Tag: aetherling

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Avatar Bruce Gray - August 23, 2014

Something Old and Something New

lavinia of the tenth commander

Something Old and Something New

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

Today I’m going back to my roots…and going someplace new…all in the same article.  One of my favorite parts of Magic is building new decks.  I enjoy building a new deck as a creative enterprise that could also see the light of day if the deck is half decent.  I usually make a conscious effort to build decks that are budget conscious because we all play within some sort of limitations.  Some have deeper pockets than others, but there is always a limitation.  And, I build when something gets me started.

 

Something old

I have long maintained that I like playing 60 card casual multiplayer games and as a result that is usually where I focus my energies.  60 card decks reduce the amount of variance of your deck because you usually have a higher number of copies of each spell that you want to cast. This is not news, but the difficulty in a multiplayer game is that your 60 card deck doesn’t have answers to EVERYTHING…just the things you face most often.  So long as you understand that trade off, you should be all good.  So, I’ve gone back to those 60 card decks and brewed one up that is fun, super cheap, and basically can blow out an unsuspecting opponent quite easily.

 

The inspiration for this deck came from two places.  The first was watching the draft coverage of Pro Tour Magic 2015.  I watched in amazement as one of the players attacked with his Sungrace Pegasus.  Easy enough…and a cute little 1 point life gain with the Lifelink.  Then, he cast Living Totem that dumped an extra +1/+1 counter on the Pegasus.  THEN he cast Hunt the Weak on it giving it another counter.  Now he had a 3/4 lifelinking Pegasus, which is pretty solid.  Now, this isn’t a hard feat to reproduce, but I want to create a creature with +1/+1 counters faster and better than this…and then I remembered a couple of cards.  Common Bond and Reap What is Sown act very similarly, but are worded a little differently, but both place additional +1/+1 counters on creatures.  Mix in a few Heroic creatures and some combat tricks and you have all the makings for a nasty little deck that will make life miserable for the unsuspecting.  Let’s see that list.

 

Selesnya Counters –  GW Casual decklist

Replace the 2 x Seraph of Dawn to make the deck standard legal.

 

Strategy

The game plan is pretty aggressive and straight forward with a host of flying creatures and  growing them with a Reap what is Sown or a Common Bond.  The Akroan Skyguard is a perfect target because it quickly gets huge and just rains down pain.  The Sungrace Pegasus and the Seraph of Dawn pack Lifelink to push our life total out of danger and make you extra difficult to put away.  While I’m on the topic of Seraph of Dawn, this could easily be Dawnbringer Charioteer if you wanted to play a Standard legal version of this deck instead because they are almost identical, but I had a couple of Seraph’s lying around and am a little low on Charioteer’s right now.  Chronicler of Heroes digs you deeper with extra cards and Sunblade Elf is just a blow out waiting to happen with his activated ability.  The REAL blow out happens when you, out of nowhere, slam Brave the Elements giving all your White creatures (which is basically ALL of them) protection from the colour of your choice…and then back it up with Sanctified charge.  The damage in those two cards can be absolutely explosive even if you are packing just a bunch of little fliers.  So, the deck is nothing fancy, but it’s quick, it’s cheap to build, and can clobber an unsuspecting opponent very quickly. Those who have some Temple of PlentyTemple Gardens and/or Mana confluence should replace some of the Forest with them.

 

 

Something New

Now, I have never really gotten into playing EDH, but you can’t escape the interest in the Magic community. Everywhere you go someone is talking about EDH.  Many of the Local Game Stores support it as a format with regular game nights and highly attended events meaning that someone must be enjoying the format.  While I’ve never really got into EDH I’ve been intrigued by the format…because who doesn’t want to play all the coolest spells from the history of Magic?  Now, I don’t think I have a set philosophy for building an EDH deck the way I do for a 60 card deck, but I do feel like an EDH deck ought to be made of things you already own.  It feels bizarre to me to think that people are rushing out to buy loads of cards for EDH decks and prompting what effectively amounts to an arms race for a format that is intended to be casual, relatively inexpensive and fun. Don’t get me wrong, trading and finding the cards you want is part of the game, but I hate to think people are rushing around dropping tons of money on EDH decks so that they can “keep up with the Jones’”. To someone who is still on the outside looking in at the format, well, that feels not quite right and against the spirit of the format.  Maybe I’m wrong and I’d love to hear from the EDH community out there (and there are lots of people in that community), but that’s my early impression of how the format is.

