I’ve been playing Commander since Shards of Alara. It’s the one format I play; not Modern, not Legacy, not Vintage nor Pauper. Standard? Not enough options for me. I want a bit of chaos in my games. I also love multiplayer games. Whenever there’s a new set, I examine all the legendary creatures first. And when I saw this ogre spirit artificer-ish Kurkesh, basically a Rings of Brighthearth for artifacts, I knew I was going to build a deck around him one day.
I have played many mono red commander decks: Kiki-jiki, Heartless Hidetsugu, and Feldon, to name a few. I Regularly play vs Purphoros, Krenko and Urabrask. In all my years of commander, never have I seen a Kurkesh deck. To be fair, I didn’t try to google some, this is just from personal experience – mtgo, friends, customers – no one would approach this Kurkesh. After some research, it appeared to me that Sensei’s Divining Top, Liquimetal Coating (planeswalker -> artifact means double activate with Kurkesh), Keening Stone, Memory Jar, Temple Bell, Tormod’s Crypt, Trading Post, they were all pointing toward the same direction: milling. Or at least some graveyard manipulation of sorts.
So I went all in with milling. A mono red Kurkesh mill deck…
For starters, it’s surprisingly consistent. The intense draw it brings to the table, namely Temple Bell, Memory Jar, Howling Mine, Anvil of Bogardan, Font of Mythos, Wheel of Fortune, Wheel of Fate, and Reforge the Soul will make this deck pass as a mono red group hug deck for inattentive players, so you might get a few extra quiet turns out of it as a bonus. But when you start copying the Wheel effects, whether from Kurkesh + Jar or Fork effect + wheel effect, then they might smell that something’s fishy. When/if Mesmeric Orb hits the board, all hell breaks lose. If you are good enough at MTG (i.e. lucky) when you play Mesmeric Orb you’ll have a Mirrorworks in play, making 2 of them. Possibly shenaniganing with Goblin Welder or Daretti to get Mesmeric Orb in the graveyard and back for an extra copy of it, as having 3-4 mesmeric orbs in play is awesome. Having both old Kozilek and Ulamog in the deck ensures that you won’t fall victim to your own nonsense, and Tormod’s Crypt and Relic of Progenitus ensure that your opponents will.
So you wheel, fork the wheels, mill and try to stay alive.
Then something happened.
I obtained a Past in Flames.
Sure, I was already playing Mizzix’s Mastery and Recoup to wheel from the graveyard. I once made 9 copies of Reforge the Soul – thanks Howl of the Horde + Increasing Vengeance flashbacked – but I felt that Past in Flames opened more doors then that. Suddenly I felt like I could try to actually use the wheels as fuel for a greater scheme… Storm!!
I took the wheeling shell of the deck, removed a few artifacts and most of the creatures, as I had to make space for the cantrips, rituals, and kill conditions. Had to take out the eldrazis, since I aim at crafting myself a graveyard.
So here’s how it plays out: Kurkesh in play, Memory Jar activate, copy with Kurkesh’s triggered ability, now there’s two Jar effects on the stack. Resolve. Nice, you play your turn with the seven cards and at the beginning of the end step, two Jar triggers on the stack. As the first resolves, each players gets ALL of the cards exiled by both Jar effects in hand, so both face down hands, and then the second Jar trigger resolves making all players discard all cards in hand. This is because both triggers are from the same Jar, so when the trigger asks for all cards drawn this turn, both hands are taken so when the second resolves there’s nothing to get and all to discard. Remember, all you want is a full graveyard, this works in your favor.
We’re playing storm so there’s going to be rituals that’s for sure. The mvp of all rituals is by far Mana Geyser. Of use also is Inner Fire and Battle Hymn, all three of which can two-card combo with Reiterate for infinite mana, provided that the spells give 7+ mana. In fact, to start a storm I often go Mana Geyser + copy it with all I can, to make a mana base for the rest of turn to finish the job. Possibly something like: 50 cards in library, 30 in graveyard, cast Past in Flames from hand, wheel from graveyard then with seven cards in hand Inner Fire + Increasing Vengeance then copy Increasing Vengeance with Fork and/or Wild Ricochet, Reverberate, all from Graveyard. As mana and spell count pile up you have a good start to storm off. Fun!
Now, how to pilot such a fine vessel? I play it disguised as a lunatic group-hugging mono red eccentric Kurkesh. Let’s be honest, once you put Kurkesh beside your deck before the game no one takes you seriously, and that plays in your favor. Let them think you’re a lunatic, and when you’re about to die or when the graveyard is full enough, unleash the storm!
