You Lika The Juice? – EDH With Teysa, and the StarCityGames.com $5K Standard Open

Read Bennie Smith every week... at StarCityGames.com!
Thursday, October 23rd – This past Saturday I got to play in another Elder Dragon Highlander game. This time we only had seven people muster out. Last time I didn’t get to play, and they tried something different – letting everyone choose an old Vanguard card from Arena seasons past to go with their general, and from what I hear things got a little degenerate due to the combo engines you could set up. This time around they decided to cull the “broken” Vanguard cards and hand out the rest to people at random…

This past Saturday I got to play in another Elder Dragon Highlander game. This time we only had seven people muster out. Last time I didn’t get to play, and they tried something different – letting everyone choose an old Vanguard card from Arena seasons past to go with their general, and from what I hear things got a little degenerate due to the combo engines you could set up. This time around they decided to cull the “broken” Vanguard cards and hand out the rest to people at random… I wasn’t really that thrilled with the idea of the Vanguard cards, and I wonder if the degeneracy last time might have dampened enthusiasm for playing EDH this time around. If you’ve come out for other EDH games at Richmond Comix but didn’t come this past Saturday, drop me a line and let me know why you missed it; I definitely want to keep enthusiasm for EDH in the area high because the format is just too much fun to let fade away.

Last time I wrote about EDH, at least one forum poster commented he wondered if I ever played any non-Green general because he was tired of seeing many of the same cards popping up in my deck lists. Since Green is my favorite color, and I have a lot of really cool old Green cards I like to play, this was a bit tough for me, but I decided to try and stretch outside my comfort zone, and decided to play black/white Teysa, Orzhov Scion as my general. Here’s what I ran:

1 Teysa, Orzhov Scion (general)
1 Maze of Ith
1 Diamond Valley
1 Paradise Mantle
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Ivory Tower
1 Sol Ring
1 Skullclamp
1 Mother of Runes
1 Worthy Cause
1 Scroll Rack
1 Mind Stone
1 Orzhov Signet
1 Sun Droplet
1 Painter’s Servant
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Imp’s Mischief
1 Invulnerability
1 Sun’s Bounty
1 Cauldron Haze
1 Auriok Champion
1 Phyrexian Totem
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Puppet Strings
1 Staff of Domination
1 Unmake
1 Mortify
1 Stillmoon Cavalier
1 Doomed Necromancer
1 Order of Whiteclay
1 Devout Witness
1 Pulsemage Advocate
1 Twilight Drover
1 Lieutenant Kirtar
1 Tawnos’s Coffin
1 Helm of Possession
1 Patrician’s Scorn
1 Ajani Goldmane
1 Wrath of God
1 Damnation
1 Dimir House Guard
1 Filth
1 Krovikan Horror
1 Ghost Council of Orzhova
1 Cauldron of Souls
1 Divinity of Pride
1 Deathbringer Liege
1 Guiltfeeder
1 Kagemaro, First to Suffer
1 Archon of Justice
1 Hallowed Burial
1 Route
1 Gerrard Capashen
1 Karmic Guide
1 Spirit of the Hearth
1 Twilight Shepherd
1 Adarkar Valkyrie
1 Yosei, the Morning Star
1 Skeleton Vampire
1 Netherborn Phalanx
1 Twilight’s Call
1 Angel of Despair
1 Eternal Dragon
1 Minion of Leshrac
1 Skeletal Scrying
1 Mishra’s Factory
1 Urza’s Factory (full art)
1 Miren, the Moaning Well
1 Strip Mine
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
1 Orzhova, the Church of Deals
1 Kor Haven
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
1 Winding Canyons
1 Godless Shrine
1 Orzhov Basilica
1 Vesuva
1 Caves of Koilos
1 Tainted Field
1 Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
1 Spawning Pool
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Phyrexian Tower
1 Dakmor Salvage
1 Leechridden Swamp
5 Swamp
1 Mistveil Plains
1 Forbidding Watchtower
8 Plains

So the general combo is: Teysa, Orzhov Scion + Painter’s Servant (on Black) + 3 White creatures; you pretty much can remove any creature from the game at will, while Twilight Drover can also get huge and Auriok Champion can gain a lot of life. I have to admit fretting a bit that someone playing Chameleon Colossus could really make me regret setting every card on Black with Painter’s Servant, but since I have lots of sacrifice outlets I wasn’t too worried.

