Monday, February 24, 2014

Team Tournament Report - February 16th

It's the 25th now, so the details might be fuzzy, but I think I can remember enough to give at least an overview of how Divine Goblins has done.
And it wasn't well, but I think that's my fault.
I have gotten into a kind of pattern; during match one I am brimming with confidence and determination. I battle hard and come out on top. Match two ends in defeat, followed by every subsequent match. How does this keep happening?!
This past tournament was no different.
For a little background, Keita sat in the middle, flanked by Mike and myself. We prepped our sideboards, skewing mine more towards grave-hate as these things usually see a lot of graveyard shenanigans. We removed two Wastelands from my deck and stuck them in Mike's, since we'd probably be facing a lot of mono-colored decks.
See, in these kind of tournies, a team is only allowed four copies of the same card within the team itself. So, teams like to play different colors in order to avoid overlap. For example, I was mono-red Goblins, Keita was Ad Nauseum Tendrils and Mike was playing a B/W Aggro deck. B/W Aggro and Goblins both use Wastelands, so we split our Wastelands and felt comfortable doing so since a lot of decks would be playing basics in lieu of there duals.
My first match was against Elves. This was a deck people told me to be afraid of. Goblins apparently has a terrible time with it since Tarfire is my only removal and a lot of their creatures are 1/2s and 2/2s. However, I had very little trouble is dispatching him. In the second game, I put Thalia down, which kept him from attacking and bought me enough time to put my own swarm together. I had a few misplays, but I came out on top anyway. Goblins is forgiving like that.
Match two was an entirely different story. Enchantress is a terrible deck to play against. I beat him game one by resolving Krenko and then attacking with the swarm. But, in game two he put out Elephant Grass and killed with me Helm of Obedience. Game three saw two attacks from a hard-casted (shudder) Emrakul and I was dead.
Match three went about the same way, but with Wild Nacatl and a big angel with Jitte putting me to 1-2.
Match four against MUD went a little better. I won with the swarm, but then lost the subsequent games to his own swarm and then an ultimated Karn.
All in all, it was a rather disheartening experience. I'm not sure what it is exactly, but I doubt it's just one thing. People come loaded for decks like Goblins so it always has to fight through a lot of hate. Goblins also has a tough time dealing with unfair decks. It has to establish a board presence first before it can win. But, decks like Show and Tell and Enchantress with Helm of Obedience can go from no-board to victory rather quickly. I sideboarded with Keita's help (and a big help it was), but I wasn't able to draw the right amount of hate when I needed to.
Going forward I think means being more careful with my keeps and sideboarding. I hate sideboarding. I think I always will, but I have to get better at it specifically if I want to get better generally.
The next time I write might just might be a report about my first FNM. I expecting you're thinking "You've played Legacy for years but you've never been to an FNM?!" Well, it's true. So, we'll see how this goes.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

How Not to Play Magic: Sideboarding

And here we are with another edition of “How Not To Play Magic.” The topic for this article: sideboarding!
This past weekend I went to GP Kyoto. First, the enjoyable events.

While Mike and the other J-Speakers (who called themselves “The Tall Boys”) played in the main Team Sealed Event, I wandered about for around two hours waiting for the Legacy side event. During that time, I bought cards that were much cheaper than at any other store I’ve been to and even got my Fanatic of Mogis and two Wear // Tears signed! That was probably the most fun I had at the tournament, because, unfortunately, when Legacy started, things went down hill.

My first matchup was against my old friend, <a href="">Sneak and Show</a>. Game 1 he got Griselbrand out and then drew and drew, but I had a ton of Goblins already and was threatening lethal soon. Eventually, he did attack and then Show and Tell'ed another Griselbrand so that he had a blocker. I put in Goblin Matron and tutored up a Stingescourger to bounce Griselbrand and he scooped.
Game 2 went basically the same way. When I Aether Vial'ed in Purphoros, my opponent just couldn't believe it! He just shouted, "Aa? AA?!" in his Japanese way. Then I turned Krenko side ways and he went from a comfortable 11 Life to a very dangerous 1 Life. He scooped soon after.

After that match, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I had demolished Sneak and Show! How awesome is that?! But, then I realized I had made a mistake, one that would haunt me for the rest of the day, almost as if I was cursed. I had kept a solid hand in Game 1, not knowing what I was up against. But, in Game 2, I did something unwise; I side-boarded in three Ashen Riders but didn't mulligan to her. I kept a fine hand, and ultimately won, but almost entirely due to the draw of the cards. 

