With the recent M14 influx of power-players that have flooded our waters, I’ve decided to do a lot of tentative changes to one of my classic EDH lists for one of the most popular generals of Return to Ravnica block – Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice.
A classic archetype of Magic has always been green/white lifegain. I’ve been a fan of the ages-old Soul Sisters archetype, which was a popular deck of Standard past that used Serra Ascendant and Ajani’s Pridemate to create massive beaters that would provide ample pressure to beat down with. When they printed a general with Angelic Chorus attached to it, I knew what I wanted the initial shell to be.
So when I first got my hands on a Trostani, I opted for three major themes – good token-producers, all the best Soul Warden effects, and enough anthems to make the tokens able to exert pressure.
Nearly 10 months after the deck’s first incarnation, only one of those themes remain, and even then, that’s debatable.
When you have a lot of powerful options to choose from, and you want to make room for them, looking at what to cut can be a problem. (I’ll more than likely expand on this dilemma in the future, as going into it now would veer off-topic.) I realized having too many cards that did a linear, arguably weak purpose really hindered the deck’s potential to be great and show how strong the deck could be in the perfect scenario. You want your cards to all do something, but at the same time, you want to win at the end of the day. Some cards just can’t get you there no matter how much you like them.
So, while my list started out as an incredibly cute way to hit triple-digit life totals with impunity, and in some rare cases beat people down with a massive token army, it more often than not stumbled if interrupted. (What deck doesn’t, though?) Over the months, I’ve come across interesting additions to the deck that have really helped make it become more and more powerful. With the exception of Dragon’s Maze (because I banked on Voice of Resurgence not being a chase mythic, maybe being worth $15 – oh boy, was I wrong), every set since Trostani’s print has seen a number of great cards added to this archetype.
CHOOSING YOUR GENERAL
Honestly, there are a lot of factors that go into this. For one, my previous incarnation of this deck was a more mass-token-producing list that featured Tolsimir Wolfblood as the helm. Turns out 6 mana is a hefty price to pay, and the deck didn’t end up performing the way I wanted it to, so I was glad to see them print a general I could end up gaining a billion life off of. Oh, how accurate that estimate would end up being…
I know what you’re thinking – “Just play Rhys the Redeemed, it’s so much better at making tokens, God you suck at this game, Liam”. To be honest, Rhys is incredibly hard to find in my area, and even if I could find one, I don’t know if I’d even want to make a deck – it draws an inordinate amount of hate due to stigma from the general (like playing Sharuum the Hegemon…or Zur the Enchanter), and I just have a personal distaste for the card. Besides, Trostani is much more my style, as the populate activated ability is a mere bonus to what I think is already a valuable creature to have on board.
A BREAKDOWN OF YOUR GENERAL
Honestly, it’s restrictive, I’m not going to lie – green / white has some of the best colorless lands at its disposal (Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree, Reliquary Tower, and of course, Gavony Township), but there are plenty of dual lands you can use to help cast her. Wooded Bastion and Sungrass Prairie are very powerful in a Trostani list if your budget will allow it.
Legendary Creature – Dryad
Her tribe is honestly completely irrelevant. Being an Elf, a Druid, or especially both would have helped make her a more appealing tribal choice (though still admittedly inferior to Rhys), but it’s not a backbreaking loss.
Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control, you gain life equal to that creature’s toughness.
This is clearly one of the best abilities in green and white for pure lifegain purposes, and a large portion of why you play her. There are plenty of abuse cases with her that I will get to later (some of which are particularly ridiculous), but whether you aim for milking this effect for what it’s worth, or just leaning on it as a good ability in a token shell, it’s really up to you.
1GW, T: Populate.
Another great ability in certain cases. You’d be surprised what kind of shenanigans you can pull with this (there are some pretty great tokens you can make), but for the most part this ability will spit out dinky tokens as blockers and is a great thing to sit on when your turn is near.
I like her having 5 toughness a lot, because she blocks 4-power creatures (of which there are too many to name) incredibly well. She’s an excellent blocker for what she costs, in addition to her ability doing a great job of keeping aggro at bay.
Believe it or not, it’s also very possible to deal general damage with her. While I’ll again argue your avenues for this strategy are better explored on Rhys the Redeemed, don’t count the 21-power Dryad punch out yet. This Voice of Selesnya is out for blood.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH THE DECK?
Like I said before, this deck was once before a different beast altogether. As of the posting of this article, a grand total of 34 cards have been edited (only three of which have been lands), meaning over half the spells in the deck were once different spells entirely.
I promised I’d touch on color enabling in my last Let’s Build article, and I feel that’s what Trostani does best for the shell I’ve built – she’s only really necessary at certain points of the game, or in cases meant to abuse her abilities.