Folks… something got my attention. I found my new favorite casual card and it is awesome. It feels SOOO good to cast this guy. It does everything I want in a Magic card. I have found Gonti, Lord of Luxury and I am pumped!
Let’s get out in front of this: yes, I played at the Kaladesh pre-release and followed all the spoilers so I knew he was good. Heck, I even picked Gonti as one of my top 10 Casual cards in the set. Anyway, I was already aware that the guy was good, but HOW good was he? Oh, he’s awesome.
Let’s fast forward to the other night when I got the nerve to step back into MTGO and draft Kaladesh. Well, my draft was largely uneventful and I had a B/R artifact deck that was no great shake. However, Pack 3 revealed Gonti and I snapped him up. As the draft unfolded he was by far the best card in my deck and was exactly what I wanted to cast every time. I had a Diabolic Tutor in my deck and found myself often searching out Gonti even if I had larger creatures in my deck. Gonti was too good to pass up and was a house for me all league long.
After the event was all finished I sat back and thought about WHY I wanted to cast Gonti with such regularity. I mean, his body isn’t great at 2/3 . He’s not hyper efficient at 4 mana, and double black at that. Deathtouch is usually just an annoyance and rarely a truly defining ability. His ETB ability is interesting but not game breaking… right? Wrong. The ability is EXACTLY what I wanted. His trigger to mess around with your opponent’s deck is just the sort of thing I want.
Gonti, Lord of Luxury, is quietly a 3 for 1 in most instances and leads to nasty stuff that really intrigues me. Wait… yes I said a 3 for 1… at LEAST. Let’s think about it: You cast Gonti and you get a 2/3 body on board, which is certainly a thing. He attacks ok, is a nuisance if your opponent attacks you, and is generally just a solid creature. Next, Gonti lets you look at your opponent’s top 4 cards and exile one and can play it. This often means you get to deprive your opponent of a key resource at the very least, and, at best, have the chance to use it against your opponent yourself. That is a powerful reversal of fortunes if you turn up something like a Gearhulk, Eliminate the Competition, or some other powerful effect. So everyone can admit that, to date, this is a 2 for 1 easily enough because for casting this single card I get two cards worth of value. Getting a 3 for 1 isn’t hard if the card you get off of Gonti trades for 2 cards itself. So a 3 for 1 is pretty easy to get, but I would make the case that you could even get a 4 for 1 out of this scenario if you put a further good card on the bottom of their library further depriving them a chance to play it. This isn’t fool proof if they have a “shuffle” effect, but making them put useful resources on the bottom of their deck is often as good as depriving them of the resource out-right because you are rarely going to have a shot to play a card on the bottom of your library. So, for 4 mana you get pretty close to 4 for 1 and can seriously chop your opponent down to size.
So, Gonti is a ridiculous Limited card. Perhaps fringe playable in Constructed. However, in Casual play the guy is just silly. Let’s face it, in Casual formats people are likely to push for one effect and look to take it to an extreme either because their deck is themed around a given ability or because they enjoy causing their opponents grief. Regardless of what camp you are in, the chance to re-use Gonti’s ability in a Casual format is mind boggling.
In a 60 card casual format you get to play multiples of this guy. That is insane! In Commander, where you can build this sort of card into the theme of your deck, the options are endless, and too appealing to turn up.
So, Gonti is good…Blink him, mill him and re-animate him, make him your commander…and see for yourself. My mind immediately took him to my Smuggler’s Copter Commander deck and he fits in perfectly. Alesha wants to trigger her ability on creatures with power 2 or less and Gonti is a prime target. Triggering Gonti’s ability multiple times in the same game sounds awesome.
Here’s the best part, Gonti is essentially a bulk rare. You can find him at Three King’s Loot for $1.49*. In a set where there are pricier cards like Smuggler’s Copter or Torrential Gearhulk or a Masterpiece, $1.49* feels pretty affordable. You can likely pick one up in trade somewhere reasonably inexpensively making him a great bargain AND a really good addition to your deck.
So, what is the appeal? I’m not 100 % sure WHY I like trying to make Gonti really good, but to me he feels like a slight variation on one of my other pet cards: Villainous Wealth. I just love the idea of playing with my opponent’s deck and anything that let’s me do that is awesome. It feels deliciously filthy to beat them to death with their own things.
