Embracing The Chaos – And Now for Something Completely Hippo

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Friday, November 6th – The rotation of decks continued through the Armada Games EDH League, this time with the original, Phelddagrif. The purple hippo deck originally started because of how bad the card is. It was a concession to the fact that I had a giant collection and my group consisted of casual players who didn’t have four copies of everything cool.

I’m glad to see the kind of traffic last week’s article spawned, even if lots of it was “I think you’re a jerk!” Talk is almost always good. I think I failed at getting across the point that there is a style of play I personally prefer, not what anyone else should be forced to play. I want to create a particular kind of environment for myself and like-minded folks, and I’m willing to defend that turf—but I also want differently-minded people to choose their own paths. Some of the forum chats did give me the idea that an article on social contracts might be a good idea. I think I’ll start working on it right away.

The rotation of decks continued through the Armada Games EDH League, this time with the original, Phelddagrif. The purple hippo deck originally started because of how bad the card is. It was a concession to the fact that I had a giant collection and my group consisted of casual players who didn’t have four copies of everything cool. I’m happy to see since those days folks have really glommed onto the card with Group Hug decks. Seems like the kind of thing EDH is meant to do. It’s now just become an amalgam of cards that I want to play with or I think provide defense against the type of decks I see in the League (like Crovax against tokens).

Creatures (32)
Acidic Slime
Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Angel of Salvation
Aura Thief
Coiling Oracle
Crovax, Ascendant Hero
Deep-Sea Kraken
Eternal Witness
Exalted Angel
Galepowder Mage
Giltspire Avenger
Indrik Stomphowler
Keiga, the Tide Star
Magus of the Moat
Molder Slug
Mystic Snake
Pristine Angel
Qasali Pridemage
Questing Phelddagrif*
Serra Avatar
Skyward Eye Prophets
Solemn Simulacrum
Spearbreaker Behemoth
Trygon Predator
Venser, Shaper Savant
Wall of Reverence
Woodfall Primus
World Queller
Yavimaya Elder

Artifacts (4)
Fellwar Stone
Scrabbling Claws
Sensei’s Divining Top
Sol Ring

Enchantments (6)
Aura of Silence
Finest Hour
Khalni Heart Expedition
Luminarch Ascension
Mirari’s Wake
Shield of the Oversoul

Spells (20)
Ancestral Vision
Austere Command
Beacon of Immortality
Beacon of Tomorrows
Celestial Purge
Chord of Calling
Cryptic Command
Dawn Charm
Final Judgment
Gift of the Gargantuan
Hallowed Burial
Krosan Grip
Mana Drain
Overwhelming Intellect

Land (37)
Azorius Chancery
Bant Panorama
Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Breeding Pool
City of Brass
Emeria, the Sky Ruin
Flagstones of Trokair
2 Forest
Hallowed Fountain
6 Island
Llanowar Reborn
Maze of Ith
Misty Rainforest
5 Plains
Reliquary Tower
Rupture Spire
Seaside Citadel
Selesnya Sanctuary
Simic Growth Chamber
Temple Garden
Temple of the False God
Tower of the Magistrate
Tropical Island
Windswept Heath

*The Questing Phelddagrif was a gift from L3 Judge Adam Shaw, who had it signed by members of Dream Theater, one of my favorite bands. How cool is that?

At a glance, the Emeria plan seems doomed to failure, but I’ll try to run it anyway. I think that the future plan will be to put Emeria into a Mono-White deck designed around Isamaru. Seems a little better.

While I’m typing up this report, I’m eating my favorite sandwich: bacon and cream cheese. If you haven’t tried it, and you’re like me believing that bacon makes stuff better, then give it a whirl. I’m also listening to Pink’s album “Missundaztood,” a gift from one Theodore Knutson, who SCG readers may be familiar with. It’s not really my musical wheelhouse, but I like her. She’s kind of like the hot female version of Steven Tyler. The really, really hot version.

