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Improved Shandalar General Playtesting & Feedback Thread

MicroProse's Shandalar Campaign Game, now with new cards & a new look!

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Sea Dragon , Shapeshifter

Postby lujo » 01 Nov 2016, 18:20

Sea Dragon Mana Drain 0218 | Open
.126 25 Island
.10675 4 Spreading Seas
.3376 4 Hammerhead Shark
.3005 4 Manta Ray
.6964 4 Spire Golem
.7275 4 Keiga, the Tide Star
.13970 4 Scourge of Fleets
.6573 2 Rush of Knowledge
.720 4 Mana Drain
.3261 2 Sapphire Medallion
.7578 3 Threads of Disloyalty

As you can see, this isn't a very well put together deck, or rather, it's got many problems, but all the cards in it seem to work the way they are supposed to. Apart from Spreading Seas, which the AI is a bit too reluctant to cast if the other guy allready has all islands, and thus fails to "cycle" it. I made a report, maybe doing something about it isn't complicated, who knows?

Anway the idea of a big blue creature deck is iffy and wonky and all those adjectives. There's ways to do it but they mostly don't seem work too well. This isn't to say I tried them all. For example, I'll certainly try an Eldrazi path at some point when some of the mising cards are in. Or even if this just fails again.

This one is pretty much an evolution of the SoTA original deck. Hammerhead Shark and Manta Ray are early blockers , and with the help of Spreading Seas they can attack. Manta Ray - thank you Korath. (Er, if you're not blue and you get Spreafing Seas 'd Manta Ray can really mess you up.)

Spire Golem is the 2/4 defensive guy. He's handy to have when casting Rush of Knowledge, too. If Energy Tap was stable enough, there'd be shennanigans, but since it isn't... I still left him in because he's a very nice creature to have when the deck is supposed to be casting 6 and 7 mana creatures.

Keiga, the Tide Star and Scourge of Fleets are the big guns. Keiga has to be in, six mana is the point at which this deck simply has to have a big flying monster out simply to block stuff. And if Keiga gets removed right away, in most cases it'll still stop the assault. Scourge of Fleets needs no explaining, either, except that he'd probably work better with the Eldrazi becase they can more reliably attack when he bounces stuff.

Sapphire Medallion I put there on a whim. This isn't really the deck for it but it can in theory help the deck play out it's smaller stuff. It can't be abused, so I suppose it's good, what I wanted was a 2 mana blue accelerant which can be used right away, ran into it and went "wth, let's see what happens". It's not exactly the kind of moral bankrupcy and deckbuilding defeat as, say, giving a disfunctional deck Sol Ring and such. I hope.

Mana Drain , on the other hand, IS that kind of moral bankrupcy and deckbuilding defeat :D I think the original Sea Dragon deck was meant to have it in, and the original art would have really been on flavor (I'm a bit miffed that I can't set arts for individual decks). The deck is gimped enough for it to just be the only ramp and the only thing it can accelerate out is, after all, creatures. So I guess it's OK. Maybe?

Threads of Disloyalty are creature kill, and Rush of Knowledge is card draw.

I want to see how it does. Looks too uneven and I'm likely to try my luck with the Eldrazi, but who knows.

CAVEAT: Absolutely fix the .ini to allow all creatures to be played before combat. (Find the clause and set it to 1). There are 2 decks with Mana Drain in my pool now, and at least the Ape Lord which simply won't work at all if you don't and there'll be god knows how many more.

And then there's Shapeshifter which needed to be nerfed but I'm not sure I succeded in doing it well enough:

Shapeshifter | Open
.126 24 Island
.10774 4 Halimar Excavator
.15704 4 Umara Entangler
.10698 4 Umara Raptor
.10784 3 Jwari Shapeshifter
.263 3 Vesuvan Doppelganger
.10399 3 Clone
.12685 4 Codex Shredder
.12196 4 Griptide
.3315 4 Time Ebb
.10214 3 Telemin Performance

The problem with it was that it was an unreally fast mill deck. That sort of thing happens when you stick Hedron Crab and Halimar Excavator in the same deck and then overload on the cloning.

What I did was make it have 3 different allies: Halimar Excavator (mill) , Umara Raptor (madly scaling flying) , Umara Entangler ( some damage whenever something gets bounced).

