You Lika The Juice? – EDH with Kamahl, Fist of Krosa

Read Bennie Smith every week... at StarCityGames.com!
Tuesday, May 27th – The last time I went to battle at an Elder Dragon Highlander game, I got horribly color-screwed nearly the entire game and vowed to play Mono-Green the next time around in the hopes that mana troubles wouldn’t be nearly as bad. Green isn’t exactly known for its powerful multiplayer cards, so I wanted to use that notion as camouflage to lull people into not really regarding me as a threat.

The last time I went to battle at an Elder Dragon Highlander game, I got horribly color-screwed nearly the entire game and vowed to play Mono-Green the next time around in the hopes that mana troubles wouldn’t be nearly as bad. As the time for the next EDH approached, I kicked around just what sort of EDH deck I should build. Green isn’t exactly known for its powerful multiplayer cards, so I wanted to use that notion as camouflage to lull people into not really regarding me as a threat. What could a Mono-Green deck really do anyway?

One thing I knew I’d be running is lots of creatures, and relying on creatures leaves you quite vulnerable to mass removal. To mitigate that problem, I decided to choose Kamahl, Fist of Krosa as my general. While Kamahl can be a scary card in his own right given enough mana, his ability to animate lands is what I really liked in multiplayer; anyone who relied on playing numerous Wrath effects was going to find his animated lands joining the death march to the graveyard (unless of course the Wrath was needed to stop someone else’s madness).

As I was admiring my Kamahl, I noticed his creature type – Druid Legend (though actually he’s been errata’d to be Legendary Creature – Human Druid). Druids, eh? Which got me thinking about that new druid lord, Gilt-Leaf Archdruid, a brutal beating of a card if you manage to get 6 other Druids out there to join him. Even if the Archdruid bites the dust immediately, you’re going to permanent gain control of somebody’s lands.

The beauty of the Archdruid is that he’s also an Elf, so I figured I could mask the druid theme submerged in a larger, more obvious Elf theme. If I deviated into non-elf Druids, I’d pick some that were just plain ol’ good cards (Yavimaya Elder, Nantuko Vigilante) so as to hopefully not get anyone suspicious.

As I searched for Druids in Gatherer, I was surprised to realize that quite a few old cards have been errata’d into becoming Druids at some point in time. I was particularly happy to find that Alliance’s Kaysa was now both a Druid and an elf! Here’s the list of my super-secret circle of Druids:

Druids: Kamahl, Fist of Krosa; Gilt-Leaf Archdruid; Seedguide Ash; Kaysa; Heart Warden; Chameleon Colossus; Civic Wayfinder; Nantuko Vigilante; Fyndhorn Elves; Yavimaya Elder; Citanul Hierophants; Farhaven Elf; Elvish Harbinger; Birchlore Rangers; Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary; Wirewood Channeler; Priest of Titania; Viridian Joiner

I also added some creature search in order to get key druids into play; I decided against Survival of the Fittest because everyone seems to freak out whenever I play Survival. If I’m going to subtle I don’t necessarily want to freak people out.

Creature Search: Chord of Calling; Primal Command; Defense of the Heart; Protean Hulk; Tooth and Nail; Pattern of Rebirth

Many of the Druid elves can produce a good amount of mana, so I decided to add some explosive/infinite mana engines to the deck. One combo that I’ve used in the past to generate some sick mana is Malachite Talisman in conjunction with Gaea’s Cradle. The Talisman also works well with Priest of Titania or Rofellos. On the creature front, Staff of Domination can both kick off infinite mana and give you stuff to do with all that mana. Umbral Mantle can also generate infinite mana while also making said Druid rather gigantic in size (Umbral Mantle also lets Viridian Joiner get in on the infinite mana trick).

To power up the Talisman, I decided to employ some spells I could use over and over; two copies of Regrowth, Recollect, and Reap could chain between each other and charge up a Talisman-fueled Cradle or Druid to make your infinite mana. Broken Fall could do the same thing by itself, giving something an infinite number of regeneration shields while playing it over and over.

To finish off the combo, I decided to add Rocket Launcher (to kill the board), Dark Depths (because, seriously, I’ve been dying to use my 20/20 Marit Lage token), and Hunting Pack.

