Zvi got about a hundred articles out of his My Fires series. I wonder how many I can get off an EDH deck. Well, let’s start — it’s not like anyone would want to hear about my experiences at U.S. Nationals…
Actually, my Nationals experience would not make much of an article. I spent some time on the main event, including judging the Top 8. I did not work on deck checks, and did not watch individual matches. For the most part, whatever I know about Nationals play I learned through reading the coverage.
Riki Hayashi was also working the Top 8, so I’ll let him talk about that.
I did get my new EDH deck together, and I played five multiplayer games at Worlds. My deck is now 5-0.
I’ll talk about a couple of the games, but I should probably talk about the deck design first. The deck has a decent mix of threats, card drawing, mana acceleration and control elements. It also has a general. I am now playing the Mighty Muppet — that’s Kangee , the Aerie Keeper. Don’t think that’s a Muppet? — look at these pictures of Kangee and Gonzo.
The Mighty Muppet.
And, in response to some of the comments on the forums, yes, you are right, Kangee does not pump itself. The current oracle text says other birds — a change made during the Oracle update that introduced Lorwyn. The oracle on my Palm was older, and did not say “other birds…” So, as our British friends would say, the card is still “utter and complete rubbish.” Worse yet, I have no other birds in the deck.
On the plus side, it is a foreign version. Cards in languages I don’t speak suck far less.
My first idea for this deck was to run retrace cards and Crucible of Worlds. I could draw cards with Oona’s Grace, and make dudes with Cenn’s Enlistment. With Crucible, I could basically play all my lands from the graveyard. That would give me more cards, and more tokens.
I was thinking about Trade Routes as well. And, of course, Land Tax. Land Tax is one of White’s most powerful effects, especially with Scroll Rack. It defined an archetype, back in the day. Land Tax plus retrace plus Crucible seems fine, and it is not as if anyone is going to be playing Mudhole.
Some of you may have noticed the problem: Crucible of Worlds is banned in EDH. Strip Mine plus Crucible is too abusive. That does make the retrace idea a bit more problematic.
For that matter, Land Tax plus retrace cards plus Wheel of Sun and Moon would be amazing, too, although I’m not quite sure how you get the retrace cards into the graveyard. In theory, you just have to get the retrace cards into the graveyard first, then play WoS&M. Sure — get those cards, in that order, in a 100 card highlander deck. No problem.
I am playing Reito Lantern, which is not a perfect solution, but it does have other uses. The Lantern does a nice job of getting rid of recursion and reanimator targets.
In EDH, having enough cards to keep playing makes the games a lot more interesting. As a result, I played a number of card drawing cards and effects. I’ve already mentioned that I played Scroll Rack & Land Tax, which is one of the truly great classic card advantage engines (the other is Abundance / Sylvan Library.)
On the other end of the spectrum, I am also playing Benalish Heralds. It is basically Jayemdae Tome on a 2/4 dude. Not great, but it fits perfectly into my theory of multiplayer Magic. I want cards that are good, but not quite good enough to scare opponents into attacking me.
I do have a couple pure card drawing cards. Fact or Fiction is in the deck. I have Urza’s Blueprints, Aeon Chronicler, and Rhystic Study. I also have Sky Hussar, because I have been toying with a tokens subtheme. I even have Mind Stone for mana acceleration. Deep Analysis was in originally, but did not make the final cut.
I don’t seem to have Mind’s Eye. That’s an oversight. I’ll have to add one sometime.
It’s not exactly card drawing, but I have tutors. I have Enlightened Tutor and Academy Rector, and am trying Idyllic Tutor as well. Idyllic seems suboptimal, and will probably get cut. Mind’s Eye is almost certainly better.
I also have some means of fetching lands. I already mentioned Land Tax. I am playing Tithe, Eternal Dragon, and Noble Templar (plus Miraculous Recovery, to make those graveyard creatures better.) I also have Journeyer’s Kite — thanks to the StarCityGames.com team. I forgot to bring one, and they hadn’t brought any along. However, when someone sold them a copy, they remembered my asking. Not only that, they found me out on the floor and handed me the Kite. That Kite also helped win a match. Hey, Pete & Ben — thanks!
By the way, Kite is amazing in EDH because you can never have too much land. One game I cleared the board with Akroma’s Vengeance, then played Twilight Shepherd to get back my stuff, and the Vengeance. Later that turn, someone killed the Shepherd, and I was able to cycle Vengeance in response, and get it back again. That took fifteen mana — plus the one Tundra I left untapped in case I needed to cast Swords to Plowshares.
A lot of EDH decks have a ton of annoying creatures. If I can’t control them, I won’t win. I may have gone overboard in attempting to control them.
I have Wrath of God. (For reasons of bling, I actually run Zorn Gottes, my German Wrath, but it still works.)
I have Mass Calcify, because I have exactly two non-White creatures (Aeon Chronicler and Duplicant.)
I have Austere Command, because I love having options.
I have Hour of Reckoning, because of the token subtheme. I have Rout, because it can be useful. And Akroma’s Vengeance. And Myojin of Cleansing Fire. And Death or Glory and Catastrophe and March of Souls. I even have Mageta the Lion.