Game 1

Two tables of five tonight, which I hope will lead to some interesting stuff. I’m seated with Dale (Thraximundar), Todd (Rith), Keith (Vorosh), and Aaron (Sharuum). I win the roll, and the first plane we turn over is Cliffside Market. The first two turns involve land, a few of them fetches, and some interesting choices from Dale with Leechridden Swamp and Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep.

Turn 3
Me: Plains, Scrabbling Claws
Todd: Takes pain from a fetch (39) and rolls Chaos, swapping back the land Aaron got from him last turn.
Keith: Rolls Chaos and swaps Forests with Todd.
Aaron: Land, rolls 3 times and gets nothing.
Dale: Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Vampire Hexmage.

Turn 4
Me: Reliquary Tower, Trygon Predator.
Todd: Swaps life with Aaron (40-39). Rith’s Grove and Explosive Vegetation. Let the ramping begin.
Keith: Cosi’s Trickster. Whiffs 3 times trying to walk away.
Aaron: Hall of the Bandit Lord, and it’s officially Kamigawa Block Rare Land week.
Dale: Mountain, Grave Pact. Uh oh.

Turn 5
Me: I know I’m going to lose dudes here, so I want to cut off the bleeding fast. I drop Qasali Pridemage and attack Dale. He sacrifices the Hexmage to remove all the counters off Scrabbling Claws. I sacrifice the Pridemage to kill the Grave Pact and then Keith and I sacrifice creatures. We both get a point for First Blood.
Todd: Yavimaya Elder and two whiffs.
Keith: Flood Strand and also two fails getting out of here.
Aaron: Swaps back life totals with Todd. Drops Mutavault and we finally walk away to Glimmervoid Basin. He rolls again, and gets Chaos. He targets Todd’s Elder, and Todd, in the spirit of Group Hug, lets it resolve! Everyone starts sacrificing Elders to fetch up lands. Todd casts Enlightened Tutor for Mirari’s Wake.
Dale: Rolls Chaos, and when he targets Keith’s Elder, true to our new-found non-aggression pact, Keith lets it resolve. Elders everywhere! Dale then casts Rhystic Study.

Turn 6
Me: Aura of Silence and walk to Feeding Grounds
Todd: Rith, paying the extra mana for Rhystic Study. Group hugging only goes so far. Walks to the Maelstrom and windmills Riftstone Portal.
Keith: Reveals Joraga Bard. Plays Coral Atoll. Rolls Chaos and gets Cosi’s Trickster back. Casts Hedron Scrabbler (and pays).
Aaron: Reveals Academy Ruins. Plays Island, casts Angel of Despair to kill Rith.
Dale: Reveals Volrath’s Stronghold. Plays Reliquary Tower and casts Thraximundar. Attacks Keith, who sacrifices his Elder then takes 7 (33).

Turn 7
Me: Reveal Crovax, killing all the Elders. There’s a brief question if folks have time to activate the Elder’s ability, and the answer is no. There’s no time that we have priority between the time that Crovax is revealed and it’s put onto the battlefield. I cast Sensei’s Divining Top and Magus of the Moat, paying for both. Thank you Elders!
Todd: Reveals Vengeful Rebirth (a card that he’s gotten really good mileage from in the League). He casts Austere Command for Enchantments and big dudes. I sacrifice the Aura to destroy the tapped-out Aaron’s Expedition Map.
Keith: Reveals Shapesharer. Casts Bloodghast and then gets a big roar from Storm Cauldron. When the laughter subsides, he shrugs and says “Landfall!”
Aaron: Reveals Skullclamp. Rolls Chaos, bringing back his Angel, destroying the Storm Cauldron. I was looking forward to hilarity, but also am glad it’s gone since it can be really inconvenient. Dimir Doppelganger.
Dale: Reveals Darkwater Catacomb. This plane can be so inconsistent! Counts up eight mana and then casts Spirit of the Night. Talk about old school!

