Even more favorite than going through the whole spoiler list of a new set is my effort to decide which of the new cards go into which of my stable of
decks. I make the effort slightly more difficult by limiting myself to one copy of a card. It becomes a bit of a Tetris puzzle in that I want to make sure
the best or most interesting of the new cards gets played while keeping the same theme and level of the destination deck. Surely the most difficult part is
figuring out which cards to take out of these existing decks. Every now and again I’ll run across a card which is underperforming or that I just don’t
like, but for the most part, the decks are stuffed with favorites. It’s difficult to say goodbye to old friends. If I absolutely can’t say so long to a
card which has served me well, I’ll find it a home in another deck; I’ll list that change here. Sometimes I have other changes pending that have nothing to
do with the set, but here is where I make sure I record them.
The raw percentage of cards in Battle for Zendikar which will make it into decks is slightly lower than in previous sets, but several major
players crash onto the scene-eminently fitting in a set featuring Eldrazi. What you’ll find here are all the cards I listed last week in the “For Sure”
column, unless it’s a reprint that I’m not playing (like Felidar Sovereign) or a reprint that I am (Dragonmaster Outcast, Evolving Wilds). This leaves us
with 44 cards to find homes for, plus one that wasn’t on the list.
Adun likes to recycle utility creatures in and out of the graveyard. Zulaport Cutthroat yearns to be played here, especially in the absence of Blood
Artist. When I initially put Agent of Erebos into the deck, I was willing to accept the risk it posed to my own graveyard. Through play, it was obvious the
risk was too great. There’s enough good graveyard hate in the format that I don’t need to help my opponents with it.
Especially with Animar’s ability to cast creatures for less, Desolation Twin becomes viable. The deck’s bounce engine means that there will be multiple
castings. Since there is no colored mana in Desolation Twin’s cost, I can use it with one of the other (non-artifact) creatures, especially morphs, and
Cloudstone Curio to make Animar arbitrarily large. Believe it or not, even with the Animar tomfoolery, I found that in play, there was rarely mana for Soul
of New Phyrexia. Perhaps I’m too prone to overcommitting. Jace’s Ingenuity is a straight-out swap for Ugin’s Insight because of the style of deck. Jace’s
Ingenuity belongs in a control deck in which you keep up mana in case you want to counter or respond to something. Ugin’s Insight is likely in this deck to
find the fuel to keep going-especially when Animar is keeping down the cost of stuff.
Intet is my “play rough” deck. “Newlamog,” as the kids are calling it, plays rough. It belongs in something less friendly. It will go alongside the other
Eldrazi in the deck, crafting Intet’s vision of world domination. Being Indestructible sure doesn’t hurt, and since the deck doesn’t rely on recursion of
other peoples’ graveyards, eating them is just fine with me. My greatest fear with the card is getting it copied and having the same awful thing done to
me. When you put expensive cards in, you’re better off taking expensive cards out. You don’t want your mana curve to get out of control. Terastodon is the
choice here because the cost is high, and I’m playing it in a number of other decks. Taking out two things for good is likely to be situationally sometimes
less good than taking out three, but exiling them is so much better. Major downside here is that when I play this deck as Riku, Terastodon is worth
copying; Ulamog isn’t.
Going nicely with Attrition and the other creatures in the deck that were born to die, Catacomb Sifter can get through the dross to the right answers. Hex
Parasite ended up being way too mana intense to use effectively.
There is a significant lifegain component to Karador. Until I have a Vampire tribal deck, this is where Defiant Bloodlord makes the most sense. I’m almost
tempted to put Serra Avatar into the deck because of Wall of Reverence, but that’s getting a little too cheeky. Plus, it gives me something else at seven
in the Birthing Pod chain. Duneblast has been okay, but the deck can live with one fewer Wrath effect. Mortuary Mire is there for a little graveyard
protection. I’m not a fan of going all-in on the yard, recalling the sting of too much graveyard hate. With nineteen remaining basics, I’m still happy with
the fairness of Hermit Druid in the deck.
