New sets mean changes to existing decks and ideas for new ones. I spent some time poring over the NPH list, thinking about cards that both fit existing
decks/themes and cards that I couldn’t ignore. There’s so much good blue and white that I’m already working on a rebuilt Phelddagrif.
More to come on that, but it’s going to be difficult to break out of the Bant-Control habit and go to the Bant-Beatdown model. I wonder if
it’s a worthwhile exercise to try to make it with (nonland) cards that are in no other decks.
Kresh the Bloodbraided
In: Wasteland, Visara the Dreadful, Mitotic Slime, Avalanche Riders, Vulturous Zombie, Bellowing Tanglewurm, Psychosis Crawler, Swamp
Out: Artisan of Kozilek, Geth, Lord of the Vault, Massacre Wurm, Platinum Emperion, Decree of Pain, Tsabo’s Decree, Oran-Rief, the Vastwood,
In: Ruthless Invasion, Urabrask the Hidden, Melira, Sylvok Outcast
Out: Visara the Dreadful, Bellowing Tanglewurm, Consume the Meek
I played around with Birthing Pod, but then just didn’t think I could make it worthwhile—and there was nothing I really wanted to get rid
of that badly. Getting rid of Consume the Meek hurts, but it was either that or Madrush Cyclops, and I’d really like to have the extra chances of
my guys having haste. I thought at first Urabrask was a simple Madrush upgrade, and I might go back that way to have my token-killer.
Lord of Tresserhorn
In: Shriveling Rot, Filth, Geth, Lord of the Vault, Rise from the Grave, Vicious Shadows, Masticore
Out: Jace Beleren, Breath of Fury, Skullclamp, Mindlock Orb, Dreamstone Hedron, Visara the Dreadful, Bone Dancer
In: Life’s Finale
Out: Shadow of Doubt
The only Zombie card in NPH is Toxic Nim, and I’m certainly not headed down the infect path. I don’t think there are any NPH cards that fit
the theme of the deck other than Life’s Finale and aren’t simply ‘good cards in the color(s),’ so I see no need to make any
changes. The deck is pretty theme-y already, and I’d like to keep it that way. Shadow of Doubt came out because it was just really there for the
blowout and the laughs every now and again.
Merieke Ri Berit
Another recent update with lots of chaos from swapping in and out foil versions of cards with other decks (a practice I’m going to stop because
it messes with knowing exactly what’s where and when).
In: Phyrexian Metamorph, Phyrexian Ingester, Repay in Kind
Out: Terrarion, Chromatic Star, Phthisis
I was going to take out Tainted Sigil, but I want to live the dream with it and Repay in Kind. I’m already playing Phthisis in a few other decks,
and I’m trying to get to the point where there’s as little overlap between decks as possible. Sure, there will be some
‘support’ cards in various colors that are common (Sol Ring and Solemn Simulacrum, for example) and some support cards common to various
colors, but I want to get away (for the most part) from playing cards just because they’re the best a color has to offer (admittedly, it’s
difficult to not play Primeval Titan in a deck with even the tiniest bit of green).
There have been no updates since Rise of the Eldrazi (where we took out a land to put in Kozilek, Butcher of Truth), so I had to get on the ball with
this one. Future updates to this deck are going to be interesting and difficult—and at a certain point impossible because of the land situation.
For M11, I simply took out a Mountain and added a Rootbound Crag. Green really makes the deck go, so this seemed a natural fit. For Scars of Mirrodin,
I did the first removal of an existing card. I took out Shriekmaw from the Lorwyn slot and replaced it with Vivid Crag. Then, knowing that I had just
taken out some creature removal, I put in Sunblast Angel. For Mirrodin Besieged, it came to a choice between Praetor’s Council and Consecrated
Sphinx. I went with the Council because the deck is a little more control-ish, and it felt like the deck could use the help—plus it’s not
in any other decks at the moment. Obviously, if I’m missing something, let me know.
Intet, the Dreamer
This deck is The One Ring, and I am Sméagol. I love it, and I hate it. It is rebuilt (something something Barad-ûr something) with some
wholesale changes from the last version. It’s still “top of the library matters.”
