Commander Corner: Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker

Welcome Back,

Sorry for the large break, had some minor surgery cause some rather major problems. It’s good to be back again though. So let’s get down to it.

I remember when I got the idea for this deck. I was walking to my local game store and talking to my friend about EDH. We were looking though various commanders, and he found one that he thought was pretty interesting. He showed it to me, and my gears started immediately turning. I just started rattling off different ways to abuse it, what cards synergize well with its ability. We both got really into this card, and talked about it for the entire walk down to the store. I eventually had to apologize to him, as I ended up taking this commander for my own nefarious purposes. Over the next few months, I built it, bought it, and refined it until I was satisfied with what i had before me.

[c]Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker[/c] ended up being a mainstay in my Commander arsenal, right next to my prized [c]Ruhan of the Fomori[/c] deck. He gave me something unique that I can’t really find with many other commanders. He does one specific thing. What he does though, he does so well. A deck full of 1/1s can’t be that powerful, right?

mtgcom_arcana_747_pic1_en (1)

Its face kind of bothers me. Is it just covered in eyes and has a weird, toothy mouth? I’m not sure honestly. I like it, though.

[d title= “Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker (EDH)”]

Commander

1 Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker

Lands

1 Bojuka Bog

1 Cabal Coffers

1 Crypt of Agadeem

1 High Market

1 Myriad Landscape

1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

1 Phyrexian Tower

1 Reliquary Tower

27 Swamp

1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

1 Westvale Abbey

[/d]

[d]

Creatures

1 Abyssal Gatekeeper

1 Apprentice Necromancer

1 Augur of Skulls

1 Big Game Hunter

1 Blood Artist

1 Bloodgift Demon

1 Bone Shredder

1 Butcher of Malakir

1 Cadaver Imp

1 Carrion Feeder

1 Coffin Queen

1 Crypt Ghast

1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel

1 Grim Haruspex

1 Harvester of Souls

1 Hell’s Caretaker

1 Marsh Flitter

1 Myr Sire

1 Nezumi Bone-Reader

1 Ogre Slumlord

1 Pentavus

1 Perilous Myr

1 Pilgrim’s Eye

1 Plagued Rusalka

1 Ravenous Rats

1 Reaper from the Abyss

1 Sadistic Hypnotist

1 Sidisi, Undead Vizier

1 Skirsdag High Priest

1 Solemn Simulacrum

1 Triskelion

1 Viscera Seer

1 Zulaport Cutthroat

[/d]

[d]

Instants

1 Doom Blade

1 Hero’s Downfall

1 Malicious Affliction

1 Tragic Slip

Sorceries

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Diabolic Intent

1 Mutilate

1 Sign in Blood

Enchantments

1 Attrition

1 Black Market

1 Dictate of Erebos

1 Grave Pact

1 Infernal Tribute

1 Phyrexian Arena

1 Phyrexian Reclamation

[/d]

[d]

Artifacts

1 Ashnod’s Altar

1 Champion’s Helm

1 Charcoal Diamond

1 Coldsteel Heart

1 Commander’s Sphere

1 Lightning Greaves

1 Skullclamp

1 Sol Ring

1 Swiftfoot Boots

1 Unstable Obelisk

1 Worn Powerstone

Planeswalkers

1 Ob NIxilis Reignited

[/d]

It really is a deck that is mostly just 1/1s. It may look a bit unassuming; we are playing [c]Ravenous Rats[/c] and [c]Myr Sire[/c] in a format where cards like [c]Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite[/c] and [c]Survival of the Fittest[/c] are legal. A lot of these cards might not look like much at face value, but getting to trigger their effects two times every turn cycle can end up being back breaking.

[c]Marsh Flitter[/c] can generate an army, [c]Ravenous Rats[/c] will tear your opponents hand apart, and [c]Big Game Hunter[/c] will cut the opposing forces in twain. These small effects eventually add up to an insurmountable amount of card advantage and pressure until they just wither away into nothing. To pull this off though, we need some set up.

In order to make this whole contraption work, we need three major things. We need creatures, a cheap sacrifice outlet or two, and [c]Shirei[/c]. We also need a proper mixture of creatures and sacrifice outlets. If we have two many creatures, we just are playing 1/1s that get rapidly outclassed. Two many sacrifice outlets without enough fuel don’t really do much of anything.  

We have cards like [c]Demonic Tutor[/c] and [c]Diabolic Intent[/c] to help us find exactly what we need, and [c]Phyrexian Arena[/c] and [c]Skullclamp[/c] to give us the raw card advantage that we need. [c]Skullclamp[/c] ends up being one of the best cards in the deck unsurprisingly enough due to the massive amount of cards we can draw with it. Once we get our right mix of sacrifice outlets and value creatures, we drop [c]Shirei[/c]. This is where things can fall apart.

[c]Shirei[/c] is fragile. Extremely fragile. We have [c]Lightning Greaves[/c], [c]Champion’s Helm[/c], and [c]Swiftfoot Boots[/c] to protect him though. You also have plenty of ways to strip their hand of any removal they may have in their hand. You better be ready to have him killed if you don’t have any boots to suit him up with, cause he is a magnet for removal once they read what he actually does. He is the most important card to this whole operation. Without him, this entire deck just falls apart.

[c]Phyrexian Reclamation[/c] does a decent impression, but it is nowhere near effective as [c]Shirei[/c]. You should not run her out unless you are sure he is not about to immediately die. It’s the cost you have to pay for playing a five mana 2/2 as your general. If he sticks around, its not long until your incremental advantages become backbreaking for the entire table.

[c]Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker[/c] brings something unique to the table. Having such a narrow ability may pigeonhole him to this one type of strategy, but it’s a damn good one. You can out-value the most stubborn of [c]Karador, Ghost Chieftain[/c] decks, make more tokens than [c]Rhys the Redeemed[/c], and decimate more peoples’ hands than [c]Nicol Bolas[/c]. You would be amazed with what you can do with a bunch of 1/1 creatures, some sacrifice outlets, and a forgotten Kamigawa legend that nobody has ever heard of.

Thanks for stopping by. Now that things are a bit more stable, I should be bale to do my original plan of every other week with some Commander goodness for you guys and gals. It’s been a hectic few weeks for me, but I’m glad to be back on a bit of a more proper schedule. I missed writing, and I hope I can keep this up for you readers without any more interruptions. I’ll see you soon.

-Steven Gulsby

Commander Corner: Anowon the Ruin Sage

Welcome back,

For most of his life, [c]Anowon, the Ruin Sage[/c] has been searching for one thing, the [c]Eye of Ugin[/c]. He used his reputation of being a master of the ancient languages, ruins, and runes to his advantage. He created a following, as adventurers would seek him out for his wisdom. In order to gain this reputation, he had to hide his vampiric heritage. Anowon is known to stoop to violence to get what he wants. Many vampires on Malakir know that he is a ruthless murderer and is hungry for power. He wasn’t always this way though.

In his early life, [c]Anowon[/c] belonged to the House of Ghet. His parents are unknown, but he took to the bloodchief, Tenihas, and saw him as a father figure. Tenihas also was fond of the young boy. During his childhood, [c]Anowon[/c] spent most of his time in Tenihas’s library. He was fascinated with the ancient world. This world was described as “a world in which vampires were enslaved by famished gods.” Tenihas didn’t want him to unearth anything that had to do with the old world, but Anowon disagreed. This created tension between the two.

One night Tenihas was found murdered in his chambers, and all of his treasures were missing. A witness stated that it was [c]Anowon[/c] himself that killed the bloodchief. In a fit of rage, he left the House of Ghet.

For many years he wandered and went on many expeditions. Eventually. he went to the Lighthouse at Sea Gate, disguised as a man named Kejahar. He dazzled the scholars with his knowledge of the ancient world, as well as with the many relics he possessed. He successfully integrated himself among the scholars, and decided to spend his time there for a while. During his stay, he went on many expeditions with the local merfolk. He also spent a great deal of time in the Lighthouse’s library, as it was the largest collection of works in all of Zendikar. It was there that he discovered a connection between the [c]Eye of Ugin[/c] and the vampires of the old world.

After this discovery, a Kor woman was found in an alleyway, brutally murdered. [c]Anowon[/c] was blamed for her death, as she was friends with him at the time. During the interrogations about this murder, it was revealed that [c]Anowon[/c] was a vampire. They immediatly kicked him out of the Lighthouse and savagely beat him within an inch of his life. They then threw him hundreds of feet off a cliff, into the Halimar.

