Monthly Archives: February 2012

Liches Be Crazy

There are a lot of hipsters out there that are claiming that they knew Dungeon Geists was a good card before the card was even spoiled. Same with Huntmaster of the Fells. And they are most definitely correct; both are extremely powerful creatures for their own unique abilities. However, now that all of the Dark Ascension newness has worn off, I still think that there is an extremely strong sleeper amongst the pack that hasn’t been explored to its fullest potential yet: Havengul Lich. I would like to introduce to you my list featuring this powerful card dubbed UBR “Liches Be Crazy.”

This card is pure pimp.

3 Dragonskull Summit
3 Drowned Catacomb
4 Evolving Wilds
2 Blackcleave Cliffs
2 Island
2 Mountain
2 Sulfur Falls
6 Swamp

24 lands

4 Perilous Myr
3 Bloodline Keeper
4 Necrotic Ooze
2 Olivia Voldaren
3 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Grimgrin, Corpse-Born
3 Havengul Lich
2 Wurmcoil Engine
2 Rune-Scarred Demon

24 creatures

4 Faithless Looting
2 Go for the Throat
4 Heartless Summoning
2 Forbidden Alchemy

12 other spells

2 Massacre Wurm
2 Doom Blade
1 Steel Hellkite
2 Beguiler of Wills
2 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Black Sun’s Zenith
2 Arc Trail
3 Manic Vandal

15 sideboard cards

Lich is so bonkers. I can’t get over it. What I love about this list is that there are so many different angles to shoot from. You can combo out on an empty board with Necrotic Ooze (and Grimgrin, Corpse Born and Bloodline Keeper in your graveyard). You can combo off with Havengul LichHeartless Summoning and Perilous Myr. The Ooze also plays as Lich 4-7, allowing you to play creatures from your graveyard, giving you pseudo haste with their abilities (which it already had anyways, but it is redundancy, which is nice). And even then, you can still drop Heartless Summoning and play Rune-Scarred Demon as early as turn 4. Olivia Voldaren takes care of token decks pretty quickly too and is completely relevant with Ooze. Honestly, though, Faithless Looting is the glue that sticks this deck together. It’s every bit as good as everyone has been claiming especially in other formats. While it hasn’t really been explored too much in Standard, this is the type of deck that loves it.

And on top of all of this, Lich plays really nicely with Heartless Summoning, making your guys even cheaper from the graveyard. Forbidden Alchemy is possibly the only odd card out of the bunch, but this deck needs creatures in the yard and this card does this pretty efficiently. Ultimately the line of play with this deck is to run out a Heartless Summoning and/or Perilous Myr to either speed things up for you or slow it down for you opponent. Then ramp up via Solemn Simulacrum into your bombs or combo pieces. Faithless Looting should also be an early line of play, setting you up for the later turns when mana is of the utmost importance.

Now obviously looking at this list, you’ll see some weaknesses. Extremely aggro decks will give this deck troubles if you can’t find an early Perilous Myr and/or Go for the Throat. The SB helps in the form of Arc Trail, Doom Blades, and Black Sun’s Zenith. SB graveyard hate definitely hurts this deck some, but most people aren’t packing Nihil Spellbomb, which is probably hits the hardest out of all the graveyard hate. Beguiler of Wills, another underexplored card, comes in against token decks as an activated ability that really plays well into the Lich (but unfortunately doesn’t play well with Heartless Summoning, which is fine with the redundancy in the form of Necrotic Ooze and Havengul Lich). Massacre Wurm comes in again against specific archetypes (Tokens, Aggro, other sacrifice based decks) and Steel Hellkite is kind of a swiss-army knife that can hit troublesome permanents that these colors can’t otherwise deal with (while also having relevant abilities to copy). Manic Vandal and Nihil Spellbomb round out the SB as typical options.

I’m not sure how resilient this build will be, but hopefully there will be enough angles to shoot from that opponents will get thrown off their game trying to disrupt one part while getting crushed by another. I’m definitely going to be playing this during this upcoming FNM and hopefully breaking this card wide open, at least within that crowd. The card is as highly abusable and as good as you think it’d be; if I were you, I’d pick some up soon and try em out. If anything else, the card is extremely fun and combo-riffic, something that isn’t too easy to come by in a somewhat competitive creature card.