In: Consecrated Sphinx, Detritivore, Fierce Empath, Galvanoth, Genesis Wave, Lurking Predators, Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind, Invoke the Firemind, Reflecting Pool,
Out: Artisan of Kozilek, Cascade Bluffs, Dominus of Fealty, Eldrazi Temple, Momir Vig, Simic Visionary, Mystic Remora, Mystical Tutor, Nest Invader, Raging Ravine,
Mystical Tutor is only out because I couldn’t find a pimpy one. It got replaced with Invoke the Firemind because a foily one was sitting there.
In: Beast Within, Noxious Revival
Out: Cerebral Vortex, Mass Polymorph
Mass Polymorph is a deck, not a one-off. I admit it was fun to Reins of Power and Mass Polymorph, but for the most part, it’s kind of janky.
Cerebral Vortex is great Greater Good defense, but it’s already in another deck, and it’s what could be sacrificed here, since I have the
defense of counterspells.
In a ‘best card’ world, I’d certainly be putting Phyrexian Metamorph in every blue deck. Since Intet is my ‘play rough’
deck, Jin-Gitaxias probably has a place—but quite honestly, I’d rather win by doing stuff than preventing my opponents from doing stuff.
Lighthouse Chronologist and Echo Mage being the jankiest of what’s in the deck (the level up guys never survive), I’d consider replacing
them with classics such as Willbender and Future Sight (for the top of the library to really matter). It also feels like this deck could get a
great deal of mileage out of Praetor’s Counsel.
Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund
I don’t know when I lost configuration control with swapping stuff in and out (as mentioned above with Merieke), so I thought that I’d just
start over. The list is included.
In: Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger
Out: Wurmcoil Engine
There aren’t any really good Beasts in NPH. Vorinclex just seems more beastly than the Engine, although I have to say that its second ability
might make me second-guess this choice. Playing Stasis effects is pretty unfriendly. This one isn’t really a lock/prison but a slowdown, which is
all an attacking deck might need. We’ll see how it goes.
- 1 Azusa, Lost but Seeking
- 1 Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
- 1 Avatar of Woe
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Withered Wretch
- 1 Wood Elves
- 1 Krosan Tusker
- 1 Nezumi Graverobber
- 1 Ravenous Baloth
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Molder Slug
- 1 Ouphe Vandals
- 1 Fangren Pathcutter
- 1 Copperhoof Vorrac
- 1 Indrik Stomphowler
- 1 Greater Gargadon
- 1 Big Game Hunter
- 1 Changeling Titan
- 1 Shriekmaw
- 1 Chameleon Colossus
- 1 Taurean Mauler
- 1 Kulrath Knight
- 1 Puppeteer Clique
- 1 Spearbreaker Behemoth
- 1 Kederekt Parasite
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 1 Lotus Cobra
- 1 Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
- 1 Oracle of Mul Daya
- 1 Rampaging Baloths
- 1 Vampire Hexmage
- 1 Butcher of Malakir
- 1 It That Betrays
- 1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
- 1 Massacre Wurm
- 1 Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger
- 5 Forest
- 1 Wooded Foothills
- 1 Llanowar Wastes
- 1 Wasteland
- 1 Karplusan Forest
- 3 Swamp
- 2 Mountain
- 1 Bayou
- 1 Badlands
- 1 Darigaaz's Caldera
- 1 Contested Cliffs
- 1 Bloodstained Mire
- 1 Temple of the False God
- 1 Tower of the Magistrate
- 1 Miren, the Moaning Well
- 1 Golgari Rot Farm
- 1 Overgrown Tomb
- 1 Gruul Turf
- 1 Skarrg, the Rage Pits
- 1 Stomping Ground
- 1 Terramorphic Expanse
- 1 Graven Cairns
- 1 Mosswort Bridge
- 1 Spinerock Knoll
- 1 Savage Lands
- 1 Reliquary Tower
- 1 Rootbound Crag
- 1 Kazandu Refuge
- 1 Verdant Catacombs
- 1 Bojuka Bog
- 1 Sensei's Divining Top
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Demonic Tutor
- 1 Red Elemental Blast
- 1 Goblin Bombardment
- 1 Kodama's Reach
- 1 Plague Wind
- 1 Fires of Yavimaya
- 1 Patriarch's Bidding
- 1 Decree of Pain
- 1 Crucible of Worlds
- 1 Compost
- 1 Savage Beating
- 1 Insurrection
- 1 Harrow
- 1 Survival of the Fittest
- 1 Greater Good
- 1 Pernicious Deed
- 1 Reroute
- 1 Sudden Spoiling
- 1 Lurking Predators
- 1 World at War
- 1 Sword of Body and Mind
- 1 Gruesome Encore
I’d like to tilt even more heavily in the Beast-themed direction. I think I have the best green ones. Thrashing Wumpus and Guardian Beast are
viable choices in black. In red, there’s Galvanoth, but I don’t know if there are enough instants and sorceries to make it reasonable. I
suppose since there’s a choice, it would always be worth it. Crater Hellion might provide some board control. Spinal Villain could be an
interesting choice, since blue is the second-best color in the format.
