Embracing the Chaos: The Return of Kresh

Wednesday, February 9 – Sheldie’s in the mood to tear up the Red Zone with Kresh the Bloodbraided – yet things don’t go quite as planned! Watch this turn-by-turn play of two epic Commander games!

I tinkered around a little more with
the Phelddagrif deck
, making a few of the changes that some of you sent in — but I was definitely in a mood for more naked aggression, so I returned to the Kresh deck.

I changed three cards out of Kresh: Nantuko Vigilante, Natural Order, and Oran-Rief, the Vastwood went out. I have a reasonably flexible amount of
artifact and enchantment control here, so the Nantuko Vigilante was redundant. It’s better served in an also-blue deck, where it can be confused with

I’d found that Natural Order was only ever getting either Woodfall Primus or Lord of Extinction (and, surprisingly, never Primeval Titan) — both of
whom are easy enough to cast by themselves or search up other ways. If Natural Order were an instant, I would have been much happier, but hey.

While we’re on the subject, I think Chord of Calling is a much better card for the format than Green Sun’s Zenith. The combination of being an instant,
having Convoke, and getting any creature is well worth the two extra mana. Of course, there’s no reason you couldn’t play both. As someone in the EDH
channel on IRC pointed out, you’d pay 6G for Primeval Titan, so why not run it?

The third cut was Oran-Rief because there was something new I wanted to put in, and I rarely had occasion to use it the fashion for which is was
intended, or when I did, it didn’t much matter.

Rite of Consumption is another Fling and some life gain as well, which I notice the deck is a little light on save for Momentous Fall and Basilisk
Collar. I expected a great deal more artifacts in the wake of Mirrodin Besieged (I think we were already seen the uptick after Scar), so Woodripper
seemed like a viable option. Note that in the Phelddagrif deck, I swapped out Nantuko Vigilante for Fracturing Gust. The land that came in for
Oran-Rief Vastwood was Diamond Valley.

Then at the last minute, my Mirrodin Besieged boxes arrived (Level 3+ Judges get two boxes per set as a very nice thank you from the program for all
the additional work they do). I tore into them, and found a Massacre Wurm, took out Mitotic Slime, and was off.

I also went in with the idea that I was going to try to play the deck a little differently, focusing on the beatdown angle instead of setting up the
giant Kresh/Lord of Extinction fling (although I may have betrayed that idea by inserting the Rite of Consumption) or Living Death. I realized that if
I want to do that, I need more things that give my own guys Trample.

The week between Prerelease and Release is always a quiet one for us, especially since we run on Thursday night, and folks want to come to Armada Games
(who did gangbusters on their PR, by the way— gratz to them) for the midnight drafts. There were eight of us, meaning two tables of four.

Game One

I’m seated with David, formerly of Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind, now playing Omnath, Locus of Mana; Cliff, playing Jenara, Asura of War; and new guy Jim,
playing Memnarch.

I had played a casual game with Jim and someone else earlier, trotting out the Phelddagrif deck. The lesson is, “never give the guy playing Memnarch an
even break when you’re playing aggro.” It turned out to be a really good, long, intense game. There was one point where I could have ended it by
killing Christian, the other player, with tokens, allowing Jim to swing back at me for the win — but it seemed better to see what would happen with
three players still in. Eventually, one of us took out Christian and Jim had Memnarch/Training Grounds going and I couldn’t knock out the last two life
he had.

Anyway — keep an eye on the Memnarch guy.

Turn 1

Jim: Island, Sol Ring. This is the start you don’t want to see from “Can do crazy things with lots of mana” guy.

Me: Forest, Scrabbling Claws

David: Forest

Cliff: Razorverge Thicket, Voltaic Key

Turn 2

Jim: Academy Ruins, Coalition Relic. Jeebus.

Me: Swamp

David: Forest

Cliff: Bounces the Thicket to drop Simic Growth Chamber

Turn 3

Jim: Memory Jar. This is really ugly. I note, however, that he doesn’t drop a land. That means Memory Jar is definitely getting cracked. I think I’m
going to start playing Kederekt Parasite.

Me: Mountain, Farhaven Elf

David: Cultivate

Cliff: Drops the Thicket again, casts Jenara.

