Saturday, December 14, 2013

Updating Evasive Maneuvers

After a bit of a delay, I'm finally ready to dig into the next Commander 2013 deck. This time out, we're going to be taking a look at the Bant deck, Evasive Maneuvers, led by the wonderful new Legendary Bird Wizard, Derevi, Empyrial Tactician.

Derevi is deceptively awesome. Well, maybe not so deceptively. Maybe the fact that she is a Bird Wizard tipped you off. But I was initially skeptical of her power-level due to her small stats. She had a cool set of abilities, but I figured once she was on the battlefield she'd be less than stellar.

Basically, I thought she was a legendary Pestermite with a gimmicky Command Zone ability to justify her Legendy-ness. Boy was I wrong.

I still haven't completely solved the puzzle that this deck presents, and I will continue to tweak and improve it as I play, but the list I'm using is definitely beyond the rough draft stage now, and is performing quite well so far.

But before we get to my updated list, let's start at the beginning, with the unmodified list.

Derevi, Empyrial Tactician

Acidic Slime
Aerie Mystics
Angel of Finality
Azami, Lady of Scrolls
Bane of Progress
Deceiver Exarch
Diviner Spirit
Djinn of Infinite Deceits
Dungeon Geists
Farhaven Elf
Fiend Hunter
Flickerwisp
Hada Spy Patrol
Karmic Guide
Kazandu Tuskcaller
Lu Xun, Scholar General
Mirror Entity
Mistmeadow Witch
Murkfiend Liege
Phantom Nantuko
Pilgrim's Eye
Roon of the Hidden Realm
Rubinia Soulsinger
Selesnya Guildmage
Skyward Eye Prophets
Stonecloaker
Thornwind Faeries
Winged Coatl
Wonder

Aethermage's Touch
Arcane Denial
Azorius Keyrune
Basalt Monolith
Blue Sun's Zenith
Borrowing 100,000 Arrows
Conjurer's Closet
Control Magic
Curse of Inertia
Curse of Predation
Curse of the Forsaken
Darksteel Ingot
Darksteel Mutation
Flickerform
Kirtar's Wrath
Krosan Grip
Leafdrake Roost
Leonin Bladetrap
Presence of Gond
Restore
Selesnya Charm
Selesnya Signet
Simic Signet
Sol Ring
Surveyor's Scope
Swiftfoot Boots
Sword of the Paruns
Tempt with Glory
Thousand-Year Elixir
Thunderstaff
Unexpectedly Absent
Wash Out

Azorius Chancery
Azorius Guildgate
Bant Panorama
Command Tower
Evolving Wilds
Faerie Conclave
Forest x6
Island x7
Opal Palace
Plains x7
Rupture Spire
Saltcrusted Steppe
Seaside Citadel
Secluded Steppe
Sejiri Refuge
Selesnya Guildgate
Selesnya Sanctuary
Simic Guildgate
Temple of the False God
Terramorphic Expanse
Transguild Promenade

This list is, like all preconstructed decks, a little rough around the edges. But, it does play surprisingly well. Better, at least, than it looks on paper. That's because Derevi opens up a lot of cute little interactions and synergies that aren't apparent until you play the deck and discover them through gameplay.

There is some synergy between Derevi's tap/untap theme and the alternate new Legend, Roon of the Hidden Realm, who inspires more of a flicker/blink theme. But, ultimately I found that trying to cater to both themes was too divisive and unstable, despite the seeming overlap in synergy. Since I wanted to focus on Derevi and not Roon (for now), I decided to mostly sideline the blink subtheme, save for a few key cards.

Once again, before making any changes, I'm going to rate all the cards in the stock list, giving each a grade of either PASS, FAIL, or NEEDS IMPROVEMENT. If you read the last two Updating... articles, you'll know the drill.

