Friday, April 6, 2012

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier... Politician?

Here’s the last of my updated decklists. This one is less of a new deck, but just a minor retooling of my existing Edric deck. The original intent of the deck was to spy on players by peeking at their hands and libraries in a variety of ways. That way I could always know what everyone was up to and plan accordingly. Of course, this plan sounded better when I was expecting to play against a lot of random people with unknown decks. As it stands, however, I’m still pretty much only playing at home with my regular playgroup. Thusly, the “spy” angle was somewhat less useful in that I already pretty much know what to expect from the friends I’ve been gaming with for years.

Hand peek effects are still fairly useful, but I wanted to repurpose the deck to play better with an established and familiar metagame – meaning, less spying on people and more political manipulation.

Edric has proven to be a very effective political tool, in that players often will take the bait and attack someone else to get the card draw, even if they know they’re playing right into your hands. The promise of card advantage is just too great a temptation to pass up some of the time, but when you compound that aspect with other, similar effects such as Propaganda, that encourage opponents to attack one another instead of you, it’s pretty easy to manipulate players into leaving you alive.

Of course, once it’s down to just you and one other player, all bets are off, and that was the issue I had with the initial build. I could all but guarantee that I’d survive to the endgame, but once there I had trouble finishing off that last opponent. Coming in “second place” consistently is fine, I guess, but I’d like the deck to have a fair to middling chance of actually winning. I don’t want to make it TOO good at winning, because I want to continually reinforce the idea that finishing me off last is the best strategy… but having the potential is important to me as well.

The end result was that I got to cut a lot of really weak cards, and replace them with better stuff that still isn’t too scary. This deck is meant to be unassuming and unthreatening, while still being able to interact with the game in various ways. Playing defensively can get boring, though, so I wanted to make sure the deck could be proactive too, without doing anything so alarming that I become the #1 threat. Most players won’t really freak out over an Ohran Viper attacking them once or twice. Thada Adel might be a little more scary to some folks, but it all depends on what they have in their decks. Your best bet is going for things like Sol Ring or Lightning Greaves, rather than huge bombs like Mindslaver or Blightsteel Colossus. Unless it’s the endgame, of course.

Anyway, here’s the revised list.

Master of Intrigues
Edric, Spymaster of Trest

Agents and Minions
Phantasmal Image
Snapcaster Mage
Trinket Mage
Thada Adel, Acquisitor
Vendillion Clique
Phyrexian Metamorph
Body Double
Infiltrator il-Kor
Vesuvan Shapeshifter

Scavenging Ooze
Fauna Shaman
Ohran Viper
Acidic Slime
Eternal Witness
Primeval Titan

Coiling Oracle
Cold-Eyed Selkie
Trygon Predator
Winged Coatl
Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Mystic Snake


Schemes, Plots and Conspiracies
Seal of Removal
Psychic Surgery
Vow of Flight
Dream Fracture
Jace Beleren
Lay Bare
Rite of Replication
Cryptic Command
Time Spiral
Knowledge Exploitation

Constant Mists
Moment's Peace
Krosan Grip
Beastmaster Ascension
Vow of Wildness
Beast Within


Gadgets and Gear
Sol Ring
Simic Signet
Sensei's Divining Top
Glasses of Urza
Aether Spellbomb
Proteus Staff
Lightning Greaves
Cloak and Dagger

Base of Operations
Island x9
Forest x9
Breeding Pool
Flooded Grove
Hinterland Harbor
Misty Rainforest
Yavimaya Coast
Command Tower
Simic Growth Chamber
Evolving Wilds
Lonely Sandbar
Halimar Depths
Moonring Island
Tranquil Thicket
Riptide Laboratory
High Market
Homeward Path
Mystifying Maze
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
Reliquary Tower

A word on Proteus Staff. I dislike the card for the fact that it can be used to deny your opponents access to their General. That’s a strategy I’m pretty much adamant about avoiding. I hate “tuck” effects, and only occasionally use cards like Chaos Warp or Oblation because they can fill critical gaps in their respective colors and are almost always relevant against non-General permanents. Here, though, Proteus Staff is a bit more like a Nuke, in that I hope I never HAVE to use it, but I’m willing to use the THREAT of  it as a deterrent. Walk softly and carry a big stick, as some dead president was quoted. It’s also perfectly fine for getting rid of non-General threats like Primeval Titan, Consecrated Sphinx, etc… but decks like Thraximundar that rely heavily on general damage wins will likely shy away from attacking into an active Proteus Staff, so it’s likely to be effective as a deterrent without ever being activated.

To a lesser extent, this is the same role Seal of Removal and Aether Spellbomb play. In EDH, as in most formats, answers are usually better when the opponent doesn’t see them coming a mile away. You usually want them to swing their  Akroma right into your Path to Exile. But in this deck, we’d rather gain a sort of card advantage by having some of our answers just sit there and threaten away would-be attackers. Using a Path on an Akroma is great, but once the Path is in your graveyard it no longer has the ability to ward off further attacks. Meanwhile an almost strictly worse Seal of Removal can have the same effect on multiple creatures over multiple turns. Players will almost always be compelled to send attackers at easier targets. When you finally are forced to use the Seal of Removal, it’s effect is nowhere near as powerful as Path to Exile’s, but by that time you likely have gotten FAR more value out of it by simply directing attackers elsewhere.

Questions, comments and suggestions welcome, as always!

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