Friday, November 25, 2016

The Stable of Character Ideas, Part II

I mentioned before that I would be working on a set of character archetypes that I knew I would enjoy at the game table. These are the character ideas that I will rotate through the next few times that I need a character. While some of these characters might lend themselves particularly well to a specific class or race, they are meant to be character concepts for roleplaying purposes, not for mechanical purposes. This way they can be used in different game systems, regardless of what RPG I happen to be playing at the moment. While my examples below focus on D&D specifically, they could easily be re-imagined for science fiction or a number of other genres.

The Mislabeled Hero

For whatever reason, this character is seen as something that he is not, and that identity crisis is a driving force in his life. He's on a quest either to prove that he is who he says he is, or to prove he isn't who he's accused of being.
Example Characters: Spider Man trying to disprove J. Jonah Jameson's headlines is the first example that comes to mind. My current character is also a good example. He's a warlock who is convinced that he's a wizard, and he wants everybody else to know just how great at wizardry he is. And those voices in his head telling him to do things? His muse, obviously. You don't have one, you say? Of course you do. He just hears his muse more clearly because he's a master wizard with a trained mind.

The Conspiracy Theorist

Paranoia personified, this character is always on the lookout for people being out to get him, and has at least one theory about what really happened that most of the population would think was ridiculous (even if it turns out to be true).
Example Characters: I loved the Lone Gunmen from the X-Files, and this character could easily join their crew. I've never gotten to play a character like this for long, but I wrote a background for a character who believed he was an integral part of Corellon Larethian's plan to restore the elves to their former days if glory. Anyone who didn't respect the "old ways" of the elves was obviously an agent of Gruumsh or Hextor or some other evil force, there to prevent him from restoring the world to its former glory.

The Trickster

This character is totally consumed with amusing himself. He's adventuring either because it's fun, or because he had too much fun at the expense of others and now he's on the run.
Example Characters: Loki is the most obvious example from comics, but I think he's actually a little too ruthless for me. I think I'd rather play something more akin to Supernatural's portrayal of Loki/Gabriel in the later episodes. Rogues and illusionists jump to mind as the most appropriate D&D classes, but this could be any character that appreciates the idea of a good prank.

The Rebellious Idealist

Young, bold, oppressed, and ready to stick it to the man. Whatever problem he has with authority is his motivation for taking up the adventuring life.
Example Characters: Name a teenage protagonist, and you'll probably find some aspects of this character archetype. Mikey from The Goonies is a fun example. He's eager to stand up to the people trying to push his family out of their home, but he's not so caught up in the moody teenage angst that is so common in more recent films.

The Bumbling Fool

Probably not an ideal teammate, this character needs a lot of guidance. He's not the brightest crayon in the box, but he does have skills that are useful. He's adventuring because his skills are useful enough to put up with his lack of intelligence, or he's not smart enough to realize how much danger he's really in (or both).
Example Characters: Jayne from Firefly might fit this category. A more extreme example might be Goofy. But hey, when in doubt, just play a gully dwarf. Am I right?


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Stable of Character Ideas

In the past, I have always taken the opportunity to create a brand new character every time I have the opportunity to do so. However, this can be extremely time consuming, and as I grow older, I find that I have less and less time to spend on games in between sessions. That's part of the reason I quit running games myself and assumed the player role exclusively for the first time since elementary school.

I've heard of players who play basically the same character every single time they play, and I've turned my nose up to the practice. There was a time, for example, that I actually got a little irritated with a player whose character died, and he chose to use the exact same character sheet for his new character rather than rolling up a new one. "I used point buy for stats, so nothing is random. I'm just going to make all the same choices. I'll redo starting equipment, I guess, but I want everything else to stay the same."

My mind was blown. I let him do it. It was his choice, after all, even if I did consider it poor taste... but I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "Dude! Why would you pass up the opportunity to try something new?!?!"

Well, my opinion has changed over the years. I gave him a hard time about that decision, and in hindsight, I shouldn't have. I wasn't a jerk about it, but I tried to convince him not to, and I don't think I'd do that if the same thing happened today. I might still prompt a player to consider trying something new, but I wouldn't turn it into a big deal. The idea of sticking to the same character concept is one that I have grown to grudgingly respect as I've gotten older. Why?

Sometimes you just don't have the time or the brainpower to create something from scratch. Maybe the time you have for gaming is so scarce that you want to make sure you have a good time when you do, so you stick to something you know will be enjoyable. Perhaps you got really attached to a character, but an unfortunate combat encounter ended him, or a campaign ended prematurely because real life got in the way.