Before these massive changes took place, I focused my Trostani list on using massive lifegain through multiple Soul Warden effects with spells or permanents that created massive amounts of tokens (Conqueror’s Pledge, Increasing Devotion, Nomad’s Assembly), and using widespread mass pump to seal the deal. While a few cards (read: the best ones) from those elements of the old list still exist today, I’ve shifted the focus of the deck pretty vastly since picking up some key players for the current list.
It’s a huge no-brainer that +1/+1 counters have been a huge thing recently. Evolve, Unleash and Scavenge have all come out with some pretty good cards over the course of Return to Ravnica block, and with the existence of some extremely strong engines (Cathars’ Crusade, Mycoloth), in addition to fantastic new ones (Kalonian Hydra, Archangel of Thune), the shift in focus to +1/+1 counters was an obvious one.
My favorite of the bunch has to be Mycoloth. I love the card to death, and I think it’s one of the best cases of risk-reward in Magic. If you untap with it, it’s a force to be reckoned with. If it gets swept, the sweeper was coming anyway, so you’re no worse off having it happen. If it gets spot removed, that’s when you cry. But the ability to spit out an army of Saprolings every single turn is just ridiculous, and the thought of it alongside the aforementioned Cathars’ Crusade is just insane.
But then I thought to myself “What if I try to make Saprolings my prime source of creature tokens?” Some of my favorite utility cards in the game revolved around Saprolings (Selesnya Evangel, Psychotrope Thallid, and one of my all-time favorite Magic cards, Sprout Swarm), and after a bit of buzzing around ideas in my head, I came up with a sufficient shell to supplement the Saproling token army I wanted to create with the deck.
Aside from that, I wanted to stick the rest of the spells that pulled their weight in the old list – game-enders, power players, and abuse cases with Trostani herself.
So the goal with recreating the Trostani shell I’d kept for so long was simple – pack as much power and value as you can into everything; try to keep synergies strong; barrel over opponents with a massive army of Saproling tokens.
So the first thing we do is enable the Saproling tokens themselves. You really can’t have the +1/+1 counters work if you have no tokens to put them on!
The next thing we need to do is establish the +1/+1 counter theme. Most mass-produce the +1/+1 counters, which is great when you’re tending to an army of sprouty little critters, but it can sometimes be a double-edged sword with dice!
So you’ve built up an army of Saproling tokens, but now what? Your opponents are beginning to grow wary of you and your opponent slaps down a Nevinnyral’s Disk, aiming to thwart your plans. So what do you do? Untap and cast a game-winning spell to seal the deal!
Sometimes, activating Trostani’s Populate ability to make a Saproling token is real boring. I’ve compensated by adding a bunch of neat token-makers to help get the most value out of Trostani’s abilities. (Populate the aforementioned Ajani Goldmane‘s Serra Avatar token for great success!)
Sometimes, you need to be casting cards that are just pure value. Whether they work with creatures coming in, gain you a bunch of life, or function independently as power players, every good Magic deck will want to play the goodstuff.
Hour of Reckoning
Glare of Subdual
Now, you might not look at green and think “Draw some cards!” at first, but you’d be surprised – green is actually one of the better colors at gathering card advantage, and there are a number of great engines to use to draw cards with in this sort of list.
One thing you can always count on green to do, however, is accelerate mana! To be honest, I was dismally low on mana acceleration until just recently, despite being a deck with an incredibly high curve, which seems confusing in hindsight.
And we can’t forget that we’re playing white, the color of protection and indestructibility! The deck falters if disrupted by sweepers, so to combat that, there are a few “save buttons” in the deck.
Now that the 59 other spells have been covered, we move on to our 40 lands. I don’t have a lot of the big players here, but feel free to add your own spice of life to the collection here. We start with the color-enabling lands:
We then move on to utility lands, of which there are many:
With twenty-two slots left in the deck for basic lands, I wonder if the next thing I really should take an in-depth look at for future editing purposes is the manabase.
And there you have it, the final product:
(This list as posted in this article will not be final. If you want to see what changes might have occurred to the list since the posting of this article, check out the decklist posting on MTG Salvation at http://forums.mtgsalvation.com/showthread.php?t=471469.)
I want to try and make August a month I dedicate to tackling the viewer’s opinions on what my Let’s Build segments should feature. If you have a general, an engine, or a card you’d like to see me build an EDH deck around, by all means, submit your idea to me over Facebook or Tumblr.
Until next week!
Check out my previous articles here:
Adapting to EDH Metagames:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1177
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1252
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1317
Part 4 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1370
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1454
Building on a Budget:
Dragon’s Maze Prerelease Weekend:
Hits & Misses of Dragon’s Maze:
Legen-Wait for It-Dary:
Let’s Talk M14:
Planeswalking and You:
Trial & Error: