread

Postby lujo » 05 Jan 2016, 17:48

Sorry about not updating tings yet, I've been on a trip I've mentioned and as soon as I got back I got into a snow-related accident and hurt my back quite badly so I couldn't sit for any decent ammount of time. Or even move much while lying down, so I was unable to properly use my machine where I've got things set up. Felling steadily better, so I hope I can tie up many unfortunate loose ends and give solving certain issues with the current deck pack another crack.

What I've done so far is:

- Retool the Goblin into a semi-straigt Goblin Chirurgeon + Tokens deck, like so:

Goblin Warlord | Open
.164 20 Mountain
.10684 4 Teetering Peaks

.11206 4 Barbed Battlegear
.8895 4 Bloodshot Trainee

The idea is to use either the land (for a temporary thing) or the equipment, to boost te Bloodshot Trainee and make him a removal dispenser.

Alternatively, the Barbed Battlegear can end up on any of these:

.11615 4 Hovermyr - The flier.
.2493 3 Goblin Tinkerer - The mox killer
.1781 4 Goblin Chirurgeon - The main man.

And the Goblin Chirurgeon is supposed to keep whatever is equipped alive. He's REALLY good at this most of the time, in theory, although there are snags in practice.

His Welding Jar shennanigans are supposed to be fueled by:

.12585 4 Krenko's Command
.14289 2 Hordeling Outburst

Which have their own issues, as they can in theory swarm you, in practice fail to swarm you because of the AI playing it too careful and so on and so forth. Making a goblin deck for the AI is difficult because if you do give the AI means to make tokens AND means to pump tokens - UR DED. Which is why they're strictly fodder here, and the Equipment can't be used with them on purpose.

.6577 3 Siege-Gang Commander

This guy, oddly enough, isn't necessarily that scary because in order to use him the AI needs mana, and the deck isn't all that great with generating mana. A scenario which rarely crops up in tournament legal play is having him on board with a Goblin Chirurgeon (mostly because the chirurgeon isn't legal almost anywhere), but is sort of the key to this deck, can potentially be a nightmare.

.12951 4 Furious Resistance - Obligatory.
.10928 4 Flame Slash - Same.

So I'm not sure that deck can really be played against on the one hand, and I'm not sure whether it has too many uneven hands that go nowhere. But at least it doesn't crumple, and I do believe that when the next update eventually hits I'll be able to do some more interesting and less cheezy stuff.

If the 2cc red card draw / filtering things make it in I'll do a (painful) backflip, too.


Thought Invoker is currently here:

Temporary TI | Open
I tried to not push it too hard in any particular direction to avoid making an unstoppable henchman.

.126 25 Island

.12581 4 Jace's Phantasm
.10678 4 Summoner's Bane
.11824 4 Lord of the Unreal

Those are a pretty self explanatory package.

.12276 4 Thought Scour
.9520 4 Drowner Initiate

To furter assist in getting the phantasm big, but in small bites, I added those two. Now since that's 8 wizards who aren't very likely to attack due to being non-evasive and kinda small I added:

.5650 4 Patron Wizard - For defense and slowdown.
.13666 3 Archetype of Imagination - For alpha striking if it goes through and sticks.

And then for good measure, the by now overused:

.9264 4 Sower of Temptation

Which pushes the deck towards being strongly oriented against creatures, with nothing to really do against non-creature spells.

Since the deck is full of stuff that's likely to end up dead in pointless gang blocks (no Furious Resistance clone in blue), I tought I'd try and see how this goes:

.14229 4 Blinding Spray

Draws a card and can be more impactful than one'd think, and the logic behind it is that since it costs 5 mana it might not interfere with developing the board. IDK, I tink it's sorta important to figure out how well the AI plays this sort of thing and where it fits as that's what blue gets as combat tricks.

So, that'll be in the box when I wrap some other things up. I'm very much looking forward to the day when Confound is available - not that there aren't other useful cards that are similar but that one draws a card.

I've also done something with the Sorceress (wasn't happy with her track record or how she played, she felt like she needed Furious Resistance ), and I've swapped the recently abandoned Priestess deck with the auras and Spirits over to the High Priest. It might need some buffing but it's deceptively powerful.

What I've simply got to do is see about re-tweaking the Shapeshifter a bit, toneing down the Beastmaster, some touchups on all my Wizards and a bunch of other minor tweaks.

Oh, and I'm playing around with Arzakon finally, noting conclusive (like with the Wizards), I'm currently trying this out for size:

Very non-comitted Arzakon goofing | Open
It has some internal #-o moments which are my fault:

.7811 4 Dark Confidant
.5816 4 Grim Lavamancer
.1619 3 Matca Rioters
.9264 3 Sower of Temptation

Those are the dudes. Dude has a million life, so Dark Confidants are legit, and Grim Lavamancer might have not been the best idea in retrospect (since the deck tries to recurr itself a lot).

Matca Rioters are just an effortless 5/5 or so, and Sower of Temptation is everywhere anyway so I just stuck him in.

.167 1 Mox Pearl
.166 1 Mox Jet
.165 1 Mox Emerald
.168 1 Mox Ruby
.169 1 Mox Sapphire
.17 1 Black Lotus

That's the moxes.

.9 3 Badlands
.241 3 Taiga
.254 3 Tundra
.258 3 Underground Sea
.10496 1 Arid Mesa
.10654 1 Scalding Tarn

And that's the rest of the really, really too low manabase.

.7049 3 Etched Oracle
.11597 2 Etched Monstrosity

Now, the first one is one of the dumbest things ever made in a 5c deck, I've abused the hell out of it over the years, but the AI doesn't really handle it too well, so I'm thinking of abandoning them. The second one is as silly as you can imagine and probably worth playing full 5 of.

.9286 4 Thoughtseize - Because it has no downside when given to this guy.
.1589 3 Night's Whisper - Same

.240 4 Swords to Plowshares - This kills pretty much everything, allthough there's a million other options.

.1 1 Ancestral Recall - Why not.
.1342 1 Time Spiral - Actually this is in here for recursion, but that doesn't play that well with Grim Lavamancer, dangit.
.250 1 Timetwister - Same as above.

And it's funny that I took Wheel of Fortune out, and that DOES play well with the Lavamancer. #-o

.11515 2 Red Sun's Zenith - I really wanted this in. The problem there is that it gets cast for 0 or 1 or anything because it suffles the library, and that kinda puts a cramp in the plan of drawing it all the time and throwing it at the enemy over and over again.

.7238 1 Honden of Cleansing Fire
.7239 1 Honden of Infinite Rage
.7240 1 Honden of Life's Web
.7241 1 Honden of Night's Reach
.7242 1 Honden of Seeing Winds

And those are the hondens, one of each. They're mostly there for the blue one, honestly, but since the deck can play them and has more than enough life to comfortably draw and play them I say why not?

This is a VERY "lazy" way to put it together, nothing really dramatic or too clever or interesting about it - some domain stuff is missing (coming in the next update) (or isn't because it probably can't get in, like Collective Restraint), Slivers would make a decen creature base if there wasn't so many things from all 5 colors to chose from, and it doesn't cover nearly all the bases.

But as far as "good stuff" goes, I'd start from here before I decide wich direction to actually take it in.

There'll be more tweaks applied as my back permits and than I'll make it all available in the box.

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Re: Improved Shandalar General Playtesting & Feedback Thread

Postby lujo » 06 Jan 2016, 22:28

So, here are the current High Priest and the current Beastmaster, and everything is in the "current" folder in the dropbox (as in all the decks).

Btw, there's a lot to do still, it's nowhere close to a completely legit v1.0.

Current High Priest | Open
.10535 1 Emeria, the Sky Ruin - Lol, why not?
.188 23 Plains

.7675 2 Kataki, War's Wage
.7294 4 Lantern Kami
.12241 4 Niblis of the Urn
.7572 4 Tallowisp

The spirits. They trigger Tallowisp so if it's in play they all tutor a card.

.13994 4 Tethmos High Priest
.13511 2 Phalanx Leader

Those guys either recur or buff stuff when Auras get played on them.

.11873 3 Angel of Flight Alabaster

And the angel just recurs stuff, and is, you know, big and flying and such.

.8831 2 Rebuff the Wicked

Things are geting aurad-up , might make sense to protect them.

.12719 1 Ethereal Armor
.8912 2 Daybreak Coronet
.10619 3 Nimbus Wings
.8845 3 Serra's Boon

And those are the auras. Technically, the coronets and the Etheral Armor are trolling, they can be quite silly.

.4180 2 Replenish

And that's for when you make him lose his auras, so he brings them back.

I suppose this is about the right tier for a Tallowisp deck, I'm just not sure this is the most optimal one. Better than the blank slot from last time.

And the current beastmaster:

Latest Beastmaster | Open
Well, last time around I gave the AI what it wanted - large unblockable things for little mana, and it was obviously unfair. That's the problem, if it isn't unfair, and it's green, it does nothing.

Here's what I'm trying out currently:

.8962 4 Llanowar Reborn
.91 20 Forest
.285 4 Wild Growth

.4728 3 Pack Hunt

.12050 2 Ranger's Guile
.7 3 Aspect of Wolf

Those do what they do, except the Ranger's Guile who's role is to protect stuff but it gets used for just about anything else instead, go figure. The aura does make stuff large, but it only does that and it does it much less explosively than most other available options.

Then let's try this creature configuration:

.247 4 Timber Wolves - The way the AI attacks and blocks makes way more sense if it has banding available, so let's see how this works out.

.12507 4 Wandering Wolf - I took out the other unblockable guys and left this one in.

.12511 4 Wolfir Avenger - Flash is currently being played at strange times, which reduces the impact of this guy severely. This isn't necessarily a bad thing and his regeneration migth help the AI attack.

.12143 4 Briarpack Alpha - He's pump that leaves behind a dude, quite a strong card honestly.

.868 4 Aswan Jaguar - He's randomly murderous and randomly not too threatening. It's possible that I should just limit them to the green wizard and give this guy Tracker. Or maybe not.

.7996 4 Ursapine - I went with this to try it out. It's obviously strong if it gets going, depending on how the AI uses it (several nasty ways in the deck). I didn't cheeze it too hard (no Greater Good shenanigans or anything), and it should, at the very least, prevent the AI from sitting on a bunch of dudes and not doing anything.

On the other hand, it has "UR DED" spelled all over it, but at least if you kill it you've killed it, it costs 5 mana and (maybe) has some opportunity costs (it's a bit hard to use both it, regeneration and aswan jaguar on the same turn too early). And there are also plenty of things the AI can get caught up in even when it could be casting it instead, so maybe it doesn't just beeline for it and murder you.

