You Lika The Juice? – Liliana & EDH

Read Bennie Smith every week... at StarCityGames.com!You’ve got Liliana Vess in the car with you, this hot, demonic babe whom you can fool around with a little bit right off the bat and have some fun. Sadly, you can’t score right away… you’ve got to give Liliana what she wants, whisper sweet nothings (target player discards a card), tell her you love her (target player discards a card), buy her dinner (target player discards a card), get her some jewelry (target player discards a card), tell her that you’ll love her ‘til the end of time (target player discards a card).

WARNING – Spoilers! I’m referring a bit to spoiled information on Planeswalkers from the upcoming Lorwyn set, if you don’t want to know, jump down to the Elder Dragon Highlander recap below!

Okay, so I’m loving the Planeswalker cards so far. Have you seen the information posted on MTGSalvation, gleaned by puzzlemeisters from Wizards’ Planeswalker minisite and magazines? Here’s the latest, found in InQuest:

– Effectively legendary (can’t have more than one of each Planeswalker)

– Come into play with loyalty counters equal to the number in the bottom right

– Play only one ability of each Planeswalker on each of your turns, including the turn it comes into play, by adding or removing loyalty counters

– When you attack a player, you can assign any number of your attackers to their Planeswalker(s)

– The defending player can block creatures attacking their Planeswalker(s)

– Whenever a spell or ability you control would deal damage to an opponent, you may assign that damage to their Planeswalker(s) instead

– Each damage dealt to a Planeswalker removes a loyalty counter from it

– If all the loyalty counters are gone, sacrifice the Planeswalker

I’m loooovin’ the flavor. It’s like, spend 3BB, summon Liliana. She appears in a burst of brimstone and fire.

“Hey babe, can you help me out a bit here?”

“I suppose so,” she purrs, checking you out, looking you over like a slab of meat. “What do you need?”

“If you don’t mind, please knock a card out of his hand.” An impish grin of delight spreads across her face.

“Cool, that’s fun!” Okay, so now you ask her what you really want…

“Now, help me make sure my next draw is what I need…”

“Awww, now you’re making me work…” Helping you out isn’t nearly as fun as tormenting someone else, but you’re willing to pay the price as you start to scheme about what you’re going to get, not paying attention to the board…

“HEY! You let a filthy goblin touch me!!”

Oh yeah – you’ve got an opponent across the table.

“Don’t worry, I’ll Incinerate it for you. Why don’t you knock another card out of their hand for me?”

“Hmpph… okay, well that is a lot more fun…”

I know I’m really showing my age here, but I can’t help but be reminded of Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” For example, you’ve got Liliana Vess in the car with you, this hot, demonic babe whom you can fool around with a little bit right off the bat and have some fun (the Vampiric Tutor ability), but then she sobers up, puts her shirt back on, and leaves you wanting more.

But… you want, you know – the “big” ability, the super-Twilight’s Call craziness. You want home base… you want Paradise by the Dashboard Light.

Sadly, you can’t score right away… you’ve got to give Liliana what she wants, whisper sweet nothings (target player discards a card), tell her you love her (target player discards a card), buy her dinner (target player discards a card), get her some jewelry (target player discards a card), tell her that you’ll love her ‘til the end of time (target player discards a card).


Heh… I doubt Wizards had that metaphor in mind when they dreamed up the concept for paying up and drawing down loyalty but… heh!

Okay… guess what? I got a fever… and the only prescription is…

More Elder Dragon Highlander!

This past weekend we got a group together to try EDH and everyone seemed to have a really good time. After getting Sheldon’s email late last week and reading some of the forum comments from other EDH players, I made some big changes to my Rith deck to try and up the “fun” or “big, splashy” quotient. This is what I ended up with after combing through my collection:

