Forex Trading On Margin Accounts - The Benefits And Risks
A Look At A Trading Nightmare - Benzinga
Margin Call - Futures Trading by FuturesTradingpedia.com
Nightmare scenario: universal healthcare, rent control, $15 minumum wage, 90% marginal tax rate for top income earners, protectionist trade policies, worker ownership of major industry, auditing the fed.
Richard Dobatse, a Navy medic in San Diego, dabbled infrequently in stock trading. But his behavior changed in 2017 when he signed up for Robinhood, a trading app that made buying and selling stocks simple and seemingly free. Mr. Dobatse, now 32, said he had been charmed by Robinhood’s one-click trading, easy access to complex investment products, and features like falling confetti and emoji-filled phone notifications that made it feel like a game. After funding his account with $15,000 in credit card advances, he began spending more time on the app. As he repeatedly lost money, Mr. Dobatse took out two $30,000 home equity loans so he could buy and sell more speculative stocks and options, hoping to pay off his debts. His account value shot above $1 million this year — but almost all of that recently disappeared. This week, his balance was $6,956. “When he is doing his trading, he won’t want to eat,” said his wife, Tashika Dobatse, with whom he has three children. “He would have nightmares.” Millions of young Americans have begun investing in recent years through Robinhood, which was founded in 2013 with a sales pitch of no trading fees or account minimums. The ease of trading has turned it into a cultural phenomenon and a Silicon Valley darling, with the start-up climbing to an $8.3 billion valuation. It has been one of the tech industry’s biggest growth stories in the recent market turmoil. But at least part of Robinhood’s success appears to have been built on a Silicon Valley playbook of behavioral nudges and push notifications, which has drawn inexperienced investors into the riskiest trading, according to an analysis of industry data and legal filings, as well as interviews with nine current and former Robinhood employees and more than a dozen customers. And the more that customers engaged in such behavior, the better it was for the company, the data shows. Thanks for reading The Times. Subscribe to The Times More than at any other retail brokerage firm, Robinhood’s users trade the riskiest products and at the fastest pace, according to an analysis of new filings from nine brokerage firms by the research firm Alphacution for The New York Times. In the first three months of 2020, Robinhood users traded nine times as many shares as E-Trade customers, and 40 times as many shares as Charles Schwab customers, per dollar in the average customer account in the most recent quarter. They also bought and sold 88 times as many risky options contracts as Schwab customers, relative to the average account size, according to the analysis. The more often small investors trade stocks, the worse their returns are likely to be, studies have shown. The returns are even worse when they get involved with options, research has found. This kind of trading, where a few minutes can mean the difference between winning and losing, was particularly hazardous on Robinhood because the firm has experienced an unusual number of technology issues, public records show. Some Robinhood employees, who declined to be identified for fear of retaliation, said the company failed to provide adequate guardrails and technology to support its customers. Those dangers came into focus last month when Alex Kearns, 20, a college student in Nebraska, killed himself after he logged into the app and saw that his balance had dropped to negative $730,000. The figure was high partly because of some incomplete trades. “There was no intention to be assigned this much and take this much risk,” Mr. Kearns wrote in his suicide note, which a family member posted on Twitter. Like Mr. Kearns, Robinhood’s average customer is young and lacks investing know-how. The average age is 31, the company said, and half of its customers had never invested before. Some have visited Robinhood’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., in recent years to confront the staff about their losses, said four employees who witnessed the incidents. This year, they said, the start-up installed bulletproof glass at the front entrance. “They encourage people to go from training wheels to driving motorcycles,” Scott Smith, who tracks brokerage firms at the financial consulting firm Cerulli, said of Robinhood. “Over the long term, it’s like trying to beat the casino.” At the core of Robinhood’s business is an incentive to encourage more trading. It does not charge fees for trading, but it is still paid more if its customers trade more. That’s because it makes money through a complex practice known as “payment for order flow.” Each time a Robinhood customer trades, Wall Street firms actually buy or sell the shares and determine what price the customer gets. These firms pay Robinhood for the right to do this, because they then engage in a form of arbitrage by trying to buy or sell the stock for a profit over what they give the Robinhood customer. This practice is not new, and retail brokers such as E-Trade and Schwab also do it. But Robinhood makes significantly more than they do for each stock share and options contract sent to the professional trading firms, the filings show. For each share of stock traded, Robinhood made four to 15 times more than Schwab in the most recent quarter, according to the filings. In total, Robinhood got $18,955 from the trading firms for every dollar in the average customer account, while Schwab made $195, the Alphacution analysis shows. Industry experts said this was most likely because the trading firms believed they could score the easiest profits from Robinhood customers. Vlad Tenev, a founder and co-chief executive of Robinhood, said in an interview that even with some of its customers losing money, young Americans risked greater losses by not investing in stocks at all. Not participating in the markets “ultimately contributed to the sort of the massive inequalities that we’re seeing in society,” he said. Mr. Tenev said only 12 percent of the traders active on Robinhood each month used options, which allow people to bet on where the price of a specific stock will be on a specific day and multiply that by 100. He said the company had added educational content on how to invest safely. He declined to comment on why Robinhood makes more than its competitors from the Wall Street firms. The company also declined to comment on Mr. Dobatse or provide data on its customers’ performance. Robinhood does not force people to trade, of course. But its success at getting them do so has been highlighted internally. In June, the actor Ashton Kutcher, who has invested in Robinhood, attended one of the company’s weekly staff meetings on Zoom and celebrated its success by comparing it to gambling websites, said three people who were on the call. Mr. Kutcher said in a statement that his comment “was not intended to be a comparison of business models nor the experience Robinhood provides its customers” and that it referred “to the current growth metrics.” He added that he was “absolutely not insinuating that Robinhood was a gambling platform.” ImageRobinhood’s co-founders and co-chief executives, Baiju Bhatt, left, and Vlad Tenev, created the company to make investing accessible to everyone. Robinhood’s co-founders and co-chief executives, Baiju Bhatt, left, and Vlad Tenev, created the company to make investing accessible to everyone.Credit...via Reuters Robinhood was founded by Mr. Tenev and Baiju Bhatt, two children of immigrants who met at Stanford University in 2005. After teaming up on several ventures, including a high-speed trading firm, they were inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement to create a company that would make finance more accessible, they said. They named the start-up Robinhood after the English outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Robinhood eliminated trading fees while most brokerage firms charged $10 or more for a trade. It also added features to make investing more like a game. New members were given a free share of stock, but only after they scratched off images that looked like a lottery ticket. The app is simple to use. The home screen has a list of trendy stocks. If a customer touches one of them, a green button pops up with the word “trade,” skipping many of the steps that other firms require. Robinhood initially offered only stock trading. Over time, it added options trading and margin loans, which make it possible to turbocharge investment gains — and to supersize losses. The app advertises options with the tagline “quick, straightforward & free.” Customers who want to trade options answer just a few multiple-choice questions. Beginners are legally barred from trading options, but those who click that they have no investing experience are coached by the app on how to change the answer to “not much” experience. Then people can immediately begin trading. Before Robinhood added options trading in 2017, Mr. Bhatt scoffed at the idea that the company was letting investors take uninformed risks. “The best thing we can say to those people is ‘Just do it,’” he told Business Insider at the time. In May, Robinhood said it had 13 million accounts, up from 10 million at the end of 2019. Schwab said it had 12.7 million brokerage accounts in its latest filings; E-Trade reported 5.5 million. That growth has kept the money flowing in from venture capitalists. Sequoia Capital and New Enterprise Associates are among those that have poured $1.3 billion into Robinhood. In May, the company received a fresh $280 million. “Robinhood has made the financial markets accessible to the masses and, in turn, revolutionized the decades-old brokerage industry,” Andrew Reed, a partner at Sequoia, said after last month’s fund-raising. Image Robinhood shows users that its options trading is free of commissions. Robinhood shows users that its options trading is free of commissions. Mr. Tenev has said Robinhood has invested in the best technology in the industry. But the risks of trading through the app have been compounded by its tech glitches. In 2018, Robinhood released software that accidentally reversed the direction of options trades, giving customers the opposite outcome from what they expected. Last year, it mistakenly allowed people to borrow infinite money to multiply their bets, leading to some enormous gains and losses. Robinhood’s website has also gone down more often than those of its rivals — 47 times since March for Robinhood and 10 times for Schwab — according to a Times analysis of data from Downdetector.com, which tracks website reliability. In March, the site was down for almost two days, just as stock prices were gyrating because of the coronavirus pandemic. Robinhood’s customers were unable to make trades to blunt the damage to their accounts. Four Robinhood employees, who declined to be identified, said the outage was rooted in issues with the company’s phone app and servers. They said the start-up had underinvested in technology and moved too quickly rather than carefully. Mr. Tenev said he could not talk about the outage beyond a company blog post that said it was “not acceptable.” Robinhood had recently made new technology investments, he said. Plaintiffs who have sued over the outage said Robinhood had done little to respond to their losses. Unlike other brokers, the company has no phone number for customers to call. Mr. Dobatse suffered his biggest losses in the March outage — $860,000, his records show. Robinhood did not respond to his emails, he said, adding that he planned to take his case to financial regulators for arbitration. “They make it so easy for people that don’t know anything about stocks,” he said. “Then you go there and you start to lose money.”
The Great Unwinding: Why WSB Will Keep Losing Their Tendies
I. The Death of Modern Portfolio Theory, The Loss of Risk Parity, & The Liquidity Crunch SPY 1 Y1 Day Modern portfolio theory has been based on the foundational idea for the past 3 decades that both equities and bonds are inversely correlated. However, as some people have realized, both stocks and bonds are both increasing in value and decreasing in value at the same time. This approach to investing is used pretty much in everyone's 401K, target date retirement plans, or other forms of passive investing. If both bonds and equities are losing value, what will happen to firms implementing these strategies on a more generalized basis known as risk-parity? Firms such as Bridgewater, Bluecrest, and H2O assets have been blowing up. [2,3] Liquidity has been drying up in the markets for the past two weeks. The liquidity crisis has been in the making since the 2008 financial crisis, after the passage of Dodd-Frank and Basel III. Regulations intended to regulate the financial industry have instead created the one of the largest backstops to Fed intervention as the Fed tried to pump liquidity into the market through repo operations. What is a repo?
A repo is a secured loan contract that is collateralized by a security. A repo transaction facilitates the sale and future repurchase of the security that serves as collateral between the two parties: (1) the borrower who owns a security and seeks cash and (2) the lender who receives the security as collateral when lending the cash. The cash borrower sells securities to the cash lender with the agreement to repurchase them at the maturity date. Over the course of the transaction, the cash borrower retains the ownership of the security. On the maturity date, the borrower returns the cash with interest to the lender and the collateral is returned from the lender to the borrower.
Banks like Bank of New York Mellon and JP Morgan Chase act as a clearing bank to provide this liquidity to other lenders through a triparty agreement. In short, existing regulations make it unfavorable to take on additional repos due to capital reserve requirement ratios, creating a liquidity crunch.[7,8,9] What has the Fed done to address this in light of these facts?
In light of the shift to an ample reserves regime, the Board has reduced reserve requirement ratios to zero percent effective on March 26, the beginning of the next reserve maintenance period.
