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Kresh Play-By-Play (Kind Of)

Sheldon presents a play-by-play of his “old faithful” Commander deck, Kresh the Bloodbraided, but with a twist: he swaps Kresh out for Prossh, Skyraider of Kher in order to see just how strong the Dragon is when played in a deck not built around the Commander.

I admit that I’m kind of on a Prossh kick. I promise this is the last part of it for now.

For now.

Last Thursday, a few hours before EDH League started, I sat down for a casual game of Commander with some of the Armada regulars. Kresh, the Bloodbraided was one of the decks I brought since I hadn’t played it in a while. The guys were asking a few questions about the Prossh interview from a few weeks back, which eventually led to discussing Prossh as a card. Chris, one of those regulars, has a Prossh deck. It immediately sets the tone at the table it’s played at. It wins quickly or forces players to adapt their strategy so that they don’t die quickly. I’ve seen early artifact removal used on Chris’ Phyrexian Altar (always a good choice), Goblin Bombardment, or Kyren Negotiations because players know what’s coming when Prossh finally makes an appearance and gets rolling. It got me thinking about the fact that a deck dedicated to breaking Prossh — just like a deck dedicated to breaking Hermit Druid — is one thing, calling a card broken on its own is another. Here I was with a Jund deck in my hand. What if I just used Prossh as the Commander instead? No build-arounds, no dedicated cards, just throw him in as the top dog and see how bad it could be. What follows explores that. For those of you who haven’t seen one of these play-by-plays before, I’ll note that as the game goes on, I may not have an accurate record of every land drop. Because the game gets complicated and I don’t want to appreciably slow it down, some things get skipped. The recording is a reasonably true record of the plays that got made, so don’t think that because I stopped listing someone’s lands at five it means they cheated by spending ten mana.

Chris is playing his new King Macar, the Gold-Cursed deck, Brennan (Pro Tour Player and original “Team Lives in the Red Zone” member with me, Ben McDole — who didn’t really live that much in the Red Zone — and Monday Night Gamer Todd Palmer) has his relatively new Pharika, God of Afflication, Anthony has his (also new) Xira Arien deck, and as mentioned, I have my latest version of Kresh. Believe it or not, Anthony’s deck is focused on killing with Commander damage — awesome, since Xira has a power of 1. He wanted to find a legendary creature with power 0 to do it with (and creatures with P/T of 0/0 that enter the battlefield with counters on them don’t count), but the options are extremely limited. It’s been interesting to play some games with.

We used Dino Dice, the official way to choose who goes first at Armada Games (and if I had my way, for the format). If you’re not familiar, Dino Dice are simply six-siders with a different dinosaur on each face. The three has a T-Rex, the only carnivore of the bunch. We roll two dice. If one of them comes up T-Rex, it eats the other one. Any roll with a T-Rex then is simply a three — unless you roll two T-Rexes, which means you win. It even beats two sixes, since the T-Rexes just eat the other dice.

TURN 1

Chris: Evolving Wilds for Swamp.

Brennan: Forest, Llanowar Elf.

Anthony: Swamp.

Me: Stomping Ground, tapped.

TURN 2

Chris: Swamp, Skirsdag High Priest.

Brennan: Swamp, Sylvan Ranger for a Swamp, Phyrexian Reclamation.

Anthony: Mountain.

Me: Blood Crypt untapped (38), Scavenging Ooze. Brennan issues an audible “ugh.” His deck is a very tight dredge deck, so some graveyard hate is really going to mess with his juju.

TURN 3

Chris: Swamp, attacks Anthony (39).

Brennan: Grisly Salvage, keeps Fate Unraveler. Mulch, getting three lands. Forest. Attack Anthony (38).

Anthony: Forest, Xira Arien.

Me: Forest, Farhaven Elf for another Forest.

TURN 4

Chris: Swamp, King Macar.

Brennan: Cycles Tranquil Thicket (he’s obviously looking for something good), plays Fate Unraveler. We’ll all be taking damage for drawing cards for a while.

Anthony: (37). Forest, Cultivate for a Swamp (and puts a Forest in hand).

Me: Swamp, Withered Wretch. Brennan says “Really?” I shrug. I know how devastating graveyards can be, plus I want to later try to Living Death and kind of want to be greedy about it.

TURN 5

Chris: (39) Temple of the False God. Looks for an opening, finds it with Anthony, attacks him with King Macar (35).

Brennan: Pharika, God of Affliction.

