Embracing The Chaos – Thraximundar Contest Results

Wednesday, April 20 – Sheldon Menery had 92 submissions for this Thraximundar contest, so choosing a winner was a difficult process, but he has come to a decision… see the top 3 decks commanded by this Zombie Assassin.

If I thought I was going to save myself some work by running a contest, I was thinking in the wrong direction. I received an insane total of 92
submissions to the Thraximundar contest (93 if you count the one I got this morning, which is so far past the deadline I think the IRS is going to levy
some penalties on the person who submitted it), meaning if I spent only five minutes reading each, I’d have spent nearly eight hours simply
considering all of them at a general level (and yeah, I gave each of them at least five minutes). The contest did give me some ideas that I
might put into other decks and gave me some very difficult choices when it came to picking a winner. Unfortunately, the raw number of submissions means
I simply won’t have the time to comment on each and every deck (neither here nor in private). I hope everyone understands.

I culled the lists over and over again. There were many similar decks, a number of strongly Zombie-themed ones, and a number that listed a great number
of staple cards. I’d call nearly every deck I received good and playable, but as I mentioned when I put up the contest, I was looking for something a
little more creative than what might obviously present itself. There were occasional odd inclusions, like banned cards (Emrakul and Recurring Nightmare
showed up, among others), but mostly high-quality cards chosen for good reasons. I finally boiled things down to nine decks that I really liked for
their originality, theme, and what I predicted would be my enjoyment playing the deck.


Special honorable mention to Ritchie Tiongson for the best name, “Dr. Thrax and the PvZombitro​n.”

Super special single card Honorable Mention to Chris Barna and his team from PSU for Homarid Spawning Bed.

Eric Fletcher
for his nearly complete commitment to the Goblin theme. It looked like a blast to play. Eric was also only one of two people who listed Eldrazi
Monument, which I was sure I’d see more of.

Nicholas Schlesinger
for a deck that looked like it held the balance between power and playability. In the end, it was a deck that I knew would serve well but simply
included too many of those staple cards and didn’t really break any new ground.

Ronny Serio
for another Goblin-themed deck that made slightly more clever use of the sacrifice theme. I thought Hissing Iguanar was interesting, loved Ib
Halfheart, Goblin Tactician, and thought that inclusion of Tombstone Stairwell in a non-Zombie deck was particularly inspired.

Uriah Oxford
for very clever use of cards like Nettling Imp and Bullwhip. I liked the “Everyone Must Attack Always!” direction he was headed, but it was
too creature-light (only twenty).

Jake Bladorn
for cards like Day of the Dragons and arrangement of his list into the cool categories “Sacrificial offerings,” “Priests,” “Forced
Offerings,” “Life After Death,” and “Temples.”

Dale Boyce
for using some old-school cards like Varchild’s War Riders (to combo with Massacre Wurm!), Gate to Phyrexia, and Dingus Staff. Dale also went
with a Goblin subtheme, then adding Lord of Tresserhorn for some more sacrifice. This was another one that looked like a blast to play. What kept Dale
from winning was the inclusion of a few cards that I’m not a fan of, like Grafted Exoskeleton and Death Cloud, and a top-heaviness to the deck
that I thought might make it difficult to play. That said, there’s a reasonable chance I might sleeve it up anyway and find out.


I finally got it down to three decks, any of which I know I’d have a blast playing.


I initially had a tough time putting my finger on what I liked about Sebastian’s deck, since it has a number of cards common to many lists on it.
Unique to his deck were Dawn of the Dead, Careful Consideration, and Minion Reflector, and his was one of the only two decks with Mystical Teachings,
Magus of the Jar, Shard Phoenix, and Compulsive Research, which led me to the conclusion that it wasn’t just ‘more of the same.’ His
explanations of why he chose what he did were well-organized and well thought out.


