Monday, May 9, 2016

Geth, Lord of the Vault


Geth, Lord of the Vault

Soldevi Adnate
Skirsdag High Priest
Fleshbag Marauder
Grim Haruspex
Vampire Nighthawk
Dimir House Guard
Slum Reaper
Disciple of Bolas
Crypt Ghast
Erebos, God of the Dead
Liliana’s Shade
Phyrexian Obliterator
Demon of Wailing Agonies
Sidisi, Undead Vizier
Bloodgift Demon
Puppeteer Clique
Archfiend of Depravity
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Nirkana Revenant
Massacre Wurm
Mikaeus the Unhallowed
Reaper from the Abyss
Sheoldred, Whispering One
Overseer of the Damned
Sepulchral Primordial
Burnished Hart
Solemn Simulacrum


Demonic Tutor
Sign in Blood
Read the Bones
Toxic Deluge
Sudden Spoiling
Phyrexian Arena
Tendrils of Corruption
Barter in Blood
Liliana of the Dark Realms
Dark Petition
Living Death
Promise of Power
Beacon of Unrest
Deadly Tempest
Ever After
Behold the Beyond
Decree of Pain
Wake the Dead
Dread Summons
Profane Command
Sol Ring
Expedition Map
Jet Medallion
Lightning Greaves
Sword of the Animist
Unstable Obelisk
Hedron Archive
Gauntlet of Power
Caged Sun


Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Bojuka Bog
Leechridden Swamp
Cabal Coffers
Crypt of Agadeem
Nykthos, Shrine to Nix
Polluted Mire
Barren Moor
Temple of the False God
Reliquary Tower
Volrath’s Stronghold
Phyrexian Tower
26x Swamp

Well, I’m finally back with a new decklist to talk about. Actually this one isn’t entirely new – it’s very similar to my upgrade to the Commander 2014 Ob Nixilis deck. Back when I was tinkering around with the C14 precon, I wound up settling on a list that featured a bit of a “Swamps Matter” theme, which led to things like Cabal Coffers and Caged Sun evolving that theme into more of a general “Big Mana” theme. It’s not quite a ramp deck, per se, but it is close enough in how it plays – it seeks to leverage a massive mana advantage to overwhelm the table with large threats, bountiful removal, and card advantage.

Under Ob Nixilis’s command, though, the deck had a hard time actually leveraging all that mana it could make. I frequently found myself in situations where I could produce more mana than all three of my opponents combined, but I couldn’t reliably ensure that I had big, back-breaking plays to make with all that mana. I also just had a hard time getting ahead on card advantage.

Eventually I realized that the issue was my Commander choice. I was able to pull of the Big Mana game plan quite reliably, so I needed an equally reliable outlet for all that mana - my commander needed to be a mana sink, and preferably one that generated some form of card advantage. The three options I settled on eventually were Drana, Kalastria Highborn; Geth, Lord of the Vault and Erebos, God of the Dead. Drana was a repeatable removal engine and a credible win-con all in one package, Geth was similarly multi-functional, while Erebos was a little more one-dimensional but represented straight-up card draw and was a good foil to Oloro, who was really popular in my group for a while.

I went with Erebos primarily because I’m a sucker for his card-drawing power, and the aforementioned popularity of Oloro at that time. Erebos was marginally better than Ob Nixilis, and he did successfully provide the desired outlet for spending my mana and generating card advantage, but the problem was that the deck was a bit slow and clunky in the early turns, and if there was even one aggressive player in the game, by the time I had Erebos and huge amounts of mana, I tended to have very low amounts of life. The heavy control elements were very good at helping me stabilize and survive… eventually. But, not quickly enough that I had tons of life to cash in for cards.

So, this being the third attempt to make this deck work, I have now opted for Geth. I’ve long been a fan of Geth, but I actually kind of over-played him for the first couple of years he was in print. I ran him in EVERYTHING! So, I figured instead of shoe-horning him into a bunch of decks, I’d just give him command of his own deck. He does all the things I want – provides a sink for the massive amounts of mana  I will be producing, generates card advantage, and serves as a suitable win-condition (he is fairly capable of both General Damage kills and milling someone out).

Once I decided to go with Geth for this outing, I started out by reconstructing the basic framework of the previous iterations – all the “Swamps Matters” and “Big Mana” stuff was first and foremost. Then it was just a matter of rounding out the rest of the deck with removal, utility and big, scary monsters.

