Breath of the Wild: The Open World Dilemma

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has been showered in a chorus of praise since its release, and while I wasn’t ready to jump on the Nintendo Switch hype train, I did dust of my Wii U to give the game a shot.


Reviews painted a picture of a world bristling with possibilities, a massive canvas to be unlocked through cleverness and ingenuity. I was particularly captivated by discussions of how to cross through wintry terrain. The author of one review mentioned that he and his friends had each found their own solutions, like cooking a warm meal or finding more heat-resistant clothing. In my play through, I devised a third solution: carrying a torch and simply running past any monsters that stood in my way.

The beginning of the game was a work of art. You learn various survival skills, from strategically chopping down trees to bridge a chasm, to raiding a camp full of sleeping mobs to steal their roasted meat. While restricted to the tutorial section, the game felt like the perfect mix of classic Zelda and modern game design. None of the extended tutorial of Twilight Princess. Off the bat the game felt right. And exciting. And fresh.

That magic carried me through the opening ours of the game, joyfully discovering landmarks around the map, sneaking through areas that seemed to exceed my character’s power level.


Eventually I worked my way to one of the game’s four major dungeons, where I found myself stuck, momentarily. As you enter the dungeon, the game pans to a treasure chest containing a map. The chest itself is blocked behind jail-cell bars. The same bars that had, in a previous shrine (mini-dungeons that pepper the map), opened upon completion of a puzzle. I made the assumption that it would (again) open once a later objective had been met. Unfortunately, without the map (which holds controls for interacting with the dungeon itself), progress became impossible. I spoke with a friend who made the exact same “mistake”, so this may be an issue of poor communication on the game’s behalf.

Regardless, once I found the map, the dungeon became quite breathtaking. The mechanic for manipulating the dungeon via the map was novel, and the process of solving the total puzzle felt adventurous.

After completing my first major dungeon, I wandered through the map, gaining hearts en route to my second. This dungeon was almost insultingly easy. Boss included, the whole thing took a brisk 15 minutes. Even by the second time novelty of manipulating the dungeon via the map had worn off. This is where the game started to lose me.

The game incentivizes exploration by awarding items that strengthen your character, and this process implicitly links exploration to the primary goal of defeating Ganon. But what if your character is already strong enough? The connection to the main goals is severed. And without that connection, the act of exploring the map and completing shrines felt not only pointless, but actively counterproductive. My friend echoed this sentiment, claiming that over time the game felt more and more “chore-like”.


Over time I found myself passing shrines without entering them, merely running to my destination. I never had to chop down a second tree, and eventually didn’t feel the need to engage enemies at all.

After finishing three of the four major dungeons, I took on the game’s final boss, and beat it rather easily.

Fundamentally, Breath of the Wild is a fairly challenging game, but once I had mastered the challenge, the game’s magic was lost. The game’s core mechanics were delightful, but I found myself wishing they were tied to a game that preserved its difficulty and early-game charm better. A Zelda roguelike perhaps?

The Hearthstone Ladder

Hearthstone has a strange ranking system.


For the uninitiated, Hearthstone has 25 numbered ranks (25 is the worst), along with the legend rank for top players. The system is fairly transparent. To advance in rank, a player must earn a given number of stars. Players earn a star with each win, and lose a star with each loss. A zero sum system. Almost. Almost….

A second star is awarded for a win during a “winning streak” (three or more consecutive wins), and players cannot lose stars for lost games below Rank 20 or at Legend rank.

The steady influx of these extra stars gradually inflates ranking over time. Basically, the rank distribution over time looks like this elaborately crafted MS Paint graph:


This is clearly a ridiculous dynamic. Over time the entire population climbs the ladder, so a Rank 14 game played on January 2nd is significantly harder than a Rank 14 game played on January 28th.

This dynamic interacts unfavorably with the Hearthstone’s in-game reward system. Players earn end-of-month rewards based on their highest rank achieved during the month. If you set yourself a given goal, the most efficient way to achieve it is to play at the end of the month, when your climb will be filled with lesser-skilled opposition. Likewise, ranked games at the start of the month feel mostly irrelevant.

Setting aside the absurdity of a ranked system that cares about what time of the month you play during, we see that this system undermine ones of the core principles of matchmaking by increasing the likelihood of pairing players of disparate skill levels.

Personally, my issues with the ranking system are likely compounded by Hearthstone’s free-to-play trappings. With other games, I only play them when I’m in the mood to enjoy them, but with Hearthstone my motivations aren’t always so pure. Am I playing to enjoy the experience, or to add more cards to my collection?

I know it’s not wholly rational. In terms of actual currency, the hourly value of Hearthstone play is abysmally low. And if it at any level it feels like work, then grievances like this one are bound to annoy.

For me, it’s difficult to fully ignore and disconnect from Hearthstone’s reward system. And I can feel it affecting my behavior in tangible ways. In other games, I climbed to the equivalent of Hearthstone’s “Legend” rank simply for the sense of accomplishment. There were no in-game incentives. The value of obtaining, say, Master rank in Starcraft 2 was simply the pride of your achievement.

Yet in Hearthstone, the in-game reward for reaching Legend is only marginally better than the reward for reaching Rank 5. So that’s where I’ve stopped my climb. I didn’t feel properly incentivized to climb higher, yet in other games I continued to climb with no tangible incentive at all. Achievement can feel priceless, but what about when you give it a price?

It’s getting better though. I’m forcing myself not to grind, and to only play when I’m actually excited to play. I still think the ranking system has some fundamental flaws, but at a certain level I think the onus is on me to not let myself get annoyed and burnt out on my own hobbies.

Rethinking ‘Rethinking Red’

By: Dom Harvey

Three years ago, frustrated with red’s lack of depth in Cube and in general, I wrote an article for Riptide Lab exploring off-the-wall themes that could give our red sections a few more options than burn and beatdown (with the occasional Wildfire). My solution – turn red into a pure combo colour – was an admission of defeat. Storm Entity and Blazing Shoal didn’t stay in my Cube for long.

Thankfully, the last few years have been kind to red. We now have the tools to make red aggro more fun and engaging, help red offer more to control, and give it some new and interesting material that integrates well with not just the rest of red but also the other colours and strategies in the Cube. These ideas aren’t suitable for every Cube, but hopefully there’s food for thought here no matter what your design philosophy is.

