Monday, October 31, 2011

Kaervek the Merciless - A punisher EDH list.

(I didn't give this post a pun title or some other clever witticism because Kaervek don't have time for that shit!)

Hello, all. I have completed a new decklist, which I humbly submit for your approval. Or, more likely, disapproval. Why? Because it’s a hardcore, straight-up “griefer” deck. The point and purpose of a griefer deck, also known as punisher decks, is to give your opponents grief, or punish them, for simply playing the game of Magic. A classic example of a “griefer” card is Underworld Dreams, which punished players for drawing cards – a typical game action that generally can’t be helped. Mana Barbs is another good example, as it punishes players simply for tapping lands for mana. Sure there’s that one Legacy Dredge deck that wins without ever tapping a single land, but that’s 1 deck out of a billion that can pull it off. By default, an opponent cannot hope to defeat you or even put up a fight without tapping lands.

It’s no coincidence that most of these effects are found in Red and Black. Neither color gets a huge number of these effects as they are targeted at a fairly small niche of players, most players do not find these effects to be much fun to play against, so WotC wisely avoids packing sets full of punisher cards. But they do print a few here and there, because these cards do have their fans, and Magic tries to cater to nearly all of its players’ tastes and predilections. I can’t say I’m a fan of these effects myself, but I’m also a bit of an explorer and I like to try things outside of my usual areas of comfort.

I’m of the general opinion that decks with Rite of Replication are strictly better that decks without Rite of Replication. But RoR has grown a bit stale in my playgroup. Not for me, of course, I never get tired of casting that card! But everyone else has started to groan the minute they hear the phrase “Rite with Kicker…” escape my lips. I’ve even had people concede in response to me targeting one of their creatures, just to screw me out of getting 5 Consecrated Sphinxes or 5 Primeval Titans. I maintain a pretty firm stance that I ingnore “douche scoops” like that, but when it’s Rite of Replication, that is the one scenario when I will honor the scoop because frankly I’m probably being just a wee bit douche myself.

Okay, that got a bit off topic, but there was a point. I’m trying to branch out and explore areas outside my comfort zone. First off, I’m trying to build more two-color decks. It should be well known by now, but I’m a staunch advocate of the three-color EDH decks. I tried a handful of two-color decks back in the day, and was universally underwhelmed by their performance. I inevitably wound up adding a third color, and suddenly the decks would start kicking butt. So, for the longest time I shunned mono-color and two-color decks in favor of stronger, more versatile three-color decks.

Then, I build a Wrexial deck. Wrexial started out as a role-player and key win condition in my Vorosh control deck. The few times I was able to utilize Wrexial in that deck, he was far more interesting, exciting and powerful than I’d anticipated and I found myself playing that deck in such a way as to make him the centerpiece of the deck, far more even than Genesis who was the original MVP of the deck… But I couldn’t draw him often and reliably enough to satisfy me, so I caved and built a two-color deck, with Wrexial at the helm. It was the first two-color deck that I truly enjoyed. It was certainly capable of victory, but more importantly games with the deck tended to be very fun even if I ultimately lost. 

So, the Wrexial deck has made me rethink my prejudice against two-color decks. I still generally prefer the versatility and variety running three colors affords me, but I am no longer strictly opposed to going with two. My next excursion into the realm of dual colors was after the release of New Phyrexia when I cut the black out of my Oros Equipment deck, making it a Red/White build with Jor Kadeen at the new General. For the first time ever, for me at least, cutting the third color down to two actually made the deck STRONGER. Sure I lost a few cards I’d love to have, but overall the deck is more consistent and performs more smoothly than it did before.

Now I find myself quite interested in building more two-color decks. It’s a lot easier on my dual/non-basic mana base, which in turn allows me to have more decks built at the same time. It is a win/win situation… as long as the decks themselves perform and play well enough. So far Wrexial and Jor Kadeen have actually exceeded my expectations, so I’m hoping to continue that trend with this next stable of decks. You’ve already seen my R/G Stonebrow deck, so today I present to you: Kaervek the Merciless!



Creatures
Scythe Specter
Massacre Wurm
Seizan, Perverter of Truth
Bloodgift Demon
Falkenrath Noble
Fleshbag Marauder
Braids, Cabal Minion
Sheoldred, Whispering One
Vampire Nighthawk
Dimir House Guard
Shriekmaw
Bloodghast
Pestilence Demon

Zo-Zu the Punisher
Viashino Heretic
Crater Hellion

Lightning Reaver
Anathemancer
Defiler of Souls
Kaervek the Merciless

Solemn Simulacrum
Psychosis Crawler
Duplicant
It That Betrays

Spells
Syphon Mind
Barter in Blood
Damnation
Go for the Throat
Decree of Pain
Promise of Power
Vampiric Tutor
Demonic Tutor
Praetor's Grasp
Sudden Spoiling
Bottomless Pit
Polluted Bonds
Painful Quandary
Words of Waste
Call to the Grave
Phyrexian Arena

Wheel of Fortune
Blasphemous Act
Sulfuric Vortex
Vicious Shadows
Manabarbs
Repercussion
Stranglehold

