FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – LET’S BUILD PART 9

Greetings, readers, and welcome to my ninth overall segment of my ongoing series Let’s Build, where I give the readers my insight into deckbuilding for EDH generals or the strategies that surround them.

For those of you who’ve been living under a rock for the past month, I’ve dedicated the month of August to this series, taking submissions from both Facebook and Tumblr. This week’s article is once again from Facebook, where I was beckoned by Nate Buckwell to make a “5-color win condition deck”. I know this card has gotten a lot of hype since its release, especially in EDH, where people are just drawn in by the temptation of running it, so I’ve decided to cover one of my own personal creations, like Trostani or Melek before it, and cover my own Maze’s End brew.

Maze’s End is a card a lot of people want to work, but even I’ll admit, it’s a slippery slope to make happen. It’s slow, grindy, and it obviously incentivizes the priority of exiling a Guildgate to completely stop the strategy in its tracks.

At the same time, it’s a risk-reward strategy; the risk is pretty high, but the reward is all the sweeter. You’re winning the game outright, without anything glitzy and glamorous. Your opponents are going to see this coming. Knowing that, you have to ask yourself – how do you force it through? The strategy is obviously rather weak to disruption, aggro, basically any form of interaction, because you’re painting a target on your head by continuously searching for Guildgates.

The answer is simple – you blow up everything. You grind opponents’ resources into the dust. And you play a slow, incremental control deck. While Child of Alara is likely the better candidate overall for what the deck does, I’ve chosen the route of my most infamous EDH general, “Primeval Titan‘s former BFF” Scion of the Ur-Dragon.

CHOOSING YOUR GENERAL

Scion of the Ur-Dragon is adept at killing people through general damage, which in and of itself is a fine win condition, but what a lot of people don’t realize is how immediate Scion’s impact on a board can be. If you draw the right combination of lands, you can find yourself within killing range as early as turn 6.

While a lot of people tend to run the flashy “hit-people-do-stuff” tricolor Dragon legends, take it from a guy who’s played Scion of the Ur-Dragon for nearly three years; if you’re not planning to kill someone by turning Scion sideways, just don’t bother. With that piece of advice in mind, it’s really simple to decide the only necessary Scion target in the deck – the best one in the game, the all-but-certain one-shot – Dragon Tyrant.

Scion is a mere second win condition to the gameplan – if Maze’s End gets disrupted somehow, you fall on Scion to pick up the slack. With 2RRRRR open (which isn’t nearly as difficult as it sounds – my old iteration literally had this open every single game without fail), any opponent who doesn’t see the Falcon Punch that is Scion coming, they die swiftly to an 11-power double striking giant DARGUN as early as turn 7.

A BREAKDOWN OF YOUR GENERAL

WUBRG

I’m just glad he’s not any additional colorless upfront; that would be nightmarish. He’s perfectly costed for everything he does, if you ask me.

Legendary Creature – Dragon Avatar

He’s a dragonbender. Literally.

Flying

{2}: Search your library for a Dragon permanent card and put it into your graveyard. If you do, Scion of the Ur-Dragon becomes a copy of that card until end of turn. Then shuffle your library.

This is where I have to reiterate how to essentially min-max this ability. My very first iteration of this deck contained Crosis, the Purger, Intet, the Dreamer and Teneb, the Harvester. Now, while all three of those abilities are really cute and really flashy, they all have one very auspicious thing in common – they all say “when ~ deals combat damage to a player”. For people looking to make a version of this deck relying more on Scion and less on cute things like Maze’s End, let me give you a breakdown of targets that are actually worthwhile to run:

-Hellkite Overlord – 8 power, firebreathing, and haste. Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion is very good friends with this thing, as lategame you can literally pour your entire mana pool into it and your opponent can’t just slam a removal spell. Regeneration is also important if you need to keep Scion around.

-Yosei, the Morning Star – For when you want to flip opponents off hardcore.

-Eternal Dragon – A good card advantage engine if your deck utilizes shocks and duals, or especially Mistveil Plains to recycle your targets.

-Dragon Tyrant – The aforementioned universal best target. If you have Lightning Greaves on board, opponents better be ready for the hurt, as even with blockers, trample and double strike make this thing impossibly difficult to defend against.

-Quicksilver Dragon – Really a metagame call; if your opponents prefer spot removal to boardwipes, this guy gets a whole lot of value.

-Scourge of Kher Ridges – Expensive to maintain, but a nightmare lategame as he can single-handedly sweep board states with impunity, and with a Mistveil Plains out he can threaten to do it every turn.

-Mana-Charged Dragon – When you need to remind someone of how much everyone’s just unwilling to put up with them.

-Hoard-Smelter Dragon – I like this guy a lot to be honest. I had a really good play with it a couple years ago where I cacked Akroma’s Memorial and then gave it double strike to kill a player that didn’t control the Memorial. It was glorious.

4/4

On its own, Scion actually really tends to add up. 4 is a very awkward number to be at (We’re talkin’ really awkward here), but it’s 1/10 of a player’s life total, and it’s less mana you have to pour into firebreathing activated abilities later on.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH THE DECK?

The best way to grind opponents out of resources is to constantly play 2-for-1′s. It’s achieved easier than most people think, because few players really understand the weight of a sweeper when they lose 1 or less creatures on average.

If each opponent plays one creature card from their hand that you destroy with a sweeper, you got 3 cards for the price of one. You’ve 1-for-1′d each opponent.

If a single opponent plays 3 creature cards that you destroy with a sweeper, unless that player is drawing some serious amounts of cards, you’re going to grind them out of resources extremely quickly.

The math of sweepers is actually really difficult to calculate overall because in the first instance, every player loses one card. In the second instance, you lose one card, where one opponent loses 3. Your other two opponents are still up, and win the exchange because they lose no resources.

