Last week, I asked for some suggestions on new decks to build. I decided to take one of the suggestions, which I already had partially built, and run
with it: Rith, the Awakener and his Soldiers.
A small change for me with this deck is that while it’s still about getting into the Red Zone, it’s not necessarily about doing 21
Commander damage (although that’s a possibility). It’s about making tokens and coming in with an army. I’m not sure where the Soldier
theme came from, and I might actually be better off changing it to Saproling theme, since that’s what Rith creates in the first place. I’ve
already played the deck a few times, and it’s fun, has some off-the-wall choices, and can get in there without getting utterly dominated by good
One of the things I’m finding increasingly more difficult as I build ever more decks is trying to play cards that I’m not already
playing—especially support cards like Cultivate and Skyshroud Claim (and even Primeval Titan) for ramp, Rout and Wrath of God for board control,
Avenger of Zendikar for making an army, and so forth. I’m going to continue down the road of trying to get as many ‘new’ cards in
decks as possible, but realize that at some point, I’m going to run out of playables. Hopefully that’s still quite a trip down that road.
RITH AND HIS SOLDIERS
Acidic Slime: The first creature on the list is one of those that I’m talking about when I mention repeat cards. There’s a balance to
making a theme deck that’s also playable (Ron Foster might disagree), and Acidic Slime is a nod to playability.
Akroma, Angel of Wrath: Early on, I tinkered with this deck with Angels as well as Soldiers (“Rith’s Holy Army”). Akroma is a
playable leftover from then.
Benalish Commander: Was Deranged Hermit (Who doesn’t love Squirrels?), but Benalish Commander is the better choice for the deck.
Brion Stoutarm: I’m surprised that I don’t see Brion played much except as a General. The deck doesn’t really generate too many giant
creatures, so the Fling + lifelink ability here might be better served in another deck.
Brooding Saurian: Locally, the number of ‘steal your stuff’ decks is on the rise, especially with Memnarch as the Commander.
Captain of the Watch: The first of the Soldiers, the Captain brings friends and makes them all better.
Changeling Hero: He’s for sure a Soldier and, in the world of the ever-present board-sweeper, can make you start to recover faster.
Darien, King of Kjeldor: I had this guy in play, and someone wasn’t really paying attention, so they attacked me. I took it, and the crack back
was devastating. He’s been often suggested as a Commander, and if I ever go for a mono-white deck, he’ll be a strong consideration.
Dauntless Escort: Also a Soldier, and when you have giant armies, you need giant protections.
Deus of Calamity: Another nod to playability, the Deus is there specifically to take out lands like Cabal Coffers and Academy Ruins. A stylish
replacement might be P3K’s Ravaging Horde.
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite: How can I not play this in a deck with a bunch of dudes?
Field Marshal: Thematic and well-costed.
Heart Warden: Hey, the Elves can help. Draw him early for some ramp; sacrifice him later when he’s no longer relevant. Mind Stone on a stick.
Hero of Bladehold: This was Wilderness Elemental, another original holdover; until about five seconds ago, when I realized that I didn’t have the
Hero of Bladehold and all his battle cry goodness in the deck.
Kamahl, Fist of Krosa: The Soldiers themselves don’t have any Overrun capabilities, so I thought I’d draft him to come help lay the
Karmic Guide: It’s just good. You’ll note there’s no Reveillark plus Eternal Witness here, and that’s because while I concede
the combo is strategically excellent, it’s been so done to death that I just don’t want to watch it any more.
Knight of the White Orchid: Tip in a multiplayer game: if you win the roll and have this guy in your hand, opt for the guy to your right to go first.
Last time I played, I went first, and he just sat there in those important early turns.
Knight-Captain of Eos: Red Zone decks must have a way of keeping the other guy from killing you on the counterstrike. This is one of them.
Oracle of Mul Daya: Guilty of just sticking him in for the ramp.
Preeminent Captain: I realized that I had sufficient spell and creature ramp that I could take out Wood Elves and put this guy in.
Rhox Pikemaster: A thoroughly ‘meh’ choice, who is only there for the Soldier theme. First strike is nice but rarely relevant in mass
Serra Avatar: Here’s a card that goes with Brion Stoutarm and one of the deck’s true fatties.
Solemn Simulacrum: Forty-two years old and obviously pregnant despite the In Plain Sight director’s best efforts to hide it, Mary
McCormack is still smokin’.