Terminate
Bituminous Blast
Void
Spiteful Visions

Geth's Grimoire
Skullclamp
Grafted Exoskeleton
Basilisk Collar
Lightning Greaves
Sol Ring
Rakdos Signet
Talisman of Indulgence
Darksteel Ingot

All Is Dust

Lands
Rix Maadi, Dungeon Palace
Shivan Gorge
Leechridden Swamp
Volrath's Stronghold
Phyrexian Tower
Bojuka Bog
High Market
Maze of Ith
Temple of the False God
Command Tower
Blood Crypt
Tainted Peak
Terramorphic Expanse
Graven Cairns
Rakdos Carnarium
Blackcleave Cliffs
Dragonskull Summit
Akoum Refuge
Sulfurous Springs
Swamp x 10
Mountain x 8

There you have it, folks. A nice, juicy punisher deck. Perhaps some explanation of card choices and functionality is in order…

The punisher effects should all be pretty obvious and straightforward. The rest of the deck, though, is a bit up-in-the-air until some serious playtesting can commence. I loaded up the deck with as much control and defense as I could squeeze in. Time will tell if it’s enough, because once people know what this deck is capable of, I expect to get some serious hate coming my way.

In the random “good stuff” category we’ve got some interesting items. Bloodghast might seem out of place, and it’s true that he does next to nothing on his own, but he has a number of good interactions. The first and most obvious is combining him with Skullclamp for a nice little card drawing engine. Most veterans of the format are quite familiar with this interaction. However, he also helps break the symmetry on a few other cards. Braids, Defiler of Souls and Call to the Grave all demand that I make sacrifices as well as my opponents. As long as I can keep dropping lands, Bloodghast can be the martyr to those effects turn after turn, allowing me to continue to advance my board while keeping my opponents behind on development.



Geth’s Grimoire is also part of a draw engine, working with cards like Rix Maadi or Words of Waste to keep my hand full and my opponents’ hands light.

Grafted Exoskeleton and Basilisk Collar are primarily there to equip to Kaervek to make him even more of a threat than usual. Giving Kaervek Infect is a good way to speed up his kill clock, while the collar ensures that ever spell cast will result in a dead creature and some life gain for me.

Vampire Nighthawk is a stellar blocker and can come down early to ward off multiple attacks early on. One of the conditions for successfully piloting this deck to a win is that you really need to keep your life total higher than everyone else’s. Getting the early life lead will go a long way toward ensuring victory later, as many of the effects in the deck will hurt you as well.

Scythe Specter and Lightning Reaver are both “pet cards” of mine, and while they definitely both fit the theme of the deck quite well, their power level does leave something to be desired. That said, I’ve managed to kill off multiple planeswalkers in a single turn with the Reavers EOT damage ability.

Praetor’s Grasp, in theory, should work like this: First priority is to yank effects that would neuter our deck – I’m thinking stuff like Fracturing Gust or Akroma’s Vengeance that can wipe out multiple enchantments at once, since enchantments will play a major role in the deck. Second priority is nabbing a Sword of Stuff and Junk with relevant protection abilities, since I don’t have room for Swords in the deck itself. Sword of Feast and Famine or Sword of Fire and Ice are the two most useful based one damage abilities, but Light and Shadow might also be highly relevant for its protection colors. Keeping Kaerveck or another key creature alive will be difficult without assistance. Third Priority is to swipe a Sol Ring or some other powerful mana generator, as this deck will likely need plenty of mana to operate.

Finally, Sudden Spoiling is a cute little trick many opponents won’t see coming, at least the first time. At worst it’s a three-mana fog, which is kinda bad, but could save your butt big time. But it also combos nicely with Pestilence Demon, Massacre Wurm or Crater Hellion to wipe out an opponent’s creatures.

Two future changes I want to make:

1.       Swap out Crater Hellion for Balefire Dragon. The Dragon is a little harder to utilize because it’s a combat damage trigger, not an ETBF ability, but 6 damage kills a lot more than 4 damage in EDH.
2.       Swap out Bottemless Pit for Liliana of the Veil. I appreciate what “random” does for the Pit, as it really makes life difficult for opponents. Trouble is, I have no control over what I discard either, and frankly I like having that control. It’s worth it to me to give opponents the same control, because I believe I will benefit more from it than they will.

That’s pretty much the deck in a nutshell. Any questions, tips or suggestions, just leave a comment.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ruhan's Giants

Ruhan is perhaps one of the least interesting/exciting new Legends from the recent Commander decks. Most people aren’t a big fan of his “LOLRANDOM” mode of attacking, and while a 7/7 for 4 mana is a pretty sweet deal, randomly attacking into someone’s Acidic Slime while another player is defenseless is not exactly a winning strategy.