Finding the Divine with Goblins

I guess we can call this my first strategy post. I don't think the others really count. I've talked about ideas for strategies, but I think this might be the first time I've ever analyzed a deck and written about it.
So, here it is.
Divine Goblins by Carl O'Brien
Gempalm Incinterator3
Goblin Chieftan1
Goblin Lackey4
Goblin Matron4
Goblin Ringleader4
Goblin Warchief4
Krenko, Mob Boss2
Mogg War Marshall4
Purphoros, God of the Forge3
Tuktuk Scrapper1
Arid Mesa4
Cavern of Souls4
Rishidan Port4
Scalding Tarn1
Aether Vial4

Perhaps the first thing you'll notice is one of the big guys from Theros; Purphoros, God of the Forge! He made a somewhat less spectacular entry into Standard than his fellow gods. Not many top-tier decks run this guy, and I think I understand why. He's a burning god. Every creature that hits the field does two damage to the opponent. While this seems fine, his mana cost means he's not coming down until turn four, at the earliest, when you've hopefully got a swarm already and are just looking to win. In this case, I guess he's just a win-more card. And in the typical burn deck, you've got a few creatures and a lot of spells. Purphoros does not help RDW and Burn decks. 
In Legacy, he's terrible. Legacy aficionados scoff at any creature under three CC that can't be cheated in (ala Stoneforge Mystic into Batterskull. Yuck!) But, here's the crazy thing. In Goblins, your strongest play is ticking up your Aether Vial to three, dropping Goblin Matron to fetch Goblin Ringleader on their turn, and then ticking up on your upkeep to drop the Ringleader, getting you a ton of goblins that you can now cast with all your open mana. And guess what! Aether Vial can do the same with Purphoros!
So, before I get to far into my song of praises towards Purphoros, let me explain the deck.

The Mana Base

Ideally, I'd like one more fetchland to filter out the lands a bit more so that Ringerleader has a higher chance of hitting goblins. Wasteland and Rishidan are for denying your opponent access to all their mana while you're dropping your little creatures in preparation for the swarm. Tarfire is there to kill opposing Deathrite Shamans (Modern decks are so lucky!) and the occassional Dryad Arbor.
As a side note, imagine killing their Dryad Arbor and Wasteland-ing their dual. It just tickles my inner sadist.
Cavern of Souls is a nah-du'h. Naming "goblins" as the land comes into play is the first in a long series of nails being hammered into Blue's coffin.

The Toolbox

Goblins seems like it's strongest pre-sideboard, especially when it's going first. The opponent will keep a hand they think is pretty strong, generally speaking. But, when you resolve Lackey and they have no answers for it, Goblins can get out of hand pretty quickly. With three Goblin Matrons, you can go get whatever you need for a specific threat. If there's a Deathrite Shaman or an x/2 blocker, it can get Tarfire. If you have enough Goblins, there's almost nothing Gempalm Incinerator can't kill. If they drop a Batterskull or Umezawa's Jitte, it can go get Tuktuk Scrapper. If you want to just bury your opponent in card advantage, Ringleader is the card of choice. Finally, if you feel like you're ready to win the game, Matron can get Krenko, Mob Boss for the HOLY-CRAP-THERE'S-SO-MANY-OF-THEM win.
So, on to why I'm so excited playing Purphoros, God of the Forge. 
Goblins is a swarm deck. That means it wants to generate tons of creatures and then just swing. But Batterskull, with Vigilance and Lifelink, is a real bummer. Jitte is also a thing. And Engineered Plague is just... it's just... horrible. I was once playing a guy who resolved Engineered Plague, killing everything off but my Warchief. And then, just because, he resolved a second one. Suddenly, the only creature that would stick is Krenko. That's not fun.
But all of that changes with Purphoros.
"Enter the battlefield" is such a great phrase. That means that as soon as the creature enters the battlefield, before anything else can happen, Purphoros' ability triggers. Engineered Plague may kill the goblin, but Purphoros will still get those two points of damage in. Mogg War Marshall is especially nice with Purphoros. For two mana you get two 1/1s and your opponent takes four damage. On your upkeep, or if he blocks (MWAHAHAHAH!) he takes two more from Mogg War Marshall dying and leaving a token behind! That's a total of six damage and two creatures for two mana!
To further drive home this point, I was once playing against a "Sneak and Show" deck. He was sitting at a decent ten life when I put Purphoros down next to Goblin Warchief and a three other goblins. Next turn, Krenko came down and I turned him sideways. Instantly, he went from a two-turn clock to dead.
I could go on. I could write about the joys of Aether Vial-ing in Purphoros and then hard casting Krenko. Or, having Purphoros already out and Vial-ing in Mogg War Marshall to do some very profitable chump blocking.  The scenarios go on and on.
But, as the heading of this section suggests, this deck is still a toolbox. Purphoros is not the end-all-be-all win-con of the deck. Krenko can still generate five or more tokens easily. And with Goblin Chieftan on the board, that could represent ten points of damage. The point is, Purphoros is the perfect compliment to a swarm strategy like Goblins, especially when the little guys can't attack for whatever reason.