He managed to survive, and went on a quest for the [c]Eye of Ugin[/c]. Using his reputation, he created a following. Many adventurers would seek him out, and he would use their relics to help him find the Eye. It was during this time that [c]Chandra Nalaar[/c] appeared. She seeked him out for his knowledge of the ancient world, as she was also searching for the Eye. She claimed that she memorized a map that would take them to the Eye. [c]Anowon[/c] agreed to venture with her, and set off. [c]Anowon[/c] later discovered that she had a physical map, and tried to kill her. Out of nowhere, [c]Sarkhan Vol[/c] showed up and knocked him out.

When he awoke, he found a man by the name of [c]Jace Beleren[/c]. He attacked Jace, but Jace disabled him. Jace read his mind, and convinced [c]Anowon[/c] to lead him to the Eye.

When the Eldrazi were released, they found [c]Anowon[/c] and enslaved him like all of the other vampires. He followed their code for many months, until he was freed by [c]Sorin Markov[/c] and [c]Nissa Revane[/c]. They went back to the Eye, and [c]Anowon[/c] divulged all he knew about the ancient world to them.

Nissa then freed the Eldrazi Titans. She, along with [c]Anowon[/c], fled to Afta. [c]Anowon[/c] was last seen stalking her.

[c]Anowon, the Ruin Sage[/c] is a complex character. He is a vital piece to the story of Zendikar. The type of decks he lends himself too, however, is much more straight-forward. His ability is powerful, and can easily swing the game to your favor, as he helps clear the board, and allows for your swath of vampires to go in for the kill. Let’s take a look at what the Ruin Sage can do for us today.

Anowon,_the_Ruin_Sage

A vampire obsessed with the ancient world. In the end, I guess he did get what he wanted
[d title = “Anowon, the Ruin Sage (EDH)”]
Commander
1 Anowon, the Ruin Sage
Lands
1 Barren Moor
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Cabal Coffers
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Crypt of Agadeem
1 Deserted Temple
1 Everglades
1 Lake of the Dead
1 Leechridden Swamp
1 Mutavault
1 Myriad Landscape
1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
1 Polluted Mire
1 Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
23 Swamp [/d]

[d]
Creatures
1 Adaptive Automaton
1 Ascendant Evincar
1 Blood Artist
1 Bloodghast
1 Bloodhusk Ritualist
1 Bloodline Keeper
1 Bloodlord of Vassgoth
1 Butcher of Malakir
1 Captivating Vampire
1 Dark Impostor
1 Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief
1 Falkenrath Noble
1 Gatekeeper of Malakir
1 Guul Draz Assassin
1 Kalastria Highborn
1 Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet
1 Malakir Bloodwitch
1 Mirri the Cursed
1 Necropolis Regent
1 Nirkana Revenant
1 Sangromancer
1 Vampire Hexmage
1 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Vampire Nocturnus [/d]

[d]
Instants
1 Dismember
1 Doom Blade
1 Hero’s Downfall
1 Sudden Death
1 Tragic Slip
Sorceries
1 Beseech the Queen
1 Blood Tribute
1 Chainer’s Edict
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Exsanuinate
1 Mutilate
1 Night’s Whisper
1 Overwhelming Forces
1 Patriarch’s Bidding
1 Profane Command
1 Sign in Blood
1 Yagmoth’s Will [/d]

[d]
Enchantments
1 Black Market
1 Dictate of Erebos
1 Grave Pact
1 Greed
1 No Mercy
1 Phyrexian Arena
Artifacts
1 Blade of the Bloodchief
1 Caged Sun
1 Charcoal Diamond
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Door of Destinies
1 Expedition Map
1 Gauntlet of Power
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Mimic Vat
1 Mind Stone
1 Sol Ring
1 Worn Powerstone
Planeswalkers
1 Liliana Vess
1 Sorin Markov [/d]

Price: MTGO = 87.10 TIX | Paper = $493.14

Price will vary greatly if you get the Overwhelming Forces Promo instead of the Portal 3K one. This is the price with the Promo.

This deck is rather straightforward, but powerful. Its primary focus is to just keep the board clear of creatures so yours can freely attack through. Easy as that. It works more like a monoblack control deck, slowly grinding your opponents down until you’re the only one left with things to do. It’s simple, yet effective.

The main way to win, like almost all tribes, is to just beat down. Just about all of your creatures are capable of applying a solid amount of pressure. Creatures like [c]Captivating Vampire[/c], [c]Adaptive Automaton[/c], and [c]Vampire Nocturnus[/c] will buff your entire team and just make things easier for you. Your finishers usually involve [c]Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief[/c] or [c]Butcher of Malakir[/c], and a handful of others, as they will end the game almost immediatly. Especially [c]Drana[/c]. I have yet to loose when she stuck around for a few turns.

The only real function [c]Anowon[/c] serves in here is to keep the board clear. He does this extremely well though. In order for them to have anything on the board, they have to at least have two creatures to be able to block anything. If it’s late in the game, Anowon will pretty much just lock an opponent out of creatures. He will grind your opponent down, generating you value every turn until your opponent has nothing left.

If your opponent is playing a token strategy, things get a bit harder for you. [c]Anowon[/c] becomes much less effective if they can sacrifice one of their more useless tokens. We do have ways to mitigate this though. The handful of board sweeps will be able to keep the tokens at bay. [c]Overwhelming Forces[/c] is hands down the best out of the bunch, as it will pull us ahead so far that it will be difficult for them to come back. As long as you can get to its astronomical mana cost, that is. Besides that, we have [c]No Mercy[/c] which isn’t at its best here, but gets the job done nonetheless.

Overall, this deck is a good amount of fun, though it’s super grind-heavy. If you really like a tribal theme in black, I can easily recommend giving this a shot. It’s rather straight forward and to the point. This deck wants nothing more than your opponent to be dead, one way or another.

Thank you for checking out this week’s Commander Corner. If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments below. See you soon, my friends.

-Steven Gulsby

 

Commander Corner: King Macar, the Gold-Cursed

Welcome back,

I remember a year or so back when Journey into Nyx came out, and I saw [c]King Macar[/c]. I was on a bit of a black kick at the time, and was obsessed with that color. Every deck that I built had to be running that color. I was looking for a mono-black general, but none of the previous ones appealed to me.

They were either too straightforward, like [c]Anowon, the Ruin Sage[/c] or [c]Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief[/c], or just boring like [c]Mikaeus, the Unhallowed[/c] and [c]Sheoldred, Whispering One[/c].

[c]King Macar[/c] was different though. He was unique, flavorful, and powerful. I just couldn’t seem to get him to work at the time. I decided to just leave him go and build something else. So for this week, I decided to go back, do some extensive research, and finish what I started a year ago. Lets take a look at [c]King Macar, the Gold-Cursed[/c].

King-Macar,-the-Gold-Cursed

He may be cursed, but his misfortune is to our benefit. I do feel bad for him though.

[d title=”King Macar, the Gold-Cursed (EDH)”]

Commander

1 King Macar, the Gold-Cursed

Lands

1 Cabal Coffers

1 Myriad Landscape

1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

1 Reliquary Tower

31 Swamp

1 Vault of Whispers

[/d]

[d]

Creatures

1 Colossus of Akros

1 Crypt Ghast

1 Darksteel Colossus

1 Darksteel Juggernaut

1 Dread Cacodemon

1 Erebos, God of the Dead

1 Geth, Lord of the Vault

1 Grave Titan

1 Kuldotha Forgemaster

1 Lord of the Void

1 Mycosynth Golem

1 Myr Battlesphere

1 Nirkana Revenant

1 Pestilence Demon

1 Platinum Angel

1 Reiver Demon

1 Sheoldred, Whispering One

1 Thopter Assembly[/d]

[d]

Instants

1 Doom Blade

1 Hero’s Downfall

1 Tendrils of Corruption

Sorceries

1 Consume Spirit

1 Crux of Fate

1 Decree of Pain

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Diabolic Revelation

1 Drain Life

1 Exsanguinate

1 In Garruk’s Wake

1 Profane Command

Enchantments

1 Greed

1 Koskun Falls

1 Phyrexian Arena[/d]

[d]

Artifacts

1 Blinkmoth Urn

1 Caged Sun

1 Champion’s Helm

1 Clock of Omens

1 Cranial Plating

1 Darksteel Forge

1 Darksteel Plate

1 Ebony Horse

1 Gauntlet of Power

1 Honor-Worn Shaku

1 Icy Manipulator

1 Jandor’s Saddlebags

1 Krark-Clan Ironworks

1 Lashwrithe

1 Mycosynth Lattice[/d]

[d]

Artifacts Cont.

