Tribal Thriftiness #90 – Domain in Spain

Visit the StarCityGames.com booth at Grand Prix Minneapolis
Tuesday, November 10th – Domain cards in Conflux. Harrow and basic land fetching in Zendikar. Dave digs through the card pool and puts the chocolate into the peanut butter, creating a new Domain Control deck for Standard.

Sorry about the horrible pun. I used “Domain Event” back in Conflux previews.

Domain kind of came and went in Conflux without really much of a blip. It was hot in Limited formats, but thanks to all the non-basic lands that were powering Standard, none of the cards really had any power. Now that the non-basics are gone and the enemy fetchlands are bringing more and more basic lands into play, I’m thinking it may be time to revisit Domain. With Harrow being reprinted, and my previous article on Domain, I always have Dark Domain in one of the corners of my mind. Here, once again, is the deck with which Kai Budde won Grand Prix: London back in 2001:

7 Forest
5 Island
2 Llanowar Wastes
2 Mountain
1 Plains
3 Swamp
1 Yavimaya Coast

4 Allied Strategies
4 Chromatic Sphere
4 Collective Restraint
2 Destructive Flow
4 Evasive Action
1 Goblin Trenches
4 Harrow
4 Lay of the Land
1 Legacy Weapon
1 Ordered Migration
1 Overgrown Estate
2 Pernicious Deed
2 Void
4 Worldly Counsel
1 Yawgmoth’s Agenda

Essentially, at it’s heart, Dark Domain was a control deck. I mean, look at that list. TWO win conditions – one Goblin Trenches, one Ordered Migration. You spent the first couple of turns ramping up into the full Domain, and then used Collective Restraint to hold off any forces until you found a Deed and cleared the board. Destructive Flow cut into your opponent’s ability to not only pay for Collective Restraint, but to do pretty much anything, since this was Invasion-Odyssey Standard and non-basic lands were everywhere. The REAL power, though, was Allied Strategies, which would eventually get you to one of those win conditions.

So which of Conflux’s Domain cards might make the cut?

Aven Trailblazer: Trying to win a battle in today’s Standard by attacking for 2 is not going to cut it; Aven Trailblazer would essentially be a wall to hide behind. The problem is that Standard has better walls at the same converted mana cost. Which would you rather have: a 2/5 wall that might kill an attacker or two, or an 0/8 wall that won’t die to every piece of removal out there?

Drag Down: What I like about Drag Down is that it really takes down most of the creatures in Standard right now. Everything in Jund aside from Great Sable Stag, everything in Vampires incuding Malakir Bloodwitch, Baneslayer Angels, even those Thornlings that are popping up here and there provided you catch them with only one green mana up. What I don’t like is the three-mana casting cost. With such good choices at one and two mana, it’ll be hard to justify the inclusion.

Exploding Borders: This card serves triple duty in this deck. Early game, it’s almost guaranteed to be getting you that fifth land for the Domain. It’s a win condition that gets there without attacking through 0/8 walls. And in the midgame, it draws more land out of your deck so you can get to other win conditions… if you need them.

Manaforce Mace: There will probably not be enough creatures in this deck to pick up a weapon and run with it.

Matca Rioters: Dark Domain won with five power of creatures for four mana (Ordered Migration); Matca Rioters is one mana less, but has no evasion. Unfortunately, the evasion makes a world of difference here, and Matca Rioters also fails the Wall of Denial test (where Ordered Migration / Spore Burst passes).

Might of Alara: Again, not enough creatures to make this worthwhile.

Spore Burst: A little better when it comes to win conditions, as you get a bunch of 1/1s for your mana investment. Since we’re already planning on including Exploding Borders as a main win condition, I can see one Spore Burst as an additional win condition.

Voices from the Void: Mind Sludge is pretty hot right now, so why not bulk discard? We get a better return on our investment than Mind Shatter, and from my experience, a Sludge for five is almost always enough to put your opponent out of cards.

Wandering Goblins: Again, a single creature as a win condition means it has to make it through defending creatures, and while Wandering Goblins CAN take down a Wall of Denial, he still is missing a little bit of evasion to help him punch through decks that can produce numerous creatures, like Jund or Vampires.