There are a few cards that turn out to be quite strong. The following cards get the grade of PASS and are worth keeping around as you spruce up the list:

Acidic Slime
Angel of Finality
Azami, Lady of Scrolls
Dungeon Geists
Fiend Hunter
Karmic Guide
Mirror Entity
Mistmeadow Witch
Murkfiend Liege
Stonecloaker
Winged Coatl
Curse of Predation
Darksteel Ingot
Krosan Grip
Sol Ring
Unexpectedly Absent

This next batch of cards have been graded NEEDS IMPROVEMENT. They're not outright bad, and could stay in the deck, but have more powerful or reliable alternatives that are generally better. Or, they are solid cards, but just don't fit the deck's overall strategy well enough and dilute the theme despite being good.

Bane of Progress
Deceiver Exarch
Farhaven Elf
Flickerwisp
Roon of the Hidden Realm
Rubinia Soulsinger
Selesnya Guildmage
Wonder
Arcane Denial
Blue Sun's Zenith
Conjurer's Closet
Darksteel Mutation
Kirtar's Wrath
Swiftfoot Boots
Basalt Monolith
Signets/Keyrunes

And the final batch of cards is, of course, the group labelled as FAIL - cards that are just plain bad and you should be very eager to replace as soon as possible.

Aerie Mystics
Diviner Spirit
Djinn of Infinite Deceits
Hada Spy Patrol
Kazandu Tuskcaller
Lu Xun, Scholar General
Phantom Nantuko
Pilgrim's Eye
Skyward Eye Prophets
Thornwind Fairies
Aethermage's Touch
Borrowing 100,000 Arrows
Control Magic
Curse of Intertia
Curse of the Forsaken
Flickerform
Leafdrake Roost
Leonin Bladetrap
Presence of Gond
Restore
Selesnya Charm
Surveyor's Scope
Sword of the Paruns
Tempt with Glory
Thousand-Year Elixer
Thunderstaff
Washout


So there's the rundown on the deck's starting lineup. Before we start with the changes, I want to outline my overall vision for the deck. After playing the deck unmodified a few times, the direction I decided was most natural for us to go, was to push for more small, cheap evasive attackers to maximize on Derevi's combat damage trigger. Using cards like Edric or Coastal Piracy to refill our hands was also critical.

The ideal average turn for the Derevi deck I wanted was something like this: Tap out to play a couple dudes; Swing with some guys; use Derevi triggers to untap a bunch of lands, and draw a bunch of cards off Edric/Piracy/Bident; use the newly untapped lands to play MORE guys. Next turn would be: Attack with even more guys, getting even more untap and draw triggers, casting even more guys post-combat, etc.

I also wanted to work in a lot of synergies and cute tricks. For example, cast a T2 Bloom Tender, cast T3 Derevi, target Bloom Tender with the untap trigger, tap BT in response for GWU, untap BT, tap BT again for GWU and have a GGWWUU floating on Turn 3, AFTER casting our General!

In short, the deck is just full of little tricks of synergy, many of which make board states far more complicated and tricky to play around for your opponents. You will almost always have multiple lines of play with this deck, which makes it fairly complicated and tricky for you to play as well. But that's a big part of the appeal and fun!

So we'll start, as usual, but addressing the straight-up 1-for-1 card swaps, where we replace a mediocre card with another card that is generally just a better version of the card we're replacing.


Conjurer's Closet --> Venser the Sojourner
This was a versatility upgrade. Venser can do pretty much the exact same job as the Closet for the same converted mana cost. However he can do a whole lot of extra things that Closet can't, for zero extra mana. He can return stolen permanent back to your control. He can protect your MVP creature from a Wrath (your own, at least). And the one thing that really makes him special here is making your whole army unblockable for a turn.

Skyward Eye Prophets --> Arcanis, the Omnipotent
I had a lot more fun than I'd ever have expected spamming the Skyward Eye with a bunch of Derevi's untap triggers all at once for massive value and card advantage. But as nice as the putting-a-land-into-play bonus was, every time I did this trick, I was really just wanted to draw an ass load of cards. Well, Arcanis is a thing. And he does draw an ass load of cards.

Basalt Monolith --> Chromatic Lantern
One thing I realized was that making colored mana was generally far, far more valuable than making a whole ton of colorless mana. It was cute, with the Monolith, but I almost never had a use for all that colorless. So the ultimate color-fixer comes in to ensure I always have the right mana for the job.