As always, thanks for taking the time to stop in and read and please check back again next time for another Casual Encounter.
*Editor’s note: All prices are subject to change according to the whims of the multiverse.
We have some spicy new information out about the upcoming Commander 2016, with new commanders, mechanics, and vintage/legacy legal cards! Check it out!
Are you reading that correctly? Yes you are! You can now have not one, but TWO commanders, providing they both have the partner keyword on them. Awesome! That also means you get to play with the colours on both commanders, so hello four-colour decks! Four-colour decks happen to be a theme of Commander 2016, so this is obviously no random coincidence.
Undaunted is also a sweet new mechanic, as it makes certain cards less expensive if you have more opponents. It’s also quite an appropriately-sweet name. Playing against 7 other players? You ain’t daunted, not at all! One-mana wraths seem pretty good.
Release Date: November 11, 2016
Official Three-Letter Code: C16
Twitter Hashtag: #MTGC16
MSRP: 34.99 (per deck)
Languages Available: English, Japanese, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese Simplified
I love it when a new set comes out. There are so many new and interesting options available. Can some cards be used in Modern? Can that card there be a sweet new addition to an existing Standard deck? Is a whole new archetype going to emerge with some of these new cards? There are just so many possibilities and that is a truly exciting prospect. Old cards and new cards can combine in ways that make for some terrific new options to get my brewing juices flowing.
Like many players I have turned my attention increasingly to playing EDH or Commander and am starting to like the idea more and more. I have two decks built already that I play with a friend when we get together once a month and have found the format to be very engaging and lots of fun to play. I can certainly see the appeal for so many players. However, when I saw the full spoiler for Shadow over Innistrad I got excited to see one new card get spoiled. This guy!
This is one UGLY dude, but it is in one of my favorite colour combinations. There is just so much text that you can’t ignore it. I think perhaps the best part of this card for Commander is the fact that you can sacrifice your land to keep him in play, but if you need to you have the option of NOT paying the upkeep, losing your Frog Horror, and having the ability to replay it later when you are comfortably back on top of the land situation. That just feels like a very powerful choice that can be leveraged by a clever player and is part of the game inside the game with this card.
I have to say, it has proven to be a big relief that this guy has been printed. In the last several sets there haven’t been a ton of good G/B commanders to choose from. There’s Pharika, God of Affliction and she’s pretty solid. There’s Meren of Clan Nel Toth who is very strong in her Commander 2015 supplemental product. Anafenza the Foremost gets you Abzan colours, but to get a real nasty G/B commander in a new set is pretty fun and exciting. It opens up a whole lot of possibilities and blows new life back into this colour combination and gets everyone all excited about building a fun new deck with lots of new treats from the latest set.
Now, anyone can build a list for a G/B deck. Heck, you could just borrow the G/B decklist from the Commander 2015 product released last fall. However, sometimes what makes Commander decks fun is when you have a fun theme. The Gitrog Monster lends himself to a very easy theme…and that’s UGLY. I wanted to build myself a Commander deck for the Gitrog Monster that is using all the most ugly cards I can find. And by ugly…I.mean stuff that is as ugly as we can make it. Now, my list isn’t perfect and it can’t JUST be ugly cards because it does still need to be relevant and able to get a win, but when it came down to a tie breaker I would pick the uglier card in order to stay as true as possible to my theme. Here’s the list I’ve put together.
The game plan for the deck is pretty straight forward. You want to self-mill to improve your card quality, play gross creatures, play gross removal and out gross your opponent to victory. I think the real trick is really in The Gitrog Monster because it is not only huge, but it can be a major source of card advantage once you start grinding away. Each and every land that you sacrifice to appease Gitrog is an opportunity to draw another card. Coupled with the fact that you will be dumping things in your yard, have a mild amount of Delve to fuel, can Scavenge up a few other targets or just reanimate them with a number of other spells and you could have something extremely fun to play.
There is no doubt that this initial version is very budget conscious because I can immediately think of a number of very expensive additions. Tarmogoyf and Scavenging Ooze both seem like very strong additions to this sort of deck. Also, Life from the Loam would be a fun addition to this sort of deck as you move get back some lands to keep feeding Gitrog. Verdant Catacombs and Overgrown Tomb would also be nice additions to the deck. I’m sure that there are a few other things that I could find to help spice up the deck without going overboard and going from being fun to being oppressive and uncool for my friends to play.