Red aggro in Cube is defined by its brutal, ruthless, single-minded efficiency. It’s very easy for it to be the best deck in a Cube by accident, and it gleefully performs its role as the fun police. I get the sense that it’s a Cube staple not because everyone enjoys it but because red needs to have something and this is the easiest way to fill in the gaps. There are enough directions to take red now that you could drop red aggro entirely; there’s a good case for trying that. What if we tried ‘fixing’ it instead?


Prowess has gone from newcomer to evergreen mechanic in only a year, and it’s sure to become more appealing as time goes by. Combat is often a boring affair in Cube: most combat tricks aren’t good enough to justify including, and instant-speed removal tends to be used pre-combat to stop its target from blocking. You usually know what the outcome, or narrow range of outcomes, will be for any combat step. Prowess lets you change that without explicitly trying to: all you have to do is play spells, which your low-curve aggro deck wants to do anyway. Red is an especially good colour for this as there’s no shortage of instant-speed burn and, as one of the designated ‘spells matter’ colours, red gets a lot of support here. Prowess also forces you to think carefully about sequencing: you can’t just dump your hand on the table and throw burn at them unless your draw is perfect, as you have to manage your resources well.

Previously this theme had to go hard on instants and sorceries because that’s where the payoffs were – Kiln Fiend, Young PyromancerGuttersnipe – and you needed a lot of them to make it work. With prowess, the equipment or planeswalkers that are often the more powerful cards in your deck can also work towards this goal.

Key cards: Monastery Swiftspear, Abbot of Keral Keep, Kiln Fiend, Young Pyromancer, Guttersnipe, Chandra, Fire of KaladeshShrine of Burning Rage (perhaps the best one of all); in other colours, you have Seeker of the Way and Stormchaser Mage/Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest

Support: anything that lets you get multiple triggers from one card – Firebolt, Staggershock, Blast from the Past, Faithless Looting, Reckless Charge

Intersection: part of Prowess’ appeal is how neatly it ties into other strategies, namely the following:


What if, instead of playing a few dopey creatures and hoping they get there, you build a large creature and force it through? This strategy has been around since the BerserkBlood Lust days but recently gained prominence again in Constructed with Brave Naya, Heroic, and Landfall/Atarka Red in successive Standard formats. Your goal is to apply early pressure and force your opponent to commit to a defensive measure so that you can safely move in for the kill. As with prowess, I think this presents both players with more interesting decisions than the typical ‘Zurgo up to Hellrider‘ deck: you constantly have to weigh up whether you can afford to go for it and how to bait your opponent into taking their shields down (or, from the other side, into moving in at the wrong time). The deck does have nut draws that end the game very quickly but I find it more satisfying to lose to a flurry of combo pieces coming together than the usual perfect curve from a red deck.

This approach flips some of red’s most common matchups: green decks can no longer stave off your aggression with a big dumb animal as easily, while removal-heavy black decks can relax in the knowledge that they don’t face as much implied pressure from burn.

There are enough good creature enhancements now that you don’t have to be embarrassed about playing them: Madcap Skills, Hammerhand, and Call of the Full Moon are some of the best, but you can pick whichever fills in a gap. Auras always were and will be risky against cheap removal, but connecting once with any of them is equivalent in damage output to a good burn spell and if it sticks around for longer it’s more than paid for itself.

Berserkers often branches into green, which has a lot to offer in all areas: large creatures, pump, and the OG Berserk.

Key cards: Reckless Charge (much scarier than it looks on paper), prowess creatures, Prophetic Flamespeaker, Flamewake Phoenix (a resilient, evasive threat that can combine with pump to win out of nowhere), Temur Battle Rage

Support: creatures that naturally become large (Countryside Crusher, Plated GeopedeKargan Dragonlord), equipment (O-Naginata)

Intersection: Prowess, as mentioned

Prowess also works well with:


While Berserkers is about going tall, Tokens is about going wide. If your opponent is trying to blunt your offense with cheap blockers and removal, a token-heavy start lets you push through damage and maintain a board presence anyway. Token spam can lead to stalled boards and repetitive gameplay but, when all goes well, tokens become another in-game resource that a skilled player can manage and exploit.

Some of the best token-makers and payoff cards are noncreatures, which ties in nicely to prowess: in Theros/Khans Standard, the Atarka Red decks used Dragon Fodder and Hordeling Outburst to curve out effectively while having enough spells to trigger Monastery Swiftspear (and later Abbot of Keral Keep).

There is more than enough token support in red, but other colours like to join the fun: tokens help the sacrifice theme common in Rakdos and are a core part of Selesnya’s identity.

Key cards: Young Pyromancer, Mogg War Marshal, Hordeling Outburst, Purphoros, Goblin Bombardment, Stoke the Flames, Tempt with Vengeance

Support: anthems (Hall of Triumph), Goblin Bushwhacker/Reckless Bushwhacker, other mass pump effects (Rites of Initiation/Haze of Rage if you want to go deep)

Intersection: Prowess, equipment (can turn a disposable body into a real threat)

Here’s a sample deck from my Cube that shows some of these ideas working together:


On the midrange and control side of things, we have:

Red ‘Engine’

Previously, red’s contribution to slower decks was very limited: it would burn things, burn some more things, and sometimes provide a finisher. Card draw and selection was left to whatever the other colour was, and – with the exception of white – all of them did it better than red.

That can change. You have to work for it – red’s filtering/rummaging spells aren’t universally playable the way something like Compulsive Research or Night’s Whisper is – but the rewards are worth it. Red no longer has to be one-dimensional and can become the backbone of grindy non-decks, which opens up a lot of design space.

The first step is to minimize the downside of these effects. To make ‘discard X + draw X’ better, you want discarding cards to be acceptable or, if possible, actively useful. The madness burn spells – Fiery Temper, Violent Eruption, and underrated all-star Blast from the Past – are a good place to look, and I’d consider Squee, Goblin NabobDrownyard Temple/Crucible of Worlds, and red’s various Phoenixes. On a macro-level, you want to encourage strategies that make full use of the graveyard: for instance, Reanimator is often thought of as a UB-centric deck but you can substitute blue’s Looting effects with red replacements. If you go deep on the artifact ‘Welding’ theme described below, you can even have a mono-red Reanimator deck! Feldon of the Third Path and Mizzix’s Mastery/Goblin Dark-Dwellers let you push that angle for creatures and spells too. Maybe you pair Faithless Looting and Magmatic Insight with Land Tax or Life from the Loam, or use blue card draw to fuel a massive Firestorm.

