You Lika The Juice? – ZEN Thoughts & EDH with Sachi

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Friday, September 11th – Zendikar seems an environment tailor-made to play towards Green’s strengths. Is that going to be the case, or is Wizards going to rob that piece of the pie and distribute it across multiple colors in the name of making the themes work no matter what colors you play?

I’ve got a lot to talk about this week so let me get down to it.

Thoughts on Zendikar (so far)

Before I get into the actual cards, I did want to dust off my Green soap box and preach for just a second about the color pie and Green. Just like all the colors, Green has been given dominion over certain themes and mechanics in Magic, things that Green should be able to do as well or better than the other colors. While these aren’t hard and unbending rules, Wizards has spent some effort not too long ago trying to balance the themes across the colors, shifting some things around in order to do so. As a fan of Green I was very happy about this project, and have certainly been mostly happy at the results, since I don’t think it’s too bold a statement to say that modern day Green is most certainly stronger than it used to be.

One of Green’s color pie themes is mana fixing. Green’s community aspect means it is the best color at creating other colors of mana, either through being able to search for other lands or through changing one color of mana into another. This is evident in cards like Birds of Paradise and Rampant Growth. I remember when I heard that Shard of Alara was going to be a multicolor block, I thought to myself that Green should really be in the catbird seat once those sets came out, being the go-to color in terms of stable manabases. Instead, between Vivid Lands, Reflecting Pool, and tribal lands in Lorwyn, and the plethora of manafixing available in Alara block, nearly any color combination has been available for the playing whether you want to play Green or not.

Now, I know that in order to stay true to the themes of the Alara block, R&D design had to make manafixing something that was available across multiple colors or else it really wouldn’t work as a multi-set theme. In effect, they needed to rob from Green’s color pie slice for the greater good. Fine… but I think they needed to give something extra to Green to make up for it. Let Green do something extra, something Green’s not normally so good at. Obviously this wasn’t done, and I think Green as a color suffered for it.

Okay, flash forward a year and we’re getting a sense of what Zendikar is all about – Landsapalooza, “land matters.” There’s the landfall key word, where certain spells get powered up or abilities triggered whenever a land is played or a certain number of lands are in play.

You see where I’m going here. What’s another one of Green’s slice of the color pie? Permanent mana acceleration. Green’s focus on growth enables it to permanently expand its mana base, such as through putting additional lands into play. An example of this is Harrow, a spell that happens to be reprinted in Zendikar.

So again I’m wondering – Zendikar seems an environment tailor-made to play towards Green’s strengths. Is that going to be the case, or is Wizards going to rob that piece of the pie and distribute it across multiple colors in the name of making the themes work no matter what colors you play?

If Green is going to be robbed again, will Wizards finally give a little something back this time?

If the first card in the Zendikar spoiler (from the fine folks at MTGSalvation) is any indication, maybe they actually are going to give something back!

Day of Judgment – 2WW
Sorcery (Rare)
Destroy all creatures.

I know a lot of people are at least a little irritated at losing Wrath of God from the Core set and then having this card show up, more or less a functional reprint. I certainly felt a little sting at having to retire my well-worn playset of Wraths. But I think it’s good for the game overall to move “Wraths” from the core to the expansion sets. Before now, Wizards had to be careful about putting Wraths in the expansions, because if you had good Wrath Variant 1 in one big expansion, good Variant 2 in the next big expansion, along with good ol’ Wrath of God in the Core set, and creature decks will have no shot in Standard. Instead, we’ll have to worry about a maximum of two decent Wraths floating threw Standard at any given point, and Block Constructed will usually have a good Wrath to use to fight creature decks.

Now, Day of Judgment strikes me as potentially a crumb tossed to Green because Green tends to get decent regenerators now and again. We haven’t really seen them of late and it hasn’t really mattered because removal up until now has cared not a whit about whether a creature can regenerate or not. But maybe that’s about to change?

Iona, Shield of Emeria – 6WWW
Legendary Creature – Angel (Mythic Rare)
As Iona, Shield of Emeria enters the battlefield, choose a color.
Your opponents can’t play spells of the chosen color.

This is a WTFOL card (smash together WTF and LOL), which is what I said when I ran across this spoiler. Talk about White being the color of setting the rules! What’s so surprising about this card is that they took it further than a card I think this is similar to, Meddling Mage. Meddling Mage is a great card, but it can be tricky to play when you play against an opponent who’s playing the same colors as you. When you drop Pikula, the spell you really don’t want him to play just might be the card you draw on the next two draw steps. With Iona, you can call Black and still play as many Black spells as you need. It’s probably a good thing for the format that Painter’s Servant and Makeshift Mannequin are rotating out. Man… now this is mythic!