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Grid Systems in Web Design

Gestalt is the german word for “whole” or “form”. Gestalt principles derive from studies into the psyche of the human mind and how we as humans process information. Concepts like proximity, closure and continuation help inform us as designers on how people can take the information you give them and process it as quickly as possible. For instance, if you have 3 circles and place two closer to each other, your mind will naturally associate those two objects together as a group.

Alignment is another key Gestalt principle that is necessary to developing a well balanced design. Alignment, like it suggests, is the ability to align elements into groups of like elements. Grid systems obviously go hand in hand with this alignment principle, as they help the designer inform the user what elements are placed into these groups. Usually grid systems  are set up in such a way to give you columns (and potentially rows) to align your elements to.

Okay, so you might be familiar with all of these concepts so far. But where do you begin? What grid system is the “best” or easiest to use? How do you sift through all the different systems quickly? These were all questions that all web designers have had to sift through and deal with from time to time. As industry leaders develop more grid systems, we’re faced with a positive, yet challenging decision as to which grid systems are superior to others. I’ll go through a few of the more common grid systems and share my thoughts on them to help inform you on which may work out best for you.

One of the original grid systems to be developed for the web. The 960 features many different column layouts because of its reliance on values of 10 to create the grid. Versions of 12 column, 16 column and 24 column grids can be seen throughout many of the examples. This reliance on 10 pixel increments make it very easy for designers to jump into your editor of choice and nudge over elements to fit within the grid system. It also comes with some other tools like a grid overlay tool to see if your pages adhere to the grid format. One of the downfalls of this system though is that it’s fixed to a 960 pixel wide format, which some might find antiquated and old.

978 Grid

This one is pretty similar to the 960 in that it’s a fixed width system that aims to provide you with a set amount of columns to set up your basic grid. What I like about this framework is that they provide you with more than just one size, which is pretty important when dealing with more responsive or media query based layouts. However, their site is pretty average (which actually makes a difference when your target audience is a web designer) and the fact that the columns are in weird non-base 10 increments makes it cumbersome to work with in Photoshop.

Frameless Grid

This framework is a very interesting system to work with. I love that the flexibility that it provides by giving you support towards upwards of 2560 px wide formats (which is next to never, but available if you need it). I absolutely love that it’s flexible in concept, giving you the tools and base incremental system while encouraging you to develop your own breakpoints depending on your design. It’s still a fixed width system but targeted almost as an intermediate level framework by giving you the flexibility of browser width targeting without the confusion that responsive layouts provide. Recommended for those that are used to fixed width systems and want to move to the next level. Oh and they have it set up for you to use SASS and/or LESS relatively easy (if that matters for you).

Golden Grid System

This onion has many layers. Foldable, yummy layers. A truly responsive grid system without the rigidity of specific predetermined browser breakpoints. Think of this system as more of a concept than a framework, though. It will require you to do your own work depending on the project, which can actually be a blessing since a framework can force you into design decisions you might not want or need.  It’s set up for SASS and/or LESS as well, which is something to think about for all you lazy designers (and by lazy, I mean that in the sincerest, heavy-programmer sense).

1140 CSS Grid and Columnal

The reason why these are paired up is because they are extremely similar. Both are based off of the 1280 px wide display, trying to target an 1140 px wide grid system. Both are responsive. Both are 12 column wide grid systems set up with all the CSS classes you could ever want. These are again a nice bridge for those designers trying to make the leap from a fixed width system to a more responsive design framework.

No matter what you use in your next design, keep in mind that these are all frameworks. A strong grid system of any sort is important for good design; but remember that while frameworks are nice to start from, your design might require something more customized and specific. For me, I’m still transitioning into responsive design frameworks (Responsive takes a ton of practice. A TON.)  so I’ve been experimenting with Frameless, 978 and 1140 CSS Grid. Just make sure you research each one to see what best fits so that you can use it wisely in your next project.

Other Grid System References:

The Grid System
Grid Systems in Graphic Design

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