II. Signs of Exhaustion & The Upcoming Bounce is a Trap, We Have Far More to Go A simple indicator to use is the relative strength index (RSI) that a lot of WSB is familiar with. RSI is not the be all and end all. There's tons of indicators that also are indicating we are at a very oversold point. SPY 1 Y1 Day RSI Given selling waves, there are areas of key support and resistance. For reference, I have not changed key lines since my original charts except for the colors. You can check in my previous posts. 247.94 has been critically an area that has been contested many times, as seen in the figure below. For those that bought calls during the witching day, RIP my fellow autists. The rejection of 247.94 and the continued selling below 233.86 signals to me more downside, albeit, it's getting exhausted. Thus, I expect the next area in which we start rallying is 213. SPY 10 Day/30 min Another contrarian indicator for buying calls is that notable people in finance have also closed their shorts. These include Jeffery Gundlach, Kevin Muir, and Raoul Pal.[11,12,13] III. The Dollar, Gold, and Oil As previously stated, cash is being hoarded by not only primary banks, but central banks around the world. This in turn has created a boom in the dollar's strength, despite limitless injections of cash (if you think 1 trillion of Repo is the ceiling, think again) by the Fed. DXY Despite being in a deflationary environment, the DXY has not achieved such levels since 2003. Given the dollar shortage around the world, it is not inconceivable that we reach levels of around 105-107. For disclosure, I have taken a long position in UUP. However, with all parabolic moves, they end in a large drop. To summarize, the Fed needs to take action on its own currency due to the havoc it's causing globally, and will need to crush the value of the dollar, which will likely coincide with the time that we near 180. If we are indeed headed towards 180, then gold will keep selling off. WSB literally screams bloody guhhhhhh when gold sells off. However, gold has been having an amazing run and has broken out of its long term channel. In times of distress and with margin calls, heavy selling of equities selling off of gold in order to raise cash. As previously noted, in this deflationary environment, everything is selling off from stocks, to bonds, to gold. /GC Futures Contracts 5 Y1 Wk What about oil? Given the fall out of the risk parity structure, I'm no longer using TLT inflows/outflows as an indicator. I've realized that energy is the economy. Closely following commodities such as light crude which follow supply and demand more closely have provided a much better leading indicator as to what will happen in equities. Given that, oil will also most likely hit a relief rally. But ultimately, we have seen it reach as low $19/barrel during intraday trading. /CL Futures Contracts 1 Y1 D IV. The Next 5 Years In short, the recovery from this deflationary environment will take years to recover from. The trend down will not be without large bumps. We cannot compare this on the scale of the 2008 financial crisis. This is on the order of 1929. Once we hit near 180, the Fed crushes the dollar, we are in a high likelihood of hitting increased inflation, or stagflation. At this point the Fed will be backed into a corner and forced to raise rates. My targets for gold are around 1250-1300. It may possibly go near to 1000. Oil could conceivably go as low as $15-17/barrel, so don't go all in on the recovery bounce. No matter what, the current rise in gold will be a trap. The continued selling in the S&P is a trap, will bounce, forming another trap, before continuing our painful downtrend. I haven't even mentioned coronavirus and unemployment until now. I've stated previously we are on track to hit around at least 10,000 coronavirus cases by the end of this month. It's looking closer to now 20-30,000. Next month we are looking to at least 100,000 by the end of the April. We might hit 1,000,000 by May or June. Comparison of the 2020 Decline to 1929 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Chart courtesy of Moon_buzz tl;dr We're going to have a major reflexive rally starting around 213, all the way back to at least to 250, and possibly 270. WSB is going to lose their minds holding their puts, and then load up on calls, declaring we've reached a bottom in the stock market. The next move will be put in place for the next leg down to 182, where certain actors will steal all your tendies on the way down. Also Monday might be another circuit breaker. tl;dr of tl;dr Big bounce incoming. Bear trap starting 213. Then bull trap up around 250-270. We're going down to around 182. tl;dr of tl;dr of tl;dr WSB will be screwed both left and right before they can say guh. Hint: If you want to get a Bloomberg article for free, hit esc repeatedly before the popup appears. If it doesn't work, refresh the article, and keep hitting esc. Remember, do not dance. We are on the cusp of a generational change. Use the money you earn to protect yourselves and others. Financial literacy and knowledge is the key to empowerment and self-change. Some good DD posts: u/bigd0g111 -https://www.reddit.com/wallstreetbets/comments/fmshcv/when_market_bounce_inevitably_comesdont_scream/ u/scarvesandsuspenders - https://www.reddit.com/wallstreetbets/comments/fmzu51/incoming_bounce_vix_puts/ Update 1 3/22/2020 - Limit down 3 minutes of futures. Likely hit -7% circuit breaker on the cash open on Monday at 213 as stated previously. Do not think we will hit the 2nd circuit breaker at 199.06. Thinking we bounce, not too much, but stabilize at least around 202.97. Update 2 3/23/20 9:08 - Watching the vote before making any moves. 9:40 - sold 25% of my SPY puts and 50% of my VXX calls 9:45 - sold another 50% of SPY puts 9:50 - just holding 25% SPY puts now and waiting for the vote/other developments 11:50 - Selling all puts. Starting my long position. 11:55 - Sold USO puts. 12:00 - Purchased VXX puts to vega hedge. 2:45 - Might sell calls EOD. Looks like a lot of positioning for another leg down before going back up. It's pretty common to shake things out in order to make people to sell positions. Just FYI, I do intraday trading. If you can't, just wait for EOD for the next positioning. 3:05 - Seeing a massive short on gold. Large amounts of calls on treasuries. And extremely large positioning for more shorts on SPY/SPX. Will flip into puts. Lot of people keep DM'ing me. I'm only going to do this once. https://preview.redd.it/uvs5tkje1ho41.png?width=2470&format=png&auto=webp&s=c6b632556ca04a26e4e08fb2c9223bfcb84e0901 That said, I'm going back into puts. Just goes to show how tricky the game is. 3:45 - As more shorts cover, going to sell the calls and then flip into puts around the last few min of close. Hope you guys made some money on the cover and got some puts. I'll write a short update later explaining how they set up tomorrow, especially with the VIX dropping so much. 3/24/20 - So the rally begins. Unfortunately misread the options volume. The clearest signal was the VIX dropping the past few days even though we kept swinging lower, which suggested that large gap downs were mostly over and the rally is getting started. Going to hold my puts since they are longer dated. Going to get a few short term calls to ride this wave. 10:20 - VIX still falling, possibility of a major short squeeze coming in if SPY breaks out over 238-239. 10:45 - Opened a small GLD short, late April expiration. 10:50 - Sold calls, just waiting, not sure if we break 238. If we go above 240, going back into calls. See room going to 247 or 269. Otherwise, going to start adding to my puts. https://preview.redd.it/ag5s0hccxmo41.png?width=2032&format=png&auto=webp&s=aad730db4164720483a8b60056243d6e4a8a0cab 11:10 - Averaging a little on my puts here. Again, difficult to time the entries. Do not recommend going all in at a single time. Still watching around 240 closely. 11:50 - Looks like it's closing. Still going to wait a little bit. 12:10 - Averaged down more puts. Have a little powder left, we'll see what happens for the rest of today and tomorrow. 2:40 - Closed positions, sitting on cash. Waiting to see what EOD holds. Really hard trading days. 3:00 - Last update. What I'm trying to do here posting some thoughts is for you guys to take a look at things and make some hypotheses before trading. Getting a lot of comments and replies complaining. If you're tailing, yes there is risk involved. I've mentioned sizing appropriately, and locking in profits. Those will help you get consistent gains. https://preview.redd.it/yktrcoazjpo41.png?width=1210&format=png&auto=webp&s=2d6f0272712a2d17d45e033273a369bc164e2477 Bounced off 10 year trendline at around 246, pretty close to 247. Unless we break through that the rally is over. Given that, could still see us going to 270. 3/25/20 - I wouldn't read too much into the early moves. Be careful of the shakeouts. Still long. Price target, 269. When does the month end? Why is that important? 12:45 - out calls. 12:50 - adding a tranche of SPY puts. Adding GLD puts. 1:00 est - saving rest of my dry powder to average if we still continue to 270. Think we drop off a cliff after the end of the quarter. Just a little humor... hedge funds and other market makers right now. 2:00pm - Keep an eye on TLT and VXX... 3:50pm - Retrace to the 10 yr trend line. Question is if we continue going down or bounce. So I'm going to explain again, haven't changed these lines. Check the charts from earlier. https://preview.redd.it/9qiqyndtivo41.png?width=1210&format=png&auto=webp&s=55cf84f2b9f5a8099adf8368d9f3034b0e3c4ae4 3/26/20 - Another retest of the 10 yr trendline. If it can go over and hold, can see us moving higher. 9:30 - Probably going to buy calls close to the open. Not too sure, seems like another trap setting up. Might instead load up on more puts later today. In terms of unemployment, was expecting close to double. Data doesn't seem to line up. That's why we're bouncing. California reported 1 million yesterday alone, and unemployment estimates were 1.6 million? Sure. Waiting a little to see the price action first. Treasuries increasing and oil going down? 9:47 - Added more to GLD puts. 10:11 - Adding more SPY puts and IWM puts. 10:21 - Adding more puts. 11:37 - Relax guys, this move has been expected. Take care of yourselves. Eat something, take a walk. Play some video games. Don't stare at a chart all day. If you have some family or close friends, advise them not to buy into this rally. I've had my immediate family cash out or switch today into Treasury bonds/TIPS. 2:55pm - https://youtu.be/S74rvpc6W60?t=9 3:12pm - Hedge funds and their algos right now https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZF_nUm982vI 4:00pm - Don't doubt your vibe. For those that keep asking about my vibe... yes, we could hit 270. I literally said we could hit 270 when we were at 218. There was a lot of doubt. Just sort by best and look at the comments. Can we go to 180 from 270? Yes. I mentioned that EOM is important. Here's another prediction. VIX will hit ATH again. 2:55pm EST - For DM's chat is not working now. Will try to get back later tonight. Stream today for those who missed it, 2:20-4:25 - https://www.twitch.tv/videos/576598992 Thanks again to WallStreetBooyah and all the others for making this possible. 9:10pm EST Twitter handles (updated) https://www.reddit.com/wallstreetbets/comments/fmhz1p/the_great_unwinding_why_wsb_will_keep_losing/floyrbf/?context=3, thanks blind_guy Not an exhaustive list. Just to get started. Follow the people they follow. Dark pool and gamma exposure - https://squeezemetrics.com/monitodix Wyckoff - https://school.stockcharts.com/doku.php?id=market_analysis:the_wyckoff_method MacroVoices Investopedia for a lot. Also links above in my post. lol... love you guys. Please be super respectful on FinTwit. These guys are incredibly helpful and intelligent, and could easily just stop posting content.
AREIT announces Q1 and Q2 dividends, stock bounces (Tuesday, August 18)
Happy Tuesday, Barkada --
The PSE closed down 9 points to 6069 ▼0.13%.
Shout-out and thank-you to shining_metapod, yellowprintsz, joewelle_03, underratedmercenary, and pheasantph for the positive feedback and appreciation! Tip-of-the-hat to syf3r for pointing would-be subscribers to the "Join our Barkada here" link (I guess I need to make it more obvious?), and to pawnstar26 for helping other barkadans find the MB email that may have fallen into GMail's "Promotions" tab (if you aren't receiving the email consistently, check there!).
Fast Food ▼1.85% MiddleClass ▼1.27% 2020 IPOs ▼0.77%
Main stories covered:
Fruitas pivoting to delivery and “community stores” to minimize losses
Q2 results:The company [FRUIT 1.18 unch] made a net loss of P27m in Q2/20, down 163% from the P41m profit that it made in Q1/19. The kiosk-store operator blamed the results on COVID and the movement restrictions that followed, as the company (traditionally) relied on foot traffic and food court traffic to prop up sales. Obviously, COVID threw a mjolnir-like wrench into those plans, and the results show it.
The pivot:FRUIT’s owner, Lester Yu, seemed to be the first of the quick-service food industry leaders to anticipate the carnage to come. Just before the lockdown, Yu caused FRUIT to acquire “CocoDelivery”, a food delivery service company, to support Yu’s plans to quickly expand FRUIT’s online and delivery service. Delivery is a main platform of FRUIT’s pandemic gameplan: “We also continue to pivot our business model to derive more contribution from delivery and community stores.” Using JFC and McDo as guideposts, the industry should expect to derive 60-70% of COVID and post-COVID sales from delivery and other “off-site” channels.
COVID tactics: *The company was also proactive in streamlining the menu to push consumers towards products that FRUIT could produce most cost-efficiently, which actually helped FRUIT to increase its profit margin to 60% (up from 58% pre-COVID). While sales were down more than 50%, FRUIT was making more money from whatever sales it was managing to get. *
BARKADA BOTTOM-LINEFRUIT reveals the COVID playbook for fast food and quick service restaurants alike: build-up in-house delivery capability, reconfigure physical assets for delivery/take-out, and trim menu options to eliminate unprofitable/less profitable options. If the company continues to judiciously open stores (when profitable) and invest in online delivery channels, it may go forward in this crisis with a leg up on its competitors. Even large incumbents like McDo and Jollibee are having to undertake the build-out of in-house delivery systems to protect profit margins from the opportunistic 3rd party platforms like Food Panda and GrabFood which can charge a commission of up to 18-20% per order. If FRUIT is able to expand its delivery capabilities while increasing its profitability, that should go a long way to protecting shareholder value through the COVID crisis and beyond.
Phoenix Petroleum [PNX 11.34 unch] profit ▼97% y/y… Q2/20 profit of P13m, down 97% from Q2/19 profit of P489m. PNX’s fuel trading business profit fell by over 60%, but its “Depot & Logistics” segment grew 2x, possibly due to the demand for fuel storage during the exceptional drop in price during the Saudi Arabia / Russia price war. The company did note a 53% drop in cash and cash equivalents caused by “settlement of matured debts, lower sales and collections” resulting from COVID and the ECQ.
MB:PNX needs the economy to consume for it to grow. It needs planes flying passengers and cargo, boats ferrying people and goods, trucks moving goods from warehouses to points of sale, and cars taking people to school, work, and on trips all around the country. While guarded recovery is expected for some of these segments as the economy is opened, investors need to be wary; the PH isn’t reopening the economy from a point of strength. We’re reopening the economy because the government can’t afford to support taxpayers any longer. The workers and people are not suddenly eager to travel and to consume. Work-from-home will continue to eat into PNX’s retail gas profits, perhaps for years. Air traffic isn’t expected to return to pre-COVID levels until 2024. One look at Chelsea’s [C 3.33 ▲1.22%] or 2GO’s [2GO 8.50 ▼3.30%] financial results tells you everything you need to know about the state of the domestic shipping industry. Profits are going to be hard to come by. Q2 isn’t just a blip.
Liberty Flour Mills [LFM 43.00 unch] profit ▲297% y/y… Q2/20 profit of P30m, up 297% from Q2/19 profit of P8m. The flour-producer has been one of the bright spots during the COVID crisis, as the lockdown and the income- and food-insecurity that followed pushed more and more people to grey-market food commerce and home-cooked meals. Raw materials and basic staples have been in high demand since March, with consumer favorites like Gardenia Bakeries saying that they’ve been running production lines 24/7 for the past 5 months. All of that is great news for flour millers.