Turn 8
Me: Reveal Aura Thief, which is decidedly less good with that Austere Command resolved. Cast the Hippo. Roll Chaos and get back the Aura, knowing Todd still hasn’t dropped Wake.
Todd: Reveals Brooding Saurian, which makes the Aura Thief even worse, then announces his intention to cast Wake by casting Acidic Slime, taking out the Aura of Silence. I wax the Skullclamp. He casts Wake. Rolls Chaos, gets back the original Elder.
Keith: Reveals Wydwen. Rolls and whiffs, does nothing else. At EOT, Aaron Esper Charms the Wake.
Aaron: Reveals Jace and we all draw. We’re like one little communist family. Aaron then ends the feel-goods by casting Aethersworn Adjudicator.
Dale: Reveals Nicol Bolas, which more than makes up for his last turn’s land. Destroys Scrabbling Claws. I respond by removing Todd’s Wake. Aaron responds with copying Hexmage with Dimir Doppleganger. Keith then responds by copying the Doppelganger with Shapesharer. Aaron gets the Copycat point. Someone’s Hexmage blows up the Planeswalker, and we all breathe a sigh of relief. Aaron cracks a fetchland (39), putting Hallowed Fountain onto the field untapped (37). Aaron gets (Ravnica) Block Party. This still being Dale’s turn, he attacks me. I sacrifice Aura Thief and then block with Phelddagrif.

Turn 9
Me: Reveal Tropical Island. Cast Hallowed Burial. Bottom of the library seems like a really good place for Thraximundar. Dale responds by activating Leechridden Swamp. I cast Giltspire Avenger.
Todd: Reveals Titanic Ultimatum. Casts Solemn Simulacrum, earning him Getting to Basics. Skullclamp and equips Jens.
Keith: Reveals Misty Rainforest. Someone makes the pornstar name joke. Rolls Chaos, gets Shapesharer. Casts Garruk and Helm of Obedience.
Aaron: Reveals Polluted Delta, then cracks it to get Watery Grave untapped (34). We all draw. He casts Shadowmage Infiltrator and passes.
Dale: Reveals Capsize. On second roll, walks to Agyrem. Seems like it could be fun for me. Casts Demonic Tutor, getting Thraximundar, and casts it. Aaron Spelljacks, giving Dale the point for That Was Rude.

Turn 10
Me: Skyward Eye Prophets and Emeria. I roll Chaos, so I’m safe for a while.
Todd: Kicked Thicket Elemental, getting Weathered Wayfarer, as he had predicted pre-game. Drops Fires of Yavimaya. Attacks Garruk. Keith copies the Elemental and blocks. Rolls Chaos, so he’s safe. EOT, Keith Helms Todd for 1 and gets Symbiotic Wurm! I look at the Clone in my hand and could be sadder.
Keith: Seagate Loremaster. Turntimber Ranger. Makes Changeling into Loremaster. Drops Undiscovered Paradise. Rolls Chaos, so now only Aaron and Dale can be attacked.
Aaron: Beacon of Tomorrows on Todd’s Jens. All draw. Attacks Dale with Finkel (38), and Confiscates Todd’s Weathered Wayfarer. Todd gets Hey That’s Mine!
Dale: Endrek Sahr then Withered Wretch, getting two Thrulls.

Turn 11
Me: Attack Dale with Prophets (35). Tap Prophets, get Island, getting the point for Basics. Phelddagrif and Yavimaya Elder.
Todd: Sol Ring and recasts his own Elder, getting a point for Better Late Than Never.
Keith: Puts a Beast token onto the battlefield with Garruk. Ghostly Changeling, which I have to read. Adventuring Gear. I make a comment that this really is the D&D expansion. Equips Loremaster. Cracks Flooded Strand, then casts Silverglade Elemental and discards. Realizes he has a Straight.
Aaron: During Upkeep gets Maze of Ith with the Wayfarer. Rolls Chaos, so now it’s only Dale that’s vulnerable. Demonic Tutor and then attacks Dale with Finkel.
Dale: Rolls chaos, so now only Planeswalkers can be attacked. Casts Sorin Markhov, which I feel compelled to Mana Drain. Evokes Mulldrifter, which creates enough tokens to kill Endrek Sahr, and drops High Market.