I’ll list the deck the way Alex did:

General – 1
1 Thraximundar

Creatures all about the red zone – 12
1 Ashling, the Extinguisher
1 Ball Lightning
1 Blistering Firecat
1 Bloodthrone Vampire
1 Goblin Grenadiers
1 Grave Titan
1 Hell’s Thunder
1 Hellspark Elemental
1 Inferno Titan
1 Lightning Serpent
1 Ogre Marauder
1 Skizzik

Creatures with utility sacrifice effects – 17
1 Apprentice Necromancer
1 Bloodfire Colossus
1 Bloodshot Cyclops
1 Caldera Hellion
1 Daring Apprentice
1 Doomed Necromancer
1 Fleshbag Marauder
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Hearth Kami
1 Mulldrifter
1 Pawn of Ulamog
1 Phyrexian Plaguelord
1 Pyre Zombie
1 Shriekmaw
1 Siege-Gang Commander
1 Vampire Hexmage
1 Voidmage Prodigy

Other creatures that play nice with sacrificing – 3
1 Lord of Tresserhorn
1 Mortician Beetle
1 Sedris, the Traitor King

Spells to maximize the red zone – 6
1 Cauldron Dance
1 Fatal Frenzy
1 Relentless Assault
1 Seize the Day
1 Tears of Rage
1 World at War

Removal with sacrifice effects – 9
1 Attrition
1 Barrin’s Spite
1 Choice of Damnations
1 Consuming Vapors
1 Cruel Ultimatum
1 Fling
1 Grab the Reins
1 Slave of Bolas
1 Spinal Embrace

Card draw + sacrifice – 4
1 Culling Dais
1 Phyrexian Vault
1 Plunge into Darkness
1 Read the Runes

Counterspells – 2
1 Remand
1 Soul Manipulation

Misc. other and utility spells – 8
1 Coalition Relic
1 Fellwar Stone
1 Living Death
1 Mind Stone
1 No Rest for the Wicked
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Sarkhan the Mad
1 Sol Ring

Lands – 38
1 Ancient Tomb
1 Badlands
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 City of Brass
1 Crumbling Necropolis
5 Island
9 Mountain
1 Mystifying Maze
1 Phyrexian Tower
1 Polluted Delta
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Shivan Reef
1 Sulfurous Springs
8 Swamp
1 Underground River
1 Underground Sea
1 Volcanic Island
1 Wasteland

I particularly liked Alex’s quite creative use of Ball Lightning and friends to run the sacrifice theme (while still getting into the Red Zone).
Other individual cards that piqued my interest were Choice of Damnations (which showed up in two other decks), No Rest for the Wicked (Alex was the
only one who used it), Culling Dais (which showed up in six other decks), Tears of Rage (only one other used it), and Fatal Frenzy (which he was also
the only one to use). I can definitely see myself enjoying playing this deck.



Friend of the Show, sometimes Armada Games EDH League player, and all around good guy Aaron Duval shipped me a list that I thought was quite creative,
“Slivers in Thraximundar’s Clothing.”

I’ll tell you in full disclosure that I almost intentionally didn’t choose Aaron to win the contest because
he’s one of the few of the 92 who I’ve met in person. When I first got his submission, I put it aside, intent on giving him some feedback on it
but not really considering it for the contest. In the end (and before I actually looked at the contents of the list), I thought that it’d be
pretty unfair to him to not judge his submission along the same lines as everyone else’s, so I put it back in with the rest. Even if you
don’t agree with my specific choice (and I’m willing to bet that there will be divided opinions regarding all three of these decks), I hope
you trust my integrity enough to know that things that shouldn’t be a factor weren’t.

Acidic Sliver
Basal Sliver
Battering Sliver
Blade Sliver
Bonesplitter Sliver
Crypt Sliver
Fury Sliver
Heart Sliver
Homing Sliver
Hunter Sliver
Magma Sliver
Mnemonic Sliver
Sedge Sliver
Shifting Sliver
Spitting Sliver
Synapse Sliver
Synchronous Sliver
Toxin Sliver
Two-Headed Sliver
Vampiric Sliver
Winged Sliver

Amoeboid Changeling
Bloodshot Cyclops
Bone Shredder
Caldera Hellion
Geth, Lord of the Vault
Greater Gargadon
Hell’s Caretaker
Ingot Chewer
Kagemaro, First to Suffer
Khabal Ghoul
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
Massacre Wurm
Solemn Simulacrum
Stalking Vengeance

