Week 6 of the Armada Games EDH League showed both ends of the spectrum of the very good and the very not-so-good in the format. As promised, I ran both
of my Grixis decks, Thraximundar and Lord of Tresserhorn (and his Zombies). The report of the League games will be moderately brief, so as a bonus (and
since Week 8 is going to be “New Commanders Week,” I’m including a suggested build of a Riku of Two Reflections deck.
I made only a few changes to the decks. There are certainly a bunch of Grixis-colored cards I want to play, especially with the saucy new stuff, but
that’s why we build new decks.
The changes are fairly self-evident. Torpor Orb was moderately janky anyway, and Sower of Temptation came out so that it can go in a more appropriate
deck. Syphon Flesh fit both themes, and there we are.
ROUND 1, TABLE 2
I’m seated with very-excited-to-be-playing new guy (who has just started the summer semester at University of South Florida) Shu (Teneb, the
Harvester), very-much-gets-the-format guy Matt (Geth, Lord of the Vault), and guy whose name I’m not mentioning because I’m about to call
him bad names (The Mimeoplasm).
Turn 2 Mesmeric Orb, turn 6 combo out the table (and I’m pretty sure he waited the extra turn to avoid the penalty). Thanks for playing, total
round time, 12 minutes. OK, I’m not going to call him any names. I’ll just let you do the imagining.
Matt, Shu, and I play a casual game, take up most of the rest of the two hours and have a good deal of fun while we’re doing it.
ROUND 2, TABLE 4
I’m seated with Kyle (Wrexial, the Risen Deep), Drake (Mangara of Corondor), and Nick (Rith, the Awakener). Nick has jumped in because someone
from Round 1 just left and didn’t tell anyone. Nick happened to be there and ready to play, and I’m pleased he was. He and Drake, who I
haven’t seen in the shop before, end up being good guys interested in having good times. I eventually find out that they’re friends with
Matt from last week, which says to me they have the foundation of a good group. You’ve seen Kyle on these pages before, although I’m not
sure if you’ve seen his Wrexial deck. It has no other creatures in it and creates quite a hostile environment for everyone else’s dudes.
Kyle starts with Leyline of the Void in his opener, meaning lots of frowns for me. When his first-turn drop is Meekstone, I think I might be screwed
right out of the gate. A few turns later, after which Drake has summoned Mangara for the first time (he’ll end up getting the point for casting
him five times), Kyle casts Barter in Blood. Drake responds by taking out the Leyline, which at first I wasn’t sure about (since it seemed to
hurt me more than him) until we find out later he has Emeria, the Sky Ruin and a number of other good white recursion spells.
We run through a number of turns, with Kyle casting Tainted Aether, me briefly having Geth, Lord of the Vault, and Drake getting his Emeria online. He
keeps getting back the smaller stuff like Knight of the White Orchid so that I don’t yank it out from under him with Geth. Seems like a
reasonable ploy. The creature count starts to build on all sides (except for Kyle, obv), when I discover a two-card combo that I haven’t
previously considered: Deathbringer Thoctar and Death Baron (honestly, the Thoctar is pretty damn good by himself). With the two of them in play (and
Goblin Bombardment), I can cast any creature, sacrifice something to Tainted Aether, get the first counter on the Thoctar, then wipe the board of
creatures. I actually use Fleshbag Marauder to accomplish this, ensuring that the Thoctar has a sufficiently large number of counters on it that I
don’t run out of steam if someone responds by getting rid of the target.
Nick does the right thing his next turn by casting Planar Cleansing, but with the Bombardment in play, that costs Kyle a good amount of life from
Thoctar triggers and activations, not to mentioning bumping up my life total because I’ve since equipped it with Basilisk Collar. When we
restart, I drop Tombstone Stairwell and Vicious Shadows, but Drake sees the scary and gets rid of the Stairwell. Nick has attacked a few times with
Raging Ravine while having True Conviction in play and is getting into decently high life territory. Every time he activates it, I push my Wasteland
forward, and he points it elsewhere, mostly at Kyle.
