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Author Topic: Madness by Hyperion and Rico - TheManaDrain original primer  (Read 9734 times)
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« on: July 08, 2004, 07:46:45 am »

by Andrew Lambe (Hyperion) and Brad Granberry (Rico)
(primer update)

I. Introduction
II. Decklist and Card Choices
III. Sideboarding
IV. Matchup Analysis
V. Conclusion
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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2004, 10:15:00 am »

I. Introduction�What Has Changed?

On December 1st, 2003, Lion's Eye Diamond, Burning Wish, and Chrome Mox were restricted, and would take effect starting January 1st, 2004. The motivation behind these restrictions was that the Long combo deck was too degenerate for even Type I and needed to be crippled to the point where it wouldn't dominate the format. The obvious consequence of this round of restrictions is that an individual archetype was completely hosed out of existence.

The other consequence that has to do with the restriction of Lion's Eye Diamond was its effect on the Vintage Madness archetype. Providing a discard outlet and fast mana all at once, it was truly a unique card in that its drawback was turned into an advantage in conjunction with the madness mechanic. There is no card that can ever fully replace Lion's Eye Diamond in Madness, and so many people immediately wrote off Madness as "dead" come January 1st as a result of collateral damage done to it by the castration of the Long combo deck.

This article attempts to prove that Madness is still a competitive archetype and that the conclusion of it being "dead" is an erroneous one. It will also expand on the original Madness primer by discussing new sideboarding strategies and matchup analyses to reflect advances made in the format since then.
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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2004, 10:17:12 am »

II. Decklist and Card Choices

The end result of Team Reflection's testing is the decklist shown below:

4 Basking Rootwalla
4 Wild Mongrel
4 Arrogant Wurm
3 Roar of the Wurm

3 Anger
2 Wonder

4 Fiery Temper
4 Careful Study
4 Bazaar of Baghdad
3 Deep Analysis
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk

4 Wooded Foothills
4 Taiga
4 Tropical Island
3 Volcanic Island
1 Forest
1 Sol Ring
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Black Lotus
1 Lion's Eye Diamond

Summary of Changes (from "Virtual Insanity", presented in Part IV of the Vintage Madness Primer):

-3 Lion's Eye Diamond

+1 Anger
+1 Mox Pearl
+1 Volcanic Island

We initially had a Mox Jet in place of the third Volcanic Island, but eventually decided that the Jet was unneeded and that the additional color consistency was more important. Mox Pearl is still useful for acceleration and the ability to occasionally hardcast Ray of Revelation after boarding. Even if you don't sideboard Ray of Revelation you should still give serious thought to running the Pearl.

The off-color Moxen are obvious replacements and increase the number of permanent mana sources. Some builds already ran them prior to LED�s restriction, but Virtual Insanity did not for reasons which were discussed in the original primer. We experimented with Mana Crypt, Mox Diamond, Lotus Petal, Elvish Spirit Guide and Chrome Mox but results were less desirable. Mana Crypt and Lotus Petal did perform well in testing and both are valid choices if you don�t have all the Moxen � in particular, Lotus Petal is a nice color-fixer and Mana Crypt makes Deep Analysis much easier to hardcast, Roar of the Wurm easier to flashback, and Arrogant Wurm easier to cast via its Madness cost. The drawbacks to running Mana Crypt are that it only provides colorless mana and that Madness is not as fast as dedicated combo decks to the point where its drawback is irrelevant�especially since Madness has no way to get rid of Mana Crypt should it start to stall out.

The loss of raw speed with fewer LEDs is offset a little by the addition of the third Anger, which makes drawing it in the early game more likely. We have tested and are continuing to test a number of cards in its place but a third Anger is almost always a safe inclusion because Madness is rarely unhappy to draw it in the early game.

Other maindeck cards that were tested again or given new consideration

Wheel of Fortune
We thought this might work better here than in 4-LED Madness because of the additional permanent mana sources. Wheel of Fortune is fanastic in the early game if you have enough fast mana to play out most of your hand and dump it for a fresh one, and can deposit an Incarnation or Roar of the Wurm in the graveyard in the process. Unfortunately, its usefulness is mostly limited to that particular scenario, and it becomes much more risky to cast as the game progresses. When you�re ahead or in a tight game you take the chance of letting your opponent get back in the game. If you�re losing you might be able to pull out something, but you shouldn�t design the deck to function well in situations where it�s losing. The effect is too random and unpredictable for it to be something you can rely on. It is also difficult to rely on as a Madness outlet because it costs three mana.

Crop Rotation
You might be tempted to use this as a tutor for a Bazaar or a color-fixer. Not only is it is painful if it gets countered, but losing a land to find a Bazaar results in a tempo loss that you just can�t afford, especially with fewer LEDs and with a mana base that is potentially vulnerable to Wasteland (Crop Rotation is basically a free Wasteland for your opponent). The only situation where Crop Rotation is half-decent is when you�re mana flooded and don�t care about losing a land if you can get Bazaar online, or in response to a Wasteland or Strip Mine. These situations didn�t present themselves often enough for it to be worth running this card.