Big Fun Rith, Elder Dragon Highlander

1 Rith, the Awakener

1 Firestorm

1 Swords to Plowshares

1 Weathered Wayfarer

1 Crop Rotation

1 Berserk

1 Rancor

1 Sol Ring

1 Skull Clamp

1 Candelabra of Tawnos

1 Sensei’s Divining Top

1 Epochrasite

1 Umezawa’s Jitte

1 Artifact Mutation

1 Aura Mutation

1 Sylvan Scrying

1 Scroll Rack

1 Mind Stone

1 Sylvan Scrying

1 Honorable Passage

1 Fork

1 Raging River

1 Sylvan Library

1 Reap

1 Wall of Roots

1 Survival of the Fittest

1 Darksteel Ingot

1 Reiterate

1 Weatherseed Totem

1 Coalition Relic

1 Loxodon Warhammer

1 Sunforger

1 Sword of Fire and Ice

1 Sword of Light and Shadow

1 Wilderness Elemental

1 Squee, Goblin Nabob

1 Shunt

1 Thunderblade Charge

1 Eternal Witness

1 Anger

1 Brawn

1 Steelshaper Apprentice

1 Citanul Hierophants

1 Helm of Possession

1 Willow Satyr

1 Greater Good

1 Wrath of God

1 Defense of the Heart

1 Dust Elemental

1 Genesis

1 Weatherseed Treefolk

1 Savage Beating

1 Radiate

1 Word of Seizing

1 Reflect Damage

1 Deadwood Treefolk

1 Adarkar Valkyrie

1 Urza’s Blueprints

1 Stalking Vengeance

1 Akroma’s Memorial

1 Insurrection

1 Vitalizing Winds

1 Dark Depths

1 Maze of Ith

1 Gaea’s Cradle

1 Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers

1 Yavimaya Hollow

1 Kor Haven

1 Kher Keep

1 Miren, the Moaning Well

1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea

1 Wooded Foothill

1 Windswept Heath

1 Taiga

1 Savannah

1 Stomping Ground

1 Temple Garden

1 Karplusan Forest

1 Brushland

1 Selesnya Sanctuary

1 Boros Garrison

1 Gruul Turf

1 Mishra’s Factory

1 Urza’s Factory

1 Treetop Village

1 Nantuko Monastery

1 Skarrg, the Rage Pits

1 Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree

1 Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion

1 Tranquil Thicket

1 Slippery Karst

1 Reflecting Pool

1 Tendo Ice Bridge

1 Rith’s Grove

1 Krosan Verge

1 Vesuva

1 Winding Canyons

1 Temple of the False God

1 Deserted Temple

1 Forest

1 Plains

Some things are just pure good stuff – Skullclamp, Sol Ring, Sylvan Library, on up to Wrath of God and Akroma’s Memorial – but I thought I’d detail some ideas I had in mind for some cards and combos.

Greater Good + Firestorm: an ode to a splashy old multiplayer kill, where I drew a ton of cards sacrificing Rancored Weatherseed Treefolk to Greater Good, then sacrificing Multani, Maro Sorceror to Greater Good, then casting Firestorm and discarding enough cards to deal 20+ points of damage to all the other players at the table (I had to also target a bunch of creatures too).

Gaea’s Cradle + Deserted Temple + Candelabra of Tawnos: MO MANA!! I figured this could fuel the big mana spells such as Vitalizing Winds, or hopefully get Dark Depths going so I could bust out the shiny Marit Lage token creature!

Honorable Passage, Reflect Damage: These surprise spells are here to let you step in and interfere in damage dealing events (especially those being done to you). Long time readers may remember Reflect Damage played a big role in a column I wrote some years back, The Legend of Chuck.

Raging River (beta!): an old favorite I’ve had since 1995 or so, I’ve put it in many decks over the years but have never actually drawn it and played it – ever!

Fork, Shunt, Reiterate, Radiate: tricky Red spells that have always been fun, particularly Radiate. I had visions of Radiating the Ice side of Fire/Ice to fuel a splashy game-ending Firestorm! I also thought Reiterate would be an awesome late game spell, copying Demonic Tutors, Congregate, or maybe even an Ancestral Recall if I were lucky!

Reap: Black is always popular, so I figured I’d get some serious mileage from this dynamite little instant!

Citanul Hierophants: I got the distinct impression from Sheldon and people in the forums that EDH was a very mana-intensive format, and I’ve long used Citanul Hierophants to make all your creatures into mana machines.

Willow Satyr: Seems to me that the card should be banned, but since it’s not, seems like a good call to me!

Helm of Possession: Stealing generals and other large threatening creatures seems like a great call.

Dust Elemental: Fat White flier to the rescue! I envisioned using him to rescue two of my creatures from mass removal, not so much as an instant-speed 6/6 flier with fear (though having that option sounded good of course).

Word of Seizing: For pesky Phelddagriffs…

Savage Beating: hopefully with entwine, this seemed to fit the “big and splashy” play card.

Deadwood Treefolk + Adarkar Valkyrie: C’mon, what’s not to love here?

Stalking Vengeance: Struck me as awesome anti-mass removal for your large creatures, and in particular seemed great in conjunction with Greater Good.

Insurrection: Okay, I admit my dream set up was casting this with a Stalking Vengeance and Greater Good in play, attacking everyone and sacrificing some of them to draw cards and Vengeance people out of the game. Even without the corollary stuff, Insurrection is obviously backbreaking in multiplayer if it resolves.