They get cloned by the varios clones, and so do enemy creatures. The mill and the creature plans interact with Telemin Performance (which will mill the crap out of controllish decks) but also with all the top-of-library bounce ( Time Ebb , Griptide) which when combined with Codex Shredder actually kills things - and also bounces something activating prowess.

I think it's weaker than it used to be, and a bit more aimless, but what it used ot be was murderous and quite unfun to play against.

I suppose there's ways to refocus and re-buff it again.

Right so that's all the mono blue guys, finally! Last time around they were a mess, now they're... well, possibly also a bit all over the place and rough and not the best ever, but things will get better even as soon as the next update hits.

to recap them:

V0.3 mono blue:

Seer - Vanilla Pirates (Fingers crossed for Rishadan Cutpurse squad)
Merfolk Shaman - Mishandled Tapodwn (Places to take him, though)
Conjurer - Marine Biologist Fratboy Hyinx (unchanged)
Sea Dragon - Big Blue with Mana Drain (not optimistic)
Shapeshifter - Ally Clone with Mill (nerfed from last time)
Thought Invoker - Casual Lovecraftian Faeries
Astral Visionary - Scissors Stasis Vise

And there's a lot I haven't finished developing or even got around to trying in blue yet, and a lot which doesn't work due to something that'll change enventually :) Much better experience with blue this time around, although I do have Mind Stealer , Winged Stallion and Elementalist (and I suppose Saltem Tor and Whim to Grapple with before i'm done with it).

They're in the dropbox folder, so let me know if it's acessible, and absolutely adjust the .ini to let the AI play dudes before combat.

EDIT: I think I had uploaded the wrong Thought Invoker, the right one should be in the dropbox folder now.

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Re: Improved Shandalar General Playtesting & Feedback Thread

Postby lujo » 04 Nov 2016, 22:48

Somewhat ambivalent news everyone!

Now that I know how to make sure that I'm testing decks at Wizard difficulty I have found out that you can give the AI at least some creatures which pump for +1/-1. Under some circumstances. Apparently. Maybe. Not being able to give it Metropolis Sprite was bumming me out, a bit because that's a very nice creature to give a weaker oponent (plays nice with cheap equipment, too), but moreso because it implied things. The AI also routinely killed it's Ravenous Bloodseeker by overpumping it before, and I was worried all +X/-X guys were effectively unusable.

Turns out difficulty and thinking time really do matter a lot. One card I was really bummed about was Breathstealer because if the AI kept killing it like it did the other cards then there's no giving it the Spirit of the Night package ( Urborg Panther + Feral Shadow ). But after a bunch of testing of all the components I was marveling at how the AI never once messed up pumping Breathstealer even when it was given equipment. Then I gave it Metropolis Sprite, and it didn't mess her up either. I put down blockers and had fun watching the AI not screw up despite me baiting it into it.

Then I felt bold and gave the AI Ravenous Bloodseeker to see what happens and that's when it came crashing around my ears. The first two attacks I just let the AI do it's thing and it didn't screw up. Then I gave it Distemper of the Blood and 2 Senseless Rage to bait it into discard-outlet related lunacy. That turn ended with me doing nothing, but the AI mispumping Breathstealer and Ravenous Bloodseeker to death despite the fact that it used all 3 pumps on them.

The lesson is, probably, that AI should really be kept away from discard outlets at any difficulty, for one thing, and that there really is no point to any other AI setting but the highest. I did make a fomal request about making it possible to apply that to the game difficulties where the seige times aren't horrible and initial deck pools aren't so messed up.

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Re: Improved Shandalar General Playtesting & Feedback Thread

Postby lujo » 16 Nov 2016, 05:56

Allrighty, the sorceress deck that's in the dropbox folder is getting replaced tomorrow. Several things turned out to be wrong with it. Dwarven Bloodboiler, as great a card as it is, can cause the AI to misplay horribly. The deck also relied on the AI not chump-blocking away it's smaller dudes, which inevitably happens unless I mess with the attack/block chance knobs in the .ini and I'm not keen to apply a definite global change yet. Also, the fact that the deck is a very low-lives one means I should have built it differently to begin with.

THIS, however, is very difficult to do.

