You Lika The Juice? – From the StarCityGeezer Mailbag

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Friday, March 19th – While I guess there are some writers who write simply for their own enjoyment, I suspect most writers are like me—we write to create a shared experience with our readers and hopefully elicit dialogue on topics that interest us. Reader response through the forums and through email let writers know whether our columns are making those connections we’re looking for.

While I guess there are some writers who write simply for their own enjoyment, I suspect most writers are like me—we write to create a shared experience with our readers and hopefully elicit dialogue on topics that interest us. Reader response through the forums and through email let writers know whether our columns are making those connections we’re looking for.

The conversations that spring up in the forums are often spirited and engaging, and I try to make time to chime in when I can. I’m much worse on the email I get—though I read them all, it’s tough to reply to each one. One thing I do try to do is flag those that I think raise questions or issues that I feel are worth bringing back to my readers, and so periodically I like to open the mailbag and share with you the emails and my replies.

Hi, I enjoyed your article on Omnath, but I just had to share with you the joy that is Proteus Staff for your Tibor and Lumia deck. I run a somewhat similar deck with Intet, the Dreamer (lots of steal/copy effects), and the Staff is wonderful – it buries troublesome generals and other creatures, and lets you find something new to Clone.

Two more hilariously awesome cards:

Trade Secrets – Draw 4 for 3, or maybe 8, or maybe 12, or… Just be careful if the opponent you target opts to draw his/her entire deck.

Spellweaver Volute – Stick it on a Radiate in your graveyard, cast, I dunno, Rite of Replication


Dylan’s email had a couple specific cards that I wanted to give my opinions on:

1. Proteus Staff: personally, I consider this a “douchebag” card. One of the guiding principals of EDH is allowing everyone to play the game, and EDH decks, by their nature, often lean heavily on their general, and not everyone has shuffle or tutor effects so for them a “tuck” effect permanently removes the reason for building the deck to begin with. Having a reusable “tuck” effect just strikes me as incredibly unfun and I would never play it.
2. Trade Secrets: I’ve played this to good effect in multiplayer and I’ve also been burned by it. Ultimately, I think it’s a little too good in EDH, letting two players team up and easily set themselves up to dominate the board. I’m not calling it douchebaggery or wanting it banned, but I don’t personally play it anymore.
3. Spellweaver Volute: now we’re talking! This is a card I’m always forgetting about but want to try in EDH, and you’re right—it would be awesome to Radiate a Rite of Replication!

I am lucky enough to be able to pick my cards up from StarCityGames.com itself, and I would like you to look at my deck, inspired by one I saw on the Mothership, this is designed to mulligan into one of the spells or Valakut and go nuts.

1 Ashling the Pilgrim (general)
1 Akroma’s Memorial
1 Gauntlet of Power
1 Magebane Armor
1 Mana Flare
1 Shield of Kaldra
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
1 That Which Was Taken
1 Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
1 Smoldering Spires
1 Teetering Peaks
1 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
88 Mountain


I’ve also thought about “enhancing” the brilliant 99 Mountain + Ashling EDH concept myself. I’m lucky enough to actually do a podcast (Summon Elder Dragon Highlander, on MTGcast, check out episode #3!) with the guy who invented that deck, Sean O’Neil. So I forwarded him your email and this is what he said:

I thought about playing the best 7 nonlands possible and having a deck that would never mull and never miss a land drop since you draw on turn 1 in multiplayer but the purity of the deck makes it something special IMO, that aside…

The 7 cards : Gamble; Sword of Fire and Ice (the pro red stops Ashling from killing itself); Apocalypse; Mindslaver; Godo, Bandit Warlord; Loxodon Warhammer; Countryside Crusher with the following lands: 90 mountains , Shinka the Bloodsoaked Keep, and Miren the Moaning Well.

The idea being 100% ability to play turn 2 Ashling and never missing land drops.

A few of Sean’s choices freaked me out a little bit—Mindslaver? Apocalypse?! They seem to push the Spike/Douchebag envelope for a deck that otherwise seems totally and uniquely cool. Ultimately though, I think it’s an interesting exercise—how would you enhance the 99 Mountain + Ashling concept, to keep the concept intact of playing turn 2 Ashling and almost never missing a land drop?

Here’s my take:

1 Ashling the Pilgrim (general)
1 Akroma’s Memorial
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
1 Shield of Kaldra
1 Loxodon Warhammer
1 Godo, Bandit Warlord
1 Urza’s Blueprints
1 Warp World
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
1 Miren, the Moaning Well
1 Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
1 Smoldering Spires
1 Teetering Peaks
1 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
86 Mountain

Also, check the bottom of this column for the next deck by Sean in the spirit of 99 Mountains + Ashling!