Intuition
Sometimes this card is incredible, and other times just too slow/unwieldy to be useful. While it doesn�t have the chance of backfiring on you like Wheel of Fortune, it is also not nearly as explosive either.

Riftstone Portal
As has already been mentioned (and will be elaborated on shortly), colored mana sources are at a high premium in Madness builds with 1 LED. To make room for these you would need to cut into duals or off-color Moxen, neither of which is desirable. It also might help under a Blood Moon, but in actuality Blood Moon more often is a problem because it shuts off Careful Study, Deep Analysis, and Bazaar�it has much less to do with not having access to green mana since Madness has a Forest and four fetch lands to find it.

Customizable Slots

Wonder
Since Wonder gets sided out against most control and combo decks, if your metagame calls for it you may wish to relegate these to the sideboard or remove them from the deck altogether. Your best bet would probably be to replace them with another Deep Analysis, Roar of the Wurm, or draw spell.

Fiery Temper
Fiery Temper is another card that gets sided out a lot. However, Fiery Temper is usually a safer maindeck choice than anything else you�d run in its spot because it�s never a dead card�in the worst case scenario, you just point it at your opponent. However, you will really miss having it against decks with Goblin Welder, which is the main reason it�s still recommended as a maindeck choice in a strong metagame.

Deep Analysis
Deep Analysis almost always gets sided out against aggro decks, so if you play in a low power/aggro-heavy metagame, you may want to drop the number of Deep Analyses in favor of another Roar of the Wurm or more Incarnations. However, given that aggro is generally not a matchup Madness is concerned about, and that Deep Analysis is terrific against control decks, this is a not such an important issue.

Madness with 1 Lion's Eye Diamond
So, how much worse is Madness with only 1 LED compared to 4 LEDs? The answer may surprise you�it is just as good, if not better, against most of the field as it was prior to restriction. A discussion of the obvious shortcomings will follow, where we will attempt to convince you that they aren�t as significant as you might think.

* It cannot goldfish as consistently. Madness with 4 LEDs could goldfish on Turn 2 with a hand of: Taiga/Volcanic Island/ Fetchland, LED/Black Lotus, LED, Anger, Arrogant Wurm, and Roar of the Wurm�all of which were unrestricted. Madness with 1 LED can still goldfish on Turn 2 but needs a Black Lotus and LED, both of which are now restricted. Turn 2 wins were rare even with 4 LEDs, but the point is that Madness with 1 LED is less explosive.

While significant, the additional speed provided by Lion�s Eye Diamond is conditional to the point where it�s not always relevant. LED is not a guaranteed mana source and is risky to play against control because you can�t afford to blindly walk into a Mana Drain or Force of Will. As a result, with a higher number of permanent mana sources Madness plays out more smoothly in the opening turns. For example, consider the following opening hands (where one of the lands is a Taiga, Volcanic Island or Wooded Foothills):

Opening Hand #1: Land, Land, LED, Wild Mongrel, Arrogant Wurm, Fiery Temper, Anger

Opening Hand #2: Land, Land, off-color Mox, Wild Mongrel, Arrogant Wurm, Fiery Temper, Anger

Opening Hand #1 will let you do 7 damage on Turn 1 by playing LED, land and popping the LED to discard the Arrogant Wurm and Fiery Temper and pay them via their madness costs. However, you lose a land and Wild Mongrel in the process, and if you don�t draw another mana source or your opponent finds an answer to the Arrogant Wurm you risk stalling out. You could also wait until Turn 2 to play the Mongrel and LED, discard your hand to pump the Mongrel and then use the LED to play Arrogant Wurm via its madness cost, but then you lose the Fiery Temper. This is clearly a better play because you don�t lose a threat and end up doing more damage than you would have by breaking the LED on Turn 1, but you lose the Fiery Temper, and to be able to use it you would have had to wait until Turn 3 to use the LED.

Opening Hand #2 will let you play Wild Mongrel on Turn 1 and discard Anger to do 3 damage, cast Arrogant Wurm on Turn 2 to deal 7 more damage, then cast Fiery Temper on Turn 3.

If you playing to maximize the use of every spell in your deck, any advantage gained by having an LED versus an off-color Mox is negligible in this scenario. Being able to goldfish faster was useful against combo decks because Madness has no useful maindeck disruption against them, but even with 4 LEDs Madness could not goldfish faster than Long and Dragon.

Obviously, this scenario was dependent on being able to resolve Wild Mongrel, which leads us to the next issue.

* There are now fewer discard outlets, meaning that Madness is now more dependent on Careful Study, Wild Mongrel, and Bazaar of Baghdad than before, and risks getting stuck with an Arrogant Wurm, Fiery Temper, or Roar of the Wurm that are uncastable more if it draws an off-color Mox that would have been LED previously. In short, it is more prone to inconsistency.

