Embracing The Chaos – Karador’s Angelic Performance

Karador and his Angels is a load of fun to play. It provides interaction, decision-making trees, beats, and the opportunity for the epic plays that truly Embrace the Chaos.

I thoroughly looked forward to putting last week’s Karador deck into action, and had the opportunity to do so at EDH League day. Through some schedule glitch (League Chairman and Armada owner Michael Fortino realized that two weeks ago, we were in Week 9 of League 11—and Leagues run 8 weeks), it was an “open play” week, which was just fine with me. I got to pick the folks I most enjoy playing with and had a few epic games (although I’m noticing that many epic games these days always involve some combination of Avenger of Zendikar and Massacre Wurm).

Assembling the deck, I made a few on-the-fly changes, some due to card availability, some due to deciding I didn’t like the choices, some due to suggestions from the comments, and some due to flipping through boxes and going “that’d be cool.” The first to go was Moldgraf Monstrosity, who I realized wasn’t all that good unless I was also playing Riftsweeper. That said, after playing a few times, I think Riftsweeper is going in (as further protection for my precious graveyard resources), so the Monstrosity might find itself back in the deck. For now, that slot goes to Duplicant.

The card that caught my eye when I was filing through the box was Wall of Roots. Since Karador likes dudes in the graveyard, I swapped out Cultivate for it. I think the net effect will be better. I couldn’t find another Survival of the Fittest lying around, so I grabbed Defense of the Heart. It’s not optimal, and I realize the deck really also wants Victimize and/or Exhume, but now we’re starting to drift a little. I’ll swap in Survival from a deck that doesn’t need it too much: it’s currently in Kresh, Mimeoplasm, Riku, Animar, Karrthus, and Intet. Kresh the Bloodbraided might be able to afford it easiest, although The Mimeoplasm might also be okay since it’s not generally eating the creatures out of my own graveyard, so I have less motivation to get them in there.

I couldn’t find a foil Pristine Angel (I’m really sure I have one somewhere), so I went with Exalted Angel instead. The same happened with Woodfall Primus, so I took up Bertrand Lewis Donald Peacock on his idea from the comments and went with Terastodon. Also not finding a foil Beacon of Unrest (which I have in three other decks), I went instead with Ghostway, which is almost always good beats.

INTERLUDE: Angels Playlist

As suggested by Jonathan Richmond, here’s an Angels playlist I’ve put together (based on the one he posted), both with Angels in the titles and lyrics:

Dream Theater – On the Backs of Angels.

Dream Theater – In the Presence of Enemies (Part 2)

Geddy Lee – The Angels’ Share

Iced Earth – Angel’s Holocaust

Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe (that’s basically Yes) – Let’s Pretend

Lacuna Coil – Angel’s Punishment

Angra – Angels Cry.

Circus Maximus – Silence from Angels Above

Nightwish – Angels Fall First.

Nightwish – I Wish I Had An Angel.

Iron Maiden – The Fallen Angel

King Crimson – Fallen Angel.

Rush – Workin Them’ Angels.

Slayer – Angel of Death.

U2 – Angel of Harlem

I wanted a little more ‘blow up everything’ capability, so I put in Planar Cleansing instead of Damnation, especially since I noticed that the number of artifacts and enchantments in the deck is really low. Kind of at the last minute, I decided that I couldn’t have this deck without Avenger of Zendikar. The ability to play it and replay it just seemed a little too over-the-top to not enjoy occasionally.

The last change was for lands. I swapped out the filter lands (Fetid Heath and Wooded Bastion) for Innistrad duals, Isolated Chapel, and Woodland Cemetery. I also grabbed Murmuring Bosk instead of Exotic Orchard, then finally a Swamp because I only have so many Bayou. Finally, I realized I’d be spending lots of mana doing stuff and not keeping it open for Mystifying Maze, so I put in Sunpetal Grove.