One of the more subtle facets of Ruhan, though is the fact that his “at random” clause doesn’t port over to 1v1 games, and he’s basically just a 7/7 for 4 that must attack your opponent each turn. That fact, plus the fact that he’s in the prime color combination for Equipment and Enchantment tutoring, makes him a very desirable General for a 1v1 “Voltron” deck. For those of you not keeping up with the lingo, “voltron” simply means a deck that seeks to stick one creature as the primary threat and beef that creature up via multiple equipments and auras. Uril and Zur are prime examples of a voltron strategy – most Uril decks win by casting Uril and piling as many powerful Auras onto him as possible and will quite often deal 21+ general damage in a single attack.

So, as an aggressively costed beat-stick, Ruhan does seem like he’d make a good “voltron” general. We’ve got plenty of Equipment and Auras with which to boost his stats and give him all kinds of evasion, and his colors – white, red and blue, - give us the best options for tutoring up those buffs. Cards like Stoneforge Mytic and Stonehewer Giant combine with stuff like Academy Rector and Sovereigns of Lost Alara to fetch the appropriate Equipment or Auras.

The other cool thing about Ruhan is that he’s a Giant, and two of his colors – Red and White – contain many playable Giants. Blue basically only has Frost Titan as its lone Giant, but it has plenty of Clone effects that can effectively count as Giants when played copying our own creatures.

My idea isn’t strictly a new one – I’ve seen Ruhan lists with Giant Tribal themes and lists with a Voltron strategy. I play EDH both ways: 1v1 and Multiplayer, and I try to build my decks to handle both modes of play fairly well. I recently updated my Rafiq list from a strictly 1v1 only build to a list that can handle multiple opponents fairly well while still maintaining enough of its speed and aggressive bent to continue to do well in 1v1. That’s kinda what I’m going for with this deck, too. The voltron aspect will give it a good 1v1 game plan, while the Giant Tribal theme will give me more to do in a Multiplayer game where casting my general and attacking mindlessly won’t always be a solid strategy.

Furthermore, I like the addition of the Giant theme because it gives me more room for variance of game play. Many Voltron decks suffer from being too linear and repetitive in how they play. I don’t want every game to go: 1) Cast Ruhan, 2) Buff Ruhan, 3) Attack with Ruhan. I want to have a small army of big Giants to attack with, so that if Ruhan does want to go where I want him too, I can at least send the other dudes to pound the correct opponent’s face in.

Once again I will turn to Gatherer to find Giants in our colors, and to find cards that specifically care about Giants or Tribal Giant cards. There aren’t that many to choose from, unfortunately but there are some. I just write down a list of all the playable ones, weeding out the obvious chaff right away. Then I throw in all the necessary support cards – Equipment and Auras for the Voltron theme, tutors for those pieces, miscelanous removal and utility spells, and a dose of card-draw. Finally I apply an agonizingly difficult sequence of cuts to get the deck down to a size we can live with and viola! the deck is ready for an initial build.

After playing the deck a few times, I’m sure the deck will change a bit, as I determine the weaknesses and shore them up, but for now here is Ruhan’s Giants v1.0…

Creatures

Ruhan of the Fomori

Stoneforge Mystic
Academy Rector
Changeling Hero
Cloudgoat Ranger
Stonehewer Giant
Sun Titan

Shapesharer
Phyrexian Metamorph
Mulldrifter
Frost Titan

Godo, Bandit Warlord
Changeling Berserker
Hammerheim Deadeye
Giant Harbinger
Thundercloud Shaman
Bloodshot Cyclops
Sunrise Sovereign
Hammerfist Giant
Desolation Giant
Hamletback Goliath
Borderland Behemoth

Wall of Denial
Brion Stoutarm
Sovereigns of Lost Alara

Adaptive Automaton
Solemn Simulacrum
Duplicant

Spells

Swords to Plowshares
Path to Exile
Orim’s Thunder
Dismantling Blow
Return to Dust
Psychotic Fury
Wild Ricochet
Vanish into Memory

Land Tax
Divine Reckoning
Elspeth, Knight Errant
Austere Command
Feudkiller’s Verdict
True Conviction

Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Foresee
Rite of Replication
Time Spiral

Wheel of Fortune
Warstorm Surge

Sword of Fire and Ice
Sword of Light and Shadow
Sword of Feast and Famine
Sunforger
Darksteel Plate
Loxodon Warhammer
Lightning Greaves

Urza’s Incubator
Door of Desitinies

Eldrazi Conscription

Sol Ring
Azorius Signet
Boros Signet
Izzet Signet
Coalition Relic

37 Lands

A few notes:

Obviously 37 lands is not ideal. I’d like to cut 1 to 3 more cards in favor of upping the land count. Most Giants come with rather hefty mana costs, so it stands to reason that a modest sprinkling of artifact mana isn’t going to provide the reliability and consistency we’d like to see in our mana base. For right now, though, I have no idea what to cut. Hopefully playtesting will reveal which cards aren’t performing.

Some of the specific cards choices might warrant a bit of explanation, so I’ll run down the list.

Changeling Hero & Changeling Berserker – I included these because they’re relatively cheap, count as Giants per the Changeling ability, and the Champion ability does provide some resilience against Wrath effects.

Academy Rector – There are very few non-Giant creatures in the deck, but with Eldrazi Conscription, Warstrom Surge and True Conviction in the deck, I feel like the Rector is worthwhile.