Unfortunately, nothing much can be done about this without radically altering the deck. However, with the build presented above you have about a 65% chance of drawing a Wild Mongrel or Bazaar of Baghdad in your opening hand, going first, and an 84% chance of getting a discard outlet (as opposed to 90% with three more LEDs).

* Colored mana was always at a premium, and with fewer LEDs this concern is even more relevant. LED is most often used to accelerate Arrogant Wurm and Roar of the Wurm but also enabled you to cast Fiery Temper or flashback Deep Analysis when you otherwise might not be able to.

Again, the weakness this point addresses (increased inconsistency) is still relevant. However, with additional permanent acceleration, hardcasting Deep Analysis becomes more feasible, which is useful against control decks. Without 4 LEDs, it is much harder to support Violent Eruption, but given that the decks you would sideboard it for are usually favorable matchups anyway this is not as important.

* LED was fantastic against the artifact prison decks like Stax and Welder MUD because it could be tapped under a Tangle Wire and still be used for mana. Thus, Madness could work a lot more effectively under a Wire lock with 4 LEDs than it can now. It also made Madness much faster than what is largely considered the best aggro deck in the format, TNT.

The Stax/MUD matchup will sometimes be more difficult with only 1 LED. With that said, while LED is terrific under an active Wire it is mediocre/bad a lot of the time under an active Sphere of Resistance. With non-Dragon combo on the decline and control on the rise, though, you can probably expect to see much less of these decks anyway. With that said, the TNT matchup does get a little bit harder because Madness cannot steamroll TNT with the same regularity it used to and is a little more vulnerable to Blood Moon.

In summary, the unresolved weakness of primary importance is that Madness now has fewer discard outlets and is thus more reliant on each one of them.
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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2004, 10:18:39 am »

III. Sideboarding

General Sideboarding Strategy

Madness' toughest matchups before sideboarding are Dragon, Mask, and Control Slavery, so it's a good idea to make sure you have answers to these decks after boarding. While encountering Mask is rare and Slavery is not popular either, Dragon still sees a fair amount of play, and since this probably the most difficult matchup before boarding the sideboard should be built to address it. There are a number of effective cards against Dragon that are also useful against other prevalent archetypes.

The maindeck is tight so you need to be careful not to over-sideboard. Otherwise, you risk taking away the aggressive element of the deck, as well as making Careful Study and Bazaar of Baghdad less useful because you will typically side out a few Incarnations or madness/flashback spells in favor of non-Incarnation, non-madness/flashback spells. Madness will rarely need to side in more than 4-5 cards except against its toughest matchups.

The original Madness primer discusses the merits of a number of possible sideboard choices that are still relevant. This section will serve to elaborate on a few of them and introduce a couple new cards that deserve consideration.

Ground Seal
This is a card worth considering in place of Tormod�s Crypt, especially because of the decline in Rector-based combo decks. It serves a similar purpose to the Crypt by preventing graveyard recursion, specifically through �Animate� spells�Animate Dead, Dance of the Dead, and Necromancy used in Dragon and the occasional Reanimator deck; and Goblin Welder in Workshop decks. The main advantage it has over Crypt is that it is much harder for these decks to function if it resolves because of the relative lack of enchantment removal. The disadvantage is that it comes out slower and may be more difficult to resolve. It is almost useless if Dragon animates a Verdant Force before you can find Ground Seal, and is not as versatile as other sideboard choices. Ground Seal does an incredible job of handling many of the graveyard reliant decks, save Hulk and GroAtog.

Krosan Reclamation
The main reason to include Krosan Reclamation would be to run it in tandem with Ray of Revelation for the Dragon matchup (this will be further explained in the Matchup Analysis section). Other than that, it is generally useful wherever Tormod�s Crypt would be sided in.

Waterfront Bouncer
Bouncer is solid in a number of matchups. It is incredibly versatile and provides a great source of tempo while doubling as a discard outlet, and is a fantastic weapon against Mask, Suicide Black, Madness, GroAtog, Dragon, Stompy (i.e. monogreen Madness), Reanimator, and other random decks that might pose threats if left unanswered.

Mask of Memory
In control matchups, Madness sometimes risks stalling out when the opponent is able to hold off its initial onslaught by dealing with Wild Mongrel or Bazaar of Baghdad. Mask of Memory serves to shore up the deck�s engine and allows you to keep casting threats faster than your opponent can find answers. It also doubles as a discard outlet, and because of that is particularly devastating on an early Rootwalla if Mongrel doesn�t make it into play. Mask turns all of your creatures into uber-Phids without the risk of card disadvantage that comes with using something like Curiosity. In a pinch, it can also go on an Incarnation that would otherwise be a useless topdeck, and keep up the pressure. Unfortunately, Mask is useless by itself and often serves as a �win more� card because if you can resolve threats against control decks you are in good shape. It is not useful against one of the most prevalent control decks in the format (Hulk) because Tog often comes down early to block and Pernicious Deed usually gets rid of it. If you aren�t running blue for whatever reason, though, this card might be a welcome addition.

