FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – GUIDANCE

This past week has been a bit of a crazy one for me. I’ve spent half of it outside of the house, playing League of Legends or drinking my face off, and I’ve spent the other half of it trucking along in my journey to become a potato. It’s been a weird time, to say the least. In all of my downtime that I’ve had, on little sleep and/or food, completely dead to the world, I’ve been positively bored.

And when I’m bored, I tend to turn to my hobbies. Recently, in quite an embarrassing moment of poor posture/body language, I was turning the light in my bedroom on, and when I went to sit back down, I for some reason had my arm up, and slammed my (very bony, by the way – like, weapon-of-mass-destruction bony) elbow pretty hard into my computer screen.

Let’s just say it failed a Fortitude save.

So for the past month or so, I’ve been stuck on Persona 4 (great game, absolutely phenomenal soundtrack, feels a little spotty with its pacing and the difficulty curve takes getting used to), but as of two weeks ago I’ve had not one, but two nasty roadblocks with the “final” dungeon of the game (I had to go and spoil myself, learning it wasn’t the actual final dungeon. D’oh!), dissuading me from completing it. (RNG is a wet sack of potatoes, to be honest) I’ve tried kicking it old-school with some Twisted Metal, but sadly, spotty controls and shaky mechanics made that grow old pretty quick, too.

So, I’ve completely been absorbed with EDH this past week. A lot of people in the MtG community know me as a sort of…nut for EDH. (Well, if these articles are any indication, considering this is my thirty-second entry…in 32 weeks…) I’ve written 44 decklists for MTG Salvation, currently have 11 decks put together (and I’m working on my 12th–more on that later), and have a bit of a reputation for how much I advertise and endorse the format to any and all players I meet, especially those in the “casual” crowd.

The deckbuilding process has always been an area in Magic I pride myself upon. Whether it be my Standard decks of old (using Harabaz Druid, Jwari Shapeshifter and Overgrown Battlement to cast a Genesis Wave into multiple Hagra Diabolists was almost as fun as my Tumble Magnet / Thrummingbird brew where I played 2 games using Jace, the Mind Sculptor‘s ultimate on someone having Brainstormed every turn it was out), or my EDH decks of today, I think I’ve done pretty well for myself making some fun brews and interesting strategies.

So it is with great regret that I look to you, the reader, for help.

I’m stumped on three very annoying points. Two of them aren’t so important, so they’ll be explained briefly later, but I want to go into detail about the important one, and that’s the one I affectionately call my baby, my list featuring Oros, the Avenger.

Initially a cute Sunforger list with a few neat tricks, I conceptualized it mostly to revolve around having the Sunforger in play and casting a bunch of neat things off of it. I brewed the list up around the spoiler season for Gatecrash, because Boros Charm had just been spoiled at the time, and I knew it was by far the best thing you could cast off a Sunforger.

What I didn’t know at the time was how well the Gatecrash prerelease would end up going for me.

I ended up pulling absolutely insane stuff, the most noteworthy of which was Aurelia’s Fury, which, on release was $30. After pulling it, my friend Jason had asked I trade it to him, and I agreed to it, provided he get me something from the store. He agreed, and handed me the foil Sword of Feast and Famine the store had.

Yeah, let’s just say I’m never going to forget that trade, because it’s easily the best trade I’ve ever made.

That being said, the value of the deck continued to skyrocket as I also managed to open a foil Watery Grave, other shocklands, a Domri Rade, etc., etc. I made a large portion of my deck through my winnings from that prerelease, we’ll leave it at that.

And oh boy, did I ever put this little runt through the ringer. I’ve probably goldfished the list a good 2-300 times, won a good dozen or so weekly EDH nights with it, and it’s by far my most played deck overall, highly eclipsing the power of any other list I have. (My Maelstrom Wanderer list admittedly scratches the surface, but that list could use some polishing; some cards are not what they should be when it comes to that deck.)

The list, for reference:

Oros EDH

General (1)
Creatures (21)
Sorceries (5)
Instants (15)
Artifacts (15)
Enchantments (3)
Planeswalkers (1)
Basic Lands (6)
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=415270.)

