Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Post-AVR Deck Updates (Potentially)

As with any new set, there are cards coming out that I want to put into existing decks. It just so happens that AVR provides a higher-than-usual quantity of playable, exciting, or interesting cards. So, I’m going to run down each of my existing decks, and detail what changes I’m hoping to make. Of course, sometimes I might not make an intended change, for various reasons. Sometimes it’s just too hard to cut proven, reliable spells for untested ones, no matter how cool the new ones might be. Other times I just can’t get my hands on a copy of the new card right away. Or maybe I just realize I was blinded by “new and shiny” and the card in question really isn’t all that great.

Sometimes, adding one or two new cards pulls the deck to strongly in a new direction and warrants further changes to the deck. This is a little more rare, but take my Agrus Kos deck for example. I have a few high-cost creatures, but one of the major, important facets of the deck is its focus on smaller, cheaper creatures than you’d usually see in typical EDH decks. The strength of the deck comes from the fact that most of my significant threats are two, three or four mana, whereas my opponents usually have win-cons that start at the six mana spot and go up from there. This allows me to start hammering away at my opponents fast and early, while they’re still just casting mana rocks and Cultivates.

In light of this strategy, adding something like Silverblade Paladin makes perfect sense. But should I also add Gisela? Yeah, she’s actually really good at turning my small beaters into potent threats, which is good, but at 7 mana, she does not fit the curve well enough at all. Obviosuly, I could cut something like Archangel of Strife for Gisela, as they both occupy the seven spot, but I’m hesitant to do that for thematic and flavor issues. That’s not something that would usually stop me, as I’m more of a “play good cards” kind of guy, but I put a TON of work into making my Agrus Kos deck both playable AND thematic and flavorful.

My original intent was to have three large-ish, expensive-ish creatures that would have some global effect that helped all my guys. Flavor-wise, these creatures would represent commanding officers of their respective “branches”. There would be a CO for White, Red and Gold. Cutting Archangel of Strife for Gisela would give me two Gold officers, and no White officer. So I’d have to then look at cutting Noblis of War for something White, and that just ain’t gonna happen.

Somewhat sadly, I think the only real option is to demote Agrus Kos himself, and make Gisela my general. I say “somewhat sadly” because no matter what, I can’t be unhappy about playing Gisela. She’s the most exciting card in the set, to me, and having her as my general just means I’ll get more opportunity to play her. Plus, Agrus has proven, in my VERY limited playtesting, to be somewhat lackluster as a general. I had hoped that he’d be more relevant than Jor Kadeen was, and frankly, he’s only a slight improvement at best. I just almost never want to spend the mana to cast him unless I’m out of creatures in hand.

I’m definitely not cutting Noblis of War for Agrus, either, so it’s likely Kos will just find himself out of a job once I get my hands on a Gisela. And that part is kinda sad, cause I like the card a lot, in theory; he’s just not as good in practice as I always think he should be.

Anyway, that’s just a random look at my reasoning and thought process. It won’t be applied to all decks, as some decks are more willing to sacrifice theme for power, while others are doggedly determined to maintain a fine balance between theme and function. For now, here is the list.

Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Deadeye Navigator (only possible reason to not run this is that I don’t like the Mystic Snake interaction)
Devastation Tide (Less appealing than Evac, because this deck likes to Instant-speed things… but read on!)
Ghostly Flicker (No telling what tricks this will enable, but I’m sure they’re numerous)
Latch Seeker (Not sold on this at all, but it’s a possibility for this deck)
Lunar Mystic (Probably don’t really need the draw, but I have a LOT of Instants in this deck)
Tandem Lookout (Again, not sure I need it, but there are times when casting Edric is unadvisable. This gives me an option)
Champion of Lambolt (Not certain this’ll make it, but it’s at least a consideration)
Druids’ Repository (Definitely going in. I attack with a lot of little guys, and the extra mana helps with countermagic, etc.)
Alchemist’s Refuge (Good enough for every UG deck that can run it, but definitely on-theme here, makes Devestation Tide awesome)
Cavern of Souls (naming Rogue, naturally)

Sedris, the Traitor King
Deadeye Navigator (One of the few ways to get around Unearth’s Exile clause, and easily the best among those ways)
Ghostly Flicker (Nine mana let’s me Unearth two guys and keep them permanently. Good enough? Dunno, but we’ll see)
Infinite Reflection (I dream of dropping this on Anathemancer or something like it, then casting Army of the Damned)
Barter in Blood (I’ve learned from testing that I need a bit more removal)
Dread Slaver (Very iffy, but it’s cool enough that I want to try and make it work)
Mad Prophet (Maybe not, since it’s not a Zombie, but I need more effects like this…)
Reforge the Soul (Definitely going in, 100% certain - I desperately need the gas)
Cavern of Souls (naming Zombie, duh!)
Desolate Lighthouse (Perfect fit for the deck)

Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight (Likely will take over as General; sorry, Agrus!)
Cathars’Crusade (Unlikely to make the cut, but I love the card enough to try)
Divine Deflection (Not a Sunforger target, unfortunately, but could still save my bacon)
Restoration Angel (Mostly good for blinking Equipment tutors like Stoneforge or Godo, also good at carrying said Equipment)
Silverblade Paladin (Perfect for this deck)
Dangerous Wager (Maybe a good Sunforger target, recur it with Mistveil Plains?)
Hound of Griselbrand (Another really good Double Striker for the deck)
Lightning Mauler (Iffy, but definitely a relevant effect-  Haste is king in this deck)
Reforge the Soul (Already running Wheel, could use a second copy)
Otherwold Atlas (A big “maybe” but I definitely could use the draw power)
Vessel of Endless Rest (Great for this deck, I can use it to “reload” a Sunforger target)
Slayer’s Stronghold (Big fat “Duh!” but this is gonna be SO good here)

Rith, the Awakener
Cathars’ Crusade (Priority #1, this is gonna be the nuts in any token deck)
Entreat the Angels (Unlikely, to be honest, but I do have Wake and Doubling Season, making this potentially explosive)
Burn at the Stake (Great spot removal, or just kill a player on the spot)
Reforge the Soul (Duh)
Champion of Lambholt (Seems pretty good at forcing through token armies)
Craterhoof Behemoth (Great finisher. Can easily see this killing one or two players easily, all three if I get lucky)
Druids’ Repository (Great mana engine for a token deck)
Gisela and Sigarda (Both are remote possibilities, but not very high on the list. They’re both “good stuff”, not really on-theme)
Slayer’s Stronghold (More for the Haste than anything, the rest is just bonus value)

Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter
Cathars’ Crusade (No longer has the token thing, but this card still interacts nicely with Vish Kal)
Divine Deflection (Very high likelihood this will go in)
Blood Artist (Nice companion to Suture Priest)
Exquisite Blood (Not sure if this should replace Sanguine Bond or what)
Harvester of Souls (More card-draw, seems cool)
Griselbrand (Lifelink is actually a theme in this deck, so he’s not just a good-stuff inclusion)
Cavern of Souls (None of the other lands will work here, so might as well, right?)

Jenara, Asura of War
Infinite Reflection (A wacky sort of win con that no one will see coming… or a dead card in hand?)
Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Obvious choice is obvious, but can you blame me?)
Alchemist’s Refuge (Flashing in Enchantments is pretty cool)
All in all, this deck gets very few new cards, but Bruna is so much awesome in one package that I don’t care.

Wrexial, the Risen Deep
Deadeye Navigator (Such an amazing card, I can’t wait to play with it)
Stolen Goods (It’s no Bribery, but stealing stuff is one of the main themes of the deck)
Barter in Blood (Already running it, but the new art is better)
Dark Imposter (Another janky but on-theme card to try out)
Griselbrand (Not that I need more card-draw, but why not?)

Okay, so those are my current decks. I have a roster of decks that are mainstays of my EDH stable, but aren’t together right at the moment. These are decks that I’ve built and rebuilt multiple times, and am very likely to do so again and again. Here’s a rundown on theoreticall changes to those decks, if I rebuild any of them soon enough.

Rafiq of the Many
Divine Deflection (Once Rafiq gets going on the offensive, I usually just sit back on responsive spells like this one)
Nearheath Pilgrim (Soulbond has some interesting interactions with Exalted’s one-attacker mechanic)
Silverblade Paladin (Rafiq’s back-up dude. Double Strike is hella good in this deck)
Deadeye Navigator (Just cause it makes spot removal very difficult to use)
Latch Seeker (Swings for 8 with just Rafiq. 9 With just Finest Hour. 24 with both.)
Tandem Lookout (Could replace almost any one of the several combat-damage-card-drawers)
Temporal Mastery (Not a lot of card draw, makes this slightly more likely to Miracle, one extra turn usually wins me the game)
Soul of the Harvest (As I just said, I don’t have a whole lot of card draw, so this might be a great opportunity)
Wolfir Silverheart (Makes all those small, evasive guys look utterly scary)
Sigarda, Host of Herons (This deck already has a bit of a weakness against Thraximundar and Barter in Blood)
Alchemist’s Refuge (Such a damn good Land!)

