Embracing the Chaos – More Other Peoples’ Decks Again Redux

Wednesday, January 5th – Sean McKeown is a long-time StarCityGames.com columnist and manages to keep Sheldon happy with his new Memnarch list by keeping it fun.

Most of the Other People’s Decks I’ve featured have been from very close friends or format “insiders,” so I thought I’d take a slightly different tack here. Sean McKeown has been a Pro Tour player, an SCG featured columnist, and more importantly, an EDH fan since the early days, long having been a proponent of finding the balance between playing a strong deck while not giving over to the brokenness of the format. He’s put together a Memnarch deck (how did we live in the days before color identity existed?) that I think captures that very essence.

I like how he’s woven the “Memnarch steals stuff” theme through the deck, which isn’t uncommon in mono-blue, sprinkled with a fair number of counterspells and control. My favorite part of this deck is that when he’s playing it, Sean has to

it. Mono-color decks are inherently vulnerable, so he really has to pay attention to avoid getting hurt, and he’s not generating so much mana that he can just steal everything without a second thought. I’m a little sad for him, since it’s probably more difficult for him to socialize while he’s playing. As I mentioned a few weeks back regarding my Intet deck, it’s not really my personal style, since all that thinking gets in the way of horsing and hanging around.



Aura Thief: There’s a great joy to having your Aura Thief steal both of the Lurking Predators on the table.

Chromeshell Crab: I think this guy gets a little underrepresentation. Perhaps it’s because we played the heck out of him in the early days of the format, and we got tired of him.

Draining Whelk: We’ll keep the running count. Counterspell number 1. And beatstick.

Duplicant: So easy to include, so good at dealing with otherwise difficult-to-remove creatures.

Glen Elendra Archmage: Counterspell number 2. Obviously, this girl is nowhere near as good without persist, but the question is without persist, would she get benched in favor of Voidmage Prodigy?

Grand Architect: An exemplary card for why I like this deck. It could be used for great evil, but in the deck, it’s merely very good.

Keiga, the Tide Star: From a flavor standpoint, I’m not a fan of Dragons that steal stuff. Dragons eat and destroy stuff, but I guess this is a Dragon from where they have more philosophical pursuits.

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth: The guy butchers truth. What else can you say?

Lorthos, the Tidemaker: Prison locking people will get you plenty of hate, although probably not much more than playing mono-blue will. Paying eight to do it seems almost comical.

Master of Etherium: I’m starting to wonder if Sean grabbed a bunch of cards from his Elspeth vs. Tezzeret decks just to make this Memnarch deck.

Mischevious Quanar: Surprise! It’s not Willbender!!!

Platinum Emperion: I’m pretty sure I have this in a deck somewhere, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t gotten it into play yet, which is frowns. This is the kind of card that the deck needs to keep itself alive while it has the chance to perform its other shenanigans.

Quicksilver Gargantuan: Worst case, this guy is a 7/7 who gets you a basic land when he comes in, draws you a card when he leaves.

Sakashima the Impostor: Speaking of tomfoolery…

Solemn Simulacrum: This auto-include is brought to you by Stumptown Coffee Roasters of Portland, Oregon, who has provided the tasty beverage that’s fueling my morning writing. I’m a huge fan of the French Roast, which I’m enjoying at the moment, and their Hairbender Espresso blend. My eyes were opened to Stumptown many years ago by Seamus Campbell, and I’ve now set up a subscription so they send me a couple pounds of beans on a monthly basis. I’ll be an even greater fan if they start comping me beans for mentioning them.

Sower of Temptation: Hasty General, meet Sower of Temptation.

Steel Hellkite: Mono-blue needs some destruction, and it’s only going to find it in artifacts. This guy has gotten a fair amount of play at Armada. It’s a cleverly designed card that once again requires a good deal of thought to play.

Steel Overseer: Maybe Matt Tabak, my favorite Rules Manager ever (no slight to any of the others, but I’ll tell you Matt Tabak stories that make your hair curl), could create a keyword for this ability called “Creatureliferate.” Or maybe I just wanted to mention Matt Tabak.

Thada Adel, Acquisitor: Perhaps Sean simply likes this guy’s ability, perhaps he thinks that there are enough players playing blue to have enough choices, or perhaps he didn’t also have a slot for Stormtide Leviathan.

Trinket Mage: If what he gets most of the time is Avarice Totem and not the other obviously strategically stronger plays, then Sean’s stock rises in my book. I’m actually kind of pleased that there are multiple strategic choices for him—again, the deck is think-y—so that it’s not always just “Trinket Mage for Top.”

