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Council of Elrond • View topic - Sept 2006 Newsletter Contributions (prep and discussion)

Sept 2006 Newsletter Contributions (prep and discussion)

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Postby zarathustra » Wed Aug 30, 2006 5:06 pm

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Postby thorondor » Thu Aug 31, 2006 6:41 pm

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Postby zarathustra » Sat Sep 02, 2006 4:14 pm

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Postby zarathustra » Sat Sep 02, 2006 4:47 pm

What is Cheeze?

This is the first in what we at CoE hope will be a series of articles on cheeze in ME:CCG. I believe that my own definition is quite narrow in scope, and so I will explain it here and await replies (either as letters to the editor or as full-fledged articles).

I divide cheeze into two types: benign and malignant. This distinction is one of scale. Whereas benign cheeze only rises to the level of minor cheezy plays within an overarching non-cheezy deck, malignant cheeze constitutes the heart of its deck, and can be game-killing. Before I go any further with this idea, however, I should give my definition.

Necessary and Sufficient Conditions

A certain use of cards is cheezy if, and only iff, it

(1) is non-thematic,
(2) is non-counterable,
(3) is not the intended use of card(s),
(4) probably would have been errata'd if ICE were still around, and
(5) can be used in a very powerful deck.

Examples

To my mind, the play of Pallando and Cirdan squatting at the Grey Havens and scoring the Elves of Lindon, while perhaps lame, is far from cheezy. It is thematic: that's why they have that home site. It is counterable: Stormcrow / Doors of Night. It is the intended use of the cards. It was possible during ICE's tenure, and they never attempted to errata it in any way. The only criterion it actually meets is (5), since it obviously can be used in a very powerful deck. If you like, we could say the P/C/E is only 20% cheezy.

At the opposite extreme is the Balrog's ability to play 3-mind characters directly from his sideboard with We Have Come to Kill. I would call this the cheeziest play in the game. It is not thematic, since in most cases the character then proceeds to play a War-Wolf (he should fight in cvcc). It is not really counterable, since the only counter is to run 3x Shut Yer Mouth, which against almost any other deck type is quite weak. It is not the intended use of the 3-mind rule, since (at least in my opinion) that rule was meant to give the balrog player 2 hill trolls his first turn before leaving Moria or the Under-Gates. I expect that ICE would therefore have issued some kind of erratum against it. And the results of Worlds 2006, at which 3 of 4 finalists used this trick, is strong evidence that it can be used in very powerful decks. WHCTK from the sideboard is 100% cheezy.

There are, of course, many plays in between these two extremes. Some players seem to consider all hazard-limit reduction abilities as cheezy. I would beg to differ. Such play is always thematic. On the hero side, it is easily counterable with a Doors of Night Strategy, or even the well-timed play of Twilight. On the minion side, corruption cards can be devastating to magic users. The cards clearly have No Better/Other Use, so they fail to activate criterion (3). ICE had plenty of time to errata them, and didn't. But of course they can be used in very powerful decks. Again, only 20% cheezy at most.

Cheeze and the UEPs

You can see a number of attempts to eliminate cheeze through the Unofficial Errata Proposals . I disagree with most of these, because I see them limiting strong deck types rather than adding to their ranks.

I cannot see how River stands in need of being nerfed, as the ability to cancel all rivers with a single ranger would do. River is thematic, counterable, never errata'd by ICE even though it was in the Wizards set, clearly the intended use of the card, and not necessary for a powerful deck. In my view, it is at most 20% cheezy.

Similarly, I don't see any need to change Sneakin'. Although there is no counter to the ability to add characters to a company after Sneakin' has been played, the trick is so hard to use that it doesn't really activate criterion (5). Sneakin' is perhaps 60% cheezy.

Finally, I don't think the Elf-Lord needs a nerf. There are a huge number of counters to him as he already exists. The lack of Doors of Night is quite thematic (he's bold after all -- doesn't need to the encouragement of GoM, only the lack of discouragement from DoN). I doubt ICE would have issued an errata against him, especially with so many players clamoring against the omnipotence of minion decks. He's being used for his intended purpose in such a deck as well. Perhaps the Elf-chump is 20% cheezy, but that's a very low level to motivate nerfing.