Hammerheim Deadeye – Cheap anti-Flying tech, and Flying is one of the most common keywords in EDH.

Hammerfist Giant – This is one of the primary reasons Darksteel Plate is in the deck, and vice versa. Hopefully this will work out. If not, that’s two open slots.

Wall of Denail – One of the best Defenders in the game, this wall is a fantastic blocker and hard to get rid off.

Duplicant – Never leave home without it.

Divine Reckoning – This Wrath variant seems like the perfect fit for a Voltron deck. Yeah, you have to hope that the one guy you keep trumps the one guy they keep… but in a Voltron deck, if that isn’t the case 99% of the time, you’re doing it wrong.

Building this deck was challenging, because there was a lot of stuff I wanted to run but couldn’t find room for. I ended up cutting quite a few cards I do think I can live without, but here are a few that I’d like to fit back in at some point:

Jareth, Leonine Titan – It’s a Cat Giant, what’s not to love?

Jotun Owl-Keeper – Probably bad, which is why it got cut, but it does seem like a decent early defense.

Bloodfire Colossus – Cut for being highly expensive, but the effect is probably worth every mana…

Stinkdrinker Daredevil – Seems like a must-run, but it’s basically a mana accelerator that dies to Wrath. Still, probably worth running.

Steel of the Godhead and Scourge of the Nobilis – It was very painful to cut these, and I only did because Swords are still better, and their Protection abilities will sometimes make these aura’s fall off.

Spitebellows – Cutting this defense/removal option is usually the wrong choice, but we’ll see how it goes…

World Slayer – Originally I had intended to use the cheesy combination of Darksteel Plate + World Slayer to seal up a game, but over time that started to sound less and less fun to me.

Anger – This deck probably needs more Haste effects, but again, I went cut this old staple in favor of cards I’ve never or rarely played before. This will be one of the first things to go back in, if I find things to cut.

Quicksilver Amulet – Cheating big, expensive guys into play for cheap and at Instant speed? Sounds good. Alas, I still opted for Urza’s Incubator over this. If the Incubator fails to produce results, this is next in line for that particular spot.

Well, that’s about it for Ruhan and his Giants. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Stonebrow, Trampling Hero

   Of all the decks I have in development at the moment, this wasn't the one I expected to rise to the top of the queue. But, the more I thought about it, the more I decided this was the most exciting deck in the queue. For one thing, I realized that I really wanted to play Kessig Wolf Run and a handful of other R/G cards that I haven't gottent to use before.None of my decks right now contain both Red and Green, so there's a whole slew of cards that I just can play!
   Finally, as I was doing some preliminary work in developing the deck on paper, I came across a handful of forgotten or obscure cards that just seemed highly exciting. As the deck began to coalesce I realized there were going to be quite a few cards in the deck I rarely or never play in EDH, so that really got me excited to branch out and play a deck that DOESN'T have Rite of Replication or Geth, Lord of the Vault for once.


   Anyway, while I was browsing the forums at mtgcommander.net, I came across this list, posted by forum-goer Pysces (I've marked creatures with Trample with a (T) after the card name):


General: Stonebrow, Krosan Hero

Green Creatures
Wood Elves
Eternal Witness
Spawnwrithe (T)
Oracle of Mul Daya
Brawn (T)
Genesis
Hystrodon (T)
Acidic Slime
Vigor (T)
Primeval Titan (T)
Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger (T)
Woodfall Primus (T)
Terastodon

Red Creatures
Squee, Goblin Nabob
Anger
Urabrask the Hidden
Hoarding Dragon
Hellkite Charger
Mana-Charged Dragon (T)
Charmbreaker Devils
Godo, Bandit Warlord
Flameblast Dragon
Akroma, Angel of Fury (T)
Greater Gargadon

Multicolor Creatures
Boartusk Liege (T)
Deus of Calamity (T)

Green Spells
Rancor
Regrowth
Survival of the Fittest
Cultivate
Kodama's Reach
Krosan Grip
Beast Within
Nature's Will
Triumph of the Hordes
Bear Umbra
Garruk Wildspeaker
Harmonize
Momentous Fall
Reap and Sow
Creeping Renaissance
Garruk, Primal Hunter
Tooth and Nail

Red Spells
Wheel of Fortune
Aggravated Assault
Seize the Day
In the Web of War
Savage Beating
World at War
Mana Geyser
Insurrection
Decree of Annihilation
Fanning the Flames

Multicolor Spells
Hull Breach

Artifacts and Colorless Spells
Skullclamp
Sword of Feast and Famine
Sword of Vengeance
Sol Ring
Darksteel Ingot
Oblivion Stone
All Is Dust

Lands
38 Lands Total, including:
Kessig Wolf Run
Raging Ravine
Homeward Path
Hall of the Bandit Lord
Inkmoth Nexus
High Market


This list captured my attention right away, because it immediately looked to be a stronger deck that I expected when I clicked on the thread. It also looked like a lot of fun. I posted a comment or two in the thread and Pysces, the deck's creator explained some of his choices and reasoning. I quickly became enamored of the deck and put my own build in the development queue, where it sat mostly untouched for a few days, but then line-jumped it's way to the top and I spent most of last night brainstorming and researching Gatherer for ideas.