Seemed to do well in testing, let's see if it's still insanely overwhelming in-game.

It's all in the box in the "current" folder (and a bunch of other decks have recieved smaller tweaks, in the meantime, too). I'm keeping copies of just about every iteration of various decks, including the insane ones, if someone really liked or enjoyed a particular one, I can upload them on request easily.


2 random thoughts | Open
Something I've been thinking about is that the Beastmaster was probably intended to be using Tracker all along, I think his model was even semi-modelled after the card. I also kinda-sorta feel like the original Sea Dragon would've made way more sense as a deck if he could have had Mana Drain available (provided his creatures could've been played pre-combat, ofc, as the way things are Mana Drain is just about entirely unusable).

If this BM falls trough again, I think I'll see if something involving both Tracker and Aswan Jaguar can be done. There's a million things to do with Mana Drain, but each of those would take .csv editing for every creature in the deck using it, which is quite a shame.

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Re: Improved Shandalar General Playtesting & Feedback Thread

Postby lujo » 07 Jan 2016, 17:15

Well, since I've made a bunch of changes I was curious about how it all works and started up a test run. Some observations to share:

Random obs. 1 | Open
1) Enemies being kinda tough early on isn't necessarily too bad. You do lose cards when you lose, but since you don't have a really coherent deck and what you get from the town shops is all legit at this point it means you can replace things relatively safely.

2) On the other hand, if they're TOO tough it means that getting quests done is too hard. If they're also uneven within the same tier this makes it harder for some colors to get off the ground than others.

This is currently the case with tier 1 opponents. Druid and Sorceress seem to be significantly weaker than Cleric and Witch, and the Seer I still have to find and fight more.

Part of the reason for why Druid and Sorceress are weaker is because the other guys have acess to evasion and varied effects, while Green and Red are stuck with the "if it's not insane it doesn't do anything" issues. It's not out of the question that tweaking could get them where they ought to be, but they're fighting uphill ATM.

3) Another big part of why the Cleric (somewhat) and Witch (overwhelmingly) are stronger is because of the lucky charms. Both of them have lifegain, and the Witch has recursion on top of everything else.

I'm seriously considering getting rid of the lucky charms. The original ones cause misplays and issues because they tie up mana, and the middle ones (ones currently used) are actually rather strong cards (even more so when used vs. the same color where they'd be legit sideboard options).

On the one hand they're supposed to be helping the early decks with their low-lives issue, on the other hand they're not really helping red, blue I'm not sure needs any helping due to all the evasion, and the other guys have plenty of lifegain of their own.

This MIGHT be due to not having anything to deal with the things in the decks early on, but it's still an issue for blue and black which can't really deal with them anyway. The problem is that I see the charms ending up winning games for the AI on their own, even with just 2 in the decks that have them. They're also randomly making tier 1 opponents tougher than tier 2 opponents.

I do need to nerf the Witch some more, though, the recursion is too plentiful.

4) I finally learned to start packing some artifact hate in Shandalar decks ^^ If you go up against Elvish Magi and that helmet comes down, you're in big trouble (much the same with the warlock), but if you can get rid of the helmet it's all good. That deck needs something else to do besides the helm, though.

5) Undead knight has some dead weigt, need to see about him too. Wring Flesh isn't being used properly, either, unfortunately. I need to either come up with a combat trick for black or just spam Disfigure everywhere like I do with the red stuff that I stick into every deck.

6) I think Sorcerer is about the right baseline way to play. If the initial card distribution is ever fixed, that is, because you currently end up with way too many multicolored cards in colors you won't be playing and just being 3color opens you up to mana issues anyway.

However, having 3 colors at your disposal should be enough to let you get answers to all sorts of problems you might face and let you cash in on powerful multicolored stuff to get an edge vs. the AI.

7) I REALLY need to figure out how to tone down the Shapeshifter. There's no doubt it's strong, and all the card choices are perfectly obvious, but the damned thing is way too good at what it's supposed to do.

Some more random obs.

Random obs. 2 | Open
1) Well, elvish magi beat me up with no helmet. The reason it looks like he's got nothing besides the helmet, I think, is that he'll throw Winter Blast out to kill any small flier if you have one, if you don't have one he does quite well with it. What's not working is Viridian Claw and the deathtouch guy, I think I need something else there

2) I've nicked an Argentum Armor from EM and also randomly scored an Ulamog's Crusher. Was fun for a while, and the new Tusk Guardian held up against the Eldrazi!

3) I also need to seriously stay away from Flametongue Kavu. If you are 3 colors and one of them is red it's very likely that you'll end up with a bunch in every playthrough and they're generally so useful that I'm not sure I'm seeing things right. Kinda like Gaea's Skyfolk, if you're on color no real reason not to stick a bunc in, except much stronger.

4) Well, Nether Fiend is murderous. I've nerfed Beastmaster (still have to see if it worked), have yet to nerf Shapeshifter, need to buff up Crag Hydra a bit, and Archangel seems to be doing fine, but I've just tried to beat a Nether Fiend for a quest and got my ass kicked about 4 times in a row.

I't possible that I've just been trying to fight it too early, and that my deck wasn't up for it. Still, something in there is too much - either the card draw or the Corrupt s. Just don't go figting this guy without forthought.


5) Yeah, the lucky charms are very much too good. I just met the Seer, and got myself killed. Well, small blue buffs are thankfully coming in the next update, but I need to readjust some things in that deck ASAP.

Witch is really getting on my nerves, too.

6) Here's good advice: First chance you get, get a Nevinyrral's Disk or two. I won't solve every game for you but it will often give you a chance where you likely wouldn't have had any.

Some more :)

Random Obs. 3 Saturday | Open
1) Once you get into it it's fun and challenging and seems to working quite well overall. I've got a mix of random junk and strong stuff and things keep rotating because you win some, you lose some. I still have to transition to 60 cards, though.

2) I've done touchups on the Seer and the Undead Knight, not sure if they're working right yet, so I won't upload yet. Stuff that also needs touchups:

- Druid needs something done to him, not sure what's wrong yet
- Something about the Sorceress isn't quite right, either
- Priestess could use a bit of development
- Necromancer is quite tough, and Zombie Master's regen isn't even working in the current patch, will probably need rethinking when that is fixed. If I didn't have board wipe I've no clue how I'd ever beat him, tbh.
- Paladin finally works like he's supposed to but is also too damned good - I'm getting to fight him a lot because the white wizard keeps sending him to seige stuff, and I'm doing ok because I have certain cards, but yeeesh. Need to tone him down a bit.
- Winged Stallion and Centaur Warcief are giving me interesting fights, which is a huge relief. Both need a bit of work and tweaking, but I'm finally somewhat happy with them.

3) I've only done one dungeon (got a Sol Ring), but dungeon dice are waaaaaaaay to exploitable even if you're not trying. If you just have any Eldrazi or the like in your deck that's GG for the next match easily.

4) I'm running 3 Flametongue Kavu and 3 Putrefy and I'm getting the feeling that those are indispensible.

I've also got 1 Damnation and 1 Nevinyrall's Disk and the way tings are looking you really need some kind of board wipe. This is... well, it makes sense, really.

Otherwise I'm not using anyting dodgy (apart from FTK ofc). I got a Spiritmonger and an Ulamog's Crusher, I need to get some quality discard, and I think I'll probably end up with something almost identical to what Dracur is running currently.

5) If you're going black, some discard can really help things. Just 1 or two things as long as they're easy to cast, I've got one Coercion clone from Innistrad and I need to get a few more things like that. Especially when you have to figt someone that you know has something in particular which you don't want to see cast.

And some more:

Cruising obs. Saturday | Open
I haven't really lost a match in a while, altough I haven't played against all opponents yet.

Flametongue Kavu is so gamewarping it probably needs to be a dungeon treasure or something.

Once I had:

3 Flametongue Kavu
3 Viridian Emissary
3 Putrefy
2 Lightning Bolt
2 Nevinyrral's Disk

and one each

Ulamog's Crusher
Argentum Armor

And also Sol Ring (which is pretty much the strongest thing you can pull from dungeons).

Nothing I run into can really deal with me. Well, that's not really true, I did lose to a High Priest a Centaur Shaman and an Aga Galneer and there's got to be several things which mess me up out there which I just haven't played vs. much. I haven't tried Nether Fiend recently, and I'm 0/5 against him, and I haven't seen a Witch in a while (I'm also in the red vs. her), and many matches are either close or drawn out but the combination of being able to deal with artifacts, creatures and not get mana screwed due to Viridian Emissary rolls the current meta too hard.

Oh, and I need to take Voracious Cobra out.

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Re: Improved Shandalar General Playtesting & Feedback Thread

Postby lujo » 10 Jan 2016, 19:04

I got my first 9 wins vs. enemy, altough some of those were done in a dungeon I think, so it'll probably still spawn a few more times.

It's... the paladin. He's actually quite strong, the exalted part of him works, the xenophobia part of him works, except the White wizard streaked them in seiges (and once attacked the same place 3 times in a row). EDIT: Lol, in fact the White wizard sent one more to seige something and he beat me fair and square - which is saying something as I wasn't manascrewed, and hardly anything beats me at all.

My deck is still depressingly functional, so most matches play out exactly the same - I kill someting somehow every turn and this results in me having creatures and the AI not having creatures. Otherwise I wipe the board with the disk, and in either case I live until I resolve something too big for the AI to handle.

Dungeons are a complete joke, too, unless they're blue which means my bonus dude gets bounced immediately and there's an actual game.

The matches aren't really no-gamplay in general, things always happen and if I don't play it right or get mana screwed / flooded the AI beats me, but my deck just generates too much card advantage and can answer what the AI does too well. The basic problem is that my deck isn't special in any way, tere's not even any startegy to it, it's a "good stuff" jund thing full of mostly removal and utility and every single card in it could (and likely should) go into every deck on color.

The comforting tought is that many matches are quite even - some more polishing and there would probably be more decks that can give me trouble, and the scoreboard wouldn't really tell the whole story because it's not like the AI has 0 chance or that I don't have tight games left and right, it's just that a 40 deck with the stuff mentioned above is just too reliable at grinding games out.

I'll keep grinding until I get an idea for making it a 60 card deck and see how it does vs. wizards (and there are a bunch of enemies I haven't faced yet which might mess me up - I think I've subconsciously been picky about playing guys which are more vulnerable to my shenanigans).

The only deck truly in the red in my notes right now is Alt-A-Kesh. I think I need to seriously sit down with the color combo and come up with something interesting. The big issue is that the green Djinn (s) are booooooring like you wouldn't believe and are dead weight any way you cut it.