Decree of Pain
Demonic Tutor
Living Death
Plague Wind
Rite of Replication

Door of Destinies
Altar of Dementia
Darksteel Ingot
Expedition Map
Mimic Vat
Sol Ring
Spawning Pit
Tormod’s Crypt

Furnace Celebration
Gate to Phyrexia
Goblin Bombardment
Haunted Crossroads
Malevolent Awakening
Rhystic Study
Tombstone Stairwell
Vicious Shadows

2 Island
3 Mountain
4 Swamp
Barbarian Ring
Blood Crypt
Bojuka Bog
Cabal Coffers
Crosis’s Catacombs
Crumbling Necropolis
Dimir Aqueduct
Dragonskull Summit
Halimar Depths
High market
Izzet Boilerworks
Maze of Ith
Minamo, School at Water’s Edge
Phyrexian Tower
Rakdos Carnarium
Reflecting Pool
Reliquary Tower
Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
Spinerock Knoll
Temple of the False God
Underground Sea
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Volcanic Island
Volrath’s Stronghold

Sliver decks with fat, nearly unblockable Sliver swarms are old hat. Slivers that you sacrifice to do stuff with is way less common and way more
interesting. Balancing the two I liked very much.

Of Aaron’s cards which I liked a great deal, only two other decks chose to include Haunted Crossroads, five others included Malevolent Awakening,
no one else had Hivestone, and there’s that clever Tombstone Stairwell again, which was listed a total of four times. Aaron also avoided Fleshbag
Marauder, which showed up in 52 of the 92 submissions (56.5%). One slight knock is inclusion of Cabal Coffers/Urborg combo, but you can’t fault
too much a guy for wanting a big pile of mana. Despite all the tribal decks, Aaron was the only person who went for Door of Destinies, which I
didn’t expect when I reviewed the lists. I figured I’d find 5-6 of them. Surprising also is that there were only two Coat of Arms in the 92

Here are some of Aaron’s own words (by the way, when submitting something to a contest, an explanation to go along with your list is better than
just a list):

I took in some considerations when building this deck. First off, you’ll notice about half of the creatures are Slivers. I went with Slivers for a
reason. You wanted a red-zone deck. When I think about red-zone decks, I think of creatures and the color green. Since Thraximundar is limiting us
to blue, red, and black, I went with a creature type that enhanced all the other creatures of the same type. In my opinion, the best creature type
that does that is Slivers. The Slivers included in this deck boost other Slivers, sacrifice to provide an effect, and have evasion. This helps to
make up for the fact you are not running green.

 You had mentioned in your article that you were looking for a deck that wasn’t necessarily a Grixis Control deck. Because of that, you will
notice that 99% of the sacrificing is done only by you. I did this intentionally to keep the “hate factor down.” I suspect you will be hated out a
little once you start dropping a bunch of Slivers. Not to worry, I have added some control, wrath effects, and reanimation effects to keep you in
the positive side.

This deck is creature heavy to support the red zone. The sacrificing is unique in that you will be doing most of it, and not so much for your
opponents, and I believe it will hold its own in the league.

In the end, it was Aaron’s outside-the-box use of a different archetype to fit into the parameters of the contest that I thought made it a
winner. I realized going through the decks that the ones I liked the best were the ones, as Aaron mentioned, where you’re doing the sacrificing, as
opposed to making other people do it. It does seem a better way to avoid some of the hate, not to mention having some additional control over what gets

I’ll have this one sleeved up and ready to go for next week, although I might take out the Vicious Shadows if I’m not playing against the
cutthroats , and I’ll let you know how well it Embraces the Chaos!

I haven’t done any kind of deep statistical analysis of the submissions, but the most popular themes were Zombies and “Steal People’s
Stuff And Sacrifice It.”

Huge thanks to everyone who submitted an entry for the contest. As I said earlier, nearly all the decks were very good, and I’m sure that I could
play nearly any one of them and be confident that it would do well. It was a great learning experience for me, as I got to look through the eyes of
many different kinds of deckbuilders and designers.