It's not out of the norm for my brother and I talk about Magic: The Gathering. In fact, it would be really weird if it didn't come up in conversation. We're constantly checking in with each other and saying, "Oh, did you know (insert random MTG news item)." This past weekend, the conversation started with my brother asking, "How excited are you that Oathbreaker picked back up? You love that format!"
It's true, I was an early adopter of the format and a big fan. I got a few friends at work to at least try it, but it never really took off among my playgroup, for reasons I'm still unsure about. But alas, my decks, while never taken apart, were left in my closet next to commander decks I'll never play. That was, until just a few weeks ago.
Now that Oathbreaker has be given sometime in the spot light, I followed my response to my brother with, "Are you going to build a deck finally? I would love to game with you." To which he replied, "Yes, but can I tell you one thing that disappoints me about the format?"
Without even a second guess, I answered, "You can't play some color combinations."
"Yes, and even some of the dual colors kind of lock you into a particular strategy based on the planeswalker's ability."
I verbally affirmed that yea, that sucks, and then the two of us did what any two nerds who like rules and game design would do...
We tried to come up with a balanced solution. It was a 30 second conversation that started with, "Wouldn't be great if..." and the entirety of my weekend became less "What if?" and more "Why not?
So, without any further introductions, let me introduce my proposed rule change to deck construction for Oathbreaker.
Proposed Rule Change for Deck Construction for OathBreaker
Rule consideration - Explained
It is a subtle, yet very impactful, change to the rules of deck construction and color identity of your deck. The idea is fairly straight forward. The signature spell needs to have some connection to the Oathbreaker, and having at least one shared color is the cleanest solution to that. It means mono-colored planeswalkers can continue to have signature spells in their same color or consider adding a color for the cost of a higher mana cost spell. Think like in D&D, it is like an up casted spell. This prevents people from jamming just any powerful instant/sorcery with any planeswalker just for the sake of power. The additional color comes with a built in downside of having to cost extra mana to get the extra color.
The biggest impact this has is that the dual color planeswalkers can then dip into the other guilds that share a color to create the shards and wedges that are missing, and more importantly, open up a much more diverse pool. No longer would you be locked into one of two Esper commanders or the single Jund commander, but instead could play Jund with a Golgari Oathbreaker tapping into the Rakdos or Gruul.
One of the biggest attractions to Commander is that every color is not only represented, but there are so many options that you can personalize your deck to a particular color combination or strategy. Until WoTC prints what is missing, there is both a hole in the represntation and a less diverse pool of combinations for deck building.
By saying that color identity of the deck is determined by BOTH the Oathbreaker and its signature spell, in addition to the shared colored connection between the Oathbreaker and Signature Spell, you are creating more opportunities for people to play what they truly want and isn't that one of the reasons to play a format like Oathbreaker in the first place?
Proof Of Concept
One example does not make a law, but consider the following deck:
I love Abzan. I love Siege Rhino. As it currently stands, I can not play Siege Rhino in Oathbreaker without some sort of rules adjustment or conversation with my playgroup. Conveniently, Abzan Charm shares two colors with Ajani, Mentor of Heroes, but that isn't a requirement. I originally had Vraksa, Golgari Queen and Dromoka's Command for this deck, and eventually decided I like what is above more.
What happens to cards like Command Tower that reference the commander?
Nothing changes. Cards that reference commanders refer to the Oathbreaker. In Command Tower's case, it would only tap for the colors of the Oathbreaker. You do not gain the extra color from your Signature Spell.
Why wouldn't you just pair any instant/sorcery with any planeswalker?
Ah, I see you're looking for the most degeneracy, have fun with your friends, but that's not the point of this consideration.
Instead of playing a mono-colored planeswalker with a dual colored or three colored signature spell, why don't you just play a dual colored or three colored planeswalker and follow the rules?
The easy answer is not all the shards and wedges are represented currently, so this is attempting resolve that issue. Second, if you are playing a mono-colored planeswalker with a three colored signature spell, you're likely hindering yourself and keeping yourself in check.
You can't be serious, that means I get to play x that combos with y?
Look, I'll admit, I didn't go through each of the couple hundred planeswalkers and match them up with the thousands of instants and sorceries. If you found something broken, it's a multiplayer format, your table will keep you in check (or at least should)
Why don't you just make your own Abzan Planeswalker in the meantime?