Other notes are:

Witch - NERF!
Druid - BUFF!
Sorceress - BUFF!

Elvish Magi - Rethink the top-end equipment to not feed the thing to the player, and rethink the reach source and the equipment.
Priestess - Develop!

Mind Stealer - BUFF! (although he is waiting on some incoming stuff)
Forest Dragon - Needs something more.
Paladin - Nerf?

Winged Stallion - Needs something more, in place of Quicksilver Dagger, I think.

Nether Fiend - Nerf!
Shapeshifter - Nerf?
Hydra - Buff/develop a bit better!

That's that so far.

Development goals for self:

Stuff I think I need to work into the decks: | Open
- Reliable removal proofing of some sort. Find it all, find all of it that the AI can effectively use.
- Use more creatures that are hard to remove from the board even if the AI plays too passively with them - the AI is way too easy to sucker into board wipes.
- More creatures with 5+ toughness.
- I have to find a way for every deck ever to somehow run ways to deal with artifacts. Which is impossible for Black, and to a degree blue.
- Possibly sideboards. The sideboarding system would have to work first, tough.
- More conditional removal which deals with bomby things (like, say, Smite the Monstrous and such). The big problem here is that the AI tends to spam any sort of removal on the first thing it sees, stacks removal auras and also sticks them on it's dudes. The reason big crap isn't played in general is that it's easy to move off the board or disable, the AI is rather incapable of doing this properly.
- Do some serious testing on how you make the AI capable of playing counterspells in a meaningful way (it tends to not leave mana open for them depending on how much it values whatever creature it has in hand or something, it's part of why there's so few counters in the deck pack)
- Duress for every black deck? Or at least some form of discard?

Stuff I absolutely need to alter the rarity of: | Open
Swords to Plowshares (Mythic if not treasure)
AEther Burst (Rare at least)
Gaea's Skyfolk (Uncommon at least)

Lighting Bolt (No way is this thing a common)
Flametongue Kavu (This thing should under no circumstances be widely available, mythic at the very least, but the problem with that is that you can do quests for them)
Purtefy (At least a rare. Cheap, instant, kills anything, no regen, kills equipment, washes dishes, walks the dog...)
Ulamog's Crusher , Hand of Emrakul (these guys are NOT good commons for a Vintage environment where none of your opponents hold onto their removal and can't even play most of white and blue removal which deal with them rigt anyway)
Viridian Emissary (Uncommon at least)
Spiritmonger (Mythic at least)

Err, basically my entire current deck. It's too damned easy to assemble without even trying as all the cards are no-brainer auto-includes and if teir rarity is as low as it is they're all too easy to replace while you're still losing matches.

A thing I'd be considering if I were a very competent programer with a enough free time:

Something about scaling & progression | Open
Erm, if there was a way to make the AI change their entire decks depending on how much the player has progressed in the game, that would obviously be great. Dooooh.

But how to tell how much the player has progressed?

If you track how many lives the player has, that would probably be a cool option, as that's a big factor on in it's own right. But the sensible part of that aside - lives aren't tied to progression in any meaningful way, you get them by walking around a bunch. So you could have 20 lives and still have a pile of a deck. Still, it'd make a good sideboarding factor, maybe.

Tracking wins vs. enemy? Well, that's a good indicator that the enemy in question needs to step it up, and in the end you end up making them stop spawning, so I suppose that'd be a good way. Still, you can get many wins vs. an enemy and not progress much in terms of either lives or cards

Still itd could make for a good progress mecanic, beat a bunch of stuff, to unlock next level stuff etc wile the lower level stuff gets tougher.

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Re: Improved Shandalar General Playtesting & Feedback Thread

Postby Thesaguy » 13 Jan 2016, 16:55

Hey Lujo.

I had a computer crash and lost my save, so I'm going to take a little break until the next release to get the payoff bug fixed.
I do really like what your doing and look forward to playing this again soon. Though sounds like the next release might be some time :(

Do you know if there is an easy way to export the player deck?
I painfully reconstructed the deck in the deck builder, but was wondering if I could somehow just extract it?

P.S. a Feature Request I suggested was to have deck building parameters based on how much life one has:
The best would be a total deck switch or random decks. Ideally decks could have a tiered system, so depending on your win/loss record against a certain creature you could switch the decks.
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Re: Improved Shandalar General Playtesting & Feedback Thread

Postby lujo » 14 Jan 2016, 00:42

Unfortunately I'm not quite sure how to import/export decks. I'm sure you can do it somehow, tough, there's folks around who seem to always play with imported decks.

I'm not sure why they do this, but whenever I say this it comes out wrong, like I'm disparaging them more than I have intention to. It confuses me because the moment I have a constructed deck in my hands there's no real need to get any more cards, and if you're not going around putting a deck together, what in the world are you actually doing?

I'm very confused by this, and I keep coming back to it because I'm kinda trying to build an all purpose deck-pool and I'm having trouble coming up with a deck pool which would please someone who'd import a deck as a rule.


As for progress, yeah, I'm with you. The OG devs were either very uninformed or very, very ambitious with making the game have both scaling lives and card collecting mechanisms going on at the same time.

Korath enabled to option to have both the player and enemy lives fixed (it might screw up how dungeons work, but who cards, dungeons are messed up anyway), and without varying lives, I suppose I could come up with something to make monsters scale in difficulty properly.

I'd need to be fully aware of how their spawning mechanisms work, tough. And I suppose all that's for a later date if Korath ever really digs into the non-duel parts of the game.


What difficulty are you playing at? I saw the bug with no paying off at lower difficulty, but never at higher ones. I'm way deep into a Sorcerer campaign currently and it's all fine - except I haven't yet had anything offer me tribute (but this migth be working fine, not sure yet).


Also, I've a need to rant a bit about Flametongue Kavu. If I had some sort of MtG blog going I suppose I'd make it a post there.

FTK | Open
Anywho, at first glance (and this is common in internet discussions about the card) folks will say he'd be OK to bring back because his stats and cost have been victims to power creep.

The problem is that with FTK running around a meta warps it completely, and this is always the case in any meta I've played him in. If FTK is playable (meaning that games aren't decided before turn 4 and there's a reasonable chance of facing creature decks), he will be in any deck that can play him. That's why he's in my current shandalar deck, and that's why he was in my previous shandlar deck, and that's also why he'd be in any shandalar deck where I don't go "I'm sick of that card" and not put him in on purpose.

But what does that mean? Well, at first glance, he's essentially "just" a Control Magic , right? You play a card for 4 mana, remove one guy, get one guy. Control Magic is a rather strong card, under the same considerations - if it's playable at all, you're tempted to stick it into any deck that can play it.

BUT , he's way more splashable than Control Magic, and even if 5 toughness or pro:red stumps you , you always get a guy with enough power to kill the opponent. If the meta allows for a pinger then 5 toughness doesn't stump you, and if the pinger is Grim Lavamancer then 6 doesn't , either. In the worst case scenario, where you immediately lose him to something due to low toughness, it's a 4 mana 2-for-1, pure card advantage, what's not to like.

Right, but there's other creatures like him, plenty of stuff that kills something when it comes into play, what's the actual deal with him?

The deal is this: He's at the exact right sweet spot to be able to kill a vast % of things that could, in any meta, be played before you get a chance to play him (meaning that stuff which won't die to 4 dmg before turn 4 is not all that common), and very often enough to kill most stuff that would come into play even later.

And on top of that, you get a creature which can win a game on it's own - 4 power clocks you in 5 turns, potentially 3 in Shandalar, and considering that he's in red potentially lower (and you have acess to more removal to make attacking with him easier).

I've been part of a casual playgroup whan Lightning Blast originally came out, and that card, despite costing 4 mana and comparing badly to Lightning Bolt, complemented Lightning Bolt perfectly and meant that 4 toughness creatures were obsolete - if you draw your 4 toughness guy, it'll just get killed (for about at least as much as you payed to play it), and if you didn't, it'd go to your head. FTK is much like Ligtning Blast, except it will both nullify your 4 toughness dude AND go to your head (or kill another creature). You kill the small guys with your Lightning Bolt, you kill your big guys with your Spitting Earth or you mop up the cumpers with Arc Lightning, but you kill almost anything with FTK and proceed to cast a Lightning Blast to the head every turn for no mana.

Decks which make him less impactful (and his impact is basically GG) as a removal spell are deck that run things that have 5+ toughness for up to 4 mana. And those would be some pretty ridiculous decks for a very silly meta.

In the silliest and least threatening scenario the average decks would run so many high toughness creatures that you'd hose burn in general (as well as creatures - it's really hard to attack into 3/5 or 3/6 or 3/7, heck, it's often too hard to attack into 2/4). What you'd be trying to do is make most stuff resistant to Lightning Blast, and that's one fine old card. Cards that do more than that basically say "destroy target creature" even if it's written in numbers so that it can be red. You'd make, for example, a Wildfire deck pointless - everything can live through it.

And in the worst case scenario, you'd give the AI a lot of creatures with high toughnes AND high power. Like the current Aga Galneer - my FTK's roll most other decks brainlessly, but I do have to run a Blood Cultist or a Grim Lavamancer if I want to take out Seige Rhino or Juzam Djinn . But those are a problem because they come out early enough and they are rather nasty critters.

Back when FTK came out, he screwed up the entire meta because of this. And not just the meta he was in - stuff that bacame dominant while he was around, like UG Madness and Psychatog (and Mono Black Control) was stuff that made decks with him in them not rule the format. And that caused unintentional and steady power creep which culminated in Mirrodin with the Ravager Affinity.

His presence just caused a million things the R&D tought would be viable decks in several standards to never happen. It's silly and unintuitive, because he's not in any deck which dominated, say, full INV-ODY standard, but mtg with FTK available and with no FTK available are 2 different games.

I do love the card, I've used and abused it for years and years, but he's very high on my personal list of stuff that should have never been made. Dungeon treasure material if ever there was any.

Ok, got that out of me sorry if it bored you folks.


Some more about the FTK XD | Open
I can't get enough of the damned thing, and I'm not sure my rand really got into how silly the card is.

I've compared him to Control Magic - but control magic type effects give you opportunties to get rid of them. You can bounce the critter that got hit with Control Magic type stuff, you can destroy the Control Magic (many ways to do it including giving the creature protection from blue). And if you do, you get your creature back, whether in hand or in play. This isn't the case with FTK. And very often you have to get rid of him or he'll just kill you.

Another thing is that he doesn't necessarily do just 4 damage. If you have cheap critters out when you want to play him, you can attack with them. Take something like Viridian Emissary (who's ideal but any lame "bear" will do). You can try to block one of those with a 6 toughness creature - if FTK gets played after combat you've just traded a 6 toughness dude for a 2 power disposable dork. AND there's a 4/2 guy on the board. (The AI is very vulnerable to this).