 

So, as a first attempt at an EDH deck I thought I would take a deck that I have and adapt it to EDH play.  This feels like a natural evolution of deck building and when the deck already has a couple of Legendary creatures floating around inside it, I have a built in general of two I can access.  I have a W/U deck that looks to exploit the Detain mechanic from Return to Ravnica and have mixed in some of my other cards to produce a 60 card deck that can fare very well in a multi-player game because it can answer just about every sort of threat.  It packs a splash of removal, counter magic, artifact and enchantment destruction, and spells that just play havoc with combat.  All in all, the early makings for an EDH deck.  So, with some adaptation, the deck can be built to make a move to the more robust world of EDH play.  Let’s see what I’ve brewed up.

 

Lavinia of the Tenth Commander Decklist

 

This feels like a pretty straight forward build that is looking to defend itself by seriously slowing down an opponent with the detain ability or “freezing” the opponents creatures.  It has a little bit of everything in terms of counter magic, creature destruction and other useful tidbits.  The piece that floored me was the number of mass removal effects that I had in my binder and box of spares.  Between just plain destroying everything and mass bounce spells, there are plenty of cards that make life miserable for my opponents. The last thing is the ability to break a dead lock.  I feel like EDH can stall out a little bit, particularly if all the players have the mana they need and their life is relatively stable, that you need some sort of way to break open the board stall.  This is where Whispersilk Cloak and the Rogue’s Passage come in handy (and the Aetherling just for kicks) to allow something you control to sneak by and bash without fear of being blocked.  This may not be enough, but it’s a concession to the fact that I could be in for a grindy game and will need a way to close it down.

 

So, there we have something old, and something new.  What do you think?  For my first attempt at an EDH deck, how have I done?  Have I forgotten something or overlooked a card you think needs to be included in the list? As someone who is new to building an EDH deck, the feedback would be amazing and something I would really appreciate from our terrific readers here on Three Kings Loot.

 

Thanks for reading again this week and until next time Keep it Fun, keep it safe…keep it casual.

 

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter.

 

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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - April 23, 2014

Champion’s Deck – UW Control by Simon Stahl (1st at SCG De...

U/W Control
Simon Stahl
1st Place at StarCityGames Standard Open on 4/19/2014
Fated Retribution
While it’s not a newcomer to the top of the pile this weeks winner was able to wrestle dominance away from the big bad Mono-Black menace. One of the most classic styles of control, UW is able to operate more fluidly then Esper versions even though they are relatively the same core concept. Control relies upon a good mix of permission and removal, backed up with a strong finisher once the board has been stabilized. This deck follows that structure to a tee while adding in a few interesting one ofs to round it out.

Since the printing of Return to Ravnica and with it the Azorius guild UW has had an arsenal of weapons that each decklist has been build on the foundation of. This deck is no different with four copies of each Jace, Architect of Thought, Sphinx’s Revelation, Supreme Verdict and Detention Sphere. That group alone is able to provide the deck with so much power and consistency, giving it answers to a plethora of threats. For permission we have a full set of Dissolve, which also help as pseudo-draw, and a pair of Syncopate, which can be key at stopping a dangerous two drop like Pack Rat. For removal you have primarily Detention Sphere to pick off pesky threats of varied permanent types or Supreme Verdict to sweep the board free of creatures, but also a Celestial Flare and two Last Breath as pinpoint removal. We also find the inclusion of Fated Retribution as a catchall reset against all creatures and planeswalkers if necessary. The deck keeps your hand full through the draw power of Sphinx’s Revelation and Jace, which both also help to keep your life total from falling too low, and also a couple of Divination. The finishers are a very tight package which has a one of Ætherling and two Elspeth, Sun’s Champion which you must be very mindfull to deploy only once you have taken over the game. Also, because the deck only runs two colors we find room to squeeze three Mutavault in the manabase which while small over time will produce more then enough damage on an empty board. Another versatile spell in the deck is the Azorius Charm which can either help gain back some life to stable against aggro decks, cycle itself away to dig for a necessary answer or as removal for a bothersome threat. The final card in the deck is some old tech in Elixir of Immortality which just keeps the deck churning even after you’ve depleted so many spells.