1 Paradise Mantle

1 Puppet Strings

1 Ring of Xathrid

1 Sol Ring

1 Springleaf Drum

1 Staff of Domination

1 Strionic Resonator

1 Swiftfoot Boots

1 Sword of the Paruns

1 Thousand-Year Elixir

1 Trading Post

1 Umbral Mantle

1 Voltaic Key

1 Whip of Erebos

Planeswalker

1 Liliana Vess

[/d]

Cost: Paper = $243.36 | MTGO = 61.51 TIX

Note that the Online price does not include [c]Koskun Falls[/c] as I do not think it is on MTGO. You will have to find a replacement for that one. I recommend [c]Ring of Gix[/c] or any other card that can tap both [c]King Macar[/c] and something else.

I never thought Mono-Black Artifacts could be a thing, but here it is. This deck features a boatload of cards that are geared to work well with our commander. For most commanders, the main way of getting them tapped is by attacking. That’s not going to work out so well for ours since he is rather squishy. Four mana for a 2/3 isn’t the best rate in the world, especially in a format dominated by large creatures.

What makes him good though is his inspired ability. The ability to [c]Gild[/c] a creature whenever he untaps is great, as it can keep us ahead on mana while keeping our opponents board state in check.

We can cash in these coins for our payoff cards, our creatures. [c]Dread Cacodemon[/c], [c]Grave Titan[/c], [c]Lord of the Void[/c], [c]Pestilence Demon[/c], and [c]Darksteel Juggernaut[/c] will make short work of most opponents. They are pretty much the best at doing what they are designed to do, which is take over the game.

We can ramp into them by doubling our mana output with [c]Crypt Ghast[/c], [c]Nirkana Revenant[/c], [c]Caged Sun[/c], and [c]Gauntlet of Power[/c]. We can also make a ton of mana with [c]Blinkmoth Urn[/c] and the plethora of artifacts we have and can also generate with our commander.

In order to stabilize and be able to cast these threats, we need our commander, [c]King Macar[/c]. Many of these cards are specifically in here to abuse his inspired ability. Without him, we don’t have much in the way of interacting with our opponent outside of tapping their creatures and wrathing the board. He allows us to constantly keep their board state in check while generating enough mana via the gold tokens he produces.

These [c]Lotus Petal[/c], like tokens, will help us ramp into our larger threats and take over the game. He also enables us to use more mana intensive spells such as [c]Drain Life[/c], [c]Exsanguinate[/c], and [c]Diabolic Revelation[/c]. These powerful spells can help us gain enough life or generate enough card advantage to stick around for a while.

[c]Diabolic Revelation[/c] has been especially impressive, as long as you have enough mana to pour into it. If you do though, you pretty much just win the game right then and there, as you get to sculpt the perfect hand. Without our king, this deck wouldn’t really be possible. That being said, that leads us to one problem, if we lose him early on.

If we happen to lose our commander early on, such as [c]Song of the Dryads[/c] or [c]Darksteel Mutation[/c], things are going to be rough for us. This deck packs a ton of cards that are meant to be used with him, and without that, you’re going to be drawing a bunch of useless cards.

Having our commander turned into a forest and drawing [c]Ebony Horse[/c] and other types of cards like that for a few turns will probably end in a game loss. Since we are in black, we don’t really have ways of dealing with that. So if that happens to you, be prepared to not be doing much for a good portion of the game.

All in all, this is a fun and unique build. It takes your typical voltron approach and puts a neat little spin on it. Instead of attacking with our commander, we use him with our plethora of tap and untap effects to keep the board nice and clear so we can drop our fatties and sit on a nice stack of gold. What more can you ask for?

Thank you for checking out this weeks Commander Corner. If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments below. Also, from now on, I will not be building any decks with the cards I discussed in my “5 Cards that Need to be Banned in Commander” article. I feel like I need to stick to my guns and set an example. Next week, we talk about something else. See you soon my friends.

-Steven Gulsby

Most Free Wins in Modern: Black

smallpox art

Hi all,

There are two things you should know about black. The first is that it is the color most classically known for preventing your opponents from playing Magic. Because of all the discard spells, the games that you win, you win big. Your opponent is embarrassed with no threat on the board and hardly any damage to your life total. If your opponent crawls out, it will only be because of the topdecks.

The second thing you need to know about black is that, appropriately, a lot of black cards are created to exploit the graveyard. This may be a point of contention with some readers, but the fact is that graveyards are not receiving any attention in Modern. “What about all the delve cards,” you may ask. Well, let’s say you board in [c]Relic of Progenitus[/c] or [c]Rest in Peace[/c] against [c]Tasigur, the Golden Fang[/c] or [c]Become Immense[/c]. What do you do after those cards are played, and your opponent only has one or two cards in their graveyard? It’s embarrassing.

So without too much ado, let’s look at the top cards for free wins in Modern that are black.

8) [c]Night of Souls’ Betrayal[/c]

[c]Lingering Souls[/c] is so hot right now [-Will Ferrell], and this enchantment shuts them down. It is an enchantment that costs more than 3, so it is practically invulnerable. As far as its scope, it is not limited to spirit tokens. Consider: mana dorks in Little Kid Junk and Green Devotion, practically the entire Infect deck, and all but a few outs in Affinity. Oh yeah, there’s also every creature in Twin. [c]Night of Souls’ Betrayal[/c] hoses them all.

7) [c]Unburial Rites[/c]

I was tempted to save myself some trouble with bickering over [c]Iona, Shield of Emeria[/c] and [c]Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite[/c] last week in my White free wins article and just writing this in as a white card. Consider that it is played in a popular Modern deck that has no black mana sources in it: UW Tron, for example. Nevertheless, this card makes for easy wins by playing a number of broken fatties for four mana, and what’s more, all of the implements that put those creatures in the graveyard also work with [c]Unburial Rites[/c]. I think that this card’s potential can only go up as Modern develops.

unburial rites art

6) [c]Smallpox[/c]

Decks that include [c]Smallpox[/c] are built not to have a creature in play, to be able to take advantage of the card in the graveyard, and to include [c]Life from the Loam[/c] to get the land back. If you are on the play against any deck that plays a turn one creature, you treat them like Bane treated Batman.

5) [c]Wrench Mind[/c] and [c]Raven’s Crime[/c]

If you’ve ever played me in a ticketed event using these cards, then I will go ahead and apologize right now. I like to live a rage-free life, learning from my mistakes and counting on winning the next match if I lose. Losing to these cards never lets me look back on the game to see what I did wrong. I just look back at misery and torture. I never feel good playing against them.

4) [c]Goryo’s Vengeance[/c]

Like [c]Unburial Rites[/c], this card cheats out a game-winning fatty. Unlike Rites, Vengeance costs two mana. It enables many lines that lead to a turn two kill with [c]Griselbrand[/c] and [c]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/c]. What’s worse is that if the demon comes out, any removal will receive the response of “draw 14, do it again.”

ad nauseum art

3) [c]Ad Nauseam[/c]

Although its centerpiece spell costs 5 and depends on its combo enablers to resolve before it, somehow this deck is still amazingly difficult to interact with for control decks. Thanks to myriad [c]Lotus Bloom[/c] and [c]Pentad Prism[/c], I’ve watched [c]Lightning Storm[/c] resolve for the win through [c]Remand[/c] and [c]Mana Leak[/c] on the [c]Ad Nauseam[/c] on turn four. It’s crazy when something as awkward as [c]Temple of Deceit[/c] can make a deck better, but that’s the power level of this card.

2) [c]Dark Confidant[/c]

So if we take [c]Ad Nauseam[/c]’s effect and spread it out over the course of many turns, it has to be worse, right? Well, not exactly. “Bob,” as he is affectionately known, is as vulnerable as can be. All removal kills him. Burn enjoys having him around. Still, in the history of Magic: The Gathering, there are few creatures that are as impactful as [c]Dark Confidant[/c]. He may be down today in Modern, but he is certainly not out! Untap with him once, and he becomes [c]Night’s Whisper[/c]. Go ahead, read it again, but before you scroll down to the comments section, realize that the opponent has to do something about him eventually or drown in the cards that you have coming his way.
Honorable mention here: [c]Phyrexian Arena[/c]

And the final card for free wins in Modern with skulls in the upper right hand corner?

1) [c]Liliana of the Veil[/c]

That’s right, boys, pay to play. Lily is a card advantage machine, although much like [c]Dark Confidant[/c], she never reads “draw a card.” If you have ever played a creature-based deck, you know how frustrating this planeswalker can be. You have one creature. Your opponent taps for 1BB. The creature is gone. Now, you hope and beg and pray and everything else that you can topdeck a creature or [c]Abrupt Decay[/c], even though the card disadvantage there will be painful. But you don’t draw a creature, so you can’t play two of them. You play just the one, and it is removed, and your opponent upticks [c]Liliana of the Veil[/c]. Bad beats, you’ll never have a creature again. Good game.

There you have it everyone. The long story short for most of this article is this: Keep your opponents from playing Magic because sometimes it is best to play decks that don’t require thought. :)

Undoubtedly you think I missed something. Let me know below!

-drinkard

Commander Corner: Volrath the Fallen

Welcome back,

[c]Volrath[/c] was born with the name Vuel on the plane of Dominaria as part of the Jamuraan war clan. During his youth, he was introduced to [c]Gerrard Capashen[/c]. Gerrard eventually joined Vuel’s family, much to Vuel’s contempt. Eventually, though, he got over it and they became the best of friends.

A few years passed since then, and it was time for them to face the rite of passage. This rite of passage was meant to test them, and if they complete this challenge, they will become a full fledged member of the clan. Before they would attempt the rite, they had to get their bodies painted in the traditional war paint. This would be not a problem for Gerrard, but for Vuel, it was a different story. One of the clan members, Starke il-Vec, poisoned his warpaint and caused Vuel to fail the trial. 

Gerrard managed to save him from certain death, but Vuel resented him for it, as he was cast out from the clan for failing the rite of passage. Starke managed to comfort him and take him under his wing. He fueled his ego and lust for revenge, turning him against Gerrard and his former clan. Vuel rallied up the neighboring clans to attack his former clan, slaughtering everybody in their path. Gerrard managed to escape, but Vuel swore his revenge against him.

Vuels ego and lust for power grew with each passing day. He eventually used Starke’s portal and went to Rath, joining the Phyrexians. He was given the name Volrath and the position of evincar. He also became a shapeshifter and the master of flowstone.

After this he started to enact his revenge on Gerrard. He plotted and executed the kidnapping of [c]Captain Sisay[/c] and lured the Weatherlight over to the plane of Rath, where his own ship, the Predator, would ambush them. This plan ended up failing, even though Volrath managed to obtain Karn and the Legacy artifacts.

Gerrard managed to survive a fall down to the Skyshroud Forest. Volrath knew this, and kept his eye on him, watching and waiting for him to come rescue Karn.

Volrath watched over Gerrard as he attacked the Stronghold. He managed to wound Gerrard’s crew-mates until only Starke and Gerrard were left. Volrath then confronted him, having Sisay and Takara under his control. Gerrard managed to kill who he thought was Volrath at the time. Volrath took the form of Takara before he went to confront him and had another shapeshifter take his form in order to trick Gerrard into thinking that he had been slain. Volrath stowed away on the Weatherlight before it left his Stronghold.

After they arrived in Mercadia, Volrath pitted each crew member against one another. Eventually, he took revenge on Starke and killed him. He was then attacked by Gerrard and was bested in combat. Gerrard then left his lifeless body to rot on the plane. Volrath was not dead, and went after the Weatherlight once more. He failed though, and he then retreated back to Rath, avoiding certain death.

When he went back to Rath, Volrath found that his throne as the evincar was being contested by Greven, Ertai, and Crovax. With the aid of Ertai, Crovax ended up beating Volrath in combat and took his place as evincar. During Corvax’s ceremony, he was given the honor to kill Volrath, who was now stripped of his Phyrexian name and augments. Crovax injected him with a vial of flowstone, which destroyed him from the inside out. The last thing he saw was the sky of his home plane of Dominaria.

Volrath’s card perfectly encapsulates him at his peak of power. His ability to discard a creature to give him +X/+X, where X is the creatures CMC, is really powerful. This allows you to one shot any opponent with “general” damage. He is an extremely powerful general and is a great discard outlet for you to fuel your graveyard with fatties and bring them back with reanimation spells. Let’s take a look at what we can do with this shapeshifting master.

volrath

I wonder what his life would have been like if Starke didn’t poison him.

[d title=”Volrath, Master of Death (EDH)”]

Commander

1 Volrath the Fallen

Lands

1 Cabal Coffers

1 Crypt of Agadeem

1 Everglades

1 Evolving Wilds

1 Lake of the Dead

1 Myriad Landscape

1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

28 Snow-Covered Swamp

1 Terramorphic Expanse

1 Volrath’s Stronghold[/d]

[d]

Creatures

1 Avatar of Woe

1 Bloodghast

1 Bloodsoaked Champion

1 Champion of Stray Souls

1 Doomed Necromancer

1 Draco

1 Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief

1 Duplicant

1 Geth, Lord of the Vault

1 Grave Titan

1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel

1 Hell’s Caretaker

1 Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni

1 It that Betrays

1 Lord of the Void

1 Magus of the Coffers

1 Massacre Wurm

1 Nirkana Revenant

1 Overseer of the Damned

1 Pack Rat

1 Platinum Emperion

1 Rune-Scarred Demon

1 Sepulchral Primordial

1 Sheoldred, Whispering One

1 Solemn Simulacrum[/d]

[d]

Instants

1 Betrayal of Flesh

1 Doom Blade

1 Entomb

1 Go for the Throat

1 Hero’s Downfall

1 Insidious Dreams

1 Malicious Affliction

1 Murderous Cut

1 Reckless Spite

1 Shallow Grave

1 Slaughter Pact

1 Tendrils of Corruption

Sorceries

1 Buried Alive

1 Chainer’s Edict

1 Damnation

1 Dread Return

1 Exhume

1 Living Death

1 Night’s Whisper

1 Reanimate

1 Sign in Blood

1 Zombify[/d]

[d]

Enchantments

1 Animate Dead

1 Dance of the Dead

1 Necromancy

1 Oversold Cemetery

1 Phyrexian Reclamation

Artifacts

1 Caged Sun

1 Extraplanar Lens

1 Gauntlet of Power

1 Gilded Lotus

1 Grimoire of the Dead

1 Lightning Greaves

1 Sol Ring

1 Thran Dynamo

1 Whip of Erebos

Planeswalkers

1 Liliana Vess

[/d]

This deck is here to play with the grave. It can power out an [c]It that Betrays[/c] as soon as turn two, and can start hard casting these large monsters later in the game with the myriad of ways to double our mana generation. It pulls no punches and will shut any player down immediately if need be. This deck is all about raw power and doesn’t care for much else. Your opponent is going to die whether they like it or not.

The main win condition for this deck of course is Volrath. With a hand full of large creatures, Volrath turns into a must-answer threat. Your opponent will be met with a swift demise if he goes unchecked. Being able to discard a [c]Draco[/c] to kill an opponent on the spot with general damage is great. You can also get your creatures back if you decide to go all in with Volrath with [c]Phyrexian Reclamation[/c]. This card pairs so well with him since you’re able to reload your hand with fatties to go after the next player. If any player gets out of hand at the table, you can shut them up right then and there with a one hit KO.

Outside of winning via general damage, we have what you would expect out of a reanimator deck. We have our ways to get our fatties into the grave such as [c]Pack Rat[/c], [c]Insidious Dreams[/c], [c]Entomb[/c], and [c]Buried Alive[/c]. [c]Pack Rat[/c] is especially effective. If somebody decides to nuke our grave with a [c]Rest in Peace[/c], we can just go on with the [c]Pack Rat[/c] plan. We can bring back our monsters via [c]Reanimate[/c], [c] Animate Dead[/c], [c]Dance of the Dead[/c], and a few others. These will allow us to threaten our opponent with a titan out of nowhere and immediately change the board state in our favor.

The biggest issue with this deck is the same with any graveyard-based deck. If somebody decides to deal with the grave with [c]Rest in Peace[/c] or [c]Grafdigger’s Cage[/c], its going to be a lot harder for us to win. We will either have to lean a lot more on Volrath getting there, or just start hard casting these titans. Its a good thing that we have many ways to accelerate our mana with [c]Cabal Coffers[/c], [c]Extraplanar Lens[/c], [c]Gauntlet of Power[/c], and a few others.

This deck has been a powerhouse in testing. I honestly don’t think I dropped a single game while working on it. It’s ridiculously powerful and really fun to play if you like utilizing your graveyard. For any player looking to play with the grave or just kill people in one fell swoop, this is the deck for you.

Thank you for checking out this weeks Commander Corner. If you have any suggestions, like always, please let me know in the comments below.

Next week, we slay the world. See you soon my friends.

-Steven Gulsby

Legacy on Tuesdays, No. 9: A Band of Rogues

Welcome Back!

This week, I wanted to share with you a brew with which I have been practicing for some time now. It is a tribal aggro deck that is capable of amazingly aggressive starts coupled with plenty of disruption to keep the opponent on their toes. However, this tribal crew doesn’t get nearly as many hugs as the Elves or Goblins do… But then again, the Rogues could care less! That’s right, this week’s deck is tribal Rogue aggro. It is amazing at dumping a bunch of annoying evasive weenies that swarm the field while playing lords like [c]Oona’s Blackguard[/c] that turn the dorks into pseudo-[c]Abyssal Specter[/c]s. Before I go any further, let me show you a couple of lists:

[d title=”Legacy Rogues Version 1 – Budget”]
Rogues
3 Frogtosser Banneret
3 Inkfathom Infiltrator
4 Nightshade Stinger
4 Oona’s Blackguard
4 Oona’s Prowler
4 Prickly Boggart
4 Stinkdrinker Bandit
Spells
1 Go for the Throat
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
3 Spell Pierce
2 Snuff Out
2 Smother
Lands
4 Darkslick Shores
4 Island
10 Swamp
4 Underground River
Sideboard
3 Duress
4 Mana Leak
3 Cold-Eyed Selkie
2 Earwig Squad
1 Go for the Throat
2 Faerie Macabre
[/d]

[d title=”Legacy Rogues Version 2 – Monetized”]
Rogues
4 Nightshade Stinger
4 Oona’s Blackguard
4 Oona’s Prowler
4 Prickly Boggart
4 Stinkdrinker Bandit
3 True-Name Nemesis
Spells
3 Bitterblossom
2 Flusterstorm
2 Smother
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Snuff Out
3 Thoughtseize
Lands
4 Underground Sea
4 Island
7 Swamp
4 Polluted Delta
3 Mutavault
Sideboard
2 Duress
2 Mana Leak
3 Cold-Eyed Selkie
4 Faerie Macabre
2 Spell Pierce
2 Flusterstorm
[/d]

The Basics

In general, the rogues operate like any other tribal decks. Play the dudes, play some lords, employ some signature, tribe-dependent form of interaction, then win. Both of the lords for the rogues are only cmc 2, which means that the beats come very quickly with a bunch of cheap evasive rogues. [c]Frogtosser Banneret[/c] is truly amazing when he hits play; the ability to play multiple creatures per turn sans [c]AEther Vial[/c] and maintain a 22-land curve is quite impressive. He also makes it easier to leave up removal and counterspell mana.

[c]Oona’s Prowler[/c] is the best beater in the deck. It will often deny the opponent any form of card advantage, and it goes quite nicely with [c]Oona’s Blackguard[/c] to quickly strip the opponent of cards or risk dying at a ridiculous pace. [c]Stinkdrinker Bandit[/c] is the other lord. Technically, he is not cmc 2, but prowling him into play is incredibly easy. Any turn 1 creature will be evasive, and will almost certainly allow for a turn 2 prowl of this monster. The gain of +2/+1 if a rogue is unblocked is overpowered in a deck where almost every creature is evasive in some way. Don’t leave home without these two!

[c]Prickly Boggart[/c], [c]Nightshade Stinger[/c], and [c]Inkfathom Infiltrator[/c] are the only rogues not mentioned above. They are the creatures that end up poking the opponent to death. All three are simply efficient evasive creatures that couple well with lords to provide the damage push that tribal decks need. For the monetized version, more efficient rogues are used. For example, the ineffable [c]True-Name Nemesis[/c] usurps [c]Inkfathom Infiltrator[/c], and the Banneret bites the dust in favor of [c]Bitterblossom[/c]. The powerful enchantment makes Rogues that fly for a mere 1 life per turn. See the section on differences between the two decks below for more information.

Other than these, the primary difference between rogues and other tribal decks is the amount of usable disruption available. Goblins, Elves, and Humans have basically no serious disruption that they can use due to color differences and a total devotion to the creature plan. Merfolk have countermagic, being mono-blue, but the amazing {U}{B} Rogues can abuse all kinds of lovely disruption spells. I prefer a decent mix of countermagic, discard, and creature removal. [c]Snuff Out[/c] will catch many opponents by surprise, and can swing games in your favor when played correctly. [c]Spell Pierce[/c] is easy to hold up mana for, and [c]Smother[/c] will deal with almost anything threatening or just annoying. [c]Inquisiton of Kozilek[/c] is a great discard spell that is fairly easy to get online.

Differences Between the Standard Version and the Monetized One

The monetized version of the deck employs other creatures and disruption cards that are potentially more powerful. However, the basic premise of the deck is the same. Money cards like fetches, duals, [c]True-Name Nemesis[/c], etc. definitely add something that gives the deck an edge. Does the monetized version win more? Absolutely. Is the win percentage much greater? No. I would not consider the monetized version “better;” it simply has more money cards that add an edge to the deck that cannot be had with cheaper cards. Even so, the “Budget” rogues deck is fun and powerful that will pick up many wins. Try it out and have fun!

That’s all for this week. I hope you have fun beating opponents over the head with the rogues! Too bad [c]Noggin Whack[/c] isn’t more playable or else this would be its deck…

See you next time!

/Peyton

My Experience at the Magic 2015 Prerelease

I have been grinding Magic 2015 all weekend.

As you know, everyone got a free Sealed Deck prerelease event. I happen to have more than one account (highly recommended) so I got to play more than one event.

So far, I have gone 4-0 three times, having selected Black every time. There seems to be a mistake with the power balance between the prerelease cards.

Look at this guy.

indulgent tormentor

Is he broken in limited? You bet he is! In one sealed I even had two of him. I did not win that one, though.

I have written about one of my 4-0 Events here: http://mtgolibrary.blogspot.se/2014/07/tales-from-magic-2015-prerelease.html

This time, though, I will tell you of another event.

[d title=”Magic 2015 with Chandra, Pyromaster”]

Land
8 Mountain
9 Swamp
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Creatures
1 Typhoid Rats
1 Forge Devil
1 Altac Bloodseeker
1 Torch Fiend
1 Witch’s Familiar
1 Krenko’s Enforcer
1 Paragon of Open Graves
1 Juggernaut
1 Nightfire Giant
1 Indulgent Tormentor
1 Will-Forged Golem

Spells
1 Heat Ray
1 Sign in Blood
1 Inferno Fist
1 Lightning Strike
1 Stoke the Flames
1 Haunted Platemail
2 Flesh to Dust

Planeswalkers
1 Chandra, Pyromaster

[/d]

My creature count is low but as most of the other cards are removal spells, I am fine with that. As usual I play zero non-removal enchantments to avoid getting 2-for-1:ed. I tried to be very careful when I cast [c]Inferno Fist[/c] so I would not get blown out. Card advantage is more important in Sealed Deck than in Draft, IMHO.

In retrospect I should not have played [c]Paragon of Open Graves[/c] with so few black creatures. He ended up getting sideboarded out a lot.

The big surprise of the deck was [c]Altac Bloodseeker[/c] who is really good in the archetype. At one point he attacked for six points of first strike damage. Not bad.

Here you can see me build this deck in four minutes. I have played a lot of BR in these events, so I knew exactly what I was looking for.

 

A little something about the cards I did not include in the deck

[c]Festergloom[/c]: After a few tournaments I stopped maindecking this. Excellent sideboard card, though, but a little worse than usual with all my red small guys this time.
[c]Leeching Sliver[/c]: Too expensive
[c]Meteorite[/c]: I maindecked this far too many times. But this time I managed not to.
[c]Mind Rot[/c]: Sideboard card. Ended up getting boarded in a lot. Maybe it is better in a prerelease where you know that everyone has a free bomb.
[c]Miner’s Bane[/c]: He is just too vulnerable for a six-drop. Getting him struck by lightning is the worst.
[c]Ornithopter[/c]: A trap. Never play it.
[c]Unmake the Graves[/c]: Too slow and situational
[c]Wall of Fire[/c]: Sideboard card against the green decks.

Do you disagree with my build? Let me know in the comments below.

The Matches

In round one I faced a really good UW Tempo deck. I thought UW Tempo wasn’t a real thing, but it turned out that it was. Watch duel two if you watch nothing else – it was super intense!

 

In round two I went against a nice Simic deck with Jace that I am sure tried to abuse bouncing ETB creatures. It did not work out for him as Chandra just ran him over.

 

UB Control seems like a hard archetype to get together, mainly because Blue seems so weak (it did not help that they got the worst of the prerelease cards). Here is a very competent player trying to control my Black Red anger.

 

In the final match I faced the best deck – Black Red! I told myself that I had to remember to save my removal for [c]Indulgent Tormentor[/c] and I would come out on top. Watch the mirror match here and then you know why BR decks dominated the prerelease.

 

More Magic 2015 Limited

You can see all the prerelease events that I, VaultBoyHunter and Anomulus0 played in the below playlist:

 

I sure hope that they give us more of these Phantom Points events at some point.

As you might know, I was very hooked to M13 and M14 (I did 100 videos with M14!) and I think I will fall in love with the core set again.

So, now, tell me what happened to you at the M15 Prerelease? Did you play? How did you do? Did you choose any other color than black?