At the most basic level, the red deck will have to chose between playing a threat, a creature, and playing a bit of removal at 4 mana. With FTK you do both, which is very much like playing a Time Walk, except in a way which also gives you card advantage.

And were this comes into play a ton is if the deck with the FTK is controlish. The other guy plays it's threats, you answer it's threats and you're both going draw-go. The other guy is likely to draw into either a threat or an answer, while the guy with the FTK is capable of drawing into both an answer (to too many threats) and a threat with the same draw.

In theory, getting a 4/2 for 2R and a 4 dmg to target creature for R is perfectly legit, even not too impressive. In practice it takes 2 cards, both in your hand and in your deck. You make it one effortlessly splashable card, it destroys metagames.

Silly ole card :lol:

Lol, and something else about FTK, to tie the rambling up properly:

FTK finale, I hope | Open
That last bit where I mentioned how FTK works quite well in a controlish deck and how he's usually downright cheating when both players are in or approaching top deck mode is quite something to observe.

See, the presence of FTK, especially in combination with Grim Lavamancer got me quite a bunch of RL tourney wins in larger formats after he's rotated out of his standard. Reason was that if you have access to FTK and Grim Lavamancer, whatever you put them in will easily become a control deck vs. creatures, except noone will notice or expect it.

You can stick those two clowns in any deck, and what happens is that you're capable of getting card advantage (1-for-0 with the lavamacer) and 1-0 or 2-for-1 one with the FTK, and, provided you have some sort of reset (Pyroclasm will do), you'll easily force the other guy into semi-topdeck mode. Back when affinity was all the rage, pairing them up with green for cip artifact destruction (more card advantage) and rancor (proto-equipment) and Firebolts (also card advantage) made for a very grindy RG thing which made everyone asume they were playing vs. beatdown (because, to a degree, they were) while they were actually playing against control (because FTK is control and beatdown at the same time - for the price of one).

And that's what I'm spontaneously playing in Shandalar right now, my reset it Nevinyrral's Disk, and I haven't bothered to pick Grim Lavamancers or Rancor's up, and I haven't attempted to build it consciously but it's pretty much that same fundamentally ridicoulous deck which wouldn't really work without FTK and which just builds itself around FTK effortlessly. And if you're red, and are staring at the purchase screen looking for something to put your amulets into, getting 3 FTK's every time is a complete no brainer. They cost 2 amulets per pop! Of course you'll pick them up first thing, what else is more bang for buck?

And if you do get them you'll very likely end up with a variation of what I'm currently wrecking the place with.

Why? Because it's this deck: Jund, except that deck is it's incarnation in Modern, which means it was made without access to most of the stuff that you'd put into it back when I originally played it and not even Ravnica was out. (Not strictly true since Grim Lavamancer was reprinted).

Back in the day, when I contemplated turning the so-unfair-it-builds-itself RG FTK nonsense into a RGB thing for discard (and Chainer's Edict) I never did because it was too easy to go fully retarded and make it a 5color deck with almost no non-basic lands in it. Which I did. With Pernicious Deed as the reset button. It had Grim Lavamancers in it, FTK in it, but for all practical purposes it was Jund. Heck, it was closer to Legacy Jund.

And the power of it, in a semi-sensible meta like Shandalar, can easily hinge on the fact that FTK is, well, about on par with a Planeswaker. You pay 4 mana, kill a creature, and then procede to do all sorts of things you can do with a 4/2 creature. It's as if there was a Planeswalker which you could use to do 4 damage to a creature with one ability, and then do 4 damage to a player with the other ability until it got removed from the table, with an overpriced ulti which never gets used. Somewhere uncomfortably close to that. That's what it is, now that I think about it, it's one of the rare few cards with planeswlaker-like impact before there were any actual planeswalkers around.

If the enemies aren't playing Tarmogoyfs and "kill you from 20 to 0 in 5 turns reliably" sort of deck, which they can't or it would be unplayable, you just start with FTK's because they're so universally good and you're Jund before you can blink. Heck, "Burning Tog" was a thing back in the day, Psychatog controll deck with some red for FTK, Pyroclasm and Fire/Ice - so it really doesn't matter what the rest of your deck is or what colors or aynthing.

Ok, I'm done with my love-hate ranting about FTK. I'm stuck with a bunch in my deck, and I can't take them out because they've been winning me matches for a while now so I don't have a clue whether my deck actually works or not and I'm afraid to take them out. XD

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Re: Improved Shandalar General Playtesting & Feedback Thread

Postby lujo » 19 Sep 2016, 14:24

Right! I'm back! Sorry I left off on a rant, I was driven somewhat mad and as was helpfully pointed out needed a break.

Well, not all of that is true, I'm not exactly back. Yet. Got some RL stuff coming up and going on, so I most likely won't be able to devote as much time to the whole thing as before. However, Korath did listen to plenty of feedback and this did open doors which were closed before. So I kinda owe it to him to put the stuff to good use.

Also in the meanwhile my dropbox folder got wiped and I'm not sure I have the very last iteration of the deckpack. Not to mention that it had glaring issues and untouched decks. I kinda left you guys in a bind and feel like I let you all down.

Part of that was because the environment that I was trying to do stuff in was nowhere near where it needed to be to even consider making decks in it. Fundamental stuff wouldn't work. When you have an AI which has a hard time operating underpriced vanilla creatrues, like Leatherback Baloth in a mono-green deck, the problems go too deep. That's not even going into the then-current bugs, and the comes-into-play tapped lands handling. Many things of that sort going on - you get heaps of cards locked off as unusable in practice. I fiddled with new cards in the last couple of days and it was a bit disenheartening to see quite a few problems still there.

HOWEVER! Korath has fixed quite a number of bugs and made quite a few things work. Ha also added a metric ton of cards including a lot of cards which if I had at my disposal and if the AI was capable of using them the way god intended would've made life much less difficult. Or, at least, I could make the enemy decks more casual and less murderous, I think.

Or I just got options that I didn't have before. Fight cards in green like Prey Upon have the potential to change how that color plays entirely, and when the deathtouch fix rolls around next update there's some really screwy shennanigans to be had. Not to mention that just having "working" deathtouch is an immense change for green on it's own.

Some stuff, however, is a "conversation opener". Sometimes this is an annoyance, sometimes this is a really good thing.

For annoyance - cantrips and scry cards are effectively unusable by the AI. They were before for sure, but preliminary testing seems to indicate that they still are. This isn't a problem just for someone trying to use a card which happens to have "draw a card" attached to it, it indicates that the AI is using logic that the cards weren't designed for. It shows as nonsense, leads to bad plays, messess up the designers attempts to make sensible decks etc. I'm not gonna badger about it, but whatever is causing cantrip missplays is wrong on multiple levels and no matter how big it is, has to eventually work in a different way.


Then there's the "Wow, omg, does it really work?" kind of thing like mulligans. I've noticed in infini-duel that the AI tends to mull down to 5 rather often.

It would be very useful to know howevermuch there is to know about this to prevent screwups. I see two "knobs", one which makes the AI less likely to mulligan ("small numbers go a long way" doesn't tell me enough, unfortunately), and another I don't fully understand either.


BUT, here's something that opens up a conversation with "PRAISE JEEBUS S**T FINALLY WORKS LIKE INTENDED!" and puts the "I" into the AI:

Big Ole Pile of Suddenly Functional Stuff | Open
.3528 4 Onslaught
.720 4 Mana Drain
.1604 4 Fervor
.7200 4 Earthshaker
.7221 3 Guardian of Solitude
.7265 4 Kami of Fire's Roar
.7380 3 Sire of the Storm
.7749 2 Skyfire Kirin
.7402 4 Teller of Tales
.266 4 Volcanic Island
.5432 4 Shivan Reef
.164 8 Mountain
.126 8 Island
.16153 4 Mausoleum Wanderer

That's not an actual deck. That's a pile of cards in blue and red, off the top of my head, which turned from "unusable by the AI in ways which make you want to throw your compuer out the window" into "apparently works as intended" by the .csv override Korath put in.

In Shandalar.ini you need to find


and adjust it to 1. Try playing against it first, while it's on 0. Open up the console, look at it hand, see what it does, do 10 or so games. Let it "goldfish" you, don't try to beat it. Then turn the CreaturesBeforeCombat switch to 1, and see what happens then.

The difference is like playing against someone who can't interpret the cards at all, and someone who can. This was where a lot of my exasperation with the AI comes from, not nearly all of it, but plenty of it.

And this is no small deal or something that applies to just those cards by any means. Take Mana Drain - in order for Mana Drain to work, at least with creatures , every creature in any deck Mana Drain is in has to be playable in the first main phase. This still doesn't make Mana Drain "fully operational" as it can still bugger you if you plan on making a deck which intends to use Mana Drain to cast a non-creature artifact (which is generally what it's used for irl). But it just went from "fails almost always and in order to not have it fail you have to know how cards are coded to be able to tell which things it might work with and which it might not" to "works as intended with pretty much all creatures". Big deal? Huge deal!

Then there's Onslaught. You can make any number of decks with Onslaught. Before this change, you could only make exactly one deck with Onslaught - a deck where all your dudes have haste (or otherwise you know which creatures got routinely set a certain way while being coded). Now, again, this opens a conversation - Onslaught targeting is silly and the AI chooses to tap down a 1/1 vanilla instead of a 4/4 vanilla and such. But that's something you wouldn't really be able to even tell, or care about. You can now actually make decks, using any creatures, with a card like Onslaught!

Then there's the Spirits. Vast majority of them with triggers make very little to 0 sense if triggered post-combat. With the vast majority of creatures limited to post-combat and the arcane spells not being there at all, if this isn't turned on there's almost no mechanical point to the spirits. And plenty of them are servicable build-arounds.

And it doesn't stop there, these are just random things I wanted to see working as intended in an official Shandalar release to know that there's a point to trying to put togather various decks. MOST buildarounds work like that.

Fervor and simmilar, which are listed as the main reason for this switch to be added to the file, are just the obvious ones. It's important to notice that fixing Fervor or Concordant Crossroads or Fires of Yavimaya individually isn't going to change the situation.

But we can finally maybe see this stuff in action, and see where they might be bugged or missplayed individually. The big problem with buildarounds isn't just that stuff is/was getting played post-combat. That makes them unusable to the point that you can't tell if there's anything wrong with them rather than the AI. Once you plug in the AI's brain, so to speak, what I see coming up as a problem is sequencing, which is to say that the AI doesn't understand which things in it's deck are buildarounds.