MB:Who didn’t experiment with baking their own bread in the early days of the lockdown, when the severity of the disease wasn’t well-understood, and the resiliency of our supply chains had yet to be tested? What family didn’t have nightmares of receiving food-aid from their barangay captain? I personally spent many of those early days stocking up on supplies and ingredients like flour to ensure that I had a source of calories and a variety of food options should things get really nasty. LFM’s Q2 numbers show that I wasn’t alone… and the longer this crisis goes on, the more people may be forced to convert spending from fast food establishments to home cooking in order to conserve dwindling discretionary income.
So, Xurpas [X 0.58 ▲1.75%] appears to be circling the drain… while X cut its Q2 losses in half, from P48m in Q2/19 to just P24m last quarter, the company appears to be in dire straits after it sold away its profit-puppy, Yondu, to Globe [GLO 2118.00 ▼0.84%] back in 2019. Without Yondu, X has seen its H1 income decrease 90% y/y. X reported that the pandemic and lockdown has caused clients to delay or outright cancel corporate projects with the company, but that it still considers the pandemic to be an opportunity to make money assisting companies moving online, or as X calls it, going through “their digital transformation.”
MB:The company notes in the MDA section that it recorded a “capital deficiency” of P7.69m as of June 30, 2020, explaining that as of the end of 2019 it had only P25.89m in total equity, and that the deficiency occurred after incurring “total comprehensive loss” of P33.59m. That’s not good. Apparently, X’s founders pumped P150m of loans into the company earlier in the year to keep it afloat, and that only P50m of that is still available for use. At this rate, that gives X almost exactly two quarters of runway, before….
AREIT [AREIT 25.95 ▲7.68%] stock recovers as company announces September dividend and massive debt sale… the baby REIT, a subsidiary of Ayala Land [ALI 33.10 ▼0.60%], announced yesterday that it is declaring Q1 and Q2 dividends of P0.28/share and P0.31/share respectively, for a total of P0.59/share. The dividend will be payable on September 15, 2020, to any shareholders on record as of September 2, 2020. AREIT also disclosed a plan to set regular quarterly dividend payments before the end of each quarter (March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31), and, more interestingly, the filing for a 3-year shelf registration of up to P15bn in debt securities for acquisitions and “liquidity” to ensure dividend payments. Oh yeah, and the SEC is investigating brokers like COL Financial that failed to secure the necessary permits to allow clients to trade AREIT. Most have been unable to make any AREIT trades since the IPO.
MB:This is the first indication of AREIT’s intention to grow its holdings beyond the planned purchase of the Teleperformance Cebu property (from ALI) that was mentioned in the IPO prospectus. AREIT also appears to be taking its role as a healthy dividend player very seriously, borrowing money at very low rates to help keep the income flowing. Investors will want to keep an eye on this, however, as burning the walls to keep the house warm will only be appreciated for so long before investors will want to see the company grow its property bank to expand the dividend.
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2020 Offseason Review Series: The Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks – 2020 Offseason Review Series
I. Basic Information
Seattle Seahawks – 45th Season, Eleventh under Pete Carroll, Ninth under Russell Wilson Division: NFC West 2019 Record: 11-5
Second in NFC West
Won Wild Card Weekend @ Eagles (17-9)
Lost Divisional Round @ Packers (23-28)
Welcome to the 2020 Offseason Review Series for the Seattle Seahawks. I hope you all are safe, healthy, that the scourge that is gripping the country does not affect you in the future. Like everyone, I want us all to maximize our potential to watch the NFL this year, so lets all do our part – wear a mask, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, avoid sick people, and encourage everyone you know to do the same as well. With that said, lets get into this eleven thousand post proper. After two years of rebuilding “turning” the roster since Pete Carroll jettisoned the Legion of Boom after the 2017 campaign collapsed, the Seahawks entered into the 2020 Offseason with a high bar to satisfy. They have one of the top two quarterbacks in the NFL (the most important position in sports) in Russell Wilson, the best MLB in the NFL in Bobby Wagner, both of whom are on track to be immortalized in Canton when they retire. They have two WRs that would soon be ranked in the NFL Top 100 – Tyler Lockett (65) and DK Metcalf (81). They have their head coach and general manager locked up for two more seasons. The pressure is on to make a deep playoff push sooner rather than later – Pete is the oldest head coach in the NFL and Wagner is on the wrong side of 30. The issues that plagued the roster seemed easily identifiable and solvable: (1) find additional players to rush the passer; (2) fix the offensive line (a common refrain for as long as I’ve drafted this post); and (3) increase competition for the right cornerback position. Everything looked on track to solve those issues as well – the Seahawks entered into the offseason with four picks in the first 3 rounds, including two second round picks and SIXTY MILLION in cap space… enough to sign, as Russell Wilson called for at the NFL Pro Bowl, a couple more superstars to put the team over the top. What did the Seahawks do with those picks and that money? That is what we are here to discuss.
III. Coaching Changes
The Seahawks made more changes than usual to the coaching staff than in most of the years that I’ve been writing this column. Most of those changes are localized to the bottom of the coaching roster, as the Seahawks return all six of their Director or higher members of the front office, and all three coordinator positions. Interesting and relevant changes are summarized below:
Addition – Alonzo Highsmith, Personnel Executive. Highsmith, who learned under Ted Thompson with John Schneider, logged 19 seasons with the Green Bay Packers player personnel department. By 2012, Highsmith was a Senior Personnel Executive for the Packers, and spent two years with the Browns from 2018-2019 as the Vice President of Player Personnel. He was let go when the Browns cleaned out Freddie Kitchens and John Dorsey. Highsmith worked with the team as a consultant for the 2020 draft and was hired full-time in June.
Addition – Steve Hutchinson, Football Consultant. The former first-round pick and soon-to-be Hall of Fame inductee also started work with the team in 2020, scouting offensive line talent at the Senior Bowl before being hired on full time to learn the scouting and player personnel ropes.
Addition – Aaron Curry, Defensive Assistant/Linebackers. Aaron Curry was a part-time assistant with the linebacker group last season, but was hired full-time for 2020. His LinkedIn states that he is responsible for quality control.
New Position – Brennan Carroll, Run Game Coordinator. Brennan Davis, son of Pete Carroll, has come a long way since Carroll hired him to serve as assistant offensive line coach back in 2015 with no background in coaching offensive linemen. The use of Run Game and Passing Game Coordinator has not been seen since the days of Bevell and Cable, when both of them split play calling duties. It remains to be seen how much impact Pete’s nepotism in promoting his son will have on the team, but it remains a point of concern, considering under Brennan, the offensive line has been a dumpster fire. Fortunately, when your father is the head coach you can fail upwards quite easily.
New Position – Austin Davis, Quarterbacks Coach. Austin Davis received a promotion from Offensive Assistant because Dave Canales (the previous QB coach) was promoted to Passing Game Coordinator. Austin Davis is still the most recent non-Russell Wilson QB to enter a regular season game (back in 2017!), and now he has to coach Russell Wilson, whom he backed up.
Retirement – Pat Ruel, Assistant Offensive Line Coach. The ten-year Seahawks vet and 47-year offensive line coach finally hung up his whistle, presumably because of COVID-19 related risks right before training camp was set to commence. Ruel is 69 and probably at high-risk for serious complications if he would catch the disease. Ruel was one of Pete’s USC coaches that followed him from college to the pros when he was hired.
IV. Free Agency (Players Lost/Cut)
The loss of Al Woods and Quinton Jefferson will be felt – as both played surprisingly well for the Seahawks even though the line itself, as a collective, was probably close to the worst in the NFL. Over 14 games, Jefferson had 3.5 sacks (second for the team overall), had 10 QB hits, had four tackles for loss, recovered a fumble, and deflected three passes. Al Woods did yeoman’s work for the Seahawks, providing a run-stopping solution on early downs when teams chose not to run at Clowney (for good reason), but still managed to recover two fumbles, rack up 32 tackles, and generate three tables for loss and a QB hit. Both have not been satisfactorily replaced, as discussed later. Taking a step back, one of the things that stands out to me over the many years that I’ve written this post and illustrates how far the Seahawks have fallen in terms of talent is that they used to be so loaded that their castoffs would go on to be starters for other teams. Players like Benson Mayowa, Spencer Ware, Jaye Howard, Robert Turbin all come to mind as players who were drafted and later released by the Seahawks when they were really rolling that went on to have successful careers elsewhere. Looking at the list above, most are not homegrown talent, and out of those that are – Fant, Ifedi, Thompson, and Britt… could we say that it is likely that any of them have a high likelihood of success elsewhere? Maybe Fant, but that is probably wishful thinking at best. The Seahawks are quite threadbare in terms of starting caliber depth players, which is partially due to the disastrous drafting done by Pete and John from 2013-2017. Gone are the days when the Seahawks releases would get swooped up right after release or snapped up on the waiver wire. V. Free Agency (Players Re-signed)
V. Free Agency (Players Re-Signed)
The highlight of the Seahawks re-signings was Jarran Reed. Reed was re-signed before free agency started to a 2 year, $23m contract that included a $10m signing bonus and $14.1m guaranteed (essentially the entire first year). However, after the contract details came out – he essentially signed a one-year deal because if he does not perform, he can be released with no dead cap in 2021. Everyone else was signed to minimum or RFA deals.
VI. Free Agency (New Players Signed or Acquired)
The first signing that Seattle made was to sign Greg Olsen to a one-year, $7 million contract. Olsen, who is now 35, has developed some injury concerns after logging nine straight seasons where he played every game, only playing in 16 games total between the 2017 and 2018 seasons and missing two games in 2019. With a longer than usual offseason with no OTAs, Olsen said that this offseason has been a dream for him, as he was able to give his body extra time to rest and recover. Brandon Shell signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the Seahawks, who signed George Fant to replace him. Shell played RT for the Jets, and had a 63.6 grade by PFF for the 2019 season, as he allowed seven sacks, and committed five penalties. He looks to be a marginal at best upgrade over former-RT Germain Ifedi, who committed thirteen penalties and allowed six sacks. Ifedi’s 2019 PFF grade was 56.2. BJ Finney signed a two-year $5.9 million deal. Finney looks to compete for spots at Center for the team. His main competition will be Joey Hunt, so perhaps he could be penciled in as the starter. He has played at other interior O-line spots as well, so his versatility and experience will be key in an offseason shortened by COVID. Pete Carroll, having exhausted all of the 2013 NFL first round reclamation projects, now turns to the 2015 NFL draft, bringing in known bust Cedric Ogbuehi, who signed a 3.3m one-year deal. Ogbuehi has not played more than 200 snaps in the past two seasons, looks to compete in what could be his last chance to make it in the NFL. Instead of re-signing Clowney or making a splash move to bolster the pass rush, the Seahawks brought back two former Seahawks – Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa in free agency. Bruce Irvin, who turns 33 this season, had career high sacks (8.5) for Carolina. His one-year contract is worth $5.5 million. Mayowa, who just turned 29, had career high sacks for Oakland (7.0). Mayowa’s one-year contract is worth $3 million. Carlos Hyde signed a 1-year, $2.75m contract in May to provide depth just in case Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny cannot start the season. Hyde underwent surgery in February to repair a torn labrum, but should be ready to start the NFL season.
VII. Free Agency Cost Roundup
Coming into Free Agency, the Seahawks had around $60 million in cap space to use as they saw fit. By the end of free agency, they had spent $53.4 million of that on new or returning players:
Jarran Reed $9.35m
Greg Olsen $6.9m
Bruce Irvin $5.9m
B.J. Finney $3.5m
Brandon Shell $3.475m
Quinton Dunbar $3.421m
Jacob Hollister $3.259m
Benson Mayowa $3.018m
Mike Iupati $2.5m
Cedric Obuehi $2.237m
Joey Hunt $2.1m
Branden Jackson $2.1m
David Moore $2.1m
Neiko Thorpe $887,500
Luke Willson $887,500
Phillip Dorsett $887,500
Chance Warmack $887,500
VIII. 2019 Draft + Grades
A. Draft Analysis
After Free Agency, the Seahawks entered into the 2019 NFL Draft with four picks in the first three rounds (three natural picks plus the Chiefs 2nd Round Selection at 64 because of the Frank Clark trade in 2019). With basket of riches that the team had rarely had, expectations were high that the Seahawks would address at least one of their two still-glaring needs in the offseason – offensive and defensive play in the trenches in the first round. At this point, the Seahawks believed they had solved their cornerback issue by trading for Quinton Dunbar, who had not been arrested yet – leaving two clear holes with a few chances to fill them. Let’s look at how desperate the Seahawks needed to be when it came to the trenches. Pro Football Focus ranked the Seahawks at 27th in terms of Offensive Line play following the 2019 regular season. The Seahawks gave up 48 sacks of Russell Wilson, his second highest total in his career, and the seventh straight that he had been sacked 41 times or more. On defense, the Seahawks were tied for second-lowest in terms of sacks in 2019, with only the 5-11 Dolphins having less. According to Pro Football Reference, the Seahawks only generated some form of pressure 19.3% of the time, good for 28th in the NFL and gave up 6.0 yards per play (6,106 yards on defense, total), good for a tie for second worst in the NFL. Yet, what position did they end up drafting with their most significant piece? A non-rush, inside linebacker. This was after they currently pay Bobby Wagner 18m APY (the Seahawks current MLB), retained WILL LB K.J. Wright for another year (costing the team $10,000,000 against the cap), brought in Bruce Irvin to play SAM LB on early downs (locking down all three LB spots for 2020), and drafted a Linebacker (Cody Barton) in the 2019 third round (the previous year!) to serve as the heir apparent to Wright. Where does Brooks see the field? Did we really spend a first rounder to burn a year of cheap club control to serve as a backup? While the Seahawks did make some good draft choices following the LB pick, spending a 1st round selection on a player that won’t immediately see the field in some capacity (with two, maybe three inked in starters ahead of him) is not a decision that should be lauded in any capacity.