With Kyle at eight and two cards in hand, I kill him by casting Lord of Tresserhorn—having him draw the cards, then pointing the Vicious Shadow
triggers at him. Nick and Drake are at sufficiently high life totals and small hands that they don’t have too much to worry about from Vicious
Shadows, but Drake takes care of it nonetheless with Mangara. It’s definitely a “can’t get mad” card.
It’s getting late in the round, and although Drake has a pretty good graveyard (since he was the target of most of my Geth activations early on),
I cast Living Death anyway. I figure I can take out his guys anyway, and I should be in complete control. I was (at least momentarily) wrong. I cast
Living Death, and Drake casts Lapse of Certainty. I get countered by the mono-white player!
Unfortunately for both of them, neither of them has a way to mill the card off, and when I cast it, I have a pretty large army, buffed by Undead
Warchief and Death Baron. Neither of them draws sweepers over the next two turns, and with about a minute on the clock, the Zombies rise up for Nick,
their last victim.
Next week I’m going to Embrace the Chaos one color at a time, starting with white and then borrowing either Kyle’s green Azusa or
Jeff’s Akroma, Angel of Fury. I can’t see myself playing another monocolor deck long-term, so the exercise of putting it together just to
play it once seems like it has a low EV. Instead, I’ll spend my time developing some new decks for New Commander Week, one of which I suggest
Riku is cool but obvious. You want to take advantage of both of his abilities. Nearly every creature has an enters-the-battlefield trigger. I also make
some additions to the spell-copying theme. There’s also a micro-theme of hitting people with large hands, since I know that card draw has gotten
even better and more prevalent in recent sets.
RIKU, THE TWO REFLECTIONS
Darksteel Ingot: As mana rocks go, there is no better.
Mizzium Transreliquat: Hey, we’re copying stuff, right? There’s always an artifact worth duplicating, and providing yourself with the
flexibility this card offers makes it the “Why Aren’t More People Playing It?” card of the week.
Tormod’s Crypt: Graveyard hate is a must.
Sensei’s Divining Top: As is some top-of-library control.
Sol Ring: Making more than you cost is always great.
Sword of War and Peace: Part of the “hurt you for drawing piles of cards” package.
ARTIFACT CREATURES (2)
Solemn Simulacrum: Can’t wait for a foily M12 one, although in the new picture he looks more Lonely and Despondent than Solemn.
Duplicant: You can just call this guy “The Answer” since he takes care of most every otherwise annoying creature that colored stuff
can’t deal with.
Phyrexian Metamorph: Even though much fuss has been made about this guy, I think he’s even better than many folks realize. Again, the flexibility
factor is great.
Acidic Slime: So flexible he could be in Cirque du Soleil.
Aura Thief: Since every enchantment that gets played is worth stealing, and this guy blocks nearly everything, he can be a great rattlesnake.
Avenger of Zendikar: I don’t have to tell you how insane multiples of these can get.
Body Double: The copy theme being one I haven’t played much before (at least since about 2005 anyway), I can say that I don’t think
I’ve ever actually played this guy.
Clone: But I’ve played the hell out of this one.
Coiling Oracle: Still arguably the best two-drop, and certainly the best one in U/G.
Cold-Eyed Selkie: No big, tricky secrets, just an early creature that will draw cards.
Consecrated Sphinx: Also not particularly tricky, but particularly crazy. The Dream for this card would be getting into a loop of card draw with
someone else’s Sphinx, and then wrecking them with Storm Seeker or Cerebral Vortex.
Djinn of Wishes: Even when you’re not controlling the top of your library, this guy seems like piles of fun every time he comes down.
Eternal Witness: I never want to go overboard with auto-includes, but this is EWit.
Fierce Empath: His targets are going to be few, but situationally specific. Nearly every time he comes down T3-5, it’ll be Prime Time. Early to
mid-game, he’ll likely fetch Duplicant or one of the other Titans. Late game, it’s sure to be either Avenger or one of the Eldrazi.
Frost Titan: The Titan Package is in, because multiple copies of them mean multiple triggers.
Murkfiend Liege: The untapping doesn’t do much besides making available blockers, but the buffing up of creatures does quite a
bit—especially in the case of Cold-Eyed Selkie, since he now draws extra cards.