Anthony: (34) Soul Conduit. At EOT, I exile the Moment’s Peace now in Brennan’s graveyard and two lands, assuming that there’s a Life from the Loam in the deck.

Me: (38) Swamp, Prossh. I really wanted to see what would happen if I just threw him out there, even seeing that Chris had King Macar online. At EOT, Chris casts Ad Nauseam, getting Phthisis and Disciple of Bolas (28).

TURN 6

Chris: During his upkeep, he exiles Scavenging Ooze with King Macar’s untap trigger, then goes to (27). Swamp, casts Phthisis on Prossh, which is kind of an ouch (28). Attacks Anthony again with the King (32).

Brennan: Ophiomancer. Stares down at the card. Says something like “I’m kind of dumb, but whatever.” Attacks Chris with Pharika. Chris blocks with the High Priest. Drops Ghost Quarter.

Anthony: (31) Solemn Simulacrum for a Swamp. At EOT, Brennan exiles Skirsdag High Priest with Pharika, giving Chris a snake.

Me: (27) Primeval Bounty. Bojuka Bog Brennan (30), eliciting another “really?” from him.

TURN 7

Chris: Exiles Pharika with King Macar, goes to (26). Gets that all back when he casts Exsanguinate for 7 (47). Anthony to (24), Brennan to (33), me to (21). Attacks Anthony again with the King. He blocks with Solemn Simulacrum and draws a card.

Brennan: Forest, battles me with Fate Unraveler. I block with a Kobold of Kher Keep. Recasts Pharika. At EOT, Anthony relents to the damage and draws with Xira (22).

Anthony: (21). Purphoros, God of the Forge. Brennan responds by exiling Anthony’s Solemn Simulacrum.

Me: (20). Drop a Mountain, Primeval Bounty takes me to (23). Goblin Bombardment, put three counters on Farhaven Elf, once again courtesy of the Bounty. It seems to be one of those cards that does good stuff for you, but not so obviously or in such a grandiose fashion (like Greater Good or Lurking Predators) that people feel they have to kill it – they tend to leave it alone, saving their enchantment removal for scarier things. It’s a great card that goes along with my philosophy of being second best (which I assume I should write a complete article about someday).

TURN 8

Chris: Exiles the Fate Unraveler, so we’re not taking more damage from drawing. Casts Disciple of Bolas, eating the snake that Brennan gave him (48). Doesn’t seem overwhelmed with what he draws.

Brennan: Borderland Ranger, gets a Swamp and drops it. Decides that he’s going to “sit tight” despite loving to live in battle. At EOT, Anthony draws with Xira.

Anthony: Jund Panorama. Casts Erebos, God of the Dead, which I think he had been holding when Fate Unraveler was out. At EOT, I exile the entirety of Chris’ graveyard, which includes Exsanguinate, Phthisis, and Ad Nauseam, with Withered Wretch. At this point, I realize that I should have put those counters on Withered Wretch instead of Farhaven Elf — since I’m only likely in the most extreme circumstance to sacrifice the Wretch and that would make it tougher to kill.

Me: Re-cast Prossh. Get eight more kobolds and a beast (from Primeval Bounty).

TURN 9

Chris: Sacrifices his gold tokens, casts Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre. Thinks for quite a while about what to kill with the triggered ability. Eventually decides on Soul Conduit. Prossh is certainly a reasonable target — except for the Goblin Bombardment sitting there. Anthony has enough open mana to activate Soul Conduit but chooses not to.

Brennan: Floats mana from a Forest, then Ghost Quarters it. Casts Wurm Harvest, then retraces it and casts it again. Ends up with five worms. Clever play. At EOT, Anthony draws again with Xira and cracks Jund Panorama for a Forest.

Anthony: Blood Crypt into play tapped, and done. I think he’s holding cool stuff for attacking with Xira, but the board is a little clogged at the moment, and I think he fears some sort of crack back.

Me: This will be a big turn. I cast Molten Primordial, taking Ulamog from Chris, Pharika from Brennan and Xira from Anthony. Anthony responds to the trigger by casting Beast Within on the Goblin Bombardment (yay, more beast tokens for me!). Once Molten Primordial’s trigger resolves, he then casts Rakdos Charm on me. I respond by sacrificing Xira, Molten Primordial, Ulamog, and 13 kobolds to Prossh. The choice to sacrifice Ulamog instead of throwing it back to Chris came from putting him on Sudden Spoiling (I was wrong). Rakdos Charm resolves, taking me to (16). I also choose to not exile Ulamog when it goes to the yard because without a board wipe, I think I can kill Chris next turn and I’d rather leave up the mana for Brennan’s graveyard tomfoolery. Pharika attacks Chris who blocks with a token, and Prossh attacks Anthony, killing him. The first kill coming on turn nine is at least one turn earlier than I prefer, but I thought it was reasonable payback for him trying to (justifiably) kill me with Rakdos Charm. I actually thought he had something else dagger-y in his hand, but he was out of gas.

