Monday, November 29, 2010

Esper Aggro

Well folks, I promised you a non-Combo Sharuum beatdown deck. It's up to you to decide weather or not I delivered, but for what it's worth, here is the list.

General: Sharuum the Hegemon (WUB)


Leonin Abunas
Indomitable Archangel
Sun Titan

Vedalken Engineer
Etherium Sculptor
Master of Etherium
Trinket Mage

Grand Architect
Thada Adel, Acquisitor
Arcum Dagsson
Master Transmuter
Vedalken Archmage
Ethersworn Adjudicator
Sharding Sphinx
Inkwell Leviathan

Dimir House Guard
Geth, Lord of the Vault

Shadowmage Infiltrator
Sphinx Summoner
Glassdust Hulk
Angel of Despair
Filigree Angel
Sphinx of the Steel Wind

Myr Retriever
Etched Champion
Solemn Simulacrum
Kuldotha Forgemaster * (was Wurmcoil Engine, but I needed the Wurm for another deck)
Steel Hellkite
Darksteel Colossus

Swords to Plowshares
Path to Exile
Dispeller's Capsule
Open the Vaults

Courier's Capsule
Thirst for Knowledge
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Tezzeret the Seeker

Executioner's Capsule
Beacon of Unrest

Thopter Foundry

All is Dust

Sol Ring
Voltaic Key
Pithing Needle
Azorius Signet
Dimir Signet
Orzhov Signet
Cranial Plating
Lightning Greaves
Grim Monolith
Sculpting Steel
Mimic Vat
Sword of Light and Shadow
Sword of Fire and Ice
Lux Cannon
Chimeric Mass

Plains x2
Island x 2
Swamp x2
Ancient Den

Seat of Synod
Vault of Whispers
New Benalia
Tolaria West
Bojuka Bog
Mystifying Maze
Kor Haven
High Market
Academy Ruins
Arcane Sanctum
Dromar's Caverns
Azorius Chancery
Dimir Aqueduct
Orzhov Basilica
Hallowed Fountain
Watery Grave
Godless Shrine
Adarkar Wastes
Underground River
Caves of Koilos
Flooded Strand
Marsh Flats
Sunken Ruins
Glacial Fortress
Drowned Catacomb
Celestial Colonnade
Creeping Tar Pit

I don't have a lot of time to discuss right now, and really there isn't too much to explain. It's a straightforward WUB/Esper deck with good solid threats, some utility and acceleration and relevant tutors/support.

The mana base isn't interesting, except that it only plays 35 lands. I'd like to get the number up, but I'm having a hell of a time cutting stuff as it is. Here's a sample of what is missing from the deck that I'd like to fit in somehow:

Ethersworn Cannonist
Sanctum Gargoyle
Tempered Steel
Wrath of God
Faerie Mechanist
March of the Machines
Argivian Restoration
Junk Diver
Scroll Rack

Crystal Ball
Cloud Key
Prototype Portal
Citanul Flute

And of course, Wurmcoil Engine needs to go back in, if I can acquire another copy. Tempered Steel is also pretty crucial, but I needed those for a Myr Tribal deck. I should have an extra copy for the Sharuum deck in a couple of weeks though.

Anyway, playing the deck is pretty simple. There are no intricate combos (as far as I know, at least) to assemble, just dump your hand and swing, basically. It's light on removal and utility, so use that stuff sparingly. Try to gain an advantage first, then use the removal to hold on to it. Draw cards as often as possible too.

The one issue I've had is that almost half the creatures are non-Artifact creatures. I need to replace some of those with Artifact guys, but the ones I am running are so damn useful and relevant, it's hard to know what I can live without. Indomitable Archangel is a good candidate for replacement, though. I don't like not being able to equip my Artifact guys. Arcum is good, but since I'm not setting up dumb combos with him, he might not be good enough either. Shadowmage infiltrator is SO damn good, but he's one of the few guys that isn't directly on theme.

Oh, and in case you all haven't learned this lesson yet: Mimic Vat is a fuckin' Rock Star! I'm rapidly starting to consider it the single best overall EDH Rare in Scars. I knew it was going to be good, but it is rapidly starting to exceed my wildest dreams.

