Friday, April 29, 2011

Passing the time with Suture Preist

So... after all the initial excitement of getting the full NPH spoiler weeks earlier than usual, it's now settled into one of the most agonizingly boring spoiler seasons of recent memory. Nothing to do, but wait for the new cards to drop, I've halted all deck building operations (but not deck tuning) for now, as I can not think of any ideas that don't include or revolve around NPH cards.

Thus, my only recourse is to theorize and speculate, but with my set review all published and picked to peices, there isn't much of that to do either. One thing I have noticed about NPH is that there are a ton of cards I'm pretty excited to put into  EDH decks, and one exciting new General even, but there are few cards that inspire new 60-card decks.

I can think of one card that I am eager to build a 60-card deck around, and it's a great Multiplayer card too. Suture Priest! Oh, right I probably gave that away in the title... oh well. Suture Priest is surprisingly cool for a common, and while I can't say it's powerful until I've actually played with it, it definitely has potential to be a house.

So I'm just going to discuss some ideas for a deck built with Suture Priest in mind, and get these ideas down on paper, or screen I guess, before I forget them.

Step one is to analyze what the card actually does, so let's take a look:

Right. In essence, what this creature does is punish your opponents for playing creatures, while rewarding you for doing just that. That's a double standard, isn't it! That tells us this so-called priest isn't intrested in playing fair. "Oh, sure it's fine for ME to do that, but YOU shouldn't be allowed!" Anyway, since she's not going to play fair, we might as well embrace that element wholeheartedly and make her as unfair as we can.

So we know creatures coming into play will be a major part of this, as you need to drop creatures to gain life, and you want opponents to be dropping creatures so that they'll lose life. The beauty of it all is that you can give your opponents creatures to trigger her.

One of the first cards I thought of when I saw Suture Priest was Genesis Chamber. A nifty little two-mana artifact that gives everyone a free 1/1 Myr token when they play a creature. On one hand this give your opponents an incentive to drop dudes, but with the priest out even that free 1/1 they got will hurt them. And when you cast a creature, you'll reap double the life.

Another cool idea was to combine Suture Priest with Bitterblossom. Yeah, it's expensive and not really a "casual" card at heart, but I just like the synergy it has with the priest. Make a Fairie token at the cost of 1 life, but Suture Priest steps up to pay the tab for you. "No, dude, I got this!"

But back to Genesis Chamber for a moment... I'm still worried that giving my opponents a free 1/1 token for every man they drop might come back to bite me in the ass. Normally something like Night of Soul's Betrayal could help us get around that, but it unfortunately kills our Suture Priests too, not to mention our 1/1 Myr tokens and Fairies, etc... so I'm thinking maybe Zealous Persecution and Orzhov Pontiff could play major roles here.

Zealous Persecution has particular appeal in that it simultaneously wipes out all the 1/1s you gave away while pumping yours up to 2/2 status. Hard to beat that deal, especially at two mana. By the way, almost everything I've talked about so far is two mana. Odd.  Let's look at something that costs a little more: Massacre Wurm. If you are facing down an army of 1/1s that you foolishly helped create, Massacre Wurm can easily turn around the situation; suddenly it's your opponents facing certain doom, not you!

Since this is clearly headed in a W/B Tokens area, many of those staples could transfer over nicely:

Spectral Procession
Marsh Flitter
Cloudgoat Ranger
Grave Titan
Ajani Goldmane
Elspeth, Knight Errant

Any of these could be contenders for inclusion. I might want to run a singleton Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobyte, but only if my EDH needs are met first and I still somehow have an extra copy.

That's as far as I've got brainstorming for this deck, but it all seems a little obvious, other than my ingenious use of Genesis Chamber. I'm really hoping someone can suggest a few more outside-the-box ideas for the deck, so it's not quite so by-the-numbers. Please comment if you have some tech in mind for exploiting the Suture Preist!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I've been promising this for a while now, and I finally will make good on that promise. This is a list for my "Big Highlander", a 250-card, 5 color monstrosity of a deck. It's a blast to play, though, lemme tell ya!

There's no real obvious theme - it's basically a 5-color "good stuff" deck, but there is at least a unity and cohesiveness to what I consider "good stuff". I don't run countermagic, even really good ones like Force of Will or Cryptic Command. I primarily tend to focus on good recursion, draw, and other card-advantage generators. Broken stuff like Survival of the Fittest and Recurring Nightmare star along side "fun" stuff like Maelstrom Nexus and Wild Pair, but all are capable of providing me with overwhelming card advantage or board presence.