Combo/Engine cards: Gaea’s Cradle; Elvish Guidance; Malachite Talisman; Staff of Domination; Umbral Mantle; Broken Fall; Regrowth; Reap; Recollect; Dark Depths; Rocket Launcher; Hunting Pack; Earthcraft; Squirrel Nest

Those last two I threw in just for the heck of it; they’re Green, why not toss in a two-card infinite combo? I also added Elvish Guidance, which can do a fair impression of Gaea’s Cradle in a pinch.

Since Gaea’s Cradle plays such an important role, I included some “Cradle support” cards:

Cradle Support: Reap and Sow; Scapeshift; Crop Rotation; Deserted Temple; Candelabra of Tawnos; Magus of the Candelabra

Here’s what I rounded out the deck with, either some “elfy” cards to keep the illusion of this being an Elf deck rather than a Druid deck, or just generally good quality cards.

Other cards: Wirewood Herald; Imperious Perfect; Caller of the Claw; Eternal Witness; Genesis; Vigor; Cloudthresher; Skullclamp; Sensei’s Divining Top; Scroll Rack; Sylvan Library; Cream of the Crop; Gaea’s Blessing; Sun Droplet; Spidersilk Armor; Weatherseed Totem; Raking Canopy; Holistic Wisdom; General’s Regalia; Power Matrix; Tawnos’s Coffin; Deathrender; Cauldron of Souls; Diamond Valley; Maze of Ith

Mana-producing Lands: Mikokoro, Center of the Sea; Vesuva; Yavimaya Hollow; Strip Mine; Petrified Field; Boseiju, Who Shelters All; Scrying Sheets; Tranquil Thicket; Slippery Karst; Winding Canyons; Mishra’s Factory; Urza’s Factory; Mutavault; Treetop Village; Pendelhaven; Sapseep Forest; 15 Snow-Covered Forest

What’s particularly interesting in Elder Dragon Highlander, for me anyway, is just how hard it is to trim the deck down to 100 cards. For a while as I was building this I had an enchantress sub-theme, since I found that the enchantress cards (Argothian Enchantress, Verduran Enchantress, Yavimaya Enchantress) are all Druids! But I as I stared at 100+ cards I wanted to put in the deck before I’d even added any lands, I knew I had to cut back on the themes I had working.

So, this past Saturday up at Richmond Comix 13 players gathered around the table at noon and went through the generous mulligan options in order to craft an acceptable hand. Tommy’s general was Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir (Mono-Blue); his wife Amy played Nath of the Gilt-Leaf (Green/Black); their son Logan played Radha, Heir to Keld (Red/Green); Jessica played Rith, the Awakener (Green/Red/White); Rooks played Savra, Queen of Golgari (Green/Black); Shane played Cromat (all five colors); David W. played Reaper King (all five colors); David A. played Vhati il-Dal (Green/Black); Josh K played Karn (colorless); Josh R. played Selenia Dark Angel (Black/White); Griffin played Sliver Queen (all five colors); and Forrest played Tolsimir Wolfsblood (Green/White).

A quick note on the Karn deck; under EDH deck construction rules, it would appear that using Karn as your general would prohibit you from playing basic lands (since there are colored mana symbols on them). You have to dip into some really awful lands in order to get up to the 33 or so mana-producing lands you’d need. Props to Josh Krause for pulling it off – lucky for him, he does own a Mishra’s Workshop, which happens to be pretty awesome for a Karn deck.

Everyone starts out relatively slow, except for Logan (who’s about 9 or so); Logan plays a land and drops Allosaurus Riders, removing two Green cards from his hand in order to pay its alternate casting cost. As the table expresses surprise at the early aggression, I ask him what cards he removed and when he tells us we all get louder – Life from the Loam and Squall Line, both mighty fine cards, especially Loam! Logan shrugs, “what can I say? My hand is really good.” Next turn Logan is the first to get his general into play (Radha), and swings with his 3/3 Rider, attacking Rooks over two turns.

My hand includes two Snow-Covered Forests and a Vesuva along with a Scroll Rack. I’m debating between dropping Scroll Rack off the Forests and waiting to use it, but I worry someone will randomly kill it before I get a chance to use it. In order to make sure I can hit three untapped mana to play the Rack and use it, I play Vesuva on turn 2 and copy someone’s Treetop Village. Of course, afterwards someone plays Thawing Glaciers, a card I would have much rather copied!