There’s too much to summarize it all here, but this thread goes into these ideas in more detail.

Key cards/Support/Intersection: These all depend on what you want to do and how far you want to take it, but there are some examples above.



Plenty of good artifacts have been printed throughout the years (and with Kaladesh coming soon, Pia and Kiran are sure to find lots of new trinkets to play with), and red is one of the best colours at exploiting them. The Welder deck headlined by Goblin Welder and Daretti (along with Trash for Treasure and Scrap Mastery if you want to fully commit) promises to give red more character and add to the variety of midrange and control decks on offer.

A major selling point of this theme is that artifacts are, by nature, more broadly playable, so you can afford to include more ‘narrow’ artifacts in your Cube knowing they will find their way into decks somehow. This does mean that you can’t rely on them making it to you in the draft, as anyone who doesn’t find something nice in their colours will gladly snap up your Palladium Myr or Masticore, but with a high enough density of playable artifacts this shouldn’t be a problem.

You can take a more optimistic view of this: any build-around artifacts you decide to include will be more readily available. The Welder effects mean that you have faster and more consistent access to these in-game: for instance, you can Weld out a Thopter token to bring in Conjurer’s Closet and start blinking Pia and Kiran, bring in Alhammarret’s Archive to super-charge the Faithless Looting you played earlier, or go nuts with Pyromancer’s Goggles. If you just want to make a Myr Battlesphere and bash them to bits, you can do that too.

Blue has the most ‘artifacts matter’ cards but other colours have random things to offer. White has some incidental contributions in cards like Thraben Inspector and Blade Splicer and many of the better artifact creatures want to be flickered, while green recently gained Tireless Tracker and can use Ancient Stirrings or the ‘Impulse for creatures’ cards to increase consistency.

Support: Pia and Kiran Nalaar, Solemn Simulacrum, Epochrasite, Perilous Myr, Hangarback Walker, mana rocks (which suggest a crossover with the Wildfire strategy that has hovered on the fringes of Cube design for a while now)


This only scratches the surface – there are viable themes that aren’t explored here, and plenty of stand-alone cards that add fun new elements to red – but I’ve been impressed by the strategies laid out above and would advise giving some or all of them a try in some capacity.

Deckbuilding and Play Patterns with Ancestral Vision

By Dom Harvey


We all saw the Eye of Ugin ban coming; most of us were dancing on its grave long before the announcement came. Almost nobody expected what came with it: the introduction of Ancestral Vision and Sword of the Meek into Modern. Both were fixtures of the Extended format that most resembled Modern and were banned from the start to stop them defining the new format in the same way. As so many cards came on and off the ban list their continued exile became hard to justify, but even those of us who thought they were safe didn’t expect this to happen now. These are exciting times!

One reason these unbans are so promising is that Vision and Sword both demand careful deck construction. You can’t just throw them into an existing deck and expect them to perform well. Additionally, their presence in the format is likely to have far-reaching implications that should inform your deck and card choices. I want to talk about what those might be and highlight some of the common pitfalls that people are already walking into.

Blue decks in Modern have waited so long for a strong, reliable draw engine; between Ancestral Vision and the boost Thopter Foundry gives to Thirst for Knowledge, two may have arrived at once. In particular, Ancestral Vision gives hope to traditional control decks like Jeskai and Grixis that are very popular with a large segment of the player base. This is the best gift they have received in quite some time.

It’s not all good news. All the reasons people cited for Vision being safe to unban still apply. It’s the ideal poster-child for the ‘Turn 4 format’ in a sea of decks that do their best to shun that label. Vision mocks you from exile as Burn or Affinity bash your brains in or Storm and Goryo’s Vengeance sit there pleasuring themselves. In a lot of matchups and situations, Vision is a $50 blank card.

It’s also not the panacea for what ails blue decks in Modern. Your Esper Mentor deck or ‘Sultai Control brew’ was bad before and it’s bad now no matter how many copies of Ancestral Vision you ‘jam’ in there. Vision is likely to exacerbate any consistency issues your deck already has.

This may sound like a hatchet job. I’ll state upfront that Ancestral Vision is a strong card that will probably have a lasting impact on Modern, but focusing on its flaws is a good way to show how and why it works when it does.

Ancestral Vision makes you a promise: “I’ll worry about card advantage, you just buy me time to do what I need to do”. It gives you enough strength in the mid- to late-game that you can and should play more cheap one-for-one answers that prolong the game; you can even afford to trade cards at a disadvantage knowing that Vision will bring you back to parity. This strategy is only sound if the payoff is real: drawing three cards must reliably translate into a tighter hold on the game. This is less likely if your deck is full of situational cards that don’t maintain their value at each stage of the game. It’s no use setting your deck up to survive until a Vision if you draw a redundant land, a Spell Snare with no targets, and a removal spell that’s poorly suited for the matchup. The same principle applies to Vision itself: unless the game goes very long, each extra copy that you draw off the first Vision is dead. The card is self-defeating in that regard.

Think back to the card draw spells that defined Constructed formats. A crucial aspect most of them shared is that you could compound the advantage they generated by chaining them into further copies of themselves. Fact or Fiction revealing another Fact or Fiction was always a nightmare, a small Sphinx’s Revelation gave you enough life and cards to set up a larger Revelation, and it was disturbingly easy to cast back-to-back Treasure Cruises. Interestingly, Dig Through Time was reasonable in Standard despite being completely busted because the cardpool didn’t let it conform to that model; you could put the UB Control decks of THS-KTK Standard in an awkward position by just not letting them use their Hero’s Downfalls and Dissolves so that they couldn’t cast their first Dig, and if they did resolve one Dig it was now that much harder to cast the second. The nature of the card makes it hard to chain copies of Ancestral Vision; there will be games where you suspend it on Turn 1 and Turn 2 and bury the opponent in card advantage, but more often you’ll draw the second one on Turn 4 and wish it was anything else.