Okay, so we ended up with 11 players up at Richmond Comix, here’s who gathered ‘round the table:

Bennie Smith / Rith, the Awakener

Jess Farrell / Vorosh, the Hunter

Frank Miller / Sliver Overlord

Butch Vail / Sol’kanar the Swamp King

Tommy Donovan / Nicol Bolas

Amy Donovan / Tolsimir Wolfsblood

David Williams / Phelddagrif

Jessica Miller / Eladamri, Lord of Leaves

Philip / Scion of the Ur Dragon

Pierson / Sliver Legion

Forrest McDonald / Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder

I was really pleased with the variety of generals, and with the mix of players: a married couple (the Donovans), a father and daughter (the Millers), with three women providing a nice break from the usual testosterone-fest Magic games tend to be. Frank, the owner of Richmond Comix, provided packs of Alliances and Future Sight as prizes, and for first place I put up a Magic jump drive that my friend Lara from Wizards’ PR firm provided me. I was hoping to snap a few digital pictures, but the wife absconded with the camera that morning when she and her sis took the kids to the lake for some sun and fun (and then promptly forgot to take any pictures, grrrr…).

The game started slowly for most players, with Jessica unsurprisingly getting her general in play first with a turn 2 Eladamri that looked pretty nice alongside her turn 1 Skullclamp, and he started poking people for three points a turn until more players got some creatures on the board. Tommy was obviously playing the metagame with his turn 2 Hivestone, no doubt salivating over stealing abilities from two Sliver players. Sadly (for him) the only Sliver to hit play in the early game was Philip’s Plague Sliver, another dastardly metagame card that was ironically going to miss the two sliver guys and instead bite on Tommy. At this point I’ve played Darksteel Ingot into Squee, Goblin Nabob who then gets equipped with a Sword of Light and Shadow.

Pierson plays Magus of the Disk, but that doesn’t deter two more generals from hitting play – Jess’s Vorosh and Amy’s Tolsimir. Butch has a nice response to Flavor Flav with a suspended Nihilith, and when Pierson goes ahead and does the Disk, the Nihilith pops into play from all the permanents hitting the graveyard.

Tommy, glad to not have to be concerned about his treacherous Hivestone, has been complaining about not having any Blue sources of mana (his general is Nicol Bolas), so when he triumphantly plays an Island, Frank followed with an Ice Storm targeting it. Ouch! Sadly, Tommy never had enough Blue mana to ever cast his Nicol Bolas.

Meanwhile, David plays his general, Phelddagrif, which somebody later nicknames “Pheldd-a-mat” as in “diplomat” since David uses the three abilities like Santa Claus handing out Christmas presents. Here, draw a card! Here, gain two life! Here, have a 1/1 chump blocker. He even doles out the goods by randomly rolling dice. When I first arrived at Richmond Comix, David mentioned he would be the first to die because he loaded his deck up with annoying cards, but David basically played nothing but Phelddagrif and handed out cards, life, and 1/1 hippos, and everyone loved him for it.

Hmm, I know Sheldon Menery is usually Phelddagrif during EDH, I wonder if he does the same thing!

Meanwhile, post-Disk, Jessica has rebuilt with Mirri, Cat Warrior and Beacon of Creation, and when she casts Overrun and attacks Phillip, everyone sits up and takes notice. I’ve nothing but Squee on the board, and have been nervous about casting the other card in my hand—Wilderness Elemental – concerned that everyone would freak out by how gigantic his power would be. Still, I needed more men on the board so I go ahead and play it. A few people do indeed show some concern, but not as many as I feared.

Jessica plays Heartwood Storyteller, which quickly has everyone flush with cards, and I play an Adarkar Valkyrie. That’s when Forrest goes medieval on me and casts Phthisis on my Wilderness Elemental, which if resolved would kill me. I play Shunt, but leery that everyone has a fistful of cards and not wanting someone to counter my life-saving measure, instead of Shunting the Phthisis to someone else’s creature I Shunt it to my Squee, losing 2 life instead of 34. Forrest lobbies that we need to kill the Elemental before I start attacking with it (“somebody counter the Shunt!”), but I get several players who toss out some sympathy for me since I organized the thing, and they point out it wouldn’t be right if I were the first player to be knocked out, so the Shunt sticks.

Hooray for the sympathy vote!

Next turn I draw Stalking Vengeance and play it, suddenly much more comfortable with the Wilderness Elemental, since Vengeance will punish someone if the Elemental gets taken out.

Forrest then plays Damnation, again expressing concern over the Wilderness Elemental as it and everyone else’s creatures head to the graveyard. I tap my Valkyrie to target my Stalking Vengeance so it’ll come back, and when Wilderness Elemental dies and triggers the Vengeance, I go ahead and let Forrest take the 31 points of damage.

As everyone rebuilds from the Damnation, Forrest drops Magus of the Abyss, another crowd pleaser.