Turn 4

Jim: Sacrifices the Memory Jar, drops an Island and Arcanis, the Omnipotent. What’s bad is that my grip now includes Greater Good, and I don’t have too
many ways to get it back when it gets dumped at end of turn. David mentions Genesis is one of the things that he throws away.

Me: Creakwood Liege.

David: Acidic Slime, taking out Academy Ruins. Good idea.

Cliff: Magistrate’s Scepter, and bounces the Thicket again for Azorius Chancery.

Turn 5

Jim: Draws with Arcanis, casts Dance of Many (how’s that for old-schoolin’?), copying Acidic Slime, blowing up Magistrate’s Scepter.

Me: Make a token, drop Kresh the Bloodbraided. I want to get in some damage before everything is going to get threatened.

David: Hits the daily double by dropping Rofellos and then Omnath along with a fetchland.

Cliff: Thicket for a third time, Elspeth, Knight-Errant, and makes a dude. At end of turn, Jim casts Fact or Fiction, with Minamo, School at Water’s
Edge / Rhystic Study / Sphinx Ambassador / two Islands. Minamo will get insane with Arcanis the Omnipotent, so I give him that alone in the 4/1 split.
He takes the bigger pile.

Turn 6

Jim: Turns out I’m already late to the damage party when he casts Treachery, stealing Kresh the Bloodbraided, and then casts Walk the Aeons. He draws
cards with Arcanis and then discards some.

Jim (extra turn): Island. Attack David (37). Acquire targets Cliff, and he gets Mimic Vat.

Me: While I’m taking my turn, David does it the way it’s supposed to be done by cracking his fetch. I drop Hamletback Goliath. At end of turn, David
adds one to Omnath.

David: Mana Reflection. There’s going to be a big pile of something over there soon. Duplicant, getting Arcanis out of the equation. Sends 8/8
Omnath at Jim. Casts Spearbreaker Behemoth.

Cliff: Says “I got this,” and drops Nevinyrral’s Disk, untaps it with Voltaic Key, and blows up the world.

I think this may have been a little premature, as he could have waited for us to do stuff and blown up more or at least cost us the turn. The clever
player might fear Krosan Grip from either me or David, which I’m sure we’re both running, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t in Cliff’s decision matrix.
He then makes a soldier token.

Turn 7

Jim: Vedalken Orrery.

Me: I still haven’t missed a land drop, but I’m out of tricks already, so I just recast Kresh.

David: Regrows Rofellos with Genesis. I’ve been taking stuff out of graveyards at players’ own choice with Claws, and I had honestly forgotten it was
in there. My oversight probably saves us later. Attacks Cliff with the Spearbreaker, who throws the token under the bus.

Cliff: Future Sight. Makes an Elspeth token, and drops Contagion Clasp, putting the counter on Spearbreaker. At end of turn, Jim flashes in Liquimetal
Coating, declaring it his “tech.”

Turn 8

Jim: Says “drop a land,” and I see that it’s Mystifying Maze. I call him on his clever obfuscation. “That’s not really just a land, now is it?’ He
shrugs, and I trust him even less.

Me: Kresh attacks Elspeth, and the token chumps. Kresh +1. I do that so that David can get in there and get rid of Elspeth. I drop Vesuva, copying
Mystifying Maze, hoping to get back some of my dudes when Jim steals them. I cast Stalking Vengeance.

David: Genesis back Acidic Slime, but then casts Woodfall Primus, blowing up Elspeth. Attacks Cliff (36).

Cliff: Sphinx of the Magosi and Relic of Progenitus. There goes my graveyard plan. I’m going to have to play very carefully now. At end of turn, Jim
flashes in Sphinx Ambassador. I really like the card, as it creates a new little game inside the game.

Turn 9

Jim: Jim attacks me (35). Even with the card drawing, he’s a little land shy, so it seems like Primeval Titan is the best choice. Even if he’s chosen
something else, I want to keep him off of Prime Time, so I name it. He’s chosen Platinum Emperion.

Me: Garruk, Wildspeaker. My notes are a little unclear here, but somehow Stalking Vengeance gets killed (Kresh +6).

David: Genesis back Duplicant. Cracks another fetch (34). Duplicant the Sphinx and Acidic Slimes away the Orrery. Jim responds by flashing in a Morph.
The balance of power is shifting notably in this game from Jim to David. David attacks Jim with Primus, and Jim doesn’t block, pointing out the
Emperion. David says to me “you don’t need to write that down,” and we all have a good laugh. David is a really good player, so I thought he had
shenanigans afoot — like Naturalizing the Emperion after no blocks — but it turns out that he’s just as human as the rest of it.