I’ll concede to the lack of thematic cohesion here. Karrthus as the Commander doesn’t really have anything to do with a Beasts/landfall
deck. There are currently seven other Jund choices, none of which fit the theme:
Adun Oakenshield — Human Knight: Returns a creature card to your hand. Its three-mana cost makes it kind of attractive.
Bartel Runeaxe — Giant Warrior: Vigilant and can’t be the target of Auras. The haste for Karrthus is worth the extra one mana.
Darigaaz, the Igniter — Dragon: Was the original Commander until Karrthus came along. Not any closer to the theme.
Kresh the Bloodbraided — Human Warrior: Obv.
Sek’Kuar, Deathkeeper — Orc Shaman: Kind of a cool ability, but not particularly thematic.
Vaevictis Asmadi — Dragon: Same as Darigaaz, worse ability. Still more style points.
Xira Arien — Insect Wizard: Another cool ability, another friendly cost, another nod to style (Legends Legends are definitely stylin’) but
no closer to being a Beast lord.
Karrthus is honestly the best card in an absolute sense because of its ability, and Commanders with haste are build-around good for the simple reason
that they can get into the Red Zone quicker than anyone else. Perhaps I can try building around Karrthus’s ability a little more and use one of
the other Jund choices for the Beast/landfall deck. The question is Adun Oakenshield or Xira Arien? I can see arguments for both, although Adun seems
more of a build-around on his own.
I took the Thrax deck once again to League for its final week, and results were consistent with before—it’s all about getting him into
combat. Going into the last week, Cliff (who plays Jenara) and I were in a virtual tie for third place in the League. We played at the same five-man
table in both games, being enemies in the first and allies in the second. Cliff jumped in front of me by three in winning the first table—with
the help of Ben McDole’s 38/38 Maga, Traitor to Mortals (Cabal Coffers, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Vesuva copying the Coffers, and Deserted
Temple). I came back in game 2, out-pointing Cliff nine to one, completely on the back of sending Thraximundar into my enemies—Wayne and his Jaya
Ballard, Task Mage deck and Billy and his Wort, Boggart Auntie deck—neither of whom had any real way of dealing with Thraximundar once he got to
9/9 or so.
I’ve disassembled my other decks (wasn’t happy with Phelddagrif, Isperia the Inscrutable wasn’t my style, Rith, the Awakener was
janky, etc.), so with only seven built, I’m at a low point. As I mentioned, I’ll be rebuilding the Purple Hippo, as well as trying out some
new stuff. If there’s a particular Commander that anyone would really like to see me try my hand at, I’m game. It’s obvious that I
like building around a Commander, which is why I prefer the Kresh deck to Karrthus, but it’s a zone I’m not particularly anxious to get out
of. Commanders are the flagships of the format, and I don’t want mine to be just there for the colors.
That doesn’t mean the Commander himself has to live primarily in the Red Zone. Like Intet, it can provide the fuel for a different sort of
rocket. I’d like to do something with Commanders that haven’t been done to death (there’s a thread on the official forums called
“Most Popular Generals
”), such as Dakkon Blackblade (the challenge being there’s no green), Johan (vigilance for everyone seems pretty good), or Razia, Boros
Archangel (Angel theme, Vigilance, AND Haste). Eventually, I’ll want to have a deck with a Commander in each of the shards and wedges, but
I’ll probably wait until June to Embrace that particular Chaos.
Speaking of June, there may be previews. Stay tuned…