Man, spoiler season has my mind just a’-spinning with possibilities! So many cool and interesting new cards, I really can’t wait to get my mitts on ’em. I wanted to share some of my ideas with you here today to see what you think and to see if you have any thoughts on how to tighten up the lists.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who looked at Molten Vortex and thought “Hm, four copies of Molten Vortex + 56 lands, call it a day!” Assuming a copy of Molten Vortex and six lands in our opening hand, how fast can we kill?
Turn two: draw, play a Mountain, pitch two lands. Four damage total, three cards left.
Turn three: draw, pitch two lands. Eight damage total, two cards left.
Turn four: draw, pitch two lands. Twelve damage total, one card left.
Turn five: draw, pitch two lands. Sixteen damage total, zero cards left.
Turn six: draw, pitch a land. Eighteen damage total, zero cards left.
Turn seven: draw, pitch land. The opponent is dead unless he gained some life along the way.
If we’re on the draw we can kill a turn earlier, and if we draw another Molten Vortex that pushes the kill back a turn. This is all assuming we haven’t been killed by our opponent in the meantime.
Also, what if Molten Vortex isn’t in our hand? Do we mulligan until we find it, pushing our kill back even further? Loading up with Temples to scry with can help us find Molten Vortex but that’s nowhere near enough. Tormenting Voice can help us dig two cards further, and has the added benefit of trading extra copies of Molten Vortex in for another card so that seems like a natural inclusion. I’m not sure that’s enough to ensure we get our key enchantment into play, so I’m thinking we’d need to dip into blue for Anticipate, and some other ways to reload our hand — Treasure Cruise comes to mind, especially if we’re pitching a bunch of cards into the graveyard. But really the best way to reload our hand is the new Timetwister — Day’s Undoing! I’m thinking something like this:
I really like this card a lot, and it got me thinking what sort of black deck would likely achieve Spell Mastery enough to make sure you get the extra mana boost after you tutor up your card with Dark Petition. I’d recently been noodling with the idea of putting white in the Waste Not/Dark Deal deck for Monastery Mentor and Sorin, Solemn Visitor, attempting to “go wide” with token creatures while ripping up our opponent’s hand and disrupting their plans. Dark Petition giving us both our best card and the mana to cast another spell or two (or three!) seems like a great way to trigger Prowess. Monastery Mentor does a great job at being virtually more copies of Waste Not. Check this out:
I like that Monastery Mentor gives you a direction for Duress and Thoughtseize, discarding your opponent’s removal so Monastery Mentor can run away with the game. Going wide with Sorin means plenty of life to reload your hand with Sign in Blood, Read the Bones or Damnable Pact.
Now this is what I’m talking about! This card is a callback to Survival of the Fittest, but it is also obviously not nearly as powerful as that enchantment for very important reasons. First, you have to have a creature in play to sacrifice to search up another creature, and second you don’t necessarily get to search up whatever creature you want. Instead, you get to find the next creature from the top of your library — it could be an Elvish Mystic or a Hornet Queen.
Depending on what you sacrifice, you could be getting an upgrade or a downgrade, so the best fair way to play Evolutionary Leap is to use it on creatures that are already going to die to removal or from combat damage. Another approach is to stuff your deck full of creatures that give you value when they enter the battlefield — Elvish Visionary, Nissa, Vastwood Seer, Eidolon of Blossoms, Woodland Bellower, Genesis Hydra. That way whatever creature you sacrifice has already given you something, and even if you end up with a “downgraded” creature from an activation of Evolutionary Leap you’re still getting value.
I have no doubt you’ll see lots of sweet Abzan and Sultai good-stuff decklists featuring some copies of Evolutionary Leap in the Standard metagames to come, but that’s not what I’m here to offer up today. Instead, what’s got my imagination working are decks where the number of actual creature cards are so limited that Evolutionary Leap actually works as if it were much closer to a real tutor effect. One card that came to mind is Risen Executioner since the first one you sacrifice to tutor up the second one can be played from the graveyard and sacrificed again to go get the third one, and eventually you’ll have all four to play with. Since you won’t have any other creatures but Risen Executioner in the graveyard, the mana tax to play them from the graveyard should be rather minor. Evolutionary Leap can even “protect” Risen Executioner from exile effects like Abzan Charm.
Of course the one wrinkle to this idea is if you draw an Evolutionary Leap but no Risen Executioner to go with it, that can be pretty terrible. So I went about searching for ways to make tokens in black and green and quickly found Waste Not again — and look, it even makes Zombies, how perfect! Adding an Evolutionary Leap + Risen Executioner engine to a Waste Not deck actually sounds very intriguing, this list cut out the white from the deck above for more black and just a hint of green:
Dark Petition provides some nice flexibility with our card slots and will nearly always be charged up with Spell Mastery – we could cast Dark Petition to tutor up a card, and with that three black mana play a second Waste Not and then Thoughtseize for double our discard-triggered fun.