Cliff: Activates Sphinx. Draws and casts Day of Judgment off the topdeck. David makes Duplicant Indestructible with Spearbreaker. The Primus Persists
back and blows up Contagion Clasp.

Turn 10

Jim: Memnarch.

Me: I draw Lord of Extinction, but the beatdown plan seems to have gone away. I’m going to hold onto it until I draw Fling or Rite of Consumption (or
maybe even Eternal Witness, so I can get back Greater Good, which is nice protection against stuff getting stolen).

David: Regrows Acidic Slime, kills Memnarch. So glad I forgot Genesis was there. Attacks Cliff with Spearbreaker (32) and Jim with Woodfall
and Duplicant (22).

Cliff: Casts Mindslaver off the top with Future Sight, slaves Jim.

Turn 11

Jim (controlled by Cliff): Sculpting Steel copies Duplicant, exiling Acidic Slime since it “was the smallest guy out.” I scratch my head.

Me: Kresh for the third time, obviously headed for the point for Fourth Time’s the Charm. With not much going on, I’d really like someone to knock me
out of this game so that I can eat the delicious barbecue that Tampa superjudges Ben McDole and Justin Turner have brought me from a local place called
“Lupton’s,” which Cliff tells me is “where all the fat guys like me eat.” I end up eating the ribs between games, and they’re really amazing. I’ll have
to find Lupton’s and try more of their homemade cooking.

David: His Duplicant attacks Garruk, Primus attacks Jim, who blocks with his Sculpting Steel/Duplicant. Casts Ant Queen.

Cliff: Master Transmuter. Recollect, targeting his Lurking Predators. He can’t quite cast it, so he casts Thrummingbird instead.

Turn 12

Jim: Aura Thief. Gilded Drake targets Spearbreaker.

Me: Tormod’s Crypt. Still holding onto that Boom Tube. At end of turn, David makes a token.

David: Attacks Cliff with Primus and Duplicant (22). Seedborn Muse shows up, and it’s going to get real insecty in here in no time.

Cliff: Basilisk Collar, Graypelt Refuge (23), and Quest for the Holy Relic all off the top. Venser, the Sojourner. Exiles his Relic. Attacks me with
Thrummingbird (36). Puts additional counters on Woodfall Primus and Spearbreaker Behemoth. David makes four Insects.

Turn 13

Jim: Vesuvan Doppelganger copies Duplicant, taking out Ant Queen. David makes four more tokens.

Me: Reliquary Tower (so good with one card in hand). Kresh attacks Venser. Cliff blocks with Master Transmuter, which he bounces for
Whispersilk Cloak. At my end of turn, David Convokes Chord of Calling with nine dudes, which Jim Twincasts. Jim gets Consecrated Sphinx (I’m telling
you, Kederekt Parasite!) and David gets Kamahl, Fist of Krosa. In addition to being insecty, it’s also about to get tramply.

David: Starts doing math. Attacks with more than enough to kill Jim and has Cliff for exactsies after activating Kamahl. I remember that my Vesuva is
copying Mystifying Maze, so I use it to exile one of the tokens, saving Cliff (for a point!). Kresh after combat is +16. David still isn’t likely in
range even with a good topdeck, but we’ll see.

Cliff: Land, Master Transmuter, Lurking Predators.

Turn 14

Me: No answer. Drop the Lord of Extinction.

David: Does more math, I think that he might be able to double overrun and kills us both, although the Maze makes it tougher. He attacks Cliff with
enough and takes me down to twenty.

Turn 15

Me: Another no-answer draw.

David: Casts Primeval Titan just to get the Flush he’s been trying to get all game (every time he’s gotten to four creatures, one of them has gotten
nuked) and then kills me.

David wins the table, with Jim finishing second. They stay here and Cliff and I go to the other table.

Game Two

It’s me, Cliff, Matt (Numot, the Devastator), and Shawn (the prop-worthy Adun Oakenshield). Matt and Shawn are friends, and there’s obviously some
friendly rivalry going on there, spurred on by something that happened in the first game. This is the perfect kind of thing to use to one’s advantage.
I wish I had the Far Side image of the bear in the rifle sight pointing at his buddy.