There’s so much variance in this deck it is absolutely mind-blowing. Unlike most of my lists, which dedicate a good 20% of the list to “means-to-an-end” cards (which is a nice way of saying they do most or all of their work alongside something else), Oros has the highest number of independently functioning cards of all my EDH decks. Mind you, often times, my winning the game has been on the back of Sunforger, but that’s just it–Sunforger doesn’t win you the game. To win the game, you need to be attacking, you need to be depleting your opponents’ life totals, and you need to be outresourcing your opponents.

Since coming across high-value cards, I’ve been spending the last nine months thinking of the very best cards I can use to fill the roles of this deck that need to be filled; acceleration of mana, drawing cards, tutoring what you need to win, and the cards that can help me in whatever situations I most commonly find myself in. 14 updates and eight months after the deck’s inclusion into my rotation, I have settled into what I believe is the optimal setup of cards without going way too out of my way to splurge on something absurd (looking at you, Mana Crypt.)

That being said, I’m still dissatisfied with the results. I’ve tested, I’ve tested, and I’ve tested, and I’ve found the exact same problems still persist. The deck runs into two very large and very annoying snags:

-Despite the wealth of card advantage, I wind up drawing too many land cards and/or responsive cards. Oros fails to shine in this scenario because he doesn’t do anything to impact the board without connecting with a player, and often times just gets cast as a blocker or a “I have nothing better to do” play, which, as a 6-drop, is cause for concern.

-I draw all of my proactive cards, and not enough land to support them. Generally, 5 is the sweet spot of the deck curve-wise, but with 4 mana rocks, Kor Cartographer, and enough to do at both the bottom and top of the curve, if the deck draws well, it has a steady amount of action to rely on at all stages of the game. However, when it draws all top-end stuff and not enough lands, despite the card advantage, I can spend some games just not even doing anything.

So in my last few goldfishes, I’ve been thinking about what cards feel weak. I definitely feel the weakest of the bunch are Orzhov Keyrune, Homing Lightning, Stoneforge Mystic and Batterskull. The Keyrune almost never becomes a creature except when I desperately need a blocker, and can easily just be a Boros Signet or Fellwar Stone if I really felt like it. Homing Lightning is by far the weakest Sunforger target, and I’ve been considering replacing it for a while (an alternative is Volcanic Fallout, but I have a staggering amount of creatures that die to Fallout, so I’d rather avoid that). The next-best thing I could think of was Backlash, a card I’ve been considering adding in lieu of the CG Realm’s metagame shift towards more creature-oriented strategies. As far as Stoneforge/Batterskull go, the two are a very potent combination early, but pale in comparison to Serra Ascendant, and Stoneforge is just so incredibly weak when you already have Stonehewer Giant set up. Adding to that, Batterskull doesn’t play well with the Giant, because if you tutor Batterskull into play with Giant, it comes in attached to a creature, and then Living Weapon triggers, meaning that without Puresteel Paladin, it’s not going to do what you ideally want it to. Another thing is, I’m not sure what I’d go with alternatively. I keep them in because I know how good the combination is, and Stoneforge is a tutor at the end of the day, but…I just feel that it’s a dead draw, and when ahead, a dead draw isn’t what you want, because this deck has so many of them.

So I was thinking on how to work around the two problems I had, and I ended up thinking the exact same things:

-The deck wants an Exploration effect so that it can deplete the lands in its hand rather than having them sit around and pile up in the mess of cards you’re drawing when you’re ahead.

-The deck wants more mana acceleration.

What’s a common theme here?

Right, green.

So I began to think, what would happen if I changed Oros into a Naya deck? The curve felt like it’d smooth out a little more if I opted for a general that didn’t cost 6 mana when I have enough silly midrange things to cast, and I’d be able to cast a bunch of ramp spells, if nothing else, so I spent most of Sunday researching for decent green spells to cast. It then dawned on me; the switch wouldn’t be without its repercussions. Changing colors is actually a lot bigger of a deal than I thought it to be. So I decided to weigh the pros and cons, as I tend to do:

Pros:
+I gain a lot of 3′s that provide mana acceleration, which is vital when playing a midrange deck
+I get to play key support cards such as Seedborn Muse, Vexing Shusher and Dauntless Escort
+My general will more than likely be more useful to my game plan (I only really picked Oros because I outright refused to play Kaalia of the Vast)

Cons:
-I lose unconditional tutoring (which is really a moot point, considering 95% of the time I cast a tutor, it would find Stonehewer Giant)
-I lose Grave Pact, which in a deck with multiple token-makers and Skullclamp is a huge deal
-I inevitably will have to buy the cards I don’t have

So I’m really not quite sure where to go from here. Whereas I do own a lot of the spells for the green list, the big thing I don’t own is the lands, which is actually a big deal, since if I don’t want to commit to the manabase like I did for the black version, the deck does get significantly weaker due to not being able to get away with things like turning Figure of Destiny into a 4/4 on turn 3 and then casting Grave Pact on turn 4.