Vision also places heavy demands on your manabase. You need enough untapped blue sources to suspend it on Turn 1, so it clashes with control mainstays like Celestial Colonnade or Creeping Tar Pit. If you run too many lands it’s easy for Vision to hit a pocket of land and accomplish nothing, but Vision can’t help you hit your land drops early so you can’t afford to shave lands. A common scenario in the Mono-U Faeries days was that a player would suspend Ancestral Vision, miss an early land drop and fumble, and then make poor use of the extra cards from Vision because they didn’t have enough mana or time. You can rely on other cards like Serum Visions (PSA: Serum Visions, Ancestral Vision) to smooth out your draws, but your deck quickly becomes full of air. It’s unwise to rely on just Ancestral Vision as your draw engine, but it doesn’t leave you room to play much else.

This is a big part of why Vision doesn’t work nicely with the other incentives to play blue in Modern. Snapcaster and Jace both want you to play lots of cheap cards. On the surface that’s fine because you want to unload your hand quickly after Vision resolves, but if the cheap cards you draw are more Serum Visions and Thought Scours you’re just spinning your wheels. Cards like Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile are close to universal answers in Modern, which is what makes them so good, but Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughtseize are highly time-sensitive. Snapcaster and Jace are so much better when they can rebuy your card draw spells, for the reasons given above – think how great they would be with Fact or Fiction! The lack of synergy with Ancestral Vision is a big deal. Vision also doesn’t contribute towards Delve or Prowess immediately, and isn’t great with Thirst for Knowledge either. This is good for the format – rather than having every blue deck start with 4 Ancestral Vision, it’s great if there’s a Snapcaster-Jace deck based on cheap cantrips, a Thirst for Knowledge deck, a Vision deck, and so on – but bad for Ancestral Vision’s chances.

At its core, the suspend mechanic rests on the idea of trading time for mana. Vision directly introduces cards as another variable in that equation. When Vision is good, it’s because other tools exist to convert one of these resources into another. In Extended, Chrome Mox let you cash in a useless Spell Snare – or a second copy of Vision – for the mana to drop your relevant cards quickly enough. From another perspective, Vision gave you the cards that let you justify running Chrome Mox, which was important in keeping pace with the rest of the format. A good way to beat control decks relying on Vision is to choke off their access to one of those resources: sequence your spells wisely to stop them using their mana efficiently, find a way to make the extra cards not matter by playing threats that their interaction doesn’t line up well against, or put them under enough pressure that they can’t afford to spend their time poorly.

When you suspend Ancestral Vision, you’re announcing that a major event will take place in four turns and daring your opponent to be ready. This public information gives a strong incentive for the opponent to finish the game – or at least establish a winning position – before Vision can resolve and give you more options. As a result, sweepers work very well with Vision as you punish them for committing too much to the board. A brutally effective tactic in control decks is to force your opponent to choose which powerful mid-game cards to play around when the right approach for dealing with one is bad against the other. In Standard and RTR Block, aggro decks were pinned between Jace, Architect of Thought and Supreme Verdict: if you held back creatures in fear of Verdict, Jace would come down and halt your offence; if you played out enough creatures to pressure Jace, you might be walking into Verdict. Vision lets you recreate that, although the knowledge that Vision is coming changes the dynamic a little.

Vision warps the pacing of control mirrors in the same way. Unless one player stumbles and their opponent senses weakness, control mirrors often see both players doing nothing for a long time until someone decides they are ready to pick a fight. Vision changes that by scheduling that fight in advance: a showdown will take place in my upkeep four turns from now, whether you like it or not – and whether I like it or not! I’ll use the Mono-U Faeries deck as an example again, since mirrors were often decided one way or the other by Ancestral Vision. The main effect Vision had was to force plays to ‘cluster’ around a specific turn. If I have Ancestral Vision coming off suspend in a few turns, I don’t want to run my Vendilion Clique into Mana Leak now; I want to do it when my Vision is about to be cast, tying up their mana or taking away one of their answers. Ancestral Vision forces this fight to happen during your turn, and before you can make your land drop, forcing you to defend it when you’re least willing and able to. With the Faeries deck linked above, the mirror often come down to expensive sorcery-speed sideboard cards; for anyone familiar with the concept of Faeries, this sounds like the worst plan you could have! It worked in part because Vision forced a commitment on their upkeep: you could harass their Vision with Remand/Mana Leak or Spellstutter Sprite and make them tap low to fight over it, opening a window to resolve a threat on your turn. Additionally, Faeries didn’t have much cheap countermagic that could hit everything, so if you couldn’t cast Cryptic Command the opponent could eventually force something through; blue decks in Modern have the same profile, relying on Cryptic Command as a universal answer or eschewing it altogether. In Faeries, this threat changed over time – Vedalken ShacklesGlen Elendra Archmage, and eventually Future Sight – and we could see Keranos or a similar card fill this role in Modern.

This dynamic is mainly in play in blue mirrors, but it informs how you want to build your deck with Vision in mind. Most of the objections to Vision that I’ve outlined above rest on the opponent’s ability to wrest control of the pacing of the game away from you. If you can get out in front and force your opponent to react to you while Vision is ticking down, you will close the game with a threat a decent amount of the time without losing mid-game superiority thanks to Vision. This is what made the card so strong in Standard Faeries: the whole deck was designed to force the opponent to play on its terms, and the looming threat of Vision removed their ability to adjust properly. I’m not convinced that Faeries improves enough with Vision to be playable in Modern, but the principle is sound. Delver of SecretsYoung PyromancerThing in the Ice, and other cards that require setup are poorly suited to this because you don’t want to draw them off Vision, but Tarmogoyf is perfect; Geist of Saint Traft might see a resurgence for the same reason.

If Vision does end up defining blue decks and Thopter Foundry becomes a Modern staple, what are the implications for the format at large? Remand is already somewhat popular in Modern and a good way to trump Vision and win counter wars in general, so decks that naturally want to run Remand are happy. If Remand becomes important in mirrors, Spell Snare starts to look a lot better; it’s also handy against specific problem cards in most matchups – Eidolon of the Great RevelArcbound Ravager/Cranial PlatingVoice of Resurgence – and crucial against Thopter Foundry. It’s unfortunate that both Snare and Remand are awkward draws mid-game, so if your blue decks become inbred to win Vision fights your overall deck quality becomes worse, but these are the sacrifices you make.

The big loser overall from these changes is Affinity: everyone will pack heavy-duty artifact hate for Thopter/Sword, and one of your best matchups in Burn might be less popular in the short term. Meanwhile, Merfolk is already salivating at the idea of slow blue decks becoming popular, can attack through Thopter/Sword in a way that aggro decks can’t, and would love to see Affinity fall back.