Flickerwisp --> Restoration Angel
For one more mana you get Flash and +0/+3, both tremendous upsides. The downside is that you can't flicker an opponent's blocker or anything like that, but I found that 9 times out of 10 I was using Flickerwisp on my own guys, so that downside seems minimal compared to the upside Flash brings.

Wash Out --> Cyclonic Rift
This was actually earmarked for Aetherize, a more closely comparable card. But due to some sort of miscalculation or mixup on my end, it wound up with Rift in the slot instead. This is what Bob Ross would call "a happy accident". Rift is really, reallly good so I haven't "corrected" this "error". But I do still want Aetherize in here somewhere...

Control Magic --> Treachery
What's that you say? Need a steal-your-guy effect that actually fits the tap/untap theme? Well, our judges would accept Volition Reins, but the #1 answer is of course, Treachery.

Hada Spy Patrol --> Invisible Stalker
LOL, I guess I could pay upwards of a hundred mana to get a unblockable Shroud guy... or I could pay two mana and get an unblockable Hexproof guy. You do the math.

Selesnya Charm, Darksteel Mutation --> Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile
The "versatility" of the Charm is a trap: it's only ever worth casting for the removal mode, but the removal mode doesn't hit Consecrated Sphinx (or a lot of other really scary things that don't have 5 power. Seriously, you'd be surprised how often that matters!). Mutation is cute for negating a scary general, but an opponent casting an Akroma's Vengeance or similar at the right time = an empty board except for the scary thing you tried to get rid of via the Mutation.

Blue Sun's Zenith --> Sphinx's Revelation
They're almost the same card, but one gains you a bunch of life. The shuffle-back-in effect is nice on the Zenith, of course, but I'd rather have it in the 'yard where I can E. Witness it anyways.

Kirtar's Wrath --> Elspeth Sun's Champion
Elspeth's -3 ability is damn near a Plague Wind in this deck. And making soliders en masse every turn is also pretty relevant.

That's about it for the 1-for-1 upgrades. There are more, but some of them make more sense if I address them in packages, so you can see the synergies I'm trying to build towards.

As usual, one of the first things I like to do is optimize my mana base, and ramp strategy. I won't talk about individual land choices until the end, but I knew from experience with my Edric deck, which has a similar approach to this deck, that we were going to want to "ramp" primarily by drawing extra lands, and making extra land drops via Exploration type effects.

So in a fit of contrarian experimentalism, I decided to up the land count to 40, cut all the mana rocks except Sol Ring and Chromatic Lantern, and most of the other ramp as well. I then added in Exploration, and Oracle of Mul Daya for starters. This wasn't quite reliable enough, so I threw in a Coiling Oracle (value snake!) as well. Then I broke another rule of mine: I normally hate "mana dorks" in EDH, but there were two cards that seemed like the reward would be worth the risk. Noble Hierarch is always solid, even without a real Exalted theme. But the real prize is Bloom Tender, which as I described above, can be pretty explosive.

OUT: Azorius Keyrune, Selesnya Signet, Simic Signet, Farhaven Elf, Restore, Explorer's Scope, Darksteel Ingot
IN: 2x Lands, Exploration, Oracle of Mul Daya, Coiling Oracle, Noble Hierarch, Bloom Tender

Next up, I wanted all of the Coastal Piracy-like effects I could find... turns out there aren't too many of them. Three bad cards come out for three good cards that draw us more cards!

OUT: Diviner Spirit, Thousand Year Elixir, Sword of the Paruns
IN: Edric, Spymaster of Trest; Coastal Piracy; Bident of Thassa

I can't always have an Edric effect in play every game, so I needed a bit of supplemental card draw.

OUT: Borrowing 100,000 Arrows; Lu Xun, Scholar General; Curse of the Forsaken
IN: Deep Analysis, Cold-Eyed Selkie, Mentor of the Meek

Borrowing 100k was never reliable and was basically EXACTLY Divination. I never could draw more than 2 cards off it. Deep Analysis is a boring old standby, but it's GOOD and has served me well in many decks in the past. Lu Xun is fine, but Selkie is cheaper, has almost as good an evasion ability, and can potentially draw more than one card at a time (Exatled, +1/+1 counters, etc.). And Curse was a do-nothing waste of a slot, while Mentor is a subtle but potented card advantage machine. He's almost never going to be the scariest thing on the board, but if unanswered he will draw tons of cards.