Turn 1

Me: Swamp, Scrabbling Claws, which is apparently my new Greater Gargadon.

Cliff: (Who has, by the way, started with Leyline of Sanctity in play, which will keep me from killing him for a few different turns.) Forest.

Matt: Plains, bounces it for a Borderpost.

Shawn: Forest, Burgeoning. Of all the Turn 1 one-card plays in the format, that seems really, really good.

Turn 2

Me: Forest (and a land for Shawn)

Cliff: Emeria, the Sky Ruin. Shawn doesn’t drop a land.

Matt: Island, Merfolk Looter.

Shawn: The reason he hasn’t dropped any lands is that he doesn’t have any more. He does, however, have Khalni Heart Expedition.

Turn 3

Me: Forest, Mimic Vat.

Cliff: Magistrate’s Scepter.

Matt: Loots, tossing Firemane Angel. Since it’s the only card in his yard, I Claws him after he drops Island, Darksteel Ingot.

Shawn: Forest, Cultivate.

Turn 4

Me: Solemn Simulacrum

Cliff: Glacial Fortress

Matt: Crackleburr, which will get picked up and read a dozen times over the course of the game.

Shawn: Lake of the Dead (tech!), Explosive Vegetation, Vexing Shusher, and a Solemn Simulacrum of his own.

Turn 5

Me: Geth, Lord of the Vault. Cliff puts a counter on the Scepter. I can see Cliff taking some extra turns with that thing, but I’m not particularly
worried. He already has his eye on Matt, who is playing blue, and Shawn, who has a pile of lands on the battlefield.

Cliff: Nothing.

Matt: Land, go.

Shawn: Awakening Zone. Matt counters it with Discombobulate. Casts Doubling Season, which Matt attempts to Counterspell, but Shawn uses the Vexing

Turn 6

Me: Kresh. Make the Solemn Simulacra battle. Kresh +4. I Mimic Vat his.

Cliff: Drops a land, and Shawn drops one as well, which is the last card in his hand.

Matt: Loots and casts Lat-Nam’s Legacy, shuffling something inconsequential back in.

Shawn: Matt draws two on Shawn’s upkeep, Shawn does nothing.

Turn 7

Me: Demonic Tutor for Momentous Fall. I know that eventually Kresh will get big and Crackleburr will try to bounce him. With Regrowth also in my hand,
I’m pretty sure I can do cool stuff. Instead of forcing any issues, I just keep up mana, and watch as the other three are kind of battling each other
and ignoring me.

Cliff: Trinket Mage for Voltaic Key, takes the extra turn.

Cliff (extra turn): Jenara, Asura of War; then Lightning Greaves and equips it, but doesn’t attack. This is why Cliff doesn’t particularly scare me
with the extra turns.

Matt: Loots; Exotic Orchard; Spellbound Dragon.

Shawn: Adun Oakenshield, then Mycoloth, devouring Vexing Shusher. Doubling Season means Mycoloth has four counters on it, and will generate eight
tokens a turn. I start to salivate. At end of turn, I make a Solemn Simulacrum token.

Turn 8

Me: Peel Goblin Bombardment off the top. Battle the token into Shawn, who takes it (38). Bombard it at his face anyway (37). Sit back and stay cool,

Cliff: Cultivate, Island. Shawn randomly, really, really randomly, Wastelands Matt’s Exotic Orchard. Why bother doing stuff when they’re doing it for

Matt: Loots, attacks Matt with Dragon, pitches something (31). Casts Worldly Counsel and evokes Mulldrifter.

Shawn: Gets right dudes, uses Adun Oakenshield to Regrow Vexing Shusher, and casts it. I make another Solemn Simulacrum token.

Turn 9

Me: Twilight Mire, Madrush Cyclops, which is really dangerous for them, but they don’t really see it that way — except for Matt, who knows — and
counters it with Double Negative. Then, my main man Shawn steps in with Shusher. Two opponents wanting to screw each other as badly as
possible is awesome. To thank Shawn, I battle Matt with the token (36). I shoot the token; Kresh gets bigger.

Cliff: Recurring Insight targets me, since I have a full grip. If Kresh were lots larger and if Rebound weren’t optional, I would consider
using the Momentous Fall right now for the wildest decking of someone ever. He uses Key tricks to get another turn.