I read your article the other day on the Baru deck and I thought I would send you a list of the deck I’ve been building for a few months now. The general is Vendilion Clique. I know mono blue isn’t your favorite… at least that’s what I gather from reading your articles. I try to only play this deck in multiplayer because 1v1 isn’t fair with a mono Blue deck. I also only have 2 ways to win… and by win I mean eliminate 1 player… then I just die.

I have Tunnel Vision and Stroke of Genius as my kill conditions, but no way to recur either on my own…I don’t think. I just sit back and do nothing and counter spells that make the game “no fun”. Anyways….here is my list. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

1 Vendilion Clique (General)
1 Arcanis the Omnipotent
1 Keiga the Tide Star
1 Teferi Mage of Zhalfir
1 Venser Shaper Servant
1 Sundering Titan
1 Aeon Chronicler
1 Duplicant
1 Memnarch
1 Draining Whelk
1 Trinket Mage
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Jace Beleren
1 Tezzeret the Seeker
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Inundate
1 Trade Secrets
1 Acquire
1 Personal Tutor
1 Tunnel Vision
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Time Stretch
1 Bribery
1 Future Sight
1 Power Artifact
1 Rhystic Study
1 Treachery
1 Decree of Silence
1 Mindslaver
1 Coalition Relic
1 Relic of Progenitus
1 Planar Portal
1 Gauntlet of Power
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Mana Crypt
1 Basalt Monolith
1 Vedalken Shackles
1 Voltaic Key
1 Grim Monolith
1 Sol Ring
1 Mana Vault
1 Crucible of Worlds
1 Tangle Wire
1 Scroll Rack
1 Capsize
1 Force of Will
1 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Mindbreak Trap
1 Spelljack
1 Hinder
1 Counterspell
1 Twincast
1 Stroke of Genius
1 Muddle the Mixture
1 Time Stop
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Brainstorm
1 Pact of Negation
1 Cryptic Command
1 Last Word
1 Desertion
1 Wasteland
1 Riptide Laboratory
1 Maze of Ith
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Thawing Glaciers
1 Strip Mine
1 Dust Bowl
1 Minamo, School at Water Edge
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Academy Ruins
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
1 Tolaria West
1 Soldevi Excavations
22 Island

I’ve also been considering switching the general to the new U/B kraken from Worldwake because he seems like and awesome general! But that would be a lot of work…..anyways, thanks for looking at my list!

First off, in a nod to another host on Summon Elder Dragon Podcast, Steve Fox last episode was extolling the virtues of Withdraw in his EDH deck, so give that a try.

Second, you said you sit back and do nothing but counter spells that make the game “no fun.” There’s nothing wrong with using Blue’s powers for good! However, checking over your list, I do see plenty of cards that probably get you in trouble at the table on top of countering people’s spells: Memnarch, Capsize, Tangle Wire, Voltaic Key + Grim Monolith, Mindslaver + Academy Ruins, Rhystic Study, Time Stretch… all these backed by infinite counterspells are why people hate Blue! I have a feeling you’re downplaying the reason why you’re “just losing” after killing one or two people; you will win more EDH games through political multiplayer maneuverings than you will through infinite combo kills.

The other day as I was searching for Legacy cards I ran across a huge batch of Blue spells that struck me as fun, cards I want to build an EDH deck for. Since the beginning of Magic, Blue’s slice of the color pie has been ridiculously wide and deep, and Wizards has made a ton of fun and wacky cards for Blue that never got played because countering spells and drawing cards was just so much more powerful. I’ve actually got an EDH article planned where I’ll go into detail about these sorts of cards (“Bennie Goes Blue!”), but in the meantime I’d just recommend getting rid of the infinite mana combos, get rid of the douchebag cards, trim back on the counterspells so you have enough to be the hero (countering the “unfun stuff”) but not so much that you’ve got nothing else to do but keep your mana up, and go hunting towards the back of your Blue boxes with the idea of “fun” foremost in your mind. I guarantee you’ll find some good stuff!

Lastly, I totally advocate dipping into Black and trying Wrexial, that general is flavorful and loads of fun!

I just finished reading your EDH primer (Late, I know…) and I want to share my experience with you because I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. I’m a newcomer to the format and I love it. I currently run an Omnath, Locus of Mana deck and I’m in love with it.

I was also wondering how I could protect my board in mono-Green while leaving enough space for the land searching and mana producers I currently run. Thanks for reading, and many happy random plays to you.


First let me say thanks for checking out my Primer, I hope you found it useful!