Ashen Rider3
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben3
Tormod's Crypt2
Wear / Tear2

I hate sideboarding. I really do. When I first started Legacy, I thought sideboarding was just taking out a number of cards equal to the number you're putting in so that your deck is stronger against your opponent. But, it's so much more complicated! You can't dilute your deck too much by taking out cards you need for cards you want. You have to know which card is good against which deck, the number you need to play, and when to mulligan down to it.
By the way, mulliganing is something else I have problems with.
Anyway, sideboarding is complicated and my least favorite part of a match. But, they are a necessity, so this deck has one.
Ashen Rider is there for the "Show and Tell" decks out there. Although, I have essentially five copies of Stingscourger (One Stingscourger and four Matrons), it doesn't hit things like Omni-tell and Dream Halls, and it doesn't hurt to have a hefty back up against "Sneak and Show."
Pyroblast is for playing against blue decks like the above and for killing Jaces outright. Pyrokinesis is also for killing, but usually in creature heavy match-ups. Thalia is for Storm decks, the ones that love to play tiny little spells and then kill you with them. Tormod's Crypt is for decks that do nasty things with the graveyard. The Wear side of Wear / Tear kills Batterskulls, Jittes, and all of the Swords, with the Tear side used to answer the aforementioned Engineered Plague and other pesky enchantments.
Gosh, I hate sideboarding. Just writing that section soured my mood.

Where to Go From Here

To tournaments, of course! This Sunday (February 16th, 2014), I'm going to a team tournament with my friend Mike and a new friend we call Wappo. I've been practicing a lot with this deck and am feeling more confident than usual. Last time Mike and I went to a team tournament, we came in third place and I was playing a brew! So, I'm excited to see what happens when I have an actual deck and am experienced with it!
I'm terrible at tournament reports, but I'll try my best. I'll be trying hard to sideboard correctly and mulliganing to good hands instead of the usual "Ehhh... I guess I'll keep it."
So, until then!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thoughts on "Fighting the Blues"

     Are you feeling blue? Read Michael Shimoji's article Fighting the Blues over at Eternal Central.

     After reading Michael's article, I had a few thoughts spring into my mind. They were of such vast and rambling length that I could not post them in the comment's section, lest I write another article under his.
     I haven't been in the Magic: The Gathering scene very long, even less in Legacy, but I've run into a few decks running Force of Will and Spell Pierce. As Mike says in his article, he used to run Blue and I played against him more than a few times. It was frustrating, to say the least.
    See, I wanted to play Magic, and I thought that Magic is generally played by two players taking turns and casting spells. Generally, the person with the biggest creature wins. Sometimes they flew and that was crazy, but Doom Blade is a great card. But, the first time I really played Magic with Mike, he had taken my collection of nearly useless cards and built a B/U Control deck out of it. I had no idea what those cards even did! When I tried to cast a creature, he would say, "Mana Leak.That means that you can't play that card unless you tap three mana. You don't have any mana up, so it goes from the stack to the graveyard." I was dumbfounded. The heck just happened?!
     But, there are worse things than Mana Leak.
     After playing in one four-man Mirrodan Block Standard tournament, I went to the big leagues with a deck in my hand and stars in my eyes. It was there I met Force of Will, and my life has not been the same since. Suddenly, there was nothing I could do. You can't play around a Force! That's like trying to dodge a canon ball aimed at you from five-feet away. It's like riding a bike and playing Chicken with a semi! You're going to die! You just are!
     Now that I'm old, wiser, and more jaded, I have resigned myself to my fate. Against Blue, I just sigh and let it happen. Whatever they want, happens. Whatever they don't want, doesn't happen. That's Legacy. Get used to it.
     But that's not the end.
     I have a striking talent for having epiphanies that are obvious to others. One such epiphany came to me when I was watching a match between Death and Taxes (not the actual deck I was watching) and a tempo deck like U/W/R Delver (again, not the same deck) when I noticed something odd; the Death and Taxes player kept tapping his Aether Vial on his opponent's turn and then going into his Untap Step! I was shocked! He was obviously afraid of the Stifle that his Blue opponent might have. It seemed like he was trying to trick his opponent into countering an ability he might not use, thereby wasting his precious Stifle! It was genius! It was brilliant! It was obvious. And that's when it hit me.
     Blue has one fatal flaw, one weakness that all decks have, but which is especially bad for Blue, namely, that Blue has to have a player. I can be an absolute idiot and do decently with a Mono-Red Deck (in fact, I did). If you're playing Green, the best advice I have is, "[Cast] creatures and then turn them side-ways." But, Blue is a beast to play. You have to read your opponent and understand their deck. What are the good cards? What are the bad ones? What's redundant and what's relevant? That's why Blue has Gitaxian Probe and other things that let you see your opponent's hand (or the top of their deck). It's a war of information, and information needs a mind to interpret it, and that mind can be tricked.
     Now, I am not, not, not, not, not, not, not advocating cheating. I hope that's obvious. However, there are perfectly legal ways to trick a Blue player. The above Aether Vial is a great example. Another could be cracking an Arid Mesa when you already have the land in your hand. The reasons and ways to telegraph the wrong info depends on the cards, but with some imagination, it shouldn't be too hard to figure out.

