Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Open Hostility: 10 Essential Additions

Alrighty, folks. Last time, in the Entropic Uprising piece, I went over the process, the rules/guidelines, etc., for this thought experiment so if you haven't read that one, go read it now, so you know wtf is going on. For those of you that are clued in, I won't keep you waiting with another terribly long intro.

Today we're talking Open Hostility, led by Saskia the Unyielding. Before we can identify what we'd consider "essential" additions, of course we need to figure out what the deck is all about. What does it want to do, and how can we make it do that better?

Well, whereas Ydris was a bit of a puzzle to work out, this one is a bit more transparent in its intentions. The long and short of it, Open Hostility is mostly just about punching teeth in. It's like a Boros deck with...not subtlety, but perhaps layers, I suppose. Saskia herself turns all of your creatures into a sort of political (or apolitical, depending on whether your the chosen player or not) version of Hydra Omnivore. Okay, full spoiler, that card is THE number one "Why isn't this already in here?!" pick.

Ahem, anyway, it's mostly just another flavor of "attack until you're dead or they are". Pretty well encapsulates Rakdos, Gruul and Boros decks, but there is not a lot of Selesnya, Orzhov of Golgari present. Fair enough. The former three clans are a lot easier to work with anyway.

That said, there is, inexplicably, a bit of a token theme shoe-horned into this list, which might make some sense, except it seems they chose to support this subtheme with almost exclusively sub-par token producers. Outside of Necrogenesis and the two Mutation spells, the token theme seems like it is mostly defined by cards that support a token deck (Wild Beastmaster, Beastmaster Ascension, Mentor of the Meek, etc.) rather than actual token producers.

This just seems bizarre to me because I don't feel like Saskia really makes for a good tokens commander, especially when we can just drop Black and go with Marath or Rith. Or drop Red and go with Ghave. Oh and by the way, Ghave is in the OTHER deck with access to Abzan colors, not this one. Wut? I mean I like the basic idea of Ghave and Marath getting to hang together and do broken shit, but Saksia still doesn't seem like the right way to go if that's our aim.

So we have identified one clear goal: face-punching with some semblance of depth to it. What do we need to support this goal?

Hydra Omnivore
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight
Grenzo Havoc Raiser

I'll say this for Saskia: call her boring all you want, but I never imagined any deck I'd have would combine the three above cards so well. But here were are. Hydra Omnivore is just the biggest gimme out there so I won't belabor that point. Gisela seems almost equally a shoe-in, as she works along all the different axes this deck seems to run on (except the tokens thing, but whatever). She's political in that she encourages your opponents to fight amongst each other, but also just makes us better at directly punching faces. Good synergy with Saskia too - you want to really hit someone hard, choose them with Saskia, then hit someone else. You'll hit the person you attack twice as hard thanks to Gisela, but thanks to Saskia, the person you chose will feel it twice as hard. So, say you swing with just Gisela - the person you attack takes 10, the person chosen with Saskia takes 20. Ouch! Meanwhile, Gisela nerfs any survivor's attempts to retaliate back. Grenzo is just fun and this deck needs some serious card advantage. Goad is also a thematically-appropriate mechanic for this deck. Would love to get a bit more of it, but Grenzo is the best possible option so he'll do for now.

Gahiji, Honored One

I wanted to put this in Stalwart Unity, the group hug deck, because I love the idea of having Edric and Gahiji in the same deck, but ultimately he makes the most sense here. Political, but also buffs our own attackers. Kinda like Gisela.

Serra Ascendant

I'll be honest, I just wanted a good lifelinker to beat face with, given the synergy with Saskia's ability. I tried to be clever, but sometimes clever is stupid and the lazy, stupid option is just the right option. The thing about lifelink is that it doesn't rely on combat damage to work. You see, Saskia's ability doesn't cause COMBAT damage. So if you hit somone with, say, Ohran Viper while controlling Saskia, you don't get to draw two cards. So I wanted damage-triggered abilities that don't rely on it being combat damage. Lifelink seemed the most obvious way to illustrate this interaction and the Ascendant is the best lifelinker in the format. Oh well. If the Ascendant is too obnoxious for you, substitute Archangel of Thune, I guess.

Bastion Protector
Sublime Archangel

Saskia herself is the type of commander to lead from the frontlines, don't you think? Look at her art! If she's not in the red zone personally leading the assault, she's not gonna be happy. We need to support her in that regard, making sure she stays alive to swing and swing again. Bastion Protector is pretty much perfect for this role, but she might need some help now and then.  Sublime Archangel allows all your creatures to pitch in, so long as Saskia is attacking alone. But that's another cool thing about Saskia - you can swing with one creature at a time and still get damage through to two players. Pity Rafiq himself isn't playable in these colors!

Volcanic Offering
Selvala's Stampede

Eh, just a couple of generically-good cards, but both also have a political bent to them. Saskia certainly doesn't want to go full-on Group Hug, no way, but these are political in that you're the only one really getting anything out of them, your opponents just get to participate in choosing how they get shafted.

Mardu Ascendency
Glory of Warfare

Well, I said I was going to mostly ignore the whole token subtheme, but here's a couple of nods to it that don't necessarily suck in non-token decks. Ascendency makes tokens, Glory of Warfare pumps them up to non-trivial sizes. Simple as that!