Anyway, with all the stuff I had to cut when building this, I'm absolutely sure it'll change somewhat, so I'll update you on any significant changes. In the mean time, I've got a Jund deck up and running, but I have a few kinks to work out with it first. Decklist soon.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Molten Psyche

The last decklist I posted was a deck built around the new Scars of Mirrodin card, Genesis Wave. Today we’re going to take a look at another Scars of Mirrodin rare that is also a very Johnny-friendly, build-around-me card: Molten Psyche.

Much like Genesis Wave, Molten Psyche is a card that has an effect we’ve seen variations on before, but still does its thing in a rather unique way. Underworld Dreams, Cerebral Vortex and Spiteful Visions all fill the same sort of niche as Molten Psyche, but the Psyche stands out at both more difficult to utilize, and more powerful than other options if so utilized. Underworld Dreams and Wheel of Fortune have long been the best of friends, but Molten Psyche is basically Wheel + Dreams all rolled into one card, with a half-price discount to boot. The catch is that it needs Metalcraft (having three artifacts on the board) to work at full power.

The appeal of building a deck around Molten Psyche is that it imposes certain restrictions or requirements that must be met in the deckbuilding process to ensure you get any real value out of playing the card. In short, it’s a “build-around-me” card. This is a card that requires a bit of creativity and problem solving to use effectively, which makes it an appealing choice to me, because I love solving puzzles and doing things a bit outside the box. The appeal of playing Molten Psyche comes from the fact that it can potentially kill any number of players at once, making it a great Multiplayer card, which is the #1 format I’ve been playing recently.

And with that, let’s get started building. The first step in building around this particular card is to look at the drawback, in this case Metalcraft. It’s not exactly a drawback per se, but we obviously want to have 3 artifacts on the board when we cast this card as consistently as possible. Occasionally we might cast this without having Metalcraft in a dire strait, but this should have very infrequently. We also don’t want this to be a dead card in our hand while we wait several turns to draw another artifact.

So this tells us we need plenty of artifacts in our deck to consistently and reliably get Metalcraft online. Now, I ask myself: Since we are already striving to achieve Metalcraft, will there be other Metalcraft cards we’d want to run? In short, the answer is: No. I already know my colors are Red and Blue (we’ll get there, hang on) so I’ll just say that the only other Metalcraft card that might be worth considering is Argent Sphinx, but it doesn’t really tie into our strategy in any meaningful way. Having ruled out pushing a Metalcraft strategy, lets move on to selecting those artifacts that we need to satisfy our Metalcraft requirements.

To get help with this step, we’ll skip ahead just a bit and glance at our VIP’s main purpose: To force opponents to draw extra cards, while punishing them for doing so at the same time. Since we’re obviously going that route, we should start by looking at Artifacts that force our opponents to draw extra cards. These artifacts will satisfy both goals at once, activating Metalcraft for us, whilst ensuring our opponents have full hands to punish.

Off the top of my head, Howling Mine, Temple Bell and Font of Mythos are prime examples. Looking at the Psyche again, we see that it’s a Sorcery, meaning we will be casting it on OUR turn. Howling Mine and Font of Mythos cause our opponents to draw on THEIR turns, so these have some value, but Temple Bell is the ideal card here, because we can force everyone to draw on OUR turn, right before we cast the Psyche. Howling Mine still has value, though, I think. It’s cheap and fast, and will also help you draw into key card faster, while making it more difficult for opponents to dump their hands too quickly.

So lets throw in 4 of each, along with our Molten Psyches, of course:

4 Molten Psyche
4 Howling Mine
4 Temple Bell

Another artifact that seems ideal here is Ebony Owl Netsuke. It basically functions in a similar fashion to the Psyche as it punishes opponents for keeping a full grip. Conveniently, it’s also cheap to cast, making it a perfect fit. It’s synergetic and redundant to our core strategy, so 4x these go in.

4 Ebony Owl Netsuke

Speaking of redundancy, I want to combine Molten Psyche with another card that is very similar: Cerebral Vortex. Cerebral Vortex also forces a player (can be you in a pinch) to draw extra cards and then punished them for every card they’ve drawn that turn. It’s a fun card I’ve always wanted to use, and it seems perfect here, so let’s throw them in. Another U/R card that likes to punish card drawers is Niv-Mizzet himself. As a creature, in a multiplayer-oriented deck, he’s pretty fragile, and most players are smart enough to kill the Firemind on sight, if possible. But it won’t always be possible, so occasionally the Firemind mind win a game for me. He’s worth having 1x at least.