Other combos of interest in the deck:

Deathbringer Liege + lots of Black/White/hybrid cards = lots of dead creatures.

Divinity of Pride + 40 starting life = a pretty undercosted five-drop, don’t you think?

Paradise Mantle + Order of Whiteclay to get back any 1-3 mana creature in my graveyard for just two mana each activation. Puppet Strings and Staff of Domination also work nicely with the Order (though they’re more expensive), as does Doomed Necromancer and Lieutenant Kirtar!

Helm of Possession + Diamond Valley/Worthy Cause/Krovikan Horror/Ghost Council of Orzhova/Phyrexian Tower/Miren, the Moaning Well = stealing creatures and then sacrificing them, a time-honored Magic tradition since the days of Preacher + Life Chisel. Hmm, now that I think about it, I think I have a Preacher somewhere, should have played him too!

Ajani Goldmane + Cauldron of Souls: Yay for immortal creatures! If I can’t pull it off in Standard then maybe I can pull it off in EDH…

Filth + Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth: A truly “filthy” combo, especially if you’ve got Guiltfeeder on the board…

Netherborn Phalanx + Twilight’s Call: transmute for Twilight’s Call, then bring back the Phalanx; late game, this could prove to be a lethal play with enough creatures in your opponent’s graveyards. The fact you can Twilight’s Call at instant speed is really a nice option.

Pulsemage Advocate, Cauldron Haze, and Cauldron of Souls: politics, pure and simple. The Pulsemage Advocate is a particularly nice thing to have if another player is growing too big for his britches and one of the other players has something in his graveyard that can cut him down to size, give the card to him while you reanimate something. I like the ability of the Cauldron and the Haze to pick and choose which creatures you want to save from a mass removal spell, earning gratitude from some players while leaving others hideously vulnerable.

Alright, so here were the players, their generals, and the random Vanguard card received (click on the name of the Vanguard card for more information):

Bennie – Teysa, Orzhov ScionAshnod
Forrest – Rafiq of the ManyOracle
Josh – Karn, Silver GolemSidar Kondo
Griffin – Treva, the RenewerEladamri
Ian – Numot, the DevastatorUrza
Tommy – Ertai, the CorruptedSliver Queen
Shane – Stonebrow, Krosan HeroSerra

I wasn’t unhappy with my Vanguard card, as giving me an unkillable Dread pretty much scares off the random attacks that you can sometimes fall victim to in multiplayer games if you don’t get a strong defensive stance set up early. The big-time life hit is mitigated somewhat by the 40 point starting life, though 32 life can get whittled away pretty quickly.

Tommy quickly noted his General and Vanguard card actually did combo, with Sliver Queen able to produce tokens that can be sacrificed to Ertai’s ability… and guess who “randomly” handed out the Vanguard cards? Tommy! We all gave him some good natured ribbing about it, but then he never actually cast his general so I’m not sure whether he just picked the general for its colors and didn’t intend on playing, or felt a little guilty about “abusing” the combo with his Vanguard card?

Josh got everyone’s blood pressure up early in the game with a turn 2 Smokestack, which started eating into everyone’s permanents the following round. Tommy sacrificed his ability to do much of anything early on by using his first two permanents – Wasteland and Strip Mine – to nuke Josh’s lands and force him to get rid of his Smokestack after a couple rounds. I managed to have a two and three mana permanent to offer up to the ‘stack so I kept my lands in play.

