Embracing The Chaos – Sliver-Thrax In The Red Zone

Wednesday, April 27 – Sheldon Menery takes his contest-winning Sliver Thraximundar deck for a real-world test run. How does it fare in the League?

I sleeved up Aaron Duvall’s contest-winning deck and got
Thraximundar into the Red Zone for Week 6 of Armada Games EDH League 9. I was both somewhat pleased and a little disappointed in the results. Before I
get to the play-by-play, I’ll say (in response to some of the forum comments) that this deck is not, on any kind of power scale, the best deck of the
92 that were submitted. There were many decks that would do better competitively. The thing was that many of them were (narrow) variations on the same,
and I was looking for something different.

The feedback “be a little clearer in the next contest about what you want” is well-taken. Of course, any contest is never going to have a 100%
objective basis. A great deal of liking a deck is personal. What I think cool, many of you might think lame. Anyway, feedback received.


I’m seated with Matt (Glissa, the Traitor), Marcus (Ertai, Wizard Adept), and Keith (Progenitus). I’d just played a casual game with Matt and
understood the basic concept of his deck was to recur cheap stuff like Executioner’s Capsule, but I didn’t see it get rolling. Obviously someone
playing mono-blue is worth watching out for, and playing Ertai makes me want to watch them harder—although Ertai is no Azami or Erayo, so I don’t think
we have to do that kind of worrying about Marcus. Keith says “Progenitus is just there for the colors!” and I ask if he’ll be taking the -2 for not
casting his Commander, and he replies with “No, I’m definitely casting him.” We’re playing with the range of one rule, so at the game’s onset, Matt is
outside my influence, and Keith and Marcus can’t see each other.

Turn 1

Marcus: Island, Thran Turbine.

Me: My keep is pretty crappy—four lands and three things I’m not casting any time soon. Dragonskull Summit is my drop.

Keith: Forest.

Matt: Swamp, Sol Ring. That’ll get you running.

Turn 2

Marcus: Island, Counterbalance. I immediately reassess my thoughts regarding Marcus.

Me: Island, Goblin Bombardment.

Keith: Mountain, Explore, Plains.

Matt: Swamp, Executioner’s Capsule, Phyrexian Reclamation, a nicely underplayed card.

Turn 3

Marcus: Island, Insight. Nice. Green is definite getting played in the format, so why not draw some cards off of it?

Me: Shizo, Death’s Storehouse, Mimic Vat. Marcus tries to Counterbalance, but turns up Steel Sabotage.

Keith: Farseek, Bayou, Ancestral Knowledge. He stacks the top ten without removing anything.

Matt: Sylvok Replica. He certainly has the pieces out already to have some board control, assuming Glissa comes along and creatures die.

Turn 4

Marcus: Ertai.

Me: Bojuka Bog Keith (I want to hold it, but I need the mana), Attrition.

Keith: Island. At EOT, Matt kills Ertai with the Capsule.

Matt: Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Vulturous Zombie. Counterbalance shows Somnophore.

Turn 5

Marcus: Equilibrium.

Me: Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep, Vampiric Sliver. This creature seems to scare everyone and I’m not particularly sure why.

Keith: Pays the Cumulative Upkeep, casts Solemn Simulacrum, gets a Plains.

Matt: Temple of the False God, Zombie attacks Keith (37). Blows up Counterbalance with the Replica, and casts Withered Wretch. This seems inconvenient
for Mimic Vat.

Turn 6

Marcus: Nothing

Me: Minamo, School at Water’s Edge (like my runner-runner-runner of Legendary lands?), Fury Sliver. Battle Marcus (34).

Keith: Doesn’t pay the upkeep, since he’s already shuffled from Jens. Red Sun’s Zenith targeting Fury Sliver. He goes to put it back into his deck, and
I tell him to wait. I shoot the Fury Sliver at his head with Goblin Bombardment (36), then put it under Mimic Vat for now since Matt can’t hit my
graveyard. Keith casts Explosive Vegetation. At EOT, Matt pays two life (38) to return Sylvok Replica.

Matt: Attacks Keith with the ever-growing Zombie (29), and casts Indrik Stomphowler to blow up Insight. Keeping the blue guy off drawing cards seems
like a good idea.

Turn 7

Marcus: Somnophore.

Me: Battering Sliver, attack Keith (26).

Keith: Far Wanderings for a Forest.

Matt: Glissa. Attacks Keith with Stomphowler. Keith casts White Sun’s Zenith for 4, then blocks with Jens and one of the Cats.

Turn 8

Marcus: Steel Sabotage, bouncing the Replica. Attacks Matt with the Somnophore (36), tapping down the now 16/16 Zombie.

Me: Attack Marcus with both guys (21). Cast Geth. Like Mimic Vat, Geth is a little neutered by that Withered Wretch, and will remain so most of the

Keith: Progenitus. At EOT, Matt pays (36) to get Stomphowler back.

