But First, A Cavern of Souls Update
It’s pretty likely that you’ve already seen the update on Cavern of Souls since last week, but just in case, I’ll go over it. The folks in R&D (the same folks who are responsible for Banned and Restricted Lists) looked at the ruling and decided that they’d prefer if the default ruling were more in line with the way they had initially hoped the card would workâ€”that creatures of the chosen type are uncounterable if you’re using the Cavern for colored mana to cast them, even if you don’t specifically announce it.
This makes sense, and I can imagine the unique templating and wording gyrations they may have gone through in design and development, trying to make it work exactly the way they wanted. Folks don’t often consider the fact that when you’re making cards, you have to make the abilities readable and fit onto the card as well as clear and as straightforward as possibleâ€”even the more complicated ones. This is no easy task, and I give big props to the folks that do it and have been doing it so well for so long.
The bottom line is it’s in everyone’s best interest to communicate clearly. If you’re playing Cavern, announce it. If you’re playing against it, ask. If you’re playing against Cavern, it’s probably in your best interest to make sure you note down the creature type named, just so you’re sure.
Armada Games regular Adam Hart is a young player who understands the nature of Embracing the Chaos. In fact, he might just be too chaotic. Sometimes he sits and does the math on the optimal play; sometimes he just sends things in a direction. Part of what makes him difficult to read is that you’re never sure which of these Adams you’re going to see. Nonetheless, he’s assembled a great deck built around the chaos of shipping Karona around the table with a little bit of damage prevention backup (since it would be a little silly to get killed by your own commander). He calls the deck simply Karona Turbo Fog.
We’ve seen the deck in action a number of times, and it never fails to create a board state that is constantly changing. Knowing you’re going to get Karona on your turn (or at least suspecting it) means you have to do a few different math calculations. Rest assured that players sometimes forget that the next guy is going to gain control of the False God and leave themselves open to getting savaged. I’m the biggest fan of Karona dropping into my team when I have a way to do something good with him. Greater Good comes to mind.
Adam has a modest collection, so he’s traded for many of the cards in the deck. Some he was very excited about getting to play. At one time, he had a Time Twister in the deck for the randomness factor (not to mention upsetting the graveyard recursion decks in one fell swoop), but he’s since taken it out for something else.
Karona, False God:Â All by her lonesome Karona can make things interesting. She has haste, which is a powerful ability for a commander since it can just come right back after a board wipe. In fact, I’ve seen the player to Adam’s right Wrath the field then get killed by Karona before getting another turn, each of the next three attack steps coming his way.
Armillary Sphere:Â There isn’t much ramp in the deck so he’s chosen to go with the Sphere, a card you’re far more likely to see in non-green since they have fewer ways to grab lands.
Crawlspace:Â Karona can give armies huge bonuses with her triggered ability, so not getting attacked by someone else’s now +3/+3 swarm is a survival tactic.
Darksteel Ingot:Â If you’re going to have mana rocks, not getting them blown up is tech.
Font of Mythos:Â There are some group hug elements to the deck as well, and this is one of them. Adam’s idea is to make friends with people so that they don’t send the Karona right back in his face.
Howling Mine:Â Ditto for this.
Lightning Greaves:Â Sometimes, Karona just wants to be left alone. Would a Greta Garbo reference just be lost on this crowd?
Oblivion Stone:Â It’s a reasonable tactic to fill up other players’ hands, let them drop lots of stuff, and then blow it all up. That’s card advantage from a different angle.
Sol Ring:Â False Gods apparently like fast starts.
Academy Rector:Â With twelve enchantments, it’s nice to be able to grab the one that best fits the situation.
Avenger of Zendikar:Â Karona obviously adds an even more dangerous element to an already-dangerous card by naming Plant. Even without a landfall trigger, this can be quite deadly.
Consecrated Sphinx:Â Everyone loves drawing cards, even the wild and crazy people. There is method to this madness, however, as there are Spellshapers in the deck and the extra cards can get put to good use.
False Prophet:Â Leading the unsuspecting to their doom, the False Prophet is a great way to ensure bad things to come back to get you. It serves as a powerful rattlesnake. The only time I’ve seen someone intentionally attack into the False Prophet is when they had Karona and no other creatures.
Fog Bank:Â Pretty simple stuff, and a pretty simple way to make attacking you not particularly worthwhile.
Gomazoa:Â More rattlesnaking, since you don’t want your best creature or your commander shuffled into your library. And no, tuck is not changing.
Kami of the Crescent Moon:Â Another part of the hugs package, this creature tends to stay around a long time.