Oracle of Mul Daya: We needs the ramps.
Ravenous Baboons: Avalanche Riders is better in a strategy that will involve recurring him, but all I really want this guy to do is 1) get the point
for taking out Mazes or 2) take out the unholy trinity of Cabal Coffers, Academy Ruins, and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth (and probably the occasional
Riftsweeper: Stuff gets exiled. Need to get it back.
Woodfall Primus: Another near-auto-include in green, the ability to copy it helps keep control of the nasty things on the board.
LEGENDARY CREATURES (2)
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth: Yes, I get that it’s not particularly good to copy with Riku, which is why he and his Eldrazi cousin are the only two
other Legendary Creatures in the deck, but the draw and shuffle are worth it.
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre: s/draw/blow up something
Future Sight: It’s card draw. For five mana, although a heavy commitment to blue, you’re occasionally going to lose value. More often,
you’ll get some nice mileage—if I get more than three cards off of it, I consider it a win—and sometimes, it for some reason will
just stay around forever. When it does, you end up in ridiculously good shape.
Night Soil: I still think players don’t play enough graveyard hate.
Rhystic Study: Interesting how this can be a friend-making card. You can offer (“hey, let me draw cards and I’ll be nice to you”) or
wait for offers (“I’ll let you draw cards if you don’t kill my stuff”). Either way, it’s a card that people will know
needs to go away, but won’t make the kind of contortions to get rid of it as a Mirari’s Wake or Lurking Predators.
Artifact Mutation: You need some artifact destruction, and I like the kind that gives you something else as well.
Cerebral Vortex: Yes, it’s a bit of a pet card, but I love it for smug draw-my-library guy (speaking of smug, I just saw for the first time the
Smug/Hybrid Car episode of South Park—while I still don’t count myself as a big fan, that episode was genius).
Chaos Warp: Use it for yourself; use it for something that someone else has spent considerable time and effort getting onto the table. Once more into
the breach, I’ll use the word ‘flexibility.’
Comet Storm: I haven’t played a direct damage spell in a while, so I thought I’d start right here.
Cryptic Command: Best.choice.ever.for.textless.spell. And of course, by best, I mean worst.
Desertion: I only have one pimpy altered-art one, and that’s in the Intet deck, but I’ll be happy to play a regular one in order to get
that thing you really wanted.
Mana Drain: Sometimes spells need to be countered. Why not benefit from it as well?
Overwhelming Intellect: The downside I’ve noticed to this card is that I tend to hold it for the next biggest thing and get into this little
paralysis of choice. “Sure, that Psychosis Crawler is good, but next turn, he’s probably going to cast Prime Time.”
Wild Ricochet: Another part of the copy theme. One of the most Chaos-Embracing cards ever printed.
Worldly Tutor: Sometimes, you just need the right guy to show up.
Cultivate: Mana-ramp engine, Piece 1.
Genesis Wave: Put it into decks when it came out, took it out when EVERYBODY started playing, and now it’s coming back in.
Growth Spasm: Mana-ramp engine, Piece 2.
Hunting Wilds: Piece 3, and I’ve never used it kicked, although I guess I could imagine doing it if I had lots of Forests already tapped, and I
needed the mana. I just get a little uneasy about making my lands into creatures, even for a turn.
Rampant Growth: I guess this would actually be Piece 1, since it’s the lower-cost one.
Recross the Paths: Clashing is healthy, fun, and a great way to stay in shape.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor: Now that he’s come down to a more reasonable price…
Command Tower: I’m going to run out of these pretty fast.
Gaea’s Cradle: With a few creators of numerous tokens and just plenty of dudes in the deck, I like it.
Homeward Path: I know there have been complaints about this card from people who like to steal your dudes, but they can just buck up and play a little
more targeted land destruction. They’re playing blue, so they can just play Spreading Seas.
Maze of Ith: As part of our extended customer service commitment, we’ve decided to put this in just so other people can get points.
Mystifying Maze: And this too.
Reflecting Pool: Moar colored manas.
Reliquary Tower: Obv.
Simic Growth Chamber: Without lands worth bouncing, like hideaways or life-gainers, I’m wondering about the value of this one.