B. First Round, Pick Number 27: Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech
This will become a broken record by the time you finish reading this post – but for Brooks, I like the player, but hate the cost and the thought process behind it. Brooks is an old school, run stopping, TFL-generating thumper LB. He rarely misses tackles. He had 20 TFLs. The Seahawks were absolutely horrendous at stopping the run last year (full details later in this post). It makes sense. He generates momentum stopping hits and has good burst to chase down the ball carrier. However, he isn’t going to be as great as Logan Wilson or Patrick Queen in dropping into a zone in coverage or picking up a TE or the RB for man coverage. Queen’s hips are more fluid, and Wilson is much more of a ballhawk. Brooks demonstrated some coverage ability in 2018, but expecting him to cover TE monsters like Kittle on the 49ers or Higbee/Everett on the Rams seems like a recipe for getting burned. In a division with modern high-powered offenses under young head coaches, I wonder about the value of the oldest head coach in the NFL drafting an old-school LB when the league is evolving. Brooks will always be compared to Queen especially, as he was drafted right after him by the Ravens.
C. Second Round, Pick Number 48: Darrell Taylor, DE, Tennessee
As much as I did not like the Brooks pick, I love the Darrell Taylor pick. I just hate that the Seahawks had to give up a third rounder to go get him, even though the Seahawks have a pretty good track record when they trade up for a player (Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Jarran Reed, Michael Dickson) Love the player, hate the cost. Taylor is as close to a prototypical LEO that existed in the 2020 NFL draft, which was not full of twitched up DEs outside of Chase Young at the top. He has the burst off the edge that the Seahawks have been missing since Frank Clark was traded. Taylor has all of the potential to develop into an amazing edge rusher, but he is not refined enough to be expected to succeed right away. Indeed, when I watched his film and not his highlights where he was able to obliterate non-NFL level talent (seriously, watch him obliterate Mississippi State’s walk-on LT #79), he was routinely stonewalled by the cream-of-the-crop SEC tackles, like Georgia’s Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson and Alabama’s Jedrick Wills, which does not bode well for the next level. However, if Pete and the rest of the coaching staff can sharpen his physical gifts, he could develop into a monster. He will also need to demonstrate that he can reliably stop the run to be a true three-down lineman for the Seahawks.
D. Third Round, Pick Number 69: Damien Lewis, OG, LSU
I thought the Seahawks got a steal when Damien Lewis was still around in the third, as I had a second-round grade on him. Lewis is a mauler that opened up huge holes in the run game and still provided value in the passing game, especially having to face the five and four-star monsters that most SEC teams have at DT. When LSU were pushing to go undefeated at the end of the year, Lewis was the best guard in college football from Week 11 onwards according to PFF. He didn’t stop there, as Lewis destroyed everyone at the Senior Bowl, winning almost 70% of his 1v1 drills according to PFF. While it will be hard for Lewis to fight his way into a starting role with no rookie mini-camp, no OTAs, and limited padded practices in training camp, I would not be surprised if Lewis was the starter by 2021.
E. Fourth Round, Pick Number 133, Colby Parkinson, TE, Stanford
Colby Parkinson is a physical freak. Dude stands at 6’7”, has a 32.5 inch vertical jump, and has 33” arms – a massive catch radius. He has stated that he plans to play at 260 pounds, adding around eight more pounds onto his frame. While his straight line speed is nothing that jumps off the page at 4.77 seconds in the 40 yard dash, he was a red-zone nightmare. His hands are amazing, as he did not drop a single pass in 2019. 48 targets, 48 catches. He wasn’t much of an in-line blocker, but he was willing and gave effort. His stock was sky high coming into 2019 after catching seven touchdowns, but poor QB play from Stanford lowered his stock considerably, especially as he only managed to catch one TD in 2019. If he had seven touchdowns again in 2019, I think he’s an early third rounder. He looked to be an interesting prospect for the Seahawks but broke a bone in his foot while working out, which required surgery. With the Seahawks tight end room looking crowded, it looks like Parkinson might have to “red-shirt” the year on the PUP list.
F. Fourth Round, Pick Number 144, DeeJay Dallas, RB, Miami
Dallas is a Pete Carroll running back – he runs angry. He wants to get into contact, and push through. Former teammate of Seahawks RB Travis Homer, Dallas will fight Homer for a role as the #3 RB behind Carson and Hyde with Penny starting the year on PUP. Dallas will also compete for special teams, likely on the coverage unit. Dallas was also a converted WR, so has a lot of tread left on his tires and could be a weapon out of the backfield, something that has been lacking for Pete Carroll’s RBs since Marshawn Lynch departed for the first time. Dallas doesn’t have the home run hitting speed that Penny brought to the team, but he has enough to hit a crease and make a big 10-20 yard gain.
G. Fifth Round, Pick Number 148, Alton Robinson, DE, Syracuse
The Seahawks love taking risks on physical gifts. Alton Robinson is a player that has all of the tools (prototypical size, length, power and speed), but had significantly underwhelming tape and a lot of off-the-field concerns. Robinson is a speed rusher that has a ton of juice off the snap and the hips to bend around the corner. If you watch his highlights, he looks like a first or second round pick. His flashes when he turns it on are everything that you want in a speed pass rusher. However, at this point, all he has is the speed rush, as his power moves are nonexistent. Watching his tape further illustrates his inability to re-direct inside as well, where he also looks disinterested (and sometimes outright loafs around) when not called to pass rush – especially if the ball carrier runs away from his side of the line. It must also be brought up that he was arrested and charged with second-degree felony robbery in 2016 (which led to his offer to Texas A&M being pulled) and alleged to have been involved in another similar robbery in 2015. The 2016 charges were later dropped in 2017.
H. Sixth Round, Pick Number 214, Freddie Swain, WR, Florida
Freddie Swain is a slot WR brought in to compete with Dorsett, Ursua, and others. He also looks to factor in as a kick/punt returner with his 4.4 speed. He isn’t the best route runner, but he made up for that with good hands and RAC ability. With the Seahawks spots after Lockett and Metcalf at #1 and #2 wide open for competition, Swain will get chances to carve out a spot for himself if he can quickly demonstrate that he can be reliable for Wilson.
I. Seventh Round, Pick Number 251, Steven Sullivan, TE/WR, LSU
Pete Carroll loves big targets. He’s always kept a big target around at the bottom of the WR depth chart, whether it’s Chris Matthews, Jazz Ferguson, or Tyrone Swoopes… if you’re big, you might have a shot in Seattle to stick around for a bit. While Pete and John already brought in Colby Parkinson, the Seahawks couldn’t resist doubling up and getting Sullivan, who is the definition of grit. His length (35.5 inch arms), explosiveness (36.5” vert, 4.6 40), and hands are intriguing tools. --------
I try to be realistic when it comes to the Offseason Review Series, because it is too easy for any writer to predict a successful campaign with homer goggles and the excitement (and subsequent dopamine hit) from offseason acquisitions. I myself have done so in the past – you only need to read my 13-3 prediction in 2017, a year where the team actually collapsed to 9-7. Thus, even when the Seahawks acquire elite talent, I have to take into account whether or not they can quickly fit into the scheme or if the coaching staff will try to force a square peg into a round hole. Who could have predicted that the Seahawks would try to make Jimmy Graham block when he was an elite pass catcher and red zone threat? It took Pete Carroll three years to figure that out! The Seahawks came into the offseason with two big holes on the roster, but had the potential to make this offseason one to rival 2013 when they put themselves over the top by adding two of the best pass rushers in free agency to add to the one pass rusher they already had. They had the money to be aggressive, but chose to patiently wait for Clowney and let the rest of the market pass them by. They also chose to completely re-build the offensive line in what turned out to be a COVID-shortened offseason, and their timidity in the defensive line market cost them the ability to sign proven, plug-and-play talent like Jack Conklin. Instead, the Seahawks frittered away their $60m nest egg on unproven and reclamation projects. Thus, both sides of the trenches are still gaping holes on the roster, and time will only tell if Russell Wilson can captain this ship and still make magic happen or if those holes in the vessel turn out to be on or below the waterline, and the season sinks. Time will only tell. I'd like to give a shout-out to Seahawks Twitter and the Seahawks Discord for being consistently awful, /NFL_Draft for hosting some of the best draft conversation, PlatypusOfDeath for hosting this thing, and all of you for reading it. Link to Hub.
[OC] CASH ME OUTSIDE: Which future free agents have the most to gain or lose if basketball resumes in the Orlando bubble ?
Back in 2016, young Danielle Bregoli appeared in a Dr. Phil segment eloquently titled: "I Want To Give Up My Car-Stealing, Knife-Wielding, Twerking 13-Year-Old Daughter Who Tried To Frame Me For A Crime." She made the most of it, and even gained fame for her instant catchphrase "cash me outside". Usually, that's where a viral moment ends. However, Bregoli (now known as Bhad Bhabie) has actually parlayed that one moment into a legitimate career. She's a rapper signed by Atlantic Records, and her videos have millions and millions of views. We see this happen often in sports and in basketball specifically. The national media and even front offices start paying more attention to high-profile televised games -- the NCAA tournament, the NBA playoffs, etc. If a player can make the most out of their time in the spotlight, then they can parlay that into huge success themselves. College players who have big tournaments shoot up draft boards. NBA players who have good playoff performances can drive up their prices in free agency. We've seen it time and time again, from Austin Croshere, to Jerome James, to Ian Mahinmi. The continuation of the NBA season (barring a Kyrie Irving led rebellion) means that some players are going to get their time in the spotlight again. That's hugely important for players who are about to reach free agency. Now, there are a lot of big name free agents that are going to cash in regardless. Anthony Davis has a player option; I suspect he'll do all right. Similarly, there are veteran players like Danilo Gallinari or Joe Harris who are more "known commodities." We've seen plenty of them, and we understand their skill sets and values. Their prices are somewhat fixed (aside from concerns about a COVID-infected cap.) Alternatively, there are a group of future free agents that have more volatile stock. They have a lot to gain -- but they have a lot to lose. This is their moment. This is their last impression. They're heading into the Orlando bubble to do business, with the hope that teams will cash them outside.
READY FOR THEIR CLOSE-UP
C Jakob Poeltl, San Antonio If you just glanced at the raw stats, you might not understand why anyone would fuss about Jakob Poeltl. He averages 5.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Ho hum. He's only started a grand total of 38 games in his four-year career so far. Yawn. He's a true center who can't shoot threes? Yikes, go back to 1973. Can we move on to free agents who actually matter? Not so fast, my friend. Jakob Poeltl is a lot more interesting than those numbers suggest. He may be a 7-foot true center from Austria, but he's hardly a stereotypical "stiff." He's more nimble than you'd expect, and shows good defensive instincts inside. Overall, he's a smart player with a natural feel for the game. Those skills are born out in the advanced stats, which LOVE Poeltl's impact. Over the course of his career (4-year sample size here), teams with Poeltl on the court have scored 126 points per 100 possessions, and only allowed 107 per 100 possessions. That's the type of difference (+19) that ranks up with the elite in the NBA. Now, we have to take those numbers with a grain of salt. On/off figures rely heavily on your teammates, and Poeltl's had the good fortune of being on some great bench units in Toronto and now San Antonio. Still, you'd have to guess that he's contributing to those units in a major way. Fortunately for teams and for Poeltl, we don't have to "guess" much more. LaMarcus Aldridge (who had been playing 95% of his minutes at center) is out for the season, clearing a huge pathway for Poeltl to play 25-30 minutes a game and prove his worth. Or not. This is exactly the type of volatility we're looking for in this exercise. upside/downside: If the season had ended prematurely, the Spurs could have effectively "hidden" Jakob Poeltl and retained him for a modest price. As a restricted free agent, his value may have been depressed even more. He may have returned on his qualifying offer ($5M) or signed a team-friendly extension in the neighborhood of $6-8M a year. However, if he has a monster bubble-bracket showing, then teams are going to look at him as a potential starter and pay him accordingly. Gone are the days when Ian Mahinmi or Timo Mozgov would get $15M a season, but $10-12M isn't unrealistic. Heck, Mason (the good one) and Miles (the bad one) Plumlee both got more than that. PG Shabazz Napier, Washington Shabazz Napier knows all about shining under the spotlight. He helped UConn pull off an upset NCAA title, and consequently boosted his draft stock. LeBron James even publicly praised him as his "favorite player in the draft." The Miami Heat then acquired Napier (perhaps as a way to keep the King happy?) However, James left in free agency that summer anyway, and the Heat never seemed too invested in Napier after that. He'd be in Orlando the next year, and Portland the following year. Napier's kept bouncing around since then. In fact, he's already been traded SIX times in his young career. In his journey around the league, Napier has been up or down. Sometimes he flashes and makes you think he could be a high-end backup or even a low-end stopgap starter. Other times, he disappears or shoots poorly, and you start using his name as a trade filler contract. This bubble in Orlando may represent Napier's best chance at latching on to a role and a landing a decent contract. At the moment, he's soaking up minutes for the Washington Wizards, who have lost John Wall to an Achilles injury and have lost Isaiah Thomas to awful defense-itis. In their wake, Napier and veteran Ish Smith are platooning at PG, and both trying to show their competence. If Napier can take advantage of these 25-30 minutes he's getting, then he will go a long way to securing his future in the league. upside/downside: If Shabazz Napier can outplay Ish Smith and hold the fort well at PG, then teams may start viewing him, as mentioned, as a high-end backup/low-end starter. That may not sound like any great shakes, but that's a lucrative role. Ish Smith himself makes $6M a year -- D.J. Augustin makes $7M. Those figures would represent a major pay raise for Napier, who's never made as much as $2.5M in any season so far. On the other hand, if he flops and the Wizards fold, then he'll be back to looking at 3rd PG spots and fighting to stay in the league.
