I have posted some of my favorite reactive decks in the "mindless decks?" thread -- I felt they fit better there.
I do want to respond to a couple of statements you made, not so much to disagree as to re-flavor them slightly.
"Good decks follow a good plan." This is absolutely true, but I strongly believe better decks should have an ability to adapt their plan to the current board situation and opposing strategy. In fact, I think that is the whole theme of the mindless decks thread. If more "natural counters" to things like the quick trait, aquamancers' and volta's special powers, and powerful auras and items (burning world, strangle vines, fire prism, blood orb, etc.) become available, greater strategy will be required both in deck design and play. The problem with present arguments that there are plenty of counters already existing for these cards is that the counters are so specialized that they cannot become part of a "good plan". And separate counters for every major threat consume such a large proportion of a deck that no room remains to create a consistent path to victory.
Regarding your "meta-game principle", again I agree. A deck that wins via a paradigm other than creature/anti-creature tactics does have an advantage over decks designed around this paradigm -- but that is part of the problem. It is very easy to incorporate devices to (at least temporarily) contain creatures naturally as part of these alternate paradigm decks. It is not easy to counter alternate paradigms in a creature based deck. Even cards like tentacles from below have to survive long enough to apply, and cards like essence exchange contribute absolutely nothing unless an opponent plays auras. These alternate paradigms immensely enrich the game; I would just like to see better strategies against them. At some point, I will post some of the approaches I think might work (probably in the mindless decks thread), but I am not yet ready to do that.
Creatureless decks, so far at least, do not usually work. Aurore and I are referring to decks that succeed by methods other than having minions overwhelm the opposition and eventually inflict life damage on an opponent.
Bloos orb decks sacrifice creatures to inflict damage, tornado decks can win by clearing enemies off a lane or lanes to allow quick minions to inflict damage while keeping you safe from harm. And fire orb decks quickly destroy enemy forces in play without ever directly attacking them. Friendly minions then kill the opponent.
Aurore, I think you are absolutely right about what constitutes a great deck and also correct about pointing to the metagame as another thing that should factor into a discussion such as this one. But I can't help but think you and Quint might be talking past each other at this point in the discussion. The reason, I think, is because your goals are divergent. You are talking about winning, pure and simple. Whatever gets you there is good and if you can get there with multiple deck styles then great!
This is a perfectly good way to look at things.
But Quint and I are looking at it from a gameplay perspective. What makes for an enjoyable game for most people most of the time? Some people hate aquamancers so much for example that not only do they not use them they refuse to play against them because it ruins the fun - and I can certainly understand that viewpoint. In fact, I feel guilty for having played such a deck against such a person and have resolved to not do it again as a result.
You are not the only person to play this type of orb deck nor even the first - like I said above, Mr Rouge (currently the top player in pvp points I believe) played an almost identical one for a while. While I never quit or complained I must say every time I saw it I just couldn't wait for the game to end as I was having zero fun.
This is after all a game not a job I'm getting paid for. If you're not having fun playing a game, why play the game? This concept is what I would call the meta-metagame. If enough people are frustrated enough because of a a handful of killer decks that they stop playing then the game fails and no one ultimately wins. So whereas you are viewing this from a (very good and smart) player's perspective, Quint and I are sort of viewing it from a designer's perspective. How can gameplay be enriched to draw and keep the maximum amount of players?
It's no accident that the minute I was introduced to VTES I immediately stopped playing Magic.
Yes Tsiflikas, you are completely right. My main goal when i play this kind of game is winning. However, I would much rather win with a creative deck than with the deck everyone is playing. That's why once i have build a deck that allow me to win the vast majority of the games i play, i post this deck here and nearly stop playing it. I then try to build a new one that is able to beat most of the decks i encounter and the previous deck i was playing.
That said, what i try to show you here, is that with enough work, thinking and test, you can build decks that are able to beat the dominant decks in many creative and interesting ways.
Frankly, i have never seen such an equilibrated card game. Sure, aquamancer is strong, sure fire prism decks are sometimes frustrating and sure loosing against this blood orb deck is not fun at all. But the tools are here, you can be creative and still win against these decks. I will show you that it is possible :-)
4 Time loop
4 Spell book
Here we have an aggro-control deck (not really aggressive but not purely control) that is highly reactive. However, it is very powerful as I have lost only 4 times in nearly 50 games played.
The central card of this deck is Time loop. It is incredible how many different ways you can use this card. Obviously there are a lot of combos using it in the deck : with underworld worm (usually your opponent will not be able to deal with it in one turn), with Delusion or with Darkling Slavers. But you can also use it on your opponent creatures (like stitched golem).
The purpose of this deck is to slowly build small advantages through wise plays to eventually outplay your opponent. An example: play Darkling slavers on his bone dragon, wait for him to play something in front of him and then play Time loop on your bone dragon. In 2 cards and only 5 power you will have dealt with his bone dragon, get a bone dragon for yourself and killed the smaller stuff he played in front of your bone dragon hoping that he could deal with it. Another example: plays Delusion on his bone dragon, next turn play Taken under on his bone dragon and swing for 4 damages. Third example: delusion on one of his two bone dragons then uncontinue on your copy. Spell book is also an awesome card in this deck as most of your cards are spells and you have a lot of early defense to survive long enough to draw your cards.
Thus, the big strength of this deck is that it allows you to play 2 very effective cards per turn with no power generation and without having to ever draw new cards to replenish your hand.
This deck still has weakness: a really aggressive start from a quick deck, a deck that do not use any kind of creature to attack (my hemorrhage deck or card depletion decks for example), or deck with powerful creatures with spell immunity (like a protected archmage) can still beat it. But not easely and a lot of decks simply cannot (triton/fire prism decks, big creatures decks, reanimation decks, aquamancer decks…)
So test it and have fun with it!
I only just read this topic and just wanted to post a quick note to say how much I enjoyed it, it's a great morale boost to see how much players are involved in the nuances of the game and enjoying the play.
And especially while I am buried in technical difficulties causing release delays and frustration all round (Facebook closing Parse is a major headache I could have done without but anyway no need to dwell :)).