Stormfront Riders: Even without too many enters-the-battlefield triggers in the deck, this guy is good. He replaced Lurking Predators since it’s
in other decks, and it’s just not as good in deck without big monsters.
Sun Titan: A last-minute throw-in, I realized I simply didn’t have him in any other decks at the moment.
Suture Priest: Soldiers need at least one Priest, right?
Vithian Renegades: This one has been in the deck since before it had a Soldier theme, and it just hasn’t come out, since there’s not much
Wall of Reverence: I have lived the dream of Wall of Reverence/Serra Avatar surviving long enough for my life total to get to 20,000-something.
Wood Elves: There still isn’t that much ramp in the deck, so I figured this concession wouldn’t hurt.
Yavimaya Elder: Um…okay, I’m stretching the point here. But I’m not playing Eternal Witness! You can’t have a Green deck
without one or the other, right?
Aura Shards: Excellent control when you’re putting multiple dudes into play at the same time.
Beastmaster Ascension: I simply took a Sharpie, crossed out “Beast,” and wrote “Soldier.”
Ghostly Prison: I don’t want other token decks to kill me!
Shield of the Oversoul: Indestructible Rith makes me happy.
Decree of Justice: It must be cycled.
Explosive Vegetation: I have a foil one and no additional foil Skyshroud Claims (I’m telling you, Ben Bleiweiss is NOT getting a Christmas card
this year), so this one went in.
: I’m a little meh on GWave in this deck as well. I’ll probably replace it with Martial Coup. Actually, I just got up from the desk, went
in, and made the swap.
Gift of the Gargantuan: I really like this card. When you have some early drops already, it can just run you into goodness.
Hurricane: A good finisher, plus a nice combo with Darien in play.
March of Souls: This would be the obvious choice to swap out for Martial Coup, but having both of them in the deck seems reasonable.
Martial Coup: See Genesis Wave, above.
Pure / Simple: I really put this into the deck because it’s the only deck in which I can actually play it.
Search for Tomorrow: Ramp that’s not in other decks. The first-turn play makes it reasonable.
Titanic Ultimatum: Simply Titanic.
Angelsong: As I’ve already mentioned, there’s a vulnerability to getting into the Red Zone, so this is some nice protection. Plus,
there’s a League point for saving someone else, so it might come in handy.
Comet Storm: Tokens plus Cradle plus Comet Storm.
Intervention Pact: I’m really surprised that this doesn’t get played. It’s cheap as Pacts go.
Master Warcraft: When fellow RC member and former NetRep Gavin Duggan was here, we disagreed on how this might work. I felt that it could let you tell
the active player who to attack; Gavin said no. Come to find out, Gavin was right (see the 4/1/2008 Gatherer ruling, which I believe he made).
I was going off the implication of the 10/1/2005 Gatherer ruling, which I believe I made. The ruling about planeswalkers made it a little
clearer, but I’m going to go back and discuss this with Matt Tabak to see if I can convince him that I’m right.
Orim’s Thunder: Another Hidden Gem, Orim’s Thunder can get some good 2-for-1s.
Sprouting Vines: I had a foil one sitting around and figured that I’d see how it did. Turn 3, it’s going to get at least two lands if you
cast it on someone else’s turn. Late game, it might be just the medicine you need to get the rest of the basic lands out of your deck so that all
you have left to draw is business.
Summoning Trap: Without fatties, this might not be the best of choices. I’ll keep it in for a while and see.
Garruk Wildspeaker: I suppose I should instead find room for the Soldier-themed planeswalkers Elspeth Tirel, Elspeth, Knight-Errant, and Gideon Jura.
Chalice of the Void: Set to one, stops the Tops.
Chromatic Star: Mana-fixing with card draw.
Dreamstone Hedron: I keep thinking this is going to be good, and I keep getting disappointed. It’s like Pearl Jam albums after Ten.
Expedition Map: Get me my Cradle!
Loxodon Warhammer: A little life gain, a little trample. Another leftover from the ‘good stuff’ days of the deck, I guess Swords would be a
little more thematic as far as Equipment goes.
Mind Stone: Acceleration that you can then get rid of when you don’t need it.
Mind’s Eye: One of the weaknesses of Naya is card draw (without Greater Good, anyway), so this seems like a fine choice.