The next significant exchange happened when Shane played a Kavu Predator and Forrest went ahead and played his Rafiq of the Many. There was a little lifegaining shenanigans going on among the other players, and so the Predator started inching up towards the 9 and 10 power range. Forrest played a god aura on Rafiq to make him unblockable and attacked Shane. Shane swung back. Shane then hit Rafiq with a Decimate, but along the way destroyed my Cauldron of Souls “because I’ve got to kill an artifact too.” Yeah, that’s a heckuva consolation, so I used the Cauldron to save Rafiq and trump what he was trying to do. Forrest then dropped a Vigor and attacked Shane with Rafiq. Shane took the hit, then on his turn he played his own Vigor and attacked Forrest. This went back and forth a few times until Forrest made an error because the rapidly growing Predator would trample through for lethal. I decided to use my Staff of Domination to untap Forrest’s Rafiq so he could block and save him. I apologized for my “Care Bear Magic” move and claimed I wanted to see how large these two Vigor-enhanced monsters could grow to (both were now pushing 100/100). In truth, I wanted these lethally huge monsters around to possibly kill the other players because I had personally had several defenses against them: on the board I had a Helm of Possession and a couple available creatures to sacrifice, and in my hand I had an Unmake and an Invulnerability. Not to mention my Vanguard card killing off the monster even if I did die. This went on for another turn, but then before Shane could attack with his Kavu Predator, Forrest hit it with a Bant Charm. I had by then drawn Worthy Cause, so I used the Helm of Possession to steal it and then the Worthy Cause to sacrifice it: I gained 153 life. Woot! Tommy was next and cast Wrath of God to neutralize Rafiq/Vigor, who had climbed up to a 132/132 double-striker.

Things got funky after that, with some sweepers, a Wheel of Fortune, and a Time Spiral going off and leaving me with a hand that was relatively ineffective. Of course, the combination of insanely high life and Ashnod gave me plenty of time to hopefully pull something together. I drew a Demonic Tutor, and thought briefly about getting Painter’s Servant, but unfortunately I didn’t have three White creatures on the board nor in my hand to fire up the combo. Instead I fetched up Twilight’s Call, since I did have some decent creatures in my graveyard and enough mana to cast it at instant speed. Unfortunately, Josh cut the game short by going combo on us, dropping a Voltaic Construct to make infinite mana with his Basalt Monolith after animating the Monolith with Karn. He then popped a Memory Jar, played a Voltaic Key and Rings of Brighthearth, played a Junkdiver to get the Jar back, replayed it, found an Erratic Portal to combine with Voltaic Key and Rings of Brighthearth to keep bouncing and replaying Junk Diver and Memory Jar… I think you can see the silliness that ensued. Unfortunately none of us had anything in hand to stop it, and he soon dropped that artifact that makes all permanents artifacts, so Karn nuked all our lands too, and eventually he found a Triskelion to kill us all.

Sadly, nearly all the combos I’d hoped to pull off went unused. The morale of the story? Don’t trust the lunatic who spent the time to make a monobrown EDH Karn deck…

The StarCityGames.com $5K Standard Open

Unless you live under a rock, you know that Star City kicked off the new Standard Metagame with a Magic Cruise qualifier two weeks back, and really gets things revved up this Saturday with their $5K Standard Open right here in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Since I hate netdecking, I’ve been busy throwing together various ideas and seeing how they perform and two decks have shown me enough gumption to be vying for the final cut this week.

The first deck is a spin off my Naya Geddon deck I’ve mentioned in previous articles. It was initially inspired by the Mono-Green Elf beatdown deck that I played in the PTQ season, only instead of playing up the Elf tribe, I went with larger creatures like Woolly Thoctar and went for the finish with Realm Razer, ideally off a Mosswort Bridge activation at instant speed. It’s been doing pretty well but not consistently enough to really get me excited, so I decided to retool things with a card I ran across while sorting my collection the other week: Dramatic Entrance. Now, this was a card I really disliked when I first saw it, since it seemed to me just another “bad” Green card-disadvantage card, spending two cards to get one card in play. However, Shards of Alara brings some really potent Green monsters very much worth cheating into play at instant speed; Hellkite Overlord and Empyrial Archangel are huge, board-dominating beasts that also happen to be Green. Realm Razer is also Green, and since I’ve been trying to pull off instant-speed Armageddon with Mosswort Bridge, it occurred to me why not give it a try with Dramatic Entrance.