BREAKOUT STARS WHO CAN'T AFFORD TO BREAK DOWN
PG Fred VanVleet, Toronto Fred VanVleet had to work hard to convince NBA teams to buy into him. That's bound to happen any time you're an undrafted player who looks like he should be selling pretzels at a game at not playing point guard. But finally, after several years of proving himself, Fred VanVleet put himself in prime position to cash in this summer (or whenever free agency actually happens.) He carried over his great Finals performance to this regular season, averaging 17.6 points and 6.6 assists. He can shoot -- he can defend. Hell, he can even defend across positions despite his limited height thanks to his strength and his basketball IQ. In fact, basketball-reference listed VanVleet at SG for 54% of his minutes this season. Presumably, FVV will be a lead guard going forward, but that versatility only adds to his value. You can make an argument that he offers similar value to a player like Malcolm Brogdon, who got over $20M in salary in Indiana. What's the "volatility" here? Why can't we lock in VanVleet for a fat contract yet? Well, VanVleet needs to finish the job, essentially. We all remember how great he played in the Finals, but we tend to forget how badly he played in the playoffs prior to that. In their seven game war against Philadelphia, VanVleet shot a combined 3-24 from the field (12.9%) and averaged 2.0 points per game. Perhaps he was distracted by issues at home, but he was also rattled by the Sixers' length. He can't have that happen again, or else it'd leave a sour taste in the mouth of the NBA front offices, and scare them from trusting him as a surefire starter going forward. upside/downside: If Fred VanVleet plays well (the same level as he's played throughout the year), then he's looking at a healthy deal. He's 26 right now, so he may land a 4-year deal in excess of $60M ($15M per year). But if he struggles in the playoffs, then that may go down to something like 3 years, $40M ($13M per year) as teams view him as more of a fringe starter instead. C Montrezl Harrell, L.A. Clippers Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers will enter the bubble with genuine and realistic title aspirations. They're loaded from top to bottom, and as deep as any team in the field. That said, they may be too deep for their own good. In some ways, it still feels like two teams fused together like the Man with Two Heads. On one shoulder, there's the "old Clippers" from last year -- the plucky overachievers fueled by the chemistry of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. On the other shoulder, the "new Clippers" -- the would-be Super Team featuring two superstars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Because the Clippers have been coasting through the regular season and load managing their stars, they haven't gotten the chance to lock in rotations and nail down their final form as a cohesive group yet. That's especially apparent in terms of the PF/C spot. Like last year, the team starts young center Ivica Zubac, but then cedes major minutes and a bigger role to Harrell off the bench. However, they've also brought in PF Marcus Morris, fresh off a strong half-season for the Knicks. There are contenders here, but no clear plan. When push comes to shove, is the team going to play a traditional lineup with a PF and a C? And if so, which center will close out games? And if the team needs to adjust and go to a "smallball" approach against a team like Houston, who will that lone big be -- Harrell or Marcus Morris? For Harrell, winning that role will be important as a matter of pride, but also important as a matter of market value. He'll be an unrestricted free agent (as will Marcus Morris). But unlike Morris, Harrell hasn't gotten a huge contract in the NBA yet. This summer was supposed to be his year to cash in. However, if Doc Rivers and the Clippers don't feel like he can hang on D at the end of games, then that will give his stock a big hit. upside/downside: If you're a free agent coming off a championship team, you're bound to get paid (and likely overpaid.) Of course, to benefit from that ring, you'd have to be seen as a key member of that team. As a result, Harrell needs to lock down the closing minutes at center. If that happens, then he's in line for a big contract in the range of $15M per year. However, the nightmare scenario for him would be if he gets played off the court due to his defense; if that happens, then he'll be seen as a niche role player and his contract will likely go down to the $10-12M range.
LAST CHANCE FOR A BIG CONTRACT
SF Jae Crowder, Miami Veteran Jae Crowder is a great addition to any contending team. He's a strong, dogged defender. He can hit threes. In a world that craves 3+D players, he fits the bill to a T. At least, that's his reputation. In reality, Crowder has never reached the heights that he did back in Boston (a familiar trend among former Celtics, it appears.) The most obvious issue is the inconsistent shooting. He had never been seen as a shooter originally, but he worked on that aspect of his game. In 2016-17, Crowder hit on 39.8% of his three-point attempts. The presumption is that he'd finally clicked into another gear, and could only get better from there. He became a valuable trade piece (and ended up going to Cleveland in the Kyrie Irving deal.) More and more, it's starting to look like that one season was an outlier. Crowder's three-point percentage has fallen back down to Earth, registering 32%, 33%, and 32% over the next three seasons. His defense also may have been overrated. At 6'6" with a 6'9" wingspan, he has only average size for a SF and only registered an average impact in terms of advanced stats. He's bounced around lately, from Cleveland to Utah to Memphis and now to Miami. Interestingly enough, Crowder got off to a hot start in Miami, and may have started to resurrect his stock. The Heat had been playing him more as a smallball four (basketball reference listed him at PF for 60% of his minutes), and he looked rejuvenated by that change. He hit on 39.3% of his threes (13 game sample size) and also looked better defensively as well. The question now is... can that continue? Miami will be healthier coming back from the break, and may not envision heavy minutes for Crowder in this playoffs. Are they going to rely on him? Or bury him? TBD. These next few months will be crucial for Crowder's stock as he heads into unrestricted free agency. upside/downside: If Jae Crowder can continue to play well as a smallball PF (and also soak up minutes at SF), then it'd give credence to the idea that he's a legitimate starter. And as a result, he'd be looking at salaries in the $10M+ range. However, there's also a lot of potential downside here. If his shooting stumbles again, it's difficult to imagine smart teams viewing him as anything more than a depth player at this stage (29, turning 30 in July.) He may have trouble matching his current salary of $7.5M. C Derrick Favors, New Orleans We're trying to focus on players with "volatile" stock and some unknown elements to their game. I'm not sure that describes New Orleans big man Derrick Favors right now. After some very high expectations as the # 3 pick, he appears to have settled into a known commodity right now at age 28. He's never going to be an All-Star, but he's developed into a capable starter (9.2 points, 9.9 rebounds this year) who is particularly sturdy on the defensive end. So what's the lingering question here? For Favors, it's more about a matter about whether he's a long-term "fit" with this New Orleans team. After rotating between PF and C in Utah, Favors has been locked in as a true center with the Pelicans, playing 100% of his minutes as a 5. That certainly feels like his best position moving forward. But the question is... do the Pelicans need a center? They just invested the # 8 overall pick in Jaxson Hayes, a naturally springy 7-footer. Moreover, there's still the lingering question about whether Zion Williamson may be best served as a smallball center himself. Between the two, there may not be loads of minutes at the 5 in New Orleans. Realistically, the team could retain Favors on a 1 or 2 year deal and utilize him as a placeholder until Hayes fills out and develops into a viable starter. At the same time, Favors is likely looking for a longer-term deal than that; this may be his last big contract. The Pelicans haven't had their full roster together all season, so they still need to work out their rotations. Will coach Alvin Gentry want to lock Favors in at the 5 (with Zion Williamson at the 4)? If push comes to shove, will Favors be squeezed out? Those decisions may go a long way to determining his free agency future. upside/downside: As mentioned, Derrick Favors' "value" may be more locked into place than his peers on the list. He's likely worth around a 3 year, $40M contract ($13.3M per year.) But for him, the question will be where that money will come from. A lot of the playoff teams that could use him (say Boston, for instance) don't have the cap space to offer those prices. If he wants to get bowled over with money, it'll likely come from a young team with cap room (like an Atlanta or Charlotte). But for them to justify paying big money to a big man, he'll have to keep playing heavy minutes and keep putting up solid numbers.
THE COMPLETE WILD CARD
SG Andre Roberson, Oklahoma City Remember him? There are younger fans out there (the babies and toddlers among us) who may not even recall the extreme strengths of weaknesses of Andre Roberson. It's not an exaggeration to say that, at his peak, Andre Roberson was the best perimeter defender in the NBA. Armed with length (6'11" wingspan), nimble feet, and a tenacious style of play, he could slow down anyone from 1-4. In 2017-18, ESPN's real plus minus metric graded his defensive impact as a +4.3 per 100 possessions, second best in the league behind Rudy Gobert. Alas, Roberson only checked one box on the 3+D prototype. He's a career 25.7% shooter from beyond the arc, and a particularly ugly 46.7% at the free throw line. That free throw percentage even dipped as low as 31.6% in that 2017-18 season. So why do I keep citing the 2017-18 season? Because that's the last time we actually saw Andre Roberson play. He ruptured a patellar tendon, then had setbacks in rehab. All in all, he missed the entire 2018-19 season, and he's missed the entire 2019-20 season so far as well. Allegedly, Roberson is ready to come back now. If that's true, that would be a huge boon to his stock as he approaches unrestricted free agency. If any team is going to pay Roberson, they want to see that he's healthy and that he can keep up his defensive impact. And hey, if his shooting form looks like it's improved, then that'd be a major bonus. The mystery is likely to continue though, because we're not sure if Roberson is healthy, and we're not sure if he'd actually play even if he is healthy. Oklahoma City has found a good rhythm right now, and has had success combining their guards in lineups together. If Shai Gilgeous-Alexander can serviceably guard SGs and SFs, then there's not a huge need for Roberson in the starting lineup. At the same time, the wing depth is still pretty thin, so a healthy Roberson could help on the margins. upside/downside: It's difficult to imagine Billy Donovan throwing Andre Roberson out there for 20+ minutes a night after such a long layoff. Given that, the most likely scenario is that we see faint glimpses of Roberson this season, which forces him to take a modest one-year "prove it" deal in 2020-21 to rehab his stock. However, IF Oklahoma City finds itself struggling to contain a player like James Harden in the playoffs, then you'd figure they'd break the glass in case of emergency and call in Roberson. If Roberson can prove that he's back to his old stopper ways, then he's a valuable piece for a team. He'll never get HUGE money if his shooting continues to suck, but he can be a $8-10M role player. And if he ever learns to shoot at a modest clip (even 33% from three) then his stock will balloon.