Whereas the earlier version under Ob Nixilis had a slight bias toward the Demon creature type, for flavor and theme reasons, with this build I kept only those demons I really, really liked and replaced the rest with more generically good cards. So, yeah, it is a little good-stuff-y, but I’m fine with that. The cool thing about a deck like this is that it really doesn’t make a huge difference what you use for the heavy hitters; it’s much more important that you just get the balance right between things that help you set up your big mana plan, and things to do once you have your big mana online. For example, there’s no real overwhelming reason why you’d want to run specifically Sheoldred and Sepulchral Primordial as your 7-drops, they just happen to be the ones I prefer. But all that really matters is that you have the right number of 7-drops and that they are similarly high-impact, powerful cards worth spending that 7 mana on.

And I’m not at all certain three 7-drop creatures is the right number, either. It feels close to correct, but I do tend to get a higher % of top-heavy opening hands than I’m completely comfortable with. Point being, how greedy you can afford to be with the top-end of your curve depends a lot on how fast your metagame is and your mulligan policies. Right now my meta is a tad on the slow side and we have very forgiving mulligan rules, so I can afford to be a little greedy here, but I am careful not to exploit that freedom… if I have to mulligan 10 times before every single game, that’s a real problem.

So I’m still in the process of massaging the numbers to get them just right – to where I can easily and quickly get a decent opening 7 with enough early action to survive to the late game, BUT also enough late-game bombs that I don’t peter out. It really sucks being 12 turns into the game, sitting on 30 mana, and just top-decking things like Hero’s Downfall and Burnished Hart turn after turn, but it also sucks keeping a sketchy hand and then drawing nothing but 6 and 7 mana bombs the first four turns of the game. Where I’m at now, with this list, is that I feel like it needs some more work, but it is playable in its current state.

This seems an appropriate place to segue into specific card choices. The core of the deck does not have a lot of room for moving things around. You start with your lands, and because of things like Coffers and the mana-doubling artifacts, you want a Basic-heavy land base. Of course you need Coffers and it’s cousins – Nykthos and Crypt of Agadeem. Actually, Crypt is still in a trial period. I have yet to see it perform even remotely as well as Coffers or Nykthos, but neither have I seen it be completely terrible. Coming in tapped has yet to screw me at a critical time and the fact that it always, at minimum, taps for B has actually been very helpful a time or two, so it hasn’t yet given me a reason to cut it, but it also hasn’t proven essential. Nykthos and Coffers, however, are 100% essential.

The other lands are largely a matter of preference and availability. Obviously Volrath’s Stronghold and Phyrexian Tower are great, but they’re more “run ‘em if you got ‘em” cards – strongly recommended, but not so important I’d shell out for them if I didn’t already have them. Everything else is probably pretty self-explanatory. The only things I’m  missing that I’d like to have are Blighted Fen and Mortuary Mire. I’m pretty light on BFZ stuff, so I don’t have extras of these lying around at the moment. I’ve been tempted to try Lake of the Dead but it seems a bit too high-risk, especially if you don’t have an extra Crucible of Worlds to jam, and I do not. The other problem is the anti-synergy between Lake and cards like Tendrils of Corruption which reward you for having as many Swamps in play as you can get.

Next you want some ways to get Swamps into play, preferably ahead of schedule. I don’t do a lot of innovating in this category – tried and true staples like Solemn Simulacrum and Burnished Hart do the best work here, but I’ve been fairly happy with Liliana’s Shade and Lili of the Dark Realms herself. They only put Swamps into your hand, but that’s been acceptable most of the time. Sword of the Animist is a very new addition to this deck but I’ve played it elsewhere, and have constantly been impressed by this little equipment. Expedition Map is primarily to find Coffers or Urbog, depending on the situation. I try to wait until I’ve drawn one of those two, then use Map to find its mate. Failing that, I will happily get Nykthos if I feel like my Devotion count is going to stay high enough.

The next step is to add as many mana-doubling effects as you can. I dislike Doubling Cube, personally, so I passed on that one. And I don’t have an Extraplanar Lens free, but I’d absolutely run it if I did have an extra copy. Note that, if you do run Lens, you should seriously consider using the old Snow Basic trick to avoid helping your opponents who might be running Swamps. Actually, since I’m running Gauntlet of Power, I should be doing the same already, but I don’t think I have quite enough Snow-Covered Swamps and honestly I just figured I would be better able to exploit the mana boost than my opponents most of the time.

I also don’t like Magus of the Coffers. He’s too fragile and almost always dies before I can get a single mana out of him. For some reason I just have better luck with Crypt Ghast and Nirkana Revenant. Often I can wait to cast them until I have more lands, so that I can cast them and then get value out of them in the same turn, but even when I tap out for them, I tend to have good luck in untapping at least once with them in play.

At this point half our deck is basically comprised of Swamps, ways to get more Swamps, and things that make our Swamps better. Since we care about Swamps so much already, why not add some other things that care about Swamps? There are a lot of “number of Swamps you control” cards, and I’m not running as many as I’d like to. The big one that I’m missing is Corrupt, which was honestly just an accidental oversight, but by the time I realized I’d forgotten it, I couldn’t figure out what to cut.