Cheeze and Being a Nice Guy

I would never play the Carambor Infinite-Move Deck against someone who wasn't in a joking mood (or at World Finals ;)). It's between 80% and 100% cheezy. I've heard, however, numerous complaints about the use of 20% to 60% cheezy tricks. In a tournament setting, I would always respond to such grumbling with a "Tough luck, buddy." During a tournament one is not expected to be a nice guy. In casual play, by contrast, or when teaching someone the ropes, it's generally advisable to avoid even the faintest scent of cheezy plays. In such a context, I would recommend playing a hero deck that moves every turn and does not attempt to cancel all hazards played on it. I would also advise against influence attempts and cvcc against your opponent. To the poor neophyte, these high-octane resource-as-hazard plays can be devastating and depressing. Perhaps the best way to go is simply to play a challenge deck.

In other words, benign cheeze (20-60%) only needs to be skipped against newby opponents. Malignant cheeze should be saved for tournaments. It's really quite Aristotelean: the right play, at the right time, for the right purpose, and the right audience....
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Postby zarathustra » Sat Sep 02, 2006 5:33 pm

The Fellowship (I guess?)

This month, I'd like to take a little time to discuss the Judge Certification Program (). Last year, CoE launched this program, which had two goals: "(1) to improve community-wide rules knowledge by creating helpful tutorials on the game and (2) to establish a hierarchy of rules wizards who can act as judges during tournaments." Although there was a flood during the initial sign-up, progress has been more of the slow-and-steady variety. Dave Barton and Kris Van Beurden attained level 1 judge-ship within a year of the charter of the program, then there was a slight lull."

This month, however, marks the return of the JCP, with fully 5 people being certified as Level 1 Judges: Brian Min, Joe Bisz, Jonathan Yost, Manuel Cabezali, and Kuba Krchak! In this article, I hope to highlight their work and thank them for their dedication.

Joe Bisz is the author of the Play and Examples File, available . He has put in literally years of work compiling nuanced examples of legal and illegal play. Unlike the CRF, Joe's document not only tells you in general what you can do, but also illustrates how best to do it. The file contains advice as well as information, and it is his and all of our hope that all players will find it useful and enlightening.

Jonathan Yost was the primary editor of the Play and Examples File, though many others aided in the monumental task as well. Without his dogged work, the document would contain many more errors than than the few that it (probably ;)) still lists.

Brian Min has been the faithful reviewer and editor of all JCP documents to date, as well as a non-voting member of the NetRep team. Although he like Jonathan has not produced a work of his own, his input has been invaluable in the honing and perfecting of many documents that bear the names of others.

Manuel Cabezali only recently got involved with the international MECCG scene, but he's already made quite a name for himself, placing high at Semi-Finals during Worlds 2006. Now he's contributed on the rules-front by writing a tutorial for Spanish players on common deviations between the Spanish interpretation of the rules and the official, international interpretation. It is hoped that his document will keep tempers cool and heads on straight whenever Spanish players go up against those more accustomed to the official interpretation.

Finally, Kuba Krchak has written a program (not quite ready for general use, unfortunately) that takes care of all opponent assignments and player rankings during a tournament. All a tourney organizer will need to do, once the program is fully debugged, is enter the scores of each game and press the 'conclude' button at the end of each round. Kuba's program will do all the dirty work of adding Tournament Points, breaking ties, and making assignments.

So, from the CoE, and for the entire MECCG community, thank you Kuba, Manuel, Brian, Jonathan, and Joe! And congratulations on reaching the rank of Level 1 Judges!


[Universal Rulesbook]
Last edited by zarathustra on Thu Sep 14, 2006 2:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby charles jenkins » Tue Sep 05, 2006 6:14 pm

Thank you, Mark for posting my draft article of sealed deck tips. I have triple checked the document and made some minor edits to reduce repetitive adjectives, etc. If the rest like the draft you posted, I can email you the "updated" version whenever you like. Thanks
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Postby zarathustra » Tue Sep 12, 2006 12:16 am

Deck Highlight article:

“The Dwarves are Making MPs!”