So what I've got right now is a strange compromise thing which tends to mulligan a lot. That's another thing - I'm not too profficient with the "mulliganing likelyness" knob in the .ini and it makes certain decks mulligan way more often than others. I don't get to see which hands it mulligans, but I'm very concerned that it's trying to use criteria other than "do I have 2 lands in this hand". That would be a recipie for disaster if the values are set globaly, and I'm inclined to suspect that's exactly the case. I very much advocated importing new mulligan rules to give the AI chance of 2 rerolls vs. not having any land, not for it to try to be clever and routinely start games with rather small hands even after I adjust the .ini to make it mulligan less (to the best of my abilities).

To demonstrate what I mean, here's the current replacement Sorceress rough draft I'll be fiddling with tonight and then put her in the dropbox:

Next Sorceress (Heroic!) 0074.dck | Open
.164 23 Mountain
.13969 4 Satyr Hoplite
.3503 3 Keeper of the Flame
.15940 4 Sanguinary Mage
.6294 4 Thoughtbound Primoc
.14079 4 Brood Keeper
.13658 3 Akroan Conscriptor
.5796 4 Crackling Club
.4155 4 Mark of Fury
.4468 3 Flaming Sword
.14118 4 Inferno Fist

Trying to make a functional low-end Shandalar red deck is a fools errand, and the frauds who made the game knew this, so they stuck 4 Ball Lightning into it to make it occasionally wtf pwn you and they also made it very frequently (something like more often than not) summon Sorcerer , Troll Shaman and Goblin Warlord for you to fight instead of it. This has made me discover an interesting fact about ante, namely that it doesn't remove anything from an enemy deck if the enemy get summoned.

Anyhow, the way this works, or doesn't, is that Satyr Hoplite , Sanguinary Mage , Brood Keeper and Akroan Conscriptor like Auras played on them. Akroan Conscriptor kinda got thrown in at the last moment - it's stronger than it looks, but the deck might need lower-costing cards. I can see hands where it just sits there and takes a beating.

Thoughtbound Primoc is why Sanguinary Mage and Keeper of the Flame are in there, and all of them, as well as Brood Keeper have only one art and all their arts depict a lady. Keeper of the Flame is a tiny bit buggy, I reported it.

The auras are not really auras. Crackling Club is one of those cards you have never heard of which is better than it looks. The AI tends to just burn it away, which I'm kinda fine with. Inferno Fist can in theory get aimed at your head, which the AI doesn't seem to do too often, and that's fine as far as I'm concerned.

Flaming Sword - to tell you the thruth I think I have too many Auras. The two above can be played on enemy creatures and fired off as burn, so if the genious AI didn't keep mulliganing them away because it "drew only auras" or some such nonsense that'd be fine. But Flaming Sword is, again, one of those cards you likely don't know much about if you weren't around for Masques block, but know and respect a lot if you were. So I wanted to see how the AI uses it and this looks a bit like the right deck for it.

And Mark of Fury is, for lack of proper and functional card draw and flashback and just proper handling on burn, a way to get card advantage. And win. The haste is irrelevant, the point is that it can be cast on Satyr Hoplite to keep it growing, pump Sanguinary Mage s whenever it's cast, makes a swarm of dragons unless you deal with Brood Keeper and creates mayhem with Akroan Conscriptor.

The deck is terribly uneven in practice. Satyr Hoplite can completely run away with the match, and yet any match can be lost to removal. The more expensive dudes + Mark of Fury generally tend to win, and a single dragon from Brood Keeper can kill you in 2 swings (or even just one swing).

Now, there's things I could do, so thank you Korath:

- Galvanic Arc, for one.
- Ordeal of Purphoros would take restructuring which would very likely mean getting Blazing Effigy in and possibly changing the flier.
- I'm considering Swapping Akroan Conscriptor out for something cheaper, and I'm considering working Jagged Lighting into the deck.
- Incendiary is a slow but messed-up card / The Brute is better than it looks / Straight up giving it Shiv's Embrace would be lolsy / Destructive Urge might be cool
- Uncontrollable Anger was hilariously good the last I remember, and Spiteful Motives might be fine, but they're both kinda expensive.
- It also might be a fine deck to try out some ETB tapped "effect" lands in.
- If I changed the flier to something else, and backed that up with finding room for Shiv's Embrace somehow, I could go for Monastery Swiftspear. Satyr Hoplite , Monastery Swiftspear , Sanguinary Mage and Mark of Fury in the same deck would be rolling folks left and right and probably be too strong.
- An alternative to the Swiftspear could be Bloodfire Expert. Flaming Sword + him is nice, but then what to do against fliers?
- I could try to go for Grim Lavamancer and keep Thoughtbound Primoc.