So what might happen is that it values a random vanilla creature or hyper-misvalues a cantrip instead of laying down an enchantment or artifact which is meant to set it's deck up. Like, say, skipping Fervor in order to play a Grey Ogre. It's been madning and it cropped up in many places with many cards or deck concepts for me allready. There's no way to contextualize a particular card within a particular deck. But just seeing that pile of junk up there going through the correct motions suddenly lit up hundreds of cards as usable and god knows how many decks at the very least worth attempting.


Also, the "increase agressiveness" and "increase defensiveness" switches - I can't say I understand the instructions or the way they scale, or how they actually work, but boy do they sound appealing. Seeing the AI unwiling to trade his one dude for 3 enemy ones and just sit there sadly with an army because one might die if it attacks just made me want to cry.

The problem here might be that if the status is global, fiddling with it might mess some colors/decks up. Various Green decks want to madly attack because their cards were designed to trade stupidly well in combat, but what's default mode for Green probably isn't for, say, Blue.

Still, the "won't attack if any one guy could die, but will madly gang block anything with anything" is pretty much the opposite of how MtG is generally played (to the point that "Nobody ever blocks" is kind of a semi-true meme). The only way to explain the insane hyper-defensiveness of Shandalar is the game warping lives format.

If I managed to fiddle with knobs and get the AI to behave more like a (decent) human player, or at least more like the Forge AI, in terms of attacking and blocking, I'd be able to see if and to what degree I'm right about that. Or just get it to play more sensibly, maybe.

V. interesting.


Anywho, it's been a cornucopia of additions, bugfixes, workarounds, making hundreds of various things be actually playable, etc. etc.

Made me wonder if that whole "AI can randomly pick a deck from a bunch" thing is still possible to do. It's been soo bloody difficult to get the working decks working last time around, it's still hard to work up steam to sit there and try out different, idk, druids if you know you've got one that works somewhat.

The infinite duels thing picks random decks out of a box, it would be really swell, and very useful, if that could be done with enemies in-game.

I'd make me a Bear themed Druid with Bearscape and Mulch, and an Insect themed druid with +1/+1 counter shennanigans, and an Elf themed Druid, and a Beast themed Druid, and a Spider themed Druid, and a Treefolk themed Druid, a druid with a dash of this, and a dash of that - if I went to make a deck I wouldn't have to worry that much about how it compares to all the other concepts and whether it's good enough to replace the current one.

It's also a big deal when it comes to flavor. Green Kamigawa Spirits are in fact great semi-vanilla+ creatures for the Druid. But their flavor is so specific, eastern and abstract that making every druid you meet be a kami-druid would feel weird. If there was 3-4 different potential druids to run into - great, works like a charm, mixes thigs up, a bunch of them are into weird spirits.

Well, that's a feature I'd love if it's something that isn't that complicated but has slipped Koraths mind. When I asked for infini-duels he seemingly whipped them up out of thin air. So no harm in asking, I suppose.

Ok, sorry about the long post, I'll see if I can use what got better and more plentiful since the last time to fix up stuff that I left unfixed, at a relaxed pace and I won't spam.

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Re: Improved Shandalar General Playtesting & Feedback Thread

Postby lujo » 28 Oct 2016, 18:59

Very long rumination on blue stuff, I edited it a bit and added some stuff | Open
Been playing around with stuff, madly scrambling to get as many things as possible tested so bugs (and hopefully a few counter-productive AI blunders) get straightened out in the next release. I've sank a few days in trying to come up with blue restructurings, because I left my deck pool a mess. (Seer was a mess, Merfolk Shaman was a bit of a mess , Sea Dragon was a huge pile of cheeze , Shapeshifter was a tad too strong and uninteractive , Thought Invoker just wasn't there , Astral Visionary wasn't touched , Mind Stealer was badly put together , Pegasus was duct taped together with dreams and wishes.)

Ran into straigth up bugs at every corner. 11 attempts at making a Seer. I'm on the 12th now with nothing fancy at all I just stuck the rather bland but flavorful pirates from Portal II. age into a deck with some Trusty Machette and Call to the Kindred. It's just 6 vanilla creatures, one simple equipment, Sea's Claim and Call to the Kindred. Turns out the only non-vanilla card, Call to the Kindred , is bugged :D That should be easy to fix though. There's a bunch of other potential seers I tried - even a mono-blue Avatar of Will thing, but several of the scarce blue discard cards are bugged, too, they seem to make the wrong guy discard.

When it's not bugs it's misuse. I kinda wanted to move the whole pinger thing to Merfolk Shaman , give him Rootwater Hunter and Thornwind Faeries , have Silvergill Douser watch their backs , and let them murder stuff with Diminish and Vial of Poison (and fetch that back out for more mad pinging with Rootwater Diver). Can't do, it turns out the AI will apsolutely madly cast Diminish as soon as there's a target out. On top of that it also turns out the only reason my Conjurer deck worked, and it's the only deck that really did, was that I stuck Plated Seastrider and Coastal Drake in it. Which prevented the AI from madly chump-blocking with it's pingers and utility dudes. So Silvergill Douser doesn't work as he just always chumps, as do the pingers. So the Conjurer deck doesn't work because of what its theme is or its cool and sometimes madly powerful combinations, it only works because of Plated Seastrider and Coastal Drake.

Funny thing about the "AI chumps with the wrong things unless you give it a Tortoise" is that Kraken Hatchling, an amazing Tortoise, doesn't make a deck "work", because the AI can have it on board but it'll still chump with it's utility guys. True fact. All you hundreds of 2 mana creatures that aren't 1/4 or 1/3 +/- flying , f**k all y'all, you can't be in a deck, and your themes can't be in decks.

Most of this is the well known standard situation with the combat AI, it just always feels bad when it gets to you. It's also the main problem with the whole idea of making a Sea Dragon deck. The point of big creatures is that if they attack and the other guy blocks them, the other guy loses more cards. The AI just doesn't attack if it would trade, defeating the whole purpose of even doing it. It just plays out a big monster and runs into the same problem that green usually faces (the fact that the AI is just really bad at using creatures at an elementary level). Except the deck is blue and can't solve that problem other than giving it's guy evasion, and that's just lame because you can get rather big guys with built in evasion for less mana. The original deck attempted to solve this with Siren's Call and Jump , which looks kinda stupid until you realize that it might actually still be one of the precious few blue ways to get the AI to attack. I suppose I ought to be looking into that, now that I think about it. See, venting is good for thinking, and I only added this paragraph later when I went to proofread and edit this whole disjointed mess a bit.

The mad misuse of Diminish (and other such effects) was a letdown, that's the sort of card that if used properly could help blue attack without having to force evasion everywhere. It could be 4 of in every deck. It'd have made me feel more bad I've allready spent too much energy on Energy Tap problems.

Spire Golem and Energy Tap are in now, and Mana Drain is operational, and this means that some kind of blue ramp can be made. Who to give it to? It's quite strong in theory, literally any mono blue deck at all can start with those and then figurnig out where to take it. The logical candidate would be the Sea Dragon - It could Energy Tap a Manta Ray on turn 4 to play a Keiga, the Tide Star or it could Energy Tap a Spire Golem to power out a, idk, Scourge of Fleets. And it can, except... it throws Energy Tap at anything at all at any time at all, so it can only work by accident (and occasionally does, I've seen it work beautifully when the stars are right and the AI topdecks Energy Tap at the exact right time under exact right circumstances). But put in any small creatures in the deck you're practically guaranteeing it won't work.

I have a deck (in several 0.X versions) Which uses leveling merfolk as mana sink, Mana Drain , Energy Tap , Spire Golem , Manta Ray , Keiga, the Tide Star and Scourge of Fleets which would even sorta look like it's working because the AI would dump excess mana into the levels on the levelers and the silly effective ramp is silly effective so those could murder people. The problem there would be that it'd still throw Energy Tap at anything, sink tons of mana into superfluous excess levels on the levelers, tie up counterspell mana on the levelers and waste a bunch of opportunity to use it's ramp to cast the big guys. If you're not looking at it's hand, it could beat you and you might even think it's rather strong, but if you looked at it's hand it'd make you cry just to watch that mess. It's all fixable I think, and also reported, so if there's ever need to make the Sea Dragon kick ass and be rather mean to play against, it's in the cards (they just have to be played correctly).

Also, just having the Energy Tap and Spire Golem combo available and working properly goes way beyond the scope of one particular deck. You can build any number of blue decks with that as a backbone. It's even fetchable with Treasure Mage. I made a few, too, as I couldn't decide whether I wanted to use it up on Sea Dragon, which is how I found out how messed up the timing is.

And I'm still up in the air about Astral Visionary and Thought Invoker. And Seer, honestly, but bugfixes might let me see if any of the ides I've tried so far have potential, I've just been on an unfortunate and silly string of running into bugged cards. Thought Invoker mustn't be too strong because she can't be bribed, and quite a number of semi-reasonable things to do with blue just plain don't work. To the point that making an actual proper Delver of Secrets deck might not be possible simply because there aren't enough truly usable instant/sorcery spells in blue to allow for a stable deck (It would beat people up on random draws and fold otherwise, especially with how lousy the AI is with scry). Some kind of mono blue affinity might do the trick, but it's also kind of an unstable deck. It's also a bit of a nutcase deck if it's one of the Ensoul Artifact contraptions (provided the AI can use that).

I think I'm going to make the Seer , Merfolk Shaman and Sea Dragon all use Phantasmal Terrain variants. I just whish Aquitect's Will was in the pool and Streambed Aquitects weren't bugged. There's got to be a way to sort out Hammerhead Shark , Manta Ray , Seasinger , non-overwhelming tactical islandwalk merfolk , meh pirates (Steam Frigate , Armored Galleon) , Ethereal Whiskergill , Tidal Warrior , Streambed Aquitects (once debugged) , Floodchaser , Sea's Claim , Spreading Seas and hopefully Aquitect's Will (if it were in).

EDIT: Btw, the reason I'm even fiddling around with the Portal II pirates, or one of them, is that it's a rare case of almost the entire core set creature curve sharing the creature type and general art direction. So there's literally nothing going on mechanically, but it's "ye olde default blue creature curve" except everything is on the same page and doesn't look bad. Portal II is the only set with a somewhat clear style guide who's art I really like. It's at that right meeting place between kitch, symbolic, realistic and daring that's only been captured in Mirage and bits of the Rath Cycle that don't have Weatherlight guys on them. For some reason I quite like Kaladesh art, and the first Innistrad was surprisingly pleasant, too.