There were a number of comments about more dredge/Life from the Loam, and I have to say that I intentionally stayed away from it, but I’m not sure why; although I think that as soon as people see that you’re dredging, they panic a little more. Karador is bad enough; I don’t want more hate focused in my direction. This philosophy may get revisited later, since Hermit Druid, which is kind of dredgy, was awesome.

Went I went to verify the list, I noticed that I had left out Silverchase Fox. It was probably in the spot that I put in Avenger. I’m going to want to put it in, so later on we’ll look over further stuff to take out.

The first game I played was the quintessence of EDH. It was long—three hours or so—and had huge back-and-forth swings and for the most part, lots of laughs. I’m generally not a fan of five-player games that aren’t pentagram (or whatever you call it when you have two allies and two enemies), but Danny (Damia, Sage of Stone), Nate (Zedruu the Greathearted), and Chris (The Mimeoplasm), and I were about to start when another Chris (Riku of Two Reflections) asked if he could join. We said sure and got down to it.

Nobody got into any serious ramp. Danny got a third-turn Krosan Restorer but stalled at three lands, eventually Demonic Tutoring for Sol Ring, which he used to cast Proteus Staff. Riku-Chris got an early Relic of Progenitus out and was slowly eating good stuff from graveyards. I got Garruk Relentless on turn 4, which I used to kill the Restorer and transform. I got one Wolf out of him before someone attacked and killed him. I kind of slowed down the game with Linvala, keeping especially Nate in check. Chris got Lurking Predators going, and I had to use Fracturing Gust to get rid of it. It hurt Danny pretty badly, since he lost both the Staff and his Sol Ring and was still stalled landwise. My intention wasn’t to slow him down, but he was acceptable collateral damage. He got a little testy about it and a few turns later Counterspelled my Primeval Titan.

Riku-Chris started building up a little power, as did Mimeo-Chris. I got Karador into play and kept him there for a while but didn’t really have much to cast out of my yard. Mimeo-Chris cast his General and copied my Primeval Titan, ending any dreams of getting that back (I’m really going to have to put Riftsweeper into the deck) and proceeded to throw some beats around the board.

Mimeo-Chris then started having some board control with Reaper from the Abyss. Fortunately for me, I had by then gotten my own Lurking Predators going and was slowly building up an army of Angels. Danny slowed us all down for a bit with Sheoldred, but after allowing the rest of us to sacrifice dudes to it (although Nate’s were all Kobolds from his Kher Keep), the Reaper took out Sheoldred. Mimeo-Chris also got out his own Damia, but in the effort to be a good guy, let it die so that Danny could cast his own.

Riku-Chris got to be too big of a threat and got taken out by Mimeo-Chris’s small army. Three or four turns in a row, Mimeo-Chris decided he was going to take out me, but then cast spells before combat—and received the blocks (I’m making the arms-crossed gesture right now) from Angelic Arbiter. He killed the Arbiter once or twice but instead attacked Nate with Skithiryx for six poison counters. Eventually, Riku-Chris got to be a bit larger threat, but he was at low enough life to get taken out with a big attack.

My turn to be the larger threat came when I cast Avenger of Zendikar with eleven lands in play and then followed it up with Lurking Predators into Victory’s Herald. Now Karador started to shine, as I could recast Wood Elves a few times and landfall some. Chris had taken out Danny by now and at 32 life was in range. I went all in, but he had enough blocks to end up at four life. I lost quite a few guys, but fortunately for me, I was at 121.

This didn’t save me in the end. I ate an attack of 32 from Mimeo-Chris since Nate had all his Propaganda pieces in play, and it cost five per creature to attack. I was pretty much neutered at this point, but I’d taken a hit of ten from Mimeoplasm. When I took twelve more, I was done. Mimeo-Chris killed Nate the next turn with his choice of either combat damage or poison (he was at six life), and we were done.

Shop owner Aaron Fortino wanted to play the next game, and Monday Night Gamer Keith Bogart had shown up, and we grabbed Joey, one of the guys waiting to play, and shuffled up. Aaron wanted to play his Karador deck, so I pulled out Lord of Tresserhorn.