TURN 10

Chris: Cabal Conditioning. Brennan and I each discard four. At EOT, I exile the Dread Return which Brennan has just dumped in the yard.

Brennan: Attacks Chris with Pharika (41). Casts Hydra Broodmaster. He has enough mana to activate it for at least three.

Me: Cast (shiny new foil) Victimize, targeting Molten Primordial and Stalking Vengeance (which I had discarded to Cabal Conditioning). Brennan exiles the latter with Pharika, which I had expected (wanting to lessen his Broodmaster-ing. Then I realize I can just steal it with Molten Primordial. MPrime gets King Macar and before it comes over to my side, Brennan activates Broodmaster for two. I attack Brennan with Prossh (15), setting up to kill him with Commander damage next turn and Chris with the Broodmaster and King Macar (30). After combat, I sacrifice the stuff that’s not mine.

TURN 11

Chris: Bone Shredder, taking out Molten Primordial. I sacrifice it to Prossh just in case (in case of what, I don’t know, but just in case).

Brennan: Retraces Wurm Harvest to get six worms. Attacks me with Pharika. I block.

Me: Avalanche Riders, taking out Chris’ Temple of the False God and getting another Beast. Attack Brennan with Prossh, Chris with all the ground pounders. Chris casts Fated Return for Disciple of Bolas, sacrificing Bone Shredder. After the attack, he ends up at (31). On his way out, Brennan exiles Avalanche Riders and Molten Primordial.

TURN 12

Chris: Gnat Miser and King Macar.

Me: Attack Chris with the team. He blocks my giant Farhaven Elf with Disciple of Bolas, Withered Wretch with King Macar, and a beast with Gnat Miser. I sacrifice the three blocked guys to Prossh, taking him to (11). I kill him with exactsies by sacrificing three more creatures to Prossh and casting Grab the Reins.

While the deck Prossh was in may not have set the tone of the game, it certainly determined the outcome once it was on the board. To be fair, the Kresh deck has many sacrifice outlets (Grab the Reins or Fling give Prossh a measure of inevitability), so it’s set up to take a little more advantage of what the card does than a more controllish Jund build might be. Kresh could simply not have won this game as Prossh did. Prossh was an immediate factor (which is not a bad thing) which players had to deal with or die (also not a bad thing, depending on what turn it is). For a deck not built around it to have such an impact gives me some pause about the card. That doesn’t mean you should run right out and divest yourself of every copy. It does mean that I’m going to ask the other members of the RC to take a closer look at it, and it means that I’ll continue to take a look at it myself (although I swear that I won’t keep hammering you with the details).

My further look will go in two directions. First will be to play more games with Prossh leading the Kresh deck. I have a suspicion that it will continue to be very strong (stronger even than Kresh himself), but you never know. One game doesn’t prove anything. Second will be to play Prossh with my third Jund deck, Adun Oakenshield. Since I usually list a deck (for database purposes, since they’re living things) which I haven’t done for a while, I’ll add that one below. The most recent change to the deck is adding Grenzo, Dungeon Warden. There are enough creatures with in the 3-5 power range that I won’t have to beef him up too much to get nearly everything. As a side note, I’ll also be adding Grenzo to the new build of Kaalia, which has a Sunforger/Mistveil Plains package in it.

Speaking of changes, I haven’t made that many post-Conspiracy to note. I’m not even sure that there’s a whole article’s worth of changes to be done, so I’ll likely add that as a section in another piece in the near future. One change I’ll note is taking Bane of Progress out of Animar. The first time that I ever saw it, it came in off of Lurking Predators. The next was from Primal Surge, and it blew up quite a bit of stuff. I replaced it with Conspiracy’s Realm Seekers, which last week I called “a Fertilid that comes in with a zillion counters.” That’s not quite right, since Realm Seekers puts the cards into your hand instead of in play, but it was the closest I could think of.

If you have a non-Prossh Jund deck and want to give it a whirl as well, feel free to share the results with me. I’d love to hear if your impressions are similar to or different from my own. This kind of community involvement (although please let’s avoid calling it “testing”) is a major part of what makes this social format social.

Commander
Magic Card Back


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