Veteran Explorer:Â I know this deck is supposed to get people going quickly and/or explosively, but I’m not a big fan of giving extra resources to my opponents. It’s probably fine for Adam since he’s set up for it with the Fog stuff.
Wall of Blossoms:Â Defense and card draw; an oldie but goodie.
Wall of Mulch:Â With five walls in the deck, it’s not like he’s going to get too crazy with the card draw, but it’s a nice little bit of technology.
Wall of Omens:Â Wall of Blossoms’ white brother.
Wall of Souls:Â One of the great rattlesnakes in the deck; I’m surprised it’s not played a little more in the format. A neat trick that I don’t think anyone’s noticed yet is that it deals damage to target opponent, which doesn’t have to be the attacker. This would be the most epic Tainted Strike target ever.
Windborn Muse:Â Propaganda-style effects are great in the format because they don’t really hurt your opponents, but they keep your opponents from hurting you. Unless they’re actively trying to kill you this turn, no one is blowing up your Windborn Muse.
Artifact Creatures (2)
Psychosis Crawler:Â This is a nasty card in any deck. In this one, Adam calls it his one win condition.
Walking Archive:Â More hugs that can get eventually be a really nice defensive card; it’s another one that no one is exactly going to get upset about seeing. No one except me, I guess. I really hate all of my opponents drawing extra cards.
Legendary Creatures (1)
Bitterblossom:Â I think the only reason he’s playing this is that he acquired a Judge foil version.
Lifegift:Â It’s not exactly going to mitigate the damage you’ll take from the results of the ramp, but gaining at least three every trip around the table, at least in the early game, will help a great deal.
Martyr’s Bond:Â Is this perhaps the best white (that’s not also another color) card in the format?
Privileged Position:Â I’ve said before that people don’t play enough enchantment removal, and this underscores the fact that there’s very little mass enchantment removal. I mean, when’s the last time you saw someone play Tranquility?
Rites of Flourishing:Â Not a fan of my opponents getting extra land drops and extra cards, so I hope that I sit to Adam’s left with enchantment removal. “Thanks for the extra card and land!”
Solitary Confinement:Â I was just considering playing this in my Karador deck when I realized I wasn’t drawing enough cards to make it work.
Legendary Enchantments (1)
Meishin, the Mind Cage:Â Another way of keeping creatures in check. Counting all the flip cards, there are fourteen legendary enchantments in Magic, and we don’t really see that many of them in the format.
Chaos Warp:Â Getting rid of something really annoying (like a commander) with most likely a better than 50% chance of them whiffing (counting lands as a whiff) seems really good, especially for red.
Constant Mists:Â Part of the Turbo Fog package, late in the game this will keep you alive a long time. The better creatures get, the more Fogs people will want to pack. I’m thinking Tangle and Spore Cloud in every green deck.
Enlightened Tutor:Â I actually don’t think I’ve ever seen Adam Tutor for an artifact with this.
Mystical Tutor:Â Generally Adam gets pretty giddy with excitement when he’s searching up something, going for the fun play instead of the good play and leaving all that deep strategy to other people.
Oblation:Â I’ve been playing this card since it came out, and I’m not sure whether I’m happy or sad that so many other folks have learned how good it is.
Time Stop:Â I once almost bought the original art for this, but back then $2200 was a little outside my budget.
Vision Skeins:Â He’s trying to make friends here, but I know what he’s up to.
Archangel’s Light:Â This has turned out to be even better than I thought. I think people underestimate the value of life gain, especially in big chunks. If you’re not living out of your graveyard, having stuff available to you once again is awesome.
Austere Command:Â Just had a discussion with one of the regulars over whether I’d choose to play this or Akroma’s Vengeance if I couldn’t play both, and I think the flexibility of this makes it the winner.
Collective Voyage:Â /me facedesks
Idyllic Tutor:Â Right into your hand. Boom!
Kodama’s Reach:Â Everyone needs a little ramp now and then.
Open the Vaults:Â Since he lives on a lot of enchantments this seems like a good choice, but I’m still not a fan of doing nice things for the opponents too.
Rite of Replication:Â Along with Avenger of Zendikar and Massacre Wurm, one of the cards that engenders the most epic plays in the format. When people call for its banning, the little question marks appear over my head.
Skyscribing:Â I don’t think I’ve ever seen him mill out everyone with this, but I imagine it could happen, especially after they’ve gotten all those lands with Collective Voyage. I knew he was up to no good.