Josh K. plays a Phyrexian Processor and pays 10 life, something not quite so dangerous to do when you start at 40 life, but still pretty risky. It pays off however when no one destroys it, and he proceeds to start making 10/10 minion tokens.

Griffin tries to pull together his five-color manabase with a sacland, but Shane hits him with a Shadow of Doubt, leaving Griff in the hole for a while. Amy plays a Hunted Troll and gives the 4 1/1 faeries to her son Logan, and we all call shenanigans (she just grins). Logan moves down the table from Rooks and starts hitting Shane since Shane has no blockers out. Logan also plays Forgotten Ancient, a card that quickly gets out of hand at a table this large.

Some of you who’ve read this column before may recall me talking about Forrest, who played Grand Arbiter as a general last time and got killed because of it. His pick of general this time around is a much better choice, and his White/Green deck has been progressing nicely. He’s played Stonehewer Giant, equips it with Whispersilk Cloak and attacks, tapping to fetch out Loxodon Warhammer before damage is assigned (since the ability doesn’t target he can work it under the Cloak), getting a nice chunk of life that gets even more ridiculous next turn when he plays Life Reflection.

Meanwhile, Jessica has played her general Rith, who attacks Shane (still with no creatures out to block). She activates Rith’s ability, chooses Green, and gets a ton of Saprolings. The next turn she does the same thing, and when the smoke clears she’s got 62 Saprolings. Meanwhile Rooks, sporting a sweet little Essence Warden, has gained a ton of life, so Josh R. plays Reverse the Sands, switching some life totals around so that he ends up the high man with 89 life, and helping Shane go from 8 life (after getting pounded on by Logan and Jessica) to around 50 life. In the course of the shifting life totals, Jessica gets a lower life total, so in retaliation she sends her army at Josh R. and kills him. First blood goes to Jess!

Remember all that cool stuff I mentioned I put in my deck? So far, the Scroll Rack (and later, Sylvan Library once a Molder Slug ate the Rack) hasn’t revealed much along that path. I’ve got a Birchlore Ranger, Imperious Perfect churning out some Elf Warriors in play, and in my hand are Cloudthresher and Chord of Calling for emergencies. Where are all my Druids? I finally draw Scapeshift, and decide to make my move, intending on sacrificing four lands for a Cradle, Deserted Temple, Maze of Ith and Dark Depths, figuring double Maze can keep attackers at bay, while end-of-turn during my opponent-to-the-right’s turn I can generate a ton of Cradle mana to tick down Dark Depths. Come to me, Marit Lage!

Unfortunately, Jessica chooses the moment of Scapeshift on the stack to play Aven Mindcensor, dashing my hopes of doing anything interesting. I sac one land and hope to find something interesting in the top 4 (I’d paid 8 life to draw 3 cards from the Library, so I didn’t know what was coming up). There were some interesting cards there, but sadly the only land was a Snow Covered Forest; I shuffled away a Skullclamp and Staff of Domination. Ouch!

Meanwhile, Logan has decided to put the finishing blow on Shane, who still has no creatures out (turns out he only had two creatures in his deck outside of his general). Logan’s Allosaurus Rider is still on the rampage, by now growing to gigantic size due to plenty of lands and getting buffed by Forgotten Ancient. As he attacks with it, Shane hits it with Backlash, and the Rider is large enough to kill Logan. Two players over Forrest decides to revenge Logan by taking down Shane, who’s now tapped out and defenseless.

Things start moving faster now. Tommy has played Teferi which has hogtied people from responding with spells, so Rooks attacks with a large, Garruk-fueled army and kills Tommy. Josh/Karn has been chilling for most of the game, but sends his 5 10/10 Minions rumbling across the red zone and kills off David A. Forrest turns his attack on Josh, attacking with an Avatar of Might and “Big Bird” Windbrisk Raptor; the life gain coupled with some attacks with the Loxodon Warhammer earlier leaves him at 137, so naturally he casts Storm Herd for a ton of tokens… and Rooks skyrockets in life from the Essence Warden he still has out there!

This is when Rooks begins to take control of the game. He’s got a Seedborn Muse in play, and starts using his Golgari Guildmage to add +1/+1 tokens each player’s turn to beef his creatures to impressive size, and to cycle his Protean Hulk, eventually getting a Mindslicer to nuke everyone’s hand, and his general Savra easily removes everyone’s blockers. First David W., then Griffin, then me, then Jessica, then Amy and lastly Forrest all fall to the ridiculous power of Seedborn Muse.