Steam Vents: No, really, “Bethanie Mattek-Sands.” Or Hope Solo. So sue me. I like athletes.
Taiga: I wonder what the next “nearly as good as original dual lands” effort will be. The RAV block ones were pretty good. I’d like
to see what’s next.
Temple of the False God: He could be the Never Existed God if he gives me extra mana.
Tropical Island: Couldn’t the whole original cycle have been called “something Island?” We already have Tropical and Volcanic. Why
not “Festering Island” for the black one and “Arctic Island” for the blue? I’d have settled for “Swampy
Island” and “Snowy Island” for that matter.
BASIC LAND (20)
I didn’t include any M12 cards, even though the official spoilers are out in full force. If I were to include one M12 card in this particular
deck, it would be Chandra, the Firebrand. I know her life expectancy is short, but as planeswalkers go, she’s not in the “KILL IT
NOW!!!” category like Elspeth or Karn, or even Garruk.
If I’ve skipped any really awesome cards to go with Riku, let me know. This deck isn’t built yet, but it’s in the running for Week 8,
and it might get built anyway, just because it looks like a blast to play.
Here’s the list simply in list format if you want it that way:
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Clone
- 1 Avalanche Riders
- 1 Man-o'-War
- 1 Wood Elves
- 1 Krosan Tusker
- 1 Seedborn Muse
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Yavimaya Elder
- 1 Duplicant
- 1 Fierce Empath
- 1 Rayne, Academy Chancellor
- 1 Heart Warden
- 1 Aura Thief
- 1 Body Double
- 1 Woodfall Primus
- 1 Cold-Eyed Selkie
- 1 Dominus of Fealty
- 1 Glen Elendra Archmage
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 1 Djinn of Wishes
- 1 Oracle of Mul Daya
- 1 Avenger of Zendikar
- 1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
- 1 Frost Titan
- 1 Inferno Titan
- 1 Primeval Titan
- 1 Phyrexian Metamorph
- 1 Phyrexian Ingester
- 1 Riku of Two Reflections
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Rampant Growth
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Artifact Mutation
- 1 Future Sight
- 1 Worldly Tutor
- 1 Desertion
- 1 Sword of Fire and Ice
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Turnabout
- 1 Citanul Flute
- 1 Night Soil
- 1 Sudden Impact
- 1 Ertai's Meddling
- 1 Survival of the Fittest
- 1 Skyshroud Claim
- 1 Rhystic Study
- 1 Tormod's Crypt
- 1 Cerebral Vortex
- 1 Mizzium Transreliquat
- 1 Hunting Wilds
- 1 Wild Ricochet
- 1 Recross the Paths
- 1 Sleep
- 1 Summoning Trap
- 1 Comet Storm
- 1 Growth Spasm
- 1 Cultivate
- 1 Genesis Wave
- 1 Beast Within
- 1 Noxious Revival
- 1 Chaos Warp
1 Acidic Slime
1 Aura Thief
1 Avenger of Zendikar
1 Body Double
1 Coiling Oracle
1 Cold-Eyed Selkie
1 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Djinn of Wishes
1 Eternal Witness
1 Fierce Empath
1 Frost Titan
1 Inferno Titan
1 Murkfiend Liege
1 Oracle of Mul Daya
1 Phyrexian Ingester
1 Primeval Titan
1 Ravenous Baboons
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Seedborn Muse
1 Woodfall Primus
1 Yavimaya Elder
1 Artifact Mutation
1 Beast Within
1 Cerebral Vortex
1 Chaos Warp
1 Chord of Calling
1 Comet Storm
1 Cryptic Command
1 Mana Drain
1 Noxious Revival
1 Overwhelming Intellect
1 Storm Seeker
1 Wild Ricochet
1 Worldly Tutor
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Breeding Pool
1 Command Tower
1 Homeward Path
1 Maze of Ith
1 Mystifying Maze
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Simic Growth Chamber
1 Steam Vents
1 Stomping Ground
1 Strip Mine
1 Temple of the False God
1 Tropical Island
1 Volcanic Island
1 Gaea’s Cradle