Luminarch Ascension – 1W
Enchantment (Rare)
At the beginning of each opponent’s end step, if you didn’t lose life this turn, you may put a quest counter on Luminarch Ascension. (Damage causes loss of life)
1W: Put a 4/4 White Angel creature token with flying onto the battlefield. Activate this ability only if Luminarch Ascension has four or more quest counters on it.

When control decks fight, look out! This seems like a mirror match sideboard card for control decks, and something I never anticipate using. I just hope that some sort of Turbo Fog doesn’t crop up in the next two years and I end up having to worry about dying to a horde of Angels…

Archmage Ascension – 2U
Enchantment (Rare)
At the beginning of each end step, if you drew two or more cards this turn, you may put a quest counter on Archmage Ascension.
As long as Archmage Ascension has six or more quest counters on it, if you would draw a card, you may instead search your library for a card, put that card into your hand, then shuffle your library.

Okay folks – keep an “eye” out for Archmage Ascension combined with Mind’s Eye in EDH (along with Clockspinning to help it along). This card is going to be catnip for the cheesy Momir Vig EDH players out there. Needing six quest counters makes this completely unreasonable for Standard… unless there are some tricky quest shortcuts. “Cheating” on your quests runs counter to the flavor of quests, but I suppose it’s possible something like that might pop up, in which case watch out for this!

Lullmage Mentor – 1UU
Creature – Merfolk Wizard (Rare)
Whenever a spell or ability you control counters a spell, you may put a 1/1 blue Merfolk creature token onto the battlefield.
Tap seven untapped Merfolk you control: Counter target spell.

I’m calling this card out as a sleeper; I think a lot of people are going to dismiss this because of the need to have seven Merfolk in play for its second ability to work, but that first ability is great all by itself! Counterspells and Merfolk already work great together, and this card settles nicely right into that dynamic. Combine with the Merfolk lord from M10 and you’ve got a solid start.

Mindbreak Trap – 2UU
Instant – Trap (Mythic Rare)
If an opponent cast three or more spells this turn, you may pay 0 rather than pay Mindbreak Trap’s mana cost.
Exile any number of target spells.

Why is this a mythic rare? Weren’t mythic rares supposed to not be staple tournament cards? Because I’m pretty sure this card is going to see a lot of play across many formats, which means you’ll be paying out the nose to get multiple copies of this. Just when you thought Wizards had taken Blue to the woodshed with Volcanic Fallout, Cascade, and Great Sable Stag, they offer up a shining beacon of hope.

Roil Elemental – 3UUU
Creature – Elemental (Rare)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may gain control of target creature for as long as you control Roil Elemental.

Lord, this certainly blows when compared to Sower of Temptation, doesn’t it? Not that I’m complaining really, because I certainly had a lot more creatures stolen by Sowers than creatures I stole with my own Sowers. I could see this being a sideboard card to bring in against non-red creature decks once you’ve stabilized the board.

Whiplash Trap – 3UU
Instant – Trap (Common)
If an opponent had two or more creatures enter the battlefield under his or her control this turn, you may pay U rather than pay Whiplash Trap’s mana cost.
Return two target creatures to their owner’s hand.

I’m sure most folks are figuring this for a Limited staple, but if Standard continues being a creature-filled format this might squeak in there.

Blood Tribute – 4BB
Sorcery (Rare)
Kicker – Tap an untapped Vampire you control. (You may tap a Vampire you control in addition to any other costs as you cast this spell.)
Target player loses half his or her life, rounded up. If Blood Tribute was kicked, you gain life equal to the life lost this way.

Why, yes I did recently set aside Baron Sengir for a future EDH deck… With Sanguine Bond from Magic 2010, and all the funky Lifelink Vampires running around, there might even be a fun rogue black deck we can cook up with Blood Tribute. It’s certainly got a bigger punch than Consumer Spirit.

Bloodghast – BB
Creature – Vampire Spirit (Rare)
Bloodghast can’t block.
Bloodghast has haste as long as an opponent has 10 life or less.
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may return Bloodghast from your graveyard to the battlefield.

Okay, the graveyard recursion fan in me is certainly digging this card, and I love the flavor of how it becomes frenzied when your opponent is “bloodied.”

Gatekeeper of Malakir – BB
Creature – Vampire Warrior (Uncommon)
Kicker B (You may pay an additional B as you cast this spell.)
When Gatekeeper of Malakir enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, target player sacrifices a creature.

Man, Great Sable Stag is taking a beating in this set, isn’t it? Just when I thought that Monoblack vampires had a big, bad, major problem in Standard, here comes the Gatekeeper to sooth away all your worries.

Guul Draz Specter – 2BB
Creature – Specter (Rare)
Gull Draz Specter gets +3/+3 as long as an opponent has no cards in hand.
Whenever Gull Draz Specter deals combat damage to a player, that player discards a card.

This is a cool design – the traditional way to fight Specters if you don’t have removal is to just play out all your spells. If your hand is empty Hypnotic Specter hitting you ain’t so scary. Guul Graz is scary when you’re holding cards, and downright terrifying if you’re in top deck mode and won’t have many more chances to draw an answer.

Halo Hunter – 2BBB
Creature – Demon (Rare)
Intimidate (This creature can be blocked only by artifact creatures or creatures that share a color with it.)
When Halo Hunter enters the battlefield, destroy target Angel.

It amuses me to some degree that the two badass Angels of Standard that we know about so far — Baneslayer Angel and Iona, Shield of Emeria — can’t really be hunted by this cat. Still, whether he destroys an Angel or not, a 6 power creature with fear for 5 mana is pretty good by itself.

Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet – 5BB
Legendary Creature – Vampire Warrior (Mythic Rare)
BBB, T: Destroy target creature. If that creature is put into a graveyard this way, put a black Vampire creature token onto the battlefield. Its power is equal to that creature’s power and its toughness is equal to that creature’s toughness.

Now here’s another perfect mythic rare—big, splashy, full of flavor and power and yet not necessarily a tournament staple (to the point where you’re going to want to acquire a playset along with everyone else on the planet). I find some interesting parallels between Kalitas and Cemetery Reaper, to the point where I wonder if the same designer or developer had a strong hand in the creation of both? I’m also wondering what this Vampire token card is going to look like…

Ob Nixilis, the Fallen – 3BB
Legendary Creature – Demon (Mythic Rare)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may have target player lose 3 life. If you do, put three +1/+1 counters on Ob Nixilis, the Fallen.

Okay, this is another perfectly realized mythic that I’m starting to feel a twinge of forgiveness for Mindbreak Trap. It also seems much more suited to silly plays you can pull together in multiplayer as opposed to competitive Standard. I can’t help but wonder how much money Scapeshift spent to buy off the R&D guys who created Zendikar.

Quest for the Gravelord – B
Enchantment (Uncommon)
Whenever a creature is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may put a quest counter on Quest for the Gravelord.
Remove three quest counters from Quest for the Gravelord and sacrifice it: Put a 5/5 black Zombie Giant creature token onto the battlefield.

Brains! Okay, I admit I’m more curious about this token card than I am about playing the actual Magic card, hahaha!!

Sorin Markov – 3BBB
Planeswalker – Sorin (Mythic Rare)
+2 Sorin Markov deals 2 damage to target creature or player and you gain 2 life.
-3 Target opponent’s life total becomes 10.
-7 You control target player’s next turn.
Loyalty 4

Man, color me impressed! This is a heckuva collection of abilities for a Planeswalker and I certainly plan on sticking him in as many decks as I can. Turn 1 Hierarch, turn 2 Rhox War Monk got you down? Your opponent’s at ridiculous life totals before you get control of the board? No worries, Sorin’s got your back. Obviously the -3 ability is an absolute beast in EDH, but between Exalted War Monks and Baneslayer Angels there will be plenty of times when that ability is a lifesaver in Standard.

It’s interesting to ponder the design/development tweaks behind the numbers here. Two activations of the +2 ability give you 8 loyalty, so when you use the ultimate he still sticks around at 1 loyalty (while playing the goldfish at any rate). Seems to me a lot of the other Planeswalkers ramp up to exactly the ultimate ability so that you gotta crank one more unless you just want to cash out the ‘walker.

Vampire Lacerator – B
Creature – Vampire Warrior (Common)
At the beginning of your upkeep, you lose 1 life unless an opponent has 10 or less life.

I was around in the days of Carnophage and Sarcomancy, and this fellow reminds me that it’s been a long time since black had such a fantastic one-drop. I’ll be very curious to hear Wizards explain why they decided to bring these sorts of aggressive early creatures back. I actually think this card is better than both of his predecessors, since he eventually shuts off the self-inflicted pain without having to stop attacking.

Vampire Nighthawk – 1BB
Creature – Vampire Shaman (Uncommon)

I love this card! All three abilities are high quality, and the 3 toughness pushes the envelope on what would normally be an awesome Limited card. Can this make the cut for Constructed? My hunch is that he very well may…

Chandra Ablaze – 4RR
Planeswalker – Chandra (Mythic Rare)
[+1]: Discard a card. If a red card is discarded this way, Chandra Ablaze deals 4 damage to target creature or player.
[-2]: Each player discards his or her hand, then draws three cards.
[-7]: Cast any number of target red instant and/or sorcery cards from your graveyard without paying their mana cost.
Loyalty 5

Here’s another planeswalker that I admire the design of – all three abilities fit so nicely together! If you discard instants or sorceries to the +1 ability you’ll be able to recoup them with the -7 ultimate. I’m having visions of Cruel Ultimatum sitting in the graveyard, tick tock, tick tock…

Electropotence – 2R
Enchantment (Rare)
Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, you may pay 2R. If you do, that creature deals damage equal to its power to target creature or player.

The promise of ‘potence couldn’t help but make us all a little disappointed in the power (or lack thereof) of this card. Still, it’s kinda fun in a set that brings back kicker, this card effectively gives every creature you cast — or get into play some other way — “kicker” of the Pandemonium sorts.

Elemental Appeal – RRRR
Sorcery (Rare)
Kicker 5 (You may pay an additional 5 as you cast this spell)
Put a 7/1 red Elemental creature token with trample and haste onto the battlefield. Exile it at the beginning of the next end step. If Elemental Appeal was kicked, that creature gets +7/+0 until end of turn.

So… we’re pressing the Ball Lightning theme a little bit here? If you can cast with kicker it’s a pretty efficient source of damage, 14 points of trample for 9 mana. I’m wondering if this was designed figuring that the red mages would have embraced the return of Ball Lightning in M2010 as opposed to it sitting the bench as it is now.

Goblin Guide – R
Creature – Goblin Scout (Rare)
Whenever Goblin Guide attacks, defending player reveals the top card of his or her library. If it’s a land card, that player puts it into his or her hand.

I think this is really pushing the envelope on the power scale, though several of my friends have turned up their nose. Late game he’s pretty bad, but on turn 1 on the play, the drawback of your opponent drawing an extra land around 40% of the time he attacks will be negated by hand size as your opponent chokes on cards. But man, this is some seriously fast aggro!

Goblin Ruinblaster – 2R
Creature – Goblin Shaman (Uncommon)
Kicker – R
When Goblin Ruinblaster enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, destroy target nonbasic land.

This compares pretty well to Avalanche Riders, which saw a fair amount of play the first time around, and nearly none the second time around. The lack of echo is a plus, being able to only hit non-basics is a minus. I suspect that Zendikar will present us with some lands that really need to be handled, and Ruinblaster is one way to handle that issue.

Kazuul Warlord – 4R
Creature – Minotaur Warrior Ally (Rare)
Whenever Kazuul Warlord or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a +1/+1 counter on each Ally creature you control.

This card makes me weep for my Didgeridoos. After Homelands, I made a Minotaur deck because Didgeridoo was so awesome (a precursor to Aether Vial). The Minotaurs in Magic were pretty horrible, but Didgeridoo was so good it gelled as a fairly decent deck, especially against the heavy counterspell decks at the time. The fantasy Minotaur has been one of my favorite mythical creatures, and I’ve always held out hope that Magic would get around to making them decent (much like Dwarves). Instead, we get yet another crappy Minotaur stinking up a rare slot. Sigh.

Plated Geopede – 1R
Creature – Insect (Common)
First strike
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Plated Geopede get +2/+2 until end of turn.

This strikes me as a pretty good beatdown critter in Limited, but I’ve been hearing some rumblings about this guy in Constructed zoo decks. Color me a bit skeptical on that count, though I’m sure he’ll be able to do some impressive damage when the stars align just right.

Warren Instigator – RR
Creature – Goblin Berserker (Mythic Rare)
Double Strike
Whenever Warren Instigator deals damage to an opponent, you may put a Goblin creature card from your hand onto the battlefield.

Okay, so this shakes my faith in Wizards use of mythics again. Why is this a mythic rare? So… in the world of Zendikar, goblins chill out in their caves, minding their own business doing goblin things and then… and then… a call goes out. “He’s coming,” says the lookout. “Who?” “HIM!”

Bam… bam… bam… Bam… BAM… BAM!!!


“It’s… it’s…” one goblin matron exclaims breathlessly, “him – THE Warren Instigator!”


Nissa Revane – 2GG
Planeswalker – Nissa (Mythic Rare)
[+1] Search your library for a card named Nissa’s Chosen and put it onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library.
[+1] You gain 2 life for each Elf you control.
[-7] Search your library for any number of Elf creature cards and put them onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library.
Loyalty 2

Man, this card was a huge disappointment to me, especially after Chandra and Sorin being such amazingly powerful beating sticks. I remember when I got to playtest Duels of the Planeswalkers, and seeing that one of my future opponents way down the list was Nissa Revane, and that she wielded a black/Green deck. So I assumed, if she ever showed up on an actual Magic card, that she would be a) a badass and b) a Green and black planeswalker.

Two loyalty hardly suggests badass, and the plus ability is only +1 so it going to take five turns to ramp up to the ultimate ability. Now, despite his fragileness his abilities compare not too badly to, say, Elspeth—both make dudes for +1, and Nissa’s dudes are 2/3s but have the drawback of needing slots of your deck to fulfill. Even though you can only get a maximum of four in play at a time, presumably you’d be in pretty good shape if you’ve got four 2/3s that stick around while you’re gaining eight or more life each turn.

I have to say, after being burned out by having Lorwyn’s overpowered linear themes beat me about the head and shoulders for the past two years, I’m disappointed we’re getting another dose of tribal here already. I would have really rather the second Green Planeswalker to be good all on his own.

Oracle of Mul Daya – 3G
Creature – Elf Shaman (Rare)
You can play one additional land on each of your turns.
Play with the top card of your library revealed.
You may play the top card of your library if it’s a land card.

So Green gets a funky Future Sight/Magus of the Future. That’s kinda neat. If this guy sticks he’s certainly going to start reaping some dividends as he makes sure you’re drawing action and developing your mana, and I suspect in Zendikar block he’s probably going to be a powerhouse, but deep down I almost feel like it’s just another sucker card, where you play four mana for a critter that gets killed for half the cost.

Predatory Urge – 3G
Enchantment – Aura (Rare)
Enchant creature.
Enchanted creature has “T: This creature deals damage equal to its power to target creature. That creature deals damage equal to its power to this creature.”

Why in the world is this stinking up a rare slot?! I mean, it’s a janky Green removal spell of sorts, and it relies on you having something large and durable to slap on that can then immediately be used to take down an opposing creature. I’ve always thought the “stalking” mechanic worked nicely for Green and would have liked to see it more often on good Green cards.

Recently I was thinking about Sovereigns of Lost Alara and made a mental note to try and keep an eye out for quality Auras… and this one definitely does not synergize well with Sovereigns, since you have to enchant an attacking, exalted — and presumably tapped — creature with the Aura.

Rampaging Baloths — 4GG
Creature – Beast (Mythic Rare)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a 4/4 Green Beast creature token onto the battlefield.

A six-drop 6/6 trampler is worth at least looking at, and the landfall ability is certainly intriguing. This card will end up decent to insane, depending on the supporting cards we get in Zendikar and future sets as ways to get multiple lands into play at once.

Scythe Tiger – G
Creature – Cat (Common)
When Scythe Tiger enters the battlefield, sacrifice it unless you sacrifice a land.

Back in the day, when people learned of my love of Green cards, many people mistakenly figured I was a Stompy player. No, I hated Stompy. I don’t mind turning men sideways and attacking, but I tend to like creatures that have more going for them than just beats. I hated Rogue Elephant because I always got 2-for-1 done to me with that card.

However, slap Shroud on it… and even I have to look at it for at least a minute or two. Until I think about Volcanic Fallout. Um…

Eternity Vessel – 6
Artifact (Mythic Rare)
Eternity Vessel enters the battlefield with X charge counters on it, where X is your life total.
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may have your life total become equal to the number of charge counters on Eternity Vessel.

Alright, this card is positively insane in EDH, and will pretty much mandate that everyone puts a fair amount of artifact kill in their deck. I’m imagining some sick combos with Channel. I’m also figuring this card is going to be a pretty good in a control deck, especially if it can hit with a life total in the teens, it’s going to make beatdown decks have a really tough time punching through enough damage.

Arid Mesa
Land (Rare)
T, Pay 1 Life, Sacrifice Arid Mesa: Search your library for a Mountain or Plains card and put it onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library.

Add me to the camp of those who are disappointed with enemy fetches keeping the shuffling madness ongoing in Extended. That said, I will certainly be using the hell out of all the ones I acquire in Standard and beyond.

Emeria, The Sky Ruin
Land (Rare)
Emeria, the Sky Ruin enters the battlefield tapped.
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control seven or more plains, return target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield.
T: Add W to you mana pool.

I almost want a requirement of eight or more plains, because this feels like the essence of Reya Dawnbringer, who costs nine mana (eight plains plus Emeria) infused into the landscape. Seven is certainly more reasonable. So is Emeria worth playing a Monowhite deck? I’ve never done it, but as I said before graveyard recursion is very tempting! I look forward to seeing what the Green one does! My prediction is probably some sort of Beast token generation…

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
Land (Rare)
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle enters the battlefield tapped.
Whenever a Mountain enters the battlefield under your control, if you control at least five other Mountains, you may have Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle deal 3 damage to target creature or player.
T: Add R to your mana pool.

I think this card is going to be quite the hit with Red players everywhere, and easily see it as a 2-3 include (crazy Scapeshift shenanigans aside). I like how this card forces a rethink on the way Red decks think – typically, you walk a fine line on mana, often cutting it close or downright over the line in the hopes of minimizing the lands you draw after the initial three or four or five get played, and instead drawing the burn you need to finish your opponent. Valakut makes even the land burn…

EDH with Sachi

Last Friday I went to Richmond Comix and threw down with Adrian Sullivan Ivan Drago deck in the Standard FNM. I pretty much ran the deck as he suggested, but added two Masters of the Wild Hunt to the main deck and two to the sideboard. I went 3-1 in the Swiss, beating Naya Ramp, U/W Baneslayer, and a rogue B/W Deathbringer Liege deck, and losing to Doran. I missed the Top 4 cut at fifth place from a microscopically small difference in tiebreakers. This is the second Standard in a row this has happened to me. Perhaps I need to get my DCI Reporter blood sacrifices renewed. Anyway, I’d provide the decklist but I just remembered I lent the deck to Josh to play in another tournament the next day. He saw me kill the U/W deck when he was at 25 with a Baneslayer in play and came crashing over for over 35 points of damage, much of it trampling. Primalcrux is huge!

Afterwards, 9 of us were up for playing some EDH, though we didn’t have enough Planechase around yet to give that a try. I’d also not had a chance to sleeve up the Doran deck I talked about in last week’s primer finale, so I ended up pulling out my trusty Sachi deck, with a few tweaks to it and newly blinged out with From the Vault: Exile (shiny Top, Skullclamp, and Strip Mine). I talked about the deck here if you want to dig into my card choices a bit more, but the 30 second version is: I just wanted to take advantage of Sachi’s Shaman and Snake enhancements with many of the cards, with powerful mana sinks. There’s some anti-black stuff too, with black fixers like Painter’s Servant to make sure they turn on.

Here is my current build:

1 Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro
1 Diamond Valley
1 Arena
1 Dark Depths
1 Maze of Ith
1 Essence Warden
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Skullclamp
1 Sol Ring
1 Time of Need
1 Bosk Banneret
1 Painter’s Servant
1 Wurm’s Tooth
1 Compost
1 River Boa
1 Mire Boa
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Distorting Lens
1 Reap
1 Sylvan Library
1 Constant Mists
1 Elvish Visionary
1 Matsu-Tribe Sniper
1 Sun Droplet
1 Lifeforce
1 Thornbite Staff
1 Crucible of Worlds
1 Scuttlemutt
1 Hall of Gemstone
1 Loaming Shaman
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Forcefield
1 Eternal Witness
1 Spidersilk Armor
1 Ohran Viper
1 Sosuke’s Summons
1 Staff of Domination
1 Sword of Light and Shadow
1 Thousand-Year Elixir
1 Chameleon Colossus
1 Harmonize
1 Tower of Fortunes
1 Centaur Omenreader
1 Snake Pit
1 Sosuke, Son of Seshiro
1 Singing Tree
1 Masked Admirers
1 Wickerbough Elder
1 Nullmage Shepherd
1 Power Matrix
1 Reach of Branches
1 Silklash Spider
1 Genesis
1 Spectral Force
1 Seedborn Muse
1 Collective Unconscious
1 Seshiro the Anointed
1 Deadwood Treefolk
1 Sakiko, Mother of Summer
1 Urza’s Blueprints
1 Planar Portal
1 Ritual of Subdual
1 Regal Force
1 Akroma’s Memorial
1 Woodfall Primus
1 Patron of the Orochi
1 Mishra’s Factory
1 Urza’s Factory
1 Gargoyle Castle
1 Strip Mine
1 Wasteland
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
1 Yavimaya Hollow
1 Winding Canyons
1 Deserted Temple
1 Vesuva
1 Gaea’s Cradle
23 Forest

Here were the EDH Generals for the game:

Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro (Bennie)
Korlash, Heir to Blackblade (Harrison)
Treva, the Renewer (Trent)
Experiment Kraj (Emerson)
Momir Vig (Tommy)
Niv-Mizzet (Josh)
Mayael the Anima (Chris)
Karona (Ian)
Tsabo Tsavoc (Shane)

I recently cooked up some Excel worksheets to better keep track of relevant plays of the game and tried them out, so here’s a recap of the game. We started around 10:30pm; I won the die roll and got to go first.

Turn 1
I play a Forest, Sol Ring, and Sun Droplet. Yeah, that was a pretty sick opener, and it certainly got everyone’s attention.
Emerson plays Isle of the Reliquary.
Tommy plays Skullclamp.

Turn 2
I play Sachi.
Emerson plays Library of Leng. Apparently he doesn’t like to have to discard cards if he draws too many, so he’s doubled down on unlimited hand size.
Josh plays a Howling Mine and a cheer goes up.
Chris plays a Sol Ring. “Welcome to the Sol Ring club!” I say cheerily.

Turn 3
I play Planar Portal and Dark Depths. There’s some concern around the table.
Harrison stalls on mana, choking on Howling Mine, he discards Herald of Leshrac.
Tommy plays Coiling Oracle, revealing Tolarian Academy! To reward the Oracle for his good tidings, Tommy hooks him up to the Skullclamp and turns the poor Snake Elf Druid’s life into cards. I chastise Tommy for his cold-heartedness.
Chris plays Quicksilver Amulet.

Turn 4
I play Winding Canyons.
Harrison plays Mindslicer. Everyone hands are flush with Howling Mine cards so this raises some alarms.
Tommy plays a Forcefield. He then plays Rites of Flourishing, so we’re now drawing 3 cards a turn and can play an extra land each turn.
Josh plays a Morph. Ian plays Elspeth. Shane plays a Disk, but Emerson Dismisses it. At the end of Shane’s turn I activate the Planar Portal to search up Ritual of Subdual.

Which in retrospect was a mistake. I should have probably gone with Hall of Gemstone and thought through what I wanted to accomplish in the next several turns.

Turn 5
I play Vesuva, targeting Tower of the Reliquary so I don’t end up discarding from the friendly card-drawing madness. I play Ritual of Subdual, which certainly stirs up a lot of concern. Unfortunately for everyone else, there are no counterspells available, and nobody else has any non-land sources of colored mana of yet. Everyone gives Emerson grief for countering the Disk.
Harrison smacks me with Mindslicer. My Sun Droplet gets some counters.
Tommy plays a Cauldron of Souls. Josh plays a Mind’s Eye. At the end of his turn Chris uses his Quicksilver Amulet to drop a Stalking Vengeance into play. Hm, the Ritual doesn’t seem to be slowing him down.
Chris attacks me with Stalking Vengeance. My Sun Droplet goes to work some more.
Shane plays a Darksteel Ingot, taps it for red and casts Winds of Change. In response, Chris activates Quicksilver Amulet and puts out a Blazing Archon.

Turn 6
I play Wickerbough Elder and Lifeforce. Harrison passes the turn and discards Filth with an Urborg in play. Emerson plays Solemn Simulacrum.
Tommy plays a Jayemdae Tome and Candles of Leng.
Chris attacks me for 10. I think I see smoke coming from my Sun Droplet.
Ian plays Fist of the Sun and glares at the Ritual of Subdual. Shane plays Cloudstone Curio. At the end of his turn I use Wickerbough Elder to off the Quicksilver Amulet. Chris uses it one last time to drop Spearbreaker Behemoth into play. Ouch. At the end of the turn I use Planar Portal and search up Ohran Viper.

Turn 7
I play Ohran Viper and the Power Matrix I had in my hand. My thought was that I could use the Deathtouch and first strike to kill at least one of Chris’s attackers a turn. Then I remember what the Spearbreaker does, and the Indestructibility ability and realize that was pretty dumb. I still have the Ritual out, paying the cumulative upkeep and have really ticked off everyone else. It’s late, I’m not thinking straight. If I were going to do this I should have gone ahead and gotten Seedborn Muse while I had the mana and then I could have Portaled eight times to pretty much seal the game.
Harrison plays Miren, and attacks Ian’s Elspeth with a swampwalking Mindslicer because it’s getting close to ultimate. He then sacrifices the ‘slicer to Miren and we all lose our hand.
Josh recovers his hand with Mind’s Eye and plays a Morph. Chris attacks me for 15. I think I hear a rattling sound coming from deep inside my Sun Droplet, maybe some smoke.

Turn 8
I draw and play Sword of Light and Shadow, equip my Viper. At least it can now block and survive the Archon attacks.
Harrison casts Beseech the Queen, gets a Disk and plays it. Everyone cheers.
Chris plays a Vedalken Orrery with a Disk on the board for some reason.

Turn 9
I pay the cumulative upkeep and pass. Harrison untaps, pops the Disk, and then hits me with a Mind Sludge. I guess I deserved that. He plays Subversion. I look sadly at my severely diminished life totals with no Sun Droplet keeping me alive. Double ouch!
Emerson plays Academy Ruins, uses it to put Solemn Simulacrum back on top of his deck. A classic good play.
Tommy plays his general Momir Vig and Time Warp. He casts some little dude, sacs it to Skullclamp. Takes his second turn, draws some cards, plays land and passes the turn.
Josh plays his Niv Mizzet.
Chris attacks me for 15; I block with my pro-white flying Viper and take 10. Chris makes the Archon indestructible.
Ian plays Captain Sisay and Tsabo Tsavoc.
Shane plays Price of Progress, hitting some of the players pretty hard. He then plays Recoup on Winds of Change from his graveyard. In response, Josh plays Searing Winds and copies it with Fork, hitting Chris for 20 points of damage. Then the Winds of Change draw triggers Niv Mizzet enough times to finish him off. At just 12 life, I realize I now work for Niv Mizzet until I can figure out some way out of here.