Anyway, lets see how this does.

Oh, and since my Goblin Warlord was disfunctional, here's what I've been having fun with:

Hasty Goblin Warlord 0102.dck | Open
.164 24 Mountain
.1781 3 Goblin Chirurgeon
.6265 3 Skirk Prospector
.15723 4 Zada's Commando
.8855 2 Stingscourger
.9217 4 Mudbutton Torchrunner
.10422 4 Goblin Chieftain
.5378 4 Goblin Ringleader
.7276 2 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
.9844 2 Outrage Shaman
.9282 4 Tarfire
.3206 4 Mogg Cannon

Well, it's a goblin deck, somewhat in the vein of the classic combo gobbos, just way less murderous and more casual. In fact this current version is a recently nerfed version, because that one was too murderous. This one might be a bit too tame, but the AI occasionally made delightful moves, too.

The point of it is to be the only red deck that can effectively draw any damned cards and refill it's damned hand.

Zada's Commando is, believe it or not, the main attacking guy in the deck. If he was just a 2/1 first striker he would be better than probably 99% common red dudes (and plenty of uncommon ones), and I'm seriously tempted to put 4X into every red deck. The problem is that his activated ability is an activated ability and this is Shandalar, so if there are two of them on board you'll see it activated at any possible and impossible time, sometimes causing the AI to stand there and not attack because it tapped it's main attackers on it's own turn before combat. And also not be able to block with min. 4 points of first strike which would prevent most tings from attacking.

So yeah, if his ability was actually disabled he'd probably be the best common goblin and possibly also the best common red dude in his cost slot. And the AI can go placess with first strike so his existance alone makes making a casual goblin deck a completely different affair than without him. But since he has an activated ability he'll randomly be deck-sabotaging garbage. I sure hope Korath can just make sure his ability only ever gets used at the enemy EoT.

Anyhow, the rest of the deck is as follows:

Goblin Chirurgeon does several things - makes Zada's Commando very annoying on attack, saves other dudes, can sacrifice Mudbutton Torchrunner to do so, and makes random gobbos survive being shot out of the Mogg Cannon. It is a hugely annoying card.

Mogg Cannon does several things - it mades gobbos able to block fliers, or be randomly evasive, and it increases the power of Zada's Commando sneakily and when you're not paying attention and copies of it stack.

Mudbutton Torchrunner is the general sacrifice fodder, there are several ways for him to be a burn spell. I've seen the AI make mistakes with targeting his damage, but I've also seen it pan out fine more often. The AI is a bit trigger happy, so this guy rarely lives to see Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker.

Goblin Chieftain was chosen to boost the other guys. Yeah, it's a lord in a low-lives format, I know, but at least he doesn't make guys evasive and his haste-granting doesn't stack with the guys who are more expensive than him who have haste anyway. Also, the deck has a bit of a tendency to hold back and not do much after the last nerf, so I though this might help it build critical mass.

Goblin Ringleader draws every card in there except mountains and Mogg Cannon. Which is a shame, Mogg Cannon is fun and the deck feels a bit lacklustre when it's not on board.

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker does all sorts of stuff, but I'm regretting adding the Stingscourger becaue he tends to be the one getting cloned. There's way better targets. Outrage Shaman, Mudbutton Torchrunner and Goblin Ringleader. In many ways the early focus of the deck is Zada's Commando and the late one is Kiki-Jiki. The AI seems a bit reluctant to suicide-attack with the clones.

Outrage Shaman is more or less what a sanely priced Flametongue Kavu looks like. Recent addition so I'm not sure about the mana curve, but he seems to be fine when he hits.

Cards I'm not happy with:

Skirk Prospector - I'm actually very happy with him and rather stunned at how the AI hasn't done anything stupid with him yet. It sacrifices Mudbutton Torchrunner to him, which is fine, and that's about all I've seen it do. I don't want to jinx it, but after seeing so many dealbrakingly awful routine misuses of activated abilities, seeing one not mess anything up was a pleasant relief.