Stifle
This is another good sideboard card against Dragon when used in response to Pernicious Deed or the �leaves play ability� of Worldgorger Dragon to make them lose all their permanents. The other main uses of Stifle��countering� fetch lands and Wastelands�are useful enough that it�s worth considering. Stifle can also be used against the mirror, Slavery, and even storm-based combo decks. The main disadvantage to Stifle is that it�s a reactive card that, unlike Red Elemental Blast, is more limited.

Naturalize
With only 1 LED, Madness is now a little more vulnerable to Blood Moon. This is a fine sideboard card in its own right because it�s useful wherever Artifact Mutation would be, though obviously not as devastating. It can also be brought in against Dragon to hit their Animate spells and Pernicious Deeds.

Ray of Revelation
Another means of enchantment removal, Ray of Revelation has the advantage over Naturalize that it can be freely pitched to Careful Study or Bazaar of Baghdad, but the disadvantage that it is not as versatile.

Pyrostatic Pillar
Pyrostatic Pillar is primarily used to beat Storm-based combo decks and control decks that don't have the ability to easily remove enchantments (including Keeper, Phid variations, Scepter decks, and essentially any control deck without Deed and/or Nevinyrral's Disk). Removal of all sorts, cheap search, and most other early-game cards are now used against the caster, which only furthers Madness' plan of overwhelming the control player. Pillar is also useful against decks like Fish and Suicide Black.

Sample Sideboard
4 Artifact Mutation
4 Red Elemental Blast
4 Metagame Slots
3 Waterfront Bouncer
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2004, 10:19:54 am »

IV. Matchup Analysis

[Note: suggested sideboarding strategies will assume use of the example sideboard presented above. In those matchups where sideboarding is dictated by metagame slots, the optimal sideboard cards will be used so that the reader knows how to best prepare for them.]

A. Aggressive and Aggressive-Control Decks

General Aggro Strategy
Aggressive decks are usually straightforward to play against - not only because they are generally favorable matchups for Madness, but because you rarely have to worry about fighting over resolution of key spells (the main exception being Fish). An early Wild Mongrel will often be too much to handle for many aggro decks. These decks are also often lacking for answers to Arrogant Wurm, Roar of the Wurm, and Wonder. Oftentimes, games will play out with Madness trading threats/resources with their threats until the opponent is overwhelmed, then use Bazaar to seal the deal if it gets to that point.

Fish, Gay/R
This is still a favorable matchup and little has changed in how it plays out, except that many builds with the red splash are now running Grim Lavamancer, which can make the matchup a little trickier but at the same time make their mana base less consistent. Overall, this matchup is not much of a concern, because their creatures are tiny and the Standstill engine is not particularly useful against Madness.

Suggested sideboarding plan: -3 Deep Analysis; +3 Red Elemental Blast. Not even this is really necessary unless you�re anticipating multiple Misdirections. This plan is generally better against Fish than Gay/R.

TNT
This matchup is tougher because you aren�t as fast anymore and because TNT improved a lot after Mirrodin. Exactly how well you do against TNT varies, because it can change a lot from one build to another. A maindeck Platinum Angel is probably game over for you if it resolves unless you can find two Fiery Tempers. Tangle Wire is also slightly more effective because you have fewer LEDs now, but only some builds run it. And finally, Chalice of the Void, while not spectacular against Madness, will also steal games from you if you�re on the draw and your opponent plays it for X = 0 on turn 1. After Platinum Angel, the biggest threat TNT has against Madness is usually Blood Moon, so it�s usually a good idea to fetch out a basic Forest as soon as possible to avoid getting locked. But if you can shrug off an early Juggernaut with Fiery Temper or by trading with a Rootwalla and beat them before they can really start to abuse Survival, you usually won�t have much of a problem beating TNT. If they are running blue and thus not packing the full complement of Wastelands, it gets even easier, though you might have to watch out for a Wonder of their own.

Suggested sideboarding plan: -3 Deep Analysis, -1 Careful Study; +4 Artifact Mutation.

GroAtog
Nothing much changed in this matchup, although now you can bring in Waterfront Bouncer from the sideboard to keep Dryads from getting big and keep Psychatogs at bay indefinitely. It was already a matchup slightly in Madness' favor because GroAtog rarely runs more than a Strip Mine to deal with Bazaar, but now with Bouncer it�s even better.

Suggested sideboarding plan: -3 Deep Analysis, +3 Waterfront Bouncer. REB is decent against GroAtog, and you can make room by cutting Fiery Temper, but you want to avoid going overboard and making Careful Study and Bazaar of Baghdad less reliable in the process.

Mask
This matchup is still difficult before sideboarding because you�ll be hard-pressed to deal with a quick 12/12 except to race it. Your best chance in Game 1 is probably a Spoils of the Vault gone awry. Also, if the Mask player keeps a hand full of discard and has trouble assembling the �combo� before you can overwhelm him, you stand a good chance of winning. However, the matchup gets much better after sideboarding.

