Embracing The Chaos – Thirty EDH Favorites

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Thursday, January 7th – I’d like to start 2010 on a positive note, talking about some of my favorite cards for the format, about some of the things I like instead of some of the things I don’t. These are not necessarily the most powerful individual cards, but the ones that I really like playing with, or the ones that fit best into the strategies that I like.

Happy New Year, everyone! I’d like to start 2010 on a positive note, talking about some of my favorite cards for the format, about some of the things I like instead of some of the things I don’t. These are not necessarily the most powerful individual cards, but the ones that I really like playing with, or the ones that fit best into the strategies that I like. I haven’t included any of my Generals, since they’re already kind of obvious.

It’s clear that I love graveyard recursion. This probably comes from my earliest favorite deck involving Oath of Ghouls and Living Death, since back then it seemed like I was the only guy playing with creatures. It involved running a bunch of the best creatures of the day out (like Black Knight, Jorael’s Centaur, and Ernham Djinn – not to mention Scragnoth!), and if the opponent dealt with the creatures, Living Death them back into play. Alternately, it played early beaters and then cast Armageddon. It was an unfocused beast, but it gave control decks fits. It couldn’t seriously deal with Necro decks that came shortly thereafter, but what could?

I didn’t put such auto-includes as Sol Ring, Sword of Fire and Ice, or Solemn Simulacrum on the list. Again, this is more about the cards I love playing with (although who doesn’t love Jens?). And I had a tough time cutting the list to 30.

Angel of Despair

It’s always good to have answers to the stuff that other people are doing. Having it on the back of a 5/5 Flyer is even better. Coupled with my love of bringing stuff back from the graveyard, it can be a recurring answer to recurring problems. It’s never my intention to use it as a lockdown card or set up infinite recursions of it to wipe the board, it’s just nice to know that the Angel is my friend whenever things get rough. I will, however, occasionally play this guy with Galepowder Mage.

Artifact Mutation

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: people don’t run enough Artifact destruction. Smart players capitalize on this fact. Taking out a key Artifact piece and getting a pile of dudes with it seems full of win. I probably would like it way less as a Sorcery (which is why I’m not likely to play AEther or Death Mutation), since it would be way less flexible. I’ve occasionally used this on my own Darksteel Colossus to get a mini-army.

Aura Shards

Doing stuff for free is really, really good. That’s why Cascade rules. I like playing creatures (I don’t think I have many decks with less than 30), so killing annoying Artifacts and Enchantments while I’m doing it has always been a good choice.

Bloodshot Cyclops

In EDH, people like to steal your stuff. I can appreciate that. Bloodshot Cyclops is my suggestion for them to steal someone else’s – or risk getting something fat in the face. I also like the chance to counter spells like Capsize (with Buyback). Removing a target is a great way to do that. There are a few other cards on this list that do the same.

Brooding Saurian

I don’t mind lending people my things, but sometimes they don’t like to give them back. Brooding Saurian is like the Repo Man. He’s always there to make sure stuff ends up where it’s supposed to be.

Charnelhoard Wurm

It’s a big, fat, Trampling body in Jund colors. Bringing back something cool from the yard is like getting two cakes for your birthday. I do remember the time, however, that fellow Armada Games EDH Leaguer Ben McDole grabbed this beauty with Bribery, then proceeded to use it to keep getting back the Bribery, and eventually having a bunch of other folks’ dudes in play.

Crypt Angel

It’s an oldie-but-goodie we don’t see too much of. It’s a splashable 3/3 Flyer that has Protection from Akroma (and Protection from Baneslayer!), and again, brings back a dude from the graveyard. I played this a bit when it was Standard legal and I liked it then.

Debtors’ Knell

This one is so obvious, and I’m sure there are people who play Generals with Black and White in them just for this card. It’s another one that costs nothing once it’s in play, and the fact that you can get something from any graveyard makes it amazing. It sees a fair amount of play, and sees a fair amount of panic when it hits the table.

Goblin Bombardment

Another one in the “keep your hands off my stuff” department, it has the added advantage of being a source of damage. I’ve frequently used it to help fill up the graveyard in preparation for a big Living Death.

Grab the Reins

I love cards that give you choices. With Grab the Reins, you have three options. The most popular is stealing something and throwing it at someone’s skull (having the dual purpose of getting the nasty thing out of the way while dealing damage to them – a reason that I really like Agonizing Demise). The second is flinging one of your own things at someone when they try to steal or destroy it. The third, and one I don’t see this card used much for, is to simply steal something from someone at beat with it, either giving it back or having a separate outlet (Goblin Bombardment? Altar of Dementia?) to dump it to. I guess there’s actually a fourth option when Entwining this – stealing something and then flinging something else. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually seen that happen, but it’s a possibility.

Greater Gargadon

Yeah, yeah, I get on themes. This is another one that has fueled Living Death. Note that there are few more pantless feelings than getting Mindslavered with this either in your hand or already Suspended. Obviously, if it’s already Suspended, you can minimize the damage, but it’s still sucky.

Greater Good

If I’m to believe the experts, drawing cards is good. When you’re going to bring them out of the graveyard later, so is discarding them. Some weeks back, you read about the power of Greater Good plus Goat Plane followed by Coat of Arms Plane. I especially like one of the cards I draw to be Reliquary Tower.