Nightmare really is not good enough to run, but Korlash probably is, I just left him out for space reasons. Obviously Liliana of the Dark Realms was already included on the basis of getting more Swamps but her -2 also rewards you for having them. Her Ultimate, like most ‘walkers is only going to happen in Magical Christmas Land, but if/when it does, it’s pretty sweet.

Nightmare Incursion is pretty good, and I’d certainly consider it, but it’s a card that I’ve had used against me a few times and I can’t in good conscience use a card that I so dislike having used against me, so I opted out. Mutilate is pretty darn close to a second copy of Damnation most of the time, and occasionally it’s even better - you’ll have one or two creatures big enough to survive the Mutilate, while leaving your opponents with nothing.

In the equipment category, we have Lashwrithe and its ancestor Nightmare Lash. The old school version, Nightmare Lash is serviceable, but fortunately the newer Living Weapon variant is better in just about every way. You could feasibly run both, but I’m satisfied with just the superior version, leaving Nightmare Lash on the cutting room floor.

That about does it for the “Swamps matter” portion of the deck. The rest of the deck is just filled out with early game utility and removal and late-game bombs to mop up with and spend our ridiculous mana on. Personally, I have an aversion to just winning out of nowhere off a topdecked Exsanguinate… I mean, I actually used to be a huge fan of that card, but I’ve gotten that “Oops, I win” draw so many times that now it bores me to tears to even think about. Technically I can still do that with Profane Command, but it only hits one player, so I’m not just going to kill the whole table suddenly. The other X-spells I have are Wake the Dead and Dread Summons. Wake the Dead has proven effective numerous times, while Dread Summons seems good, but I’ve yet to see it in action.

Also worth considering: Black Sun’s Zenith. If Dread Summons doesn’t pan out in the long run, there’s a good chance it’ll be replaced by the Zenith.

As I’ve already discussed, most of the high-end stuff is just whatever “good stuff” I happen to like playing, and seems powerful enough to get some work done. The majority of these cards are largely interchangeable, and there are a TON of expensive Black spells and creatures to choose from. Here are just a few spells CMC 6 and up that are very playable, but aren’t in my list currently:

Grave Titan
Harvester of Souls
Xathrid Demon
Lord of the Void
Butcher of Malakir
Necromantic Selection
Rise of the Dark Realms
Rune-Scarred Demon
Grave Betrayal

This is a really small sampling of things that actually were in the deck in one if it’s incarnations; there are plenty of options, and this isn’t even taking into account the 4- and 5- drops,  many of which are equally as flexible.

That said, I do want to call out some probably-underrated or overlooked cards that have been very good to me so far:

Soldevi Adnate – Pretty often she just sac’s herself, but that extra bit of mana can really make a big difference, especially if it helps accelerate you to something like Caged Sun which gives you a more permanent boost to your mana. I also like sac’ing something big to her and using that mana to cast a sweeper, if I’m in a position where I have to do so. This lets me use my lands to cast more threats post-Wrath.

Demon of Wailing Agonies – Not exactly an MVP, but still better than you’d expect. Consistently performs well, but not so powerful that people panic when you cast him. The kind of card opponents will often overlook or incorrectly assess, even as it’s beating them down because, well, at least it’s not Sheoldred, right?

 Archfiend of Depravity – This is a tiny bit meta-specific because I do see a lot of decks trying to go wide in my group, but even against decks that aren’t necessarily trying to build huge armies, this is surprisingly effective. Definitely has exceeded my expectations so far.

Massacre Wurm – Again, somewhat of a meta-call, but this guy is why I’m running Sudden Spoiling. Against tokens or decks like Edric, it’s a blowout, but with Spoiling in the mix it can be just as devastating to Mayael and other big, stompy monsters.

Reaper from the Abyss – This guy kills a LOT of shit. Just, like, all the time. Killing. I don’t even care that his trigger is mandatory and occasionally I’m forced to kill one of my own dudes. Always thought this guy was kinda jank, but he really is legit goodness.

I think, for the most part, my spells are a little more obvious and self-explanatory. Nothing to revelatory there, I think. Ever After is obviously a new addition as is Enter the Beyond. Haven’t cast Enter yet, and only cast Ever After once… but it was getting back a Sheoldred and a Kokusho, so that’s pretty great for a debut. We’ll see if it holds up long-term. Enter the Beyond just seemed cool and it replaced Increasing Ambition, which also tutors for three cards, but costs a billion more mana. Triple Demonic Tutor seems horribly broken, but I don’t really have any insta-win combos to fetch up.