With this deck, if creatures survive, it is only because I want them to.
That goes for indestructible creatures as well. I have Duplicant, Swords to Plowshares, Exile, Condemn, and Second Thoughts. If the creature does stay in play, it will be because I have Prison Term or Faith’s Fetters. And, if the opponent taps out, I have Crystal Shard.
For individual permanents, especially non-creature permanents, I have Dismantling Blow, Devout Witness, Aura of Silence and am trying Kithkin Spellduster. So far, it seems fine.
Originally, I had thought about retrace / Crucible and Cenn’s Enlistment tokens. I then thought about how to make those better, and how to level the playing field so that my tokens can go toe to toe with opponents’ creatures.
Glorious Anthem and the two Swords — Sword of Fire and Ice / Sword of Light and Shadow — can pump my guys. So can Crovax, Ascendant Hero, Thistledown Liege, and Ajani Goldmane. With a bit of luck, I can get a bunch of 4/4 tokens by cycling Decree of Justice.
On the other hand, 4/4 tokens are not necessarily bigger and better than my opponents’ creatures. However, I have plans to take care of that. One reason to have Enlightened Tutor, Idyllic Tutor and Academy Rector is because I want to have Humility in play.
Hey, I primarily play EDH with other judges. They can handle it.
So far, Humility has been crucial to only one of the games I have played so far, and then only because I discarded it to Devout Witness to kill something important. (No, I don’t remember what.)
As a fallback, I also have Godhead of Awe in the deck. I have never busted one in draft or Limited, but StarCityGames.com had some at Nats and they were cheap.
To generate more tokens, I also have Mobilization, Militia’s Pride, Hoofprints of the Stag, and Benalish Commander (although Benalish Commander should probably become Darien, King of Kjeldor — or maybe not. Suspend, Wrath is still pretty good).
Non-Basic Lands or Non-Basic Hate?
I am Blue/White. I could play a lot of non-basic lands that tap for Blue and White, plus a lot of lands that do useful things involving Blue and White (think Cephalid Coliseum and Academy Ruins.) For that matter, I could even promote my token theme by making Goats (although that land is too sucktastic even for me. Maybe. I have to think about that. I am playing Kjeldoran Outpost).
Alternatively, I could play non-basic land hate, as an additional method of slowing opponents. I am almost completely White. I could play nothing but Plains, Islands, and a fetch land or two and run Back to Basics, but that is outside the spirit of EDH. I also considered the Invasion artifact that stopped lands with other abilities from untapping (Tsabo’s Web), but that also seems a bit borderline. More importantly, I’m short on room and long on lands that do stuff.
I have been trying New Benalia. It is pretty much meh so far, but card selection is good. For that matter, Academy Ruins is also in the deck, but other than Triskelion, I don’t have much of anything worth retrieving. Mind Stone and Phyrexian Furnace are non-bos with Academy Ruins.
Prahv, Spires of the Order… but as I was typing this I realized that Kor Haven could also be useful. It’s now in the deck. (I cut Martyr of Sands, since I had previously cut her recursion engines.) I have a few other nonbasics — Winding Canyons, some cycling lands, Flood Plain, Flooded Strand, various UW duals, and Calciform Pools. The Pools have been extremely helpful, allowing for some very large Decrees of Justice.
I cut Zoetic Caverns at the last minute, but it might make it back into the deck.
Back to Basics and Tsabo’s Web are definitely not making the deck.
I want to try to recount the last game I played in Chicago, mainly to see if I can. It took place between 1 and 2am, after a very long Sunday. It was also after the judge dinner, where a sneaky waiter kept refilling my wine glass whenever I turned away. Eventually I caught on, when I realized I was getting slightly buzzed off my one glass of wine. Later in the in the night, I was just exhausted. I know I fell asleep at least twice — probably more — during the game; once I nearly fell off my stool.
It was a four player game. Nick, Nate, Ryan (or was that another Nick — no, pretty sure it was Ryan), and me. I know Nick was playing Momir Vig, but I don’t remember the other generals. Ryan was UWB — Chromium, I think — and got a bit land flooded. Nate was playing GB, probably with some other colors, but all strongly I remember was the Grave Pact and the Silvos, Rogue Elemental that Nick stole for a while.
I do remember that my first seven had one land, so I mulliganed that. My next seven had two lands — Temple of the False God and Prahv — so I ditched that, too. My six had Plains, Academy Ruins, and Land Tax, so I was fine from there.
I know people played out threats, and at least Ryan and I Wrathed a couple times. By mid game, I had drawn several cards off Benalish Heralds, and was making tokens with both Outpost and Mobilization — and then with a bid, fat Decree of Justice. In the end, my superior deck design triumphed, as a hoard of 2/2 (Anthem) tokens ran people down. (Alternatively, Ryan got mana flooded, Nick’s creature heavy Momir Vig deck could not handle two opponents with multiple board sweepers — although he came close – and Nate’s Grave Pact strategy wasn’t great against a token generator.)
It was a good game. I just wish I could remember more of it.
