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Considering Maralen...


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What will Maralen's price tag be?
$20+: He is the Next Big Thing.
7%
 7%  [ 2 ]
$10 - 20: He will be very popular, but not totally dominant.
7%
 7%  [ 2 ]
$5 - 10: There will be a Tier 1 deck that runs a copy or two of him.
10%
 10%  [ 3 ]
$1 - 5: Won't be competitive, but some casual players will use him.
53%
 53%  [ 15 ]
$1-: People will groan when they open a pack with him as the rare.
21%
 21%  [ 6 ]
Total Votes : 28

Author Message
Kytep



Joined: 21 May 2006
Posts: 187

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:52 pm    Post subject: Considering Maralen... Reply with quote

I really like Maralen of the Mornsong, if for no other reason that it's one of those cards that looks like it could have potential, then looks terrible, then may look good again, then bad again, etc. In other words, it's one of those cards that could be either great or terrible, and it's tough to figure out which it is. Will it go for $15 - $20, or end up in the $1 rare bin? Figuring that out is the fun.

First, the card itself:

Maralen of the Mornsong
1BB, Legendary Creature - Elf Wizard
2/3
Players can't draw cards.
At the beginning of each player's draw step, that player loses 3 life, searches his or her library for a card, puts it into his or her hand, then shuffles his or her library.

So, what can happen when you play Maralen? Let's consider some of the scenarios:

"They'll Just Kill It"
Perhaps the first thing to occur to most people is that Maralen often won't last past your opponent's first turn with him out; they'll just find something to kill him and cast it. But note that if your opponent does this, here is what Maralen has effectively become:

1BB, Sorcery: Opponent loses 3 life, skips their next draw phase, and taps 2 - 4 mana sources.

This of course assumes that you don't have an army out that your opponent can Wrath/Damn away to get significant card advantage. Just as Howling Mine gives your opponents the opportunity for an extra draw first, Maralen hits them for 3 life first. I've noticed that it's generally a pretty good indication that a card is good when your opponent stops whatever they're doing to stop it (e.g., Dark Confidant, Augur of Skulls, and Hypnotic Specter are all "lightning rods").


They Grab Something Good and Play It
Unless it's the late game and your opponent can kill you with that one special card in their deck, they've likely paid 3 life, skipped their draw, and put something into play that you can likely deal with on your turn to tutor. If my opponent grabs a Chameleon Colossus or other troublesome creature, I can grab an Edict or, if they have more creatures, a Damnation on my turn, in which case we both lost 3 life, skipped a draw, and spent 4 mana.

Even if I just make parity with my opponent, consider this: If what they can play is so great, do I really want to take the chance of them top-decking it anyway, while I then have to sweat and wish with every draw?

Sometimes, if your opponent's hand size is low and they play what they get, you can just go for a Rack and kill them next turn (1 - 3 damage from Rack, 3 from Maralen = 4 - 6 damage).

Your opponent may have things in their deck that you just can't deal with, or wins them the game outright. In those cases you of course don't want to provide them with this tutor (unless they're at 3 or less life, of course). But most of the decks I've encountered can't seem to find such auto-wins.

They Grab Something Good and Hold It
Thankfully for the Maralen player, this feeds directly into one of Black's major strengths - discard. If they hold what they get (or perhaps just grab a land because they need more mana to cast The Big Thing in their hand), I can go grab Thoughtseize, Distress, or even Mind Shatter. Note that I don't need many copies of these solutions, as my opponent is suffering 3 life per turn.


Note also that Maralen can screw up a lot of other little things for your opponent: People HATE it when you play Maralen when their Ancestral Visions (or Wheel of Fate) only has one counter on it, or if they have an Aeon Chronicler active. It also shuffles your opponent's library and they can't stop it from doing so, which can sometimes be important.


I am currently working with a mono-Black Maralen/Korlash deck, and I often grab Tendrils of Corruption with Maralen to kill whatever creature my opponent may have grabbed and played while gaining in the life game, as Maralen continues to whittle them away. Even if I'm desperate and need a Damnation, he's not a terrible way to get it, as my opponent will either leave him be to try to be more aggressive, which allows me to get that Damnation for the price of 3 life, or they kill him and slow down their own game plan a bit, buying me a bit of time.

Maralen doesn't seem to be good against every type of deck; a very aggressive deck with ways to get rid of Maralen (e.g., burn) won't care terribly much if you throw a 1BB sorcery at them that costs them 3 life, a draw, and a bit of mana, as long as they get to attack you for 5+ again. But against decks that aren't so far on the fringes of aggro, Maralen can be pretty amazing. When I pack ways to keep returning him (e.g., Grim Harvest, Profane Command), he can deal a lot of damage to my opponents.

So far, I'm thinking that, while Maralen may not be the next Tarmogoyf, I doubt he is headed to the $1 bin. As I said earlier, it's probably a sign that the card doesn't totally suck when it attracts such immediate attention from your opponent...

Polite thoughts, preferably backed up with sound reasoning, welcome.