Rhystic Study has a very serious shot at being slotted in as well, but I never could find room for it.

Next up, I knew right away this deck was going to want Opposition and probably Glare of Subdual as well. I managed not to fit Glare in, sadly, but Opposition is front and center.

OUT: Thunderstaff
IN: Opposition

I really liked Azami in this deck already, and wanted to make her even more useful. Plus with Opposition now involved, I wanted to explore some of the "tap for value" cards from Lorwyn. In the end I only found two that I really wanted to play, but both are pretty freakin' awesome.

OUT: Presence of Gond, Thornwind Faeries
IN: Stonybrook Schoolmaster, Surgespanner

Props to my buddy Chad for suggesting the Surgespanner. I'm pretty sure he expected me to laugh at him and call him a scrub and mock his newbish deckbuilding skills... but I pretty much fell in love with the idea right off the bat. This also led me to the Schoolmaster, which also makes me cackle with glee when it works. Both cards work with Azami by virtue of being Wizards, so they let me draw cards WHILE DOING OTHER THINGS! Schoolmaster just churns out more Wizards, which in turn lets me draw more or tap more things, while the 'spanner lets me bounce permanents while drawing or tapping things! Either of these two cards combined with either Azami or Opposition gives me a serious value-boner.

There are a few more merfolk with the "whenever this beomes tapped" technology - Fallowsage draws more cards, and Grimoire Thief exiles your opponent's library 3 cards at a time, but neither felt strictly worth it to me.

I've seen Derevi lists that go hard with stuff like Winter Orb. That's powerful, I agree, but I didn't want to be quite that mean. I did, however, make the slightest nod to that strategy.

OUT: Roon of the Hidden Realm, Leonin Bladetrap
IN: Imposing Sovereign, Stoic Angel

Both of these cards are fairly critical in slowing down other aggressive decks, and making your Opposition locks even easier to keep pinned down. I also want to include Blind Obedience, but I couldn't find room, but I also have it in a bunch of decks already, too.

I have a few other cards in mind to help abuse the hell out of Opposition...

OUT: Selesnya Guildmage, Murkfiend Liege, Leafdrake Roost
IN: Emeria Angel, Prophet of Kruphix, Nature's Will

Nature's Will came about because I kept getting into situations where, after attacking with Derevi and a bunch of guys, I had to choose between untapping all my guys so they'd be ready to Opposition down some enemy threats, OR untapping my lands to cast more guys. I often felt like I needed to do both, but had to chose. Nature's Will eliminates that choice. (Sword of Feast and Famine will do much the same, of course). I've only stuck the Will once so far, but it was everything I dreamed it could be and more. Emeria Angel is just an "army in a can" but has synergy with our Exploration/Oracle of Mul Daya plan. Propeht of Krupix is, well... probably the single most scary card in the deck. It enables so much more than just Opposition. Wow.

Now we need a few more evasive beats.

OUT: Aerie Mystics, Kazandu Tuskcaller, Phantom Nantuko, Pilgrim's Eye
IN: Soltari Visionary, Jhessian Infiltrator, Daxos of Meletis, True-Name Nemesis

Visionary and Daxos have extra value in their combat-damage abilities, while Infiltrator and Visionary are just all but guaranteed to connect reliably and often.

Next up are a trio of cards that help our guys get through the red zone unscathed.

OUT: Arcane Denial, Curse of Inertia, Tempt with Glory
IN: Frontline Medic, Champion of Lambholt, Bow of Nylea

Champion can easily just make your whole team unblockable, but requires you to build up to that point. Frontline Medic doesn't add any evasion, but helps the team survive by making them Indestructible - so if you just have more guys than an opponent, you can bum rush him without suffering attrition. And Bow of Nylea just makes it so your opponents really don't want to block most of the time, and if they do, you're probably secretly happy with whatever trades they wind up making.