Which leads us to talking about implementing another house rule that Seedborn Muse gets banned. Sure, one problem with this game is that not a single Wrath or creature-sweeper effect was played, so creatures got out of hand. But if a Seedborn Muse sticks around for any length of time, it quickly dominates the game by giving its controller basically a free turn for every turn everyone else takes (to use mana, reuse tap effects, cast spells, etc). I’ve taken to not playing the Muse anymore because it’s really unfair and totally dominating, but I think it’s time we go ahead and give it the boot officially. So long as it’s legal people will play it, and they will be at a distinct advantage.

Towards the end of the game, the owner of Richmond Comix, Frank Miller came around with a blast from the past – some old Vanguard cards from Arena seasons long past (like 10+ years ago). He suggested next time we make EDH with Vanguard – which certainly will make things interesting! For those of you unfamiliar with Vanguard outside of Magic Online, it’s pretty much the same — instead of “Avatars” that you start with, you instead pick an oversized card that’s a character from the Magic storyline (Squee, Gerard, etc) and it adjusts your starting life, your hand size, and has some effect on your game. I hope we go ahead and do that, should be a lot of fun!

Next week I pivot towards figuring out what to play for Regionals. I have to say the results from Pro Tour: Hollywood give me hope that Regionals won’t necessarily be a sea of Faeries I’d have to wade through, and there are certainly a couple of decks in the Top 16 that I could totally enjoy playing. My instinct of course is to cook up a home brew, but my life right now is not conducive towards giving a rogue deck the time it needs to perform well. The pros that went to Hollywood spent a lot of time and effort getting these decks well tuned, so I’m sorely tempted to take one of those decks and get intimately familiar with it.

Then again, maybe I’ll take Adrian Sullivan Warp World deck and crush dreams with it. Ahh, decisions, decisions!

Until next week!


starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com

PS – In case you’d like my EDH deck in list form, here it is:

1 Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
1 Gilt-Leaf Archdruid
1 Seedguide Ash
1 Kaysa
1 Heart Warden
1 Chameleon Colossus
1 Civic Wayfinder
1 Nantuko Vigilante
1 Fyndhorn Elves
1 Yavimaya Elder
1 Citanul Hierophants
1 Farhaven Elf
1 Elvish Harbinger
1 Birchlore Rangers
1 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
1 Wirewood Channeler
1 Priest of Titania
1 Viridian Joiner
1 Chord of Calling
1 Primal Command
1 Defense of the Heart
1 Protean Hulk
1 Tooth and Nail
1 Pattern of Rebirth
1 Elvish Guidance
1 Malachite Talisman
1 Staff of Domination
1 Umbral Mantle
1 Broken Fall
1 Regrowth
1 Reap
1 Recollect
1 Rocket Launcher
1 Hunting Pack
1 Earthcraft
1 Squirrel Nest
1 Reap and Sow
1 Scapeshift
1 Crop Rotation
1 Candelabra of Tawnos
1 Magus of the Candelabra
1 Wirewood Herald
1 Imperious Perfect
1 Caller of the Claw
1 Eternal Witness
1 Genesis
1 Vigor
1 Cloudthresher
1 Skullclamp
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Scroll Rack
1 Sylvan Library
1 Cream of the Crop
1 Gaea’s Blessing
1 Sun Droplet
1 Spidersilk Armor
1 Weatherseed Totem
1 Raking Canopy
1 Holistic Wisdom
1 General’s Regalia
1 Power Matrix
1 Tawnos’s Coffin
1 Deathrender
1 Cauldron of Souls
1 Diamond Valley
1 Dark Depths
1 Maze of Ith
1 Gaea’s Cradle
1 Deserted Temple
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
1 Vesuva
1 Yavimaya Hollow
1 Strip Mine
1 Petrified Field
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
1 Scrying Sheets
1 Tranquil Thicket
1 Slippery Karst
1 Winding Canyons
1 Mishra’s Factory
1 Urza’s Factory
1 Mutavault
1 Treetop Village
1 Pendelhaven
1 Sapseep Forest
15 Snow-Covered Forest