For Burn and Infect, the other members of the aggro trifecta that was popular at the Pro Tour, this may well be good news. If Jeskai becomes more popular thanks to Vision, both decks are in for a rough time, but if Vision-based blue decks are edged out by Thopter/Sword, Infect will be ready to pounce. The Thopter/Sword combo is obviously good against Burn if you can get it going, but if your early game is T2 Sword T3 Foundry you might just be dead to one of their better draws. If your white deck wants to hate out Burn, it can; just don’t write off the matchup as an easy win.

Jund and Abzan have capitalized in a big way on blue’s lack of a good draw engine; it’s no coincidence that BGx all but vanished during the Treasure Cruise era. Now that this is changing, they will have to pay proper attention to those matchups. I’ve seen lots of Jund players complacent about Thopter/Sword because of Abrupt DecayKolaghan’s Command, and Scavenging Ooze, but this displays an ignorance of how the combo works in practice. As long as they have another artifact lying around, which isn’t hard if they build their deck with that in mind, they can sacrifice that to Foundry in response to your removal and continue sinking their mana into the combo. The early turns will be spent trading, as normal, and eventually they will play Foundry with a few lands open; you can kill it, but they get to effectively cast Lingering Souls – one of the best cards against Jund – on the way out. These decks run Academy Ruins, which gives them a level of late game power that you can’t compete with – Gerry Thompson’s initial list runs 2 Ruins and a Tolaria West to fetch it. It’s also worth noting that none of the obvious responses to Thopter/Sword are good against, say, Baneslayer Angel, which UW Thopter decks have ‘transformed’ into post-board with some success in the past; the same goes for Gideon Jura or Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, or Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas if that’s a thing. Again, the tools exist to beat this new breed of blue deck, but you have to play them and draw them and use them effectively. Hand-waving and reciting the text of Abrupt Decay is no substitute for good deckbuilding.

If Burn and Infect end up suffering alongside Affinity, the format stands to slow down. This might create an opening for decks like Scapeshift that are slower than dedicated combo but more resilient against blue. Ad Nauseam loves to see blue decks and hates to see Jund, but I’m not sure if the deck is structurally sound enough to be a good choice.

Abzan Company was good pre-Eldrazi, great against Eldrazi, and will still be solid post-Eldrazi. You can out-grind the midrange decks without caring about Thopter/Sword and you can still claim a good matchup against the faster decks. It doesn’t hurt that RG Tron got significantly weaker. One concern is that Jund and Grixis will start sideboarding Leyline of the Void to fight Thopter/Sword, but it will take some time for people to adjust properly.

More generally, there may be an opening for faster combo decks that were held down by Twin. I’ve seen Thopter/Sword compared to Twin as a package that blue decks can play without much commitment to add a new dimension, but the key difference is that Twin acted as a safety valve against random stuff that you couldn’t prepare for: your answers may not line up well against their threats, but you can sometimes just win on Turn 4 and that puts a floor on how bad any matchup can be. The threat of Twin forced opponents to try to win the game quickly and, in doing so, walk into Twin’s interactive cards. Thopter/Sword doesn’t end the game out of nowhere, so you can gauge how much time you have, and you can afford to play around the cards supporting it because it doesn’t put you under that much pressure.

My hope is that, when the dust settles, the metagame we see will be more balanced and interesting than it was before. There are two main approaches to deck selection in Modern – pick whichever linear deck is off the radar or well-positioned at that moment, or play what you know with adequate preparation for the linear decks you do expect to show up – and both are still worth following even as the format continues to change.

Thanks for reading!

Necrotic Brews: The Goryo’s Vengeance Variety Hour

By Dom Harvey



I’m excited to write about the most impressive strategy I’ve found in Modern recently. It’s strange to think that Eldrazi wasn’t the most broken thing going on in a format, but I genuinely believe that was the case. First, though, we have to set the stage.


Goryo’s Vengeance is the most dangerous unrestricted card in Modern, and I fully expect it to be banned at some point. The card allows for blisteringly fast kills that violate the spirit of the format as laid out by WotC, and it gets better and better as more powerful legends are printed. It was only a matter of time until somebody broke it in half, and Bob Huang (via Shintara Kurata) succeeded at GP Charlotte last year:


The deck has hovered around the edge of the format, and Bob continues to put up good finishes, but it hasn’t become as popular as many of us expected after that event. The deck is more resilient than it appears but also has a high failure rate – you often can’t find the pieces you need when you need them. In particular, the weakness of the Through the Breach + Worldspine Wurm backup plan in a lot of matchups – Affinity/Infect/Merfolk can take the hit and kill on the backswing, decks with white have Path to Exile, and combo decks can win with the turn that Wurm gives them – means you’re overly reliant on Griselbrand. The aggressive decks put a lot of pressure on your life total and can sometimes interact with Griselbrand, making it hard to combo without a perfect sequence of draws. When Grishoalbrand is firing on all cylinders, it resembles the scariest Legacy decks; it has the highest ceiling of any deck in the format, but also a low floor.


In all the heated discussions about the Twin ban, it was easy to overlook its implications for Goryo’s Vengeance. Vengeance + Emrakul was the most powerful interaction in Modern that never saw any play, due mostly to the best deck trumping it easily with Deceiver Exarch. Twin also wanted to play Dispel anyway, which happens to be the most efficient and reasonable answer to both Goryo’s Vengeance and Through the Breach. With Twin gone, and no obvious blue control deck to fill its shoes, not many decks can fight you on the stack – and if Griselbrand ever enters play, it’s usually game over.


Kentaro Yamamoto made the most of this change, playing a Kenji Tsumura creation to an 8-2 finish at Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch:


This deck trades in the speed of the all-in Vengeance decks for greater flexibility and interaction. Lightning Bolt is excellent against the decks that want to outrace you and ensures that an Emrakul hit is lethal. All modes of Izzet Charm are very useful, with the draw + discard option shining in a deck that needs specific pieces in its graveyard at certain times. The synergy between Vengeance and littlest Jace is absurd, allowing you to ‘cycle’ a Vengeance (especially useful when your hand is Vengeance + creature but you have no other discard outlet) while giving the deck more staying power. The issue with Jace previously was that it was a little too slow against the fast decks and the slower decks had otherwise dead removal that would tag your Jace before it could do anything. Cards like Lightning Bolt and Abrupt Decay are at an all-time low in the format, but that may change now that the Eldrazi menace is gone.