I had a couple of really random ideas. For instance, I considered playing Karma. Karma only punishes players running Black generals. Even though a lot of generals are many colors, the number of actual Swamps in play is pretty small. Of course, if I ran Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, I could change the math, but that seems too random. I’m also not completely certain playing Urborg in a UW deck is completely kosher.
I could play Kormus Bell as well. Kormus Bell and Humility is nasty. So is Kormus Bell and White Crovax, and it gets better if I have Glorious Anthem or the Liege.
I also considered playing Lifeline. My first big article for the Dojo, and the one that got me a paid writing gig with that site, was “Teaching your Critters Stupid Lifeline Tricks.” However, Lifeline is best if your opponents don’t understand what will happen — and I play with judges. Even those that don’t always play great Magic still understand delayed triggers.
When pulling cards, I included Lion’s Eye Diamond and Auriok Salvagers, along with Staff of Domination. It is a nice win condition, but I was trying to avoid combo wins. Besides, I was out of room.
I also removed the tutor plus Null Rod, Cursed Totem, Tsabo’s Web, Phyrexian Furnace, etc. silver bullet package. Once again, it is great, but it takes up too much room. Moreover, it can annoy too many opponents without actually winning the game. That’s a bad thing.
I toyed with life gain. I had a Beacon of Immortality, but yanked it early. I also tried cards like Radiant’s Dragoons (still there, because that is an old favorite) and Congregate, because I am playing tokens. Congregate is so stupid. Beyond that, I considered cards like the Hondens (both blue and white), Auriok Champion, Pariah, etc. Those did not make the cut. Exalted Angel did, but only because I am playing a judge foil version. I have lost to that card far too often to really like it.
I tried weirdness like Chromatic Escape — but that is not quite as good when it is a singleton. You need to have three copies working in sequence to really make that card fun. No — not “fun,” that other word… “annoying”, that’s it, to make it really annoying.
I could not find room for Solemn Simulacrum. I need to add him, too.
I avoided Control Magic style enchantments, only because I wanted to stay almost completely White. I did pull out a copy of Dominate, because a permanent, non-Disenchantable Control Magic is great, but the double Blue in the casting cost was enough to make me skip it.
One game got talked about for much of the weekend. I was playing against Ed B. and Ben B. (No relation.) Ed plays in EDH tournaments at his local venue, and his metagame expects combo decks. I have played Ed before, at GP: Indy, and his EDH decks are nuts. I would much rather play off his Type 4 stack than play against his EDH deck, and I first refused to play him. However, he promised to play a low powered deck.
After this debate, Ben was convinced Ed was the greatest threat. That’s fine with me, and I did everything I could to maintain that conviction.
Ben was playing a good stuff deck with cards he liked — including, and he did check this out with both of us ahead of time — a Fruitcake Elemental. Fruitcake Elemental was a judge promo at Christmas a while back. It is a 7/7 indestructible creature for 1GG, with “At the end of your turn, Fruitcake Elemental deals 7 damage to you.” and “3: Target player gains control of Fruitcake Elemental.” Cute.
The game started. It quickly became obvious that Ed was still playing a combo deck of some kind. His general was Sliver Queen, but he was busy giving everyone tokens. He had Hunted Dragon — all the hunted dudes, apparently, Forbidden Orchard, etc. It was pretty obviously a Warp World deck, and Ben was doing everything he could to smash Ed. When Ed played Heartbeat, Ben Disenchanted it (I would have, if he hadn’t). Ditto several other mana accelerants, and when Ben cast an entwined Reap and Sow, he hammered Ed.
Ed was not real happy.
Meanwhile, I had a Hoofprints of the Stag with 6 counters, an Exalted Angel, and a some random tokens in play, and was digging for lands with Eternal Dragon. I was also feeling no pain, since I had fired off a Congregate when both Ed and I had our maximum number of tokens out. I was well into my second hundred life, and I had an Academy Rector waiting to block, which meant that no one was sending any ground pounders my way.
Ed was so pissed at Ben that when he cast Hunted Dragon, he gave me the tokens and smashed Ben. Ben responded (on his turn) by casting Fruitcake Elemental and giving it to Ed.
On my turn, I sent my big fliers over, one per player, and then cast Austere Command, destroying expensive creatures and artifacts. Ed went from several potent creatures to one Fruitcake Elemental. Since the rector died, I started to dig for Humility or something useful when I hit Faith’s Fetters.
Faith’s Fetters on Fruitcake Elemental was really funny, except to Ed.
Ed was in bad straits, but he had one out. He was digging for mana to cast Warp World, which would get rid of the Fruitcake Elemental and give him a decent advantage (since he still owned a half dozen tokens I controlled, and a few more Ben had). Eventually he got there, and warped the world.
I cast Rout in response.
Ben had 16 permanents, mainly land, and wound up okay after the Warp. I had fewer, and drew Rhystic Study, Changeling Hero (with nothing to champion) and Azorius Chancery (plus two Plains.) Ed got several lands, but not enough. I found threats (since my opponents often could not pay for Rhystic Study), and I killed them shortly thereafter.
Ed was still talking about Faith’s Fetters on Fruity days later.
I have to go pack for GP: Denver now.