Author: Manuel Cabezali
Alignment: Hero
Type: Speed-MP

Manuel Cabezali recently made a contribution to the “complete” resource strategy taxonomy [link] with his deck “The Dwarves are Making MPs!” [link] This is an Eriador-based hero deck that relies on shuttling a number of small but strong companies around in localized portion of the map to draw tons of cards (using A Short Rest and Radagast’s special ability) and play several easy MP-cards per turn (e.g. Tom Bombadil, Blue Mountain Dwarves, Durin’s Axe). It also, like two other Eriador-churners, bolsters the forces of the wizard’s company with A Chance Meeting.

Decks like this have become very popular recently. I played a version that uses Strider [link] at North American Championships [link], and Kris van Beurden played one [link] that exploits Pallando’s hand size boost to play Gates of Morning combos. The choice amongst Manuel’s, Kris’s, and my versions of the deck is difficult, and largely a matter of taste, I think. In any case, each of them is very strong, and in this article I’d like to examine why.

I call decks of this sort ‘hero versions of minion decks’. The reason for this appellation is that minion decks were the first (and perhaps the best) to use character-playing ability in the site phase to (1) strengthen a company, (2) guarantee an untapped character during the site phase, and (3) gain points. They often do so by playing smaller characters under the direct influence of one of the Lieutenants, or by boosting general influence with Bade to Rule, Lidless Eye, Sauron, or Great Shadow. The Balrog has perfected this tactic with the play of 3-mind characters directly from the sideboard with We Have Come to Kill. Well, recent history shows us that hero decks can perform this trick admirably as well. A wizard with 10 direct influence is the perfect character to bring into play two 5-mind characters with A Chance Meeting, assuring two easy site phase actions and 4 marshalling points.

Manuel’s deck, for example, can score 12 character points with ease, and still have 6 general influence to spare against Call of Home, Muster Disperses, and the influence attempts of his opponent. If the median number of character points for a hero MP-deck is 8.5 (which I would estimate it is), Manuel can score 3 fewer non-character points than the typical opponent and still win. Fail that influence attempt against the Blue Mountain Dwarves? No problem – Gloin and Balin will make up for it!

Another virtue of Manuel’s deck is its extreme speed. If he has a decent draw and is able to play Radagast and a couple of Short Rests early, he can exhaust in 4 or even 3 turns, which is a great advantage against many types of opponents (e.g. One Ring, Fallen Wizard with important stage cards, big combo decks).

A problem for his deck (and for all dwarf decks), however, is the minion manifestation of the Arkenstone. This is the best counter to Thrain’s 5 direct influence and Gloin & Balin’s 3 direct influence. They count on holding a character with exactly that much mind as a follower, but the minion Arkenstone gives all dwarves +1 mind, effectively ruining the plan.
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Postby zarathustra » Tue Sep 12, 2006 12:43 am

High-Tech Counters to Low-Tech hazards.

“Sellswords Between Charters, Cave-Drakes, Cave-Worms, Rain-Drakes… we hates them, Precious.”

“Don’t worry, Precious, we have ways to spoil their planses….”

Gollum didn’t like the yellow face, but the Gates of Morning can be to your advantage in a huge number of ways. There’s the obvious Many Turns and Doublings to fizzle hazards, but in this article I want to take a close look at some less-common GoM combos.