Because the deck is so hard to parse by simply looking at a list, I'm uploading a spreadsheet to Google Docs, so that you can sort the list and play with it a bit to see what the deck holds.

Link to spreadsheet. List

I really don't have too much to explain here - this deck has evolved over the years and has been lovingly crafted through extensive playing. Virtually every card in the deck is proven, and is undeniably worth it's slot. That being said, I have a huge stack of cards that have either been cut despite their being really good (to make room for new hotness such as Geth, etc.) or cards that have been battle-tested in EDH and are waiting their turn in the big highlander.

There's almost no wrong way to build this deck, but if you want to break into this format, just stick as close as possible to my list, and substitue similar effects where needed. Play a few games, then season to taste!

Monday, April 25, 2011

New Phyrexian Round-up

So my NPH set review took a staggering 7 parts to complete. To make it easy on folks, I'm adding an 8th post - this one - simply to provide handy links to each of the other parts.

       New Phyrexia EDH Set Review

Special Thanks

I have corrected some errors and revised comments with help and feedback from the forums and I wish to thank the following awesome forum-goers:

  • Aggro_zombies
  • Filth
  • Joz
  • ludd_gang
  • yawg07


New Phyrexia EDH Set Review: Part 7 - Everything else

For this final installment, I'm going to cover the colorless non-artifacts, multicolor cards, and non-basic lands. Oh, and there's only one of each in those categories. So to pad my word count, I'll also take a second look at this set's Legends and rate their potential as Generals.


Well, as the worlds first colorless planeswalker, Karn need to make a splash. I think he's done an adequate job so far. Opinion is mixed so far, with some heralding him as "broken beyond belief" and others calling him "win-more". I don't have a strong opinion either way, but I think he looks fun and playable. His ultimate is definitely win-more, but then again, most planeswalkers have an Ultimate that just makes your opponent scoop unless they have a really good reason not to.
He's the most expensive card in the set, but I don't think there's any reason you should shell out for this card. If you crack one in a pack, you can probably find a use for him and be happy with it, but he's not something you must relentlessly try to acquire. Bottom line, if he comes into play and exiles one key permanent and then your opponent wastes a turn killing him, that's probably worth 7 mana.


Was NOT expecting this guy. Really cool! I dont' see him being a random dork in your deck, but he's a hell of a build-around-me General, so I'll discuss him more in my General review below.


Too narrow to go in many decks, but if you're running a bunch of aritfacts this can't possibly hurt to include. I was really hoping for something a bit better. Even if this was a High Market for artifacts (i.e. ditch the 1 mana activation cost), I'd love it, but as it stands it's just sorta okay. Like any card that interacts specifically with Artifacts it will likely be broken in half in some deck.

Well, that's it for the set as a whole, so let's take a look at possible Generals!

Elesh Norn

We might as well start at the top. You probably  know of my aversion to monocolor EDH decks, but Elesh Norn would make an impressive General. I expect to see some Norn lists popping up in the future. The cool thing is that she blends well with Aggro and Control strategies equally. Pumping all your dudes is good, and clearing away all the little utility guys so you can spend your removal on what survives is good too. Combine with Humility to really make your group hate you. Doesn't work, nevermind. Godhead of Awe, then?

Jin Gitaxias

As much as I hate this guy already, I feel like I can be fair and objective when saying this guy would suck as a General. 10 mana is WAY too steep even for EDH. Plus there's the fact that he's just plain mean and unfun. Mono-blue can do better even without resorting to the sterotypical Generals like Azami or Arcum.


As much as I lover her, she's definitely suited to maindeck status far better than General duty. Geth is better for reanimation and Anwon is better for the de-animation. No one else really does both, so she's got that going for her, but I'd still rather play her as a redundant effect in a Geth deck.


As the cheapest Praetor, he's definitely viable as a General, but I'm not sure what a Urabrask deck would look like or how it would play. I'm resigning him to maindeck status for now, but I think a few cleverer builders than myself will come up with a compelling reason to promote Urabrask to Commander.


Another one with compelling and desirable abilities, but Vorinclex is too expensive to be General. He's FAR better in the deck where he can be cheated out any number of ways. Pattern of Rebirth, Tooth and Nail, whatever your poision... you'll want him in play, but you really don't want to pay full price!