1x Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
4 Cerebral Vortex

Now we need some defense. Blue/Red can defend itself against creatures in two ways: Burn and Bounce. Burn is usually better, but here I think we want bounce. Why? Well, it returns stuff to our opponents hands, and we want our opponents to have full hands, right? So after considering a wide range of available options, I settled on this modest package:

4x Aether Adept
3x Evacuation

We’re almost there, but we have a few more slots to fill. I’d like to squeeze in a few more artifacts, and I want to ensure we have plenty of mana, so I’m throwing in some Izzet Signets. Since we’re drawing so heavily on the Izzet well, and our deck is VERY Instant/Sorcery dependant, let’s add a dash of Izzet Chronarch - in case we have to blow a key spell early, we can get it back later. Windfall is great after Niv-Mizzet or before Molten Psyche.

2 Izzet Chronarch
3 Izzet Signet
3 Windfall

Finally, we add the lands. I want to run the U and R artifact lands from Mirrodin to really enable Metalcraft as easily as possible. We have very few creatures, making them a precious commodity. And they all happen to be Wizards. And all but 1 have EtBF abilities we might like to recur. So, Riptide Laboratory seems like a good fit – just as a one-of since this isn’t our main goal here. The rest of the lands will be whatever U/R duals we have access to, rounded out with good ol’ Basics.


4 Aether Adept
2 Izzet Chronarch
1 Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind

4 Cerebral Vortex
4 Molten Psyche
4 Ebony Owl Netsuke
4 Temple Bell
4 Howling Mine
3 Izzet Signet
3 Windfall
3 Evacuation

3 Shivan Reef
3 Steam Vents
3 Cascade Bluffs
4 Great Furnace
4 Seat of the Synod
1 Riptide Laboratory
3 Island
3 Mountain

There we have our deck. Ideally, you’ll spend the early game developing with your artifacts while using Aether Adepts and Evacuations to keep creature pressure off you and keep your opponents hands full. Then once you hit 6 mana or so, unleash a flurry of stuff culminating in a Molten Psyche that should kill just about everyone.
If anyone is left, use Izzet Chronarch to set up another whirlwind of card drawing and damage. Ebony Owl Netsuke and Niv-Mizzet can help out with damage-dealing. Niv-Mizzet is also a good feint, as you will often not need him, but your opponents will probably think he’s more important than he is and waste time and resources dealing with him, while you calmly set up the Molten Psyche kill instead. Occasionally, he will be more useful, though, so Riptide Laboratory can help protect him in that case.

One thing I’m iffy about is Windfall. While I do think the card is a good fit here, I wonder if something like Twincast/Reverberate might be better here. I’ll try out the Windfalls first, but if they aren’t as good as I hope, I’ll swap them out for Twincast and see which works better. If you try this out and find you need a bit more bounce for early game defense, I’d suggest Aether Spellbomb as it is an Artifact as well as a bounce spell.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ubiquity in EDH, or A Format Gone Stale

So I currently have no EDH decks built. As previously mentioned, I took apart all of my decks, so that I could get some reorganization done on my collection, and also so that I could rebuild my Big Highlander. I have several legends in my Highlander deck, so I can convert it to an EDH in about 10 minutes time, if I want to. For instance, I could choose Teneb the Harverster for a General, and remove all Blue and Red spells and lands, then remove anything banned in EDH such as Kokusho and Recurring Nightmare. I should be left with a little over 100 cards, so I can just cut cards until I have 100, shuffle up and I’m good to go.

The idea here was to have one big highlander deck that contained within it multiple possible EDH builds. That way, instead of having all my good cards tied up in 4 or 5 EDH decks, I’d have a maximum of 1 copy tied up in the highlander, but I’d still have access to a variety of builds. This idea was born out of a realization that among the 4 most recent EDH builds, there was a LOT of overlap. For example every deck that ran Islands had Mulldrifter and Rite of Replication. Every green deck had Indrik Stomphowler and Sakura-Tribe Elder. It was really a huge strain on my collection, as I was also trying to build a multitude of 60-card decks.