Matt: Executioner’s Capsule, kills Somnophore with it, then regrows it. Now he’s got the engine running. Casts Replica again (which is going to happen

Turn 9

Marcus: Casts Acquire and thinks about who to target. I mention that if he had read last week’s article, he’d know EXACTLY what I have in my deck and
that it’s probably not worth it. Keith mentions that he should probably target the guy whose deck is built around recurring artifacts. Marcus decides
that I’m not telling the truth, so he targets me. He ends up with Jens, which helps since he’s missed a few land drops, but I suspect he could have
done lots better with Matt.

Me: Expedition Map. Now not able to battle Keith at all, I head for Marcus (18).

Keith: Reap and Sow, targeting Minamo. He then casts Manipulate Fate, removing two Forests and a Mountain from his library. At EOT, Matt blows up the
Jens that Marcus just got, and I put it under the Mimic Vat.

Matt: Stomphowler Equilibrium. Executioner’s Capsule, killing a Cat, and regrowing it. Attacks Keith (13). Progenitus would be good if he flew.

Turn 10

Marcus: Duplicant the Vulturous Zombie.

Me: Rhystic Study. In response, Keith casts Stroke of Genius for 3. My token battles into Keith, who obviously blocks.

Keith: Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, then drops his 16th land. Casts Primal Growth with Kicker, sacrificing a Cat to get lands 17 and 18. Casts Viridian
Emissary, then Mana Severance, taking all the lands out of his deck. Looks like he’s drawing nothing but business from now on. EOT, Matt kills Kozilek.
I consider putting it under the Mimic Vat. 12/12 Annihilator 4 guys are good, but getting lands and drawing cards seems better in the long run. I think
if Matt could reach me (and me him), I might have done it to cut down on his shenanigans, but since I can get a Jens every turn, seems like a better

Matt: Executioner’s Capsule and Replica.

Turn 11

Marcus: Aura Thief, which really screws up my plans. Soothsaying. Now he’ll get some use from Thran Turbine.

Me: Stalking Vengeance. Izzet Boilerworks, bouncing Bojuka Bog. Battle Marcus with the token, just to see what he’ll do. When he blocks, I shoot it at
his head (17), Stalking Vengeance taking him to (15).

Keith: Passes on making an attack, making a deal with Matt to kill Aura Thief in order to get my Goblin Bombardment away from me. I have exactly enough
to kill Marcus—twelve power in creatures plus three damage from the Bombardment. I give this some thought, since I can also kill Keith. The hindrance
here is that if I kill either one of them, I’m going to lose my enchantments anyway, because Matt and his recurring Replica will come into range. I ask
if the Thief-killing is happening at EOT, and Keith says no, the deal is for it to happen in his Second Main Phase. Matt says that’s okay. I don’t like
the idea of Keith getting that main, but again, I don’t yet want to bring Matt into my range, so I just let it go instead of point-grabbing. Keith says
“you’re going to hate me” and casts Black Sun’s Zenith for five. Ouch. Marcus shoots the Duplicant at Matt’s head (33).

Matt: Consuming Vapors, targeting Keith, which gets Progenitus (38). Recasts the Replica and immediately blows up Rhystic Study. Executioner’s Capsule.

Turn 12

Marcus: Legacy’s Allure. So wonderfully old school. I’ll note that only one submission had the card on it (even though there were lots of ‘steal your
stuff and sacrifice it’ decks).

Me: I realize that I’ve yet to cast my Commander. I summon Thraximundar to do battle with Keith (7).

Keith: Mirari’s Wake, Expedition Map.

Matt: During Matt’s Upkeep, Marcus casts Plagiarize on him. Matt casts Glissa and passes.

Turn 13

Marcus: During his Upkeep, puts a counter on the Allure and uses the Thran Turbine mana for Soothsaying. Casts Apprentice Wizard and Sword of

Me: I peel and cast Vicious Shadows. I Evoke Ingot Chewer to Kill the Turbine. Vicious Shadows and Thrax trigger. Marcus goes to (11), then I attack
him down to (3). I then realize I’ve given Matt the kill. For some reason, I kept thinking that Glissa’s power was two. Oh well.

Keith: Progenitus for some defense.

Matt: Replica, kills Marcus.

Turn 14

Me: Bojuka Bog Matt, hoping that he’ll do what he does—regrows his guys with Phyrexian Reclamation (34). I know I’m not going to have much of a chance
if this game goes long, so I need to get his life total down now any way I can. I swing to kill Keith, but he has Beacon of Immortality (14), then (5).
I sacrifice Thraximundar to Bombardment, Matt to (30) from it and VShad, then cast Living Death. Matt blows up the Bombardment. Ingot Chewer comes back
and targets Replica, which he uses to kill Attrition. VShad takes him to (27).

Keith: Primeval Titan. Attacks Matt (24), who has let Glissa go to his graveyard. A clever play, since although it’ll cost him two life, it will only
cost three to recast her. He regrows her at EOT (22).