That being said, I also managed to make a list for the green version:

Marath EDH

General (1)
Creatures (25)
Sorceries (5)
Instants (14)
Artifacts (13)
Enchantments (2)
Planeswalkers (1)
Basic Lands (6)
Nonbasic Lands (35)

(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?p=10921658.)

So, as you can see, it’s a very similar list, only with a few differences:

-Oros, the Avenger
-Kor Cartographer
-Divinity of Pride
-Demonic Tutor
-Diabolic Tutor
-Increasing Ambition
-Hide // Seek
-Orzhov Charm
-Rakdos Charm
-Homing Lightning
-Basilisk Collar
-Orzhov Keyrune
-Underworld Connections
-Grave Pact
-Bojuka Bog
-Marsh Flats
-Vault of the Archangel

+Marath, Will of the Wild
+Scavenging Ooze
+Vexing Shusher
+Dauntless Escort
+Eternal Witness
+Oracle of Mul Daya
+Seedborn Muse
+Cultivate
+Kodama’s Reach
+Skyshroud Claim
+Eladamri’s Call
+Naya Charm
+Rith’s Charm
+Mirari’s Wake
+Gavony Township
+Kessig Wolf Run
+Mossfire Valley
+Sungrass Prairie
+Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree

So, overall, accounting lands, we’ve gained more than we’ve lost, but let’s put the spotlight on this:

-Losing unconditional tutors is rather huge. It’s unfortunate that Eladamri’s Call is the only creature tutor off Sunforger that’s somewhat decent (Signal the Clans is rather weak), and I’m considering changing Kodama’s Reach into Primal Command to compensate. We’ll see how this goes; just, not having as much power to find what you’re looking for feels like a huge blow to the deck’s power level overall.

-Believe it or not, Hide // Seek is currently a huge player in my Oros list. If used just to gain life, it’s probably the best option at 2 mana, because in most cases you’re gaining 7 or more life in addition to exiling their bomb. And that’s the worst scenario – responding to a Bribery or Birthing Pod activation with this is downright absurd, as it can completely blow out opponents trying to do dumb things while looking through libraries. In addition, they did just print five new legendary enchantment creatures, which this is just happy to tuck. (I admit, I don’t cast the Hide half very often, but there are situations that call for it.)

-Rakdos Charm was one of my favorite silver bullets against Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, among other infinite combos, as well as the tokens matchup. It also stopped graveyard shenanigans in their tracks, and was always good as just a Shatter if nothing else. It’s one of my favorite targets just for having such high utility and a superb best-case/worst-case.

-Underworld Connections is fantastic with Sword of Feast and Famine, and is one of my premier card advantage engines.

-Grave Pact is, quite simply, irreplaceable. The effect is stupid when you have Skullclamp, or even if you just feel like attacking with dinky 1/1′s to trigger Battalion.

-Bojuka Bog + Rakdos Charm were my only ways of disrupting graveyard shenanigans, which force me to add Scavenging Ooze to the green version (which isn’t the worst card by a mile, but as a creature, it is rather vulnerable). Just not having that free exile on one of my lands is a convenience that’s a bit disheartening to lose.

-Not having Marsh Flats hinders my ability to tutor Mistveil Plains, a card you want every single game.

-Vault of the Archangel is the biggest hit to the landbase, but it is replaced pretty well, if you ask me.

-Marath, Will of the Wild feels overall like a better general to be using. It will always be worth its weight in mana to cast, is threatening regardless of when you cast it (whether it’s Lightning Bolting a utility dork or making another body to hold your Equipment), and it’s most of all low on the curve, which is the biggest draw here. I don’t need infinite combos from Marath – I just need value, and he definitely provides that.

-Vexing Shusher is a wonderful addition that helps force Stonehewer Giant and other must-resolve cards through without needing backup from Grand Abolisher.

-Dauntless Escort acts like a Boros Charm with a body, and can be recurred via Sun Titan, which makes it incredibly good in this deck.