I've seen the card designs on Reddit...NO THANK YOU! This rules consideration works with official cards already printed.
At the end of the day, the deck presented above isn't doing anything that the other color combinations don't already do. What it is doing, is making me feel good by being able to play one of my favorite color combinations that isn't represented in the format. Don't punish me as a player because something hasn't been designed yet. Instead, let's look at a reasonable way to open up the format to more opportunities.
I hope my friends of Oathbreaker and the Oathbreaker Rules Committee take a moment to read this and heavily discuss this opportunity. I think yes, our very intelligent community will identify several cases as to why this rules change would be a bad idea. Overall, I believe that this small rules change is a net positive for the format and creates more accessibility to players to play the things they want, which is what a format like Oathbreaker should be about. The format literally started as, "We love commander, but we want to play a complete game over our lunch hour." This rule consideration is just and evolution of that core value.
And worst case, I just gave you an easy way to have a Rule 0 conversation with your playgroup. If you play with me, I hope you bring a deck like this to the table so I can play my Abzan pile!
My Thoughts on Pikachu in Pokemon UNITE
After a very fun and productive night of playing Pokémon UNITE with my twitch community, I needed to make this note. Let's start with the tweet:
Now, I'm obviously am being hyperbolic, I will stand with my confidence that I have a great strategy/matchup against the dreaded dog.
Call this a note, a primer, strategy guide or whatever, I'm going to break down how I play Pikachu and the advantages I create. If you are also a long time player of Pika, or you are looking to dabble with the Chu, I hope there is something you can take away from this. Again, just my observations and opinions, you are welcome to look at this and disagree.
Before we even get into the game, let's talk how I've built Pikachu.
First Move: Thunder Shock
Move Set: Thunder // Thunderbolt
Held Item: Energy Amp, Slick Spoon, Rapid Fire Scarf
Battle Item: X Speed
Emblem: SpA/CDR - 7 Black / 6 Green
I can hear you, "DOUBLE THUNDER?"
We are one of the best support mons in the game. "But Pikachu is an attacker!" I hear you, but that's just it's base stat blocks. When we talk support, we're talking about in game roles, and while we've been lead to believe that "Support = Healer," there are other ways to support the team. The big one (and Sableye follows this rule too) is supporting in combat. Our ability to be the best support mon hinges on this move set combined with the strategy I'll share here in a moment.
If you ask me my thoughts on Volt Tackle, I'm going to tell you that it is absolute trash, every single time. I've never liked the move, and I especially do not like it when you have mons like Zacian running around. I will die on the hill that we are in a Thunderbolt meta. As for Electro Ball, it's fine. I feel it gives you a false sense of having a better secure, but trust me, full thunder is the way to go right now.
Our items are reflective of our strategy, but if I were to give the quick run down, it looks like this:
Energy Amp: We love our Ult and want to give ourselves as many as we can in a game
Slick Spoon: Been saying for a few seasons that Pikachu needed a buff, but I couldn't explain how because I felt the stats were fine. Slick Spoon is our buff.
Rapid Fire Scarf (RFS): This is the surprise, but again, because of the strategy, we love this. Getting to be able to get back to our boosted attack, which acts as a bit of CC, is just icing on the cake.
The longevity of the speed boost from X Speed over the reposition from Eject Button is the choice there, but you can swap if you want. Our emblems are the classic CDR build, with an emphasis of boosting our special attack with our green emblems.
This is what separates us from dog food to dog hunter (and just being the best support mon in general.) In short, Pikachu need to live off of the edge of its range. We do not want any enemy even remotely close to us. Main reason why I hate Volt Tackle is because it actively throws you into a enemy, and while yes it stuns them, makes you very vulnerable to the rest of the enemy team.
Our goal is to backline the absolute crap in team fight and just drop thunder and thunderbolts on the enemy. This does one of two things: 1.) Quickly depletes enemy HP so that your team can clean up and not die in combat or 2.) Outright kills the enemy and allows your team to snowball and objective or score pad.
Early Game (Levels 1 - "5")
I'm putting 5 in quotes because we get Thunder at 4 and there's very little difference in strategy between 4 and 5, but the game changes for you when you get to level 6.