I want to stress that I don't consider this a "Deck Doctor" article, as Pysces has not expressed that he would like some stranger on the interwebs to overhaul his deck, and I'm quite sure he's capable of doing so himself should he deem it necessary. The point is, the changes I'll be making are for myself specifically, and will be largely determined by my own preferences, playstyle and metagame factors.


So, on with the show! The first thing I like to do is research cards on Gatherer for more on-theme cards. In this case the search is pretty easy: just search for Red and Green creatures with Trample! Those of you who follow me regularly will know that I am not the slightest bit reluctant to run "good stuff" inclusions in my decks, even when trying to push a thematic approach. That said, I like my initial builds to be as theme-heavy as possible and through playtesting, cut the weakest and least useful thematic cards for better stuff down the road.


So, to start with, I'm going to really push the trample theme as far as I can. Here are some potential candidates:


More Trample!
Borborygmos
Wilderness Elemental
Dragon Tyrant
Garruk’s Horde
Kaargan Dragon Lord
Living Hive
Primordial Hydra
Rampaging Baloths
Skinshifter
Skyshroud War Beast
Pelakka Wurm
Bramblewood Paragon
Moldgraf Monstrosity
Shivan Wurm

Even More Trample!
Gruul War-Plow
Loxodon Warhammer
Akroma's Memorial
Gaea’s Embrace

The Most Trample Ever!
Overrun
Overwhelming Stampede
Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
Baru, Fist of Krosa






Haste is another extremely good keyword in EDH, and Pysces already has a small Haste package so let's see if we can expand on that as well.


Oh, and Haste too!
Fires of Yavimaya
Sarkhan Vol
Lightning Greaves


I like tutors in my EDH decks, especially in those that don't have tons of pure drawing power.


Get Stuff!
Fauna Shaman
Tooth and Nail
Primal Command
Green Sun’s Zenith

Removal is king in Limited. It's pretty important in EDH too.


Get Rid of Stuff!
Indrik Stomphowler
Spitebellows
Duplicant
Bramblecrush
Into the Maw of Hell


Get Rid of Everything!
Balefire Dragon
Blasphemous Act
Savage Twister


Unfortunately, your opponents will almost definitely be running removal of their own. There's a damn good reason why graveyard hate is so critical in the format, and that is because recurssion is really powerful.


Get Stuff Back!
Vengeful Rebirth
Sword of Light and Shadow


And everyone who knows me is already aware of this, but I simply CANNOT play an EDH deck without some card draw. I draw cards. That's what I do.


Draw Some Cards!
Hunter’s Insight
Greater Good
Harmonize
Momentous Fall
Wheel of Fortune
Skullclamp
Sword of Fire and Ice


Pysces has a good ramp/fixing package already, but I have a couple of old favs in mind...


More Mana!
Skyshroud Claim
Gruul Signet


These last few are just some random good cards that I like and would like to find some room for. These will probably be added in, then cut for more on-theme stuff, then later on be added BACK in once I have played the deck to know which of the thematic cards aren't pulling their weight.


More Utility and Good Stuff!
Scavenging Ooze
Bellowing Tanglewurm
Avenger of Zenikar
Inferno Titan
Beastmaster Ascension
Rage Reflection

There's like zero GY hate in the deck, so I could easily roll over and die to a Living Death or Geth, Lord of the Vault. Scavenging Ooze is a great solution, but I probably need Relic of Progenitus too. But Relic isn't exciting, so I'll only include it later, if reanimation and recurssion start costing me games.

Bellowing Tanglewurm is probably better off in a mono-G deck, but I'll just tell you now that only 8 creatures remain in my finished list that don't have green in their color identity. With this in mind, I think the Tanglewurm will do just fine, if it makes it in the final cut.

Avenger of Zendikar is pretty much THE good-stuff posterboy for Green. And it happens to be pretty synergystic with the deck, even if not necessarily on-theme. Akroma's Memorial + Stonebrow + a bunch of Plants seems pretty likely to win me a game or two.

Inferno Titan is good. He doesn't have trample, but that's what Gruul War Plow and Akroma's Memorial are for. Duh.

Beastmaster Ascension is kinda like a permanent Overwhelming Stampede. That said I've seen folks try to make this work and fail. I remain cautiously optimistic.

Rage Reflection is almost guaranteed to never make it into the deck, without access to white for Academy Rector and other ways to tutor it up. That said, this does seem like a deck that can make mass-double-strike do impressive things.

Too many cards!

 At this point, we obviously have way too many cards for potential inclusing, so let's start the editing process.

OUT:

Spawnwrithe - Cute, and I was hoping to give this guy a chance, but he seems weak in my Wrath-laden metagame.

Oracle of Mul Daya - I hate letting my opponents always know what my next draw is going to be. I will make an exception to this, but not for this card.

Terastodon - If only it had trample... Either way, I'm not a huge fan of this, because 99% of the times I see it cast it blows up three lands/mana rocks and pretty much ruins one person's fun.