     In other news, I'll be going to a Grand Prix this weekend. My first one. Mike and some of the others are doing Sealed, but I can't read Japanese so I'll be playing in some of the side events. Since it's my first GP, I'll be trying different things and then blogging about how not to do them.
     In the mean time, take care!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

BG Infect

“What if we didn’t go the PTQ this weekend?”
I about threw my phone across the room. I had been practicing for that PTQ for an entire week. Every day, for one hour, I played against myself; Splinter Twin versus any Modern deck I could mock-up. I put hours more thought into the cards, playing out various scenarios in my head, and going over and over the interactions in my head. Now it was Friday, the day before the tourney, and Mike doesn’t want to go!
I spent the next minute slowly realizing that I was actually totally fine with that. I was extremely nervous about it anyway. I’ve been playing competitively for almost a year, but I still have a long way to go when it comes to understanding triggers, timing, and etiquette. Not to mention that it would be surprising to find another English speaker at the tournament, and given that this would be my first Modern event, I was behind the eight ball when it came to knowing and understanding what a particular deck does. So, I texted him that it was fine and that I could play his Goblins deck.
Then it hit me. I have a mostly built BG Infect deck! After the stress of learning Splinter Twin, playing a deck that I not only knew well but was also actually mine was a relief. I spent Friday re-acquainting myself with the deck.
It seems that people usually play Infect as a turn two combo deck. I tried that out and felt that the combo was just way too unstable. Without counters, it was incredibly susceptible to, well, everything. So, we decided to make it a mid-range deck. We kept in Invigorates, Mutagenic Growths, and the Duresses, but also added things like Deathrite Shaman and, my favorite card in the deck, Virulent Wound to kill those pesky unflipped Delvers, Goblin Lackeys, and anything with x/1.
That Saturday morning I went to his apartment to put together a side-board, an experience worthy of its own article. It was far from a perfect side-board, but it worked. We had the ubiquitous Pithing Needle, but we over-loaded on graveyard hate because we were both afraid of Dredge and Reanimator.
So, then it was off to the tournament.
Our metagame favors lots of brews. A few net decks can be found here and there, but it’s mostly guys testing new stuff out, so you never know what you’ll find. Case in point, I never went up against anything that cast from the graveyard. Nothing. I met up with four combo decks and BUG. I crushed BUG, did okay against one combo deck (it was three games and I won the second), and not so well with the others. Tendrils was difficult since it’s essentially a race. Two of the decks played Dark Depths and then sac’ed Vampire Hexmage to put a 20/20 Indestructible Flying face-smasher into play.
The biggest problem I had, though, was against Cloudpost. I lost the first game because he Show and Tell’ed an Emrakul. Then, in the second game, he side-boarded in Glacial Chasm, which made my turn essentially Draw-Go. I lost both those games.
However, all in all, a 2-3 record isn’t bad for a deck’s first rodeo and a side-board that, until that morning, had contained a one-of Appetite for Brains.
For the next one, my side-board will contain more buffs so that my clock is faster. I think that’s the best way to handle comb and Red. Creature decks aren’t really a problem yet. We might add some Abrupt Decays, but the mana is a little heavy, since I’m playing four Inkmoth Nexuses, but might be doable.
Mainboard, I’ll be taking two Mutagenic Growths out, since they take Life to cast, and will be putting in two Pendalhavens, which will save my 1/1’s from Lightning Bolts and will also speed the clock up again.
All things being equal, I like Infect as a deck. It still has a ways to go, but it’s fun playing the cards no one ever really plays.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

