Week 1 of Armada Games’ EDH League rolled out with a new, somewhat-modified points list (which I’ll get to you in the coming weeks) and the
beginning of my “eight weeks/sixteen decks” promise. This week, I played Cromat in Round 1 and Kresh in Round 2.
Before we get to that, I made a few small updates to three of my lists:
Thraximundar [decklist]: Out: Careful Consideration, Venser, Shaper Savant. In: Backlash, Clone. Careful Consideration came out because it didn’t seem to do much in the deck,
and my foil Backlash had arrived. Venser came out because the foil one is in Merieke, and the foil Clone was sitting nearby. Careful Consideration just
seems like a card designed to go into a “dump your stuff in the graveyard so you can reanimate it” deck, which I’m sure I have to
build. Maybe with one of the new guys.
Rith, the Awakener [decklist]: Out: Master Warcraft, Chalice of the Void. In: Fracturing Gust, Mercadia’s Downfall. Chalice was just to Stop the Top, which isn’t all
that exciting. Master Warcraft wasn’t as many laughs as I thought it might be, just turning into a “guys can’t block” card,
since as Gavin Duggan pointed out when he was here, you can only make someone attackâ€”you can’t make them attack someone in particular.
Fracturing Gust will keep some of the insanity under control, and Mercadia’s Downfall is just a beating for the decks that ramp into a pile of
non-basics. It’s a little more stylish than Primal Order, and it beats playing Ruination.
Kresh the Bloodbraided [decklist]: Out: Psychosis Crawler. In: Empyrial Plate. The foil Psychosis Crawler went into the new Phelddagrif deck, since it was more thematic. Empyrial Plate
seemed like a cheap, repeatable way to make guys bigger for the Kresh triggers, Greater Good sacrifices, and Flings. I actually think it’s going
to end up as Petrified Wood-Kin. I remember having him in an early Phelddagrif deck and there being plenty of LOLZ when I hit someone with Serra Avatar
and then cast the Wood-Kin.
ROUND 1, TABLE 3: CROMAT
I’m seated with Matt (Crosis, the Purger), and Chris (Kresh the Bloodbraided), with whom I had just played a few fun casual games, and Cliff
(Jenara, Asura of War). After we roll, I’m playing third, so I keep a hand of Vivid Grove, Island, Land Tax, Demonic Tutor, Vampiric Tutor, Angel
of Despair, and Woodfall Primus. It’s not all that sexy, but without fast starts from the others, I’ll be okay-ish.
Or not. Matt gets Crosis going early with the help of Mana Vault. Playing five colors, I’m not a ripe target, but I know I have to really be
careful with the Survival of the Fittest that I Vampiric Tutor for. I fetch up Gilded Drake, then realize it’s a mistake because he has Brittle
Effigy and already enough mana to be able to cast stuff and still use it. The turn before I’m going to cast Enigma Sphinx, he hits me, calls
blue, and I lose the Sphinx and the Drake.
Cliff and Chris have both gotten a Primeval Titan going by now, but the game really turns when Matt casts a kicked Rite of Replication targeting
Cliff’s, and no one can do anything about it. I have to spend the Demonic Tutor for Wrath of God to keep things in check.
It looks like we’re in for a reasonably long game now, but Cliff ends it quickly. Matt has 20+ lands, to include Cabal Coffers and Urborg, Tomb
of Yawgmoth. The good news is that his hand is empty. Cliff taps out to play something (I think Jenara again) and then Time Reversal. I plant my face
firmly in the table. Matt does everything except squeal with delight. When he draws his seven, there’s no doubt whatsoever that he’s pulled
Exsanguinate. He absolutely can’t sit still. When Cliff says go, he makes sure to strip my last open blue source with Tectonic Edge (not like
I’m playing counterspells anyway), generating his 40 mana and killing us all.
We had time to play another casual game. Chris went to get something to drink, so it was just the three of us. I played the first draft of my
mono-white deck to mixed results. The highlight of the game was Cliff casting Rite of Replication, kicked, targeting Thrummingbird, then casting
Twincast. Fortunately for us, after he attacked with them once, I played Crackdown, and that was that. For that deck, I initially opted to not play
Caged Sun or Marshal’s Anthemâ€”but then I realized how dumb that is.
The Cromat deck, with one and only one card from every expansion and basic set, is a fun and clever idea, and with a decent initial draw, can hang in
there. It’s never going to be a Tier 1 deck, and it’s unlikely to ever be the main threat at the table. Even getting Survival of the
Fittest running, it’s not going to dominate like other decks can. The limitations on its construction will keep it from ever really getting out
of hand, which isn’t all that terrible. If deck construction and verification wouldn’t be so onerous, I might even suggest it for a League
ROUND 2, TABLE 3: KRESH
I’m seated with Anthony, new to the League (Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief), Chris (now playing his own Crosis, the Purger), Wayne (his new Rith,
the Awakener), and Billy (Sen Triplets). Billy announces that he’s going to be a target. He’s not wrong.
It’s all land-go for a few turns. On someone else’s turn 3, Chris blurts out, “Oh, CRAP!” We all look, and he says “I had
a Leyline in my hand at the beginning.” We commiserate.