Other ideas I toyed with include Voltron, which seems like it might become the default mode for Saskia down the road, if I had to guess. Also considered something along the lines of my Queen Marchesa list, but if that deck were to add a fourth color, it'd want Blue, not Green. And, as I mentioned having a token list that includes both Ghave and Marath gives me the giggles, but I don't like Saskia as the commander of that deck. For that build, I think you want to go with Tana the Bloodsower and one of the Orzhov partners. And finally, there might be some sort of Enchantment hybrid of Uril+Daxos but that's another one where I am not certain Saskia herself does all that much to enable. I guess I'm just stuck on this idea of taking an archetype that has existed in two different color schemes, and combining them.

Anyway, I got this list down to 11 so yay! Barely cheated at all. If I was going to have a 12th essential card, it'd be Skullclamp, but that's already in the deck, thankfully.

Sound off in the comments with your 10(ish) essential additions!



  1. Well, I just have one card that begs for a addition in this deck. ^^ It's Ready // Willing from Dragon's maze and I feel it complements what the deck is trying to do fairly well.

    On the Ready side, it's another wrath protection and they're really precious in aggressive decks. On the other side, the Willing one, granting deathtouch and lifelink to all your creatures is a great combat trick.
    And if you're willing to pay 6 mana for this effect, well, you can strike hard someone attacking you (potentially out of vindication about Saskia effect) by untapping your creatures, and essentially fogging and wrathing and lifegaining. Although it's sounding a bit magical christmas land, I feel the reward is huge.

    And if no cuts can be made, it can simply replace one of the weaker indestructible effects between Rootborn Defenses and Make a stand.

    1. Funny that, having just checked, there's no Rootborn defenses nor Make a stand in Open Hostily. ^^'

      I could have sworn they were in! The designer of the deck explained on the motership that during testing he realised the deck became much better as he was adding indestructible effects in it. Given the token sub-theme, I understood Rootborn defenses was in the deck.

      Guess it's not. Well, that makes 3 essential inclusions for me. I mean, how come they're not already included? They're fetchable via Sunforger. :o

    2. Ooh, fuck yeah, Ready//Willing is a great card for this deck! Nice. I will definitely keep this one in mind for when I do actually edit the decks. It stands a good chance of making it in. thanks!

  2. We have a pretty good number of damage doubling effects to include alongside Gisela too. Furnace of Rath, Gratuitous Violence, Curse of Bloodletting, Wound Reflection, and Dictate of the Twin Gods. Quest for Pure Flame or Bitter Feud if you're feeling janky.

  3. I like the ones that are not symmetrical for sure, but I've found that Furnace of Rath and it's kin ate huge liabilities and most often get their own controllers killed.

  4. You mentioned the subtheme of tokens and how they used subpar token makers but supported the tokens pretty well. This is exactly what needs to happen when building around Tana. It makes sense that they would include these to support her as she is one of the 2 commanders in the product that you can chose from (the other 2 are only available if you run with Tana).

    I played with Tana and Tymna as my commanders. I wanted to try out partner and thought I would like Tymna. While Tymna did some good work it was Tana who impressed me. I ended the game with a beastmaster ascension and a horde of saporlings.

    I would suggest adding a few cards. Removal was needed most of the game. Not being able to attack for my profit because someone had a blocker was pretty lame. More global abilities. Something to give the team haste, esp after commanders were killed, felt needed. Lifelink would also have been a nice way to help attack and not feel the counter attacks so painfully.

    1. Thanks for the input. Yeah, I guess the token support does make sense for Tana's sake. I just kinda ignored her, like most of the partners, because they almost all seem so underwhelming and boring (with a few exceptions, of course).

      Removal is definitely a priority, it just doesn't make for a very sexy "top 10" sort of list. I have a Swords and Path set aside already just for Saskia.

  5. What would you take out of the deck?

  6. Hi I'm really new to Magic and was wondering what additions from Kaladesh (yep I'm that new) you might suggest and also what cards you would remove to fit them in? If jot Kaladesh then the set before it. Many thanks, Gingerob

    1. Hi there, thanks for reading! So, for the Open Hostlity deck, cards from Kaladesh I'd consider...

      Ariel Responder (or, better, Angel of Invention if you can get one) are good because Lifelink does not depend on COMBAT damage to work. So with Saskia, your lifelink creatures will gain twice as much life.

      Authority of the Consuls is also good because your opponents will be trying to play out blockers to throw in Saskia's way, but all there creatures coming into play tapped makes it harder for them to set up a quick defense.

      Fumigate is not particularly thematic, it's just a good budget Wrath of God alternative if you need one.

      Black and Red don't really offer a lot beyond generic utility. Noxious Gearhulk is generically great, and if you happened to have one, it'd be solid anywhere, but nothing really makes it a must for this deck specifically.

      With Green, you get Cultivator of Blades, which is good in any aggressive deck. Hunt the Weak is... acceptable... for a removal spell, though once you get a better collection going it'll become obsolete at some point.

      Kambal, Consul of Allocation also might be worth adding.

  7. Sneak Attack. Next turn play saskia, cheat in gisela. Someone's dead.

  8. Knollspine Dragon and True Conviction