Regarding protecting your board… it’s certainly tough to do in a mono-Green deck but I can make some recommendations:

Vines of the Vastwood, Avoid Fate, Stonewood Invocation, Ring of Immortality, Lightning Greaves, Whispersilk Cloak, Sylvan Safekeeper, Aspect of Mongoose, and General’s Kabuto: Cards that you can protect Omnath or other creatures at instant speed, or grant shroud are definitely helpful.

Shield of Kaldra, Spearbreaker Behemoth, Eldrazi Monument, and Thornling: Indestructibility is one way to stick to the board.

Molting Skin, Broken Fall: Reusable regeneration effects are quite helpful against destroy effects, and these in particular sit out there and wave off your opponents’ Doom Blades and such to be used elsewhere. Particularly nice with an Enchantress sub-theme.

Fecundity: If you play a lot of creatures or tokens, this helps you recoup from mass removal.

Cauldron of Souls: Any EDH deck that runs a good number of creatures should definitely run this card.

Vedalken Orrery: For Omnath himself, if something bad happens to him and you’ve been storing enough mana, Orrery lets you just replay him, albeit a bit smaller.

Erratic Portal: Tap to bounce your own creature to protect it from removal.

Tawnos’s Coffin: Can be used both offensively and defensively on key creatures.

Safe Haven, Cold Storage, Colfenor’s Urn: These cards are a little clunky, but they can also help protect your creatures from mass removal.

Hey Bennie, I’m a fan your articles about EDH and the color Green. I really liked the Basilisk Collar deck you posted a few weeks ago… it is real fun. I wanted to ask if you might consider doing an article on Red. Red is a strong competitive color but it does one thing. Burn, burn, burn. Decks with Red only want it because it’s part of gold cards or the versatility of Lightning Bolt. I think it also has to do with Red design, which I think is flawed. Red may have some short sightedness, but a Red mage could also be trying to develop the biggest fire ever. Wizards needs to expand on Red’s abilities to make sure that it can grow as a color.

I would also like to point out that Red in EDH is the weakest color. The only things it brings to the table are haste, Fork, and X spells. It as a mono color deck requires heavy commitments to artifacts. Keep up the good work.


I think Wizards does a pretty good job diversifying the burn spells it gives Red set after set after set. And how can you complain about burn spells? Burn is one of the most flexible types of spells in the game since you can kill creatures, kill Planeswalkers, or kill your opponent!

In EDH, I think Red’s got tons to offer, including some of the most fun cards in the game: Warp World, Confusion in the Ranks, Wild Ricochet, Boldwyr Intimidator, Radiate, Kiki-Jiki, Brand, Bazaar Trader, Sneak Attack, Hamletback Goliath, Illicit Auction, Savage Beating… this list goes on and on. Like I recommended to Patrick above, go hunting towards the back of your Red boxes with the idea of “fun” foremost in your mind.

Let me start off by saying that I’ve been reading your articles for some years now and they continue to intrigue and inspire. Knowing that you play a Doran EDH deck, and having seen your list, I was wondering how well the disruption package of Meekstone, Ensnaring Bridge, and Noetic Scales was working out for you. I’ve considered running them in my own Doran build and was wondering if in your experiences they’ve proven their worth. Also, do you think that running these cards is worth the trade off of taking out particular cards which either boost power (Behemoth Sledge & Mirari’s Wake) as well as creatures w/ stats too high to work well together (Avatar of Woe & Woodfall Primus)? I know that asking you these questions w/o providing a deck-list or describing my playgroup’s games and generals seems out of context, but what I’m really interested in is your evaluation of the aforementioned cards in EDH as a whole, and in a Doran build specifically. I appreciate any feedback you’d be so kind as to send my way. Thanks again and keep up the good work.


I consider my Doran deck one of my finest creations, a masterful blend of cards with awesome synergy with the general. That said, it also felt a bit weak compared to other EDH decks. Meekstone, Ensnaring Bridge and Scales were all very good… but I’m not sure they were worth some of the green, white or black cards you couldn’t use because they didn’t play nice with the low power/high toughness theme. I ended up disassembling the deck to make other decks so I never tried pulling those cards and adding in more powerful staples. It depends on your playgroup—if your group is more into fun than power, I’d suggest giving those cards a try. If your group is loaded for bear with powerful, swingy cards then I’d sacrifice synergy for some power cards too.

Hi Bennie. I want to start off by saying you are one my weekly favorite reads. Being someone who last month hit 40. I feel like I am in the minority in the world of Magic with all the 20-somethings running around. I appreciate your articles since I feel that in some degree we both share the burden of life activities that have to make us choose how much and when we can play the game we enjoy.