Thus I thought that if I could just build one BIG deck that contained within itself a number of possible EDH builds, that would alleviate this problem somewhat. It hasn’t worked out quite as well as I thought. For it to really succeed as I hoped, I would probably need to expand the big Highlander to 300 cards, at least. Which is doable, but I prefer not to. So, I consider the experiment a partial failure for now. The big deck can be converted to a passable Teneb or Thraximundar deck, or possible a Kaarthus deck even.

The problem, though, is that any of those decks would be considerably different than what I would build if I just set out to build an EDH in those colors. For instance, a Kaarthus EDH deck would probably run a good deal more Dragons and Dragon-related cards. Teneb might consider running Buried Alive. Furthermore it all but precludes something like a Zur build. I might run Zur himself in this big deck, as he can help me find such gems as Survival of the Fittest or Recurring Nightmare. But in EDH, Nightmare is banned all together and Survival wouldn’t be legal in a Zur-colored EDH. Then the reverse of this problem is also true – in a Zur deck I’d want to run things like Battle Mastery and Steel of the Godhead, but in a 250-card 5-color deck, neither of those auras is worth a slot.

Now having highlighted the issues around my idea and why it’s not working out as I’d hoped, let me switch gears and talk about something that I learned from this experiment. In looking at the decklists for several of my EDH decks, I realized that all of my EDH decks tend to be 3-color “good stuff” decks. They might be loosely based around a theme, but more often than not, my “theme” is simply to analyze what that particular color combinations strengths are and play to those strengths by running the most powerful effects I can find. I tend to keep my General in mind and play to his strengths. My Thraxi deck had a very high number of removal spells and Barter in Blood type effects. Mostly the deck just wanted to keep the ground clear for Thraxi to smash face. Rafiq ran quick evasive creatures and combat-damage abilities, as well as buffs to make Rafiq himself more lethal. But overall, I frequently ran the same bloc of utility spells. Mulldrifter, Forsee and Harmonize were my go-to spells for drawing cards. Indrik Stomphowler and Acidic Slime were just as ubiquitous in green decks, and Flame-Tongue Kavu, Anger and Spitebellows are pretty much the only 3 red creatures I would ALWAYS run no matter what.

There were so many cards like that – cards that I considered auto-includes regardless of strategy or theme – that I came to realize that there was a certain homogeneity to my EDH decks that contributed to them all feeling very similar to play. Perhaps that is indicative of my play stile and card preferences. In fact, I’m certain it is. But, it also reveals to me that as different as I thought my Rafiq and Thraximundar decks were, they really offered up similar play experiences. This was in large part due to the fact among all my decks, there were more duplicates of cards than there were unique cards. Only Thraxi could play Slave to Bolas, for example, but most mono-colored cards tended to be the same from deck to deck. The blue cards I was playing in Rafiq were nearly identical to the blue cards in my Vorosh deck, and the blue cards in my Thraxi deck.

It was really only in the multicolor cards that there was a great deal of variance from deck to deck. This, to me, defeats the purpose of having multiple decks built. If I play a few games with Rafiq and get tired of playing that, I could switch to… say, Vorosh maybe. Vorosh was certainly a good deal more controlling than Rafiq, with much more removal AND more graveyard recursion as well. However, both decks contained Green and Blue, and so many of the G and U cards in each deck were the same. It really felt pointless to have two decks with completely different themes and strategies but still containing nearly half the same cards.

It is my understanding that the format of EDH was invented and designed specifically to reward players with many varied game experiences. First off, you have a 100-card deck that also happens to be singleton. The intent behind these deck-building requirements is plainly obvious: to allow you to play one deck over and over again and have a new experience with each game. The problem is that I was playing FOUR decks and STILL managed to get bored. Obviously I’m doing something quite wrong. This is what led me to build the Horde of Notions / Tooth and Nail deck. It was a deck that felt quite unlike most of my other EDH decks. For one thing, it was 5-color which meant that more and more of my “pet cards” and “must runs” had to be cut – if I’d run them all, I wouldn’t have had room for all those wacky Tooth and Nail combos, which made the deck play much more like a themed deck with a specific strategy and purpose. Sure, I included what utility I could, but overall, it had a MUCH higher number of slots dedicated to doing one specific thing than any other EDH I’ve previously built.