Jor Kadeen

Jor Kadeen is, in my opinion, the exact opposite of the Praetors... while they're mostly better as maindeck cards rather than Generals, Jor seems designes specifically to be a R/W aggro deck General. And I think this guy will probably spawn more deck than any of the Praetors. I don't know that I'd want to build the deck myself, but I'm very eager to see what folks on the forums come up with. One thing is for sure: Bludgeon Brawl is a must-run in any Jor deck!

Melira, Sylvok Outcast

Melira can be used as a tool against a specific strategy (Infect), but she has a bit more build-around potential than you'd think. She makes Persist shenanigans easy to pull off, and makes Black Sun Zenith one-sided. But most of these interactions involve cards outside of Green, so she's probably not a good candidate for General. So again, she's probably a Legend who is better suited to a slot in your 99.

New Phyrexia EDH Set Review: Part 6 - Artifacts

Ooh, the big one! Naturally there are a ton of Artifacts in this set. We'll be at this one a while, so let's jump in.

Good budget mana fixer, but I'd rather rely on non-Creature mana. Summoning Sickness + dies to Wrath = not reliable enough. Cute art, must get a foil one.

There is some noise around this one, and people seem pretty excited. It's not doing much for me, but once I've seen some practical applications for it outside of Standard, I may come around.

Really digging this! Mirari's Wake is one of my favorite cards ever, while I've always hated how the Gauntlets sometimes help your opponents. This card is right in between Wake and Gauntlets. The fact that this can go in every deck that CAN'T run Mirari's Wake makes me a very happy Magic player.

Fucking awesome! I was not expecting this for an Etched Oracle throwback. A 5/5 for 5 that will eventually let you draw 3 cards while becoming a 10/10? Yeah, I'll play this. Unfortunately I don't have any 5-color EDH decks to throw this into, but he'll find a home in my 250-card singleton deck for sure.

Anti planeswalker tech is nice, but is this one really any good?  I suspect not, for the EDH crowd at least.

I'd play this it GAAIV for sure, but I'm not sure it's worth it anywhere else.


(I've been told this is actually pretty sweet for Mono-Black decks. I can see where this would be true... but, I'm racist against mono-colored decks, so this card still does nothing for me).
 Insta-kill one player with this + Bloodcheif Ascension. Seems cool, but more like the basis for a 60 card deck, where you can run 4x each. But still, milling someone every single time they take damage or lifeloss makes this seem really intriguing. I'll have to give it some time before I truly understand it's potential.

Mana fixer for non-Green decks. Expedition Map is superior, but if you have room for both...

New Tarmogoyf? Probably not. This could really make a splash in some formats (pitch two Elvish Spirit Guides to start with a 5/6 on turn 1? Acceptable Doesn't work, apparently. My bad!). But EDH isn't probably going to care. He's just a big dumb beater, and those rarely stand out in EDH. It needs some evasion and a good ETBF effect before EDH will care.

Another 6-mana Artifact that combines with Teferi to lock everyone else out of the game. Woo hoo. Fortunately, this one, like Knowledge Pool can be much more fun and exciting when not combined with Teferi. It could be a group-hug staple but the "can't draw cards" clause doesn't play nice with those decks.

I like it. It doesn't color-fix so in multi-color decks this will rarely if ever make the cut, but in monocolor decks, it could easily find a slot.

I'm not big on any of these Shrines, but that's mostly because I don't ever play mono-color EDH decks. This one seems like it could be quite playable in Red, though. Every spell you cast charges it up for more damage later on. So you can point all your burn at one player, and then send this thing to another guy. Mabye?

This one might be good enough, too. I just don't like it as a one-shot effect. Blue decks should be able to do better. Mana-less activation does give it a bit of a boost. Arcum Dagsson decks in particular should be looking at this as a possibility.

Cute for Multiplayer politicking. A bit costly, for my tastes, or else I might give it a whirl.

Mostly a groan-worthy rare, I'll be quite disappointed to see this in my pack. It's pretty funny against decks with Lightning Bolt and such, but those aren't EDH decks. Too easy to play around, since it sits there on the table forecasting what you intend to do with it.

All I can think of is: with Doubling Season out, this comes into play with 12 counters, then can distribute 24 counters. Fate Transfer to move them all at once! But what the fuck are you going to do with 24 charge counters on something? I need ideas, people!