Scrabbling Claws: Gotta have some graveyard hate, and since I’m not really recurring mine (how unusual!), Relic of Progenitus might actually be a
better choice for this deck. I’ll make some notes when I use the Claws on whether I’d rather have the Relic.
Sol Ring: Yeah, yeah.
Skullclamp: I feel slightly bad taking these idealist Soldiers and clamping something to their skulls, but the joy of drawing cards mitigates that
Tsabo’s Web: It replaces itself, and it shuts down the format’s problematic lands except for Cabal Coffers.
Wayfarer’s Bauble: Part of the ramp package that enabled me to take out Wood Elves in favor of some Soldiers.
Skarrg, the Rage Pits
Temple of the False God
I need to revisit the land base. I think I’ll need a little more white and a little less red, but that’s just some tinkering. I note that
there’s not a Jungle Shrine in there, so that’ll be one of them. There are a fair number of enters-the-battlefield tapped lands, so
I’ll probably also really study that as well.
OTHER CARDS THAT I MIGHT WANT TO FIND ROOM FOR:
Catapult Master, Conqueror’s Pledge, Daru Warchief, Frontline Strategist, Militia’s Pride, Mobilization, Rise of the Hobgoblins, Veteran
Swordsmith, Veteran’s Armaments. I’m sure there is more, so feel free to suggest it.
EXTRA SPECIAL BONUS RITH DECK
Armada Games regular and fellow Team Lives in the Red Zone member (and Monday Night Gamer come the first week of June) Todd Palmer has a Rith deck that
is often ‘the deck to be dealt with’ when we play. There’s no real theme, just an excellent collection of symbiotic cards. In
absolute terms, I think it’s a better deck than mine, but I’m interested in a little more style to go with my substance. It will kind of
roll to Pernicious Deed for zero, but most token decks will. I won’t make further comments on it; I just want to share with you how Todd Embraces
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Verdant Force
- 1 Wood Elves
- 1 Genesis
- 1 Anger
- 1 Symbiotic Wurm
- 1 Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
- 1 Seedborn Muse
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Yavimaya Elder
- 1 Karmic Guide
- 1 Academy Rector
- 1 Woodfall Primus
- 1 Dragon Broodmother
- 1 Dauntless Escort
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 1 Ant Queen
- 1 Avenger of Zendikar
- 1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
- 1 Primeval Titan
- 1 Strip Mine
- 5 Forest
- 1 Wooded Foothills
- 4 Plains
- 1 Gaea's Cradle
- 3 Mountain
- 1 Taiga
- 1 Savannah
- 1 Plateau
- 1 Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers
- 1 Eiganjo Castle
- 1 Rith's Grove
- 1 Windswept Heath
- 1 Temple of the False God
- 1 Krosan Verge
- 1 Sacred Foundry
- 1 Temple Garden
- 1 Stomping Ground
- 1 Mosswort Bridge
- 1 Spinerock Knoll
- 1 Windbrisk Heights
- 1 Fire-Lit Thicket
- 1 Wooded Bastion
- 1 Jungle Shrine
- 1 Reliquary Tower
- 1 Rootbound Crag
- 1 Sunpetal Grove
- 1 Arid Mesa
- 1 Raging Ravine
- 1 Stirring Wildwood
- 1 Sensei's Divining Top
- 1 Enlightened Tutor
- 1 Swords to Plowshares
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Regrowth
- 1 Mana Crypt
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Kodama's Reach
- 1 Fires of Yavimaya
- 1 Mirari's Wake
- 1 Decree of Justice
- 1 Sword of Fire and Ice
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Lightning Greaves
- 1 Oblation
- 1 Greater Good
- 1 Skyshroud Claim
- 1 Rout
- 1 Aura Shards
- 1 Chord of Calling
- 1 Congregation at Dawn
- 1 Krosan Grip
- 1 Harmonize
- 1 Austere Command
- 1 Primal Command
- 1 Vicious Shadows
- 1 Naya Charm
- 1 Titanic Ultimatum
- 1 Martial Coup
- 1 Beastmaster Ascension
- 1 Eldrazi Monument
- 1 Cultivate
- 1 Overwhelming Stampede
- 1 Genesis Wave
- 1 Mimic Vat
- 1 Green Sun's Zenith
- 1 White Sun's Zenith
- 1 Praetor's Counsel