What new Commanders are you excited for coming out of Shadows over Innistrad? Are you stoked for The Gitrog Monster like me? Do you have your eyes on another sweet prize? Let me know what has got your attention by leaving a comment down below or by finding me on Twitter. Also, if there are any sweet or ugly cards that I’ve overlooked, let me know. I’m always on the lookout for cards that are cool or underplayed and might fit the bill.
Be sure to stop by next time for another Casual Encounter!
@bgray8791 on Twitter
We finally have some information trickling in about the upcoming Commander 2015 product set to release in November. This one is going to explore the 5 enemy-colored pairs of Orzhov, Izzet, Boros, Golgari & Simic. As usual we will have a slew of new cards specifically designed for this product, many of which have been viable for eternal play where they are legal. While we don’t know many details yet there is a hint at ‘Experience Counters’ that will make your commander grow in power.
We hope to get more information soon as well as some of the new cards previewed. Stay tuned.
Release Date: November 13, 2015
Three-Letter Abbreviation: C15
Twitter Hashtag: #MTGC15
MSRP: $34.99 (per deck)
Languages: English, Japanese, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Chinese Simplified
Casual players will enjoy playing with these decks right out of the box as well as crafting new Commander decks or adding to their own deck creations using the 15 new Magiccards found in each deck!
With a total of 55 new cards in the set, Commander (2015) is sure to be exciting for any experienced player looking to change-up their favorite decks!
Each Deck Contains:
Vampires have always been one of my favorite creatures in the game of Magic, I still remember back in the day playing with my brother’s cards and thinking that there was not a whole lot that was better than Soul Collector, a 3/4 from Scourge that cost 5 to play and when a creature dies the same turn that it was dealt damage by Soul Collector it comes back into play under your control. You can imagine my disappointment when I found out that Tribal Vampire decks were not exactly competitive decklists. There was a few very short times during Zendikar, Innistrad and then towards the end of the Return to Ravnica set that Vampires entered the standard mindset, but the place that Vampires have really had a chance in my opinion is in the realm of Elder Dragon Highlander, or EDH, as it’s also known. EDH is a format I play pretty regularly even if it’s almost impossible to find tournaments for it, since I live in Delaware most of the time.
Night Life by Daniel Clayton
Olivia Voldaren EDH / Commander
Olivia Voldaren EDH deck borrows heavily from another deck that was posted by Cassidy Silver on the 7th of October 2011, you can find it here. While my decklist “Night Life” does borrow heavily from his, I have added a few cards to the list, taken some out, and directly subbed others to make the decklist mine. The commander of my deck is of course Olivia Voldaren, a strong creature with all of the abilities you’d want in a vampire, Flying, the ability to deal damage to other things and get bigger, and most importantly, it has the ability to take control of opponent’s creatures. There are quite a few interesting lands in this deck and some of them are potentially very expensive cards; on a less expensive note, the deck does run almost 20 basic lands in Swamps and Mountains. The deck also runs quite a few fetch lands, from Bloodstained Mire to Terramorphic Expanse and Evolving Wilds. Following up the fetches, the deck does run a compliment of dual lands, in Badlands, Blood Crypt, Command Tower, and Dragonskull Summit. The deck also contains various lands that can be used in conjunction with other cards for combos, such as an infinite mana combo with Cabal Coffers or Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. These lands can sometimes tap for lots of mana, first black mana equal to the amount of Swamps for Cabal Coffers and the other Nykthos can tap for any one mana equal to your devotion to that color. Deserted Temple for one mana and taping it you can untap a land, such as these big mana producers I just mentioned. Then Rings of Brighthearth for two mana can copy any spell or ability, this card not only works into this combo, but works well with quite a few cards in the deck making their powerful abilities even more powerful. Another smaller combo built into the deck is Strip Mine and Wasteland with Crucible of Worlds to shut down your opponent’s ability to keep lands on the field. The deck also contains various forms of mana fixing and acceleration in Graven Cairns, Phyrexian Tower, and the two cards we named before Cabal Coffers and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. The rest of the lands in the deck have unique effects that in many cases is not sufficiently covered by the rest of the deck. The first of these is Bojuka Bog, a Swamp replacement that enters play tapped, but makes up for it by exiling a graveyard from the game. There’s Reliquary tower, which removes your hand limit. Shizo, Death’s Storehouse, a replacement for a Swamp that can give a legendary creature fear until end of turn. Spinerock Knoll is a replacement for a Mountain with hideaway that you can activate when an opponent takes 7 damage in a turn. Stensia Bloodhall is a land that taps for two damage to target player for four mana. Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth is a land that makes all lands Swamps in addition to their other types, that can boost up Cabal Coffers. Volrath’s Stronghold is a land card that returns a creature from your graveyard to the top of your deck. As well as Shinka, The Bloodsoaked Keep a replacement for a Mountain that can give a legendary creature first strike until end of turn. The creatures in the deck largely contribute to the tribal theme of the deck being vampires for the most part. There are many creatures in the deck that are not vampires, but the cool thing about having Olivia as your general means that you can turn any creature into a vampire. Additionally, the card Conspiracy allows you to turn all your creatures into a specific creature type, both in and out of play. There is also Mephidross Vampire from Fifth Dawn that not only turns all your creatures in play into vampires, but he also gives them the ability that when they send another creature to the grave they get a +1/+1 counter. The first vampire in the list Anowan the Ruin Sage, is one that I almost made my general, it’s an outstanding Vampire that makes each player sacrifice a creature during your upkeep. Baron Sengir is an outstanding addition to any vampire tribal deck with two strong abilities and flying, his first ability is that he gets larger by two +1/+1 counters each time a creature it deals damage to dies, secondly you can tap him to regenerate a vampire. As an additional reach against opponents, Blood Artist gives you both more life and takes life away from your opponent each time a creature dies. Bloodghast is one of those creatures that you don’t find on a lot of EDH decklists, but it just feels worth it for a 2/1 that comes back from the grave each time a land enters play. As mentioned before, there are several non-Vampire creatures in the deck like several demons. Two such demons are Bloodgift Demon, a creature that makes a player pay 1 life and draw a card and Charmbreaker Devils, a big flyer that gets bigger when you cast an instant or sorcery and them brings back from the grave each upkeep. Kicker and multikicker are mechanics that when activated they give their spells a more powerful effect, a few cards in this deck take advantage of these kick abilities. Urza’s Rage deals ten damage when kicked and four when it is not. Blood Tribute is a card that takes away half of an opponent’s life, but lets you gain it when it is kicked. And finally Bloodhusk Ritualist a vampire with a multikicker that makes the opponent discard equal to the number of times you kicked it. The set Rise of the Eldrazi gave us many powerful creatures, but for the vampire tribal deck there are few that are more powerful than Nirkana Revenant. She Acts like a “black” Mana Flare for all your swamps and pumping herself for every black mana you spend. Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief acting as both removal and a pump up for this flying vampire. This deck also comes with two token producers in Bloodline Keeper which produces tokens, then if you control five vampires you can flip him to turn him into a lord for vampires. And Kiki-Jiki, I know he’s not a vampire, but it lets you produce token copies of all of your most powerful creatures until end of turn. Vampire Nighthawk is in the deck, because it didn’t feel right to run a vampire deck without it. And the last three vampires all have powerful effects, Bloodlord of Vaasgoth gives all of your Vampire creature spells bloodthirst 3, giving vampires +3/+3 if an opponent was dealt damage on the same turn you cast them. Butcher of Malakir and Grave Pact make your opponent’s sacrifice a creature each time one of your creatures die, and Captivating Vampire takes control of a creature and makes it a vampire if you tap five vampires. The deck contains its three indestructible Gods for their powerful abilities, Mogis, God of Slaughter which makes opponent’s have to sacrifice a creature on there upkeeps or take 2 damage. Erebos, God of the Dead let’s you draw cards in exchange for life and stopping your opponent’s from gaining life. Lastly Purphorous, God of the Forge deals damage each time a creature enters the field under your control. The last three creatures have useful enter the battlefield abilities, there is Duplicant with the ability to make himself a copy of any creature on the battlefield and exiling it from the game as well. Godo, Bandit Warlord let’s you search your library for an equipment card when he enters the battlefield and then each turn he gives himself and all samurai an extra combat phase after the first time he attacks. Solemn Simulacrum searches for a land when it enters the battlefield and draws you a card when it leaves play. There are only eleven instants and sorceries in the deck, but they are some great ones and allow my Charmbreaker Devils to get me exactly what I want almost every time. The deck runs a whooping six tutors in the deck, we already went over Godo, so the others are Demonic Tutor, Vampiric Tutor, Beseech the Queen, and Planar Portal to search up anything in your deck and then Expedition Map to search up one of any land. The instants and sorceries also contain most of the decks removal suite, whether it’s Hero’s Downfall to kill a creature or planeswalker, Shattering Pulse a recurring artifact