I guess what prompted me to write was your most recent article. You commented on an aspect of your personal life which I feel was brave to do in such a public forum. I just have a single question for you, if you decline to answer, I respect that. Were the circumstances of your family life that lead to your separation at all due to your time spent with the game? I sincerely hope not… I just would hate to think that the time spent on the game could have lead to marital woes.

Thank you none the less for your articles and your passion that I do look forward to each week. Hope you are doing well.


Thanks for the kind words, Mike! I have to say, I wasn’t sure at first whether or not I should “share with the world” the fact that I was going through a separation. Ultimately, I decided I should because, at its core, this column is a story about an older guy who loves Magic and tries his best to fit in the obsession amidst all the real world winds that blow us all here and there. The separation is a part of my story.

A lot of you are a lot like me, trying to balance work, family and Magic, and it’s not easy. A separation is a pretty big disruption to the routine, and while things seem to be moving along pretty smoothly and amicably right now, you never know how things may shake out. I’m not sure whether I’ll end up playing more or less Magic, but I’ll continue to do my best to deliver a column that hopefully you’ll keep enjoying.

Regarding the role that gaming may or may not have played in my situation? I can happily report that gaming had nothing to do with the separation; in fact, having a game to get away to and enjoy may have helped keep things from getting worse. Games have always been a part of my life, and my ex has never begrudged me that—in fact, we first got to know each other while playing Spades and Hearts at the college Commons. I think most “game-widows” realize that there are much worse things their spouses could be doing on Friday nights than playing a collectible card game.

I was cracking a few boosters last week and got my second Omnath, this time a foil. I immediately came looking for something on Omnath and found your article. I have a couple of EDH questions and I’ll try to keep it short.

One thing I was hoping you could explain is the distribution of lands. I can understand why Treetop Village isn’t included, but what about Wooded Foothills or Slippery Karst? Are basic lands too valuable given these specific ramp cards? I have this dream of fetching out a land and shuffling something I put back with Sylvan Library. Maybe that’s just too narrow… I haven’t played much EDH if you can’t tell already!

Also, what about those ‘standard’ EDH cards like Solemn Simulacrum or Sol Ring? No room at the Inn? I had a chance to goldfish a few turns of the list you posted and it looks like it is going to be a blast to play. I think in 2 weeks I’ll get a chance (and maybe I will see why those cards aren’t included)! Thanks for your time.


I believe I prefaced the deck as “my first stab at making an Omnath, Locus of Mana EDH,” and one day I’m going to actually sleeve up a list and give it some play time. That list was put together using the principals that I think you should keep in mind when building a deck around Omnath (and I tend to be more “general-focused” in my EDH deckbuilding than other players), but I wouldn’t call it the definitive list. The lands you mentioned could all be added in just fine. I didn’t include Sol Ring because it doesn’t produce Green mana, but it’s still a high-value card that can easily be added to the deck. Solemn Simulacrum is a fine card that could replace the Pulse of Llanowar that I mistakenly had in the original list (D’OH!).

The beauty of EDH is that there really isn’t a “definitive” build for any general. EDH is a format where customization is fully realized, and one of the things I love the most is posting a decklist and then seeing what other people think; I inevitably get tons of ideas in the forums where people weigh in with their own ideas or decks.


1 Omnath, Locus of Mana
99 Forest

In Summon Elder Dragon Podcast #3, Sean was talking about the next deck after his Ashling deck, which is Omnath, a deck that apparently destroys the Ashling deck because Omnath just gets enormously huge when you keep playing a land each turn and do nothing but float and store the mana on Omnath.

My question to you, dear reader: how would you go about “enhancing” the 99 Forest-Omnath deck? Keep in mind you generally want to make sure you can play Omnath consistently on turn 3, and keep dropping lands every turn. I’ll post my take in the forums.

One last thing—does anyone know if there are any “MTGO-only” token cards that someone has posted online where you could print them out, cut them up, and sleeve them in real life? I’d like to get a Kaldra token for my Sharuum deck…

That’s it for this week. I’m going to be giving Extended one shot this season at the Sunday PTQ in Richmond this weekend, so wish me luck! I’ll let you know how I did (if the story is worth the telling).

Take care!


starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com

New to EDH? Be sure to check out my EDH Primer, part 1, part 2, and part 3.

My current EDH decks:
Jacques Le Vert (lots of legends, good stuff)
Tibor and Lumia (copy copy copy copy)
Baron Sengir (Evile Vampires!)
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary (huge creatures, big mana spells)
Sharuum, the Hegemon (Kaldra Lives!)
Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund (DRAGONS, RAHRRR!!)