Infernal Genesis

There are few “WTF?” moments that are better than dropping Infernal Genesis. I can see how it’d go nicely in an Endrehk Sahr or other token-making strategy, but I normally just include it for the randomness factor. While I was still playing with Vicious Shadows, it was even a reasonable strategic choice. Tokens for everyone! I seriously considered for a while some crazy build with Tombstone Stairwell (combining that with VShad would be pretty sick) but I shelved it for some reason.

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund

I don’t have him as a General, but he sure could be. The Dragon-stealing is good, but Haste on a General is constantly underrated. In fact, he’s probably strictly better than Darigaaz. I must think on this. While I think, I’ll still have him in my Darigaaz deck.

Living Death

We’ve covered this card enough. Love it, love it, love it. I would move to Utah so I could marry it. And if I could get Monica Bellucci as a throw-in on the deal, that’d be pretty sweet .

Lord of Extinction

Dunno how it started, but locally this guy is called “Boom Tube.” In fill-up-your-graveyard strategies, he can be dangerous straight out of the box. Combined with Bloodshot Cyclops, a he’s a real killer. No matter what, people sit up and take notice when he’s on the battlefield.

Lurking Predators

We’ve already mentioned I play creatures. Big, fat ones. Basically getting other people to pay to get them into play is thoroughly enjoyable. It’s a cheaper Call of the Wild – but no reason not to play both!

Oracle of Mul Daya

One of my new favorites, it provides quick acceleration into goodness. I’m starting to think that doing things that get additional lands into play is better in EDH than other kinds of acceleration, like Signets and whatnot. It’s not an EDH game if a Disk or O-Stone doesn’t go off, so your early efforts can get wasted along with the things that made the guy blow the Disk in the first place. I do have to remember that Oracle is not Future Sight. The first few times I played it, I kept trying to cast the creatures off the top as well.

Oversold Cemetery

More free stuff! It’s like Christmas! In the olden days, all we had was the aforementioned Oath of Ghouls. Oversold Cemetery is far more… personal.


There are many immense creatures in EDH, and opponents should be afraid every time they put one on the battlefield. More than once, it’s done twice as much damage as someone thought because they didn’t completely read the card.

Read the Runes

Your stuff is going to get blown up. There’s no reason you can’t draw cards when it does. More assurance against getting stuff stolen, the one concession to Blue on my list is in every Blue deck I have.

Red Elemental Blast

Countering a Blue spell out of nowhere or destroying a Blue permanent for one mana makes this old-timer one of my clear favorites, along with its cousin, Pyroblast. You don’t tend to see the reverse too much, since people consider Red the weakest EDH color. I, of course, disagree, but I’m betting I’m not getting something countered or destroyed by BEB/Hydroblast any time soon.

Sapling of Colfenor

Indestructible guys are awesome anyway. Indestructible guys that also draw cards for free – there’s something special. Occasionally, it’ll also gain some life, but I’m more likely to be playing a 5/2 guy than a 2/5. He’s clearly designed for Doran, who looks interesting, but seems a little overdone.

Scrabbling Claws

I love bringing stuff out of my graveyard, and I imagine that you do too. Since that can become problematic, I like a little spot removal, especially to take care of degenerate recursion of stuff like Mindslaver. I’m also a big fan of Night Soil, but the cards have to be creatures. I know lots of folks like Relic of Progenitus in this slot, but for obvious reasons, it would make me sad.

Spearbreaker Behemoth

I’ll reiterate that Indestructible guys are awesome. The ability to make your other fatties also Indestructible is reason for happiness. Occasionally, I’ve even tried to make some alliances by using it on someone else’s creatures. Ooh… just thought of a combo: Spearbreaker and Horobi, Death’s Wail. “Hey, I tried to make your guy Indestructible!”

Spellbreaker Behemoth

The obvious part of Spellbreaker is the “can’t be countered” part, but it’s a 5/5 body for 4 mana. If this guy had existed in Ernham Djinn days, it would have been the complete sauce.

Stalking Vengeance

Kresh and Hamletback Goliath get a lot of credit in the Kresh builds, but this guy has proven to be unbelievable. Once he comes down, any of the above-mentioned sacrifice cards become houses. Anyone else’s board sweepers will hurt, and hurt badly.

Wild Ricochet

Retarget! Copy! How much chaos can one card cause? If there were room, I’d run the whole Wild Ricochet, Shunt, Reroute, Fork suite. I actually play Reroute in one of my decks, and it’s never failed to do something interesting and significant (and draw a card).

Wilderness Elemental

Although I play with Anathemancer, Wilderness Elemental seems like more fun, since he can be really big quite early. If he hits the battlefield late game, he’s immense.

Woodfall Primus

I confess to really liking the whole Persist mechanic. It adds a very interesting layer of strategy to the game. Having it on a big fat body that destroys stuff than can hurt me makes it a top favorite.

Clearly, there are dozens more cards that could have gone on this list. There are so many really, really fun cards to play in this format, that no list can be all-inclusive. That’s why you just have to roll up your sleeves and Embrace the Chaos!