Now I have three more non-Creature spells to add. Mirari's Wake is obviously impressive, but the +1/+1 bonus is more relevant here than usual because of the small default size of our creatures. Spear of Heliod comes in for the same reason - an Anthem with an Upside is welcome, and we already had two of the three God-Weapons so why not complete the cycle? Finally, Primeval Bounty is an experimental pick that, in theory, applies a free value-added bonus to nearly every play we make.

OUT:  Flickerform, Swiftfoot Boots, Aethermage's Touch
IN: Mirari's Wake, Spear of Heliod, Primeval Bounty

That leaves us with five more creature cards to include.

OUT: Wonder, Rubinia Soulsinger, Deceiver Exarch, Djinn of Infinite Deceits, Bane of Progress,
IN: Eternal Witness, Azorius Justiciar, Reveillark, Master Biomancer, Fauna Shaman

Eternal Witness is "duh good stuff", but really good with Venser. Similarly Azorius Justiciar is imminently blink-able, but also fine as a one-shot. Reveillark is a necessary concession to the fact that this deck HATES Wrath effects, but my group eschews countermagic, so I needed some other countermeasure. Fauna Shaman is primarily to find Edric first, then whatever utility dude I need afterwards. And finally, Master Biomancer - aka Bill Nye the Science Guy - is a fun way to turn my weenie army into a more formidable fighting force.

That's it for the main deck, but we still need to retool the mana base.

This is the one deck where I felt the colored mana requirements were stringent enough that I needed to break out the big guns. I included the three ABUR Duals in my build, as well as the Shadowmoor filter lands, along with the usual suspects. If you don't have them, no worries.

The more "techy" lands I included are: Gavony Township, Alchemist's Refuge, Reliquary Tower and Thawing Glaciers. Nothing to revelatory or ingenious here. Flash is good. Pumping my army is good. not discarding all those cards I draw off Coastal Piracy is good. The cutest bit is Thawing Glaciers. Once you've gotten a good attack set up, you can have all your Derevi triggers target the Glaciers and just use it multiple times in one turn. It can easily put you 3 or 4 lands ahead with one good attack, but once you get the engine going it's hard to stop. Just make sure to keep your basic land count fairly high, so you can exploit this properly.

Defensive lands like Maze of Ith and Kor Haven are also really good here, but I didn't have any available copies to include. Plus, too many colorless lands can really hurt.

The Worldwake manlands were also strong contenders, losing out only because I wanted to keep my Basic count high for the Thawing Glaciers trick, but more bodies is always welcome in this deck, which lives or dies on being able to quickly amass attackers.

Putting all this together, we arrive at the following list:

Derevi, Empyrial Tactician

Imposing Sovereign
Mentor of the Meek
Stonybook Schoolmaster
Frontline Medic
Stonecloaker
Mirror Entity
Soltari Visionary
Fiend Hunter
Angel of Finality
Restoration Angel
Emeria Angel
Azorius Justiciar
Reveillark
Karmic Guide
Invisible Stalker
True-Name Nemesis
Surgespanner
Dungeon Geists
Azami, Lady of Scrolls
Arcanis, the Omnipotent
Noble Hierarch
Fauna Shaman
Bloom Tender
Eternal Witness
Champion of Lambholt
Oracle of Mul Daya
Acidic Slime
Mistmeadow Witch
Coiling Oracle
Jhessian Infiltrator
Daxos of Meletis
Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Winged Coatl
Cold-Eyed Selkie
Master Biomancer
Stoic Angel
Prophet of Kruphix

Swords to Plowshares
Path to Exile
Unexpectedly Absent
Elspeth, Sun's Champion
Cyclonic Rift
Deep Analysis
Opposition
Coastal Piracy
Bident of Thassa
Treachery
Exploration
Curse of Predation
Krosan Grip
Bow of Nylea
Nature's Will
Primeval Bounty
Mirari's Wake
Venser, the Sojourner
Sphinx's Revelation
Sol Ring
Spear of Heliod
Chromatic Lantern