It happens. I don't think I'll ever be able to bring myself to play the same character twice in a row, but I get it now. Time is precious, and the creative juices aren't always as free flowing as the younger me believed they should be.

One new project that I might sink some thought into is the idea of developing a stable of character concepts that I can apply to various game systems. I think I would start with some of the character ideas that I keep coming back to for NPCs in my own games, throw in a pinch of TV Tropes, and add a dash of inspiration from various literary sources that have inspired me over the years. It actually sounds like a fun thought experiment, and would save me some brain power in the future.

My goal will be to have a stable of five to ten character ideas that I know I'll enjoy, and as campaigns come and go (or characters die off), I'll just cycle through them. They'll be familiar enough that they won't require a lot of mental power to make character-based decisions, but I will have set them aside long enough between uses that even if I stick with the same group of players for a while, I won't have a DM that rolls his eyes at me for playing the same thing yet again.

When I have time to put them together, I might even share.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Real-Life 40K Chain Sword

I said I would post fewer "just a video" posts... but this is just so crazy awesome that I couldn't resist.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Solving the Expensive Rulebook & Codex Problem

I'm wondering how possible it would be to play Warhammer 40K without a codex or a rulebook. I played rather frequently back in 5th edition, and the core mechanics of the game haven't changed, so basically I just need to know a few of the fiddly bits (like the new psychic phase) and how all the various keywords (like Feel No Pain) work nowadays. I think I can manage this with two tools, both of which are free:
I haven't actually used this in practice, but it appears that just about everything I need to play is contained in those two sources.

I've actually already purchased a copy of the main codex I'll be using, but as much as I like the idea of allied detachments, I refuse to spend money on an extra codex for just a handful of miniatures. I'll just fill in the missing points with models from the primary codex and be done with it.

As for the rules, most shops have a copy on hand that you can consult if necessary... but it sure would be nice to have rules that are entirely free (as in the reference sheet above, or if Games Workshop decides to move 40K in the same direction it took Warhammer Fantasy when they released Age of Sigmar).

Don't worry, Games Workshop. You're not losing any money if I don't pay for the rules. I'll just be purchasing more kits and fewer books... in fact, you'll likely make more money from me long-term. I quit playing when 6th edition came out because I didn't want to spend so much money on a new set of rules. Sure, I'm coming back now, but think about how many miniatures I would have purchased over the last four years if a new $50+ rulebook hadn't made me throw my hands up in disgust!



Monday, September 26, 2016

Dusting Off the 40K Models Again

I had been playing D&D Adventurer's League on Wednesdays at the FLGS, but I showed up a few weeks ago to find none of the usual players there. It didn't take long to figure out that the schedule had been changed, and not only was there no D&D that night. It wouldn't have bothered me at all if I had come in on Wednesday and found out that it had been moved to Thursday. "No biggie! See ya tomorrow!" Right? Wrong. They'd already played on Monday, and I just missed out.

I was irritated, to say the least... but I couldn't be mad. The guys that run the shop are super nice, even if they did leave me hanging that week. People make mistakes. It happens. Keep calm and move on. Besides, there was a secret lining. D&D was getting bumped to another night to make room for a competitive Warhammer 40K night.

Now, I haven't actually played on a Wednesday night yet, but the couple of people I've talked to have described it as super-competitive, cutthroat 40K. I think they were actually trying to warn me... not knowing that's exactly the type of competition that I crave. I've barely played since 5th edition (maybe five casual games?), so I'm sure I'll get trounced a few times before I get back in the groove, but that's just part of the learning curve.

I've looked at a few of the winning tournament lists in 2016, and it looks like Eldar are pretty close to the top dogs if not the top dogs. That's good news, as I'll be (re)starting with a codex that is well-positioned. Unfortunately, the lists of today are very different from the wave serpent spam that I'm used to running. Instead, the Eldar lists of today load up on windrider jetbikes and warp spiders - not models that I have many of, unfortunately. So I'm going to hit the ground running with a great codex but an outdated list.