Turn 12
Me: Watch me make a complete mess of this turn. I think for a while about the Clone, Austere Command, and Angel of Salvation I have in my hand, and realize that I can Clone the Symbiotic Wurm, cast the Command to destroy all creatures, bring all my guys back into play, then Convoke the Angel into play at will, giving me a point for a Straight and a decent board position. Instead, it’s a complete bumble. I realize that I have enough mana to sacrifice my Elder to draw a card first, and that’s what I do. I then cast Austere Command, forgetting that I wanted to first cast Clone. After everything resolves, I Clone a 1/1 so that when I eventually can Convoke the Angel, I can get the point. At EOT, Todd cycles Decree of Justice for 7 dudes.
Todd: Rolls away to Izzet Steam Maze. He casts Kamahl. I ask how many times he can Overrun, and he counts enough mana for three. I’m the only one with an answer, so I’m forced to Mystic Snake. He then uses all that mana to cast Verdant Force and Thicket Elemental, kicking into Genesis. He attacks me with the last two (30), which I surely deserved.
Keith: Draws and yells “Hells yeah!” Casts Ritual of the Machine, sacrificing a token to steal Verdant Force and my Giltspire. Copies Verdant Force with Shapesharer. When he goes to overrun with Garruk, Aaron casts Trickbind!
Aaron: All draw. Angel of Despair, destroying Verdant Force. Attacks Todd (32)
Dale: Grab the Reins, targeting Shapesharer to kill a token and with the copy, steals Phelddagrif to destroy Skyward Eye Prophets. So much for my straight. Casts Mulldrifter.

Turn 13
Me: Windswept Heath, which I crack (29), getting a Tundra (I might get to use Emeria yet!) and cast the hippo for the third time. Put Shield of the Oversoul on him.
Todd: Rolls to Llanowar. Starts counting up mana. Symbiotic Wurm and Greater Good. Acidic Slime, targeting the shield. Equips Genesis with Skullclamp, then sacrifices it. Attacks Aaron with Elemental, which gets Mazed, Dale with the Wurm, which gets chumped with Mulldrifter, and me with Acidic Slime (27).
Keith: During Upkeep, Todd makes us shrug by casting Rout as an Instant. Keith casts Silverglade Elemental, Vorosh, and Turntimber Basilisk.
Aaron: Walks to Raven’s Run. Casts the Adjudicator, paying 3 life with Hall of the Bandit Lord to make it Hasty. Casts Rite of Replication with Kicker, targeting Adjudicator. Fortunately, Todd has Swords to Plowshares.
Dale: Lilian Vess and Flameblast Dragon. Suspend Gargadon. At EOT, I Celestial Purge the Dragon

Turn 14
Me: Phelddagrif getting Fourth Time’s the Charm. Time is called, so everyone will get one more turn until it gets back around to me (meaning Dale will take the last turn).
Todd: Returns Kamahl with Genesis. Plays it AND Titanic Ultimatum. Five guys go Aaron’s way, and Kamahl and two others at me. I block with the hippo to stay alive one more turn (not that I think I’ll do much, but you never know) and he Berserks (From the Vault!) Kamahl. Aaron and I die.
Keith: Plays a dude, gets a Flush.
Dale: Says he has nothing.
Todd, on the strength of that last turn, wins the table with 8 points, Keith with 6, so he’ll go to table 1 as well, Aaron with 3 (who won’t be playing the second round), I get 3, and Dale 1.

Game 2

I’m seated with Brennan (Nath of the Gilt Leaf), Dale, and Christian (Xira Arien, cool choice). Dale and I, as the old men, decree that the other two youngsters have to come sit at the table we’re already sitting at. Christian and Brennan demonstrate kindness to their elders and come over to our table. I consider not recording the play-by-play of this match. I want to just enjoy the byplay of the game and have some social time—but all that will change when I realize the game isn’t going to take long.

Turn 1
Our first plane is Naar Isle, so damage starts right away, and reinforcing my choice to not really write down everything. Dale is a good guy and rolls off of Naar Isle for me, onto polymorph plane, but then decided to roll again and gets to Lethe Lake (the mill 10 plane). This is the point where I decide that the action will be fast and furious, and begin writing.