So with just a couple weeks left until new standard it is certain that people are looking forward to Journey Into Nyx instead of backwards at our current standard. While I don’t feel that this deck benefits too much from the new set there are two cards with an outside chance to slip in. Deicide could be a good piece of removal depending on how the Gods appear in the meta. Also, Aegis of the Gods is a great way to protect yourself from targeted oppression, but neither are backbreakers for the deck. We will see over the next few months how it plays out.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - March 26, 2014

Champion’s Deck – Esper Control by Kyle Boggemes (1st at G...

Aetherling
Esper Control
Kyle Boggemes
1st Place at Grand Prix on 3/23/2014
With the metagame in Standard much more defined now then it was a few months back it has slowly become time for the Control decks to shine. Once the major threats are known then Control mages are able to more easily prepare for the decks they expect to face. This has proven itself in the dominant showing of Esper Control this past weekend by winning both the Grand Prix and the SCG Open. And it is no secret that in the Esper colors of Blue, White and Black we find the integral pieces necessary to answer almost any threat that can be thrown at us.
The Control deck is a carefully crafted work of beauty and this list is no different. Looking at the win conditions of the deck we find a very precise package consisting of one Ætherling and a trio of Elspeth, Sun’s Champion which are meant to only be deployed once the deck has stabilized and taken command of the board. To do this we find a balance between permission and removal. For the permission suite there is a set of Dissolve and a duo of Syncopate used to deny the opponent from casting their most key of spells, especially if unable to handle it with the removal in hand. Then the removal consists of the requisite Blue/White staples with mass removal in Supreme Verdict to reset the battlefield in a pinch and the utility removal from Detention Sphere capable of dealing with almost any problem permanent especially those which are indestructible. For spot removal there is also two Doom Blade and a Last Breath to supplement and handle those threats which slip in especially creatures with Haste. As with any Control deck the final and perhaps most important aspect of the deck is its draw power and here we find that from full sets of both Jace, Architect of Thought and Sphinx’s Revelation both of which offer some extra utility be it in diminishing the opponents power or just straight lifegain to ensure continued survival. This deck also has the ’12 Temple’ package in its manabase which especially in the early turns can use the Scry ability to carefully craft it’s draw step. With the final odds and ends there is the utility player of Azorius Charm which is primarily used for the draw to cycle it at the end of an opponents turn, but is also very useful as a spot removal or can even prove as a savior by gaining a few points of necessary life. As far as hand control we only find discard in the form of two Thoughtseize to gain some important information and deal with any specifically difficult threat. Finally, there is also a duo of Mutavault which are able to skirt around sorcery speed removal and will be at time the final nail in the coffin.
As always Control decks need to adapt to an ever shifting metagame and this one will be no different. I am certain that this base will be a common sight going forward but expect to see constant tweaks and tuneups to stay a step ahead. All in all though Esper Control should continue to be a force to be reckoned with and you’ll need to be prepared to face it any round of your tournament.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - January 27, 2014

Champion’s Deck – Azorius Control by Alexander Hayne (1st Place at...