The "let's just give the AI your default stuff means":

- 1/1 for U flier that can't block guy (From Portal, though)
- 1/2 for 1U flier Storm Crow
- 1/3 for 1U Thalas Merchant (Portal II introduced this design, it caught on)
- 3/3 for 2U Islandhome (Portal II take on Manta Ray, didn't catch on exactly)
- 3/2 for 3U flyer guy (Also Portal II design, became default)
- 5/4 for 4U Islandhome (Aslo didn't catch on, was a take on Water Elemental)

And if you put in some Sea's Claim, then it's kind of like - your cheap guys are evasive, but your big guys need jump-starting to lose defender. I figure it might be some kind of template for what a solid Seer/Basic Blue deck might work out as. The innocent looking early fliers might be too strong with some obligatory cheap equipment backup. A Storm Crow / Talas Scout with a Deadly Machette will do you in if you start with 10-12 lives rather than 20. A Cloud Sprite / Cloud Pirates + Storm Crow / Thalas Scout will kill you in 5 turns of attacking if you start with 10 life, which makes it possible that giving an inital opponent Sea Sprite and Storm Crow is just too much. I find the idea annoying, yet hilarious and iluminating. In MtG Storm Crow is the memetic useless and insignifican creature, and a 2/2 flier for 2 with no drawback is sorta great. In Shandalar, Storm Crow IS the 2/2 flier for 2, that's how far removed it is from MtG before anything else is even factored into it :D

Also, Portal II Age turned out rather influential in retrospect. I remember my own reaction to Temple Acolyte way back in the day (Err, this guy is better than Bottle Gnomes lol what?) I feel like there was a point in time when it became more of the set template for magic sets than any other set and then Magic stayed that way for the most part. It's still there, more or less. Surprisingly influential set, both the parts of it that are compilation and the parts which were original designs. It's curious how much it's been played through reprints and descendants and how it's cards determined so much about magic, and yet the fact that it had any impact at all seems so counter-intuitive and nonsensical. :D

I whish I had a good clear idea of what the proper "standard" template for a powerful mono-blue shandalar deck would be, like I mostly do for other colors. What's being shipped with the patches as "Merfolk Shaman" would be something like that (that seriously needs to go, you can't expect people to play a random pile cards againt that - using that was quite a mistake), but it's just a cheezed-up merfolk deck (might work for Astral Visionary, mind you, which is much better than with red where goblins can't go to the dragonlord). Whenever I try something that doesn't ammount to "cheap-but-big unblockable dudes" it kinda falls apart.

Some of that is due to me, ofc.


On the bright side of things, fixing Brindle Shoat let me put two pigs into the Ape Lord deck and the fact that Fires of Yavimaya finally work as advertized (As does Kird Chieftain) mean that it's working quite nicely. Last time around I went mad while trying to make a proper Ape Lord, this time I just opened up the archive copy of the very first thing I originally came up with in under 5 minutes and it worked like a charm. Well, Seal of Strength had to be replaced because the AI just wasn't patient enough with it and I did end up tweaking it a tiny bit. It reminds me of something I remember from somewhere on TV where some hairy cartoon critter yells "Help me catch mah pig!" and all hell breaks loose :D

It might be a tad too strong right now. I'll upload it at some point.

I seem to have finally made progress with the Sorceress. Turns out that if you combine the right dwarves with the right goblins it seems to play ball. I'm not entirely sure how the AI handles it yet, and I'm still tweaking it, but I'm much happier with things. The weenie/reach core of it is in place, I'm at the tricky point of figuring out what non-creature stuff to give it.

I was considering using the new vampires, but the AI couldn't really handle them. I had a lot of fun giving the AI Weaver of Lightning. If the AI was any better with cantrips there's a really mean low-tier deck with Weaver of Lightning , Sanguinary Mage , Zap and Chaotic Strike I had a lot of fun playing with (but the AI sucked with, unfortunately. I could've reported the whole deck, but it boils down to known systemic stuff). But woot, red guys with reach! =D> I do hate the "4 mana 4 toughness reach" creature type, but the AI is the AI and red needs all the help it can get.

Goblin Warlord is still kinda searching for itself. I need to decide what I want him to do, and also kinda on what tier of power should he actually be. The Akki land destroyer felt like it would've been nice but Akki Blizzard-Herder turned out to be bugged in a semi-hilarious way. I'm kinda mired in trying to work blue out right now, but I'm sure something can be done as there's cool stuff to play with now.

Also, I absolutely just have to make a Planar Chaos deck. That card is... unreliable and goofy, but fun!

I've got a nice provisory semi-basic soulshift spirit Druid going on, and a nice provisory semi-basic spirit Witch , too. They're both kinda plagued with bugs ATM but if that changes I suppose they'll do. I got two versions of a Homarid Spawning Bed Seer which is wacky and creepy but I'm not sure how strong it is (one might be not strong enough, the other maybe too strong, and both might just make a lousy Seer)

I gotta do the rounds around everything with Green in it and figure out which fight cards to add to which deck. Tweaked up Alt-a-Kesh , tweaked up Fungus Master , waiting on some bugfixes to be able to tell anything. Fight cards are indispensible but they're a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to usefulness and flavor in particular decks - the AI is rather trigger happy with them, which is ok when it doesn't 1-for-2 itself (which might be excusable as being able to just snipe something in green in this environment with the AI is just that good), and almost none of them whatsoever are on-flavor art wise (it's either werewolves, or humans, or elves, or planeswakers, or the very distinctly dressed guys from Innistrad - there just ins't a generic fight card with a generic artwork it seems).

I've also done a few other things, like an Onslaught + Smoke + Squadron Hawk + Heliod, God of the Sun Centaur Warchef (not yet happy with the results) and stuck a bunch of white cantrips into Cleric to see which ones the AI is good with and which ones it isn't.

I kinda felt like writing this ramble down because frustration has pent up and it does me good to vent and ramble to see where I'm at with stuff. I'm avoiding posting decks as I'm "done" with them in order to spend more time testing and pouring over stuff than writing, and because bugs keep cropping up, so it just piles up.

I'm quite a bit less stressed than last time around, this time more things work, there are more card options and at least some of the invisible walls that you bang your head into while deckbuilding are gone. There are enormous problems still, sure, but if more often feels like a deck/idea/flavor could work if some particular bugged/mishandled card is fixed or tweaked. There's quite a bunch of stuff I've been asking for around, I whish I had a company of people working for me trying all of them out.

If anyone would like one of the currently experimental decklists, feel free to ask.

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Re: Improved Shandalar General Playtesting & Feedback Thread

Postby lujo » 30 Oct 2016, 00:34

Ok, let's treat you guys to something. Might be someone allready did because it's a bit of a hurr-durr "upgrade" and a bit of a lazy cop out on the "make a decent semi-unbeatable Vintage Astral Visionary" front.

I did some thinking and way too many things that define blue in vintage either aren't there or don't work or are mostly there except for this one stupid-looking-but-crucial-bit etc etc. So I felt like my options were either Affinity of some kind, Mefolk of some kind or just the ole familiar Stasis - Black Vise nonsense tricked out with cool new junk, until the overal situation improves.

What I did was, and it's somewhat undertested (about 20 or so games, noticed some weirdness and reported the Teardrop Kami misplays):

First Pass on a classic Astral Visionary update | Open
.114 4 Howling Mine
.18 4 Black Vise
.233 4 Stasis
.6870 4 Darksteel Citadel
.1216 4 Seat of the Synod
.126 12 Island
.17 1 Black Lotus
.11311 1 Mox Opal
.169 1 Mox Sapphire
.230 1 Sol Ring
.249 1 Time Walk
.1 1 Ancestral Recall
.1741 2 Thoughtcast
.14094 4 Ensoul Artifact
.720 4 Mana Drain
.1364 3 Serra Sphinx
.7573 3 Teardrop Kami
.7028 2 Clock of Omens
.1344 4 Snap

So, I hope I haven't messed anything key or core up, I'll have to re-check on that, and I have to carefully chose the starting advantage (Likely Lilting Refrain or some other Urza Saga growing enchantment).

The point is this, it's the old familiar Stasis + Howling Mine + Black Vise deal, but with Seat of the Synod and Darksteel Citadel in the mix, which can be untapped with the Clock of Omens by tapping down the otherwise static artifacts. Serra Sphinx in place of Leviathan , because when you want the AI to do something right, give it a Serra Angel. That's the Shandalar way!

It's got it's Time Walk and it's Ancestral Recall as well as some Thoughtcast for card draw, Snap works really well with Stasis and Black Vise , and Teardrop Kami , misused as often as not in suspicious ways , is a cool "seal of Twiddle" variant who would raise people's eyebrows if he was not misplayed. I like the idea of a stupid-looking Kamigawa spirit being in the end-boss blue deck (and he's not there for a joke, if used properly he rules).

Mana Drain is Mana Drain , you'll all learn to hate and despize that card if you don't allready. It was designed by the same noobs who designed most of the legends from legends and they never let them desing anything afterwards for obvious reasons. But the real sillyness here is a more recent bit of nonsense, the Ensoul Artifact , which:

Is a 5/5 for 2 , if used on a Darksteel Citadel it's an indistructible 5/5 for 2, which can be untapped with the Clock of Omens and Teardrop Kami (AI bushwacked me with this) , and if put on the Seat of the Synod same thing except then it can pay for Stasis. The main problem is that there's no Force of Will in the pool (and it's a good question whether the AI would be any good with Force of Will even if there was), so it can probably get bounced/removed too easily.

It's got it's bugs and misplays, sure, but it'll also have it's castle advantage and it's bonus permanent and it's probably less buggy than the version I last saw in game. I might have made some obvious blunders, so I'd appreciate anyone giving it a few whirls in infinite duel mode so we can chase potential bugs and misplays out of it.

It's not much, but if it's right and proper I can concentrate on other things. I also think I finally found a Goblin Warlord I'm happy with, although I made some last-minute adjustments which might have pushed him overboard in unintended ways. It's even got a lord in it, and it's semi straightforward but I've seen the AI pull some clever trick with it, too (like abuse the wording on Mogg Cannon to regenerate the intended victim with Goblin Chirurgeon). :)
Astral Visionary
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Re: Improved Shandalar General Playtesting & Feedback Thread

Postby lujo » 31 Oct 2016, 03:14

Right, so, here's a deck I wouldn't mind tested - it might even be fun. It started as one of the creepy takes on Seer (lots of flavorful Innistrad in the pool), but it might maybe make a better Thought Invoker.