So I guess I need to see just how competitive of a list I can manage with the models I have on hand, and either build up to a competitive list over time, or figure out some unorthodox tactics to make what I have competitive. Here's what I'm working with at the moment:

Eldar Combined Arms Detachment (1850)
HQ (335)
Asurmen (220)
Farseer (windrider) (115)

Troops (615)
3 windriders w/ scatter lasers & warlock (131)
3 windriders w/ scatter lasers & warlock (131)
10 dire avengers w/ exarch (power weapon, shimmershield) & wave serpent (scatter laser) (275)
6 dire avengers (78)

Elites (360)
10 fire dragons w/ exarch (firepike) & wave serpent (scatter laser) (360)

Fast Attack (130)
5 warp spiders w/ exarch (twin-linked death spinner & powerblades) (130)

Heavy (410)
1 fire prism (shuriken cannon) (135)
1 fire prism (shuriken cannon) (135)
1 falcon (eldar missile launcher) (140)


I will likely change this list before I actually hit the tabletop with these guys, but we'll see how it goes. There are certain parts of this list that just feel like blasphemy. Asurmen has always been overpriced, for example, and I'm accustomed to having several groups of five fire dragons with their own respective transports. This is just a rough draft, though. I'm betting a lot of my thinking will change as soon as I get my hands on a real copy of the rules and the Eldar codex. At the moment, I'm trying to make do with this cheat sheet and a BattleScribe download.

A wraithknight and a bunch more windriders are pretty high on my list of "things to acquire," but they'll just have to wait until the the budget can handle that kind of purchase.

In the meantime, suggestions are welcome! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Smelly Boot Shenanigans Preview

I've been working on getting an adventure into a format that is publishable, and it is definitely a learning process. I've never done any of this before, and I'm a one man operation, so I've decided to release a preview version of the adventure for free. Getting a small piece of the text into a format that looks presentable is good practice, and even if I change almost all the visual aspects of the work between now and the full release, it has served as a great learning experience.

Please feel free to critique away. I'm learning here, so even harsh words are welcome. I want to build on what I've done, and continue to write, until my work is respectable enough to put on a resume someday... and I've got a long way to go before I have resume-worthy work to present.

So here's a snippet of what I've been working on. Is it complete? No. Is it silly? Yeah. Is it worth downloading? Well, it's free. What do you have to lose?

Thanks for checking this out, and thank you for any feedback you're willing to share. Click here to download if you haven't already!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Adventure Design Principles

I've been writing my own adventures for years as a game master, but I've never actually put my designs in a publishable format. That is changing, of course, as I work on my first published work. However, as I put the finishing touches on the adventure, I keep going back through it to make sure it has all the elements of a memorable adventure that I would want in something I paid for.

So before I click "publish" and put this work out there for the world to see and critique, I want to share my adventure design philosophy: the guiding principles that I have been striving to keep in mind as I create and write.

1. The adventure should be one that I would enjoy running and playing.
This should be obvious, but it helps keep me in check with some of my wackier ideas. If a scenario is a nightmare for the GM to moderate, or includes situations that players will be incredibly annoyed with, it probably isn't worth spending the time to run at all. Am I right? And there is, of course, the ultimate bottom line... if I'm not writing about something I enjoy, chances are I'll never finish it.

2. The adventure must stand on its own without statistics.
There are so many guidelines in various systems that point out what an "appropriate" encounter might look like, but I want to make sure that my writing is not married to any of those formulas. The story itself should be interesting enough to keep the attention of players regardless of what game system is used to resolve combat. Balanced encounters are fine, but in the past I've felt a little boxed in by challenge rating formulas and xp thresholds. I'm trying to ignore all of that and decide on the level of the adventure after writing it, rather than before. This approach might not always work, but I'm going to stick with it for the time being.

3. There must be a nonviolent (or at least nonlethal) option.
Maybe it's the part of me that works with kids (or maybe it's my inner paladin speaking), but I want to make sure that my published adventures include ways for players to complete their mission without killing all of the "bad" guys. Granted, I know that many groups will still charge into the dungeon waving their greatswords and asking questions later if something happens to still be breathing, but I don't ever want to assume that players will just swing an axe at everything that moves. Combat is a fun aspect of RPGs, but infiltration, diplomacy, and other strategies should also be valid options.

A preview version of the adventure, with some background info and just a handful of locations, will be released as a "Pay What You Want" download soon. But before I put it out there, I want to know... whether they're going to be published or just enjoyed at the kitchen table, what design principles do you consider when you're preparing adventures? 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Character Building on the Fly (Poorly)

Art by Patrick E. Pullen
I joined a campaign last weekend that I had very little knowledge about ahead of time. I talked to the DM a little, but I think I failed to ask the right questions, and I ended up not having much direction when I started creating my character. I ended up just building something that seemed cool mechanically, and then I figured I'd fill in the blanks as I got a better feel for the setting.