You can check out all Adam’s lands in the list at the end. The two most significant are Kher Keep and Springjack Pasture, which make creatures that get in the way of attackers. I’m a little concerned that I knew before I looked it up that Kher Keep is one of 38 legendary lands in the game. That information is probably keeping something valuable, like where I put my keys, out of my brain.
The Kokusho Test
Although the next iteration of League doesn’t start until tomorrow, the Great KK Test of 2012 has already begun in casual games at Armada. We’ve already determined relatively quickly that the Evening Star is broken relatively easily as a general (thanks to Michael Fortino for demonstrating that). The issue is that the nature of being a general means it’s always available. It doesn’t trigger when it goes to the Command Zone, but that’s not the point. You just let it go to the graveyard, where its power is abused. If someone exiles it from there, it goes back to the Command Zone where you can start the whole thing over.
The other thing we’ve discovered is that the nature of the game changes simply because someone is playing KK as a general. That can probably be said about a number of cards (you better believe people sit up and notice Arcum Dagsson or Zur, for example), but the tension becomes palpable. We’re still going to allow the test to run its course just in case the games we’ve played have been the aberration.
Initial results with it as one of 99 have been mixed. It’s strong, especially when built around, but we have yet to see it dominate a game more so than a number of other cards, even the ones that it’s most often compared to: Primeval Titan and Consecrated Sphinx. I’ve simply jammed it into all my decks with black in them, with no other preparation or deck modification. I’m quite interested in how it will go. I predict the best results from Karador, which is designed to get creatures both into and out of the graveyard.
Speaking of deck modification, I’ve added Netherborn Phalanx to my Karador deck. With the number of token decks that create huge numbers of creatures, he seems like a nice punisher. The fact that he can transmute for Duplicant, Grave Titan, Harvester of Souls, Massacre Wurm, Primeval Titan, and Sun Titan makes him kind of insane. The blowout moment will be when he’s already on the battlefield and the Avenger of Zendikar player thinks he’s safeâ€”and then Restoration Angel shows up for her share of Embracing the Chaos.
More results on the Kokusho test as they come.
- 1 Wall of Blossoms
- 1 Angus Mackenzie
- 1 Wall of Souls
- 1 Weathered Wayfarer
- 1 Windborn Muse
- 1 Fog Bank
- 1 Karona, False God
- 1 Wall of Mulch
- 1 Veteran Explorer
- 1 Dawnstrider
- 1 False Prophet
- 1 Academy Rector
- 1 Kami of the Crescent Moon
- 1 Court Hussar
- 1 Walking Archive
- 1 Wall of Denial
- 1 Gomazoa
- 1 Oracle of Mul Daya
- 1 Avenger of Zendikar
- 1 Guard Gomazoa
- 1 Wall of Omens
- 1 Consecrated Sphinx
- 1 Psychosis Crawler
- 3 Swamp
- 1 Temple of the False God
- 1 Tranquil Thicket
- 1 Secluded Steppe
- 1 Barren Moor
- 1 Boros Garrison
- 1 Selesnya Sanctuary
- 1 Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree
- 1 Izzet Boilerworks
- 1 Azorius Chancery
- 1 Kher Keep
- 1 Vivid Grove
- 1 Vivid Marsh
- 1 Vivid Meadow
- 1 Springjack Pasture
- 1 Reliquary Tower
- 1 Evolving Wilds
- 1 Mystifying Maze
- 1 Ghostly Prison
- 1 Lifegift
- 6 Forest
- 5 Plains
- 1 Mystical Tutor
- 1 Enlightened Tutor
- 1 Force of Will
- 1 Propaganda
- 1 Howling Mine
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Time Stop
- 3 Mountain
- 3 Island
- 1 Constant Mists
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Kodama's Reach
- 1 Collective Restraint
- 1 Sterling Grove
- 1 Moment's Peace
- 1 Solitary Confinement
- 1 Worldly Tutor
- 1 Crawlspace
- 1 Oblivion Stone
- 1 Lightning Greaves
- 1 Oblation
- 1 Meishin, the Mind Cage
- 1 Privileged Position
- 1 Skyscribing
- 1 Vision Skeins
- 1 Rites of Flourishing
- 1 Austere Command
- 1 Bitterblossom
- 1 Idyllic Tutor
- 1 Prismatic Omen
- 1 Armillary Sphere
- 1 Font of Mythos
- 1 Open the Vaults
- 1 Day of Judgment
- 1 Rite of Replication
- 1 Chaos Warp
- 1 Collective Voyage
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Martyr's Bond
- 1 Archangel's Light