Vengeance is at its absolute best in this deck, with 8 game-ending monsters to target and Jace to gain value in the midgame. Unfortunately, Griselbrand is at its worst here. You can put Griselbrand into play, draw fourteen cards, and still die because your hand can’t beat the board; you can’t convert the extra cards into a win as easily. Other Griselbrand decks can live dangerously by paying a bunch of life because they know they can finish the game that turn; this deck has to be more conservative. This is a big problem if you’re relying on Through the Breach into Griselbrand, especially since you don’t have much acceleration.


These two decks share some cards but they try to do different things in different ways. With that in mind, questions like ‘why is the Grixis deck better than Grishoalbrand?’ or vice versa don’t make much sense. However, it’s natural to look for connections between decks and want to fix the problems a list has while keeping the aspects that drew you to it in the first place. I knew I wanted to explore Goryo’s Vengeance in as much detail as I could, but none of the decks I saw felt quite right.


While the main plan of Vengeance -> Griselbrand is excellent, you need some amount of redundancy for the deck to be consistent enough. For the same reasons that Vengeance is so good, it’s a unique effect; nothing really compares to it. Both Grishoalbrand and Tsumura/Yamamoto’s deck can Through the Breach in other creatures – Worldspine Wurm or Emrakul respectively – but this was hard to rely on when UW Eldrazi – the best and most popular deck – was naturally strong against it thanks to Eldrazi Displacer and Drowner of Hope. Breach also needs the creature to be in your hand, but you want the freedom to use your Looting effects early to dig for your missing pieces. If you have a Griselbrand but neither of Vengeance/Breach when you Loot, you cut off half of your outs wherever you choose to put Griselbrand. If you keep it in hand for Breach but then draw Vengeance you now have to spend mana to pitch it, negating the efficiency of Vengeance. Most Grishoalbrand lists don’t run many actual Looting effects so finding a way to pitch it isn’t trivial; the lists that splash blue are a little better here, and Jace gives the Japanese deck even more outlets. Gerry Thompson recommended Tormenting Voice with dredgers to bin Griselbrand more consistently and dig for Vengeance but didn’t pursue the idea further.


This problem is amplified in Grishoalbrand because Worldspine Wurm doesn’t work with Goryo’s Vengeance; you only get to make the most of Vengeance when you also have both a discard outlet and Griselbrand. That’s common enough that the deck is still terrifying, but you still want more targets. The deck typically runs two copies of Borborygmos Enraged, but a ‘natural’ Vengeance on Borborygmos is rarely good enough thanks to the deck’s low land count.


My first experiment tried to fix this problem. I’m dissatisfied with the Breach-Wurm package but still need something big to pitch to Shoal, and I want more legends for Goryo’s Vengeance. Running enough lands and other support cards to make Borborygmos a legitimate target kills two birds with one stone: I can still gain enough life (though there’s a meaningful difference between 8 and 11, especially when multiple Shoals are involved) while increasing the number of fast kills. Breach would become even weaker here, so I would need a different backup plan to make this sensible. I remembered a list that did well at a SCG Classic about a year ago:


Necrotic Ooze was perfect! It was just cheap enough that you could cast it quickly without too much acceleration, it let you transition seamlessly into winning the game without having to find another Vengeance/Breach, and it evaded common sideboard cards like Spell Pierce and Dispel. It also has useful benefits in some weird corner cases. It doesn’t target anything in your graveyard, so a Scavenging Ooze can’t fizzle it outright if you have more legends than they have green mana; you can get around Relic by playing Ooze and then Axe discarding Griselbrand, letting you activate it before they ever have a window to disrupt you. It ignores Pithing Needle on Griselbrand or Borborygmos so your opponent has to gamble on what to name; if they get it wrong, it costs them the game. It tracks both graveyards, so you can turn their cards against them: I’ve used Ooze as Wall of Roots against Abzan Company to get a crucial boost in mana, as Spellskite against Infect, and as Grim Lavamancer against Burn to lock them under their own Eidolon. When all else fails, it’s a 4/3 attacker against opponents that will often side out their creature removal for more effective cards. None of these applications are common, but between them they win you a surprising number of games.


There were other nice features of Garett’s list. Lightning Axe was a card I always wanted to play more in Grishoalbrand, which didn’t have room to spare. Here it was the cheap discard outlet you needed that conveniently dealt with Scavenging Ooze and bought time against decks that were forced to race you; the ability to discard a Borborygmos at instant speed off a Spirit Guide was surprisingly relevant when going off with Ooze. With Ooze in the deck, Grisly Salvage could dig for both sides of your combo while letting you hit your land drops and digging for Spirit Guide if you need to go off soon. I had Time of Need in an early build because of how crucial it was to find Griselbrand, but Grisly Salvage was good enough that it no longer seemed necessary.


With extra discard outlets and Salvage, the Dredge idea became more appealing. I wanted at least one Grave-Troll as a way to dig deep for Griselbrand and on-demand fodder for Nourishing Shoal. I also tried a Life from the Loam as a way to pad my hand for Borborygmos and offer mid-game strength against attrition decks. Without much testing, I registered this at the Taunton series event in March:


4 Lightning Axe
4 Faithless Looting
4 Grisly Salvage
1 Zombie Infestation
4 Goryo’s Vengeance
4 Necrotic Ooze
1 Noxious Revival
4 Borborygmos Enraged
4 Griselbrand
4 Nourishing Shoal
1 Life from the Loam
1 Golgari Grave-Troll
4 Simian Spirit Guide

20 Land


I went 5-2, losing to Grixis and Kayure Patel on UW Eldrazi (just like everyone who’s played him in the past month!), beating Jeskai Ascendancy, Kiki-Chord, UW Eldrazi, Elves, and Merfolk.


The core of the deck felt very strong, but I quickly regretted some of the card choices. Zombie Infestation was intended as a way to immediately convert cards from Griselbrand into a board presence in games where you can’t combo fully as well as an extra discard outlet that you can pay for in advance, but it was unimpressive unless everything was already going well.