Suggested sideboarding plan: -4 Careful Study , -2 Wonder , -1 Deep Analysis; +4 Artifact Mutation, +3 Waterfront Bouncer.

This can be tricky because you have a lot to bring in and because nothing is terrible against Mask. This is the only aggro matchup where Wonder is expendable because Mask just doesn�t run enough creatures for it to make much of a difference�if they get a Dreadnought you�ll win or lose regardless of Wonder, because you�ll either have enough threats to get around it and race them or you won�t. This may sound contradictory to the advice we�ll give later about keeping Wonder in against Hulk, but this is for several reasons. First, you will be able to resolve multiple threats against Mask pretty easily, but not against Hulk. Second, Mask probably won�t run much in the way of creature removal, whereas Hulk will have Pernicious Deed, so you can play more aggressively against Mask and not have to worry about overextending, thus making Wonder less important. Third, after boarding you are siding in plenty of ways to deal with an active Dreadnought, whereas against Hulk you will only have REB�so you are essentially replacing ways to get around Dreadnought with ways to destroy it. And fourth, an active Dreadnought is probably only going to block once or twice, whereas Tog may stay active for several turns to deter you from attacking until they find Pernicious Deed or Berserk.

Stompy ("Oshawa Stompy", "The Big O", etc.)
Stompy might steal a game from you with a timely Wasteland or Null Rod (as will any deck running either or both of these cards), but Madness is more explosive and is usually too fast for Survival to become an issue. With a better engine, it is also more likely to find Bazaar of Baghdad than Stompy is. Stompy has no maindeck answer to Wonder, and will have difficulty dealing with Roar of the Wurm short of a chumping Troll Ascetic or Tormod's Crypt after from the sideboard. After boarding, unchecked Waterfront Bouncers will come in to wreak havoc.

Suggested sideboarding plan: -3 Deep Analysis; +3 Waterfront Bouncer. Naturalize or Ray of Revelation are acceptable to bring in but are usually unnecessary.

Madness (mirror match)
Whoever gets Bazaar online first will stand the best shot at winning. However, after sideboarding Waterfront Bouncer is big trouble for your opponent if you can keep it on the table for a turn or two, especially since it kills Roar of the Wurm. If at all possible, wait to play it until you have Anger in the graveyard, since you save it from removal by bouncing itself. Siding in Waterfront Bouncer makes you the �control� Madness player, so play accordingly.

Suggested sideboarding strategy: -3 Deep Analysis, -1 Careful Study, -1 Fiery Temper/ Roar of the Wurm; +3 Waterfront Bouncer, +2 Krosan Reclamation. Roar of the Wurm is a little slow for the mirror match as well as being vulnerable to your opponent�s Waterfront Bouncers or Tormod�s Crypts. Fiery Temper is another possibility for removal because it can only be reliably counted on to kill Basking Rootwalla. Krosan Reclamation will help you gain Wonder or Anger advantage, which is crucial to winning the mirror match, as well as shuffling away your opponent�s Roar of the Wurm spells.

B. Control Decks

General Control Strategy
Playing against control decks is more difficult because it requires more decision-making here than against other archetypes. You need to take a conscious effort to make Mana Drain, mass removal, and other disruption as ineffective as possible. Mass removal is best played around with the application of common sense - just don't overextend. However, there are some "tricks" that can be used to play around Mana Drain.

Arrogant Wurm can be played via its madness cost at instant speed, so take full advantage of this ability to keep the control player on their toes. Control players will often tap out at the end of your turn to cast any number of spells to the point that they don't leave UU up for Mana Drain, which is the ideal window of opportunity to force through Arrogant Wurm. You can also attempt to resolve it at the end of their turn, thereby tapping them out, and then have a better chance of resolving key spells in your next turn.

Roar of the Wurm takes additional caution because it is an even bigger Drain sink and can't be played at instant speed. If your opponent has UU up, you should usually wait to attempt to resolve ROTW until you have REB backup unless you are desperate or can tell with reasonable certainty that they don't have Mana Drain in hand - or, if they do, don't have any dangerous sinks for it.

Keeper
The big change in the Keeper matchup is the threat of Isochron Scepter. If Keeper can get an early Scepter imprinting Swords to Plowshares, you are going to have a difficult time winning. Scepter imprinting Mana Drain is also bad news, but not nearly as bad because they risk taking horrendous damage from mana burn if they don�t have a Cunning Wish, Yawgmoth�s Will or Decree of Justice to follow it up with.

Another aspect of the Keeper matchup that has changed in recent months is the increasing trend towards maindecking Stifle as part of Keeper's LD strategy. Unfortunately, Stifle is particularly devastating against Madness because it counters fetchlands AND spells played via their madness costs -
Stifle counters the triggered ability

"When this card is removed from the game this way, until that player passes next, the player may play it any time he or she could play an instant as though it were in his or her hand by paying [cost] rather than paying its mana cost. When the player passes next, he or she puts it into his or her graveyard."