I’ve already discussed my choice of X spells, so I’ll skip those. I do see one issue with my board-sweeping package. For some reason I’m running Deadly Tempest, which is actually a very nice card to have, and it’s pretty well-suited to my meta (again, I see a lot of decks going wide at the moment), but the real issue is that I’m NOT running Life’s Finale. If you look up Geth on EDHREC, there are only two cards in his “Signature Cards” category – Mindcrank and Life’s Finale. I am running the ‘crank, of course, but I totally forgot Life’s Finale was a card, despite running it all the time in Wrexial. If you don’t have a Damnation or Toxic Deluge and those are out of budget, I could see an argument for running both Finale and Tempest, but I don’t feel like I can justify two six-mana Wraths, and of the two Life’s Finale is just way more synergistic.

As far as Planeswalkers, the only one I’ve got at the moment is Lili, but I’d certainly be happy to find room for an Ob Nixilis Reignited. He kills stuff and draws cards, which is basically what this deck wants to do, so he’d be a shoo-in, if I had a copy available. I may figure out which deck I have my one copy in, and see if I can move him to this one, actually.

Spot removal is fine, but I’d love to find room for a Hero’s Downfall.

I’m pretty happy overall with my Tutor and Draw packages, but notably I am missing Vampiric Tutor. To add it, though, I’d have to cut one of the bigger ones like Enter the Beyond or maybe Dark Petition, but I really like those and want to give them a chance to sink or swim on their own merits. I’m also not completely sold on Grim Haruspex here. She’s fine, but hasn’t been as reliably effective as I’d hoped. Could easily just become an Underworld Connections or something like that.

(NOTE: I wrote this over the course of a few days, and during that time, I actually did make a few changes - Deadly Tempest was cut in favor of Life's Finale and Grim Haruspex did indeed become Underworld Connections. I also wasn't super happy with Sidisi in this build, so I swapped her out for a Wretched Confluence because I want to give that card another chance. It seems good, but I had been unhappy with it in other decks. I probably should have put in Vampiric Tutor - cutting an iffy five-mana tutor for basically the king of tutors makes sense, but I just happened to see the Confluence and thought "why the hell not?". Finally, I cut Erebos in favor of Hero's Downfall, which was a tough choice to make because I hate cutting card draw, but I have had a few games where Erebos was dead, or at best, underwhelming.)

Beacon of Unrest is possibly unnecessary, but it's been a pet card of mine for a long, long time and you have to admit it's hella on-theme. But, I have been wanting to find a spot for Corrupt, so this might be the place, I don't know. I haven't actually drawn Beacon in just about forever, so I don't actually know if it's good in this deck or not.

Finally, gotta give a shout out to my boy, Hedron Archive. I think I've said this at least once before, maybe more, but I'm jamming the Archive into SO many decks lately, and I'm pretty darn happy with it in just about every deck I put it in. I think I have 8 or 9 spread out among the 15 decks I currently have, and there are only 1 or 2 where I actually cut the Archive after adding it.

Anyway, that's about it for the Geth deck. I plan to try and smooth out the draws and get it a little more balanced and consistent, but it IS a big-mana deck so occasionally drawing lots of top-end cards is just going to happen. And, sorry about the delay in posting - no promises, but I'll try to have a minimum of one decklist per week until I'm caught up with all my current decks.



  1. Wow!
    I spent some time thinking about an answer to your comment in temur dragons or your last post. Unfortunately, I ultimately didn't come up with any idea that felt right to motivate you. :/

    But I'm happy to see your return to your blog nonetheless!
    Your posts about decks still give me an urge to brew new decks or alter my current one. Interestingly, you've sold me on adding Archfiend of depravity and Dread summons in my mimeoplasm deck, which greatly differs from the deck you're showcasing here. ^^

    Keep up the good work!
    (As usual, english isn't my natural language, so hopefully I'm understandable and not too cryptic in my comments!)

    1. My current ones*

      I do have more than one edh deck. ^^

  2. Hey there, thank you for your comment. Ultimately, though, my motivation has to come from within, but I apprecaite the thought. :)

    I should give credit where due, Archfiend of Depravity wasn't something I discovered on my own. A guy in my playgroup opened a foil and decided to run it mostly 'cause it was a cool foil rare, and it turned out to be pretty good for him, so I've tried it out in a few decks.

    It's not something I'd just jam in every deck, but it was good in Meren and it's been GREAT here, so far.

    It's also a bit of a metagame call - great against stuff that goes "wide" with big armies or lots of tokens, terrible against "one big threat" decks like Uril or Thraximundar, and middling-to-okay against most decks in between.

    Hope it works out for you as well as it has for me!