I also remembered reading something about a Dramatic Entrance deck doing well in one of the block PTQs or two, so I did a little research on the Star City deck database and pulled up this little gem:

Petros Apotsos won a 39-man PTQ in Greece with an earlier version of this deck, while McKay’s event had 120 or so people, that’s why I posted McKay’s version here. Interestingly, Apotsos’s version had Garruk Wildspeaker but no Fertile Ground, while McKay ran Fertile Ground but no Garruk. Anyway, I took some inspiration here since Woodfall Primus supplements Realm Razer’s LD focus, so why not add some additional mana disruption? With so many five-color builds running around, a deck dedicated to disrupting mana might be able to do well. So I added some Fulminator Mages and Deus of Calamity, and then decided to try out Ajani Vengeant. The Planeswalker does a nice job holding down a tapped land (say, a Vivid land just played) as a virtual Stone Rain until you need to Lightning Helix something vital. Here’s what I’ve been trying out:

Turn 2 Fulminator off Birds into Ajani Vengeant is a beating, and if you can follow it up with Deus you’re really smoking. I like the Deus because he’s very large, and your opponent has every motivation to chump block him since their mana is going to be under duress anyway, so he’s a card-advantage machine. Also, post-Realm Razer, he does a nice job of making sure your opponent can’t recover by dropping a couple of lands in a row.

For the board against beatdown decks I’ve decided on Garruk, Vigor, Cloudthresher, and Chandra. Planeswalkers seem to be great anti-beatdown cards because they demand attention or else they will dominate, and that attention means less damage dealt directly to you. Garruk in particular is good because he creates a significantly sized creature that can protect himself. Vigor is huge, reasonably costed, has to be dealt with before any of your other creatures can be dealt with, and is a great trick to drop into the middle of combat at instant speed with Dramatic Entrance.

The other deck I’ve been grooving on is my Five-Color Clarity deck I wrote about previously. It’s undergone some changes, of course, and I’ve decided to drop the Turn to Mist/ Doomed Necromancer/ Sedris, the Traitor King theme to take advantage of more of the good cards that work well with Reveillark. I still really like Gaddock Teeg, and so I’m definitely keeping that on board. Here’s what the deck looks like now:

Now, I’ve wanted to give Stoic Angel a try and so she’s finally found here way into my Five-Color deck. While she can’t get back into play off a Reveillark, I think she does a nice job of slowing down beatdown decks when you can’t really run Wrath of God alongside Gaddock Teeg. Silkbind Faerie is a proven all-star in Limited, and if you look at his numbers there’s a decent argument for his consideration in Standard; that argument gets even stronger when you consider just how well he works alongside Stoic Angel! Since he’s got virtual vigilance he can go on the attack, and you wait to use his Q ability until after your opponent chooses which creature he’s going to untap for his turn, for a soft lock. Even that synergy hadn’t gotten me off the fence about him until I paired up Stoic Angel with Doran, the Siege Tower – how about a 3/3 Silkbind Faerie? Okay, I’m sold.

Esper Charm really is an all-star and really gives me hope against Faeries, and I like the Glen Elendra Archmages someone suggested in the forums the other week.

What I like about this deck is that it’s got enough similarities with both Toast and Reveillark decks to mislead an opponent into hopefully making some mistakes, while having the unique elements that has the deck play a lot differently: Gaddock Teeg; Stoic Angel; Doran, the Siege Tower. Does this make it a stronger choice for me than a traditional netdecked Reveillark or Toast deck? I hope so.

(And yeah, I realize banking on “rogueness” while writing about it in a column on Star City Games might seem self-defeating, but I usually don’t run into that many people across the table from these big events who happen to have read my column that week.)

So which of the two decks do you think has the best shot at performing well at the StarCityGames.com $5K Standard Open this weekend? Any further suggestions or feedback on the decks are always appreciated!

Take care!


starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com

Listening to:
True to Life, Meredith Ochs & The Damn Lovelys
Emotional Rescue, The Rolling Stones
Temptation Eyes, Blake Babies
Guerilla Radio, Rage Against the Machine
Star Witness, Neko Case

PS – A special note of thanks to those of you who’ve taken the time to email me their comments; some weeks I just don’t have time to answer all my email and for that I apologize, but I do read them and I value your feedback.