However, note that the ability is Stifled before you are required to pay the madness cost. It is difficult, if not impossible, to play around this latter application of Stifle - the only options you have are to wait until they are tapped out to play madness spells, or to wait until you can force it through with REB. However, you can easily make Stifle less effective against fetch lands by opting to play dual lands before fetch lands if you have the option. This is oftentimes the correct play because even though you risk making yourself more vulnerable to Wasteland, Keeper suffers some tempo loss as well when forced to Waste right away, whereas this loss is much less significant if they can use Stifle when they would otherwise have had no other play to make.

Damping Matrix is making an appearance in many Keeper sideboards, and even in some maindecks. Damping Matrix will have the effect of turning off Wild Mongrel as a discard outlet and preventing the use of Basking Rootwalla's pump ability. Damping Matrix is about as good as Tormod's Crypt against Madness - good in some situations and effectively useless in many others. Rootwalla and Mongrel are the key threats against Keeper, so neutering them can be an effective play on Keeper's part. However, it has no effect on the Wurms, nor Madness' ability to put resolve them through Careful Study and Bazaar. Damping Matrix is a card you should be aware of but not overly concerned about.

Suggested sideboarding plan:
(without Isochron Scepter): -2 Wonder, -2 Fiery Temper; +4 Red Elemental Blast
(with Isochron Scepter): -2 Wonder, -4 Fiery Temper, +3-4 Red Elemental Blast, +2-3 Pyrostatic Pillar or Artifact Mutation.

Hulk
The matchup against Hulk remains virtually the same in how it plays out, although in many cases may be slightly more difficult because most builds are packing Wastelands to deal with Bazaar of Baghdad, and Pernicious Deed and Stifle are gravitating to the maindeck in others. Hulk with Wastelands is an overall tougher matchup than Keeper.

Suggested sideboarding plan: -4 Fiery Temper, +4 Red Elemental Blast.

Control Slavery
Along with Dragon, Control Slavery is probably the most difficult matchup you will encounter. One of Madness� biggest weaknesses against control decks is the large number of fat Mana Drain targets, and Slavery is especially unforgiving because it can sink into a Mindslaver, Pentavus, Tinker or Thirst for Knowledge and lock the game up quickly. The weak link in the Slavery deck is Goblin Welder, so if you can keep it off the board with Fiery Temper you should be in decent shape. If they resolve Mindslaver and you have an active Mongrel, you should attack with it and pitch your hand to pump it because once they take your next turn you�ll lose your hand anyway. Sometimes you�ll get lucky and they�ll run out of artifacts to weld Mindslaver into, in which case you may have a small window of opportunity to fight back and win the game before you get locked again.

Suggested sideboarding plan: -2 Wonder, -1 Roar of the Wurm, -1 Careful Study/Roar of the Wurm, +4 Red Elemental Blast. Your main goal is to use REB proactively to punch through Mana Drain and counter Thirst for Knowledge or Tinker. As with other control decks, take advantage of the fact that Slavery often plays Brainstorm and Thirst for Knowledge EOT to sneak an Arrogant Wurm into play through Mana Drain.

Landstill
Unlike Keeper, Hulk, and Slavery there is no card in Landstill that really ends the game against you other than Decree of Justice in U/W builds, and this deck has very few Mana Drain sinks outside of Nevinyrall�s Disk (and again, Decree of Justice). Standstill is subpar against Madness because you will often be able to resolve a threat before they can play it. Basking Rootwalla will beat or trade with their manlands in combat. The general play strategy is to resolve a threat or two and avoid overextending into Nevinyrall's Disk.

Suggested sideboarding plan:
(U/R): -2 Fiery Temper, -2 Wonder, +4 Red Elemental Blast.
(U/W): -4 Fiery Temper, +4 Red Elemental Blast. This changes slightly because of Decree.

Other blue-based control decks (i.e. U/r Phid)
The biggest threat these decks have against Madness is Blood Moon or Back to Basics, the latter of which is handily dealt with by REB. If you get caught under a Blood Moon without a basic Forest you may be in trouble, but by and large this is another favorable matchup for many of the same reasons that Landstill poses little threat to Madness. Some blue-based control builds may run Isochron Scepter but unless they can imprint Swords to Plowshares on it you have little to worry about, since they have fewer deadly Mana Drain sinks than Keeper, Hulk or Slavery and Fire/Ice is more of a nuisance than a real threat.

Suggested sideboarding plan: -2 Fiery Temper, -2 Wonder, +4 Red Elemental Blast.

C. Combo Decks

General Combo Strategy
Combo is generally Madness' hardest matchup but also the easiest to play against because it requires less decision-making. If you have a strong draw and/or the necessary hate, or they stall out, you stand a good chance of winning. If you don't, you'll probably lose, and there just isn't a whole lot you can do about it.

Dragon
This is the main matchup you have to worry about�it is played more than any other combo deck and is Madness� most difficult matchup before sideboarding. There is little you can do about it other than hoping for the best before boarding (unless you choose to maindeck Gaea�s Blessing to draw the first game, which is only worth doing if you expect to run into multiple Dragon decks in a tournament ), because unless you get lucky and they stall out you will probably lose Game 1.