Overall, you just have to meticulously remove each opponent’s resources slowly, and grind their offense into the dust. All the meanwhile, removing their utility dorks, utilizing card draw engines and key creatures with the best spot removal the game has to offer. Welcome to five-color control, everyone!

The entire concept of Maze’s End ever going off requires you to survive until that point. Most players won’t barrel down on all cylinders to try and stop you, because mono-token aggro is honestly one of the best matchups this deck has, but aggro can still be a problem if you draw too much attention to yourself. The trick is to help size up the political factor of an opponent using aggro to dislodge you from getting off Maze’s End – yeah, you can attack me and put me to below 10 life, but if I untap with 4 mana and wipe your board, what do you do after that? How do you deal with the two other players sitting at this table?

So you play spot removal at instant speed, sweepers and enchantments at sorcery speed, draw cards, destroy things a bunch, and eke out enough card advantage that by the time you’ve hit 8 Guildgates, your opponents will scramble to stop you, only to find they don’t have anything to do so with.

Most of the time, anyway.

CARD CHOICES

First thing’s first – sweepers! The foundation of the deck is that its win condition is a land, so destroying every other type of permanent is paramount to making sure you can survive long enough to get to 10 Guildgates and win the game.

In-
Novablast Wurm
Gaze of Granite
Barter in Blood
Supreme Verdict
Devastation Tide
Hallowed Burial
Akroma’s Vengeance
Austere Command
Merciless Eviction
Planar Cleansing
Cyclonic Rift
Jund Charm
Oblivion Stone
Porphyry Nodes

Next, we move onto the spells that are my favorite of the batch – the consistent 2-for-1′s. These spells are what will always net you card advantage when you cast them.

In-
Hull Breach
Ashes to Ashes
Catch // Release
Decimate
Identity Crisis
Cruel Ultimatum
Violent Ultimatum
Far // Away
Wear // Tear
Dismantling Blow
Orim’s Thunder
Wing Shards
Return to Dust
Wild Ricochet
Karmic Justice

After the 2-for-1′s, we take a look at the 1-for-1′s that have the absolute best value. Whether they’re flexible or just too damn powerful to ignore, every deck needs at least one piece of spot removal.

In-
Dreadbore
Swords to Plowshares
Abrupt Decay
Terminate
Bant Charm
Beast Within
Crosis’ Charm
Krosan Grip
Mortify
Naya Charm
Putrefy
Soul Snare
Aura of Silence

After we get past the stuff that destroys things, we move on to the next factor of card advantage – drawing a bunch of cards, making the most of your resources, tutoring, etc.

In-
Bringer of the Blue Dawn
Explore
Recoup
Sylvan Scrying
Uncovered Clues
All Suns’ Dawn
Urban Evolution
Conflux
Praetor’s Counsel
Moment’s Peace
Blue Sun’s Zenith
Elixir of Immortality
Nihil Spellbomb
Chromatic Lantern
Maelstrom Nexus

Lastly for spells, we move on to the “win conditions” – the really big players of the deck that are hard to deal with and grind out absolutely insane advantages if left alone.

In-
Dragon Tyrant
Legacy Weapon
Crackling Perimeter
Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker

The first thing we do for lands is establish the obvious and include the namesake and its buddies.

In-
Maze’s End
Azorius Guildgate
Dimir Guildgate
Rakdos Guildgate
Gruul Guildgate
Selesnya Guildgate
Orzhov Guildgate
Izzet Guildgate
Golgari Guildgate
Boros Guildgate
Simic Guildgate

The important thing to remember with 5-color is how heavily you lean on color-enabling lands. Mana fixing is incredibly important early game to prevent virtual mulligans and let you actually cast the spells in your hand.

In-
Seaside Citadel
Arcane Sanctum
Crumbling Necropolis
Savage Lands
Jungle Shrine
Command Tower
Evolving Wilds
Terramorphic Expanse
Rupture Spire
Transguild Promenade
Exotic Orchard
Vivid Crag
Vivid Creek
Vivid Grove
Vivid Marsh
Vivid Meadow

Lastly, for the nonbasics, we establish the ever-important utility lands.

In-
Alchemist’s Refuge
Bojuka Bog
Desolate Lighthouse
Reliquary Tower
Thespian’s Stage
Tolaria West

Now that we’ve done the nonbasic lands, we move to the basics.

In-
Plains
Island
Swamp
Mountain
Forest

And just like that, we’ve arrived at the final product!

Maze's End EDH

General (1)
Creatures (3)
Sorceries (25)
Instants (21)
Artifacts (5)
Enchantments (6)
Planeswalkers (1)
Basic Lands (5)
Nonbasic Lands (33)

(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=413970.)

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Well, there you have it, that’s my take on a Maze’s End deck. This concludes Let’s Build August. I had a lot of fun doing this, so I might do this again sometime in the future (though probably not for a long time). A big thank you goes out to everyone that submitted ideas for this segment over the last month – I really appreciate your input.

Next week will more than likely be my “entry point” article, where I talk about getting people into the format. Stay tuned!

Until then,
-L

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:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1522

Choose Your Champion:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1594
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1868

Dragon’s Maze Prerelease Weekend:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1810

Hits & Misses of:
Dragon’s Maze -http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1870
M14 –  http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2295

Legen-Wait for It-Dary:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2264

Let’s Build:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1606
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1595
Part 3 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2214
Part 4 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2278
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2303
Part 6 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2310
Part 7 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2323
Part 8 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2336 

Let’s Talk M14:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2228 

Planeswalking and You:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2184 

Resource Management:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2200

Trial & Error:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2089

 

2 thoughts on “FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – LET’S BUILD PART 9

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