Arcane Melee (My Thrax build was just “good stuff control” with a LOT of Sorceries and Instants)
Deadeye Navigator (… and it had a LOT of ETBF effect creatures, and temporary theft effects)
Ghostly Flicker (see above, same explanation applies)
Tamiyo, the Moon Sage (It also featured lots and lots of Planeswalkers)
Temporal Mastery (Good stuff, like I said)
Griselbrand (really, really good stuff…)
Harvester of Souls (straight up replaces River Kelpie)
Killing Wave (just because It That Betrays is already in the deck)
Bonfire of the Damned (Maybe not, but it could go in)
Dual Casting (As before, the deck plays lots of powerful Instants and Sorceries)
Reforge the Soul (More Wheel of Fortune, not less!)
Rush of Blood (Can shave a turn off Thrax’s already-short clock - surprise win!)
Zealous Conscripts (Already playing a few Threaten variants, this is a good one)
Desolate Lighthouse (With enough recursion, the discard is a boon, not a drawback)

Kaalia of the Vast
Avacyn, Angel of Hope (C’mon do I need to spell it out?)
Herald of War (In case I need to hard-cast some Angels)
Defy Death (In cast I need to Zombify some Angels)
Griselbrand (Kaalia decks need more gas)
Harvester of Souls (As I said - gas)
Reforge the Soul (Okay, that might be enough gas)
Seraph Sancutary (Usually runs enough Angels to make this viable)
Slayers’ Stronghold (Haste is really good for Kaalia to have)

Ghave, Guru of Spores
Cathar’s Crusade (This card alone is enough to make me want to rebuild Ghave immediately)
Craterhoof Behemoth (This one, too)
Champion of Lambholt (Synergy!)
Druid’s Repository (Run those tokens into the red zone, for mana!)

Damia, Sage of Stone (previously Vorosh)
Deadeye Navigator (Abusing the shit out of ETBF effects is already what the deck does best)
Griselbrand (Thank you, Grizzlebee’s, I was hungry)
Alchemist’s Refuge (Flash is pretty sweet in a Damia deck)

Animar, Soul of Elements
Deadeye Navigator (Every. Blue. Deck. Ever.)
Tyrant of Discord (More likely to go into a Riku deck, but possible here)
Soul of the Harvest (Essential)
Somberwald Sage (Not quite as good as Bloom Tender, but almost)
Timberland Guide (Puts two counters in Animar, not one)
Desolate Lighthouse (Dig for more creatures!)
Alchemist’s Refuge (EOT, dump my hand for the win?)

Riku of Two Reflections
Arcane Melee (This discounts your spells exactly what Riku charges to copy them. Coincidence?)
Deadeye Navigator (…)
Ghostly Flicker (Make two guys. Copy them. Flicker them. Re-copy them)
Temporal Mastery (Hey, at least I can’t go infinite turns, right guys?)
Burn at the Stake (Seems fun to copy)
Dual  Casting (MORE COPIES!)
Malignus (Big, dumb, but kinda cool)
Reforge the Soul (You saw this coming, right?)
Rite of Ruin (Potentially devastating, when timed just right, or copied)
Tyrant of Discord (Even more potentially devastating!)
Soul of the Harvest (Doesn’t trigger on the tokens, but still pretty good)
Alchemist’s Refuge (Clearly a must-run)

Stonebrow, Krosan Hero
Reforge the Soul (This deck, too, needed more drawing power)
Rush of Blood (Plenty of big, trampley targets in this deck)
Craterhoof Behemoth (Very dangerous in a deck with Avenger of Zendikar, Tooth and Nail and lots of Haste)
Rain of Thorns (Excellent removal spell for this deck)
Soul of the Harvest (Draws cards AND has Trample? Fuck yeah!)
Uvenwald Tracker (My dudes are usually bigger than theirs)
Wolfir Silverheart (Pair with anything with Trample for maximum devestation)

Wow. That’s quite a list. Apparently, Avacyn Restored has plenty of goodies for you, almost no matter what you’re playing. I’d say that’s a clear hallmark of a terrific set – a little something for everyone.


  1. It's a shame there isn't much in the new set that interests you. ;)

    I'm having similar issues, to be sure. Although I don't really see counters in my meta, so I don't have to shoulder the financial burden of picking up that copies of Cavern Of Souls.

    I'm also debating ditching an old general for one of the new Angels. Radiant just isn't cutting it, and Sigarda may be a good fit for the extra mana accel, green utility, and card draw.

    On the down-side, this set is going to guarantee that all tribal angels decks look identical going forward.

    Maybe I'll just put her out to pasture instead... ;)

  2. RE: Cavern of Souls - same here, which is good news as it's quite costly, but if I open one or two I'll happily use them in my Sedris deck first, other three-color decks second.

    RE: Angel Tribal decks - that is an unfortunate downside I hadn't considered. Then again I don't actually SEE that many Angel-tribal decks, so that might not be so bad.