Karn has the most friends for Conduit of Ruin to go find. I considered for a bit putting it into Intet, but without a regular bounce mechanism or sacrifice
engine to recycle that Eldrazi, it seemed like a waste. I considered getting rid of the Blasting Station/Summoning Station deal, but it’s janky enough that
it should stay. Voltaic Construct is reasonable removal. Shrine of the Forsaken Gods is a natural fit for the deck. Seraph Sanctuary was only in because I
needed a colorless land.
No great Dragons, no changes.
Ob Nixlis Reignited
Pick a black deck, Ob Nixlis Reignited goes into it. It’s that simple. I chose it because the card draw is iffy in this deck, it’s kind of thematic (he’s a
demonic planeswalker, for sure), and the deck is aggressive enough that other players need to play defensively-meaning they’re focusing on my creatures,
not planeswalkers. Spike Cannibal was just a lolzy choice for the deck. When undeniable new cards come along, it is a suitable sacrifice.
I know I just put Hedonist’s Trove into the deck, but I found the mana costs in the deck in general to be creeping too high. Vampiric Rites gives me a
little card draw and function at a very, very nice price. The Trove may likely make it into another deck (Merieke, likely), but we’ll put it back on the
shelf for now.
Sire of Stagnation is the card in this set that’s most likely to get me to violate the “only one copy of each card from a new set” rule. It’s even more “I
can’t even” than Void Winnower. Spoils of Blood is okay and all, but Sire of Stagnation is just a super upgrade. Lots of cards are better than one of
something, even if it’s immense for the cost. A great basic land count let me replace the always-disappointing Opal Palace with Sunken Hollow.
Brutal Explusion is the kind of spell you want to copy. I had truly wanted this to go into Intet, but I absolutely could not find something I was willing
to remove for it. Repulse goes out not because it’s worse than Brutal Explusion but because it’s not a foil. We simply can’t have that.
I looked around at which black decks had the greatest vulnerability to lands-meaning which deck Homeward Path hurts most. That’s Merieke. Taking out
Mortify, which I was just killing creatures with anyway (for the most part, there are other pieces of enchantment removal), was the easy call.
The “value” in Nath is both having everything cost less than six and the cards being inexpensive. Eyeless Watcher helps the deck do what it wants to do,
and do it at a low cost. I decided to take Dark Impostor out because the activation cost is six, which seems to violate the spirit of the deck. Next up
will be Pernicious Deed, which violates value on both axes.
Seems thematic and provides a little of the recursion that the deck needs. Fertilid could go because there is plenty of other land search in there and it’s
getting played in numerous other decks.
Obzedat is about killing creatures when the commander is not on the battlefield. When the card became available, it was a natural fit. As much as I love
Bottle Gnomes, and have since the ancient days, its only function in the deck is nostalgic. I need to put it into one of those Karador decks so I can see
it again and again.
Rith is a creature-based deck which builds up an army of tokens. Wrath of God effects, many of which are even-numbered, upset the deck. Void Winnower seems
like a good option, especially since the deck has the ramp to help get to nine mana. I considered putting this in Kresh, but wanted to spread the wealth.
The idea of Void Winnower made me consider Gaddock Teeg, but then I realized there are a number of big damage X spells in the deck, and I didn’t want to
shut them down. Gift of the Gargantuan has ever been a card that I hoped was going to be good, but in practice has been less so.
The one mana is definitely worth the move from sorcery to instant. The exile part is then pretty much gravy. And everyone likes gravy. Can’t make poutine
without it. A high number of basic lands let me easily replace one of them with Cinder Glade.
No Merfolk, no changes.
No changes, but I swear I opened the decklist and at least considered about a dozen cards.