An Aggressive Player Plays Control

My favorite way to train for playing Magic is making up a mock deck and playing with it a lot. It helps Mike (who is often playtesting as well as training) and gives me invaluable information. For example, in a recent tournament, I was playing against a blue/red deck that absolutely fizzled. The player cast lots of Brainstorms and Ponders, but never really cast anything else. Now, I had played with a particular red/blue deck called Show and Tell (maybe you’ve heard of it) and, taking an educated guess, I sideboarded against Show and Tell and, lo and behold, game two he tried to resolve a Show and Tell. Playing other decks, and not just the ones I’ll be piloting, is a great exercise.
It also helps me understand the underlying structure of the game. Everyone knows the basic phases of Magic; Untap, Upkeep, Draw, Main Phase I, Combat Phase, Main Phase II, and End Step. But, there’s lots of little tiny steps embedded within those phases. For example, the Combat Phase is broken up into Subphases. There’s Declare Attackers, Declare Blockers, and then priority passes to the Attacker, who is then able to cast Instants or activate abilities, and then, if the Attacker does something, priority passes to the Defender, and back and forth it goes until someone doesn’t cast something. Then everything resolves in reverse, starting with the last spell cast, then, and finally, damage is resolved instantaneously and at the same time. Creatures die, Lifepoints are lost (and/or gained), and then we move to Main Phase II.
Without this deeper understanding of the game’s underlying mechanic, a player can be caught be surprise when his opponent flashes in Snapcaster, giving Flashback to his Swords to Plowshares, and then Exile his big, ole Tarmagoyf, and finally blocks his Deathright Shaman. Or why it’s generally good to cast permanents in Main Phase II, just in case he needs some mana for something that happen during Combat.
This is really tangential, but it sets the tone for the rest of the article, because, you see, for the past two or three months, I've only been piloting super aggressive decks. For tournaments I've been taking Goblins. Currently, I’m tweaking a BG or BUG Infect deck which wants to resolve a creature and then slam for lethal next turn. In other words, I've been steeping in aggression.
So, Mike comes over for dinner and we bust out our decks. He had had a rough time in the last tournament, losing to RUG Delver, so I thought I’d play that while he played his B/W Stoneforge/Miracle/whatever-he-calls-it-that-week. Turn One I played a land and Brainstormed. Mike laughed.
“Dude, that’s a bad Brainstorm.”
I had no idea what he was talking about. I set a land and then resolved a spell! How is that NOT a good thing?!
I drew and then pondered (no pun intended, seriously) what to keep and what put back for about ten seconds. Mike laughed again.
“Dude, you are so not a Control player! I would have known what to put back before I cast that Brainstorm.”
And that’s when it hit me. I was playing like an aggressive player.
The entire mentality behind playing an aggressive deck is “RESOLVE EVERYTHING!” I love playing Goblins and sitting there with one mana. I love it. I got my Goblin Lackey and my Aether Vial is ticked up to three. I am sitting pretty! I use Aether Vial to cast my Goblin Matron, get Goblin Warchief, then hit with the Lackey so I can play that Warchief and then resolve Goblin Piledriver since its only one red mana now! Perfect!
See, when playing an aggressive deck, you play the cards your dealt. You’re deck is your ally. You play what your deck gives you. Sometimes your deck is mean and just gives you land, but sometimes it’s your friend and gives you what you need right when you need it. It’s much more of a partnership, which is why aggressive decks need to be cheap mana decks. You can’t be sitting there with four mountains and three creatures in your opening hand that are all above three mana. That sounds good, of course. How could having three creatures and the mana to cast them not be good? Because you might not be playing anything for three whole turns! That’s a mediocre keep at best and a whole lot of nothing at worst. The best is one land and tons of one mana spells. Maybe the odd two or three mana spells, but those should be in the minority. Aggressive decks need to be, well, aggressive.
Control decks are another matter entirely. Just because you can resolve that Brainstorm on turn one, doesn’t mean you should. Brainstorms are powerful because you can shuffle away junk cards with a fetch land, or you can set up a Delver to flip on turn two, or reveal a Miracle card on your opponents turn, or go digging for that win-con. It takes a lot of forethought to play Control because, in many ways, your deck is, at best, your slave and, at worst, your most immediate opponent.
Control decks are incredibly contextual. For mono-red, a burn spell is a burn spell. In a Control deck, a Brainstorm is either your best card or a weight around your neck.
“Looking for Entreat the Angels, are we?” Your deck says, “Here are a land and two more Brainstorms!”
Then again, you’re deck might say, “Hey, man! Your opponent has a lot of creatures, huh? Here’s a Terminus! You can thank me when we win this thing, pal!”
It’s much less of a partnership and more of a wrestling match.
My point is this; your mentality is a great determiner of how you play.  If you pilot a Control deck like an Aggressive deck, you aren't playing to its strengths. If you play safely with an Aggressive deck, you’ll find yourself quickly outstripped by your opponent.
The best piece of advice I ever heard about playing an Aggressive deck was an off-handed comment by Mike, when I was deciding whether to try to resolve a Goblin Matron and risk it being countered. He said, in a flippant manner, “Might as well resolve it now.” Every time I stare down a possible counter, I always say to repeat that to myself. 
This is a piece of advice from an Aggressive player who plays Control.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lifelink, Livewire, and Your Lifepoints