Imagine you’re moving on the first turn from Rivendell to Moria to play Gollum. During your organization phase, you played Secret Passage, and you started the m/h-phase with a different company from the Moria company. When you reveal the site, your opponent looks at you kinda funny, as though to ask “Why the Passage? You’re not moving to a ruin….” You read the card for a second and shrug. “Oops.” He throws down the creature Sellswords Between Charters, and you respond by playing Quiet Lands on your Gates of Morning to change the site type of Moria from shadowhold to ruins and lairs. “‘Oops’ indeed!” he growls, and tries to respond with a Rain-Drake before his Sellswords fizzle. “You can’t respond with a creature.” “Right, sorry.” The mercenaries go their wander off confused, and then your opponent attempts to play his Rain-Drake. “You can’t play creatures keyed to regions: my destination is a ruins and lairs.” “Argh!” he replies, and bites the drake in half…. The rest of the game proceeds in more or less this fashion, as you waltz past his creatures at Goblin Gate, Sarn Goriwing, and the Dead Marshes. When he fails to throw a creature at you, you use Quiet Lands to reduce the number of strikes of the auto-attacks, allowing your company to walk through nearly untapped every time.

It’s a nice story, right? Well, there’s a number of variations one could tell, involving Stars (which turns dark-domains to shadowlands or shadowlands to wilderness), Moon (which turns wilderness to borderland and borderland to free-domain, or dark-domain to shadowland and shadowland to wilderness), or Fog (which turns both borderland and shadowland to wilderness). The long-events don’t have the surprise-fizzling factor that Quiet Lands brings, but they will affect all your companies, and can even boost your hazard play (use men with Moon, drakes with Fog).

A huge number of common, all-too-common, hazards can be countered in this way, and if your opponent is not playing Doors of Night (or at least 3x Twilight), he will have no counter to your wiles.

Two final uses for Quiet Lands: (1) Change Mount doom into a Ruins and Lairs, so that you can (a) use Eagle-Mounts to get there or (b) make the Cracks of Doom corruption check automatic with Nenya; (2) Reduce the number of strikes from an ‘at home’ dragon manifestation so that you can kill him and crown a new king under the mountain, or nullify the extra strike from Unabated in Malice.
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Postby miguel » Tue Sep 12, 2006 6:56 am

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Postby zarathustra » Tue Sep 12, 2006 3:57 pm

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Postby Jambo » Tue Sep 12, 2006 4:10 pm

Suggestion for the play of the month, although arguably this could even be play of the year. The way the game unfolded also has a fairly neat Tokien theme taken straight from the last few chapters of the Two Towers:

I'd been trying for several games to get my Fallen Radagast deck more fluid and tuned without much success. So my latest version, which aimed to raise the Ents and then go pound on some hapless heroes in the neighbourhood, was directed against b_took (Ben Sorenson) late one night on GCCG. It just so happened that he decided to use Fallen Saruman, his most beloved avatar. Quite a thematic setting already and time I thought for the Ents to go pay Saruman and his ne'erdowells a well derserved visit. Not so, as it turned out to be...

Whilst my companies floundered around Eriador and Wellinghall urgently seeking the unique and elusive Friend of Sercret Things card which as it turned out was well and truly lost down at the bottom of my deck, b_took nimbly zipped around Isengard picking up a ring or two, but not looking overly threatening. Not being experienced with the A New Ringlord card, little did I think he was actually hunting the One-ring until whoomff it appeared in a flash at Isengard. Even then I was only mildly panicking as I'd previously witnessed Wacho stumble at the final hurdle whilst trying the same thing not all that long ago (different avatar I think). Nevertheless I sideboarded poorly, choosing the wrong hazards and it came to point where my MPs were never going to reach 25 before b_took would get a shot at the prize.

With 2 A New Ringlords down on the table he would still need an 8 to win and the odds were still precariously balanced in my favour, but as fate would have it, and as the ents "hooaroomed" at each other at Entmoot about a proposed attack on Saruman, Saruman finally achieved his day of reckoning in Middle-earth. The "Sorryman" no more, he sat proud and with a formidable and imposing aura as the New Ringlord at ... Amon Hen... lol.

Long overdue I may add, but nevertheless achieved in the capable hands of b_took and against the very incapable hands of none other than myself... oofft. Well done Ben.

:)
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Postby zarathustra » Wed Sep 13, 2006 2:57 pm

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Postby Jambo » Wed Sep 13, 2006 3:49 pm

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Postby zarathustra » Wed Sep 13, 2006 4:36 pm

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Postby Jambo » Wed Sep 13, 2006 6:47 pm

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