The one hole that’s nagging me here is lack of lifegain in the face of Thoughtseize, Sign in Blood and Llanowar Wastes, but I’m not sure how to best fix that. Sorin does so much work in the black/white deck above, should I go Abzan here?
So, what other creatures would be nice to chain into over and over? What creature in Standard do you most hate to see multiple copies of? Yep, we’re both thinking the same thing:
Raise the Alarm and Secure the Wastes look a little weird here, but they provide token creature bodies to get the Evolutionary Leap Rhino-train rolling while also giving you some chump blockers to buy time for your bigger spells to get online. We get to break the symmetry on Languish here with our Rhinos surviving the sweeper. I’m not sure if this is just a worse version of Abzan Control, but it might attack the metagame from a slightly different angle.
Next up on the Evolutionary Leap ladder is a fun and flavorful card that has not yet seen any serious Standard play. Evolutionary Leap may not be the card that breaks it, but I’m eager to give this a try and see what happens. If nothing else, having my opponent saddled with four Akroan Horses sounds like a hoot!
There are a lot of moving parts here, but basically we have an enchantment deck with some ways to make creatures (Myth Realized, Master of the Unseen, Lightform) that we can sacrifice to Evolutionary Leap and get the first Akroan Horse. Once your opponent gets control of the first Horse he’ll make 1/1 token creatures for you than can be sacrificed to get more copies of Akroan Horse. Between the 3-4 chump blockers a turn and the Oppressive Rays, Silk Wrap, and Citadel Sieges that fill out the rest of the deck, you should easily live long enough to set up your endgame of Starfield of Nyx. Starfield of Nyx also “makes creatures” if you’ve got enough enchantments in play. This deck has a hard time if people start sideboarding Back to Nature, so we’ll need to keep our eyes peeled on the metagame.
Next up on the ladder is Ashcloud Phoenix. I like that Ashcloud Phoenix can be sacrificed to go get another Ashcloud Phoenix while the original one comes back as a face-down Morph creature. You can either go ahead and play your second Ashcloud or hold it in hand and flip the facedown Morph to deal damage and sacrifice again.
One funny thing about this deck is that your opponent may very well hold removal back in anticipation of Goblin Piledriver or Goblin Rabblemaster… and then the avalanche of Ashcloud Phoenix cards gets them!
My ideas for the new Standard go on and on, but I think for today I’ll stop with Relic Seeker. Our new “fixed” Stoneforge Mystic is a pretty cool card, but the only problem is that there really aren’t that many equipment cards that are worth the trouble. Godsend is a beating, but that’s not something you really want to fetch up early in a game. Scanning through the list of available equipment cards, one jumped out at me:
Hero’s Blade! +3/+2 is a significant stat boost, and while the equip cost is rather steep, you can basically equip it to any legendary creature for free when it comes into play. With a gaggle of new Planeswalkers that start as Legends, might we actually have a critical mass of Legends to make Hero’s Blade worth searching up and playing? Here’s the list I’ve sketched out:
- 3 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
- 2 Anafenza, the Foremost
- 2 Den Protector
- 3 Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
- 2 Liliana, Heretical Healer
- 3 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
- 3 Kytheon, Hero of Akros
- 4 Relic Seeker
By Jove, I think there are enough Legends to make a go of it — we can even play Heroes’ Podium! Collected Company can dig deep and find some Legends at instant speed which we can then equip with a Hero’s Blade right away. How about putting Liliana, Heretical Healer into play with Collected Company at instant speed, equip her with Hero’s Blade when you’ve got Heroes’ Podium and three other legends on the Battlefield? That’s an 8/8 lifelinker that can block and ambush just about any creature! This may seem like a silly fun deck, but I think it might have some legs.
Do you have any ideas to tighten up these lists and make them better? What cards from Magic Origins are you most looking forward to playing with?
MTGO Haymaker Society
A few weeks ago I mentioned trying to gather up a list of people who might be interested in playing some friendly games of haymaker Magic on Magic Online. To help facilitate this I’ve created a Facebook page to try and coordinate times and be a repository for links to helpful information. If you’re interested check it out — MTGO Haymaker Society. It’s still under construction but I hope to get it up and running soon!
New to Commander?
If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:
Commander Primer Part 1
(Why play Commander? Rules Overview, Picking your Commander)
Commander Primer Part 2
(Mana Requirements, Randomness, Card Advantage)
Commander Primer Part 3
(Power vs. Synergy, Griefing, Staples, Building a Doran Deck)
Commander Starter Kits 1
(kick start your allied two-color decks for $25)
Commander Starter Kits 2
(kick start your enemy two-color decks for $25)
Commander Starter Kits 3
(kick start your shard three-color decks for $25)
Commander write-ups I’ve done
(and links to decklists):
• Nahiri, The Lithomancer (Lithomancing for Fun and Profit)
- • Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice ( new player-friendly)