Thougt Invoker 0232 | Open
.126 24 Island
.1794 4 Homarid Spawning Bed
.12089 4 Stitcher's Apprentice
.7977 3 Surveilling Sprite
.12270 4 Stormbound Geist
.7143 3 Trinket Mage
.16090 3 Enlightened Maniac
.9530 4 Faerie Swarm
.11376 4 Sylvok Lifestaff
.12066 4 Sensory Deprivation
.9479 3 Biting Tether

It's... kinda casual-looking, but that's what I'm going for with the henchmen this time around. I think it's the right way to go. It's also deceptively powerful and can certainly be scaled up and down in power. The question is whether it's too slow rolling. I've been facing it off vs. a bunch of decks which weren't really top of the power curve, too.

What do the cards do?

Homarid Spawning Bed turns blue dudes into tokens. Stitcher's Apprentice turns any dude into a homunculus. His "rate of exchange" , 1U, taping a guy and sacrificing a guy for a 2/2 bear is lousy. This is because his actual purpose in Innistrad was to trigger Morbid at will with no loss. In this deck his purpose is one of a non-threatening sacrifice outlet.

The AI makes screwups with those two and I'm fairly familiar with the extent of them, and it is rather large. I'm curious what the reaction to the deck is despite the fact, and it can win despite the screwups.

Surveilling Sprite and Stormbound Geist are sacrifice-friendly small flying beats, especially with Sylvok Lifestaff. That is one seriously annoying artifact, especially in a deck like this. Trinket Mage fetches either it or Seat of the Synod and is also sacrifice fodder afterwards. Enlightened Maniac is rather casual but he was practically made to be used with Homarid Spawning Bed.

Now, as for dealing with creatures, Sensory Deprivation is more than good. Biting Tether was more of a "Hmmm, this looks like a Control Magic I could give to a Seer" thing, and started me off on the whole Faerie subtheme. Stitcher's Apprentice can sacrifice the stolen creature as can the HSB if it's blue.

The main big beater is the Faerie Swarm which doesn't just count all the tokens, but also Sensory Deprivation, Homarid Spawning Bed and Biting Tether when determining it's size.


Now, among things that didn't work, the most notable one was Tradewind Rider. It's an iconic blue guy, spirit to pair up with the spirits present, perfect with Token, and also gives the deck a bit of defense it kinda lacks. AI just kept targeting him with his own ability making him unusable. Shame.

Now, if the deck is too slow, it's probably always possible to boost it into a more Faerie themed "blue skies" kind of thing. It still wouldn't be Faeries, but it would be stronger. Replacing Enlightened Maniac with Sower of Temptation is an obvious buff, and Homarid Spawning Bed decks love Peregrine Drake, both work fine. Even the token teme can be played up with Tidal Influence. Finding a better blue sacrifice outlet than Stitcher's Apprentice is a bit of a pain, but there could be a colorless one (Grafted Wargear comes to mind if it's not unusable, I haven't tried and it could be).

Point is that this is the deck slot, apart from Seer, where Faeries can go. "Proper" faeries aren't really an option (or even all there), but this is kinda nice and can be "Faeried Up" if need be.

I have a variant I liked a lot with Sower of Temptation , Briarberry Cohort and - Cerulean Wisps. The point of that card was that if Sower of Temptation or Biting Tether nailed something non-blue, you could make it blue and sacrifice it to Homarid Spawning Bed. The AI also made a cool situational move with it - untapped an oposing Seasinger to take a stolen creature back.

Would be cool if the deck turned out to be fine as is.

Here's a deck I'm exhasperated with:

Sorceress :( 0074 | Open
In my hands, this deck works:

.8814 3 Needlepeak Spider
.164 24 Mountain
.5931 4 Dwarven Bloodboiler
.1766 2 Dwarven Lieutenant
.1768 4 Dwarven Soldier
.5704 4 Spark Mage
.12951 4 Furious Resistance
.1781 2 Goblin Chirurgeon
.10938 4 Goblin Tunneler
.15226 4 Subterranean Scout
.10673 3 Spidersilk Net
.6302 2 Tribal Golem

Let's take this apart.

Needlepeak Spider is there to tackle fliers, and Spidersilk Net is there to both help tackle fliers and give the other guys a nice bit of rump.

Spark Mage is a sneaky bugger who can take out enemy weenies if he goes through, and he can easily go through because of the Subterranean Scout and Goblin Tunneler. The goblins also contribute 2 Goblin Chirurgeon who keeps things alive.

The other dwarves are Dwarven Soldier, who's your default dwarf attacker guy, Dwarven Lieutenant, who's a nasty little mana sink, and Dwarven Bloodboiler who lets dwarves with summoning sickness add damage to whoever's attacking. A very handy facet of that is that if the AI is lucky freshly played Dwarves get tapped down and don't chump-block themselves to death.

Tribal Golem can have first strike ( Dwarven Soldier and Dwarven Lieutenant ), haste ( any goblin, although the AI doesn't seem to realize this as he gets played post combat even when you allow everything to be played before which you 100% always should btw ) , and - flying! ( Dwarven Sparkmage ).

Now, in my hands, this deck works, at the very least as well as a tier 1 deck should. In the AI's hands the big problem is that it only has Furious Assault , if it even has mana for it at the right time, to not suicide all it's dudes in chump blocks. This deck does not want any kind of wall or early defender in it, it wants the exact goblins it has (the only way to attack reliably and completely teamworky with the dwarves) and the exact dwarves it has (perfectly facilitate the almost "exhalted" playstyle and provide dwarves for Dwarven Bloodboiler to tap).

I suppose I could give up on Tribal Golem (complete shame, the really cool move would be to squeeze Spur Grappler or Wild Colos in so that Tribal Golem can have flying, first strike, haste and trample in mono red) and Spidersilk Net s to put in some nasty wall that would discourage attacking (but also open the deck to be murdered by fliers).

Oh, and why goblins? Aren't there Dwarven Warriors and Dwarven Nomad? Well, it's a matter of mana curve. Spark Mage - Subterranean Scout - Dwarven Bloodboiler, or Spark Mage - Goblin Tunneler - Dwarven Bloodboiler just plays really good. In my hands, in the AI hands this might actually not be the case, becuase it would just chump-block with any first two and just have it all colapse. Plus, Goblin Chirurgeon adds regenerate to the mix and this seems to encourage the AI attack, which is rather nice. If the format was 20 life so that air-defense wasn't such a priority, then Dwarven Lieautenant / Dwarven Bloodboiler + Bloodshot Trainee would be a nice way to top the Dwarf-Goblin partnership (and is not out of the question once Bloodshot Trainee is unbugged).

Another cool and flavorful thing would be to use either tunneler and bloodboiler pump with Pardic Firecat and Flame Jet, but that'll have to wait until some big rewrite of something makes burn something you can actually give the AI.

As for the Monkey:

Help Me Catch Mah Pig! 0437 | Open
.91 7 Forest
.164 7 Mountain
.1994 4 Karplusan Forest
.241 4 Taiga
.15 4 Birds of Paradise
.12518 4 Brindle Shoat
.12571 4 Flinthoof Boar
.4379 4 Silverback Ape
.437 4 Kird Ape
.14125 4 Kird Chieftain
.5000 4 Fires of Yavimaya
.12045 4 Prey Upon
.1121 4 Pyroclasm
.14884 2 Descent of the Dragons

Eheheh, this is one of those "story" decks which usually hapen to be the long lasting ones once everything in them kinda works. I went with no CiP tapped lands, but I think that this deck is not only possibly too strong but that it might be pushing the bar for T4 enemies a bit too high. Would have to test it but let's have it.

The standard three stooges that everyone knows by now are Kird Ape , Kird Chieftain and Silverback Ape. Kird Chieftain now also pumps stuff since his ability works, there's Prey Upon in the deck which lets it snipe stuff but luckily can't be thrown out madly if there's no creatures on the board.

That doesn't mean it can't be messed up - the AI will, by god!, suicide it's stuff to prey upon other people's stuff, but hey, it's apes chasing pigs around, what's not to like?

Now the pigs are all over the place in terms of AI plays, but are rather strong. Brindle Shoat will get Prey Upon wasted just to trigger it, but it'll also survive Pyroclasm, as will Flinthoof Boar and Kird Ape, and it adds another token to the Descent of the Dragons when dragons show up to put an end to the mayhem.

All of this is sped up by Fires of Yavimaya. I'm not fully sure about how good the AI is with them, but I do know I made the deck to try to accomodate for them, and to sorta give it an early game with the fires being more of a fires into big guys play ( And obviously with Descent of the Dragons who just murder you Saproling Burst -style except with flying )

There's also Birds of Paradise. They can be killed, which is the eternal unspoken misgiving about mana dorks, and they can and will be fried by Pyroclasm, but they can be pumped with Firs of Yavimaya and Kird Chieftain for flying win (if the AI can pull it off) and they can turn into a 4/4 dragon, too.

The "story" is that the apes prey upon the boars and the boars run towards you . But since one of them is a Flinthoof Boar a forest fire breaks out, which then causes a stampede as a forestful of monkeys come chasing after the boars. Then, as it will hapen all that commotion and burning attracts a load of dragons.

After seeing the AI make silly plays (sometimes crazy awesome, too) with Pyroclasm I toyed around with the idea of giving the deck Wildfire for the sheer lolz (it can mostly just shoot itself in the foot with it), but I chickened out and gave it Descent of the Dragons. If it's as disgusting as Saproling Burst was , and it looks like it's even more disgusting, it might be too much. Still, OG Ape Lord, by force of circumstance had Shivan Dragon in it, so I kinda felt like it.

I have seen misplays and eagernes to crack Brindle Shoat, but there's little wriggle room for this one if staying on flavor is a thing so I'm kinda down with it. Unless it turns out it really is too powerful, which it might be for it's tier. Dunno if anyone's down with testing it.

You can just copy-paste the decklists if you're using my pack, or you can wait for the upload tomorrow. I might bundle the current Goblin Warlord and Alt-a-kesh in.

EDIT: If you've picked up the Thought Invoker, do pick im up again from the dosbox folder, I've uploaded the wrong one it seems.
Last edited by lujo on 01 Nov 2016, 18:24, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Improved Shandalar General Playtesting & Feedback Thread

Postby lujo » 31 Oct 2016, 17:45

Right, so, I kept trying things with the Merfolk Shaman and they kept randomly failing to work. This is annoying because it takes up a lot of time and what I end up doing in these situations is just stick everything that was brute-forcey enough to work in lousy decks into one deck. That deck then turns out to be too solid for Shandalar. Still, here's a Merfolk Shaman variant, potential misplays and all:

Merfolk Shaman tapdancer 0150 | Open
.126 24 Island
.9745 3 Cache Raiders
.1458 4 Merrow Reejerey
.3444 4 Tidal Warrior
.1820 4 Seasinger
.11146 4 Maritime Guard
.10675 4 Spreading Seas
.2672 4 Betrayal
.4702 3 Jolting Merfolk
.13996 2 Thassa's Ire
.13951 4 Pin to the Earth

One thing the deck aims to do is steal your dudes with Seasinger. In order to semi-reliably be able to do this, it has Tidal Warrior and Spreading Seas to make you have an island. Also, it has Betrayal which it can put on your dude early to draw cards if you attack, and if the guys gets stolen he can draw cards if it attacks.