Starting at 2nd level, I built a half-elf paladin/sorcerer. High strength, constitution, and charisma made for a relatively durable character that could fall back on some spellcasting if necessary. I'm also eager to try out the multiclass spellcaster rules from 5th edition, so I have to admit that played a role in the decision.

I picked the hermit background because I knew I was joining an existing campaign that I knew almost nothing about. Saying that my character was a hermit gave me some built-in leeway with false assumptions. If I bumbled around and said something completely crazy for the setting, I could just blame it on the fact that my character has been out of touch with society for years rather than having to get into, "Oh, okay. No, well, I guess he didn't say that. He'd say this instead."

All this was perfectly fine, except for one thing: I had no idea what the character was like. I had rolled up stats, but without any knowledge of the setting or plot, I was hesitant to come up with any idea of who he was as a person. That's where things started to go downhill...

Friday, September 2, 2016

Warhammer at the Thrift Shop

My wife is a thrifting junkie. She gets a real thrill from going to the thrift shop and finding something really expensive for just a few dollars. While the idea of it sounds cool, and I go with her from time to time, I rarely buy anything. There is a limit to the amount of excitement the good deals on clothes can generate for me, and the bar is pretty low. Most thrift shops have a section for books and a section for board games, though, so there's always that slim chance that I'll find something worth my time. This time it was a box of Warhammer miniatures for $3.99.

Compare the thrift shop price to the price of dark elf warriors on Amazon.

Now that is a ridiculously good deal, even for a kit that is out of print. Sure, the box was beat to crap, but the only thing missing from the kit was the bases. I've heard that the new Age of Sigmar rules don't require square bases and unit formations and I'd rather have round bases anyway, but I'll do more research before I start assembling anything. I've never actually played Warhammer Fantasy Battles... but this surprisingly cheap thrift shop find might inspire me to put together a tiny little army. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Free RPG Maps for Commercial Use

I've been playing around with GIMP a lot lately, practicing skills I'll need to publish some adventures that I have been brewing up for quite some time. In the process, I've produced a handful of maps that I don't have any intention of actually using in a product, so I'm releasing them for free on www.drivethrurpg.com. These are free to anyone for personal or commercial use (see Terms of Use in the download for details).

The download just went live this morning. I'm working my way up the learning curve with these, so any and all feedback is welcome! And if you use any of these maps, please let me know. I would be glad to help publicize your work through social media.

Click here to download the maps.

Monday, August 15, 2016

A Tale of Naya Mediocrity (A Modern Tournament Report)

Last weekend, I switched from a Kiki Chord list to Naya Midrange for the Modern 25K Tix challenge at GP Portland. My original list and my pre-game theorizing can be found here... the only difference is that I managed to trade in enough cards to pick up the Engineered Explosives I wanted for the sideboard. Here's what I actually ran:

Creatures (22)
Birds of Paradise
Noble Hierarch
Voice of Resurgence
Knight of the Reliquary
Courser of Kruphix
Scavenging Ooze
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

Planeswalkers (4)
Nahiri, the Harbinger

Other Spells (11)
Bonfire of the Damned
Lightning Bolt
Path to Exile
Batterskull

Lands (23)
Wooded Foothills
Windswept Heath
Razorverge Thicket
Stomping Ground
Temple Garden
Sacred Foundry
Overgrown Tomb
Kessig Wolf Run
Ghost Quarter

Sideboard (15)
Reclamation Sage
Slaughter Games
Crumble to Dust
Fulminator Mage
Rest in Peace
Nihil Spellbomb
Bojuka Bog
Engineered Explosives

So how did it turn out? Very mediocre, as you can guess from the title. Here's how it went down:

Round One vs. Mark (Kiki Chord)
In the first game, I was able to apply some early pressure with turn one Noble Hierarch, turn two Voice of Resurgence, two more voices on turn three, and a hard-cast Bonfire of the Damned (X=2) on turn four that cleared his board except for a single Wall of Omens. The second game was much slower, as we each built up enough of a ground presence that attacking wasn't worthwhile. I had a Nahiri close to ultimate, but he was keeping it in check with a pair of thopters from Pia and Kiran Nalaar. I had a pair of Lightning Bolts in hand, but couldn't use them efficiently because of his Spellskite. He played a Kiki-Jiki and copied a Voice of Resurgence to start putting real pressure on me, and I thought it might be over... but I pulled a Path to Exile the next turn to deal with the Spellskite and then clear some of his more troublesome creatures with the bolts. I managed to pull ahead at that point, and with his late-game flooding, I took the game a few turns later.