But this approach had it’s own problems. My previous 4 decks all had variety within themselves, but ubiquity amongst them all led to a very repetitive feeling in playing them all. This one was far less homogenous than those decks, but at the same time was just as redundant because it was TOO focused on it’s core strategy. Basically, the deck wanted to do one thing, and one thing only: Cast Tooth and Nail for a devastatingly synergetic pair of creatures. It could go on the offensive early with Horde but that WASN’T what the deck wanted to do, and every time I won with Horde before getting to cast T&N, it felt more like a defeat than a victory.

Then there was the fact that, while I had a vast enough array of creature pairs that I could tailor my T&N targets to best fit whatever the board state was at the time of casting, 90% of the time the best possible pair was Emrakul + Madrush Cyclops, with Avenger of Zendikar + Flamekin Zealot being a very close second. There was almost never a situation where any other pair of dudes was better than either of those pairs. I occasionally went ahead and got something else just for the sake of variety, but ultimately I came to understand that the deck was less of a “cast T&N” deck than it was a “get Emrakul out” deck. I could have taken Emmy out, of course, but then Avenger of Zendikar would have just become the go-to guy and only slightly more often would some other creature pair be more appropriate. I still would have the kind of variety I’d hoped for. So even though I could customize my Tooth targets in a vast number of ways, I still wound up getting bored with it rather quickly, because no matter what the situation a select few pairings just kept cropping up as the best possible answer to the board.

So now we finally come to my point. EDH is about variety. You get to play a whole bunch of cards from all over the game, many of which you would be ruthlessly mocked for playing in any other format. You have a big deck full of random stuff, so you can play a whole bunch of games with this one deck, and if you’re doing it right, you’ll win all of those games in a different manner, or at least with a different huge creature. In a Rafiq deck, you’ll probably win with Rafiq most often and that’s fine, but if you ALWAYS win with Rafiq + Might of Oaks, then it just gets boring too quickly. Sometimes you want to win with Rafiq + Finest Hour, or Sheild of the Oversoul or Eldrazi Conscription, or maybe just Rafiq by himself gets the job done in three hits. Then occasionally you’ll win with Simic Sky Swallower + Sovereigns of Lost Alara getting Conscription on your big Shroud guy, and you didn’t even CAST Rafiq this game.

Again, the point is: Variety. Tutors a fine. Important even. But if you’re 100-card singleton deck plays out the exact same threats and answers nearly every game, then you’re missing the point. Less obvious, though, is that if you have 4 or 5 EDH decks built at the same time and your most Control-ish deck and your most Aggro deck have nearly 40 cards between them that are the same – you’re missing the point. That was my mistake. I just had TOO many cards that I felt I HAD to run in any deck of the appropriate colors.

Why is this a problem? Well, it’s not variety. The decks became too similar, despite there strategies and some unique cards among them, Uril, Rafiq, Thraxi and Vorosh all just really offered up the same play experiences as one another. Switching from one deck to another didn’t give me enough variety. Too many pet cards. Too many games won by casting Rite of Replication with Kicker on something awesome. Too many games won by accelerating out a fast Thraximundar and wining in three hits. I like winning. And I don’t mind winning the same way over and over again with a 60-card deck that is designed to do just that. But in EDH it seems like the point is to win in as many different ways as possible with the same deck.

Now, this is just my interpretation of the format – you’re certainly entitled to take EDH in a different light, if that’s your preference. However, I feel like my view is more in line with the original intent of the creators of the format. Perhaps I’m wrong, but why would they have designed the format the way they did, unless they were actively trying to encourage diversity and creativity?

That all said, what’s next? I got bored with EDH, but now I already miss playing it. How do I go about getting back into the spirit and fun of EDH, while avoiding the ubiquity and narrowness that made it boring in the first place?

The first step is that I have to avoid the trap of “must run” cards. Pet cards are fine, as they tend to be more fun to play regardless of power level. Unfortunately many of my pet cards are also in the must run category; things like Bribery and Treachery. I really don’t know how to go about this step. I’m terrified of building a green deck without Greater Good. How do I draw cards?! I don’t know if I can really successfully avoid doing this sort of thing.