Nourishing Shoal was weak too. I assumed I would need the lifegain to make going off with Ooze possible since I couldn’t gain back life by attacking, but it didn’t help when your life total was under pressure since they would just fight over the first activation. Despite the Grave-Troll cuteness, it was hard to have something good to pitch reliably, and the card often sat in your hand doing nothing if you weren’t going off. It was the first card I shaved in sideboarding too; it didn’t feel essential. Cutting Shoal freed up space and helped make the deck more smooth.


Loam was great though! It gave me something productive to do when the game slowed down and made Borborygmos kills very consistent. The synergy with Faithless Looting was impressive and the mana requirements of the deck became a little easier. Hardcasting Griselbrand or Borborygmos was surprisingly common, and Loam with Cavern of Souls meant you were sure to force through Necrotic Ooze if given enough time.


When I found Mortuary Mire, it seemed I could rebuild the deck around Loam: now, Loam could also ‘find’ Necrotic Ooze while dredging towards Griselbrand/Borborygmos, and do it in a way that was largely resilient to discard and counterspells. It was reminiscent of what made Amulet Bloom so busted: you could go toe-to-toe with any deck on speed while outclassing them in the late game. Loam also made Ooze for Borborygmos much better: even if you couldn’t go off that turn, you could wipe the board and threaten the same on every subsequent turn.


The deck still had a fail rate and – like most combo decks – you could easily lose to pressure backed up by disruption, but it felt very good. Here’s the list I took to the Top 8 at the Axion Win-A-Crate event:


4 Goryo’s Vengence
1 Noxious Revival
3 Life from the Loam
4 Lightning Axe
4 Grisly Salvage
1 Tormenting Voice
4 Faithless Looting
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Necrotic Ooze
4 Borborygmos Enraged
4 Griselbrand

1 Forest
1 Mountain
1 Swamp

2 Copperline Gorge
1 Blackcleave Cliffs
1 Cavern of Souls
2 Mortuary Mire
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Stomping Ground
2 Blood Crypt
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Verdant Catacombs
2 Wooded Foothills


4 Thoughtseize
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Abrupt Decay
2 Ancient Grudge
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Life from the Loam
1 Pyroclasm


I cut the 24th land for a Tormenting Voice just before the event and was happy enough with that change. Simian Spirit Guide places an awkward tension on the deck: if you run enough lands to make Vengeance -> Borborygmos consistently lethal, you end up with too many mana sources. I’ll explore a way of fixing this problem below. 23 felt like enough, and it’s possible you could go down to 22.


I wanted a ninth ‘action card’ but there’s nothing else that properly mimics the function of Vengeance or Ooze. Garett had Unburial Rites, which was interesting but clunky and demanding on the manabase; if you play Rites, it’s worth dedicating yourself to it fully. Noxious Revival returns a Vengeance that was milled/dredged and is great for letting you fight through countermagic by casting Vengeance multiple times in one turn cycle. It’s also, for my money, one of the most underrated cards in Modern. Phyrexian mana was an egregious design mistake and Noxious Revival compounds that with an extreme version of the Pulse of Murasa question: why on Earth can this target things in opposing graveyards? In my time playing the card I’ve used it to fizzle countless Snapcaster Mages, counter Unburial Rites and Goryo’s Vengeance, and act as a 0-mana Time Walk against opponents discarding to hand size by forcing them to draw the same card next turn. It’s not the kind of card you can just cram into a deck but, in decks that do want it, it’s very good.


The sideboard isn’t aimed at anything at particular, but that’s part of its appeal. Some combo decks need a certain quantity of cards to function as intended, so you can’t dilute your deck with reactive cards too much. This deck can go off from a low base – one reanimation effect in hand and a Griselbrand in the yard – so you can afford to play the efficient answers available in Modern. Thoughtseize and Inquisition are excellent against any combo/control decks, and Inquisition is key against Burn and Delver variants, while Abrupt Decay hits the most common hate cards and can always hit an attacker in a pinch. A card like Pyroclasm is subtly very strong in a deck like this: opponents have to dump their hand on the board to win before you get your combo going, so they can’t afford to play around it and have to walk into a blowout.


I won’t go into the tournament in much detail, but here’s a brief summary:


R1: 2-0 vs Blue Moon


Game 1 was a little dicey as I took a risky line with Necrotic Ooze that left me dead to multiple burn spells, but he didn’t have them and I cleaned up next turn. Game 2 was comical: after using discard to leave him with only reactive cards, I made my land drops every turn thanks to Loam and started hardcasting legends. Eventually Griselbrand stuck, followed by Borborygmos, and it turned into a weird game of EDH.


R2: 2-0 vs Affinity


R3: 2-0 vs 8-Rack


R4: 2-1 vs 4C Jeskai Ascendancy (Matt Gregory)


Matt’s been playing this deck for a long time, and I think it stands to gain a lot from the bannings. In Game 1 he takes a ton of damage from his lands and a Gitaxian Probe, so a Turn 2 Vengeance on Borborygmos is lethal.


This match highlighted the strength of the deck’s sideboard: I was facing another combo deck that’s roughly as fast as mine, but I had access to the disruption that makes Jund such an irritating matchup for Ascendancy.


R5: 2-1 vs UW Eldrazi (Joao Choca)


R6: 2-0 vs UW Control (Matt Light)


Game 1 sees my best draw of the tournament, with Griselbrand and Borborygmos both attacking on Turn 2. In Game 2 his hand of double Dispel and Negate matches up comically badly against Cavern -> Ooze. This anti-Eldrazi version of UW was an excellent matchup; I expect the UW decks to look a lot different now, but you should still be favoured.


R7: 2-0 vs UW Eldrazi (GP Bologna champ Kayure Patel)


R8/9: ID


T8: 1-2 vs UW Eldrazi (James Allingham)


This match, and the entire tournament, came down to a mulligan decision in G3. My opening seven is:


Thoughtseize, Lightning Axe, Noxious Revival, Griselbrand, Borborygmos Enraged, fetchland, fetchland


This hand has a lot going for it. I have Thoughtseize as an answer to Rest in Peace or just to slow him down, Axe can buy time and discard Griselbrand, and Revival can act as backup copies of important cards in a pinch. On the other hand, I need to find Vengeance or Ooze soon and I don’t have a Looting or Salvage to make that easier. It might have to be specifically Vengeance, as I only have two lands, and I’m going to be taking a lot of damage early so there’s no guarantee I can activate Griselbrand more than once. I chose to mulligan and still don’t know if it was correct, but James’ draw was good enough that I would have been in trouble regardless unless I ripped Vengeance early.