Record
2-0 games
1-0 matches

Round Two vs. Robbie (Amulet Combo)
I didn't expect to see this deck after the Summer Bloom ban, but there it was. He absolutely wrecked me in the first game with the usual Amulet of Vigor -> several Ravnica bounce lands -> Primeval Titan -> Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion & Slayers' Stronghold. I double bolted the first titan before he attacked, but he had Summoner's Pact to repeat much of the same sequence on the following turn, so I packed it up. The second game didn't go his way at all, as he started out with an Ancient Stirrings that found no targets. How often does that happen? Things got better for him after that, but I got the chance to Ghost Quarter his Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion with a Primeval Titan on the stack, keeping him from killing me (or at least forcing me to throw away all my creatures on defense). The following turn, I attacked with a Reclamation Sage, a Voice of Resurgence, and a germ token (Batterskull), leaving a Knight of the Reliquary back on defense. He blocked the sage with his titan and the germ with a plant token from Khalni Garden, which gave me the opportunity to search out Kessig Wolf Run with the knight and do exactly lethal with trample damage. In the third game, I kept a hand with perfect mana plus mana dorks that could hit Slaughter Games on turn three. It worked, and without the Primeval Titans, he didn't have any true win conditions left. Unfortunately, even though I knew I would win eventually, a judge walked by and mentioned that we only had two minutes left in the round. My Courser of Kruphix (the closest thing to a threat I had drawn all game) did his best, but even with a few exalted triggers, he couldn't get the job done in time.

Record
3-1-1 games
1-0-1 matches

Round Three vs. Josh (Mardu Nahiri)
First things first, his deck was sweet, and I was a little jealous. I love my Unhinged basics, but this guy was packing foil full art lands from one of the Zendikar sets... I didn't look close enough to check out which one, but they were gorgeous. In any case, these games were slow and grindy. In game one, we were in a standstill for what seemed like forever. I had Nahiri out and threatening to ultimate, with a Batterskull to protect her. Every turn, he would kill my germ token (or the mana dork I had equipped), and then knock Nahiri back down a few points with his Shambling Vent. I kept waiting and waiting for a Kolaghan's Command to ruin my Batterskull's day, but he never drew one. With all the lifelink going back and forth, our life totals were each in the 30's at one point or another, but I finally drew Kessig Wolf Run to start hitting him for bigger chunks, and finally won the first one. In game two, I mulliganed to six and kept a hand with Voice of Resurgence, Courser of Kruphix, Knight of the Reliquary, two fetch lands, and a Ghost Quarter. I don't remember what the scry was, but I felt pretty good about that start before the game started. Unfortunately, with him on the play, he very easily took out Voice of Resurgence with an Inquisition of Kozilek and then played Liliana of the Veil before any of my slow three drops hit the board. I scooped the turn after he was able to ultimate Liliana. I actually don't remember much about the third game, except that we ran out of time. These games were a lot of fun, but at this point, I was getting really frustrated at not being able to close out games.

Record
4-2-2 games
1-0-2 matches

Round Four vs. Jordan (Naya Midrange)
Jordan's deck seemed to be very similar to Kibler's take on Naya, with Wild Nacatls and Tarmogoyfs. I wasn't sure how I would fare against it, since it can do a lot of the same things I can, but comes out of the gates a little faster. In the first game, he was a little light on mana, and I won fairly quickly. He managed to play some Wild Nacatls and a Tarmogoyf, but a bonfire wiped out his smaller creatures and I was able to swing past the Tarmogoyf for the win. In the second game, his speed was too much for me to handle. The couple of blockers I did manage to play either got eaten by removal or were forced to chump block his larger creatures. In the third game, I went to six and kept Path to Exile, Voice of Resurgence, a Bonfire of the Damned, and three lands... and then drew nothing but lands for almost the entire game. I did play a Nahiri that was able to interact with him for one turn, but I really didn't put up a fight at all. Variance sucks sometimes, but it's part of the game.