There's just 2 things with it - it makes me even more disapointed that Zada's Commando is disfunctional when I see this thing not being (idiotic mayhem potential of the AI being trigger-happy with Skirk Prospector in a all-goblin deck is through the roof). And the second thing is that I was kinda looking for something that would both be a sacrifice outlet and help the deck attack, which means I'll have to try Mogg Raider instead. Who will by murphy's law turn out to be perfect for the role but misplayed every whichway, because that seems to be my luck.

Tarfire - Err, it's there because it's a goblin, and the whole deck is kinda geared towards Goblin Ringleader. The problem is that the AI plays it about as well as it does any cheap burn which means throwing it out as soon as it sees a target. I haven't actually seen it thrown at my head instead of playing dudes recently, which used to be a huge problem last time around, so I wonder if Korath did anything about that. Still, I'm not sure Tarfire (or most burn) really shouldn't be in any deck, but there you have it.

Stingscourger - I've added it recently. Idk, I have a feeling the AI is a bit too eager to play it, and doesn't do enough with it, and also tends to pay for the echo instead of doing more important things.

That was long winded :(

I put both of them in my Dropbox folder, feel free to pick them up and try them out. Suggestions are wellcome, too.

Heck, here's the druid, quickly:

Spiritual Druid 0139 | Open
.7174 4 Burr Grafter
.7450 4 Child of Thorns
.7466 3 Forked-Branch Garami
.7476 4 Gnarled Mass
.7511 4 Loam Dweller
.7702 3 Nightsoil Kami
.3153 4 Frog Tongue
.12431 2 Natural End
.3402 4 Mulch
.13577 4 Time to Feed
.2296 1 Heart of Yavimaya
.91 23 Forest

It's a provisory spirit deck, and by that I mean it's one made without certain cards which aren't in the pool yet, namely Kodama's Reach. And certain cards which are bugged in HS2 like Traproot Kami.

Child of Thorns and Burr Grafter are pump, and they're bugged - I could link to the report, but I'm tired. Them being in was the motive for making the deck, and they make it work, when them being buggy doesn't make it not work.

Loam Dweller and Gnarled Mass are Grizzly Bears and Trained Armodon, but with the distinction that they come back due to the soulshift on Burr Grafter, Forked-Branch Garami and Nightsoil Kami (or Durkwood Boars and Craw Wurm with goodies when they die).

Mulch picks lands up, potentially for Loam Dweller to put into play, and I'm considering maybe using Brawn in the deck too. Most spirits which end up in the grave can be soulshifted out of it, too, eventually.

Natural End is a life gaining naturalize, what's not to like, and Time to Feed is a life gaining fight card which the AI tends to curiously misuse in ways I haven't yet pinned down properly. With the pump spirits and Heart of Yavimaya it should have enough ways to ensure kills with it.

Frog Tongue is glorious, a 1 mana cantrip that makes the deck able to block fliers. The AI play it on enemy dudes too, but since it has no fliers, occasionally it can be a good play as it cycles through the deck that way.

Not saying there isn't room for improvement, in fact I very much was going to further refine (and it's buggy as hell), but while I was field testing the Sorceress (and the gobbo because the Sorceres kept calling him up), I also field-tested it and it was a huge and grindy pleasure to play against. Apart from the bugs, ofc.

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Re: Improved Shandalar General Playtesting & Feedback Thread

Postby lujo » 16 Nov 2016, 19:40

Here's a Hydra I managed to come up with after spending a whole day looking for something red that the AI can play, is strongish, but isn't allready designated for someone else.

Rushjob Hydra 0207 | Open
.164 24 Mountain
.10700 1 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
.16236 4 Weaver of Lightning
.4662 2 Ancient Hydra
.10919 4 Emrakul's Hatcher
.7363 3 Ryusei, the Falling Star
.11046 4 Spawning Breath
.5897 4 Violent Eruption
.3367 4 Flame Wave
.581 4 Blazing Effigy
.15528 4 Meteor Blast
.10928 2 Flame Slash

Ok, this might turn out to be a really bad idea, but nothing else seemed to work, and, in fact, neither did this... Brood Birthing was supposed to be in this deck but it's bugged beyond use currently (really it's quite a sight), so this is going to need refinements, but it can probably replace my current Hydra for those of you using it.