Worldly Counsel: Card selection and card drawing were the key to Dark Domain’s success, and Worldly Counsel is going to be critical to our Nu-Domain plan. Sadly, there’s no Allied Strategies to draw us a ton of cards; looks like we’ll be taking a page from other current control decks and putting Mind Spring to good use.

So what’s missing? Conditional countermagic like Evasive Action – we can get a side of counters through Negate or Countersquall or Swerve. The real test will be to pick a counterspell that won’t mess with the mostly-Green manabase that we’ll be running. Defensive measures like Pernicious Deed and Collective Restraint – we can use Wall of Denial ourselves to reduce the number of creatures making it through to us, and I’m thinking Scourglass might fill in as a Deed replacement. And the card-drawing power of Allied Strategies, which we’ll try and reproduce through the use of Mind Spring.

Rare Cost Summary:
Mind Spring ($0.75 x 4 = $3.00)
Scourglass ($2.99 x 3 = $8.97)
Sphinx of Lost Truths ($1.49 x 2 = $2.98)

The deck definitely wanted another win condition outside of Spore Burst / Exploding Borders – and more card drawing. Sphinx of Lost Truths fills both of those needs, and this deck should have no problem generating the mana to kick it regularly. The one-casting-cost landgrabber that was filled by Lay of the Land in the original deck becomes Expedition Map in this deck – sure, you have to spend two mana to fetch it up, but you can get any land, which would mean that we could include a choice non-basic land or two if anything interesting is out there (and why I included a Seaside Citadel, since it fixes your mana if you REALLY need it). A Gargoyle Castle might be interesting. Or a Magosi, the Waterveil?

I like it. I’ll give it a few test spins over the course of the week and see how it plays – and what it’s missing.

8 UC EDH Challenge: Agrus Kos

Each week, I’ll provide an update as to the progress of the 8 UC EDH Challenge. Once I get the decks done, I’ll provide links to the whole decklists, but for right now, I’m still in theory mode.

I decided to start with Agrus Kos because he seems very straightforward as a general – and I don’t want these guys to just be restrictions, I want to make a deck that centers around getting the general into play and using his or her abilities. (Where applicable. Sorry, Jasmine.) In order to maximize Agrus Kos as a general, I’m thinking we are probably going to do a lot of attacking. While this isn’t always the best strategy in EDH (for a number of reasons), it’s really almost a necessity in order to make Agrus Kos worthwhile as a general – and I think it COULD be rewarded since EDH decks tend to take a long time to set up. The trick will be building in some resiliency so that you don’t fizzle out after killing one opponent in a multiplayer game.

I also don’t want to impede Mayael’s deck too much, so I’m planning on keeping big Red-White creatures (like Bull Ceredon) and big Red-White spells that could take advantage of the mana ramping (like Brightflame) for her deck. Most of the small Red-White creatures like Stun Sniper, Boros Swiftblade, and Goblin Legionnaire will end up in this deck, though. I also want anything that creates more power than its casting cost – or something that creates multiple creatures to gain the benefits from Agrus Kos, like Siege-Gang Commander, Firecat Blitz, and Hostility. (White tokens are less interesting; they don’t get the power bonus from Agrus and they’ll probably be more useful in the Jasmine Boreal deck.)

A quick search of Red-White cards did turn up some definite inclusions: Balefire Liege, which will pump up all our guys; Nobilis of War, continuing to play up the aggressive nature of the deck; and Waves of Aggression, a great way to give the deck some punch-through and an “out of nowhere” way to deal large amounts of damage. (Aggravated Assault and Fury of the Horde are also going to make the grade.) I also want to include Squee’s Embrace because, let’s face it, the name is hilarious and the ability is really strong in this format. Also, I want to make sure that I include some good cards for Sunforger to go and fetch – although I’m not sure what that will be apart from Wild Ricochet, which is probably my only “pet” card in EDH. I figure I’ll get it out of the way early.

Other possible inclusions as token-generators: Lightning Coils, Kher Keep, Rakka Mar, Rise of the Hobgoblins, Sarpadian Empires Vol VII, Warbreak Trumpeter

So far, I’m liking where Agrus Kos is going, and the deck seems like something he’d be proud to head up.

Until next week…