Threat Evaluation, Part 2: Swamp, Go

What is the point of knowing what your opponent is playing early on? There are multiple advantages in the current game you’re playing and the future games against the same deck.

First of all, it is such a good thing to record your results in tournament practice and ticketed events. If you want to grind or go infinite, you have to know what wins and losses you expect or if it’s time to pack the deck up (RIP Mono Green Infect).

Do you have the win next turn, but it requires a little set up this turn that will leave you open to blow-outs? Knowing what your opponent might have in his deck and his board state will help inform you whether to go for it or not.

Are you having trouble against a certain match-up? Well, the first step is to identify the problem. And that’s what we’re doing here with decks that contain Swamps, the second most powerful basic land over Island. Although Swamp hasn’t earned quite as many (half-joking) pleas for a ban as Island, interestingly, in Modern there are more commonly archetypes with mana-bases containing mostly Swamp than Island. Island merely has the Merfolk archetype, while Swamp has these two:

Mono-black archetypes

Both of these decks are rather similar in their strategy: rip your hand apart and win with whatever. The decks run the same amount of lands and the same 16 discard spells.

8-rack

So named for having 8 cards like [c]The Rack[/c]: 4 more [c]Shrieking Affliction[/c], this deck tears apart your hand and controls your topdecks with [c]Liliana of the Veil[/c] and [c]Ensnaring Bridge[/c].

Tell-tale signs: When you see only Swamps, you’re expecting this or Mono-Black Infect. Cards played in this deck and not the other include [c]Thoughtseize[/c], [c]Bitterblossom[/c], and [c]Darkblast[/c].

Mono-Black Infect

Coming in at a full $500 cheaper than the other Swamp-heavy list, this deck is also seen more commonly cashing in at Daily Events. This is probably because more people run it. Here you will lose to having 10 or more poison counters from [c]Phyrexian Crusader[/c] and, more hilariously, [c]Phyrexian Vatmother[/c].

Tell-tale signs – Infect trades the [c]Thoughtseize[/c] from 8-rack for the swiss army knife [c]Funeral Charm[/c]. An early Swamp and [c]Inkmoth Nexus[/c] is rather clear also. Finally, few other lists play [c]Disfigure[/c] at all, let alone 4 of them.

Of course, not all lists containing Swamps will be mono-black. We have already covered Cruel Control, Ad Nauseam, Faeries, and other lists in our previous Threat Evaluation article, so here are multi-colored Modern lists that include Swamps:

Yawgmoth’s Bargain

I’d wager if you saw a Swamp early on, you’re playing one of these lists.

Pod

Oh, Pod. The toolbox’s toolbox, and Twin’s main competitor as the most played and victorious deck in Modern. Whether they use [c]Birthing Pod[/c] to assemble [c]Melira, Sylvok Outcast[/c], [c]Viscera Seer[/c], and [c]Murderous Redcap[/c] or [c]Archangel of Thune[/c] with [c]Spike Feeder[/c] for the instant kill or grind you out with [c]Reveillark[/c] and [c]Entomber Exarch[/c], there are so many paths to victory that it is very difficult to hate. This deck, more than any other, rewards knowledge of the deck and good plays. You will find that if you identify this match-up as troublesome, most likely it will continue to be so.

Tell-tale signs: Other BG decks have more specific mana requirements than Pod, so here is the only case that you will see [c]Noble Hierarch[/c] turn 1 with an [c]Overgrown Tomb[/c]. So many cards in this list are 1-ofs other than Hierarch, 4 [c]Birds of Paradise[/c] and some number greater than 1 [c]Kitchen Finks[/c].

Jund

Jund is carefully maintained by Wizards of the Coast with the restricted list: first, [c]Bloodbraid Elf[/c] got the ban despite the lack of broken Cascade triggers (like those seen in Living End lists), and secondly, the 1-mana planeswalker [c]Deathrite Shaman[/c] was stripped from this and most other lists with green mana. Jund is a fair midrange deck, complete with discard, removal, and a card advantage engine in [c]Dark Confidant[/c]. Most of the removal spells are 1-for-1 with the exception of [c]Maelstrom Pulse[/c] on occasion and [c]Anger of the Gods[/c], which conveniently kills a troublesome Bob and not [c]Courser of Kruphix[/c], [c]Tarmogoyf[/c], or [c]Scavengine Ooze[/c], usually.

Tell-tale signs: [c]Raging Ravine[/c] turn 1 is the most obvious and common one. Jund plays more discard than Pod, so if you see [c]Inquisition of Kozilek[/c], you can either sigh relief or be more scared, depending on your favorable match-ups.

The Rock

This has been an archetype since Invasion block’s [c]Spiritmonger[/c] showed players what power creep was. Here the builder removes the red from Jund, but essentially you’re dealing with the same strategy.

Tell-tale signs: This deck simply fills out the complements of [c]Inquisition of Kozilek[/c] and [c]Thoughtseize[/c] rather than playing them at 3-of. Here we will also see [c]Thrun, the Last Troll[/c] come out to play. This is a relatively new archetype currently being explored in Modern, so some beaters like [c]Putrid Leech[/c], [c]Desecration Demon[/c], and [c]Bitterblossom[/c] show you that you’re not up against a mana-screwed Jund player while the builders are settling on optimized lists.

Living End

This deck controls the board with [c]Fulminator Mage[/c], [c]Beast Within[/c], and [c]Shriekmaw[/c] while cycling for any cascade spell. The very creatures that it is cycling all come out to play once [c]Living End[/c] resolves off a [c]Violent Outburst[/c] or [c]Dread Within[/c]. Hate their graveyard? Fine, they’ll just resolve the big cycling beaters themselves instead.

Tell-tale signs: Easy, they cycle [c]Monstrous Carabid[/c] or [c]Street Wraith[/c] turn one.

B/W Tokens

Imagine a Modern Event deck. Now imagine it optimized, and you have the Tokens deck. Your hand is discarded, and you’re up against eight creatures; perhaps one of them is equipped with a sword. Surprisingly, [c]Bitterblossom[/c] hasn’t made it into many lists.

Tell-tale signs: Early [c]Tidehollow Sculler[/c] disruption, and this is the only deck with the good soul sister, [c]Auriok Champion[/c].

Lurking Evil

These encounters aren’t as likely, but they do show up from time to time.

Dredgevine

Beautifully powerful when it gets going, tragically susceptible to hate, recurring threats like [c]Gravecrawler[/c] and [c]Vengevine[/c] really add up quickly while [c]Lotleth Troll[/c] provides the fuel and holds down the fort. Other variants simply include Zombies!, which skimps on the Vines and goes full tribal (most likely for budget reasons).

Tell-tale signs: Most creatures with “graveyard” in their text: [c]Gravecrawler[/c], [c]Bloodghast[/c], and [c]Vengevine[/c].

Tin Fins

This second graveyard-based strategy attempts to abuse [c]Goryo’s Vengeance[/c] by reanimating [c]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/c] or [c]Griselbrand[/c]. The former can awkwardly allow your situation to rebuild and win at five life. The latter can attack three times with [c]Fury of the Horde[/c]. Some variants include [c]Borborygmos Enraged[/c] and/or [c]Necrotic Ooze[/c] with other reanimation spells.

Tell-tale signs: When you see [c]Faithless Looting[/c] plus a source of black mana, you can rule out storm, and when you see it with a source of blue mana, you can rule out Assault Loam.

Elementals!

Dan famously posted a Youtube video with a turn 2 kill with this deck on his channel of this site’s name. That list was similar to Gerry Thompson’s. A new breed has arrived with [c]Death’s Shadow[/c] in place of the [c]Flamekin Harbinger[/c], and it’s cashed in a few dailies. [c]Nivmagus Elemental[/c] and [c]Kiln Fiend[/c] have been the classic beaters.

Tell-tale signs: This deck is so fragile to all the removal in the format that its plan is to win by turns 3 and 4. In the early turns you may see a [c]Thoughtseize[/c] before a big beater, but probably not. Once you see a lot of phyrexian mana spells, it’s likely too late.

Mono-Black Devotion

When [c]Gray Merchant of Asphodel[/c] (I had to re-type “Gray” twice there, after typing “Gary” twice and catching the mistake twice) was spoiled, people looked for lots of black mana symbols. And boy did they find them with [c]Phyrexian Obliterator[/c]. Despite the two very powerful cards, the deck hasn’t taken off.

Tell-tale signs: [c]Bloodghast[/c] and [c]Gravecrawler[/c] with no real way to abuse them, [c]Gatekeeper of Malakir[/c], and [c]Phyrexian Arena[/c] are good indicators.