Living Hive - I'd like to run this, but it's just so drastically outclassed by Avenger of Zendikar, I'd rather run Avenger despite the lack of trample on it.

Primordial Hydra  - It's a neat idea, but probably not good enough. Really wants to be in a deck with Doubling Season.

Pelakka Wurm - I knew I was going to cut this, but for anyone needing a budget replacement for one of the rares or mythics, this card really is not bad at all. It's very playable, just not as good as some other stuff in the list.

Scavenging Ooze - A mistake, I'm sure, but I just realized it's already in another deck and I only have 1 copy at the moment. It's a tough cut but the other deck needs it more.

Bellowing Tanglewurm - Crap, I had to cut it after all. But I expect it to be one of the shortlisted cards to go back in once I decide some other card isn't good enough.

Squee, Goblin Nabob - I don't have a Survival of the Fittest and it's not worth it just for Fauna Shaman.

Anger - I have better options for Haste...

Hoarding Dragon - I'm not running enough artifacts that truly matter, plus I'm worried about this getting Exiled and screwing me over.

Hellkite Charger - Meh.

Godo, Bandit Warlord - I play this guy a lot, and since I'm downtuning the Equipment angle this guy seems unnessecary.

Charmbreaker Devils - Cool card, but I have other plans for it... mwah ha ha.

Flameblast Dragon - Cool, but not on-theme enough and not powerful enough to be a good-stuff inclusion.

Greater Gargadon - I just hate this card unless I suspend it on turn 1.

Balefire Dragon - Turns out I don't have one. Will definitely go in once I remedy this.

Shivan Wurm - Full of potential but I don't have enough ETBF effects to truly justify this.

Triumph of Hordes - Infect makes my playgroup mad, so this is a concession to them. Plus I like other things better.

Nature's Will - I foresee this being a dead card just a bit too often.

Bear Umbra - Possibly worthwhile, but I had to cut something and this loses to SoFF.

Krosan Grip - The addition of Indrik Stomphowler makes this a bit too redundant.

Garruk, Primal Hunter - Don't have one!

Survival of the Fittest - Don't have this either, added Fauna Shaman and some other stuff to compensate.

Regrowth - Beefed up the recurssion in other ways, this became redundant.

Reap and Sow - Meh. I like Skyshroud Claim better, and if I need to kill a land, there's always Acidic Slime.

Overrun - Of all the "overrun" variants, Overrun is the least exciting now. That's kinda sad.

Bramblecrush - Another card I probably need but cut for more exciting/cool things. May return later.

Sword of Feast and Famine - Using all my other copies at the moment. Will get added later, most likely.

In the Web of War - Sad to cut this, want to put it back... gotta find room via playtesting first.

Fanning the Flames - Meh.

Insurrection - This usually get's screwed over by everyone sacing all their guys to something. Rarely actually does what it's meant to do.

Aggravated Assault - I wanted to keep one of the extra attack step cards and eventually setlled on Savage Beating.

Seize the Day - Same as above.

World at War - Ditto, though I do like this card.

Mana Geyser - Seems like it could make shit-tons of Red mana, but what do I do with it all?

Into the Maw of Hell - I swear if this cost 5 mana, it'd never get cut!

Fires of Yavimaya - Fantastic card, but outclassed by Sarkhan Vol and Akroma's Memorial.

Sword of Fire and Ice - Using all my copies at the moment.

Sword of Light and Shadow - Ditto, but I do have one in a deck that can live without it. I just don't know what to cut instead, so this will just wait on the bench until I pull something else out.

IN:

That leaves us with the following list:


Creatures 
Wood Elves
Eternal Witness
Brawn
Genesis
Hystrodon
Acidic Slime
Vigor
Primeval Titan
Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger
Woodfall Primus
Garruk's Horde
Rampaging Baloths
Skinshifter
Skyshroud War Beast
Fauna Shaman
Indrik Stomphowler
Moldgraf Monstrosity
Avenger of Zendikar
Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
Baru, Fist of Krosa

Urabrask, the Hidden
Mana-Charged Dragon
Akroma, Angel of Fury
Dragon Tyrant
Inferno Titan
Kargan Dragon Lord
Spitebellows

Stonebrow, Krosan Hero
Borborygmos
Wilderness Elemental
Boartusk Leige
Deus of Calamity

Duplicant

Spells
Tooth and Nail
Rancor
Beast Within
Harmonize
Momentus Fall
Creeping Renaissance
Cultivate
Kodama's Reach
Garruk Wildspeaker
Overwhelming Stampede
Green Sun's Zenith
Skyshroud Claim
Beastmaster Ascension
Greater Good

Savage Beating
Wheel of Fortune
Blasphemous Act

Hull Breach
Sarkhan Vol
Savage Twister
Vengeful Rebirth

Oblivion Stone
Gruul Warplow
Sol Ring
Gruul Signet
Darksteel Ingot
Sword of Vengeance
Skullclamp
Lightning Greaves
Loxodon Warhammer

All is Dust 

Lands

If my count is correct, above are 64 cards, leaving room for only 36 lands. I'm not particularly comfortable with this number even with the added ramp stuff. I really feel I need to cut at least 1 more card, probably two. I rarely go below 38 lands in EDH, even with ramp... I'll sleeve this up later on and gold fish a bit to get a feel for it, but I can't know for sure how it'll play until I get some actual games in.