Dissolve

Azorius Control
Alexander Hayne
GP Vancouver Champion

Lands (27)

Creature (1)

Other Spells (25)

Planeswalkers (7)

Sideboard

Local Montreal hero and perennial golden boy Alex ‘Insayne’ Hayne went on to win yet another Grand Prix tournament in what is turning into an illustrious and formidable young career. As you may have already heard that makes three such victories in the past six months. If he keeps this up there’s no telling where he and his team ManaDeprived will soar to this year. And to mention his team Alex had to battle fellow teammate and Montrealer Jon Stern, who has also been making waves on the Pro circuit, in the semifinal in a tough battle spotlighting the talent emerging from ManaDeprived and Montreal alike.

The deck he piloted is a rather straightforward U/W Control shell based around the Return to Ravnica trilogy of Sphinx’s Revelation, Supreme Verdict and Detention Sphere with full set of each of those. For his win conditions Alex chose a singleton Ætherling to go with a trio of Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. He was also able to squeeze three Mutavault in by bringing his land count up to twenty-seven to have the extra reach against other control decks. The permission package is a robust combination of a set of Dissolve and a trio of Syncopate to prevent threats from hitting the board. To keep pressure off the board there is a set of Last Breath which do well to answer a variety of threats big and small. We also have Jace, Architect of Thought with its ability to either weaken opposing armies or dig for answers which has been a key to many a blue based decks success. The final cog in the machine comes from the versatile Azorius Charm where a pair of them help to either gain some life in a pinch, bounce a pesky creature to the top of the library or most often as a means to cycle for another card which is hopefully the one you’ve been waiting for.
With the ability to answer so many questions I don’t doubt that this deck is going to show continued success going forward into Born of the Gods Standard. There are a few cards which look interesting with the most important of course being the UW scryland Temple of Enlightenment. I’m also interested to see if Ephara, God of the Polis can be work into Elspeth heavy builds to max out on draw potential. I could also see some possible sideboard options with Glimpse the Sun God, Fated Retribution or Revoke Existence. Only time will tell us what the new look of U/W Control deck is going to be.
In honor of this amazing win by Alex we are offering a 5% discount on all Standard sets this week until Friday Jan. 31st.
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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - December 21, 2013

Decks of the Day – Spotlight on Shaheen Soorani at the SCG Invit...

Shaheen Soorani

Esper mastermind and longtime magic aficionado Shaheen Soorani battled last weekend at the SCG Invitational in Las Vegas to a third place finish. Fighting through a field of 299 qualified participants he was able to slaughter most every mage who stood in his way. The Invitational, much like the Pro Tour, is a multiformat tournament requiring proficiency in both Standard and Legacy to find success. In true Soorani fashion his weapon of choice for both formats was blue, white and black control style concoctions. With the two byes he had been awarded he drudged to a final swiss record of 12-3-1, the last round an intentional bye with Thea Steele to clinch the top 8 berth. The competition was fierce with hard wins against Tom Ross, Tim Landale, Erik Smith and Jeff Hoogland. Some tough losses came at the hands of Matt Nass the last round of day 1 playing for the perfect 8-0 and against eventual winner Max Brown entering the second leg of Legacy putting Shaheen on the ropes fighting to maintain a top positioning. In the top 8 he was immediately put to the test against Brian Brawn-Duin but dispatched him easily in three games but was knocked out by Greg Hatch after a hard fought five game battle.

Esper Control
Shaheen Soorani
3rd Place at StarCityGames Invitational on 12/14/2013
Lands (26)
 Creatures (3)

Planeswalkers (6)

For the Standard rounds he piloted a sweet and well rounded Esper Control list built around the stock UW pieces. Full sets of Supreme Verdict, Detention Sphere, Jace, Architect of Thought and Azorius Charm are complimented by a trio of Sphinx’s Revelation and a pair of Elspeth, Sun’s Champion to for the core of the deck. Premier creature finishers come with an Ætherling and a pair of Blood Baron of Vizkopa both very resilient to removal in the meta. Speaking of removal the deck sports pairs of Devour Flesh and Hero’s Downfall for spot duty and an additional sweeper in Merciless Eviction which with its many modes is surely able to remove the permanent that is most troubling you. The deck is rounded out by a light disruption package that contains counters from two Dissolve and a Syncopate with discard from two Thoughtseizes.  Shaheen took this to a 6-2 record through the swiss and top 8 winning games 15-5, with three of those losses in the semifinal match.
Esper Stoneblade
Shaheen Soorani
3rd Place at StarCityGames Invitational on 12/15/2013
Lands (22)