Turn 10
I play Urza’s Blueprints, tap it to draw Maze of Ith and play it. I attack Harrison with my Viper and gain 3 life and retrieve a creature from my graveyard.
Harrison plays Cabal Coffers, plays Promise of Power, Helldozer, and Demonic Tutor.
Trent plays Unbender Tine and Doubling Cube. Not sure what he’s got going on over there in Treva town.
Emerson plays a Morph.
Tommy plays Eternal Witness to get back Skullclamp, and in appreciation for her hard work slaps the clamp on her to draw 2 cards. He plays Sprout Swarm, and then clamps the Saproling token. He then plays Seedborn Muse—uh oh, Houston—we have a situation.
I look at Josh, who’s next. “Clone Seedborn Muse?” He smiles at me and plays Clone… copying, of course, the Seedborn Muse.
Ian packs it in. It’s getting really, really late, and with two Seedborn Muses on the board things are getting ugly.

Turn 11
I replay Sachi, and get Sosuke’s Summons back from my graveyard. I cast it, then play Shepherd and tap four creatures to kill off the Subversion.
Harrison has a big turn. He casts Curse of the Cabal, hitting Emerson for half his permanents. Harrison then plays Yawgmoth’s Will, replays Curse and hits Josh with it. He then replays Demonic Tutor to get Animate Dead, and takes control of Josh’s Arcanis the Omnipotent that’s hanging out in the graveyard. I was checking out Harrison’s graveyard, he had a Decree of Pain and Sins of the Past so I think he could have had an even bigger turn but he’d been itching to go hog wild with Curse of the Cabal.
Trent plays Empty the Vaults so everyone’s enchantments and artifacts come flying back into play… and now my Ritual of Subdual is back in play. Everyone groans, including me! I tell everyone I won’t pay the upkeep cost, please don’t kill me!
Tommy plays Magistrate’s Scepter—with a Seedborn Muse out? Sick!
Josh plays Furnace of Rath (he’s gotten some artifact mana producing colored mana at this point) and Goblin Charbelcher, activates the Charbelcher targeting Shane, reveals a land on top of his library. Whiff!
Shane has Disk back from Empty the Vaults, he untaps and then activates the Disk. Trent hits it with a Trickbind to buy another turn.

Turn 12
On my turn Josh strongly urges me to pay the upkeep on the Ritual. “Yes sir” I whimper with my puny life total. I guess since he’s got colored mana via artifacts he’d rather me disrupt some of the other players. I attack Harrison with my Viper to eek out a little more life. At the end of my turn Josh hits Harrison with Urza’s Rage with kicker and kills him.
At the end of Trent’s turn, Josh activates Charbelcher and targets Shane, this time connecting with enough damage to kill him.
Tommy has been making a crazy amount of Saprolings with Sprout Swarm and Seedborn Muse, so during his turn he attacks me, Trent and Emerson and kills us with Saprolings. He plays Overbeing of Myth and then activates the Magistrate’s Scepter to take another turn. He attacks Josh but Josh plays Evacuation.
Josh recasts Niv Mizzet and then casts Time Stretch. On his first extra turn, he casts Fireball at Tommy and takes him to 1. He then takes his second extra turn and Niv Mizzet kills him during the draw step to win the game.

I like the Sachi deck a lot but I need to think through what sort of end game I want with it if I’m in a commanding position. I probably should focus on getting the Snake royalty in play and then use the disruptive cards to make sure no one rains on my party. Anyway, I’ll be putting her away for now, I’ve still got Rofellos I want to build, a Rafiq deck that’s nearly complete, and of course the crazy Doran deck.

A reminder to Virginia-area EDH fans: as usual, I’ll be working the Star City Games prerelease tournament in Richmond in a few weeks (YAY, Zendikar!), and as usual I’ll be bringing along at least one EDH deck (the Doran deck I talked about in last week’s primer) to play later in the day. The last few prereleases I was approached by several people who were like “dude, if I’d know you were going to bring an EDH deck, I’d have brought mine!” Well, now you know, plenty of advance warning so don’t forget!

Also, we’ll be hosting Wizards R&D member Ken Nagle, who helped design Planechase & Zendikar among other things. In Mark Rosewater column this week he said this regarding Mr. Nagle: “Each member of the Pit has their pet issues. One of Ken’s is multiplayer play. Whenever a card could be tweaked to make it slightly more efficient or fun for multiplayer play, Ken will make a comment in Multiverse.” Sounds like he’d be EDH fans go-to guy in R&D, and I’m hoping to at least score an interview with the gentleman, so if you have anything in particular you’d like me to ask, shoot me some questions at my email address below with “Ask Ken Nagle” in the subject.

I’m also really hoping Ken will be bringing an EDH deck with him and that we can play an EDH game with several other players—I will be happy to report how the game goes in the following column, and maybe we’ll even get some coverage from Evan on The Magic Show! If you’re an EDH fan who’d like to see this happen, drop Ken and Evan an email and let them know. Between thee and me it’ll hopefully come together.

Take care!


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