Billy has played Worn Powerstone, which he uses to cast Grafted Exoskeleton. Everyone gives him the eye. Next turn, he casts Phyrexian Colossus, and
everyone gives him the other eye. Fortunately for someone (not even sure it would have been me, but it’s not worth the risk), I have Big Game
Hunter in my hand. I was obviously waiting for some discard tomfoolery, but it has to be hardcast now. Billy continues target-hatting himself by
casting Glassdust Hulk. He gets in one attack on Wayne for six poison.
Wayne, having now gotten those poison counters from Billy, casts Sword of Feast and Famine, equips it to a dude, and attacks me. He untaps his
lands and after combat casts Enlisted Wurm, cascading into Arrest, which goes on my Kresh. I don’t understand, but this isn’t a terrible
thing. Perhaps now that he can’t attack, people will discount Kresh and let the counters build up for the inevitable Fling.
Somebody blows up the Exoskeleton, so no one is now worried about the infect alpha-strike. The game goes back and forth a little, with Kresh getting a
few counters. Anthony gets Drana going a little bit but mostly holds back. I think being the new guy, he doesn’t want to be too aggressive. After
the game, he mentions that he should have gotten there a little more. I was happy not getting attacked, but I think he’s right.
Billy uses Sen Triplets to cast the Decree of Pain from Anthony’s hand. I respond my casting Momentous Fall on Kresh, drawing twelve cards. On
the next turn, I drop enough to not have to discard, but I don’t have anything too saucy.
Meanwhile, I’ve been blowing up Sen Triplets with Woodripper. Billy casts it a fourth time, and I don’t have an answer. Then comes The
Play. When it comes to his turn, he targets Anthony again. Chris has cast Blood Tyrant, which stayed around long enough to get to 15/15. Anthony
chuckles, then turns over his hand. Billy says “Gotta do it!” and casts Phthisis, targeting Blood Tyrant, killing Chris with exactsies. We
all have a good laugh, even Chris, who I’ve come to know as a great sport in nearly all situations.
Billy gets one more thing from Anthonyâ€”Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. Eventually, Anthony gets Cabal Coffers. We know that his hand is full of land,
so it’s not too scary, except for the Drana angle, although I’ve always kept up enough mana to cast either Grab the Reins or Spore Cloud. I
peel and cast Hamletback Goliath (keeping only Spore Cloud mana). Anthony casts Drana (+4). Wayne casts Archon of Justice (+9). Billy and I both drop
creatures; Anthony passes; and Wayne casts Nobilis of War, making Hamletback (+20). Wayne bashes me in the face, lowering my life total to (23). Billy
passes and mentions he’s out of gas, and I have to step up. Anthony and Billy are both at (27). Wayne is down to (10) and has only one card in
hand. I think it’s now or never. I cast Stalking Vengeance, making Hamletback (+25), and cast Rite of Consumption on it, targeting Anthony,
targeting Billy with the trigger. Billy says “response” and shows us one of my favorite cards, Ovinize. I tell him it won’t do any
good, since the Hamletback is sacrificed as an additional cost, and Stalking Vengeance has already triggered.
Anthony responds by using Drana to kill the rest of my guys, which is eminently fair. He starts to explain he just wants to give Wayne a chance, and I
understand fully. It’s still looking good for me, since my life is 54, and Wayne’s is ten. I have six cards, and he has one.
When Wayne battles me a second time, I think about the Spore Cloud but then use Grab the Reins with entwine on the Archon to take him to three (because
of the Nobilis). I figure there’s enough gas in my deck to get to the rest of his life total in short order. I cast Melira (I have Woodfall
Primus in my hand, but that’s only an emergency plan, and even if it means losing, I’m not going to Chasm anyone). The next turn, I draw
Eternal Witness, get back Grab the Reins, and kill him.
Melira and Woodfall Primus and a sacrifice outlet obviously make up an infinite blow-up-everything-but-creatures engine, but that doesn’t mean it
needs to be used that way. Actually, it occurs to me that it can be an infinite pump-up Kresh, Goblin Bombardment, or Altar of Dementia engine without
blowing up the world. You can just keep targeting the same permanent over and over when Primus persists back, since the triggers will resolve before
the original ability. The more I think about it, the more I might want to take it out of the deck.
That said, it can certainly still be used selectively, which would be my intention (Academy Ruins and Cabal Coffers would be getting wrecked; normal
lands wouldn’t). It’s kind of like carrying a gun. I guess you could use it in every situation, but that’s going to get you
in a lot of trouble. Even though I believe in disproportionate response, I don’t shoot a bad waiter. I use some of the other weapons in my
arsenal (speaking to the manager, a poor tip, going elsewhere). If that waiter, however, threatened to kill me, I’d have an appropriate answer. I
hope this doesn’t devolve into a gun ownership debate; it was just the analogy that came to mind. Just because you have a particular
weapon doesn’t mean you can’t still make the choice of when and how to use it.
You’ll no doubt by now have seen the Monday preview released on the official forums on
Memorial Day. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Starting next Monday, 6 June, on this very site, I’ll be writing a week’s worth of
material (that’s right, an article a day) featuring the new product to include TWO exclusive card previews, one on Monday, one on Wednesday.
I’ll have some art to preview, which you won’t be able to see until Launch Party day. I’ll also be talking about some of the other
cards that are being previewed and how I intend to use them to Embrace the Chaos. Â