I can't wait, though! The deck looks hella fun to play.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Coming Attractions

So I'm in a period of not-building right now. I have six assembled EDH decks and I happen to enjoy them all very much. I want to build more, but having too many decks at once tends to result in the ones built later having somewhat poorer card choices, as I start having to dredge up some alternatives to my first-choice inclusions, if I'm using all my other copies.

Nonetheless, content must flow and I admit to having been a little lax in updating recently. I'm putting in a lot of overtime at work and also busy at home with various things. But not to worry! I've got a brand-new spiral notebook and I've been filling it up with ideas all week.

Even if I don't actually build some of these decks, I can post theoretical lists, and can reference them later on when I finally get tired of some of the current decks in my stable. So, here's a breif list of ideas I'm mulling over right now.

Disclaimer: Many of these are inspired by various forum-goers or the other folks I play with regularly. If and when I use and idea I shamelessly plagiarized I will give credit where it is due.


1. Ruhan of the Fomori - Fusing a Giant Tribal theme onto a bit of a Voltron strategy. I've seen Ruhan lists do both ideas before, but I want to try to come up with a list that does both well, that way the deck is strong in both multiplayer and 1v1.

2. Jhoira of the Ghitu - After my Nin, the Pain Artist deck idea fell apart, someone on the forums suggested Jhoira would be a better general for the deck I had in mind. I'd love to still make the deck but I'm kinda reeling from the epic failure that was the initial Nin build, and thus a bit gun-shy to start working on this deck again immediately. Soon, though. Definitely soon.

3. Geist of Saint Traft - I envision a WU Control with a mid-range Voltron strategy as the primary win condition. Basically this would be a slower, more controlling version of the Rafiq deck. I'd almost certainly have to take Rafiq apart to build this. That shouldn't be a problem, but I just love Rafiq so damn much.

4. Kaarthus, Tyrant of Jund - Nothing new here. Just good stuff and dragons. I'm fine with not thinking outside the box here, because I just never really play Jund. It'd be new to me! I considered Kresh or even revisting the slightly disappointing Sek'Kuar ideas, but fuck it, Kaarthus is just BETTER!

5. Argus Kos, Wojek Veteran - Jor Kadeen is an immensly fun deck, but I really wanted that deck to have a sub-theme of "War" or "Battle", with cards like Glory of Warfare and Crescendo of War. Just dudes and things that pump dudes. I didn't really have room for all that, though, with the need to include more artifacts for the Metalcraft ability on Jor. Once I get tired of Jor Kadeen, I want to build this.

6. Jenara, Asura of War - I don't really plan on building this list myself, but a friend of mine has a Rhys the Redeemed token deck, and I kinda feel like adding blue would be a boon to his deck. It'd improve his card-drawing and card selection dramatically, plus Blue has exciting things like Spitting Image and Rite of Replication.

7. Grand Arbiter Augustin IV - Another deck I don't actually want to build, but I want to put up some sort of list for future reference, in case things deteriorate to the point where such an obnoxious deck is a valid response. Hopefully the mere threat of this deck will be enough to keep my playgroup casual.

8. Kaervek, the Merciless - All out greifer, a deck that just says "fuck you" to my opponents. Probably almost as offensive and asshole-ish as GAAIV, but it seems way more fun to play.

9. Stonebrow, Krosan Hero - I was dismayed to learn that I don't have a single deck right now that can play Kessig Wolf Run. This is probably the most exciting deck on the list to me right now, and as I don't have a deck currently running Red and Green, all my R/G duals are up for grabs. I think this is the one deck I could possibly make without having to cannibalize too many cards from other decks to build.

Anyway, I'm doing development work on several of these decks at the moment, via pen and paper. Once I have something solid to build from, I'll write 'em up and post 'em here. They probably won't be finished, formalized decklists, but will be a solid foundation to build upon.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Oh, the Humanity! Humans in Standard.

Let me preface this by saying this article is not intended or expected to produce a competitive Standard deck. I haven’t played Standard since Rafiq of the Many and the rest of the Bant Shard rotated out. But I don’t like to turn my back on 60-card Magic for too long, as I don’t want to let my 60-card deckbuilding skills atrophy too much. So at worst, this article might produce a deck that’s fun to play in the Casual room on MTGO or maybe, just MAYBE, good enough to make Top 8 at some local FNMs, but it’s not meant to be a serious deck.

Human is actually an extremely common creature type, but has never been officially supported as a true “Tribe” in that there were no cards that specifically referenced them in their ability text. No “Lord” creatures existed, nor other beneficial abilities to push players into playing Humans. Innistrad has changed all that, and quite drastically. There are plenty of Humans in Innistrad, of course, but plenty of cards with abilities that push you into playing Humans as a legitimate tribe. Some are great (Champion of the Parish) and some are not so great (Dearly Departed).


