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Embracing The Chaos – Gen Con And The New Phelddagrif

Sheldon is going to Gen Con! Get a chance to play against him and watch his panel this weekend; he’ll be bringing all his old decks as well as his new Phelddagrif Commander deck, so bring yours and battle.

As you’re reading this, I’ll be on my way to Gen Con Indianapolis 2011 for a weekend of Spell-Slinging and cool Commander stuff, to include a can’t-miss panel on Saturday (noon-2 pm) with some other luminaries, such as Scott Larabee, Ken Nagle, and former Rules Manager Mark Gottlieb. Here’s my full schedule:

Thursday: Very Important Gamer Room 1000-1200, Sling (Hall G) 1300-1500 and 1700-1900.

Friday: VIG Room 1300-1500, Sling 1600-1800.

Saturday: Commander Panel 1200-1400, Sling 1500-1800.

Sunday: Sling 1000-1300

Traditional Spell-Slinging/Champion’s Challenge involves you playing against the person in the booth, and if you beat them, you get a prize, most often a booster pack. It’s my intention to play as little 1v1 as possible (my personal ideal would be to play none), although if folks really want to, that’s what I’ll do, since I’m there for their benefit, not my own. I’ll try to have participation prizes as well so that everyone gets something as well as a fun game. I’ve asked that the booth be set up so that when I’m there we can accommodate up to four players at a time, so we’ll see what happens. It’s my intention to let who I’m playing with pick the deck I play. I’ll be bringing a whole suite of decks, to include the following:

Kresh the Bloodbraided: I wouldn’t consider any of my decks hyper-competitive, but this is the one that comes closest. The basic theme is “Swing and Fling.” Playing a casual game the other day, I had the sweet (and necessary, to avoid getting killed, since my target was attacking me for about 50) play of having Kresh already with three counters, sacrificing Woodfall Primus to Goblin Bombardment, having it persist back, sacrificing it again, reanimating it with Makeshift Mannequin, doing the double sacrifice again, then flinging the giant Kresh with a Basilisk Collar-equipped Bloodshot Cyclops.

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund: Karrthus is still a Beast deck that likes to get into the Red Zone. Maybe I can hope Innistrad has a Jund-colored Legendary Beast.

Animar, Soul of Elements: I thoroughly enjoy playing this one, but I’ve noticed that it’s horribly dependent on Animar staying around.  Last time I played the deck I got to cast Whim of Volrath on someone’s Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, so that was cool (although I think I still got crushed).

Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker: This is the Isamaru, Hound of Konda deck that I played in League during mono-colored week. Michiko seems more techy.

Riku of Two Reflections: After playing this several times over the past few weeks, I’m ready to call it “Riku of the No Haymakers.” I’ve managed to make a deck that successfully ramps into nothing spectacular. The downside is that people see Riku and immediately panic, regardless of how mediocre the deck is.

Merieke Ri Berit: My nod to a control deck, Merieke has her moments.  I still have her simply because I want to have a deck in Esper colors as well as one or more decks outside my normal comfort zone.

Lord of Tresserhorn: And his Zombies!!! This deck is quite some fun, and it can hold its own in a reasonably good field. If you see me playing this deck, you’ll probably also hear the sound effects.

Thraximundar: He’s a General that can just win all by himself (kind of like Karrthus), and the deck is fun if a little janky in spots.

New Phelddagrif: I completely tore apart the old one and a built a new one for Old School Week in the last league, but never posted the full list. Here it is:

Phelddagrif, Or “Lighten Up, Francis”

CREATURES (24)
Academy Rector
Acidic Slime
Aeon Chronicler
Coiling Oracle
Gaea’s Revenge
Genesis
Lighthouse Chronologist
Magus of the Library
Maro
Mulldrifter
Noble Hierarch
Oracle of Mul Daya
Plated Slagwurm
Primeval Titan
Psychosis Crawler
Qasali Pridemage
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Sea Gate Oracle
Serra Ascendant
Skyward Eye Prophets
Spellbane Centaur
Sunscape Battlemage
Tornado Elemental
Trygon Predator

ARTIFACT CREATURES (1)
Solemn Simulacrum

LEGENDARY CREATURES (5)
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
Kiyomaro, First to Stand
Multani, Maro-Sorcerer
Soramaro, First to Dream
Thrun, the Last Troll

SORCERIES (9)
Austere Command
Cleansing Meditation
Explore
Far Wanderings
Gift of the Gargantuan
Hunting Wilds
Rampant Growth
Recurring Insight
Skyshroud Claim