I’ve made the following changes:

In: Rooftop Storm, Undead Alchemist, Army of the Damned, Endless Ranks of the Dead, Unbreathing Horde, Grimgrin.

Out: Coffin Queen, Repay in Kind, Helldozer, Vicious Shadows, Sorin Markov, Vampiric Tutor.

We played two games, Joey playing his 60-land Child of Alara pile and Keith playing Teysa Orzhov Scion and then Adun Oakenshield. I started fast in the first one with some Zombies to include Lord of the Undead and Zombie Warchief, but Keith ended my dreams of real craziness by exiling Vengeful Dead before I could cast Tombstone Stairwell. I dealt out some damage, but not enough. My Grimgrin and Khabal Ghoul got giant but were kept from attacking by Joey’s Ensnaring Bridge. That this game and the next, Aaron got his Karador engine running. In the first, it was simply Avenger of Zendikar tokens. In the second, it was filling up his yard with a turn 2 Survival of the Fittest and later casting my Living Death off of his own Praetor’s Grasp. That Living Death featured my Butcher of Malakir and his Martyr’s Bond, so you can imagine the size of that stack. Note that Khabal Ghoul triggers on the end step and doesn’t care whether or not it was in play when stuff died during the turn—it knows (more correctly, the game knows, but it’s way creepier when it’s the Zombie).

Note to self: Zombie deck still needs more card draw.

We decided that for game 3, we were going to play dueling Karadors. Joey decided that he was going to play one of his “real” decks (Linvala), and Keith played Jenara, which is full of artifact and enchantment hate. We also added Mihail (Mayael the Anima), who had just shown up from his bowling league and was still wearing a silly hat (I really don’t ask too many questions).

Unfortunately, Aaron didn’t get much going early, and it was all me. Turn 2 Hermit Druid led to turn 3 Wall of Roots and Mulch into turn 4 Karador, and the rest, as they say, was history, since Aaron never cast his own Karador before getting killed. The game went on an hour or so, but it was mostly me throwing punches, them absorbing them and trying to counterattack. Mihail started building some forces and was actually the one who took Aaron out of the game. My Elesh Norn kept Mihail’s Plant tokens small enough that they didn’t kill anyone else before Keith dealt with them all.

Both Saffi and Ghostway paid huge dividends when board wipes happened. Later, I gained a fair amount of board control with Admonition Angel, who it turns out is pretty good against Generals and giant Plant tokens (or using on my own Angel of Despair). Again, there were no real haymakers from anyone, and after I took out Mihail and Joey, Keith more or less looked at his watch and scooped after peeking at his top few cards.

What I Liked:

Casting Karador repeatedly for only 3-mana each time

Casting stuff out of the graveyard

Angelic Arbiter keeping me alive

Wall of Roots letting me cast something on my turn then activating Hermit Druid on someone else’s

Not having to think so much because Survival of the Fittest is tricksy to play with sometimes

What I Didn’t Like:

Elesh Norn, while quite good, isn’t particularly thematic. Doesn’t mean she’s coming out though.

The planeswalkers, Garruk Relentless and Liliana of the Veil, went in because they were cool and new. I don’t think they added anything to the deck. I’d like to pull them out and replace them with something that makes the Angels better or easier to play. Urza’s Incubator comes to mind, although I guess it really doesn’t help with the Archons (who should really be Angels). I’m not really sure which deck Garruk actually goes into. Liliana can go in nearly any one, but most likely either Thraximundar or Kresh. Obviously, Silverchase Fox replaces one of these cards.

Not having Riftsweeper. Krosan Reclamation was the first step, but I think I need a second. Rolling to a Relic of Progenitus, Tormod’s Crypt, or Bojuka Bog is pretty terrible.

Forgetting Silverchase Fox

Likely Changes:

Out: Garruk Relentless, Liliana of the Veil

In: Silverchase Fox, Riftsweeper

All in all, Karador and his Angels is a load of fun to play. It provides interaction, decision-making trees, beats, and the opportunity for the epic plays that truly Embrace the Chaos.  

Next week: What exactly does a Worlds Head Judge do?