Right now, I imagine the optimal Human deck to be Green/White, though mono-White certainly is well supported enough to be viable… however we’d be cutting off two really strong “Lords” in the form of Mayor of Avabruck and Hamlet Captain. Hamlet Captain is one of the principle reasons I’m even interested in building this deck, so I am not willing to lose Green… besides that, a Mono-White Human deck would be very much like a typical White Weenie deck, which is somewhat less exciting, as I’ve visited that archetype quite often over the years.

Let’s take a look at which Humans are available to us in Standard, at least those that are the most playable. I’ll run these down by mana-cost, starting with one drops.

One Mana

Champion of the Parish – Easily the best one-drop we have access to, this should be an automatic 4x in any Human deck.
Elite Vanguard – Another fantastic, highly aggressive Human for a single W. Also a likely 4x.
Gideon’s Lawkeeper – Not as aggressive, but could be a good side-board option.
Avacyn’s Pilgrim – It might seem a bit odd to include a “mana elf” in a deck with such a low curve, but I think this should also be a 4x.

Two Mana                         

Accorder Paladin – Seems ideal here, as a very aggressive two-drop that also pumps the rest of your guys. Highly playable.
Elite Inquisitor – More of a sideboard card, if anything, but a 2/2 First Striker with Vigilance is still playable.
Grand Abolisher – Not quite aggro enough for the main deck, but a very valuable sideboard option.
Puresteel Paladin – Fantastic in the right deck, but I doubt he’ll have adequate support in this particular deck.
Hamlet Captain – Definitely a 4x, as it’s one of the main reasons I wanted to build this deck.
Mayor of Avabruck – Your other humans get +1/+1… seems like something we might want. It does kinda suck if he flips, but you should have little trouble dropping two guys in one turn to flip him back.
Skinshifter – This guy is tough, as I can’t figure out if I want 4x of him, or zero copies. Seems pretty solid.

Three Mana

Fiend Hunter – Tough call. It seems possible to maindeck this guy, but as a 1/3 for 3 he’d be the least aggro creature in the deck, probably. I’d say 4x sideboard, or a 2x main deck.
Gideon’s Avenger – I’m a big fan of this guy, but if you’re not running other tap effects (such as Gideon’s Lawkeeper) I’m not sure he’s worth it.
Mentor of the Meek – A must-have for this deck, as we’ll likely be dumping our hand quickly, and need to keep our grip full to apply pressure.
Mirran Crusader – Best with some Equipment such as Sword of War and Peace or whatever, but probably still great on his own.
Elder of Laurels – Might be a 2x in a more casual, slow version of the deck. Too expensive for my build, though.

Four Mana

Hero of Bladehold – There’s only one creature powerful enough to be worthwhile above three mana, and this is it. I would love to have 2x of these in the deck, if we can fit them. Note that if we do have Hero, Avacyn’s Pilgrim definitely starts to look necessary.

Variable Cost

Mikaeus, the Lunarch – Probably too slow and costly for a truly aggro deck, but a fine casual card nonetheless.


That pretty much sums up the best of what Humanity has to offer us, for now at least. There are a lot of options here, and there’s no way we can fit all of these cards into a single 60 card deck. But that’s okay, because it gives us room for variance and customization. You should be able to tune the list to suit your playgroup’s power level, and your own personal play preferences. If Elder of Laurels and Mikaeus the Lunarch excite you the most, you can easily play a slower more deliberate version of this deck. Throw in the Lawkeepers and Fiend Hunters to control the board while you build up to critical mass.

Or, you can just see how far you can push the aggro side, and make the deck as fast as possible.

Here’s my starting list:

4x Champion of the Parish
4x Elite Vanguard
3x Avacyn’s Pilgrim
4x Accorder Paladin
4x Hamlet Captain
3x Mayor of Avabruck
2x Skinshifter
3x Mirran Crusader
2x Mentor of the Meek
2x Hero of the Bladehold

3x Beast Within
4x Mutagenic Growth

4x Razorgrass Prairie
4x Sunpetal Grove
4x Forest
10x Plains

For the non-Creature spells, I chose the most generically useful spells I could find, as I have no idea what opposition this deck might encounter. Mutagenic Growth is basically the best Giant Growth variant in Standard right now, and Beast Within is a pretty universal answer to any problematic Creature, Planeswalker or other permanent type.

A suggested sideboard might include:

4x Fiend Hunter
4x Elite Inquisitor
4x Grand Abolisher
3x Celestial Purge

Or something like that. I dunno. Another really compelling option is to run Triumph of the Hordes. It’s an Infect card, yes, so it kinda seems out of place with zero Infect creatures, but I think it might be worth it for the surprise factor. It can really screw up combat math for an opponent, who is expecting you to attack their life total, not poison them out. It can just end a game out of nowhere just as your opponent is starting to stabilize and looks to be clogging up the ground for your attackers. You pretty much have to kill them in one attack if you do cast it, otherwise you basically just skipped that turn, but that’s the appeal of Triumph: that card usually does end the game upon resolution.

Enjoy!