Kytep
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Vermelho



Joined: 16 Dec 2007
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You keep mentioning "skip their draw." The card they grabbed replaces their usual draw but it's better since they are choosing the card. Most of the time, this card is just going to be a prolonged life loss for 3. That's basically what it sums up to. I wouldn't even touch this in limited because it's definitely not worth giving your opponent the chance to grab his bomb.

You should ask yourself this question instead of making specific scenarios: "What deck in the current meta is this card good against?"
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MTGmanLA



Joined: 31 Dec 1969
Posts: 159

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe it could work in like a BW Control type deck that mains Aven Mindcensor...sure its still better then drawing one but top 4 is better then whole deck.
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Senadai



Joined: 04 Feb 2006
Posts: 73

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 12:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maralen is a she.
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Kytep



Joined: 21 May 2006
Posts: 187

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ReD-Taichou wrote:
You keep mentioning "skip their draw." The card they grabbed replaces their usual draw but it's better since they are choosing the card. Most of the time, this card is just going to be a prolonged life loss for 3. That's basically what it sums up to. I wouldn't even touch this in limited because it's definitely not worth giving your opponent the chance to grab his bomb.

You should ask yourself this question instead of making specific scenarios: "What deck in the current meta is this card good against?"


Regarding skipping the draw: Please tell me the effective differences between these two scenarios:

1) Opponent loses 3 life, skips their draw, and taps 2 mana

2) Opponent loses 3 life, searches for an Incinerate, taps 2 mana, plays Incinerate on Maralen

Yes, I had to draw Maralen, and that draw was "cancelled" out by their Incinerate. But it also "cancelled" their Incinerate. I spent 3 mana, they spent 2 mana, they're down 3 life, I'm down no life. Net, I spent 1 more mana than they did to hit them for 3 life.

And that's if they search for the Maralen-neutralizer.

As for which decks in the meta this will be good against: First, with a new set out, there is no defined "meta" at the moment; it is evolving right now, and I suspect quite violently. With what I suspect will be the death of Sonic Boom and much added power to Doran, I expect to see a very different meta than what we've seen pre-Morningtide.

That said, in general, I suspect that Maralen is probably going to be much better against control decks than he will be against aggro decks, because A) Paying that net 1 mana for 3 life is usually going to mean more when I'm the beatdown, rather than when I'm trying to survive; B) In some cases vs. control decks, Maralen's anti-draw ability may become more relevant (e.g., stop an Ancestral); C) If the control opponent does get greedy and tries to get something other than Maralen removal, I can grab my discard or neutralizer to their chosen card, which sets them back another turn and another 3 life.

More testing is needed certainly, and I'm open to the idea that Maralen may not be very good after all. One of the problems I have with him is a problem I have with Browbeat: your opponent gets a choice (here, to let you hit them for 3 life for a net of 1 mana, or to try to do something else). But as I said, I suspect Maralen may not be quite as bad as he looks to some people.

But I could of course be wrong...

Kytep
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Kytep



Joined: 21 May 2006
Posts: 187

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stucco wrote:
Your opponent free tutors first. He/She doesn't care about the skipped draw, because it is replaced by a more powerful effect. The 3 life? That MAY come into play later. So I spend 1, 2, or maybe 3 mana to kill it... you spent 3 to play it (probably spent a turn) and never got to see it's effect. I would much rather add something more effective to my deck than that.

Black does discard and removal. Black benefits from forcing an opponent to hold few-no cards in hand. Black then benefits again from forcing an opponent into a top-deck matters mode, at least for a short time. So what you want to do is then LET your opponent find what they want? I was always under the impression that the statistical chances of pulling cards off the top was to be an ally under these conditions... not something you are going to avoid by giving them free vampiric tutors.

This is a new card and it will see play initially. However, in my opinion, it will not see competitive play.


Thank you for your constructive comments and insights. My opponent's ability to search for a card may be a more powerful effect than a regular draw (in rare cases not, if what they needed was on top anyway), but is it worth 3 life to them, or are they getting the raw end of the deal? If the only thing they do with that "more powerful effect" is to grab some removal to get rid of this thing that gives them this "more powerful effect", how powerful was it to them, really? Probably not worth 3 life, in many cases. In such a case, Maralen is effectively a burn spell for 3 that taps a few of their mana and makes them skip one draw.

Now, granted, if they already have the removal in hand, that's a different story, since they can then go get what they *really* want and then burn with what they have in hand. That may be worth 3 life to them. This is part of why I think Maralen will not be as good against aggro - they don't care if I "burn" them for 3; they're ahead of me in life totals, so they'll either happily get their burn to remove my blocker (Maralen), or else use my Maralen against me (I may not be able afford the 3 life, and 1BB is expensive for a 2/3 chump-blocker).

Good points regarding discard; however, if we assume that Maralen sticks on the board (i.e., they're not just searching up removal for Maralen), we can ask: Is what they fetch likely to be superior to what I can fetch? If they grab a single card and hold it, I can grab discard that can get 2 or more cards (e.g., Mind Shatter, Stupor). If they play what they get, I may now have a good Tendrils target, which helps me race them in life. The idea is, I don't care what they get, I can just neutralize it. They lost 3 life, I lost 3 life, then gained 4+ life back. I'm up 1, they're down 3, for a 4-life swing.