This is where Pikachu truly shines in the "attacker" role that it is assigned. We're gonna be somewhat aggressive. We're gonna try to out secure and steal, and we're going to bully the other team and try to choke them out of that early XP. If you do it right, you get to level 4 before the first round of birds/bees with ease, putting you in great position for that first round of birds/bees. For your dunks, you want to be dunking furthest away from where the central area "jungler" can come up and try to knock you out. Only times that Zacian has truly gotten me was when I misplayed and left my back to the central area.
Mid Game (Levels 6-10)
This is where we shift our role from being a traditional attacker and into this "combat support" role. The later the game goes, the more outclassed Pikachu gets, so by shift our purpose in the match, the more relevant we can remain.
Again, by living off of the edge of our range, we create big gaps between us and the enemy and we're able to chip away and crowd control. Thunderbolt is incredible at disrupting and stunning opponents and this is my way to secure. I've ran Electro Ball // Thunderbolt in season's past, and I can safely say I have secured more objectives with Thunderbolt than Electro Ball. Don't know what about it does that for me, but we take it. Thunder with our build will deal HUGE chunks of damage as the enemy team is usually engaged in fighting and not paying attention to the thunder being brought upon them.
Anyways, get into team fights, but keep your distance. Zacian is usually busy swiping away at the cluster of your teammates, so you can either stop the dog or clean him up if he's going too hard. Because we are keeping our distance, there's your reason why you don't see items like Buddy Barrier or Focus Band on this build. I've played over 700 games with Pikachu, and with this strategy, I don't need that HP bump if I'm actively trying not to get hit.
Late Game (Levels 11 - 15)
By now we get our bonuses to our moves and we get ready for the Ray fight. OUR STRATEGY STAYS THE SAME.
Do not get into unnecessary 1v1s. Follow your team, rain thunder down. You're not going to initiate anything, and your normally gonna do anything weird like cross lane scoring. Protect yourself and protect your team.
When Ray arrives, support your team with your full thunder and when the enemy starts getting dear their death, or if they are grouped up, drop your ultimate on them to dramatically clean them up.
This is how I can declare myself as a doggo hunter. I've said it to my friends, but I truly am no more afraid of Zacian than I am of Gengar, Absol, and the other hard counters to Pikachu. I will tell you right now that if Zacian catches you, you are as good as dead.
Read that last sentence again...IF Zacian catches you.
We're not giving Zacian, and honestly the enemy team, that much of a chance to catch us.
I play Pikachu almost exclusively, so you are welcome to catch me in action. I would love to hear your thoughts, what lessons you've learned, and whether any of this improved your game. Unite is in a weird spot right now, and I'm having an absolute blast cookin' with my Lil' Chef.
Happy Gaming! Happy Hunting!
My First Game!
Now, it has always been a goal of mine to develop my own board game. And I've tossed and turned with a variety of concepts, but everything kind of died in the ideation phase, as I couldn't really get the gears rolling.
Over the past month, I've received quite a bit of free time, and to make me feel good and a productive member of society, I decided to get back to work on my dream. Let me just say right now...I DID IT!
Well...sorta...let me explain.
When it comes to board games that I love, there are 3 main qualities that they all share:
I want games to be easy to understand, because then they can be easy to teach and loop people into playing. If you have to spend 30 minutes or more just to explain the rules, you can lose a lot of people, especially those who are new to board games.
I want games to be quick. Now quick is relative, but if the process for the game gets too labor intensive, again, you can lose gamers. With the quickness, I want repeatability. I want the play to be unique each time you play. Lastly, for those that play games regularly, like myself, I want there to be underlying tones of deep strategy to hook in avid gamers into an otherwise simplistic game.
So how about my board game? Well, I'm not entirely ready to share all the ins and outs.
I've got a working rules set and I ordered some game pieces so that I can have working prototypes. That still leaves me with testing, editing rules, testing, editing rules, testing and at some point, pictures to take before I'll make a follow up post formally introducing the game to you.
I'm just really excited. I think it is unique, fun, and meets my goals for what makes a game good to me. Plus the concept for packaging the game is A+, a real chef's kiss if I do say so myself.
I know I've said a lot and so little at the same time, but I'm excited and needed to share.
Oh, one last detail...Don't worry, I wrote rules for Solo play.
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