The essential deal is this:

Weaver of Lightning is a godsend card for Shandalar. It'd be one even outside of it if playing Red in RL looked anything like the way it goes down in here. He's got reach, and he's got a big ass, and he makes everything a small burn, and he makes all the burn bigger. I could put him into any deck, and I did, I just moved him along brews trying to save him for that one deck which just doesn't work and can't possibly work and has to be bailed by sticking silly cards in it. So this is the deck, and Weaver of Lighting is in it.

Blazing Effigy is also there to slow you down. My heart aches for having to waste it like this, but what can I do? It's got minor interaction with Meteor Blast.

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle is there in the hope the AI actually plays it. I've seen the AI just hold it in it's hand sadly, but one can hope.

Spawning Breath and Emrakul's Hatcher are supposed to provide little eldrazi spawn which can then be used to bring out Ryusei, the Falling Star and trigger Ancient Hydra's pinging. Brood Birthing was supposed to also be in there to make that plan actually work consistently (and to trigger Weaver of Lightning pings). 2 Flame Slash got added insted, hastily, there's probably better things.

More importantly, the little bastards are supposed to fuel Flame Wave and Meteor Blast. Those two aren't actually what you'd call "good" cards - the giveaway is that they cost more than 4 mana to cast and thus should never be used in a serius game of magic. Or at least in red decks. Most red decks want cards which cost one, maybe two mana and end up doing 3-4 damage to the opponent and more or less nothing else, but the AI can't play that, so it has to play cards like these. What these cards are is "strong" cards, if the AI gets to play them.

Violent Eruption is just fine. Most red players would not put that card in a deck because it's too expensive in terms of mana cost. Yes, really. I put it in, precisely because it has a higher mana cost so that it doesn't interfere with early AI plays. It's a strong card and the AI isn't likely to dump too many little eldrazi into it.

The main problem of the deck, besides obviously not being anything remotely related to a realistic red toughest enemy, and having a very high mana curve, is that it doesn't have punching power. It can wipe the board fine enough, at least get the smaller stuff off it, but it might struggle to actually win a match. I'm certainly going to need to do something.

I mean, there's probably some way I can squeeze Purphoros, God of the Forge in there and make him wreak havoc every time some eldrazi spawn, but that'll need Brood Birthing working right first and possibly other adjustments.

Still, for now, it's the best I've got and better than where I was with it. I think this, if it's workable, is the way to go with the Hydra. Eldrazi ramp of some sort.

--- Added sometimes later to avoid spamming ---

I was curious about some new additions to the pool impact the Dragonlord, so I went to tweak it. Last time around it was the first ever dragon themed deck I made in my life. This time I was pleasantly surpried about a few things, underwhelmed by a few others, and I ended up tweaking the deck. In a bit of a bone headed way, but hey, it's much stronger than it was. I found myself enjoying myself, too, because dragons are just flying bricks and the AI can actually handle those, as opposed to most other red things.

New Improved Dragonlord 0135 | Open
.164 24 Mountain
.3256 4 Ruby Medallion
.168 1 Mox Ruby
.17 1 Black Lotus
.230 1 Sol Ring
.6632 1 Chrome Mox
.14900 4 Dragonlord's Servant
.6516 3 Dragonspeaker Shaman
.282 1 Wheel of Fortune
.15525 3 Magus of the Wheel
.14520 4 Bathe in Dragonfire
.13640 3 Sudden Demise
.13980 2 Spawn of Thraxes
.12629 4 Thundermaw Hellkite
.12972 2 Hellkite Tyrant
.10800 2 Mordant Dragon

Doesn't look like it took much deckbuilding, does it? Many-a-card in there looks like Korath ported it after thinking something along the lines of "Ah, I will port this card so it can be used in the dragonlord deck!" and then worked out how to do the coding bit. Well, that's dragons for you, and the less I say about dragons in MtG the fewer people get offended.