hate or Damnation which is one of the best creature mass removal spells in the game. The removal may be scarce, but it gets the job done in most cases. Exsanguinate is a pretty big win condition in the deck, with the amount of black mana that this deck can generate. The last two sorceries in the deck are Yawgmoth’s Will which can be extremely broken if you’re able to generate a tremendous amount of mana. It allows you to play out every card from your graveyard, the only problem is that any cards sent to your graveyard this turn are exiled instead. The second to last sorcery is Temporal Extortion which either takes away half of an opponent’s life total or gives you an extra turn. It can be a pretty hefty sum of life or accelerate your board position especially with the deadly combination of Charmbreaker Devils. The enchantments in this deck may be the strongest categories of cards if for nothing else than their sheer abilities of card advantage or mana ramp with only one exception. The remaining enchantments either generate mana like Black Market, Braid of Fire, or in the pseudo fashion of Heatrless Summoning by making creatures cheaper to play or they generate card draw like Phyrexian Arena and Dark Prophecy at the expense of life. I understand how the power of Braid of Fire can be overlooked, but this is an outstanding ability for Olivia’s first ability and potentially lets you ping down your opponent’s field all the while making Olivia larger. The last powerful enchantment is Stranglehold which shuts down a ton of cards by preventing your opponent from searching their library and from taking extra turns. The artifacts in the deck help to make things easier for you with their powerful effects. The first set of artifacts aim to make your general even better than she already is, whether it’s making her a 1-ping kill with Basilisk Collar, or making her hexproof with Swiftfoot Boots and Lightning Greaves. The next few artifact aim to improve your mana cost such as Urza’s Incubator making all of your vampires cheaper to cast or mana acceleration through Rakdos Signet and Sol Ring. The last artifact in the deck, Relic of Progenitus is a powerful artifact that gives you a way to not only deal with your opponent’s graveyard recursion, but also a pretty solid way to filter cards out of your own graveyard to make Charmbreaker Devils better. The planeswalkers in the deck basically act as curveballs for the deck that your opponent has to have answers for or they begin to take over the game. The first planeswalker on our list is Chandra, the Firebrand, her plus 1 ability can ping for one an opponent or a creature, her -2 makes all of your instants or sorceries twice as good by copying them and finally her -6 can decimate both your opponents and creatures on the field by dealing 6 damage up to 6 targets. Karn Liberated is probably the second biggest planeswalker in the deck by price and probably the most powerful of all the planeswalkers in the deck. His +4, that’s right +4, exiles a card from your opponent’s hand, then his -4 exiles a permanent from the field while his ultimate at -14, restarts the game with all permanents exiled under him being put under your control. The next three walkers are Lilianas, the most famous of all of them is Liliana of the Veil, a three mana walker that has the ability to make an opponent sacrifice a creature, another makes each player discard a card, and then ultimately make your opponent sacrifice potentially a lot of permanents. The second is Liliana of the Dark Realms that can fetch a swamp for plus one loyalty, as well as a mutilate for minus three and her ultimate creates an emblem that makes all of your swamps tap for four mana. The final is the most expensive of the three Lilis: Liliana Vess, but her abilities are top notch. For starters her plus ability makes target opponent discard a card, then her minus acts as a tutor that puts a card of your choice on top of your library and her ultimate brings back a substantial amount of creatures from the grave to the battlefield all under your control. Overall, I feel that these planeswalkers add a healthy degree of randomness and power to the deck that opponent’s must find an answer to.
Today, we looked at Olivia Voldaren EDH as tribal vampires, a great deck at least in my opinion. EDH is a great format that I feel is under-appreciated by a lot of players because they feel that it’s too weird of a format, or it’s too hard to learn, while these are the types of players that would be most acclimated to join the format as most of the time these players are casual players with too many cards on their hands.By Daniel Clayton – The Will of the Floral Spuzzem @Dc4Vp on Twitter
Earlier today, the EDH Council decided to do away with having two ban lists (Banned as Commander vs Banned), and now cards are just banned or not banned. The result was an unbanning of Kokusho and Metalworker, so now you can use Kokusho as your general.
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.
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.
Replace the 2 x Seraph of Dawn to make the deck standard legal.
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 Plenty, Temple Gardens and/or Mana confluence should replace some of the Forest with them.
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.
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.