Jessica, who rebuilt with a Beacon of Creation again — this time for something like 16 tokens, is in a position where the Magus won’t hurt her, and yet she’s still annoyed so she drops Gaea’s Anthem, Alpha Status on an Insect, attacks both Forrest and Phillip and kills them both. First blood times two goes to young Ms. Miller! Next turn she goes on the attack for 34 points of damage and Tommy goes down (still unable to cast Nicol Bolas!). I dub Jessica “the Executioner.”

At this point I’ve tried to improve my position to better defend against this horde of killer insects, though David had played a Moat so no ground pounders were going anywhere. I played Akroma’s Memorial, but that ended up being Disenchanted, ruining my dreams of a flying, first strike, vigilance, trample, haste, protection from Black, and protection from Red Squee, Goblin Nabob (what I briefly nicknamed “Bad Ass Squee”). Of course, the Memorial nicely gets around the Moat so I don’t blame David for the Disenchant.

I’ve gotten a Sylvan Library out and finally find Survival of the Fittest, so I use it, dumping Anger and Genesis into my graveyard and fetching out Eternal Witness, which I put on the stack. David Williams begins screaming alarm at my set-up, particularly warning everyone about the Insurrection that I had long ago discarded into my graveyard, but no one counters the Witness and I play it. Instead, I bring back the Memorial and tell everyone I still just wanted to make a Bad Ass Squee. David keeps pounding the drum warning everyone about me and my broken setup, and I know he’s sold his story when I see the look of blood in the eyes of Jessica “the Executioner.”

Butch had previously Capsized with buyback, saving one of his creatures, so David asks him to Capsize his Moat, freeing Jessica’s Anthemantic insect hordes to rampage my way. David also has both Icy Manipulator and Seedborn Muse in play, a lethal combination if focused on one player like he suddenly focused on me, tapping down all my blockers and lands leaving me defenseless. Jessica swarms in and when the math is done I’m at seven — still alive! But wait – the Executioner isn’t done yet. She says those dreaded words — “what life are you at?” – and then casts Hurricane for seven.

I stare sadly at the Reflect Damage in my hand, with no mana to cast it, and my EDH experience comes to a close!

The puppetmaster’s work complete, David benevolently hands out a few Santa Phelddagrif gifts and then casts Time Spiral to refill everyone’s hands, and everyone hunkers down for the next phase of the game. David casts a Soul Warden and starts to accumulate mad life from his Kjeldoran Outpost (nice with Seedborn Muse, eh?). Frank plays a Sliver Queen and a Seedborn Muse and starts to make a ton of sliver tokens each and every turn – swelling David’s life to epic proportions. And yet David manages to talk Frank into attacking other people, first Pierson, then Jess and finally his own daughter Jessica!

Interestingly, someone brings up that everyone still in play has a Seedborn Muse or a cloned copy of Seedborn Muse (Butch).

Butch plays the Spell of the Day with Volcanic Wind, and with all the token creatures out there (at this point David has also played Sacred Mesa) has 113 points of damage to dish out. David casts Counterspell, but Butch has the Counterspell too. When the smoke clears David and Frank’s board is annihilated, and Frank with no hand goes ahead and resigns from the game (he’d had customers coming in and out more frequently, so he goes back to tending the store).

At this point it’s Jess at single digit life, Butch somewhere around 20 life, and David topping 150 life. Yet somehow David convinces Jess to attack Butch, tapping down his Maze of Ith to give her heavily Aura’d up Hunted Troll room to swing. This of course puts Butch on tilt, who attacks back and eventually takes her down.

David’s got a Sylvan Library of his own in play with ridiculous life totals, so he’s been drawing three cards a turn, and while Butch tries valiantly to mount an offense, David’s avalanche of cards eventually takes over the game, and David counterattacks with several dragons, a Phelddagrif and a Questing Phelddagrif.

David points out that it was his first attack all day.

Victory goes to Santa Pheldda-gift!

Lessons Learned

#1 — You must play Seedborn Muse (or Clone a Muse) if you wish to last into the final phase of the game.

#2 — Picking a general that doesn’t do anything except when he attacks and connects (like Rith) is probably not the best idea in a gigantic multiplayer game. I think for next time I’m going to search for a more “utility” type of Legend (i.e. see Phelddagrif).

#3 — When you have the choice between Jester’s Cap and Icy Manipulator to target with your Artifact Mutation, take the darn Manipulator!

I’d like to thank Sheldon Menery and the EDH fans in the forums for the tips on playing the format, and special thanks to Frank and the gang from Richmond Comix for hosting the fun event! We’ll definitely be revisiting the format again soon!

Until next week,

starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com