INSTANTS (7)
Cytoshape
Decree of Silence
Equal Treatment
Keep Watch
Krosan Grip
Lammastide Weave
Mystic Melting
Rending Vines

ARTIFACTS (4)
Akroma’s Memorial
Everflowing Chalice
Sensei’s Divining Top
Sol Ring
Spine of Ish Sah

ENCHANTMENTS (10)
Asceticism
Bear Umbra
Eel Umbra
Ground Seal
Martyr’s Bond
Mirari’s Wake
Privileged Position
Rancor
Shielding Plax
Worship

LANDS (20)
Adarkar Wastes
Azorius Chancery
Bant Panorama
Brushland
Celestial Colonnade
Flagstones of Trokair
Glacial Fortress
Misty Rainforest
Nimbus Maze
Reliquary Tower
Savannah
Seaside Citadel
Sejiri Steppe
Selesnya Sanctuary
Sunpetal Grove
Temple Garden
Temple of the False God
Tundra
Wasteland
Windswept Heath

BASIC LANDS (18)
Forest 6
Island 4
Plains 8


ASIDE: A Playlist

I’m a self-confessed gamer nerd. My first date with my wife was the Lord of the Rings Marathon/Premiere of Return of the King. I’m also a big fan of themes, whether it’s in parties, wine lists, or as in this case, a playlist. I offer you my “D&D” playlist, songs who (or whose title) capture the essence of a traditional D&D game:

The Wizard, Uriah Heep

In the Hall of the Mountain King, Electric Light Orchestra

Magic Man, Heart

Flight Of Icarus, Iron Maiden

Tomb 19, Kansas

Sun And Steel, Iron Maiden

Rising Force, Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force

Misty Mountain Hop, Led Zeppelin

Wondrous Stories, Yes

Ride Of The Valkyries, Wagner: Die Walküre

Princes Of The Universe, Queen

Queen Of The Ryche, Queensryche

King In Crimson, Bruce Dickinson

Kings And Queens, Aerosmith

Lords of the Ring, Styx

Rivendell, Rush

The Call Of Ktulu, Metallica

Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, Iron Maiden

God Of Thunder, Kiss

The Necromancer: Into Darkness/Under the Shadow/Return of the Prince, Rush

Children of the Damned, Iron Maiden

The White Rider, London Philharmonic Orchestra & London Voices

Crystal Ball, Styx

Orff: Carmina Burana – Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi: O Fortuna, Eugene Ormandy: Philadelphia Orchestra

Holy Diver, Dio

Mister Kingdom, Electric Light Orchestra

Excerpts From “The Six Wives Of Henry VIII”, Yes

The Battle Of Evermore, Led Zeppelin

The Trees, Rush

Keeper Of The Seven Keys, Helloween

Castle Walls, Styx

Tears Of The Dragon, Bruce Dickinson

Back to the deck, here are some notes on the non-land cards:

Academy Rector: With ten different enchantments to fetch, I can have quite a bit of flexibility. Early game, I’m probably going to go get Mirari’s Wake, but later, it’s likely all situation-dependent.

Acidic Slime: There’s so much great stuff to blow up in other people’s decks that he’s nearly an auto-include in Green. I’m trying to diversify, but some cards are simply too right to pass up.

Aeon Chronicler: I saw some debate on the forums on how good (or not) the Chronicler is, but since part of the deck’s theme is drawing cards and ‘hand size matters,’ he seemed logical.

Coiling Oracle: Another card that I have trouble passing up if I’m playing the colors. Ridiculously good two-drop.

Gaea’s Revenge: Another theme of the deck is “Don’t touch my stuff,” so this guy fits it. It’s also a great comeback-from-a-board wipe card.

Genesis: I had taken Genesis out of other decks because I’ve been playing him for so long, and this was a choice based on simply wanting to play it again.

Lighthouse Chronologist: I’ve never yet lived the extra turn dream, but one can only hope.

Magus of the Library: There is so much fuss over Library of Alexandria that I thought I’d try out the creature version. At worst, he’s a little acceleration. At best, he keeps the hand full.

Maro: Hand size matters, and the original hand size card deserved a slot.

Mulldrifter: I see people evoking this guy all the time. Why not just cast him and have the dude?

Noble Hierarch: It was in the previous Phelddagrif deck, and in the original build of this one that had Rafiq and all that Bant-colored trickery. I figured that the least she would do is give my Commander the extra +1/+1.