Turn 2
Brennan: Reanimates Kodama of the North Tree.
Dale: Mills, tries to roll away and can’t.
Me: Mill Genesis into yard. Khalni Heart Expedition.
Christian: Mills, can’t walk away.

Turn 3
Brennan: Mill, attack Christian (34). Sakura Tribe Elder.
Dale: Mill, counts graveyards, casts Avatar of Woe for BB.
Me: Mill, roll Chaos twice, hitting Christian once and Brennan once. I know Brennan is playing Lord of Extinction, so this could get dangerous. And the one time I’m not playing a deck with Living Death in it, the graveyards are full early!
Christian: Mill, Sprouting Thrinax.

Turn 4
Brennan: Mill, Genesis into yard, attacks me with Kodama (34). Retraces Wurm Harvest for 17 tokens! This is definitely going to go fast.
Dale: Mill, Urborg, Tomb. Coalition Relic. Rolls to Turri Island.
Me: Creature spells are now 2 cheaper, so I cast Keiga.
Christian: Doomed Necromancer. Seems saucy.

Turn 5
Brennan: Attacks Dale with 17 tokens. He blocks 1 (22).
Dale: Steam Vents untapped (20). Endrek Sahr, and its tokens everywhere. Rolls Chaos, but gets no creatures.
Me: Phelddagrif
Christian: Demonic Tutor and rolls Chaos.

Turn 6
Brennan: Kodama’s Reach. Attacks Christian with all. Christian sacrifices Necromancer and gets back Xathrid Demon. Blocks and kills Kodama. Thrinax blocks a token, so he’s left at 2. At EOT, Dale drains everyone: Brennan and I are at 32, Christian at 1 and kills the Demon with Avatar of Woe, netting a point for I’m Cool Too.
Dale: Skeletal Vampire, getting 6 Thrull tokens and 2 Bats. I notice that he’s tapped the Leechridden Swamp to cast the Vampire, so I know that I can kill Christian.
Me: I think about not killing Christian to see if he can do something about the mounting Brennan threat, but then I realize that I’m probably dead soon too, and I might as well grab the points. I peel Austere Command, which solidifies the choice. I can do something of my own (at least for the time being) about Brennan’s recursive tokens. I make Phelddagrif flying, giving Christian the 2 life, and attack him for 4. I cast Austere Command for big and little.

Turn 7
Brennan: Primordial Sage and Borderland Ranger, getting him Basics.
Dale: Rolls Chaos and strikes out. Casts Barter in Blood and then Hexmage.
Me: Spearbreaker Behemoth

Turn 8
Brennan: Retraces Wurm Harvest and gets 19 tokens.
Dale: Liliana, Tutors with it, Suspends Gargadon.
Me: No answers. Roll twice to try to get out of here (hoping for The Hippodrome?) and whiff.

Turn 9
Brennan: Topdecks Beastmaster Ascension. Attacks Dale with 10 6/6s and me with 9. I consider saving Dale with Beacon of Immortality (I’d get a point), but then realize he’d be dead anyway, since he’s below at 21. I Beacon myself to 64, then take 48, down to 16.
Me: Woodfall Primus off the peel to take out the Ascension, but it’s not enough. I would have needed a Tooth and Nail for Primus and Crovax! I make him draw and attack (hey, maybe he’d forget or get cold feet!), but he overwhelms me.

The perfect storm of Planechase that led to me piling up the points a few weeks ago turned around on me tonight (not to mention my own bumbling), but that’s the nature of the Planechase game. I still had loads of fun watching the insanity unfold. I won’t be playing in the League the next several weeks, since I’m going on vacation starting today, leading right into Worlds. As you’re reading, I’ll be flying to Venice to then get on a cruise through the Med, landing me in Rome the day before Worlds starts. If you’re in Rome, I’m sure there will be plenty of EDH getting played. Here’s hoping we get to sit together for a few. You’ll still be hearing from me in that time, though, because I have lots more to say about Embracing the Chaos.