I'm so let down by this. Not because it's not good, but because it's not interesting! Even Body and Mind was at least interesting. This is powerful, but it just feels like they fucked up the cycle. None of the other Swords had symmetry between their two halves, not to mention that this just steps on the toes of the first two Swords. We already had a life gain sword and a direct damage sword. Argh! So mad! Still need one for Rafiq, though!


(Edit: This card CAN be uses as tech against certain Combo decks - think Kiki-Jiki/Pestermite or Disciple of the Vault. The problem is, for me to make use of it, I'd have to DRASTICALLY alter any deck I put it in, as I tend to run a very high number of ETBF effect creatures. This also hoses Sundering Titan (on the way in at least) which is nice, but still not enough to make me like the way this interacts with hundreds of perfectly fun creatures.)
Seems good. More toys for Sharuum/Dagsson. Yawn. I'll be glad when this block is over - not that I haven't LOVED it overall, but I'm getting tired of typing "good in Sharuum decks" but I honsetly can't think of anything better. Oh wait, here's one idea - play this with Mycosynth Lattice in any deck for a colorless, two-card Seedborn Muse. There, that's something, at least.

Well that wasn't too bad. There were a lot of cards not really worth talking about. Unfortunately most of the cards here that were worth discussing, I'm not a big fan of. The new sword is very playable, but I just think it's terribly lazy design. Torpor Orb is stupid and I hate that it exists. Omen Machine and Unwinding Clock can have cool applications but they'll just wind up as dirty combo/lock peices.
The most exciting thing in the batch is probably Caged Sun, though I might be underestimating Batterskull.

We'll finish up the set next post, with colorless, multicolor, lands and a General review of the Legends.

New Phyrexia EDH Set Review: Part 5 - Green

Green is quite a popular color in EDH. Let's hope it gets the love it deserves!

This is already one of the most hotly anticipated cards in the set. Not bad for an uncommon. It's a mono-G, Instant speed Vindicate that has an almost insignificant drawback. A 2/2 would make this way more appealing, but it's good enough to be played in virtually every deck ever.

This excites me far more than Beast Within, mostly because utility cards like that are kinda boring no matter how good and splashy they are. But repeatable creature tutoring has always been good in EDH (Citanul Flute, Survival of the Fittest). It does suck that you can only do this at Sorcery speed, and that'll hamper expectations a bit, but I'm still determined to run this. The fact that it scales UP is a nice bonus.

This would be a great utility creature if it weren't so overcosted. 6 mana for a 3/3 is hard to justify despite it's ETBF effect. This is another Exarch where if it just did BOTH abilities at the same time, I'd love it.

This is pretty iffy. Green has better, more reliable ramp available, but usually not attached to a hugh body. Vigilance and Reach are not exciting, but they are pretty good. This guy block and kills Akroma and lives to tell the tale, so he does have SOME appeal. He'll be great for newer EDH players without a huge, deep cardpool, but for those of us with big collections he's not going to make the cut.

If this was Instant, I'd play it in a second, and love it. As a sorcery, it is drastically less appealing. Arashi, Sky Asunder still owns this thing's face.

An anti-Wrath card in the vein of Caller of the Claw. Not too bad, but I'm not going to be playing it, I think. Then again, this could have some strong applications in decks like Sek'Kuar that already seek to sac their guys for benefit. Very playable, but not my style.

A nice, efficient bear with three abilities that effectively act as one to shut down Infect completely. Also foils Black Sun's Zenith and many other similar cards. Still, most decks will be able to just kill her and keep on Poisoning, Infecting and Proliferating. I'm just not sure she'll be enough. I certainly think she'll see some play, but usually as a tool to enable infinite Persist shenanigans or as a companion to Phyrexian Unlife.

This is the closest thing to a new E. Witness we get? Lame. I can't see playing this in a format where Regrowth is legal.

Very funny! I like this. I don't think I can make it work in EDH, but I'll definitely find somewhere to stick this. It's really cool how this scales in Multiplayer though. Spread a little early poison around, and this will crank out hoards of bugs.

An Infect Rhox? Cool. Expensive, though. I really can't see playing this over Putrefax in any deck, but only the most die-hard Infect decks would want both.