Odious Trow

These lists, mostly played by trolls, are very rare, but it helps to pick them out early on.

Pixy Stix

I kid you not: people build this and must, in some sadistic way, think that it’s fun. [c]Thoughtseize[/c] and its ilk are weakest to topdecks, so what has the Pixy Stix player added to its discard suite? [c]Lantern of Insight[/c], [c]Codex Shredder[/c], and [c]Pyxis of Pandemonium[/c]. I’ll give you some much needed time to read those cards.

Rats/Crystal Rat

Although other rats are never used with [c]Pack Rat[/c] in Standard, some players read the card and thought about its Modern implications with decent rats. After all, [c]Chittering Rats[/c] is a house in Pauper.

Death Cloud

Mirrodin block is the cutoff point for Modern, and it still has some of the most powerful effects in the format: Affinity, the $4 common [c]Serum Visions[/c], [c]Auriok Champion[/c], and [c]Crucible of Worlds[/c]. A good place for people to start their brewing is Mirrodin standard and old Extended which included Mirrodin. Unfortunately, lists around [c]Death Cloud[/c] are the exceptions to the rule. Part Golgari super-friends (Liliana and Garruk), part The Rock, it’s hard to believe such powerful cards couldn’t work together.

Tell-tale signs: [c]Sakura Tribe-Elder[/c] with a source of black mana lets you know that your Rock opponent is setting up for a [c]Death Cloud[/c].

Judging by the lack of comments to the last article, I know what you guys are about: decklists. Be it far from me to disappoint; here is a Modern Silverblack brew in the spirit of the current Event on the site.

[d title=”Silverblack MonoBlack Infect”]

Lands

2 Bojuka Bog

2 Dakmor Salvage

18 Swamp

Creatures

4 Reaper of Sheoldred

3 Scourge Servant

1 Whispering Specter

Artifacts

1 Trepanation Blade

Spells

4 Disfigure

1 Doom Blade

3 Go for the Throat

4 Inquisition of Kozilek

1 Night’s Whisper

4 Raven’s Crime

4 Sign in Blood

2 Smother

2 Tendrils of Corruption

4 Wrench Mind

Sideboard

4 Drown in Sorrow

1 Nausea

2 Nihil Spellbomb

2 Relic of Progenitus

2 Tendrils of Corruption

4 Vampire Nighthawk [/d]

Thanks for reading; see you next week!

Legacy en los Martes, No. 1: ¡Bienvenidos!

¡BIENVENIDOS A Legacy EN LOS MARTES! * Número Uno * Escrito por Peyton

For those of you who do not hablar bueno espagniol, that is Welcome to Legacy on Tuesdays! The name is a tribute to the original title of the series, Legacy en los Lunes, which has a much nicer ring to it, but this series was moved to Tuesday rather than Monday.

No matter! This will be a weekly article series published every Tuesday. Each article will include something Legacy-related, be it speculation, a deck tech, a new brew, or discussion. Please, leave comments or questions below. I value all of your feedback. You are also always free to email me here: [email protected]. Please add me on Modo as well if you would like: MagicGatheringStrat2. I can also be found now and then on Cockatrice, testing or playing: MagicGatheringStrat.

Alright, I think that’s all of the pre-article junk. Let’s get down to it. This week I’m bringing you something new. Something epic. Something I have NEVER seen before on the interwebs. It is a ridiculously powerful interaction that lets you dump dudes into play while ripping apart the opponent’s hand. For {1}{B}. TWO MANA. Rather than just tell you the interaction, I’m going to lay this out as a scenario. A rather ideal one that will happen more often than not. Here it comes.

You are playing Modo at 3 am on a Saturday. It’s that kind of night… You decide that Pauper is getting a little boring, and that it’s time to switch it up. Let’s join some Legacy 2-man queues! OK, let’s load “Legacy Chain of Junk.dek” and get this party started! (That’s what I’ve named the deck.) Okay, MasterN00b69 joined the game. You won the die roll, and keep a hand of [c]Bayou[/c], [c]Windswept Heath[/c], [c]Swords to Plowshares[/c], [c]Tarmogoyf[/c], Magical Mystery Card X, Magical Mystery Card Y, and Magical Mystery Card Z. Not bad! MasterN00b69 mulligans to 6, then keeps. Let’s drop that Heath T1. MasterN00b69 plays USea, [c]Ponder[/c].

Alright, could be anything, probably ANT or Reanimator. Let’s fetch a [c]Savannah[/c] EoT. Turn 2, and the draw is a [c]Verdant Catacombs[/c]. You decide to play a [c]Bayou[/c], and tap that for black + the [c]Savannah[/c] to play Magical Mystery Card X. Your opponent virtually frowns before discarding a [c]Duress[/c] and [c]Past in Flames[/c]. OK, definitely ANT. However, your opponent is butthurt that you made him pitch 2 cards, so he decides to reciprocate! He throws Magical Mystery Card X back at you, which is perfect for you. You discard 2 cards, and in the process cheat Magical Mystery Card Y and Magical Mystery Card Z play – 10 power total! On top of that, you get to throw Magical Mystery Card X back at the opponent again! Facing down a two turn clock, along with only 1 card left in hand compels the opponent to scoop.

Well, that was easy enough wasn’t it? So how is this possible? What ARE those mystery cards?

Magical Mystery Cards Revealed!

All of this is made possible by one totally obscure uncommon. ‘Twas printed in Onslaught, and has a very commonly used cousin. If [c]Chain of Vapor[/c] can be used by ANT and High Tide to bounce obnoxious permanents, then we can abuse the HELL out of [c]Chain of Smog[/c] to dump their hand and blast dudes into play. How, might you ask? Well, the unsuspecting opponent gets hit with the chain turn 2. They have the option to copy it for free, and who wouldn’t want to reciprocate a discard spell back at the opponent? Well, some might not want us to point the second copy at their face again, but most people probably haven’t seen the card before.

When they do this, we surprise them by dropping Magical Mystery Card Y and Magical Mystery Card Z into play, and copy the chain again. The cards we discarded in the scenario were a couple of all-stars in various formats – [c]Wilt-Leaf Liege[/c] and [c]Loxodon Smiter[/c] were dropped into play. The ol’ [c]Dodecapod[/c] ability is actually relevant here, since the opponent controls the copy of [c]Chain of Smog[/c]! This is some serious tech! Now that we know the combo, let’s break down some card choices and piece together this list.

Chain of Smog Loxodon Smiter Obstinate Baloth

The Breakdown – Core Card Choices

The name of the deck is Chain of Junk. Well, the chain part is obvious; let’s abuse [c]Chain of Smog[/c]! The junk part is also pretty obvious; it indicates the {b}{w}{g} color scheme of the deck. The need for {b} is apparent in that we need to cast the chain. The other two colors are important because we need to cast spells that are relevant even if we don’t have a chain. Basically, the list could be mono-{b}, but then it would rely heavily on cards that are just bad without a chain, namely [c]Dodecapod[/c] and [c]Sand Golem[/c]. I’d much rather be casting my [c]Loxodon Smiter[/c]s than Dpods if I get stuck without a chain, so {g}{w} are must-have colors. Not to mention that after the surprise is gone, you can never abuse the interaction again. The opponent will be overly wary of Chains later in G1, and then in Games 2 and 3. Ergo, often times the chains are boarded out. This means that the combo cannot be the primary focus of the deck all the time; post-board the deck functions in a similar manner to a junk rock deck.

Combo Pieces

I’ve already discussed this part in depth. Feel free to skip this part if you get the gist of the combo; the numbers of the combo pieces will also be listed in the decklist below. If you’d like a simple re-hash, here it is:

[c]Chain of Smog[/c] is the real all-star for the deck. It has a very powerful interaction with cards that have an [c]Obstinate Baloth[/c]-like effect, in that the goal is to bait the opponent into copying it and allowing you to drop the dudes into play. The card is indubitably a 4-of; the combo cannot function without it. Usually, the deck can put at least 1 guy into play and dump at least 4 cards from the opponent’s hand. If you drop 2 dudes with the chain, the opponent will usually not copy the chain for the second time, since there is a fear that there is another creature waiting to drop into play. The best creatures for this strategy are [c]Loxodon Smiter[/c], [c]Obstinate Baloth[/c], and [c]Wilt-Leaf Liege[/c]. We do not want to play 4 of each, the floods just happen way to often with too many creatures and not a chain. Eleven seems to be the right number, with 4 [c]Loxodon Smiter[/c], 4 [c]Obstinate Baloth[/c], and 3 [c]Wilt-Leaf Liege[/c]. I prefer to run only 3 Lieges because they are a little bit harder to cast, and the lord effect is not always really relevant.