[Modern] [Discussion] Death's Shadow in an Uro/Prowess World
Alright, I've been working on a bit of a project for a couple months now. This project is to break down actual game play of Death's Shadow in modern, rather than focus on theory. What does this mean? Essentially, I got tired of hearing "x matchup is a bye. We just thoughtseize their threat, drop a shadow, and battle rage. GG." Sure, why didn't I think of that? That sounds fantastic! For the 5% of games that play out exactly like that... But what about the rest? How are these matchups playing out when our lines get muddled, or they have a second threat, or our creature is answered? That's what I hope to uncover in this dive. For the purpose of this experiment, we'll be looking at the current hotness, 4 color Death's Shadow. I'm going to go over the general setup of this project, some interesting matchup breakdowns, and end on some closing thoughts as well as brief experience from Grixis Shadow. The data collected has come from personal play of approximately 300 matches over about 55 Modern leagues on MTGO and a few Modern Challenges/Preliminaries (300 sounded like a pretty rounded number to stop and give an update). Over this span, we achieved a 206-94 record, good for a 69% win rate. Here is an "average" list to give an idea of what we were working with. I'll go over changes from traditional 4 Color Shadow lists. 4 Death's Shadow 4 Tarmogoyf 4 Street Wraith 1 Lurrus of the Dream-Den 4 Mishra's Bauble 2 Cling to Dust 4 Stubborn Denial 4 Fatal Push 3 Inquisition of Kozilek 4 Thoughtseize 3 Traverse the Ulvenwald 1 Drown in the Loch 2 Temur Battle Rage 2 Dismember 1 Breeding Pool 1 Overgrown Tomb 1 Watery Grave 1 Blood Crypt 3 Nurturing Peatland 4 Polluted Delta 4 Verdant Catacombs 2 Bloodstained Mire 1 Swamp Sideboard: 2 Ceremonious Rejection 2 Nihil Spellbomb 2 Veil of Summer 2 Assassin's Trophy 2 Collective Brutality 2 Ashiok, Dream Render 1 Plague Engineer 1 Aether Gust 1 Kolaghan's Command Let's go over some general questions before we get in to the meat and potatoes. Why 4 Color over Grixis/Jund/other Shadow variant? Short answer: It boils down to personal preference. For me, 4 Color provides a strong balance between threat density/consistency, and the additional disruption and protection from late game top decks that stubborn denial provides. The general rule of thumb is that grixis is going to provide the best disruption and protection, but lowest threat consistency. Jund provides the highest threat density and explosiveness, but at the loss of threat protection and general disruption. 4 Color finds itself somewhere in the middle, with the ability to lean one way or the other. Any changes from stock lists? 3 Peatland instead of the popular 4. Shadow decks have always had a propensity for flood, simply due to your deck being so efficient that any extra lands become extremely noticeable. My personal opinion is that if the game goes long for you to need to crack multiple peatlands, your odds of winning against the grindier decks is so low that it doesn't particularly matter. Redrawing off a peat land is great, but less so when your opponent has a Jace/ seasoned pyromance Uro/ Liliana out. In its place, I've opted for the 4th Stubborn Denial in the main. I've seen lists moving the 4th to the board, as well as some cutting the 4th altogether. In my opinion, stub is one of the top 3 reasons to play Death's Shadow at all, and leaving home with less than 4 is nothing short of blasphemy. Force of Negation is the only card doing the same job more efficiently, and we don't have to lose an extra card to use ours. Surprising matchup results: Temur Uro: 13-5 (72%) This is one that has evolved a bit since I started testing 4 color. In the beginning, these decks were running Ice-Fangs, which is a nightmare card for shadow to beat (can't stub, gives them card advantage, trades 1 for 1 with our threats). However, when Ice-Fang started getting replaced with reclamations and fact or fictions, our win rate skyrocketed. Who has two thumbs and preys upon 4 mana sorcery speed spells? This guy. (Insert picture of thumbs pointing at self). Some keys to the matchup include getting threat down under remand. We need to get on the board quickly. They don't have good answers for our creatures, especially shadow (aether gust often comes in for goyf), so keeping a hand that allows for a turn 2 threat on the play, or hand disruption in to a threat on the draw can often put them on the back foot quickly. That makes the second priority preventing Uro from causing nightmares. Spellbomb, Ashiok, any non-dismember removal can accomplish this. Pushes aren't where you want to be in the matchup, but sometimes leaving 1 in if you don't have more to board is fine. We often don't care about Uro hitting the field from hand or escape, we just don't want it sticking around and road blocking us. Veil of summer gets significantly better if they're on archmage's charm, but is pretty unnecessary if they aren't. Sultai Uro (3-2, 60%) is a much tougher matchup, as their interaction lines up way better against our threats. Veil really shines here. UR Prowess: 15-6 (71%) Another matchup that has evolved in recent months, since the printing of Stormwing Entity. Hands that were fantastic against Mono R (think push, inquisition, stub, drown, goyf) are pretty disastrous in the face of a 3/3 prowess flyer with a 5 cmc body that dodges everything but dismember. This is one of the primary reasons I'm running trophy in multiples out of the board. Understanding that we can play patiently is crucial here, and putting emphasis on finding goyfs can be a game changer. Since we don't have to lower our life aggressively for a goyf, we can often force opponents to point multiple spells to get it off the field (hopefully in to a stub). Post board, answering a stormwing is huge. I'd almost go as far as saying I would mull the VAST majority of hands simply because they didn't have an answer to it in one way or another (dismember, thoughtseize, trophy). The first couple of turns are often the most critical, so give your opponent as few openings as possible. Some examples include: if you have the fatal push for the 1 drop, consider fetching on your turn. Fetching on your opponents' turn to kill a creature turns on spectacle for light up the stage, even if they didn't hit you. A soft stub on a manamorphose turn 2 can prevent a huge turn, often giving you time to get a threat down or stop a stormwing from hitting the battlefield for another turn or 2. Siding in a single spellbomb isn't terrible to force inopportune lava darts and prevent bedlam reveler from sealing the late game. Focus on the creatures. You don't want them getting extensive chip damage with guys, or the likelihood of a top deck sprite dragon/swifspear with a couple sandbagged burn spells being lethal goes up tremendously. Don't forget, if you board out all 4 wraiths, you can board out Lurrus and use it as a companion. This can be extremely useful if you find yourself wanting to board in at least 5 cards (ex: 2 trophy, 2 brutality, 1 aether gust). Mono R Prowess (6-1, 86%) much easier since they aren't running stormwing. Be careful of blood moon post board, and again, focus on knocking off creatures aggressively. RB Prowess (2-5, 29%): ugh... this matchup feels atrocious. Their ability to hit you with hand disruption if you sandbag threats and let them hit you, combined with their ability to grind out games with abbot, lurrus, cling to dust, and holding cards like seal of fire on board makes it very difficult to interact optimally. Stopping the grave becomes much more important, and holding a piece of hand disruption for lurrus can shift things in your favor a bit. Eldrazi Tron: 14-6 (70%) Much better matchup for 4 color than for Grixis. A thoughtseize or inquisition on turn 1 often means our goyfs will be bigger than smashers (since artifacts, planeswalkers, and the occasional tribal all is dust are all solid hits). Best stub targets include mazemind tome, Karn, the Great Creator, and chalice of the voice (though we're far less susceptible to Chalice than grixis). Don't be afraid to diversify your creatures. "But traversing for a second shadow gives me two really big guys!", but their ability to top deck expedition maps and blast zones can make that quite the dangerous move. "So just get two tarmogoyfs." E map also get scavenger grounds. So prioritizing one of each can help protect you from a larger number of top decks. Post board, we want to prioritize hands with a dude. If that hand also has a piece or two of interaction, fantastic, but we need to get on the board to turn on stubs, and make chalices worse. If you're running damping sphere, please don't bring it in here. You're taking a turn off to slow them down a turn. It's not worth it. But cards like trophy, rejection, and k command totally are. I often board out some of our grave-relient pieces like a traverse, drown in the loch, as well as some number of fatal pushes. Inquisition has become more acceptable recently due to mazemind tome and their need for cards like dismembewarping wail/chalice to stay alive. Even if they assemble tron on turn 3, I likely wouldn't lean towards using trophy on a land. The amount of times I've seen nat tron in to matter reshaper makes me care way less than just holding the trophy for Karn/smashebridge. UW/x Control (non-Uro, path and planeswalker based): 8-4 (67%) First off, this matchup is NOT as good as the record indicates. I was fortunate that I ran in to UW multiple times during a period where I was explicitly testing out multiple cards as hate for UWx, including Autumnal Gloom, Lazotep Plating, and Thrun, the Last Troll. That being said, I'll try to get some decent pointers to even out the matchup as much as possible. You often have to overextend in to verdict and "hope they don't draw it." Unfortunately that's a big part of our plan, as they are able to answer our threats 1 for 1 on an extremely efficient basis. T3feri has made the matchup significantly more difficult, as stubborn denial is often our best way to interact by a mile. Cling to dust has given us some game against mystic sanctuary, but we absolutely cannot let them resolve a planeswalker unless we already have multiple threats on board. Stealing game 1 is a huge part of winning the match, as they often keep hands that are lacking in some area, and we have the opportunity to exploit that. Maybe it's a hand with 4 lands, path, cryptic, and Jace, and we can take path and get under their walker. Maybe it's a hand that needs to draw white mana and we can get pressure early while we hold up stub for when they do. Post board, these opportunities dwindle and it becomes far more important to keep solid, all around hands. Don't be afraid to board out every piece of removal in your deck, you can always leave a piece or two in if you expect or have seen stoneforge. Veil of summer isn't great here. We get under their counters, and you might get to stop a t3feri or jace bounce, but they still have a value engine on board that we have a tough time dealing with. Their white based removal just ignores veil completely. If you're looking for spice, Lazotep Plating has been discussed in the discord as a replacement that also stops field of ruin tempo turns, consider giving it a try and see if it works for you. Otherwise, trophy, k command, spellbomb, and ashiok are board-in considerations to deal with planeswalkers, grind ability, and mystic sanctuary, respectively. Gruul Midrange: 9-5 (64%) Oh, where to begin. So many directions this matchup can go. I think it's one of the more fun matchups in modern at the moment. We'll have some notes about play patterns a little later that apply here. For example, in the blind, on the play game 1, holding up stub is often better than thoughtseizing turn 1. This applies here, as being able to stub a utopia sprawl before untapping and seizing a second sprawl/impactful 2/3 drop can often act as a pseudo time walk. From here, it progresses to a bit of a priority system. Number 1) can I do something to get a threat down. Red based removal is often terrible against Shadow and Goyf, so getting a dude down often means it's sticking around forever. Number 2) do they have something that stops me from playing the game? Blood moon and magus of the moon are typically the first cards that come to mind here (potentially klothys if your grave is taxes and you're relying on traverse. Taking these before they land or having answers lined up in hand helps make sure you're not just stopped in your tracks. Number 3) where is their advantage coming from? Bloodbraid and Pyromancer allow them to rebuild after hand disruption/removal/counters early. If you can deal with the rest, consider taking the value pieces to reduce their ability to grind back in the mid game. Post board, I've seen a few different suggestions, so I'm going to give what's working alright for me. Don't keep a hand without a threat or the ability to find one quickly. You need to protect yourself from a blood moon + veil/ability to pay for stub. The best way to do that is to get a threat down before that happens. They love boarding in a bunch of veils and relics, so Lurrus and traverse can often become liabilities. I wouldn't board out traverse if you're on a basic forest, but I board out 2 with just the swamp. Between relic, scooze, and klothys, the second traverse if often completely dead. Play to your hand. If you're sitting on a shadow, you probably don't care about klothys at all, but if you have goyf, it can really nerf your clock. Tag a chandra and you can often be looking at a 7/8 goyf. Seasoned pyromancer is probably the best card against us, as the blockers it provides can buy them several turns. You can consider bringing in plague engineer to help, but it's often too slow on the draw. Otherwise, trophy and gust are pretty solid boards. Don't be afraid to trophy a utopia sprawl'd land early on, as it can slow things down long enough to get a dude under prison pieces. Example, trophying a turn 1 sprawl'd forest on the play means you can have a goyf down on turn 3 plus hold up a stub, while they get to untap for their third turn and gain access to their third mana, instead of 4th for moon + veil. General tips: Turn 1 in the blind, if you have the option to seize/inquisition or hold up stub, go with stub. The amount of turn 1 non-creature pieces that create a huge advantage in modern is nuts. Play to that. Vial, sprawl, amulet, map, stasphere, inquisition/seize, neoform, shriekhorn... you get the idea. The decks that aren't playing these pieces, I can just about guarantee that the thoughtseize you're sitting on is just as, if not more, impactful on turn 2. The amount of times that I could have prevented getting burned by holding up stub, as opposed to seizing in to double vial/ star + sphere with stirrings and scrying and no green source/ double amulet/ double neoform with rider + pact is insane. Stub allows you to get value on turn 1 plus more from your thoughtseize, where that stub could just be dead from that point on if you seize in to duplicate 1 drops. We play on such tight margins that we can't afford to not get value from our cards. You don't have to be aggressive every single turn. Let me repeat that for those who didn't hear me. YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE AGGRESSIVE EVERY SINGLE TURN. "But you're playing shadow, you want a lower life total to make a bigger shadow." Makes sense. What if they thoughtseize your shadow and you took yourself down to 5? What if you never draw the shadow? Know the matchup. Up against burn? Don't fetch and shock without a good reason. Up against tron? Fetch and shock away, just be weary of ballista. But the amount of times I've played the mirror and had opponents fetch and shock and wraith 3 times and play a shadow on turn 2 just to have it pushed, and then die to 1 swing off a goyf because they didn't have a plan, is through the roof. The last thing you want to do is give your opponent a free win because you didn't have a goal. The deck has a lot of ways of lowering life, sand bagging a few can often be more useful than using them without purpose. If your opponent is playing hand hate, please have a very, VERY, good reason before you pop that bauble on your turn. Opponent tapped down and you can turn on delirium to traverse for a shadow this turn? Absolutely, go for it. You have a fetch and want to scry? You can do that on your opponent's turn and not run the risk of drawing in to something you can't afford to lose. Goes along with that "don't have to be aggressive" comment. Just because you have things you CAN do, doesn't mean you SHOULD do them. Maximize your value, not your plays per turn. Final words: if you've made it this far, this might be the deck for you. It takes reps and dedication to get a feel for how games are going to play out. But it is by far one of the most rewarding archetypes in all of modern. Unfortunately I don't have links to the discords, but I'm sure people in chat can leave them if necessary. Otherwise, if you're looking for another resource for game play content and discussion, feel free to come check out my stream: https://www.twitch.tv/the_cntrlfreak where we play Shadow variants and test new options/underplayed cards Monday-Friday from 2pm CST until we decide to stop. Vods also available for previous leagues if you'd like some current content. We have a fantastic community of Shadow enthusiasts and new players to keep the discussion flowing wherever you decide to get your fix. As always, thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings and thoughts. Looking forward to the next innovator to come along and redefine the archetype.