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre: I’m not really sure what a Gyre is, save for something about gimbling in the wabe, but this guy has some serious teeth. Or I guess more correctly, tentacle.

Vendilion Clique: The 1v1 players tell me this is the most horribly broken card (after Sol Ring), but since 1v1 only exists in some shadowy place outside my world, I’ll just take another drink of this delicious coffee.

Venser, Shaper Savant: Even the hard-core, play-them-all Sliver players don’t play Venser’s Sliver. Perhaps if it, you know, did something. I guess we can call this counterspell number 3.

Vesuvan Shapeshifter: Yes, further monkeyshines, but with no Brine Elemental, just simply another really good card.

Willbender: This Willbender is just the misdirect for the Quanar.

Wurmcoil Engine: I’m thinking that the scars have healed pretty well on Mirrodin.


Copy Artifact:
True Fact:

This was the first enchantment in Magic history that could tap.

Copy Enchantment: One of the things Sean is doing here is playing Memnarch without the generation of tons of mana. If you let him copy your Mana Reflection, then you get what’s coming to you.

Steal Enchantment: How many different ways can one deck have to do something about Lurking Predators? Probably never enough.

Take Possession: We’ve discussed many times how I like to have things like Goblin Bombardment or Altar of Dementia as sacrifice outlets so that sticky-fingered folks don’t get attached to my stuff. Split second renders them pretty useless.

Treachery: I look at the picture on Treachery, and what I see is an excellent opportunity for some really awesome alterations.

Volition Reins: I know this is pretty bomb-tastic in Limited and maybe even in Standard, but while it fits with the theme of the deck, I’m not as over-the-moon about the card as some folks are—although I suppose it regularly steals lunch money from Confiscate.


Bribery: I play decks with giant, ravaging fatties, so color me surprised every time Bribery gets played, and I don’t get targeted.

Cryptic Command: Best textless spell ever at everything except being textless. Counterspell number 4.

Desertion: Number 5. I always liked Richard Kane Ferguson’s art, even if sometimes I find it a little busy, but this version I have is pretty saucy.

Fact or Fiction: My only problem with this card comes from the collusive 5-0 splits that sometimes happen. Other than that, take the bigger pile.

Hinder: Counter number 6. Some people have inquired whether or not this card should be banned or whether the Commander should return to the Command Zone instead of getting put anywhere in the library, but as good and important as we want them to be (in more than just determining colors), there also must exist some defense against Commanders. They’re dominant enough already; they don’t need additional help.

Mana Drain: Number 7. Mana Drain your Ulamog so that I can cast mine seems pretty righteous.

Misdirection: The card most responsible for depletion of the world’s limited supply of the word ‘target.’

Redirect: I think I like Twincast better, although I guess with Redirect, the other guy doesn’t get his Time Stretch turns.

Reins of Power: My love for this card and all the hijinks it can create are already well documented. I like to flatter myself that I had something to do with the return to popularity of this card, but mostly that sentence is to give the forum trolls an easy opportunity to make a crack about me flattering myself.

Remand: See Hinder. Number 8.

Rite of Replication: There have been enough crazy kicked Rite stories in the short life of this card that I can’t really think of my favorites. It’s certainly an out-of-nowhere blowout card in many circumstances. Imagine if Kokusho were legal.

Spelljack: Perhaps it’s because it’s an older card, but I think this also doesn’t get played often enough to represent its value. Also seems like another candidate for cool art alteration. Counterspell number 9.

Spin into Myth: I like the flexibility and the thought that has to go into the card. Sure, sometimes it’s “GET RID OF IT NOW!!!” but other times, you have to think about making the other guy basically lose a draw step.

Thirst for Knowledge: Design space: artifact with madness.

Thoughtcast: “I’m the Blue Mage” players all over the world twitch at the idea of card draw as a sorcery.

Time Stop: I had at one time considered—I think it was on display at a US Nationals, but I could be wrong—of getting in line to buy the original art—but the line was pretty long, and the price was pretty high. Still, a beautiful piece.


All Is Dust: Gets around indestructible (screw you, Spearbreaker Behemoth!), and I’m surprised to see it played very little, especially in the same world where Disk and O-Stone get a lot of face time.

Avarice Totem: Best ten-mana activation trick ever.

Contagion Engine: The only thing better than doing something cool is doing it again.

Everflowing Chalice: In my book, one of the best simple designs for a card ever.

Expedition Map: The excitement over the Map has calmed a bit, but the awesomeness of it has not.