Record
5-4-2 games
1-1-2 matches

Round Five vs. Mike (Jeskai Delver)
It took me a while to figure out what Mike was playing. He started game one with a mountain and a Monastery Swiftspear, which made me think he was playing burn... but then he played a Stormchaser Mage and Gitaxian Probe. Okay, blue-red prowess? Maybe this is a Bedlam Reveler brew? But then I played Path to Exile on his Stormchaser Mage and he searched for a basic plains. A Boros Charm clued me in to the reason for the white splash not long thereafter. The first game was close, and I would have lost if he had drawn any burn spell on his last turn. Luckily for me, it was a Path to Exile, and he couldn't finish me off. The second and third games went pretty much the same. I played a few guys and started attacking, but he drew a lot of burn spells, and I didn't draw enough life gain cards to keep up. 

Record
6-6-2 games
1-2-2 matches

With that, I decided to collect my GP playmat and head home. The deck wasn't bad, but it wasn't stellar either. As much as I like the build as-is, I don't think I actually accomplished what I wanted to when I switched to this version. I wanted to be able to put a little more early pressure on my opponents than I did when I was playing Kiki Chord. However, even though I have more burn spells and more creatures that can attack, the creatures that I'm playing don't line up very well against a lot of what I played against. In order to do what I really want to be doing, I need to play more aggressive creatures or creatures that are more able to go over the top.

To be fair, though, I also made several major errors over the course of the tournament. Twice, I had two spells to play in the same turn, and I played Voice of Resurgence second, allowing my opponent to freely interact with the first spell. I could probably improve my results by shuffling faster as well. There is a lot of shuffling in this deck. 

Notes on improving the deck in the future:
  • Courser of Kruphix is a card that I really enjoy... but its power level just isn't high enough to compete with similarly costed effects in other decks. I might keep one in the deck, but I certainly won't play three again.
  • While I have some card selection with Nahiri, I don't have a lot of card advantage. Sure, I get a few extra lands from courser, and bonfire is often a three-for-one or better, but when topdeck time comes, topdecking is brutal. I do get excited about the idea of a topdecked Bonfire of the Damned, but let's be honest... usually the top card is a Birds of Paradise. That's just how the world works, right?
  • Cards in consideration:
    • More copies of Scavenging Ooze - I often found myself hoping I'd draw one, but these were noticeably absent from my games in this tournament. Maybe play another to increase the likelihood that I draw them?
    • Thrun, the Last Troll - I wish I had access to one of these in my sideboard. I didn't run up against a lot of counterspells over the course of the tournament, but I'm sure I will in the future. Also, just having a creature that my opponents can't remove with traditional removal would be nice sometimes. 
    • Stormbreath Dragon - When you find that you're having a hard time closing out games, why not play one of the fastest clocks out there? I can't accelerate into these quite as fast as the ponza builds can, but it's still an effective top-of-the-curve finisher that is immune to the most common removal spells out there. Of course, if I really want a faster clock, it's a lot more efficient to just switch over to...
    • Wild Nacatl and Tarmogoyf - Yeah, these are much more aggressive than what I'm running, but Tarmogoyfs are just stupidly expensive. I wish I hadn't sold mine back in the day when I thought I'd never use them because they didn't fit into the various Birthing Pod strategies I was playing. (That tragedy almost made me quit playing modern altogether.) Either way, Nacatl still deserves a second look, even if I don't have and can't afford the goyfs.
    • Loxodon Smiter - These are always in consideration, but they always seem to be the first things I end up cutting because they just don't do anything other than provide a big body Knight of the Reliquary does the same thing for the same mana cost and comes with some utility, so it seems like an easy decision if I'm making cuts and I have to choose one or the other... but then I play against Liliana of the Veil, and I wish I still had smiters back in the deck.
    • Domri Rade - Quite possibly my favorite planeswalker of all time, Domri was a beast in standard. I don't want him in the current build, but if I start replacing mana dorks with beefier creatures that his -2 fight ability will be more relevant with, then he might be worth another shot. He's also a source of card advantage, albeit an inconsistent one.
    • Raging Ravine, Treetop Village, or Stirring Wildwood - I felt like I flooded out a little too often. It was only five matches, so that might just be variance, but the more lands I can include that actually do something, the better. Each of these has its advantages, but Raging Ravine is the most powerful of the bunch. I could also play Needle Spires, but I want as many of my lands to produce green as possible.
Obviously, there are a lot of directions I could go with the next evolution of the deck. And honestly, maybe going back to the Kiki-Jiki + Resto Angel combo and playing Eldritch Evolution is what I need to be doing... or switch to blue and play the Retreat to Coralhelm combo. Or maybe Archangel combo... or maybe combine a few of the above options? I don't know. There are too many toys in GWx to play with, and they won't all fit in the same deck!

Any suggestions?
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