Oracle of Mul Daya: Another card that’s hard to leave out in Green.

Plated Slagwurm: Can’t be Hexed.

Primeval Titan: Nearly impossible to leave out of a Green deck. What I’ve found in playing him is that someone else will inevitably steal or Bribery him.

Psychosis Crawler: The next time I do a “Cards You Can’t Get Angry When Someone Blows Them Up” episode, this guy will be on the list. It’s the kind of card that can kill seemingly out of nowhere.

Qasali Pridemage: Another holdover from the Exalted Phelddagrif deck, he’s just good.

Sakura-Tribe Elder: I don’t think I have him in any other decks, so I decided to play him over Wood Elves.

Sea Gate Oracle: Another creature I’m not playing elsewhere, he completes the Oracle trio (with Coiling and Mul Daya).

Serra Ascendant: Everyone needs a little life gain. People get a little nervous when he comes out turn 1, so I find it best to spread the love around if that’s the case.

Skyward Eye Prophets: Sure, he’s a little spendy to cast, but if he survives, you’re rawing cards FOR FREE.

Spellbane Centaur: Don’t steal my stuff, bro!

Sunscape Battlemage: There is going to be a giant flier somewhere that’s in need of taking down. And you draw cards while you’re doing it!

Tornado Elemental: Wiping the skies of Dragons is good, and beating with a guy who can squeeze through damage no matter what is even gooder.

Trygon Predator: A final auto-include when playing Blue-Green, Trygon Predator has been extremely good at keeping Lurking Predators in check.

Solemn Simulacrum: I like the new art, and I wouldn’t mind seeing someone do a full-art alter of it.

Grand Arbiter Augustin IV: This guy is coming out for something from either NPH or M12 (have an idea? Let me know!). The original intention was to simply slow down combo decks, but since it’s actually not all that good at it and annoys the people who aren’t comboing, it has to go. One of the other considerations is to make it Crusading Knight.

Kiyomaro, First to Stand: Hand size matters.  I’d prefer his ability was lifelink, but I can live with it as is.

Multani, Maro-Sorcerer: Everybody’s hand size matters! I’d love to be able to give this guy horsemanship or some other kind of evasion.

Soramaro, First to Dream: The rest of the available Maro-Sorcerers are in; it would have been wrong to skip him. Plus, he can save a land—although I’m not sure I have much worth saving.

Thrun, the Last Troll: I wonder if they’ll actually print another Troll after this.

Austere Command: The third-best of the Commands is at my command!

Cleansing Meditation: I’m much surprised that we don’t see more of this one played. It’s a great emergency Tranquility when you don’t have threshold. Makes me wonder if Tranquil Path is worth playing.

Explore: There was a foil one sitting on the table when I was building the deck, so I grabbed it. There are worse things to do with a full hand than dropping an extra land and drawing a card.

Far Wanderings: One of the recent times I played this deck, someone had Chancellor of the Spires in their opening hand, and I had this.

Gift of the Gargantuan: Two cards with some choice in the process for only three mana is just fine.

Hunting Wilds: I have still never kicked this card, but the day will come.

Rampant Growth: Yeah, yeah.

Recurring Insight: Having one of the Maros on the battlefield and casting this leads to some hurt for somebody, although I suspect that I’m eventually going to need Primal Rage or something to help them blast through enemy lines.

Skyshroud Claim: Stupidly good, and I bought up all the foils—so Ben Bleiweiss needs to get on the stick!

Cytoshape: Wonky wording aside, I like what you can do with this spell. Remember that only the creature that’s becoming a copy is targeted. The creature that it will copy isn’t chosen until Cytoshape resolves. Note that you can turn a Legendary creature into something else for the turn, just not something into a Legendary creature.

Decree of Silence: Another holdover from the “stop the combo decks” idea, I’ll probably still keep it for the nearly-uncounterable-counterspell option.

Equal Treatment: It’s not quite Fog/Holy Day, but it also protects you from a load of other things. Being not targeted means you can prevent most of what a super-enchanted Uril will hit you for. Still doesn’t help against Maga’s trigger, but you can’t have everything.

Keep Watch: Every time I cast this, everyone who hasn’t already seen goes “that card is AWESOME!” Judgment commons FTW. You don’t even need to wait until it’s a combat in which you’re involved.

Krosan Grip: Most popular targets include Sensei’s Divining Top and Greater Good.