Mana Crypt: You can get a
Portuguese one

right here on SCG for less than $35.

Mimic Vat: The realization of Mimic Vat’s goodness has already grown to the point where Mimic Vat battles happen pretty frequently. Remember, last one to go on the stack controls all the action.

Mind Stone: Classic. The Gateway promo is the cooler art.

Mox Opal: I’m not really sure how often Sean is going to have metalcraft, but I guess the Mana Crypt, Mox Opal, Darksteel Citadel opening is possible…

Nevinyrral’s Disk: This will decidedly ruin your metalcraft.

Oblivion Stone: Too bad you have to remove all fate counters. That Contagion Engine would’ve been even cooler.

Sensei’s Divining Top: For future decklists, all comments on Sensei’s Divining Top will involve hot women. Monica Bellucci.

Serum Tank: Seems like going a long way around to save one mana to draw a card. What the hell’s wrong with Jayemdae Tome?

Sol Ring: I’d like to make a rule that all non-foil Sol Rings have to have the Eye of Sauron drawn on them—but I stipulate to geekdom.

Spawning Pit: I’m an admitted fan of the word “Spawn,” and it’s what demons are called in my RPG setting. And I’m willing to bet that there’s a Magic player out there who thinks “That guy plays RPGs? What a

Temporal Aperture: Spinning the wheel has always been one of my favorite ways of playing EDH, and I know of a few players who’ve eliminated all manipulation from their decks. Imagine how much more chaotic the format would be without tutors or the ability to control the top of your library. And no, don’t panic; despite the fact that some people have actually called for it, there’s no chance that “all tutors” will get banned.


Tezzeret the Seeker: Who wouldn’t love attacking with Sol Ring?


Academy Ruins: Warning signs…wait, no Mindslaver.

Cephalid Coliseum: He’ll shuffle them back in later after Kozilek yards, so no worries on the discard. But again, there’s that design space: artifacts with madness. Are you listening, Aaron Forsythe?

Coral Atoll: For future decklists, all comments on Coral Atoll will involve Monica Bellucci.

Darksteel Citadel: Easy-as-pie metalcraft.

Dust Bowl: Another choice from the early days that I don’t see getting played much. Dust Bowl makes slightly more sense in the format than Wasteland does (unless you’re playing Crucible of Worlds, I guess).

Eye of Ugin: Go get me a Duplicant! Decker was a Duplicant, you know.

Halimar Depths: Can I work in another Monica Bellucci reference without it getting tiresome?

High Market: Again, right up my alley. Cheaper than Miren (which I see below anyway) and keeps people from stealing your dudes.

Island x13

Lonely Sandbar: Surprisingly, the only card in Magic with “Lonely” in the title.

Minamo, School at Water’s Edge: I really like this card, and I searched this deck to see if I’m missing something, but I don’t think so. There’s nothing Merieke-like to untap with it. Tell me if something obvious has escaped me.

Miren, the Moaning Well: Even bigger life gains is probably worth the mana.

Reliquary Tower: Foil Towers are currently out of stock, so I suggest everyone bombard Ben Bleiweiss with requests for them. I don’t mean click the very cool, very useful link for notification for when they’re back in stock; I mean direct email to Ben.

Remote Isle: Super classic cycler.

Riptide Laboratory: Venser is indeed a Wizard. That alone would be worth this card’s inclusion but so is Vendilion Clique.

Seat of the Synod: Oh, hey, even easier metalcraft.

Teferi’s Isle: This deck is more full of nostalgia than any ten high school reunions.

Temple of the False God: Foil Temples also out of stock. Perhaps there was a Christmas season rush. Either way, more email to Ben is in order.

Thawing Glaciers: Glaciating properly in EDH is an acquired skill. For many moons, I hated this card for no other reason than because it slowed down games. So long as you’re handling things briskly, I won’t hate your Glaciers. Mess around, and I’ll Ravenous Baboons that thing.

Tolaria West: There’s a piece of art hanging in the Louvre, no kidding, that this is reminiscent of, but I have no earthly idea what the name is. Wouldn’t mind seeing this one blown up bigger and maybe expanded on, but I’m a big fan of the art of cityscapes.

Vesuva: “You paid $100 for that Underground Sea? I’ll copy for $5.”

Winding Canyons: A clever idea for someone who likes to hang onto his mana to practice his control arts, don’t underestimate the use of Winding Canyons during your own combat step.

It bears repeating that I think this is a really great example of how you can build something that’s quite strong, quite competitive, and quite interesting without going too far over the top, demonstrating that Sean really knows how to Embrace the Chaos.