However, another approach is to emphasize building to my General’s themes. My Vorosh deck only played Vorosh for the colors – I rarely cast him in-game, and usually when I did it was for an emergency blocker, or I just wanted to sac him to Greater Good for cards. I rarely cast him, and NEVER won with him. I could try to build a Vorosh deck that actually wants to cast him and tries to win with him.

My Rafiq deck did an excellent job of playing to the General’s strengths and still managed to be fun and offered a decent variety of experiences. In contrast, Generals like Uril, are harder to work with. My first Uril build was really just a Naya “good-stuff” deck, but it had some issues. Once I started tailoring the deck to suit Uril better, it played better and won more often, but it also started playing very repetitively, and consequently got boring quickly. It’s a fine line between “playing to your General’s strengths” and simply having a linear strategy. A linear strategy, if I understand it correctly, is where you deck seeks to play out each game similarly, and often sets up the same win condition each time.

In Rafiq’s case I could win with Rafiq buffed by something else, OR Rafiq could act as the buff instead, boosting another creature to lethality. This was a slightly linear strategy in that I primarily won by attacking and combat damage, but the specifics really could vary quite a bit.

Uril, on the other hand, almost always won through General Damage caused by an Aura-laden Uril. And while I had a variety of Auras to put on him, the end result was simply that he was made bigger and harder to block. It was a very linear strategy, and for it to work properly I had to have Uril, the Auras and ways to find them/cheat them out. The deck became all about doing that one thing – Enchanting Uril all to hell. I started cutting alternate win conditions like Big Fat Guys and adding things like Three Dreams and Enlightened Tutor.

Sadly, I think this is the only way to properly build a Uril deck. So I either suck it up and play a deck with a very linear strategy, or choose a new general. I could play Rith. “Tokens” can be a pretty wide-open strategy with plenty of room for variance and experimenting. There are some must-run cards, sure – Doubling Season, anyone? – but ultimately it’s a clear theme but with more room for variety than Uril allowed.

Another idea floating around in my brain has been to attempt that mythical Aggro Sharuum build I lamented over in my Scars set review. I really want to play a Sharuum deck that wins 99% of its games through combat damage. Things like Tempered Steel and Etched Champion make me think this can be accomplished. I want to try it.
Overall, I need to learn to dedicate more slots to what the deck is about, rather than cramming it full of ubiquitous good stuff. Some of that HAS to be in each deck, yeah. I don’t think any deck can reasonably expect to win without a solid utility package and a few good alternate win-conditions. But to make EDH fun, and more importantly to sustain the fun indefinitely, I need to avoid the trap of ubiquity. My decks need more individuality, more room to do their own thing and shine or fail based on their uniqueness, rather than to rely on a bunch of proven spells to prop up a handful of unique ones. Less unanimity and more variety between decks, coupled with less linear strategies, will result in a wider and more open-ended game experience, which in turn will keep the format fresh and interesting, rather than stale and boring.

I must begin to collect these thoughts and internalize them – then I start building!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

New Wave

Phew! Finally! I am back with a REAL update. I know I promised I'd have a list for my newly-rebuilt big highlander (not EDH, it's 250-cards, 5 color). But... I built a new deck that I wanted to share first.

Ever since Scars of Mirrodin started being spoiled, there is one card in the set that made me moist with anticipation above and beyond all others. It's not the best card in the set, but it is the most exciting card, at least for me. It's the one card I absolutely HAD to have 4x of immediately upon release. And I did in fact accomplish this goal. I had my playset of this particular rare before I'd even managed to collect a 4x set of any of the commons!

What is this card? you ask...

Yeah. Genesis Wave. This card just screams "USE ME!" because it's one of those cards that can do really, really disgustingly broken things, OR it can do really, really hilariously awesome things. You can be a total prick by breaking this thing in half, or you can just have fun with it. It's powerful enough that you don't need to try to hard for it to be good.

That said, there are some obvious steps you would want to take if you want this to be playable. First off, you need plenty of mana. Second, you need plenty of permanents. This thing "misses" on sorceries or instants, but any permanent - land or non-land - is fair game. In a deck built around Genesis Wave, you really want as few Sorceries or Instants as possible. I suggest that you run ZERO Sorceries or Instants other than the wave itself.