Matt: Drops Cabal Coffers. Floats 11. Casts Glissa and Stomphowler, which blows up the Vat. I make a token. Capsule kills Stalking Vengeance, VShad
taking him to (20). Replica blows up Vicious Shadows (and I now realize I missed a trigger there). He casts the one unidentified card in his hand,
Shriekmaw, to kill Fury Sliver. He’s going to have a tough time killing my black creatures. I think that Thraximundar is likely my path to victory

Turn 15

Me: Spawning Pit. I use the Expedition Map to search for a Coffers of my own. I float 11, use 4 to Geth, and try to take his Replica. He decides that I
have too much mana and doesn’t battle over it. I swing with the team to kill Keith. He blocks Geth with Progenitus, killing it before he dies. At EOT,
Matt kills Replica with the Capsule.

Matt: Explosive Vegetation, floats 13, casts Withered Wretch, removes a bunch of stuff from my yard, kills Ingot Chewer, and attacks me (33).

Turn 16

Me: Float 11, Slivercycle Homing Sliver to get Acidic Sliver, cast Caldera Hellion, Devouring the Vampiric Sliver. Thrax now +4. Cast Darksteel Ingot
and Acidic Sliver. Battle him with Thraximundar (9). At EOT, he says he’s dead without lots of answers anyway, so he goes to (5) regrowing Stomphowler
and Withered Wretch.

Matt: Float 13, cast Mana Vault, Withered Wretch, Stomphowler, Glissa. Kills one of my Spawning Pit token with the Capsule, casts it again, and does it
over. Recasts it and kills the Hellion.

Turn 17

Me: Sacrifice Acidic Sliver to deal 2 damage to Stomphowler, then Cycle Decree of Pain to kill all his dudes except Glissa, who he has to sacrifice to
Thraximundar, who then kills him.

I squeak out the table with 6 points, Matt with 5, Keith with 4, and Marcus with 3. Given the number of creatures in the deck, I drew a
disproportionately small number of them. Hopefully game 2 goes better.


I’m seated at Table 1 with Chris (Kresh the Bloodbraided, which is strikingly similar to my own), Joe from Iowa (with Wrexial, the Risen Deep), and
Matt from my previous table with Glissa. Matt wants to change decks, but we remind him that the League rule is no switching if you’re at Table 1
(prevents pulling out a deck that is specifically designed to beat a particular player/Commander, which has unfortunately happened in the past).

Joe is in town on business and has taken the opportunity to come over to play with us. He tells me he misses his wife Allie (if there were a camera,
we’d have the whole store waving to her right now) and asks me to also give a shout out to Rob Limited Edition. We don’t get into the details of why
Rob is LE, but I’m hoping it’s nothing immoral.

The play by play of this game is less interesting. The other three get reasonable starts, a little better than my Vampiric and Synchronous Slivers and
not much else. I get in some damage and draw some cards, but I’m not really going anywhere fast.

On turn 7, when Chris attacks me with Kresh down to (26) and has Psychosis Crawler in play, it looks really bad for me. One Greater Good, and it’s over
for all of us (except Joe, who is out of range). Fortunately for me, Matt casts Black Sun’s Zenith for seven to wipe the other boards with me keeping
my guys.

I don’t capitalize on getting back into the game with draws of Spawning Pit and Barbarian Ring, but it looks like the game is going to settle in for a
reasonably long one—until Matt’s Mindslaver happens. It’s turn 9, and there is Urborg and Cabal Coffers going on already. Matt casts Mindslaver and
activates it, targeting Joe. When it gets to Joe’s turn, he kind of sheepishly hands Matt his cards. Matt looks at the hand and says “Kill you with
your Lim-Dul’s Vault.” A moderately genial game turns dark in a moment.

I’ll be interested in hearing your opinions. Killing Joe with the Lim-Dul’s Vault: bad guy move or what he had coming?

To Matt’s credit, despite the fact that he can recur Mindslaver every turn and still do other stuff, the only Slavering he does is hitting Chris once.
What befuddled me the turn after Matt Slavered out Joe, Chris attacked me. I guess he was avoiding Matt to keep from getting Slavered himself,
but the writing was on the wall—that thing was coming his way regardless.

A few turns later, after I’ve cleared the board with Decree of Pain, Chris Exsanguinates for enough to kill me. I pull my stuff together and chat a
little more with Joe from Iowa, but it’s early enough that I can catch a hot tub and a bourbon with my wife before she goes to sleep, so I head home. I
hear the next day that Joe and I tied for second place at the table (so Joe—you have some Armada credit coming next time you’re in town!).

Two games with the deck leads me to a few conclusions. First, two games aren’t enough. I think I’ll play it in the casual games next week as well, just
to get a better feel for it. The first game was won on the back of Thraximundar with a little help from the supporting cast, which means it could have
been any deck doing it. That cast needs to step up just a little more to help me out of situations like Game 2, where I had to stare down some pretty
big threats. I’ll keep at it and let you know how well Sliver-Thrax Embraces the Chaos.