Of course, against some decks, they may fetch something far superior to anything I can get, and I may not have an answer to it. Then I'd be in real trouble. But what might those cards be, and what decks will carry them?

Kytep
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Kytep



Joined: 21 May 2006
Posts: 187

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 1:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

broham wrote:
I was thinking more of a Red / Black aggro burn deck.
This way you try to get your opponent down to a low life before you play it, then either kill them with the three life they lose or if they let it survive until your turn go and fetch a big burn spell to bring them even closer to death.


This may be the best idea for Maralen yet. I'm finding that when I play with Maralen, I'm often racing my opponent's life totals. Tendrils helps enormously in this race of course, but some aggro decks are even faster yet. In those cases, I need good ways to either slow them down or speed me up so I can get ahead. Burn or other aggro-type strategies may help that.

Another possibility: Perhaps a Turbo-Fog version? Pollen Lullaby may occasionally give me a "free" extra draw when I win a clash, which may allow me to sneak in a Tendrils or other life-gainer here or there.

There are some games where Maralen really shines, and others where I really hesitate to play her, and still others when her rules text looks like "1BB: Sorcery: Lose the game". I'm not yet convinced that she's competitive playable, but I'm also not yet convinced that she isn't either. So far the only thing I'm convinced of is that - at least for now - it's fun trying to break her. Smile

Kytep
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Kytep



Joined: 21 May 2006
Posts: 187

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 1:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MTGmanLA wrote:
Maybe it could work in like a BW Control type deck that mains Aven Mindcensor...sure its still better then drawing one but top 4 is better then whole deck.


Aven Mindcensor is the first thing that came to my mind (as well as the minds of many others, I suspect). It's even more tempting when you can use Vedalken AEthermage to fetch whichever component you need (both are Wizards). However, all of this gets expensive: The AEthermage costs 3 to cycle, Maralen and the Censor each cost 3 more, for a total of somewhere between 6 and 12 mana to get out the combo, depending on how lucky your draws were. By that time, what are the odds that your opponent has in his/her hand or within the top 4 cards of their library something that can deal with Maralen or Censor or both? Pretty good for most decks, I would think.

But maybe it could work. I haven't tried it, but I imagine others have. Have you tried it?

Kytep
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Avata



Joined: 03 Dec 2006
Posts: 407

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 1:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

broham wrote:
I was thinking more of a Red / Black aggro burn deck.
This way you try to get your opponent down to a low life before you play it, then either kill them with the three life they lose or if they let it survive until your turn go and fetch a big burn spell to bring them even closer to death.


Again, for 3 mana, you want to be getting something more than "opponent loses 3 life and spends a card getting rid of this."

There are so many more efficient things for aggro decks to do at 3 mana. Heck, even Earwig Squad is probably the better play most of the time.
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lennin
Guest





PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 4:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

so ur 1 for 1ing and if they have a creatures its a bad time walk? nice creature. and if they get like profane command its like gg.
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Apos



Joined: 24 May 2005
Posts: 757

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 5:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

you really dont want to play her against combo
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lennin
Guest





PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 5:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

you really dont want to play this at all.
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Vedrfolner



Joined: 04 Apr 2006
Posts: 2325

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 4:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Discard him down to 0 cards. Play The Rack and Malaren.

Watch him take minimum 9 damage. Possibly 12 damage - if he kills her straight away.

This is good. No doubt about that.

But it is also slightly circumstantial. I would hesitate to play her if the opponent have cards in hand, have the tempo advantage, have cards I know will kill me which can be played straight away, if his life-count is still high and often if I don't have The Rack in play. I will test the Rack theory out, and if I find it to be a win-more card I will cut it.

I would actually not go for a toolbox kit in a deck playing Maralen at all. That way you dedicate too much of the deck on a circumstantial card. I would build a deck that doesn't care if she is killed the first turn, because that is what most decks would do since they actually _do_ get the chance...

A discard deck screws up the resources and tempo of the opposing deck, so the number of "thank you for letting me find the card that wins me the game" - scenarios are therefore limited.

I don't think combo soft-lock builds with Malaren will be playable at all. I think she is a toss of the dice in limited. If you got a Bomb, sure, play her - but be damn sure to deal with their bombs first.... or cross your fingers and hope that your bomb is bigger and meaner than his.

EOT with Teferi could be nice in a Heavy Counter UB deck running Brine Elemental/Vesuvan Shapeshifter lock ftw. But in this aggro and aggro-control meta? Risky risky!
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R3wind



Joined: 24 Jul 2006
Posts: 1386

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Extened you can build a Wizard tribal deck and create a Zur's Wierding style lock. At that point you just need to tutor up more Wizards. They really only get one turn to get out of the lock if they have 0 cards in hand. I don't know how good it would be but the cards are there.
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Insom



Joined: 19 Dec 2008
Posts: 433

PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is no way you are going to be ahead on life playing control.

Edit: Ah, you got me.


Last edited by Insom on Sun Mar 28, 2010 6:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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