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…
Ruhan of the Fomori
Godo, Bandit Warlord
Wall of Denial
Sovereigns of Lost Alara
Swords to Plowshares
Path to Exile
Return to Dust
Vanish into Memory
Elspeth, Knight Errant
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Rite of Replication
Wheel of Fortune
Sword of Fire and Ice
Sword of Light and Shadow
Sword of Feast and Famine
Door of Desitinies
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.