Tundra
Savannah
Tropical Island
Hallowed Fountain
Temple Garden
Breeding Pool
Glacial Fortress
Sunpetal Grove
Hinterland Harbor
Mystic Gate
Wooded Bastion
Flooded Grove
Misty Rainforest
Azorius Chancery
Selesnya Sanctuary
Simic Growth Chamber
Reflecting Pool
Command Tower
Seaside Citadel
Evolving WildsTemple of the False God
Gavony Township
Alchemist's Refuge
Thawing Glaciers
Reliquary Tower
Faerie Conclave
Plains x5
Island x5
Forest x4 


Now, this is the list I'm currently running. It's very good and very fun, but it's far from ideal. Let me talk about some the of the issues you might experience.

First off, the deck relies heavily on sticking an persistent card-drawing engine early; be it Edric, Piracy, Bident, Mentor, Azami or Arcanis, if you don't get one of these online and start stocking up on cards before the first Wrath happens, you'll be in trouble. So, finding these cards is a priority. I really only have Fauna Shaman as a way to get Edric, but that's not enough, really. Some things I've considered to help out are:
Survival of the Fittest
Birthing Pod
Wargate
Eladamri's Call
Worldly Tutor
Enlightened Tutor

Speaking of Wrath effects, those are one of the biggest banes of this deck. There are a LOT of cards in this deck that are good because they have really great synergy, but are TERRIBLE to top-deck into with an empty board and empty hand. If you have a board of Lands and nothing in hand, and draw Stonybrook Schoolmaster, you'll be sad. Now, my group doesn't sanction countermagic, so I have to look elsewhere for anti-Wrath measures. Some options I need to consider but haven't yet tried are:
Dauntless Escort
Rootborn Defenses
Ghostway
Faith's Reward
Eldrazi Monument
Sun Titan
Marshal's Anthem

Still speaking of sweepers, I don't have any, save Elspeth. One card I would absolutely be running, if I owned a copy is Retribution of the Meek, which is the card Elpleth's -3 ability is based on. In this deck it would b damn near a 3-mana Plague Wind!

Also, Curse of the Swine is really, really tempting here, as another potential one-sided sweeper of sorts. Austere Command is a possibility as well, but I'm not sold on it yet.

Another thing that just makes life absolutely miserable for this deck is the Propaganda effect. One of these hitting the board slows us down to a crawl, but seeing multiple effects stack up makes winning impossible without an answer. If you see these types of "pillow fort" cards in your group, BE PREPARED TO DEAL WITH THEM. Krosan Grip and Soltari Visionary are there already, but I also might want:

Qasali Pridemage
Return to Dust
Trygon Pedator
Aura Shards
Calming Verse

(I really like Calming Verse! Secret tech!)

Aggro decks that are fast, but have bigger average creature sizes than you could be a problem. You really need Opposition to win this race, so adding Glare of Subdual will help, and you might also consider Sleep and similar effects as well.

Blinding Angel is also super awesome against Aggro. And I already mentiond Blind Obedience, but that's still something I would love to include.

One other issue, not as bad as the previous concerns, but still worth noting, is that sometimes this deck can take over a game and dominate the board... with tiny creatures. This means it often takes several turns to win once you've established your dominance, which of course gives your opponents all the more time to draw an out. The deck needs more decisive ways to just pack the game up once you start to pull ahead.

A lot of people like Derevi as a Voltron General, which makes sense, but isn't right for my build. However, I would definitely condone using Sword of Feast and Famine, either way.

I also like Beastmaster Ascension a lot, but haven't bothered slotting it in. Basically anything that mass-pumps your army is golden. I kept Mirror Entity for this reason (plus he is tech with Azami - turn your whole team to 1/1 Wizards to draw a ton!), but  Biomass Mutation is another solid possible choice. It's a one-shot version of Mirror Entity, but it's an Instant so has surprise on it's side.

Finally, the last thing I want to bring up is my mana strategy. I am absolutely certain that the Exploration/Oracle package is great, and I want those two cards in the deck no matter what. But I'm not sure 40 lands and no mana rocks is right or not. I have been screwed by mana flood a few times, and I'm looking to minimize this impact. I have a few ways I could go.