Now, in order to prevent Tidal Warrior from being a sucky 1/1 if the other guy has an island, Merrow Reejerey is there to pump him up. Yes, he's a lord and that's really not a good idea to put in low tier Shandalar decks, but lets see how it goes. Merrow Reejerey also plays ball with Betrayal, and also with Jolting Merfolk and Thassa's Ire for epic tapdown.

In fact, as long as the AI does it right, and at my current settings it seems to be doing it right, it might even be overwhelming. Chances are actually good that it is, or at least that it can have very dominating hands. But it's experimental because finding functional AI creature decks without evasion is quite important. Also confirming a functional tapdown strategy.

But this is not all - Spreading Seas is a bit ass if the other guy does have islands, which is what Cache Raiders are there for. It's a nice little carddraw engine, and the AI can keep bouncing the other enchantments to put them somewhere else, or just replay them cheaply. It can also bounce it's merfolk to tap sutuff down with the Merrow Reejerey and, and it can also bounce the Jolting Merfolk to completely hose your dudes down.

That's the general idea, anyway, those guys are remnants from an attempt to make a Reality Acid deck for Merfolk Shaman. If you bounce Reality Acid it kills whatever it is on, which is a rather clever way for blue to kill permanents, but the AI wan't being cooperative.

Thassa's Ire was a bit of a late addition, as I'm curious how the AI does with it, Maritime Guard is the obligatory turtle and Pin to the Earth is removal. I do have to give praise where it's due, the blue aura kill that I've been trying out seems to be played much better this time around. Those three are there for stability and not being too gross, as I felt like I've went a tad overboard on the sinergy with the other guys (and other things I tried were really pushing it).

I mean, having Manta Riders and Trusty Machette in there with a lord is asking for trouble. Ethereal Whiskergill was an undercosted Air Elemental in the deck, and there are quite a few places to take the deck, including tactical Islandwalkers. If I figure out the new "reluctant to X-Y" knobs in the .ini well enoguh to tone down the chumping madness, I'm curious about making Stonybrook Banneret work.

So, err, feel free to try it out, but do be warned that it might be a bit on the "too strong" side. When the update hits, Streambed Aquitects might be fixed so I think I'll tone it down to not have Merrow Reejerey in it, which should ease up on the tapdown and the onslaught, if that turns out to be a problem. I also suspect it to be a bit uneven depending on the draw.

It tends to mistarget stuff, but that seems to be related to there not being enough direction and some of it might be fixable with proper phase flags for abilities - it'd be nice to have the deck out there so folks can spot and complain.

Then here's the updated Alt-a-kesh:

Alt-a-kesh Delirious 0426 | Open
.14339 3 Opulent Palace
.12 4 Bayou
.258 4 Underground Sea
.252 4 Tropical Island
.91 3 Forest
.126 3 Island
.239 3 Swamp
.5752 4 Werebear
.416 3 Erhnam Djinn
.16118 3 Grim Flayer
.16113 4 Gnarlwood Dryad
.6029 2 Wonder
.5915 2 Brawn
.15775 4 Crow of Dark Tidings
.14562 3 Grave Strength
.13145 4 Drown in Filth
.14989 4 Reduce in Stature
.2800 3 Triangle of War

I decided to stick to the original Djinn theme and be very stubborn about making Erhnam Djinn work somewhat. So let's first get Ernie out of the way.

Erhnam Djinn + Reduce in Stature , and also Erhnam Djinn + Triangle of War , because in the first case he can give forestwalk to a nobody, and he makes a rather good fighter. Triangle is currently bugged, but fixed in the upcoming version and is preffered here to instant and sorcery fight stuff because it's easier to play 3-colored and because it fuels delirium.

Also, Wonder makes Ernie fly and Brawn makes him trample and it's quite easy to get at least one in the graveyard. I'm thinking this might be more of a Brawn deck than a Wonder deck and that I might want to save Wonder for somewhere else (not sure I want to use it in two places because it's a very powerful card).

The other guys either proffit from the graveyard or put stuff into it - Werebear (ramp & threshold beats) , Gnarlwood Dryad (Delirium beats, Deathtouch + Triangle of War sniping) , Grim Flayer (Delirium beats and graveyad fill) , Crow of Dark Tidings (flying and graveyard fill).

Drown in Filth fills the graveyard and joins Triangle of War and Reduce in Stature in the creature kill department. Grave Strength fills the graveyard and pumps stuff (hence "Brawn deck"). Grave Strength is a very ridiculous card mind you, and can pump guys for way too much. I'm not sure why I keep it around, honestly.

So there you have it, it's flavorful, works better than before, has more things that back Erhnam Djinn up. It's a bit more about just dudes and creature kill than it needs to be and might be too good. I suppose it can be nerfed. Oh, and Triangle of War fires off for nothing, but that'll be fixed.

I did touchups on Fungus Master. People were complaining, rightfuly, that he's too explosive when he draws right and a bit inert when he doesn't. I meant to touch him up for a while now.

Fungus Master 0094 | Open
.126 8 Island
.91 8 Forest
.1715 4 Breeding Pool
.5457 4 Yavimaya Coast
.12909 4 Cloudfin Raptor
.12970 4 Gyre Sage
.12949 4 Frilled Oculus
.1251 3 Carven Caryatid
.8316 4 Vigean Hydropon
.1365 4 Assault Zeppelid
.3429 3 Spike Colony
.5208 3 Confound
.7116 3 Serum Visions
.13184 4 Mutant's Prey

He seems like he hasn't change much but he has. Also, I've got to change Ape Lords dual land to one of these Ravnica Duals.

Anywho, Cloudfin Raptor and Gyre Sage stil evolve into huge things, but now there is Frilled Oculus as a cheap non-evolving guy. He's mostly there to get in the way and not be busted, and to represent blue in this combination a bit (UG is notoriously not very blue in general, but more like just green dudes with flying). He does evolve them a bit but doesn't grow himself. I hope the AI doesn't stumble itself to death on his activation by tying up mana for important things, it's not like it couldn't happen.

Vigean Hydropon is still there, but this time around the AI can make use of him, I hope, with Mutant's Prey which is bound to take something off the table. That's also usable with the evolve guys (eventually) , Spike Colony (which is pump on wheels) and anything that got grafted on. Carven Caryatid evolves stuff, shores up defenses and thankfully can't attack.

Assault Zeppelid is still there, and if grafted it's still fat and annoying. Spike Colony tops the curve, but it's more of a series of counters to be distribudet on the evolved guys who are the real killers.

I took Prime Speaker Zegana out becuase she was just way too strong in the deck. It didn't need to be able to get a fat dude and refill it's hand with the same card. I also took out Longshot Squad because I want to see how it does without mass reach.

Now it has Serum Visions, which it can trip over I suppose, it has Confound (which I would stick in any blue Shandalar deck with creatures, honestly, had to stop myself from doing it), and the aforementioned Mutant's Prey.

I hope this helped nerf it or at least make it a tiny bit more interesting. it may not look like it, but it think this was a significant nerf due to the AI. I've given the deck suoboptimal things to do instead of the optimal progression and lowered it's ability to recover from screwups. The strong linear hands with optimal stuff will still mess people up, but now it's more likely to blunder itself into not playing them correctly.

The decks are all avaliable in my newly-updated dropbox folder acessible in the link below, the ones here and the ones described yesterday.

EDIT: Oh, and, well, here's a Seer. It might be too consistent, but then again, it's bound to be less consistent than the previous one:

Pirate Seer 0069 | Open
.126 24 Island
.2845 3 Cloud Pirates
.3626 3 Talas Scout
.13503 4 Omenspeaker
.3621 4 Steam Frigate
.3622 4 Talas Air Ship
.186 4 Pirate Ship
.10693 4 Trusty Machete
.3343 2 Bullwhip
.12146 4 Call to the Kindred
.6250 4 Sea's Claim

Erm, I'll regret it and probably nerf it, but the deck has a flying 1/1 for 1 and a flying 1/2 for 1 and Trusty Machete to pump them, which is a recipie for disaster in Shandalar. Really, Scryb Sprites + Willow Faerie + any pump, messes you right up. I'm kinda thinking it might be ok here becuase losing early isn't all that bad (most of your cards are not good anyway so it's not that bad if you lose them) and a low-life blue deck with vanilla cards just needs that leg-up. Oh, and it's probably not worse than the OG seer with vigilant birds and Unstable Mutation. I hope?

Anyhow, it's a very simple and simple minded deck, when you get down to it.

Cloud Pirates, Talas Scout and Talas Air Ship fly and can attack. They're core set critters oterherwise, but the Trusty Machete can make them vicious murderers.

Steam Frigate generally blocks up the ground while the flying little bastards poke you to death. Pirate Ship does the same and backs them up, Sea's Claim lets them attack (and possibly screws up your mana configuration, trolololol). Bullwhip is experimental - I hope to see the AI poke things that shouldn't be attacking into Steam Frigate into attacking into Steam Frigate. Also, Steam Frigate is one of the nicest MtG arts I've sever seen.

Omenspeaker is the seer. Blocks up the ground, potentially screws the deck over with mis-scrying (although the jury is still out on that, I'm paying attention to check it's library after it does that to see what it did and making notes). She's greek themed, which is perfect because Talas means "wave" in Greek anyway (and other languages Byzantium influenced). There is, or was, someone Serbian or Montenegin or somesuch in WotC when the Talas and Vodalia were being named (Voda = Water, Vodalia = Wateria :D).

The only "functional" pirate card is Call to the Kindred, which is fixed for the next version (will be a bit less reliable until then). It feels cool as all hell when played on Omenspeaker as she calls pirates far and wide to come mess you up. Everyone in the deck is human, so it calls up everyone. It's essentially kinda like card draw but it's vulnerable to bounce/removal/AI chumpblocking it away.

Still, if it ends up not working out I have a folderfull of Seer attempts, this one just kinda looks cool, feels weird and dorky but nice and I can always take the damned Machette and give it something else. Originally the deck had Armored Galleon in place of Pirate Ship, but I thought giving it something that has a bit more utility is not a bad idea. Maybe it was? Who knows?

My Shandalar deck pack folder is avaliable here:Dropbox
Leave feedback on particular decks here: Google doc
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