My wife plays Magic, bless her, and she has an unhealthy attachment to Lifelink.


If there’s an angel that is both pretty and has Lifelink, she’s all over it.

And, of course, not being a total newb at this game, I make fun of her for it. “Pff! Lifelink! Yeah… Good luck with that one,” I say as I pull out the deck I’ve been brewing and playtesting by myself for days. And then, when she wins because she has forty lifepoints and a ton of flying beaters, I think to myself, “What the crap?!”

So, to that end, in honor of my wife, I was thinking about Lifelink and whether or not I could make a Lifelink deck.

The jury is still out, but I have an idea or two.

Lifelink + Livewire Lash + Mutagenic Growth

So, Lifelink gives you life every time that creature does damage. The wording is very important because it says “that creature.” So, let’s say you have Seraph of Dawn, 2/4 flying angel with Lifelink. That means whenever Seraph deals damage, any damage, you gain two life. If you pump it with something like Mutagenic Growth, which gives +2/+2, she does four damage and you gain four life.

So, let’s say you equip Livewire Lash (all you advanced players out there see where I’m going?). Livewire is an equipment that gives +2/+0 and the ability “Whenever this creature becomes the target of a spell, this creature deals 2 damage to target creature or player,” which means, if someone tries to kill your card with Doom Blade, before Seraph dies, she does two points of damage to a creature or player.

So, let’s say we equip Livewire onto Seraph. Seraph then becomes a +4/+2 flying angel with Lifelink. Then, we attack! She’s going in for four points of flying damage and you’re about to get four lifepoints back, but wait! Before we start calculating damage, and after our opponent declares blockers, we pay two life and buff Seraph with Mutagenic Growth using its Phyrexian mana cost (which means we pay two life instead of using green mana.) Instantly, Serpah becomes a 6/4 angel and we get to deal two points of damage to our opponent and gain the two points we lost paying for Mutagenic Growth. So, now we calculate damage. Seraph now deals six points of damage and we get six points back. All in all, on that one attack, we’ve dealt a total of eight points and gained six!

However, there are a few problems. Livewire takes two mana to play and two to equip, mean that we’re really not going to be equipping anything until at least turn three. Assuming we get a cheap creature, like Sunspear Shikari (two mana, one white 2/2 Cat) we can assume the play will be: turn one; land, go. Turn two; land, resolve Sunspear, go. Turn three; resolve Livewire, go. Turn four; equip, attack, Mutagenic Growth, deal six damage, heal six lifepoints.

This is a bit slow.

You could use Serra Ascendant (one white 1/1 Human Monk which then becomes a 6/6 if you have more than 40 life), but you’re still stuck doing damage on turn three. All of your mana is going to be used creating this thing. All of your eggs are in one basket and that basket could get Doom Bladed!
This is definitely a thing to do when you’re messing around with your friends (or your wife, or husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, reluctant sister), but you’re not going to be taking it to any tournaments.

So, anyway, that’s one idea for creating a Lifelink deck.