One, I could cut two lands and something else and add back in the three Signets. Signets are great, and undervalued, I feel. Of course, if your playgroup loves talking about how Vandalblast and Bane of Progress are the best cards ever, you might want to avoid these. But my group is pretty gentlemanly about going after mana. We avoid it where possible, and try not to cripple players outright when we do pop mana rocks or lands.

Another option is to just add a Trade Routes and/or Scroll Rack to cycle away excess lands. I like this route, but if I go this way I really want BOTH cards, and I don't think I have an available Scroll Rack right now. I'd have to cannibalize it from another deck.

I also probably should look into adding an Azusa, Lost but Seeking. But, I'm pretty sure I only own one copy, which is in my Edric deck, and there's no way in hell it's coming out of that deck. I'll have to track one down, because I don't get an early Oracle/Exploration nearly often as I'd like to.

I could also just cut two lands and something else for the boring but proven package of Sakura-Tribe Elder, Wood Elves and Kodama's Reach (or Cultivate). I'm not a fan of this route even though it's probably the most reliably consistent way to go, and it has the benefit of upping my creature count slightly.

Maintaining a high creature count in this deck is of paramount importance, by the way. I would absolutely NOT go below 36 creatures, and striving to hit 40 is advisable.

My buddy Chad uses Looter il-Kor in his Derevi deck, and that seems like a good option too. It's a small, cheap, evasive attacker, which this deck already wants, and it can loot away excess lands if we draw too many. I've long been a fan of Looter il-Kor but he fell of my radar at some point. I should look into reintroducing him to my repertoire.
 

Closing thoughts

So, as you can see, I've built a deck with a really strong proactive game plan, but in interest of trying as many new and cool things as possible I have skimped somewhat on the reactionary capabilities and this has left some glaring weaknesses. I think those weaknesses are easily addressed, though, once you get past wanting to use all the cooler, more proactive cards you can cram in.

I mentioned earlier how Prophet of Kruphix is one of the most powerful cards in the deck, and aside from Derevi herself, it might actually be the single best thing this deck can do. To that end, adding Leyline of Anticipation and Seedborn Muse may well be worth looking into.

By the way, everyone knows Seedborn Muse by now, but remember that Awakening and Quest for Renewal also exist (Quest only untaps creatures, but it's close enough). And remember, that these effects stack, so each one you cast gives you more and more use out of your Opposition.

You're probably tired of me putting it into every single deck, but I really need a damn Mulldrifter in here. Perhaps I can cut Deep Analysis for it? Dunno. Value Fish just HAS to come in somewhere.

Finally, I just wanted to highlight two more cards my friend Chad picked for his Derevi build that I wish I had thought of first: Aven Mindcensor, and Sun Quan, Lord of Wu. I don't think my build could support another six-drop, but Sun Quan has wrecked my shit a couple of times already so I know he's legit. And Aven Mindcensor is well-known and respected already, but in this deck, he's especially fun because HE'S A BIRD WIZARD! Tribal theme, GO!

As always, I highly encourage you to leave your own suggestions and tech choices in the comments below, and if you have some creative solutions to the deck's weaknesses I've laid out, I definitely want to hear those!

Enjoy!

10 comments:

  1. I love this in depth update of the evasive maneuvers! It has made my day and given me many more ideas for my own Derevi deck which operates under a similar proactive weenie strategy (I love building these kind of decks when everyone else wants grindy control decks. I really appreciate that you take the time to explain each card choice in detail and have put a lot of thought and testing into optimizing card choices. Have you thought about adding more creatures with tap effects that you can untap and reuse like mother of runes or intrepid hero?

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    Replies
    1. Mother of Runes seems like solid tech. I just don't want to dilute my creatures-that-are-good-at-attacking base... It's tricky to balance, because you generally want a bunch of little attackers and maybe one or two tap-for-utility guys, otherwise, you wind up with a board full of Intrepid Heros but no attackers to get the untap triggers.

      I'm still working on finding that balance.