What I did this time around was:

I tried out Dragon Whisperer and Kargan Dragonlord , and they're not in the deck. Dragon Whisperer is a mythic rare "because dragons" and would be a junk common in any color other than red and possibly green. I wouldn't mind having an alternative Dragonlord based purely around Dragon Roost, just so it's clear, but not Dragon Whiperer. If the AI could be trusted with activated abilities I think I could actually give this card over to the Sorceress to nicely bookend the first and last red enemy. Kargan Dragonlord just never got pumped up to more than 4/4 in a match, even with Mana Flare in the deck. I wouldn't mind him in a deck where the AI isn't loaded with expenisve cards, as a mana sink, but not in this deck. He's much stronger than Dragon Whisperer, so I'm not sure which deck exactly.

Well, noone's fault, I did go and try and it seemed like a cool idea to have dragon themed stuff in the deck, but turns out that no. I'd kinda use both in lower level decks, I mean, I'd actually use dragons in them too, because dragons aren't meant to be a tribe, really. They're meant to top the creature curve. They're only a tribe because kids love their big flying lizards so Wizards have to print them in every set and there's now buckets of them (really, that's an actual fact, they have to have them in every set even when it makes no sense flavor wise). They only ever printed support cards for them because the dragon fans kinda caught up to the fact that what they love is actually garbage in terms of gameplay, so they started clamoring for support cards for their beloved garbage and/or actually playable dragons. Again, not making this up :lol:

Anywho, I went there and put stuff that makes dragons cheaper to play in the deck. Dragonlord's Servant is actually good in that he can theoretically block up the early bleeding somewhat, and allows me to stick a token goblin in the red end-boss Shandalar deck. A rl endboss red deck would probably be all-goblins. Dragonspeaker Shaman isn't a very good card, but let's have it. Ruby Medallion is a brutal design mistake, but wth - this isn't the kind of deck that really shows why that's so, here it makes flying bricks cost a little less, big whoop.

Magus of the Wheel - err, I don't find most maguses very appealing as the cards they copy are often outdated and/or just fankly not that hot when put on a dude, but as soon as I saw this one I knew it was going into the end-game red deck. "Draw 7" is a very ridiculous effect that never should have been printed on anything, but it's all I've got to refill this girl's hand.

The removal is Bathe in Dragonfire and Sudden Demise. I'm not sure how good the demise is, but the deck needed a sweeper of some kind, I felt. Bathe in Dragonfire is surprisingly nice, especially with the medallion making it cheaper. I'm just not going to bother to jump through hoops to accomodate for protection from red and cheezing dice, if someone wants to show up to the match with that in the deck, they aren't looking for a fight, they're looking to skip it, so why inconvenience them?

As for the dragons, finally, I went for 10 no-nonsense ones. I did try some other ones out, but these are the ones I settled for, and they're not necessarily the best options, appart from one. That one, the clear auto-include is Thundermaw Hellkite. Nothing to say, they more or less just went and gave Thundermare flying, cleaned it's effect up to only hit the enemy and made it a flying lizard "because obliged by law to print dragons". So it's an upgrade of an allready rather fine card and happens to be on flavor here, and the deck could probably run 8 or 12 of them and be better off than running actual dragons.

The other three are a bit of a tossup, and I'd probably rather split them 4-2 or 3-3. And their lack of haste didn't feel right, as I didn't include Stormbreath Dragon (staying away from protection), and folks will show up with Swords to Plowshares. Hellkite Tyrant is supposed to be artifact hate, Mordant Dragon is lousy creature kill and lousy pump (and ought to get replaced, honestly) and Spawn of Thraxes is an overcosted burn spell which leaves a dragon behind.

There were a few others which would probably been better choices, for example I can easily see something like Moonveil Dragon making it in.

What all this talk boils down to is - it can now refill it's hand, it's got a bit more focused dragons, and it's got uniform acceleration which blocks up the ground a bit before the big lizards show up. It's better than it was, at any rate, and my dragon handling and the dragon handling cardpool have improved.

The dragonlord is in the box, I'll put the hydra in tomorrow, I feel like there's something obvious to do with it that slipped my mind. And since Korath "won't fix" Keeper of the Flame and Zada's Commando I might have to fiddle with the Sorceress and the Goblin again too. Think I'll give the Dragon Whisperer to the Sorceress, and possibly take away the Flaming Sword (first strike on a huge Satyr Hoplite is v. annoying).

My Shandalar deck pack folder is avaliable here:Dropbox
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