That way, the only card in your deck that Genesis Wave will miss is another Genesis Wave. For this reason and others, I heavily recommend Eternal Witness as a stop gap. Say you cast your first Wave for x = 10, and somehow manage to reveal all 3 of your remaining Waves. Sucks don't it? But, should you also reveal at least one Eternal Witness, you're still in great shape. You can Wave again next turn.

But for those of you who know me, you probably have guessed that this isn't good enough for me. I don't want to cast Wave 4 turns in a row. I want to Wave 4 times in one single turn. Why? Cause I like to party, that's why. How? Well, I'll show you:

4 Llanowar Elves
4 Joraga Treespeaker
4 Lotus Cobra
3 Eternal Witness
3 Knight of the Reliquary
3 Emeria Angel
2 Rampaging Baloths
2 Primeval Titan
2 Admonition Angel

3 Khalni Heart Expedition
3 Mirari's Wake
4 Genesis Wave

3 Temple Garden
4 Forest
2 Plains
1 Gaea's Cradle
4 Misty Rainforest (sub Windswept Heath, if you got 'em)
4 Cloudpost
4 Vesuva
1 Glimmerpost

Yes, that's a 9-post mana base. I run the singleton Glimmerpost because you never know when gaining 4-8 life might mean the difference between losing and not losing. And because this deck WILL draw hate, once your group knows what you're up to. Also, it just helps make Cloudposts that much more potent.

Anyway, 75% of this deck is Mana Engine, Wave and Witness are the "Combo Peices" and  then a 10-card package of Win Conditions. (Primeval Titan pulls double duty, primarily as part of the Mana Engine, can easily moonlight as a Win Condition). So, you can easily play games were you make 34 mana buy turn 4, but have little else to do. The good thing about this deck, though, is that you don't NEED Wave to win.

I gold-fished a game moments ago where I cast a Primeval Titan on turn 3, and followed it up with a Admontion Angel AND Rampaging Baloths, both hardcast on turn 4... and that was BEFORE I attacked with the Primeval Titan, getting two more lands to trigger the Angel and the Baloth twice each, leaving me with 29 power on the board (counting an Elf and a Cobra). On turn 4. Without casting Genesis Wave. True, that's a god-hand scenario, but it can and will happen sometimes.

Usually though, you'll just accelerate until you can Wave for 12 or so, and then with a combination of Lotus Cobras, Lands coming into play, Kahlni Garden, Witness and maybe a Wake or a Titan, you should be in a position to immediately cast a second Wave, for at least another 12 to 15, then if you have enough Library left, a third Wave is not out of the question.

This begs the question: What happens if you Genesis Wave out two-thirds of your library or more and your opponent simply grins and plays Wrath of God?

Well, my good sir, you lose, that's what you do. Unfortunately, this is the drawback to this kind of all-in deck style. It wants to win big, Big, BIG and a well-timed Wrath can fuck it's shit up pretty thoroughly.

But, remember what I said, this deck CAN win without Wave, or you can at least be conservative with the Waves. I'd recommend that, if you are reasonably sure your opponent is running mass removal, you should cast your Waves for x = 6. Nothing in the deck cost above 6, so you'll be guaranteed to hit something, but you won't over-commit too badly. Then again, the first time I cast Wave for x=6, I hit the following: Misty Rainforest, Lotus Cobra, Emeria Angel, Primeval Titan, Rampaging Baloth and Admontion Angel. So even if my opponent had the Wrath, I still had one of each of the 6/6 guys left in my deck, plus two Emeria Angels. I'd say I was in okay shape if Wrath was in store.

There are a few tweaks I'd like to make. First and foremost is bumping Eternal Witness up to 4x, but one of my set is in the Big Highlander. I'm not too sure if Wake is needed, but Mirari's Wake is one of my favorite cards in the entire game of Magic, and I can't conceive of building a G/W deck that wants tons of mana, and not running Wake. Just seems wrong somehow. Khalni Heart Expedition is a bit iffy too, but so far it's been acceptable.

Anyway, I played this deck one time last night, and after resolving my first Genesis Wave, I started adding up my resulting mana, and after deducing I had somewhere around 15 mana, one of my opponents asked if I had another Wave. I said "yeah" and the whole table scooped at once. I guess no one had a Wrath that time...