The numbers are totally variable based on what a pilot may have, but ALWAYS run 4 Smiters. The 3 Drop is almost always better than the 4 drops for the same P/T, while uncounterability is crucial in a [c]Force of Will[/c]-dominated format. [c]Abrupt Decay[/c] is a thing against Smiter, but there is always the chance the deck gets stuck on 3 lands. There is also no point in playing against 1 card, even a popular one, since it just isn’t in every deck.

Support

This section is here to indicate that support itself does not exist in the deck. It is primarily {G}{W}, with a {B} splash for the combo and some discard. These colors do not exactly have a ton of ways to reliably and cheaply dig and/or tutor for the combo outside of black’s direct tutors. These are irrelevant in a deck that splashes the tutor color. Time to move on!

The Rest of the Core

This deck needs something to do if the combo is not present, and also post-board when the [c]Chain of Smog[/c]s are boarded out in the later games. As stated earlier, we want to function as a rock-style {G}{W} deck splash {B}. The black splash gives the deck access to [c]Thoughtseize[/c], which is one of the best discard spells ever printed. An great 2-of, it clears the path for us to drop our relevant green and white threats without removal or countermagic, and can also slow down or stop combo. Other than the [c]Thoughtseize[/c]s, I have not been a fan of other black options for the main deck. I considered [c]Dark Confidant[/c], but Bob is just a little to painful for our 3-and 4-drop laden deck, even with cards like the Baloth. No, we want a better creature to flesh out this spot. Three copies of [c]Deathrite Shaman[/c] should be perfect. I do not like running too many creatures that aren’t aggressive, but he turns our used [c]Thoughtseize[/c]s and [c]Swords to Plowshares[/c] into [c]Shock[/c]s, gains life, makes mana, and is pretty good against graveyard-based strategies like manaless dredge.

We also want a few nice {2}-cmc spells to keep up the plays sans chain. The best in this type of deck are going to be [c]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/c] and [c]Qasali Pridemage[/c]. Thalia is a great hate-bear, and Pridemage answers typical artifact and enchantment threats while providing a nice Exalted boost. I like to run 2 Thalia and 1 Pridemage, but the numbers will vary based on the meta. The deck does not like an unanswered [c]Batterskull[/c], and Pridemage is important for taking care of that. Those are the primary utility 2-drops, but some muscle is needed for the deck.

Three copies of [c]Tarmogoyf[/c] should be perfect for the job! Ol’ Goyfie has had a ton of tournament success just for being a vanilla 5/6 for {1}{g}. I’m pretty sure he has a spot here. Our 3-drop creature spot already has 4 copies of the [c]Loxodon Smiter[/c], but there is another extremely powerful and relevant card for which there is space. [c]Knight of the Reliquary[/c] gets some love here as a 3-of, since it allows the deck to pack a toolbox of lands and is a massive beater. This, along with 22 lands, leaves the deck with 9 slots.

I’ve already mentioned [c]Swords to Plowshares[/c], which is definitely a 4-of. It is easily the #1 removal spell in the format, and is so powerful that there is no reason not to use 4. The deck also needed a little something to help eek out those long games against control. [c]Elspeth, Knight-Errant[/c] is perfect for this slot because she makes dudes, pumps ’em up, and if you ever get to ultimate her with some creatures in play, it becomes muy pero muy difícil for the opponent to win. That is not true, however for the unfair, super cheaty, “IDGAF about your board state, imma just win” decks. Then again, you will probably not be alive to ultimate Elspeth against those decks anyways.

The last 3 slots I would like to dedicate to [c]Green Sun’s Zenith[/c]. It is just so powerful right now; it gets our Pridemage to stave off artifacts and enchantments, [c]Knight of the Reliquary[/c] to start using the land toolbox, [c]Obstinate Baloth[/c] to gain some life… The Zenith gains another sweet target post board. That’s our 60 sans lands, which deserve their own section!

Las Tierras

If we’re using a [c]Knight of the Reliquary[/c] toolbox, it is important to cover every land used. We want access to all of colours, so we cannot pollute the curve with too many non-mana lands, but it’s important to have a few. I have always like a [c]Bojuka Bog[/c] maindeck. It produces black mana, and is quite good against decks like dredge, and sometimes in the ANT matchup it can be fetched in response to a [c]Past in Flames[/c] to cause a fizzle. [c]Dryad Arbor[/c] is also effective as a 1-of, since we can GSZ for it turn 1 and accelerate to a turn 2 Smiter or Knight. I also like to have a copy of [c]Karakas[/c] to fight against the Sneak and Show decks as well as other obnoxious legends like [c]Mangara of Corondor[/c] before they become active. The [c]Dark Depths[/c] – [c]Thespian’s Stage[/c] combo is also awesome to have since it can win the game out of nowhere and is resilient to control decks. They’re welcome to StP Marit Lage and give us 20 life and many extra turns.

Other than these few, we have our standard colored lands. I have opted for no [c]Wasteland[/c]; as good as it is, we require all 3 colors of mana on time without dorks like [c]Noble Hierarch[/c]. It’s entirely fine to run it in a metagame where tempoing lands is super important, and it is nice with [c]Knight of the Reliquary[/c]. Oh fie, it’s up to you!

Anyways, the rest of the land base is completed with 4 [c]Windswept Heath[/c], 3 [c]Savannah[/c], 2 [c]Bayou[/c], 2 [c]Marsh Flats[/c], 2 [c]Scrubland[/c], 1 [c]Verdant Catacombs[/c], and 1 each of [c]Forest[/c], [c]Plains[/c], and [c]Swamp[/c]. Yes, I love my basics. They’re awesome to fetch against those [c]Wasteland[/c] decks! I’ve actually seen [c]Path to Exile[/c] a few times playing Legacy, which makes no sense given that StP is superior, but basics are another insurance policy against that eventuality. That’s a total of 22 lands for our casting pleasure! ¡Cuán bueno! That means “how good!,” but we use cuán instead of qué because we are far more erudite here!

The Sideboard

This is the only missing link here, and it’s an important one. After board, we need to have some stuff to use in place of our chains and possibly other less optimal stuff like the Lieges. I would like to start with 2 [c]Gaddock Teeg[/c]. Combo is not an amazing matchup, and Teeg gives us a Zenith-able hate card. He’s also awesome against decks packing [c]Force of Will[/c].

I also want 3 copies of [c]Abrupt Decay[/c] as an answer to all kinds of obnoxious permanents, namely Swords, Goyfs, Delvers, Bobs, and a plethora of other egregious meanies. A couple of [c]Surgical Extraction[/c]s are great against Dredge, and combo decks that help us nail their pieces from the grave. The most important part of the ‘board are the 3 [c]Stoneforge Mystic[/c]s and their equipment friends. This gives us a ton of flexibility and a great method of change against decks that are expecting the combo again. We have only the best pieces of equipment to supplement the Mystic (Is it just me or does that sound like an awesome rap line? It kinda rhymes…). One each of [c]Batterskull[/c], [c]Umezawa’s Jitte[/c], [c]Sword of Light and Shadow[/c], and [c]Swords of Fire and Ice[/c] will provide an ample equipment package to challenge most decks. The last sideboard slot goes to another copy of [c]Qasali Pridemage[/c]. I have a small problem with cards like [c]Moat[/c] and [c]Humility[/c], which Decay does not deal with. Enchantress isn’t the best matchup for the deck, and an extra Pridemage is an awesome Zenith target that will deal with all the nasties.

That’s all for the breakdown! Let’s get a nice look at the list as a whole:

[d title=”Chain of Junk”]
Creatures
3 Deathrite Shaman
3 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Loxodon Smiter
4 Obstinate Baloth
3 Tarmogoyf
3 Wilt-Leaf Liege
2 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
1 Qasali Pridemage

Instants & Sorceries
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Chain of Smog
3 Green Sun’s Zenith
2 Thoughtseize

Planeswalkers
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant

Lands
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Karakas
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Dark Depths
1 Thespian’s Stage
1 Swamp
1 Plains
1 Forest
2 Bayou
2 Scrubland
3 Savannah
4 Windswept Heath
2 Marsh Flats
1 Verdant Catacombs

Sideboard
3 Abrupt Decay
2 Gaddock Teeg
2 Surgical Extraction
3 Stoneforge Mystic
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
1 Batterskull
1 Sword of Light and Shadow
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
1 Qasali Pridemage

[/d]

That’s it folks. The culmination of two and a half thousand words. One decklist. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Totally worth it. I hope y’all enjoyed reading about this interaction and the deckbuilding process as much as I have enjoyed trying to break the cards. Please, leave comments and like if you enjoyed it! I hope to see you next week, where I will explore a magically budgetly awesome tribal deck!

Thanks for Reading!

/Peyton