Smothering Abomination can certainly work, as I pointed out last week, in Karador decks to keep your fuel going. For me, the only choice is Thraximundar,
which loves sacrificing creatures. My desired combo here is with Sheoldred, Whispering One, where I can regrow someone else’s cool utility creature (Solemn
Simulacrum would be just fine) and then sacrifice it to Smothering Abomination. It also works with my Dawn of the Dead, so that the creature isn’t exiled.
I’ve built enough other land search into the deck that Mycosynth Wellspring can go.
The dividends Emeria Shepherd will play in this deck are rich indeed. Lots of basic lands means lots of reanimation. It’s a little expensive, but it will
definitely get cast. Pelakka Wurm, despite its goodness, is the right choice to remove. In tribal decks, especially in which the creatures are larger, like
these Angels, I’m okay with some of the smaller utility creatures being non-tribal (like Suture Priest, which still fits the deck’s lifegain theme), but
the larger ones can go. Canopy Vista adds another Plains to the count for both Emeria Shepherd and Emeria, the Sky Ruin. I was going to take out Brushland,
but Gavony Township doesn’t do all that much in the deck; I’d rather have colored mana, and with the deck’s lifegain, the damage from Brushland isn’t a big
deal. I’m sure I’ll find an eventual home for that Township.
Turn Against is on-theme for the deck. Flamerush Rider, despite its goodness, isn’t. Turn Against being colorless helps against creatures with protection
from colors, especially when someone has an awesome card like Akroma’s Memorial in play. Being an instant means I can also use it to affect a combat I’m
not involved in, which creates the kind of huge plays we love to see in the format.
Ruhan needs mana and Hedron Archive is a nice rock that will later replace itself when you don’t need it anymore. I’m not a huge fan of overdependence on
artifact mana, but in Jeskai, you just have to. Circle of Flame wasn’t the rattlesnake I was hoping for. Having mana instead seems way better. As far as
the bouncelands going out, I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re good for the purpose of intentionally putting another land back into your hand (Bojuka
Bog being the most significant), but otherwise are a bit of a hindrance to mana development. With a new dual land available and a reasonable basic land
count in the deck (which I can then improve), the choice was clear.
This deck is becoming so much of a Hydra deck that I need to start considering some other kind of tribal support, like Door of Destinies. Undergrowth
Champion goes right on theme as well. Plaxcaster Frogling is one of those cards that seemed good in theory, worked less well in practice, perhaps because
my local environment uses more board wipes than targeted removal. Sage of Hours simply never got there.
No good zombies, no changes.
It’s a little weird to me to be making changes to Do Over Project decks, but since some of them have been around a bit and have gotten some play, it’s
time. Drana, of course, goes right into the deck’s theme of distributing +1/+1 counters. Abzan Ascendancy is okayish, but Drana is a serious upgrade.
Omnath may one day make a great commander in its own right. For now, it’s going into the deck that I have with Boundless Realms in it. Visara goes out
because it was a placeholder anyway, from when I removed Charnelhoard Wurm to go into the Kresh Do Over. With more than 30 basics, I feel pretty confident
that Smoldering Marsh is entering the battlefield untapped.
Karador decks can use board wipes in a somewhat indiscriminant fashion. This one could use another one. Taking out Syphon Mind fine; I’m not really
reanimating other folks’ creatures that they might discard, and the deck’s card draw seems reasonable enough already.
There are a number of other cards that I put on the “For Sure” list what don’t appear in my changes. Here’s why:
Akoum Hellkite: It’s simply not better than any of the Dragons I already have in my Karrthus deck.
Barrage Tyrant: I have to build a Bosh deck at some point.
Bring to Light: I wanted to stay more toward the as few as possible tutors as I could get.
Brood Monitor: No real fit.
Complete Disregard: Nothing that I was willing to take out to put it in.
From Beyond: Strongly looked into putting it into Intet, but there was nothing I was willing to swap out for it.
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar: Saving for Knight Ally tribal.
Guardian of Tazeem: There has to be a Sphinx tribal in my future. Maybe the Lazav Do Over.