-Oracle of Mul Daya is one of the reasons I made the switch – Exploration is an effect this deck is sorely in need of, and if I’m to get one, why not get the one that can hold Sunforger? It also helps by smoothing the deck’s draws by taking the land off the top of your deck.

-Seedborn Muse is downright broken overall, but especially here – it makes Stonehewer Giant, Mistveil Plains and Gavony Township insane, makes Leonin Shikari able to stand on its own two paws, and makes Figure of Destiny very scary, very fast.

-Having a Regrowth, a Fog and a Lightning Bolt as a Sunforger target is excellent, making Naya Charm a great addition overall. It helps beat aggro matchups as well, something Oros has had a bit of trouble with in the past.

-Rith’s Charm is fantastic at blowing up one of the deck’s biggest nemeses, Maze of Ith. It’s also great at making blockers in a pinch, and can randomly blank red-based sweepers such as opposing Blasphemous Acts.

-Gavony Township and Kessig Wolf Run really add to the overall power this deck can provide in combat. The Township and Mirari’s Wake don’t play particularly well with Skullclamp, but honestly, that’s not that big an issue when you’re pushing through far more damage than you were previously, anyway.

-Having another token-producing land in Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree is great for both the aggro matchup and drawing cards with Skullclamp.

Overall, I’m really not sure what to think of what the change would mean for my Sunforger list. I’d really like feedback on which third color you like better, and whether or not I’m missing any key players for the deck, because I’m really not sure whether or not I should make the move, and I’d like some input on the subject.

Moving on, I have my twelfth EDH deck I want to build. Since taking apart Lazav, Dimir Mastermind, I knew the deck I wanted to make would be black.

Theros has printed two very interesting legends in the form of Tymaret, the Murder King and Triad of Fates. While both are very different functionally, both are cards I’m interested in tackling and seeing what kind of brew I can make with them.

When I think of a general, the first thing I think of is “What plays well with this?” When I think of Tymaret, I think of recursive creatures and lots of mana – Gravecrawler, Reassembling Skeleton, Nether Traitor, Braid of Fire and Black Market. When I think of Triad of Fates, I think of using the activated abilities a lot – Thousand-Year Elixir, Magewright’s Stone, Rune-Scarred Demon, Rings of Brighthearth and Illusionist’s Bracers.

The two have a rather large difference between them, however – whereas with Tymaret, I feel I’ve cracked the code, with Triad of Fates, I’ve gotten to the meat and potatoes, and I can’t think of what I want to do from there. I think of mana rocks, cards like Unwinding Clock and Clock of Omens, then mana rocks and draw spells like Orzhov Cluestone, Coalition Relic and Promise of Power, but I don’t know if that’s exactly what I want to do with the deck. Relying entirely on the Triad seems like a risky move at best, and I’m not sure it’s the best way to go. Every time I try and think of new things to do, I contradict myself – I want creatures to flicker; but I want to not die to creatures, and if I’m playing a lot of artifacts, I want to play sweepers, too. It’s a conundrum, one I want to solve very badly, but I can’t figure it out right now.

Adding to that, I have a lot of Tymaret’s cards already – 88 of the 100, in fact. (Of course, one of the cards I don’t actually have happens to be Tymaret himself, but I’m on the hunt for a foil copy.) On the other end of the spectrum, I have my Triad of Fates, and it’s foil, and it’s Japanese.

So, I’m stuck. Maybe I’ll end up building both. However, I’m not sure whether I suck it up, buy a nonfoil Tymaret, and just build that, or overthink Triad of Fates some more and cry over my foil copy. Thus, I’m taking any suggestions on what you think would be good to use with Triad of Fates.

Phew, that was a whole lot to digest. Thank you for reading all of that. This is probably the longest article I’ve written so far, but you understand why. It’s something that requires a lot of contemplation, a lot of thinking – and recently, my brain’s been fried with all of the overthinking I’ve been doing when it comes to EDH, so I lean to you, my readers, to help me solve these puzzles I’ve come across. Give me suggestions. Brainstorm ideas. Anything you can do to help, really.

Regardless, that’s it for this week. Until next week!
~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
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2539

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
Theros - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2508

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
Part 9 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2341
Part 10 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2525

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

Let’s Talk Theros:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2362
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2378

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

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

The Slippery Slope:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2440

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

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