It was a frustrating loss, since my matchups after that point would have been great, but it was nice to have some degree of validation for the deck.


After writing the first draft of this I played in the Modern side-event at GP Barcelona. The competition wasn’t as tough but I wanted to see how the deck would hold up in a more varied field:


R1: 2-0 vs Wu Emeria (basically the best possible matchup)

R2: 2-1 vs UWR Control with AV and Resto/Kiki


This was a very complicated and interesting match. I should have won all three games, but I made some careless mistakes to throw Game 2; I narrowly won Game 3 despite an ideal start from his side. The matchup felt good but you have to plan carefully; Lightning Bolt makes going off with Ooze a much riskier proposition.


R3: 0-2 vs Abzan

R4: 2-1 vs Soul Sisters

R5: 2-1 vs UW Thopter/Sword


This matchup is considerably easier than UWR, but that can change depending on their Gifts/Rites targets and choice of Tolaria West/Muddle bullets. Loam + Cavern + Ooze really shines here.


R6: ID



The biggest lesson I’ve had to learn so far is to be very aware of your life total and how that affects your sequencing. Its importance for this deck is directly apparent: one mistimed fetchland can cost you seven cards from Griselbrand and hence the entire game. The manabase is a delicate balance between having enough fetchlands for Loam, enough targets for those fetchlands – including enough basics that you can fetch without further pain consistently but without hurting the deck’s consistency, Scars lands, and utility lands. I’m not confident the manabase is correct, and seemingly small errors in deck construction or sequencing can have a large impact on the game. Suppose you’re still at 20 against UWR; you play a land without thinking much about it, because why would it matter? A few turns later, you have to crack a fetchland for an untapped shockland in order to have the right colours because you played the wrong land earlier. Now you’re at 17 and if you draw twice with Griselbrand you’re dead to Lightning Bolt. If those seven cards make the difference, you’ve thrown away a winning position because of a seemingly inconsequential decision at the start of the game. Maybe you played in such a way that you had to play a land instead of using a Spirit Guide, so now your Borborygmos has to find a land instead of offering a certain win; this comes up frequently if you fetch Blood Crypt + Forest instead of Stomping Ground + Swamp, as now your Looting/Axe ties up your black mana that you need for Vengeance.


Faithless Looting/Tormenting Voice, Grisly Salvage, and Life from the Loam all force you to think about how to manage your resources. Make realistic assumptions about how much pressure you’re under and whether you can afford to wait to extract the most value or pad your hand so that you don’t have to discard certain cards to Looting or Axe. You also need to identify what your priorities are and how to use your cards most effectively to achieve them. Maybe you’re just looking for Griselbrand or Borborygmos and have to work out how to order Looting, Loam, and something else over the next two turns to mill the most cards; maybe you’re drawing to Vengeance or Ooze and need to maximize your chance of finding one while keeping your life total or land count high enough that you can still win if you hit.


Sideboarding sometimes involves maximizing speed and cutting the slower cards (such as Life from the Loam against Burn or fast combo) but more often I slow down the deck to support interaction. In the Ascendancy matchup I cut Spirit Guides even though it’s a combo mirror because I want to make room for the discard and Abrupt Decays, which should extend the game and make the speed offered by Spirit Guide unnecessary, and I don’t want a disjointed draw where I have Spirit Guides and interaction but no action to reward that speed; the same goes for Infect, which has Dispel or Relic of Progenitus to frustrate early combo attempts but can’t easily plow through a wall of interaction.


There’s a lot of room to experiment with this shell. The deck is currently structured as a Vengeance/Ooze combo deck with an incidental Loam engine. What if you reversed that? Loam decks have always floated around the fringes of Modern without sustained success; reasons include an over-reliance on Loam and an inability to close the game quickly or come back from behind. A Vengeance package lets you win games without ever finding Loam and steal games from seemingly hopeless positions. A deck that can out-grind the grindy decks while randomly killing on Turn 2 or 3 has a good sales pitch. An early sketch:


4 Griselbrand
4 Borborygmos Enraged
4 Goryo’s Vengeance
4 Unburial Rites

4 Faithless Looting
3 Lightning Axe
4 Life from the Loam
3 Darkblast
1 Raven’s Crime
4 Smallpox

25 Land (inc. some number of Dakmor Salvages?)


This is more of a thought experiment than a tuned list, but there’s a lot of powerful stuff going on here. You have a bunch of cards that give you free wins against different parts of the field: some decks can’t beat a Darkblast, and even more can’t realistically overwhelm it before you put a massive legend into play. There are some decks, and some draws in every deck, that struggle immensely against a Smallpox. When all else fails, you can still pick up wins with a quick Vengeance.


Alternatively, we can double down on the Loam-Borborygmos interaction with Seismic Assault, which has done good work with Loam for a decade now. It’s another way of making a ‘partial’ combo with Griselbrand lethal and a solid plan in its own right: an active Assault makes life hell for Infect, Company, Affinity, Elves, and many more. The Gitrog Monster is a possible Vengeance target that does silly things with Dredge and lands and goes infinite easily with Assault. There’s a lot to explore here.


As I write this, the ban list has just been updated and the implications for Modern are still unclear. In the Eldrazi metagame, Goryo’s Vengeance decks of various stripes were roughly even against Eldrazi but very strong against anti-Eldrazi decks like Elves and Living End as well as staples of the format like Abzan Company. If these are pushed out and replaced by tougher matchups, life becomes much harder. The Thopter Foundry decks that will spring up should be fine matchups but their presence might lead to the adoption of ‘hard’ graveyard hate like Leyline of the Void and Rest in Peace that’s tough to beat; the Japanese deck with its Breach-Emrakul backup plan looks better in that context. Blue decks have to adapt to this new reality in ways that could help them against Goryo’s Vengeance – Spell Snare is likely to become more popular, and the Thopter Foundry decks might sport Muddle the Mixture. The overall effect on the metagame might be negative for us but, when the format is open and changing, you want a deck with a strong and proactive gameplan that doesn’t have a target on it. Goryo’s Vengeance fits the bill perfectly.


I highly encourage you to try out these decks and experiment with your own lists. If Modern is an amusement park with something for everyone, Goryo’s Vengeance is the rollercoaster that’s blatantly unsafe and offers a dangerous thrill. Enjoy it while it lasts!


Thanks for reading!