Hero of Goma Fada: See Gideon.
Kiora, Master Of The Depths: I’ll end up building a new fight club deck with blue in it. It’ll be sweet.
Scour from Existence: Considered Karn, didn’t want to take out anything.
Zada, Hedron Grinder: No deck that it actually fits in.
Those are my changes. Hopefully I have the opportunity to physically make them before coming to Atlanta to do battles at what will be one of the best Grand
This week’s Deck Without Comment is Karador Version 3, mentioned above, which I think you haven’t seen.
- 1 Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Intrepid Hero
- 1 Nezumi Graverobber
- 1 Glory
- 1 Caller of the Claw
- 1 Eternal Dragon
- 1 Twisted Abomination
- 1 Loyal Retainers
- 1 Wall of Roots
- 1 Mindless Automaton
- 1 Karmic Guide
- 1 Heart Warden
- 1 Crusading Knight
- 1 Filth
- 1 Grave-Shell Scarab
- 1 Angel of Salvation
- 1 Riftsweeper
- 1 Shriekmaw
- 1 Fertilid
- 1 Kitchen Finks
- 1 Wickerbough Elder
- 1 Wall of Reverence
- 1 Knight of the Reliquary
- 1 Butcher of Malakir
- 1 Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief
- 1 Mitotic Slime
- 1 Sun Titan
- 1 Suture Priest
- 1 Sheoldred, Whispering One
- 1 Fiend Hunter
- 1 Silverchase Fox
- 1 Restoration Angel
- 1 Ashen Rider
- 1 Reaper of the Wilds
- 1 Karametra, God of Harvests
- 1 Conclave Naturalists
- 1 Pious Evangel
- 8 Forest
- 1 Pattern of Rebirth
- 11 Plains
- 1 Reanimate
- 1 Regrowth
- 1 Aura of Silence
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Kodama's Reach
- 1 Oversold Cemetery
- 1 Victimize
- 1 Oblation
- 1 Respite
- 1 Phyrexian Reclamation
- 1 March of Souls
- 1 Infernal Genesis
- 1 Claws of Gix
- 1 Intervention Pact
- 1 Lurking Predators
- 1 Primal Surge
- 1 Staff of Nin
- 1 Faith's Reward
- 1 Trading Post
- 1 Crime
- 1 Rally the Ancestors
- 1 Planar Outburst
- 1 Campaign of Vengeance
Check out our awesome Decklist Database for the last versions of all my decks:
AURELIA GOES TO WAR;
CHILDREN of a LESSER GOD;
DEMONS OF KAALIA;
EREBOS and the HALLS OF THE DEAD;
HELIOD, GOD OF ENCHANTMENTS;
DREAMING OF INTET;
FORGE OF PURPHOROS;
KARN, BEATDOWN GOLEM;
HALLOWEEN WITH KARADOR;
KARRTHUS, WHO RAINS FIRE FROM THE SKY;
KRESH INTO THE RED ZONE;
LAZAV, SHAPESHIFTING MASTERMIND;
ZOMBIES OF TRESSERHORN;
MELEK’S MOLTEN MIND GRIND;
MERIEKE’S ESPER CONTROL;
NATH of the VALUE LEAF;
NYLEA OF THE WOODLAND REALM;
OBZEDAT, GHOST KILLER;
PURPLE HIPPOS and MARO SORCERERS;
ZEGANA and a DICE BAG;
YOU DID THIS TO YOURSELF;
RURIC THAR AND HIS BEASTLY FIGHT CLUB;
THASSA, GOD OF MERFOLK;
THE ALTAR of THRAXIMUNDAR;
TROSTANI and HER ANGELS;
THE THREAT OF YASOVA;
If you’d like to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that’s been alive since 1987 and is just now getting started with a new saga called “The Lost Cities of Nevinor”), ask for an invitation to the Facebook group “Sheldon Menery’s Monday Night Gamers.”