Creatures (8)

Planeswalkers (3)

 Spells (27)
For his Legacy deck Shaheen kept in the same vein with Esper Stoneblade sticking to a more classic list by eschewing both Deathrite Shaman and Legacys newest golden boy True-Name Nemesis. In quintessential control style we start with a formidable draw package with Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Brainstorm, Ponder and a singleton Intuition. For the permission the is the requisite Force of Will with a Counterspell comboing with discard from Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek to stifle the opponents plans. The plan of attack starts with Stoneforge Mystic which is able to tutor up preeminent beatstick Batterskull. There is also an Umezawa’s Jitte which paired up with the Lingering Souls can make short work of your opponent. I especially like how Intuition can work together with Lingering Souls to quickly provide access to a small flying army. To complement those flyers there is also a one of Vendilion Clique which also carries equipment, and has an abusable interaction if you’re also able to get your Karakas out. For removal there is a diverse array with spot removal from Swords to Plowshares and Vindicate complimented by sweepers in Supreme Verdict and Engineered Explosives. Finally, to take full advantage of all the varied instants and sorceries we have a trio of Snapcaster Mage to flashback whichever answer you need access to the most. For the seven rounds that he played with the deck Shaheen was able to pull out a 5-2 record including his two last wins in the swiss which allowed him to intentionally draw the final round to secure his spot in the top 8.
So if you enjoy control style decks and need a list to try either in Standard or Legacy I definitely recommend giving one of these decks a go. It’s great to see Shaheen continue to excel at these high level tournaments and you can be sure that we will see him maintaining this caliber performance for years to come, and where he goes control mages everywhere will benefit from his tightly tuned lists.
Eric Jeffrey Seltzer
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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - November 28, 2013

Deck of the Day – Prime Speaker Bant – Reid Duke (SCG Providen...

Prime Speaker Zegana
Prime Speaker Bant
Reid Duke
101st Place at StarCityGames Standard Open on 11/24/2013
Lands (25)

Creatures (21)

Planeswalkers (4)

Spells (10)

Sideboard

What an interesting new idea which has potential for huge card advantage once it gets going.  Bant has the particular quality of combining acceleration with control and card advantage.  This deck attempts to accomplish that in spades.  It all starts with a ten pack of mana dorks with Mystics, Caryatids & Satyrs to get the plan into high gear.  From there the threats start at converted cost of four with Polukranos, which doubles as removal for the deck, and Jace, which also doubles against aggro with the +1 ability.  We then hit the five spot and the centerpiece for this deck from Prophet of Kruphix which provides the unique ability to be proactive on your turn AND their turn while always holding up mana to threaten countermagic.  Then we hit the top of the curve at six with a diverse package including premier control finisher Aetherling, card advantage beast Prime Speaker & the truly diverse Primeval Bounty.  As with any deck using both blue and white mana should there is a full four Sphinx’s Revelation and the life gain can be a key in surviving against fast aggro.  The control aspect of the deck is limited to Plasm Capture that plays into the plan of mass card draw by providing more fuel to spew out more threats as quickly as possible.  The rest of the deck is comprised of a small removal suite with Detention Sphere which can work to hold off a swarm and Curse of the Swine which is either a sweeper or can be used to remove indestructible Gods.  This is definitely an idea to keep in mind moving forward as it may not yet be properly positioned but a few tweeks primarily with respect to shoring up the aggro matchup could turn this deck into a premier powerhouse.

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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - October 22, 2013

Deck of the Day: Esper Control (Grand Prix Louisville – Top 8 Theros...

Supreme Verdict

Esper Control

Alex Sittner – Grand Prix Louisville – Top 8 Standard

Main Deck

60 cards

27 lands

1 creature

26 other spells

6 planeswalkers

Sideboard

15 sideboard cards

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