I beat Bloodstained recently, and because this forum seems to think Hollow Knight is the greatest game ever while Bloodstained sucks I decided to go against the grain a bit and create a different discussion. Granted, overall I think Hollow Knight is better, but that's doesn't mean it's better on every aspect. Now, I found Bloodstained and Hollow Knight essentially took opposite approaches to building large Metroidvanias (in summary, Bloodstained gets it's complexity by filling out large continuums with quantitative variations, while Hollow Knight gets it through combinatorics by giving unique behavior to simple things which then synergize), so I don't think it's necessarily fair to compare them, but I'm going to do it anyway. This post is very long as I've found a lot to talk about, so I don't recommend reading the whole thing. Each paragraph is one aspect, you should be able to get what it is just from reading the first sentence, the rest of the paragraph is just an argument as to why I found that aspect to be better if you care to read it. I'll post the list of all the aspects in the concluding paragraph. With that being said, here it goes. First, I prefer Bloodstain's save/death system over Hollow Knight's. While autosaving is convenient, I honestly prefer manual saving as I like having control over those cases where you don't want to overwrite your savefile. In Hollow Knight's case, it's clear that they implement autosaving specifically to prevent you from doing that, as otherwise their death mechanic wouldn't work, and it makes certain choices permanent. It really says something about how brutal Hollow Knight's death mechanic is that it would be preferable for the game to just end and have to be reloaded from a save point. In addition to being brutal, I find such a mechanic to be a poor fit for Metroidvania's, as forcing the player to go to the same destination to recover discourages exploration or trying different routes when a particular ones proves too hard. The logistics of the whole thing are also pretty iffy, both with the shade mechanic and with autosaving and returning to a save point on quitting, and both can be exploited in ways that feel to defy the logic of the game. The thing I like the most about Bloodstain's save system is that it has lots of slots you can branch out into, which I like using to save before boss fights in case I want to refight them. Hollow Knight's Hall of Gods is much more convenient, but it still fails to capture all such fights that a player might want to reattempt with a different strategy (the big one being the Pale Lurker), and not all the fights it does have are quite the same as the original (Uumuu in particular feels like a completely different fight), so it does not make having such a feature be obsolete. Even when bosses are available unchanged in the house of gods though, the fact that the Hall of Gods can't even be unlocked until midgame needs to be considered, while save branching can be done immediately after the boss is fought. Finally, even though Hollow Knight has autosaving, it still has save points, and Bloodstained does a much a better job at placing save point in desirable locations. In particular, Bloodstained always has a save point before a boss, while there is some frustrating exceptions in Hollow Knight. Next, I prefer Bloodstain's map system. It's simple, but effective, and in terms of functionality has most of the features of Hollow Knight's, with essential features like save points and NPCs being marked in one way or another, and personal markers are given as well. Hollow Knight's maps are certainly prettier, but that doesn't necessarily make them more useful. They have a couple advantages with the colored regions and drawn out landmarks, but are also frustrating in other ways, such as with the limited markers, and the fact you need to buy everything first. The biggest issue though is the fact that maps must be bought before they can be used. This wouldn't be a bad idea by itself, but in practice it isn't used particularly well, as the map is often either is often either hid so near the entrance that they might as well start with it, or being hidden so late that they needs to frustratingly memorize the area before getting to it. The fact they cost geo is little more than a nuisance, as they don't cost enough for the player to ever be worth passing them up for now, but it's still often enough to just waste time grinding until enough geo is gathered to buy them. The problems with the map system are exacerbated by the shade mechanic, as a map is needed to track down the shade. This further discourages exploration, as it encourages someone to either just map a beeline towards the map while ignoring everything else, or just avoid areas entirely that they don't have the map for. Fog Canyon in particular was frustrating, as the map in positioned in such a place to actively discourage exploring the region until the player gets the shade cloak, but the area was designed to be cleared with either the shade cloak or Isma's tear, and the map can actually be picked up pretty easily picked up with the latter if the player wasn't discouraged from exploring by the tease combined with frustrating game mechanics. Bloodstained did a much better job at handling money than Hollow Knight. I never found myself having to grind for money in Bloodstained, but I did in the early game for Hollow Knight. The biggest issue with currency in Hollow Knight though is in the late game, which is that geo becomes absolutely useless once everything is bought. There is one stock that never exhausts, the rancid eggs, but these become all but useless after everything else is bought out as the only use for rancid eggs is recovering the player's shade, where the primary purpose for doing such is just to recover geo. The only other reason would be to fix the soul gage, but in most cases it would probably be faster to just kill yourself than to return to Confessor Jiji in order to fetch the shade. This issue is amplified in Steel Soul mode, where geo will likely accumulate to a greater extent due to not being lost on death, rancid eggs can no longer be bought, and the end game geo sinks are useless as they only prevent an effect that occurs on death. The one other replenishable stock, fixing the fragile charms, can't be restored either as the charms only break on death. This is not an issue as Bloodstained. Not only is it much harder to pay for everything, and consumable items ensure that there will always be practical stock remaining, but there is uses for money other than buying items, namely the gold bullet spell and the gold power ring. While charms can slightly modify the attack in Hollow Knight, the overall form remains the same, with the same nail attacks and the same spells. Meanwhile, by changing up weapons and spell shards, several different modes of combat are possible in Bloodstained. For example, one spell I enjoyed using in Bloodstained is Plume Parma, which launches a flying pig that bounces around the arena, and it's fun challenge to work on the geometry of arenas and boss patterns to figure out where to launch the pig so it hits the boss the maximum number of times before it pops. Hollow Knight has nothing comparable. As far as actual weapons go, boots encourage completely different fighting styles than swords or guns do. The fact there are different attack types as well also mixes stuff up in Bloodstained by more explicitly encouraging different builds. With that said, I did find Hollow Knight to have much better synergy between charms than any items in Bloodstained did, the limitation is just in modes of combat. I found the traversal items to be much more interesting in Bloodstained. Hollow Knight's are pretty generic, with the most interesting one being super-dash, which is kinda annoying. Bloodstained had three more interesting traversal abilities with reflector ray, invert, and dimension shift. I do have to say the Hollow Knight did a much better job at actually putting it's traversal abilities to use, but even then I do think Bloodstained had a much more useful invert mechanic than most games where something similar can be done. Even with some of the more generic abilities Bloodstained had more interesting traversals. The best example of this is with how they handle water, where all Hollow Knight's traversal does is make some more water swimmable on the surface, while Bloodstained has two different traversal abilities for water, each allowing different ways to explore it in 2d space. One thing that always frustrated me in Hollow Knight is how little of a difference upgrades in the game actually made. The clincher is the fact that once you get ALL mask upgrades and vessel fragments, you're still not even twice as powerful as you were at the start of the game. This difference is even more marginal when you consider how easy it is to heal and recover soul in this game, so in practice you have much more soul and life available then the meters indicate. On the other hand, if you do get pushed to the edge (which is the only point where health upgrades make a different anyway) and recover, then the effect is amplified as you could recover more than one mask after you otherwise would have died. For what they are worth, it annoys me that there are much easier method to continue pushing life past the limit, such as by farming lifeblood, making there be little incentive to actually track down any upgrades. This is one area where Hollow Knight's emphasis on the discrete works against it, as complete sets are needed before mask shards or vessel fragments, while any individual health or magic upgrade in Bloodstained makes a difference, even if it's so small that it's only situational. What really makes this bad is exactly how the upgrades are obtained. In short, I've found that for both masks shards and vessels fragments there is one that is extremely hard to get, a few that are fairly challenging, and most are a matter of going to the right place. As a result, there is little incentive to tackle the fairly challenging ones unless one is also confident that they can get the extremely challenging one as otherwise they won't amount to anything once all the easy shards and fragments are picked up, collapsing challenges with rewards of varying levels of difficulty into one. Unlike the masks, the fully upgraded nail is significantly more powerful the original nail. I don't like the way I paced the upgrades though. Each nail upgrade adds a constant amount of damage to the nail which is slightly less damage than the starting nail. This is fine, though the practical effect is somewhat sporadic due to most enemies having so few hit-points that the ratio between the previous number of hits it took to kill an enemy to the new number of hits is often quite different from the ratio between the previous amount of damage the nail did to the new amount of damage. It would be more consistent against bosses, if it wasn't for the fact that many bosses are giving more hits as the nail is upgraded so the effect is nerfed. Even worse, spells don't become more powerful, so a boss can actually become HARDER when thought with more powerful nail. While not a boss, I noticed this effect with the shade, which was quite annoying. With those aside, the issue comes from the fact the requires for upgrading the weapon are not constant, but instead increase linearly. By itself this would be reasonable as it would be expected for their be a greater requirement to get a constant improvement later on to reflect the increasing difficulty of the game, but the issue comes from the fact that the upgrade requirement is from a rare item, of which each is required to get the final upgrade. As result, the difficulty of upgrading the item increases superlinearly, not linearly. To explain why, I'll use this example of completing a set of trading cards by buying random cards. Say there are twelve possible cards that could be randomly gotten, there is six in the set you're trying to complete, and the package contains one card. With the first package, you have a 1/2 chance of getting a card in the set, and thus getting one card closer to complete set. Once you have 5/6 cards in the set though, you only have 1/12 chance of getting one card closer to completing the set as you need the specific one that you are missing, not just any card in the set. You can't apply the same calculations to Hollow Knight as obtaining the ore isn't random, it's gotten by performing certain tasks, but similar reasoning applies. The issue isn't just that it's superlinear though, but the exact values are poorly balanced. To get the first nail upgrade, you need zero pale ore, while the final upgrade needs three pale ore, which is half the total pale ore. As a result, it's strictly harder to get the final nail upgrade than to get ALL the nail upgrades before it, but the proportional effect isn't anywhere close to what you get for ANY of the upgrades before it. This lack of marginal improvement is then exacerbated by the fact that some pale ore is much easier to get than others (easiest is basically just found on the wayside on a route you have to go down anyway, hardest requires completing the second of three gauntlets), so of course the easy to find ones are all going to found before the hard ones. The reward to effort ratio is just completely out of wack for the final nail level, and I find that it just added one more nail level and four more ore it could have been much more reasonable without changing the overall system. Meanwhile, Bloodstained does damage upgrades completely differently. Frankly I don't know how Bloodstained scales damage other than it being much more complicated, but in practice I found it to be much better paced than it was in Hollow Knight. There is an issue where occasionally you randomly got a weapon that's much more powerful than the weapons you should have at that point so until you get to the next stage most weapons you pick up are useful, but overall I found it to be much better. Bloodstained has much more interesting alternative game modes than Hollow Knight does. First off, it has different difficulty settings, which Hollow Knight just lacks. If we consider Hollow Knight's alternative game modes, none of them actually add any functionality. Steel Soul mode technically adds a single new feature in the form of Steel Soul Jinn, but as all she does is convert eggs to geo, which is not particularly useful for the reasons explained in the section on money. The fact the save file deletes on death doesn't actually add functionality as a player could impose this challenge on themselves by choosing to manually delete their save file on death, all it does is automate the process. I guess you could consider the achievements associated with the mode as an added feature, but those are spoiled by the fact you can save you run by just quitting before death, meaning you can play as if you only have one less hit, and can't do any shade-jumping exploits. The other mode is Godseeker mode, which is it's answer to Boss Rush mode. It sounds like a good idea, but it's pretty terrible in practice because you can already do all of Godhome in the main game, and all Godseeker mode is just Godhome and nothing but Godhome. I see two potential uses for this mode, the first is that in Godseeker mode you're fulling upgraded so it can be done to get around having to get all the upgrades yourself, and the second is that Godhome is a pain to get to to and get out of, so just opening a second save file can be done instead for convenience sake. The problem is, it's so hard to unlock Godseeker mode that by the point you've gotten there you've probably already done every else, so you don't need to unlock any upgrades, and you can just set around in Godhome while you try to clear it in the main game as you don't actually need to leave. As it is I still haven't cleared the third pantheon, but the only upgrade I'm missing is the fourth level Grimm charm, which I frankly don't find to be worth beating either Nightmare Grimm or the third Pantheon for. The fact the Hall of Gods is almost filled in Godseeker mode means it could be used to fight the handful of bosses (Pure Vessel, Winged Nosk, and the Sisters of Battle) that still need to be unlocked in Godhome if you're unable to clear the fourth Pantheon, and it can be used to fight Grey Prince Zote if you let the real one die, but that's not much. Bloodstained also has a Boss Rush Mode, but it's much more reasonable to unlock, just requiring the bosses to be rather than tracking down some obscure location and complete the challenges there, and it doesn't waste an entire safe file. It also actually emphasizes the rush part, with a timer for high scores, and performance rewards that can actually be used in the main game instead of just being some weird isolated challenge for getting an alternative ending. With boss revenge mode it has another fun challenge mode that's unlike anything in the game, but it also has a couple full length modes that act like full games. Right now they have Zangetsu mode and randomizer mode, both of which are substantially different from the main game. Bloodstained is still being updated to add new game modes, while Hollow Knight is now capped at it's definitive version. Finally, I found Bloodstained to be much more reasonable with how it distributed its alternative endings. Hollow Knight has five endings, but two of them are just variations, so I'll only consider three of them. Bloodstained also has three endings, so we can compare them. As far as it can be measured, I feel these endings are roughly distributed in the same way: the first ending is a bit over half-way through the game, and final ending requires doing a bit more than the second one. The main difference I feel in between how this three endings are distributed between the games is that in Bloodstained, the first two endings are the result of aborting the main path through the game early. Meanwhile, you get the first ending in Hollow Knight if you go and do exactly what you are supposed to do, and the other two endings are for doing extra. There is one issue though: the first ending in Hollow Knight SUCKS. I swear it's one of the worst endings I've ever seen in modern commercial game, not only is the outcome unsatisfactory for our characters, but it's just short and feels like it doesn't actually resolve anything. It's the second ending that feels canonical, and that you need to actually get to for the game to feel complete. This is where the issue comes in. To get the best ending in Bloodstained, you pretty much just have to finish exploring the castle, and everything else will fall into place as long as you take advantage of what you were told along the way. That's not the case in Hollow Knight, where I feel they were trying to find an excuse to force player to hit all the important lore spots, but it never really came together in a meaningful way. Half of it is reasonable, where you need the shade cloak to explore through Queen's Garden so you can get half of the kingsoul. The Pale King's half though, is kinda ridiculous. The first issue is getting to the White Palace, which requires using an ability that isn't used anywhere else in a specific location. The bigger issue than finding the White Palace though is getting that ability. For reasons I don't understand, they decided to make it the final upgrade that you get from collecting dream essence, when I think it would make more sense to include at least one optional upgrade past it instead of just having the seer disintegrate. The larger issue though is what it takes to get that point. The game points to two sources of dream essence, warrior dreams and whispering roots, and they contain enough essence to get all the upgrades EXCEPT the awakened dream nail. For the final bit of essence, you're expected to beat one of the champions, most of which are harder than the tyrant lord so it brings into question of what's the point of even including the queens path. The Hidden Dreams updated added some somewhat more reasonable alternative champions to get this final bit of essence from, but they have the same issue of the other champions in that not only are they hard to beat, but they are also hard to find. It's not that they are actually hard to find if you know to look for them, but as far as I'm aware the game gives you know hints that these bosses even exist, and they are all located in isolated areas that you already visited and would have no reason to revisit unless you're specifically looking for the champions. The Hidden Dreams ones are even worse in this regard, as you can be locked out of one if you miss something much earlier in the game, while the other requires a trigger completely unrelated to the character to appear, and is located in a secret area which is the one region I know of that requires desolate dive to access without any sort of visual cue. The real problem though comes once you actually get to the White Palace though, which is this seemingly never ending platform section that is FAR harder than anything before it, feeling more like you're playing Super Meat Boy than Hollow Knight. It's one thing if was just an optional challenge like the Path of Pain that it also contains, but I find the fact you need to beat it to get a decent ending to unreasonable, the game doesn't even do anything to prepare you for it. The only reason I got through it was with an optional charm, Hive Blood, whose use involves a lot of just sitting around and waiting and it is so tedious. I wonder if the White Palace feels some out of place specifically because it was a stretch goal that happened to be part of the main quest instead of a side quest like the colosseum is. Maybe it would have been even harder, but I feel like the whole ordeal would have at least made more sense if the abyss was actually completed as originally planned. The final ending doesn't have the same weight the second one does, but it's even more ridiculous. For unknown reasons, they decided to make the sole reward of boss rush side quest to be getting this final ending, and then center the entire ending around this boss rush mode, and it's just weird. What makes it absurd though is what it takes to actually get the ending, which is beating the Pantheon of Hallownest. It's hard enough to unlock as it requires clearing all the other Pantheons, but the real issue with it isn't that it's hard, it's that it's LONG. To get the hard part of the Pantheon, the player needs to spend like 20 minutes fighting all of the bosses that they've already mastered on the previous pantheons, and if they die they need to restart the entire thing. Because the ending is so hard it's like 20 minutes wasted each failed attempt, and that's just not worth it for most people. The worst part is the ending ends in a bit of cliffhanger, letting people to believe it was sequel bait, in turn frustrating countless player's trying to avoid spoilers who fruitlessly beat themselves against this ridiculous challenge. Bloodstained has it's superbosses too, but those are just additional challenges, not being required to get what seems to be an important ending. To get that you just need to be beat the game. In conclusion, I preferred Bloodstain's save and map systems, found it did a better job at handling money, had more combat options and more interesting traversal items, had more useful upgrades to health, magic, and damage, has more useful alternative game modes, and has more reasonable conditions for getting the good endings. While I'm not saying these are the only things Bloodstained did better, I do think Hollow Knight is better in most other aspects, including graphics, story, bosses and enemies, and sound and level design, and these aspects are considered to be more essential. I will not argue why I think Hollow Knight does this better people seem to generally be in agreement to this, and I've already written well more than enough. I'd like to hear any differing opinions, but again, I recommend only reading the sections you're interested in discussing and not the entire essay.