Cliff (extra turn): Quest for the Holy Relic. Experiment Kraj. Reliquary Tower.

Matt: Loots. Casts Numot the Devastator, then uses Crackleburr to kill Shusher.

Shawn: More Saprolings. Gets Vexing Shusher back with Adun Oakenshield, casts it, and I make another Solemn Simulacrum token. This Mimic Vat is saucy.

Turn 10

Me: Bloodshot Cyclops, who is already online. Kresh is about +16 right now. Regrowth on Demonic Tutor.

Cliff: Tezzeret, the Seeker. Prison Term on Kresh (I was just about to start attacking, but this isn’t the worst thing that could happen; it would have
been far better to put it on Bloodshot Cyclops). Puts a counter on Crackleburr.

Matt: Crackleburr hits Shawn in the face, then he untaps and bounces Mycoloth. Attacks Shawn with Numot and Spellbound Dragon (19). Uses Numot’s
ability to blow up Reliquary Tower and Shawn’s Meteor Crater.

Shawn: More tokens. Tooth and Nail Entwined, sacrificing a Swamp for extra mana so that he can keep up two for the Shusher. Gets Skullmulcher,
devouring six tokens, and Dragon Broodmother. Casts Fervor but doesn’t attack. Why play Fervor if you’re not going to go for it?

Turn 11

Me: Gotta do it now. Demonic Tutor for Massacre Wurm and cast it. Kills Shawn dead, Cliff to (38), Matt to (34), Kresh +38. I have Fling in my hand
(not to mention an active Bloodshot), but I can’t kill Cliff because of the Leyline.

Cliff: Nature’s Spiral. Attacks Matt with Jenara, puts a counter on Bloodshot Cyclops, untaps dudes to try to bounce Kresh with the
Kraj-stolen-from-Crackleburr ability. I Momentous Fall for 41 (79). He Tezzerets for three, gets Heartstone, and casts Mindslaver. Matt Hinders it.

Matt: Shoots Jenara with Crackleburr. Cliff puts three counters on it and then uses the Bloodshot ability to Fling it at Numot. Attacks me with
Spellbound Dragon (70)

Turn 12

Me: There is no Reliquary Tower in my hand, but there is Primeval Titan. I cast it, Matt Absorbs (37). Good play, for sure. I cast Woodfall Primus
blowing up the Leyline, and attacking Cliff for 20 (18).

Cliff: Tries to Volition Reins Massacre Wurm. I Bombard it at his head (17). Casts Lurking Predators, then Tezzerets up Sensei’s Divining Top.

Matt: Attacks me with Crackleburr and Spellbound Dragon (62).

Turn 13

Me: Diamond Valley. Lord of Extinction. I sit there for a while thinking and Cliff decides to now Crypt my 50-card graveyard. I respond by Flinging the
Lord of Extinction at him. I really wanted to attack with it, but that was definitely a no-brainer, since killing him removes all his stuff from the
stack. I forgot that I had Makeshift Mannequin in hand, or I would have played that in response to get back Stalking Vengeance for more hilarity. After
Cliff’s gone, I do just that and attack Matt (19).

Matt: Says something like “You want to have some fun? There’s still time in this round,” and then casts Warp World. Even though I’ll end up with more
permanents, this seems like a bad deal for me, since most of my library is in my graveyard, and I’ll likely end up with just the few remaining instants
and sorceries in the library (although in the order of my choosing). It could be pretty insane, since I know Living Death is in there (and that Warp
World was his last card), but it also seems like a seriously low EV for me. I have enough power in dudes to kill him with the Bombardment/Stalking
Vengeance combo. It might have been fun to say “I kill you, but let’s play it out like I didn’t,” but it’s getting pretty late already, and the shop is
filling up with midnight drafters, so we pack it in.

My Kresh into the Red Zone plan is a bit of a failure, so I’m going to have to seriously think if I want to change up the nature of the deck or maybe
just build a new one. It would be some serious Embracing of the Chaos to build a second Kresh deck, with few or no repeats from the first, and see if I
can really get into the battles more. I’ll listen to opinions on whether it’s better to build another, different Kresh or try it out with a new
Commander of some kind.

After I finish these sentences, I’m off to Armada for Release Day to team up with Aaron Fortino for Two-Headed Giant Mirrodin Besieged Sealed. We’ll
see if we can get our names on that plaque a third time!