 Hrm, an Infect Overrun seems really strong, even with just a +1/+1 bonus. I almost wonder if this isn't going to push Infect over the edge in EDH. I kinda doubt it, but when your opponent has 5 or 6 tokens on the board, you're going to be praying they don't have this in hand. The thing about this card is it gets you to "alpha strike" level much faster, and with fewer creatures on the board than Overrun.
Every deck that plays any form of Overrun should consider this.

 And the final Praetor... well, he's better than Jin Gitaxias, but doesn't stack up favorably next to the other three. Still, the one-sided Heartbeat of Spring is nice. The rest is just gravy. This will make a fine Tooth and Nail target at the very least.

Well, Beast Within is clearly the hype card, but personally I'm much more excited for Birthing Chamber. Vorinclex is not super, but he's also infinitely less infuriating and dickish than Jin Gitaxias. Obviously some new toys for Infect, but the only one that really seems strong is the Overrun. Swarmlord gets the win on cool points, though.

New Phyrexia EDH Set Review: Part 4 - Red

Will Mirrodin be purged of Phyrexian taint by cleansing flame, or will the flames be tainted by the Great Compleation to scour all resistance from the metal world? Oh, I think you know the answer to this already, but let's take a closer look, shall we?

Yuck, a bad Threaten variant! It is an Instant, which is sometimes nice, but mostly this just kinda blows. I'd rather play Grab the Reigns, Slave to Bolas, or Conquering Manticore.

This is one of the most amusing enchantments I've seen in a while. Imagine equiping Akroma's Memorial to a dude. Or a bunch of Signets. This is just wacky, and I can't wait to play it. I have no idea how powerful it will actually be, but I'm sure it's going to be fun.

Goblin tribal decks might be happy with this. I'd run it in one, for sure. Beyond that? Not so much.

This was pretty much the inevitable Red contribution to Infect. He doesn't need to attack, he just sits there and pings them to death. Nice. Virtually no application to EDH, as far as I can tell, though.

That's a bunch of Red Mana symbols! Probably not too playable in EDH, where permanent ramp is FAR better than one-shot bursts. It might find a comfy home in a few Mono-Red "pressure" decks that go-for-broke with this sort of thing.

Fantastic against mono-color decks, and might be playable against two-color decks. Also could shut down Crucible of Worlds in some cases, but against Sac lands it's pretty useless. Still, even just using this to Exile someones Volrath's Stronghold or Academy Ruins is going to make this worth a slot in some decks.

Once again, a dragon with art that FAR surpasses the card itself. However, this one isn't as bad as the MBS Dragon. Obviously, as an Artifact creature, this lizard is just about as fragile as a permanent can be, and will die to any of a thousand commonly played spells. But the fact that you can pay life or mana for it's firebreating means it can easily finish off an opponent with a lower life total than you. It's high risk, high reward, and I feel the risk is higher than the potential payoff. But it's cool enough to see some experimental play at first.

This would be fantastic if there were more ϕ mana cards. As it stands now, this is not playable in EDH, even in a 5-color deck stocked with every ϕ card in print.

Lord of Extinction is usually pretty bad, except when you just sac it to Alter of Dimentia to mill someone. This guy is a lot like that, but unless your up against a Sharuum deck, it'll never be big enough to have an impact, but at the same time, I don't see where this guy really poses any threat to Sharuum decks.

Lame. FTK barely gets an love anymore (though I still play it all the time), and this is pales in comparison.

I think this guy deserves more love than he's getting. He doesn't have the OMG WOW factor that the other Praetors have, but he is the cheapest, fastest and most efficient of the Praetors. And his abilities will, I believe, prove to have more impact than would seem at first glance. I can't wait to play him.

Nice design, a bit heavy on the cost, but it's appropriate to the card. Feels balance, but good. Also, it feels irrelevant, because Red isn't usualy the color that wants to play with counters. Exceptions to every rule, of course, but I can't think of any worthwhile use for this right now.

Meh. 2 damage isn't enough to kill what needs killin' in EDH. Tokens, yeah, but by now you should have realized there are tons of cards that are "good against tokens".

Red, as usual, seems to get the shaft. I do think Urabrask will be a sleeper hit, and while he probably will not explode onto the scene with fanfare and pomp, he will quietly be making his way into many decks. He will often fly under the radar until it's too late and your opponent suddenly realizes "oh, wow, I shoulda killed that guy!". Bludgeon Brawl is an x-factor that really has to be played to be judged accurately, but I cannot wait to test it out. Not much else to get excited over, unfortunately.