Magicite vs. Historia Crystals - A Semi-Comprehensive Comparison
With Rat Tails in short supply and the number of buffs & passives only growing more complicated, one of the questions understandably getting raised over and over again is "Should I be using a magicite deck or a historia crystal for my Dreambreaker team?" There have been some broad gestures at comparing the two, but often the discussion just amounts to saying "It's situational" and then making no attempt to parse out what those situations are. So let's do that.
Single element teams should just use a magicite deck. There's a case to be made for using the HC at level 99 (especially if using ATK & MAG units), but it's minor.
Multi-element teams generally prefer the HC, but they don't really show much edge until level 90. Three-element teams can probably justify switching at level 80.
Mages really cannot power through Dreambreaker Full Break. Physical units (especially those with a crit fix) potentially can, and generally prefer magicite for doing so. The HC/magicite stat difference otherwise is not significant here.
HC provide better damage reduction even at level 80. If incoming damage is your problem, switch to the HC.
Deck & Crystal Configurations
I'll be using the 7 magicite decks below for comparison. The characters are just for illustration; the important thing is how many elements are in play and whether the team is physical, magical, or both. All magicite are max inherited, and while we could quibble about specific passives, I believe I'm using fairly common and effective configurations.
I do not use Hand of Vengeance; anyone who does is welcome to math that out in the comments.
Holy is unique in that it doesn't "count" as an element in terms of passives; even a purely defensive Alexander yields enough empower holy thanks to the Madeens. Just remember that this is a multi-element deck from the perspective of imperils.
On the HC side, the question is blessedly straightforward: how many rat tails are you willing to invest? I'll be comparing each magicite deck against HCs at levels 80, 90, and 99 with synergy and 500% Historia Link. The Stat Boon and Surging Power passives increment at 85 and 95 as well, but they're so modest that I don't consider them sensible targets.
Defenses & Passives
HC (Lv 80)
HC (Lv 90)
HC (Lv 99)
Offensive ranges represents from 1 HP to max HP. (IE, no Surging Power to max Surging Power) So Empower 27 plus Surging Power 23 comes out as 1.27 * 1.23 = 1.56, or a 56% damage boost.
Damage dealt by non-elemental (e.g. Mug Bloodlust) or off-realm (e.g. Tyro HA) sources is negligible.
Defenses aren't strictly apples to apples. Magicite ranges represent wards-only vs. wards+dampens. Historia crystal ranges represent non-realm characters vs. in-realm characters.
Historia crystals have an edge defensively. Magicite dampens may not apply to many/any of the boss's attacks, so you're usually getting 8% rather than 22%. The HC will provide everyone but your off-realm unit with 24%, even against non-elemental or gravity attacks.
Possible defense caveats are if the lower HP keeps you from breaking 10k HP (solvable with record boards), or if your off-realmer has durability issues (not true for Tyro, possibly for someone like Edward).
Offensively, the 1P deck supported by a crit fix (e.g. Tyro USB4/AASB) and 1M decks are about even with a level 99 HC. The overall damage amps are similar, the mages get equal Fast Act from the deck as the HC, and the physical units trade some crit damage for fast act and crit chance.
Other physical units will generally be content to switch to HC at level 90 since the crit boosts make up for the slightly weaker damage amp. Mages are more inclined to wait until level 99 since Fast Act is marginal as upgrades go.
HC (Lv 80)
HC (Lv 90)
HC (Lv 99)
Even a lowly 3H deck provides better ATK/MAG than a maxed HC. Quantifying that edge is a nightmare, but we can box it in somewhat at least since these boons apply after character stats and buffs. We take as given that all Dreambreaker units have full legend dives, crystal waters, and magia in their primary stat. On top of that, there are 3 rough tiers of investment. An elemental artifact alone will get a unit to about 800 ATK/MAG. An elemental artifact + record board OR realm artifact (no RB) gets a unit to about 1000 ATK/MAG. And a realm artifact with RB gets us to about 1200 ATK/MAG. These numbers will vary by unit and your relic collection but are broadly consistent. We then have to consider how much you're buffing and whether you're punching through Dreambreaker Full Break (-70%) or overwriting with Tyro OSB (+15%)? For buffs, assume 5 possibilities: no buffs, +30%, +50% from an elemental chain, two +30s (+69% overall), or 30+50 (+95% overall)
+0%, full break
+30%, full break
+50%, full break
+69%, full break
+95%, full break
Soft caps for ATK are at 805 and 1300. Soft caps for MAG are at 1055 and 2037. Without disappearing further down the rabbit hole: if you aren't hitting the first soft cap, you aren't doing squat to Dreambreakers, and if you're past the second one, the benefits of a magicite deck over HC are pretty marginal.
Tyro OSB makes the magicite stat advantage negligible. Even a level 80 HC will let physical units hit the second cap unless you COMPLETELY phone it in. Mages will need at least one 30% buff and some investment (or 50% and a medium approach) to reach this point.
If you're eating Dreambreaker Full Break, physical teams can feasibly break the first soft cap with magicite but fall short with HCs unless heavily buffed. Notable edge for magicite.
Dreambreaker Full Break absolutely annihilates mages. Even with +95%, record board, realm artifact, and magicite stats, they'll struggle to reach the first soft cap.
I'm trying really hard to not think about camaraderie RB nodes
HC are uniformly better.
They deal 40k more damage on entry
Their follow-ups benefit from the realm chain; magicite generally will not.
They provide +30% prismatic on entry vs. +20% element
They provide imperil prismatic 1 vs. imperil element 1 on each follow-up attack
Entry damage is easy. Accounting for both entries, it's 200k for the magicite (4.4% of a Dreambreaker's 4.5M HP) vs. 280k for the historia crystal (6.2% of the boss's HP). For the chain bonus, neither magicite nor HC benefit from elemental chains, and magicite usually will not contribute to realm chains due to being limited to FF5, FF6, FFX, and FF11. (And only Titan and Ifrit line up at all with their characters). Given that HC already win this category overall, I'll assume the simplest and most conservative case for them here, getting only the RW chain bonus (30%). Across 4 hits, a magicite will deal 120k damage vs the 156k for the crystal. Combining these with the entry damage, we get 7.1% boss HP dealt by the magicite vs. 9.7% by the HC when the RW chain is used. This is more neat than actionable though, especially since savage mode completely mucks with the numbers themselves. For the imperils I'll assume a static IMPERIL 2 for simplicity, granting that this ramp up/down varies on the tempo of the fight. In defense of this assumption: very little damage is done until the chain, magicite/HC, and character SBs go up at roughly the same time. And in the case of a non-clear, by the time the imperils have all faded, your units are likely tapped out as well. Dreambreakers have 20% weakness, or 40% with our imperils. 1.4/1.2 = 1.17, meaning each unit sees a 17% damage increase from having the imperils vs. not. For units, I assume 3 DPS units, each of which contributes roughly equal DPS. (Demonstrably not true; handicap this at your discretion.) In a two-element team, 1 of 3 units realizes this damage increase by switching from elemental to prismatic imperil, and in a three-element team, 2 of 3 units do. That gives us the following breakdown:
1 element: even
2 elements: +6% HC
3 elements: +11% HC
The element/prismatic boost is broadly not worth considering; it's short-lived, additive with a number of other buffs in play and will in some cases be lost to the buff cap. But for completeness, its best case scenario assumes your units have +element weapons and armor for 1.4 element mod and NOTHING ELSE. Magicite entry yields 1.6/1.4 = 14% additional damage per unit affected, so 14% in a one element team, 9.5% in a two-element team, 4.8% in a three element team. Conversely, historia crystals yield 1.7/1.4 = 21% damage. Dividing this out means a 6-15% advantage for the HC, which again is only really true in a run fast enough to capitalize on it and is optimistic anyway.
Despite all the numbers and my snark in the opening, I fully confess that a lot of the conclusions are ultimately a educated guesses. The stat assumptions are pretty broad, the assumption of 3 equivalent DPS units is not true at all (as the folks using Ramza AASB can surely attest to), and things like HAs, variable damage caps, and more confound this to an incredible degree. If you've done the back and forth between magicite and HCs for any of your Dreambreaker runs thus far, definitely share in the comments! The other consideration looming large is White Odin. It'll be a long while yet before we have full elemental coverage even with day 1 clears of him, but his direct damage is better than a historia crystal and he can cover empowers and dampens for multi-element teams. It's very possible - though not obvious - that he'll obsolete HCs as a result. Incoming 7* dives for Historia Crystals?
Including this in case it's useful for anything in the comments.
A Look At A Trading Nightmare. Darrell Martin, Apex Investing: The source for trading Nadex ... It is capped and there are never any margin calls. As the market spikes and falls, you are protected Margin call is definitely the most dreadful term in futures trading. It is the nightmare of all futures traders because what margin call is telling you is that you have lost money, probably a lot of it and is now required to provide even more money. Unless you have a 50-100K+ account or something along those lines, you're gonna need to use margin. Even then you'll still use it. I know guys with million dollar accounts that use margin every day, and use a lot of it at that. Now before we go any further, let me clarify here what I mean by using a lot of margin. Trading Bitcoin and Altcoins on Margin. By trading an asset based on margin, you have the opportunity to leverage your position to a greater amount. But this is a double-edged sword; on one hand, it could allow you to speed up your money engine. On the other hand, it can end up being your worst nightmare. How Did a Short Seller's Account Go to Negative $106K? Joe Campbell, a 32-year-old small business owner from Gilbert, Ariz., liked to trade the stock market in his spare time.
What trading on margin means and how to use it The Dough ...
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