Lammastide Weave: With so much Tutoring, Topping, and Oracle of Mul Daya-ing in the format, it seemed like I could get a lot of mileage out of this card. I’ve only cast it a handful of times, but it’s been a blowout every one of them.

Mystic Melting: Another “Huh, I should maybe play that card” card.

Rending Vines: Okay, maybe it’s not going to take out Eldrazi Conscription all that often, but in most other cases, you’re going to destroy something relevant plus draw a card.

Akroma’s Memorial: Here’s the evasion I earlier mentioned needing for those Maros, plus a level of protection. It’s another “Can’t Get Mad” card, even though it doesn’t really do anything by itself. Hey, wait…I could play Titania’s Song or March of the Machines and battle with it!

Everflowing Chalice: I don’t play it in other decks, and generally I’m not the hugest fan of artifact acceleration because it’s going to die to the first Disk, but this can be a nice boost.

Sensei’s Divining Top: It’s Top. Nothing more needs to be said.

Sol Ring: All I have to say is “Ash nazg durbatulÔk…”

Spine of Ish Sah: This was originally Neurok Stealthsuit, but over repeated play, I found that I needed a touch more removal, and Stealthsuit is simply inferior to Lightning Greaves (which I’m simply bored of seeing; see also Urborg + Cabal Coffers and Rite of Replication). I probably need a few more ways to get rid of it on my own.

Asceticism: Don’t. Touch. My. Stuff.

Bear Umbra: I like it more for the totem armor than for the combo possibilities because you know there are going to be the inevitable board wipes. Makes me think I should also play more stuff that brings enchantments back from the graveyard. Where’s that Replenish?

Eel Umbra: It’s all about the flash. I really think totem armor is an underplayed mechanic, especially in a format where creatures die with an astonishing regularity.

Ground Seal: Ground Seal has been an absolute HOUSE every time I’ve cast it. It shuts down popular cards like Genesis, Oversold Cemetery, Beacon of Unrest, Withered Wretch, and Scavenging Ooze.

Martyr’s Bond: With this and Spine in the deck, it’s starting to seem like I need more ways to sacrifice stuff. I guess there are enough auto-includes here that I should just bite the bullet and throw in a Greater Good.

Mirari’s Wake: I generally don’t cast it when I have only five mana up because if it gets blown up then, I’ve wasted a turn. I most often (unless I have good reason not to, like none of my opponents are playing White or Green—which is about as unlikely as the Cubs winning a World Series in my lifetime) will wait until I have seven, so that at the very least I can get most of my original investment back.

Privileged Position: Really. Don’t touch my stuff. Where’s the Sterling Grove? This is eventually going to turn into a Replenish deck. Skull of Orm was in 8th Edition, so I know it comes in foil.

Rancor: The obvious include with Uril, the Miststalker; I see less of it in other decks that I think I might. It really goes on any creature, and keeps coming back. There are always better targets for Return to Dust than this.

Shielding Plax: Hexproof for my guy (and card draw). Sign me up.

Worship: I have a very cool altered one from Armada Games’ Kristy Dunn, whose work I’ll be showing off at Gen Con in my decks—few, if any of them tournament-legal. If I had infinite money, I’d have her do multiple copies of a number of cards that aren’t currently available in foil—especially from the Commander product.

As far as the Commander goes, there are enough Group Hug versions out there (many of which aren’t Group-Huggy at all!) that I didn’t want to build a similar one. In some iterations of the Armada Games League, giving opponents 10 or more life in a turn was worth a point—and when you’re going to kill them with General damage, their life total really doesn’t matter. There was also a point for saving someone from lethal damage, so the White mana ability became pretty handy, and I’m sure that use for the card hasn’t seen its last. The only time I really use the bounce ability is when I’m trying to give someone cards to get us out of a tight spot that another opponent has created (or when the cost of recasting him might be prohibitive). I don’t remember the last time I used the Green ability, but clearly the dream is activating it a bunch of times in response to someone else’s Massacre Wurm. I mostly like battling with him and having killed people with a flying purple hippo. In previous versions of the deck, he was my turn 4 play every time I had the mana for no other reason than getting him to the attack. He’s less central to this version, but I still like the possibilities of his abilities since they’re…different.

Next week, expect ribald tales of Chaos Embraced at Gen Con, great meals eaten, old friends visited, and all the myriad other things that come with the Indy weekend experience, the Best Four Days in Gaming. Hope to see you there!