Suggested sideboarding plan: -4 Fiery Temper, -2 Wonder, -1 Roar of the Wurm; +3 Waterfront Bouncer, +2 Ray of Revelation, +2 Krosan Reclamation.

This strategy will allow you to attack Dragon on multiple fronts. Dragon will bring in Pernicious Deed against you, so you cannot afford to fall back on just permanent-based hate because they can just Deed everything away at the end of your turn and go off their next turn. At the same time, they will bring in Verdant Force, so you�ll want to have ways to deal with that as well. Waterfront Bouncer and Ray of Revelation both let you deal with reanimated Verdant Forces and disrupt the combo kill. Since Waterfront Bouncer is susceptible to Pernicious Deed, Ray of Revelation and Krosan Reclamation provide the fall-back strategy if all else fails and the Dragon player is able to go off and deck you. To prevent this, during the upkeep before you are about to lose, you can flashback Ray of Revelation on their Animated Ambassador, preventing any disruption of Reclamation, and then flashback Krosan Reclamation recurring a 2nd Reclamation and Black Lotus. This plan gives you the chance to use the Black Lotus to flashback Roar of the Wurm spells placed in your graveyard by Laquatus, and go on to win unless the Dragon player can overcome your advantage. Be careful not to overextend into Deed afterwards, and do not be over-reliant on this strategy because Dragon can still win without going infinite, although that is not nearly as effective.

It is not a foolproof plan because if they go off with Compulsion they may be able to kill you with Ancestral Recall, or else find Force of Will and prevent you from carrying out your strategy, but given the right cards to go off with there is no foolproof strategy against Dragon, and this one allows you to use cards that are better in an open metagame because they have potential uses in other matchups (where, for example, Gaea�s Blessing is not). Ray of Revelation will usually buy you at least a couple turns, from which you can win the game by playing it out a couple different ways depending on the board situation.

For it to work, you need at least 1GG mana available, but you can be tapped out when Dragon is going off.

Scenario #1: Dragon is at 6 or less life and you have at least 2GG available (you do not need to have any creatures on the board). The Dragon player milled himself repeatedely with Bazaar to find Ambassador Laquatus, so he has no hand.

This is the easiest one to pull off because you can win in one turn without worrying about the Dragon player being able to do anything about it.

Dragon: Animate WGD, generate a million mana, switch Animate target to Laquatus, deck you.

Madness: During upkeep, flashback Ray of Revelation, targeting the Animate spell on Laquatus. Flashback Krosan Reclamation, targeting Lion�s Eye Diamond and Black Lotus so you don�t lose by being decked. Draw either LED or Black Lotus, play it and flashback Roar of the Wurm, and assuming one of your lands is a Taiga or Volcanic Island, attack for the win (because you�ll have Anger in the graveyard).

Scenario #2: Same as Scenario 1, but Dragon has enough life left that you cannot kill them this turn.

Madness: During upkeep, flashback Ray of Revelation, targeting the Animate spell on Laquatus. Flashback Krosan Reclamation, targeting the second Krosan Reclamation and another card; the one you choose depends on the board situation and how much mana you have open. If you have creatures in play and flashing back Roar of the Wurm will allow you to win in two turns, you can target Black Lotus. If you have 1 mana open and draw the Black Lotus, flashback Roar of the Wurm this turn. If you draw the Krosan Reclamation, attack with what you have and use the Krosan Reclamation to stall for an extra turn.

Scenario #3: You have a Krosan Reclamation in hand when they go off, but cannot kill them this turn.

This is not as easy to pull off as Scenario #1 because it involves more decision-making and gives the Dragon player a larger window of time to rebound. However, in this scenario it is also much harder for the Dragon player to deck you because you can recur Krosan Reclamation as many times as you need to win, since you never have to use its flashback cost.

TPS, Charbelcher.dec, other misc. combo
These are hard matchups because they�re fast combo decks. Accept them as a difficult matchup because it�s not worth making your sideboard weaker in other matchups on the off-chance you�ll run into them, and they are rarely seen in tournament play anyway. If you see enough of these decks to warrant SB space, Stifle can delay their going off, and Pyrostatic Pillar is also very powerful as well as being more difficult to play around.

Suggested sideboarding plan: -2 Wonder, -2 Fiery Temper; +4 Pyrostatic Pillar.

D. Prison Decks

General Prison Strategy
Again, this is a fairly easy archetype to play against - your goal is to explode out of the box before you get locked up, and nuke Metalworkers or Welders with Fiery Temper. The only wrinkle is an early Smokestack, where you need to play enough permanents to make them activate it but will usually want to hold back after that until they are forced into a position to sacrifice it.

Stax/Welder MUD
The loss of Lion�s Eye Diamond is felt hardest here. LED let you play Wurms under an active Tangle Wire and explode out of the box before they could lock the game up. Sphere of Resistance is still your biggest Achilles heel and if they resolve it on their first turn when you�re on the draw, you may have difficulty winning. However, with additional permanent mana sources, Madness is now a little less vulnerable to Sphere of Resistance. As with other Workshop decks, a first turn Chalice at X = 0 when you�re on the draw will also steal games from you every now and then.

Suggested sideboarding plan: -2 Wonder, -2 Careful Study; +4 Artifact Mutation.

Workshop Slavery
This matchup is easier than Control Slavery because you can play more aggressively and not have to worry about Mana Drain. However, Blood Moon is often run in the maindeck so fetch out a Forest as soon as you can afford to so you don�t get locked.

Suggested sideboarding plan: -2 Wonder; -1 Careful Study, -1 Careful Study/Roar of the Wurm; +4 Artifact Mutation (because they have Gilded Lotus for a good Mutation target).
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« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2004, 10:21:00 am »

V. Conclusion

Madness is an underrated and underplayed deck in Type I. Even before December 1st, it was written off by many because it runs creatures and runs Bazaars but was assumed to be strictly inferior to Dragon.

This article attempted to convince the reader that Madness is still a competitive archetype and is at least as good against the field as it was prior to LED's restriction, if not better. Madness has an even-to-favorable matchups against most control decks because LED didn't play as large a role against control as it did against other archetypes, and because Bazaar of Baghdad breaks the game wide open by beating them at their own game "card advantage" if left unchecked. While the matchup against TNT is slightly more difficult, it still has favorable matchups against every aggressive deck in the format other than Mask, which gets better after boarding. Combo matchups are tough, but this is generally the case for most aggressive decks, and it can get much better after sideboarding with the wide array of available options. "Virtual Insanity" has been and still is an excellent option for a control- and aggro-based metagame.

We would be hard-pressed to convince you that Madness is the best Bazaar deck because Dragon is considered by some to be among the best decks in Vintage, if not the best. However, because of that, Dragon also has to wade through more hate than any other deck in the format, which carries with it its own set of disadvantages that, over many games, matches and tournaments, can become overwhelming. Because Madness does not follow such a one-dimensional game plan as Dragon, it is less susceptible to hate and may stand a better chance in a specific metagame because players will be less prepared for it.

Another archetype that has recently enjoyed success is the Stompy deck with madness creatures, Survival of the Fittest, Bazaar of Baghdad, and disruption in the way of Null Rod, Root Maze, and Strips. Many players may be curious about the advantages and disadvantages to playing Madness or Stompy in a specific metagame. One of the fundamental precepts of Type I is that you should play with the highest possible concentration of broken cards, because on a card-for-card basis if your cards are more broken than your opponent�s you will win. Madness� advantage to Stompy is just that�it is a more explosive deck with a higher concentration of broken cards, and a stronger standalone archetype as a result. With red and blue, Madness also has many more sideboard options, giving it added versatility. In particular, Stompy has a lot more difficulty dealing with nonartifact creatures, and by being slower it gives the opponent a larger window of opportunity to accomplish their game plan. With that said, Stompy has its advantages as well. It has better disruption, and is well-equipped to run potent hate like Root Maze which is useful in some of Madness� more difficult matchups. Survival of the Fittest gives Stompy another high-quality reusable Madness outlet that can break a game wide open and gives it a very solid mid- and late-game. And finally, perhaps the biggest advantage Stompy has over Madness is a stronger mana base�whereas the Madness player must be able to anticipate and play around Blood Moon or even Back to Basics, Stompy can shrug these cards off without much of a second thought. Wastelands are also significantly less useful against Stompy.

This comparison is not intended to convince the reader that one archetype is strictly superior or inferior to another. However, given that the Stompy builds have seen a lot of play recently, whereas Madness continues to be an underplayed archetype, this should suggest that if one is being played and enjoying success, that playing the other will result in a similar�and, in some metagames, greater�level of success if it is played more frequently than it currently is.

Another comparison worth making is how Madness fares relative to TNT against the rest of the field. TNT is considered by many the best aggressive deck in Vintage because it has an excellent engine in Survival, an explosive early game with Workshop, a strong late game, and the ability to run Blood Moon. How does Madness compare to TNT? Both have excellent matchups against other aggressive decks, and both typically do well against control decks by operating on the similar principle of resolving fast fat before Mana Drain becomes an issue (or, resolving fast fat under Mana Drain, through Survival and Welder with TNT and playing Arrogant Wurm at instant speed after the control player taps out during the end of turn step). Madness and TNT both have more trouble against combo, although TNT often has the advantage here with its ability to run Blood Moon, Platinum Angel, and make better use of Chalice of the Void. On the other hand, most archetypes are packing more artifact hate than creature hate, which by itself gives Madness a significant advantage. It is more difficult to draw any definite conclusions between Madness and TNT than Madness and Stompy, but the take-home point is that if TNT enjoys the attention it is getting, Madness should be getting it too.
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