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  2. No Tamiyo? If/when I build this deck Tamiyo is a snap-include, both for the on-theme +1 ability and the potentially-silly -2 card draw. The ultimate is gravy-- though certainly nothing to complain about-- and if I can hit the -2 once for 3+ cards and have her absorb an attack I'm happy with her performance.

    Curse of the Swine seems really good in a deck that is as mana-heavy (and sweeper-light) as this one. I also run Sleep and Blustersquall in my own U/G/x deck, and they seem on-theme here, but of course they're better as alpha-strike enablers, which might be harder here (The above-mentioned deck is my Infect-o-plasm, which alpha-strikes much more easily than the average aggro deck for obvious reasons).

    Overall, nice deck! May steal some of these ideas in building my own Derevi. (Incredibly, I have never built a Bant Deck, so this may be the impetus I need to do so...)

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    1. Tamiyo was definitely considered, and may wind up coming in at some point. Mostly I just didn't have room at the time. As for the -2 ability, well, I already cut 100k Arrows because out of the 8 to 10 times I cast it, I never once drew more than 2 cards off it. I really don't want a 5-mana spell that is little more than a Divination that also draws an attacker for a turn, then dies.

      However, once I feel like the deck is working well enough that I can reliably and consistently protect Tamiyo from being attacked to death immediately, then I'll definitely give her a shot.

      Curse of Swine is definitely a great pick, and I did mention it as a possible option in my "I need some sweepers" portion of the write up. It's definitely high on the "short list" of cards to add.

      The real problem is, the "short list" of cards that seem like they'd be great in this deck is long enough to actually build an entire second Derevi deck. There just isn't room for everything!

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    1. Oh yeah! That's right, I owe you all a BNG set review.

      It mostly sucks. Enjoy!

      Nah, this set has some solid cards, but it was just so... lackluster that I couldn't get motivated to write about it. Actually I haven't really been motivated to do ANYTHING Magic related lately, save playing a couple hours of EDH about once ever two weeks.

      I'm in yet another one of those "life getting in the way" scenarios, but there is currently a light at the end of the tunnel. So shit's going to be real quiet around here for a while until I can restore some vague semblance of normalcy and stability.

      If I'm somehow NOT homeless two or three months from now, I hope to re-engage with this blog much more regularly.

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  4. Really like your list - enough to start building my own Derevi Commander deck. Here's a few suggestions off the top of my head. Would actually like to hear your thoughts on these since you seem to have found a balance between fun and competitive lists. I'm trying to do the same but have a tendency of falling into douche territory (my casual group's opinion). Not that I play with Sigil Captain and Collective Blessing:

    Twilight Drover: More tokens, profits from Sigil Captain, Curse of Predation, and every token that hits the GY.

    Aven Minomancer: Turns 1/1s into 3/1 flyers.

    Daring Thief + Arbiter of the Ideal + God Favored General: Inspired sucks but it could be worth a try in here with Deveri's untap text, netting you some theft, free casting, and tokens in the process.

    Karametra, God of Harvest: I don't own any Oracles of Mul Daya but this God could work in your list as well.

    Hokori, Dust Drinker + Glare of Subdual: Here is where I get into dick mode but then again, these "locks" are as soft as they get. Great with Stoic Angel, Derevi, Prophet of Kruphix and Opposition.

    Chasm Stalker + Jenara, Asura of War + Champion of Lumbholt: I nixed the blink angle in my version, saving it for my Oloro deck (I think) which leaves this particular deck with more of a token and +1/+1 counters angle. Hence these guys. Stalker's 1/1 token are sweet with Sigial Captain as well (an all star in my deck).

    Bred for the Hunt: Another Coastal Piracy.

    Codex Shredder: It meses with their draws, abusive but not broken with the untaps.

    Flurry of Wings: Army in a can Instant.

    Collective Blessing: Poor man's in-color tutor. I wish I owned a Fauna Shaman.

    That's it man. Love your deck. Love your blog. I'm catching up with some of your older posts. Hope you don't mind if I comment on those as well.

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    1. *note* that I play with Sigil Captain and...

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  5. Just read your review and modified my evasion C13 with your recommendations. I will let you know how it did.

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