Greetings, readers! This week I’m taking a break from my Top Soldiers Of series to bring you my monthly Let’s Build article. In my Let’s Build articles, I take you, the reader, through the deckbuilding process for generals of either mine or a submitted choice.
This month’s Let’s Build article will focus on one of the ten new legendary creatures brought to us by the Commander 2013 expansion, but with my own personal twist on it. Our focus for this article will be our spellslinger lady; Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge.
Jeleva clearly lends herself to a spell-heavy strategy, often using cutesy combos with Enter the Infinite or the like to outright win you the game, but this build of Jeleva will take a different focus entirely, opting to win the game through spells that make general damage with Jeleva not only possible, but probable, and quite scary, especially through key players.
I’ve run this strategy before with Radha, Heir to Keld, and while it was far from competitive, it was actually quite interesting. It had its frailties, but there are definite pros and cons to this strategy:
+It’s incredibly fast, letting you kill as early as turn 3 with the absolute best draw with Jeleva
+Cards like Hatred, Tainted Strike and Balduvian Rage can kill opponents almost entirely by themselves
+Equipment and specific exit strategies give the deck lasting pressure and longevity to kill the rest of the table with
-Often fails if you draw awkwardly, as virtual mulligans are much more common
-Can sometimes only end up killing one person before the rest of the table gathers to kill you
-Infect and fast kills can be frowned upon by certain playgroups, making the strategy politically frail at best
Regardless of how much the negatives may weigh you down, if the idea of killing someone on turn 3 with the god draw interests you, then let’s break down how you go about it!
CHOOSING YOUR GENERAL
Jeleva’s effect is clearly the reason such fast kills are possible. Flipping a large spell such as Hatred will allow you to threaten your opponents, whereas flipping something such as Savage Beating will threaten entire tables if you can put enough power into Jeleva. Usually, the aim is to get the 21 damage on the first attack, and slowly work on chipping your opponents’ life down afterwards.
There are also silver bullets such as Firemind’s Foresight you can cast to grab 1′s like Tainted Strike, Balduvian Rage or Twisted Image, 2′s such as Psychotic Fury or Fists of the Anvil, and 3′s such as Rush of Blood or Grixis Charm. Overall, there are many cards which you can assemble to get to your 21 general damage, and with blue and black at your disposal, drawing into them will be no problem at all.
A BREAKDOWN OF YOUR GENERAL
Clearly an awkward casting cost for a 1/3 meant to do general damage, but thankfully black with two allied colors has a great manabase to work with so that casting Jeleva will usually not be a problem.
Legendary Creature – Vampire Wizard
Obviously, she’s a much better Wizard than she is a Vampire, because she can actually lend herself to Riptide Laboratory, whereas Vampire tribal lends itself to an army of creatures, which Jeleva most certainly does not play well with.
When Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge enters the battlefield, each player exiles the top X cards of his or her library, where X is the amount of mana spent to cast Jeleva.
Clearly, returns get better and better for you as you continue to cast Jeleva, as the chances you’ll either hit an opponent’s key player or hit something busted like Hatred or Cruel Ultimatum continues to increase. It really helps dissuade opponents from killing Jeleva unless they ultimately have to.
Whenever Jeleva attacks, you may cast an instant or sorcery card exiled with it without paying its mana cost.
Obviously, the reason why we play Jeleva in the first place. Being able to freely cast high-CMC spells is great tempo for the plan, as you can cast something like Rush of Blood and respond by using your 4-5 mana to pour 10 power into Jeleva to get the kill can catch opponents off-guard. It also helps when you stack Relentless Assault effects as well, letting you pour pump spells into her and then get not only what is effectively double strike, but a second trigger of this ability as well.
Obviously the biggest drawback to running Jeleva with this plan is the fact that her stats in combat are extremely lackluster for a 4-mana creature, but there are plenty of pump spells that can get her to the sweet spots we need her at to kill opponents with.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH THE DECK?
The clear-cut solution to this strategy is to overwhelm opponents quickly by casting Jeleva as soon as possible and proceeding to run out of the gate with as much general damage as possible, killing at least one person at the table before they can stop you. Generally, this strategy is not very political, so I’d advise you try it if you’re having trouble with a specific player in your playgroup.
You run most of the game’s efficient pump spells–Brute Force, Psychotic Fury, Vampire’s Bite–and generally work your way up to either 11 with double strike, 10 infect when using Tainted Strike, or just straight-up 21 with Balduvian Rage or Hatred. Equipment help you get longevity and keep up the pressure, whereas cards like Cruel Ultimatum, Past in Flames and Charmbreaker Devils give you power players to take over the lategame with.
Our first order of business is establishing the meat and potatoes of the strategy–combat tricks that boost Jeleva’s power to the stratosphere, where you can end at least one player very quickly.
Fists of the Anvil
Boon of Erebos
Rush of Blood
The next archetype of spells we include are effects that either give you extra turns or extra combat phases to help bash opponent’s faces in.
General damage decks find longevity through Equipment, and this one is no different. Whether we have equipment that adds power to Jeleva’s attacks, or protects Jeleva from certain doom, there’s a decent selection that plays to the game plan.
Because of how imperative a good draw is, the deck needs a few tutors here and there. Luckily, the colors we’re in have a wealth of them.
Another thing that helps us get to where we need to be with combat tricks and lategame power players is filter and card draw.
With a 4-CMC general, accelerating to it through artifacts is quite important.
Lastly, we include our lategame spells as well as a few silver bullets for whatever may come our way.
With the spells over and done with, we move onto the manabase. Black has great color-enabling lands, so we begin with those:
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
River of Tears
Temple of Deceit
As you can well imagine, Maze of Ith is a very problem card for this deck, so many of the deck’s utility lands are fine-tuned to counter such effects.
Having taken care of the nonbasic lands in the deck, we move to the basics. Despite most Grixis decks leaning more on black and blue, this one actually leans quite heavily on its red sources to cast its pump spells.
And with that, we’ve arrived at the finished product!
And there you have it, a niche, workable build for Jeleva! I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on the deckbuilding process.
Next week will be my return to the Top Soldiers Of series, where I reveal my picks for the top Izzet cards! Until then!
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 -http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1870
Innistrad - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2586
M14 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2295
Theros - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2508
Legen-Wait for It-Dary:
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
Part 11 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2617
Let’s Talk M14:
Painting a Target:
Planeswalking and You:
Stacking Up Commander 2013:
The Slippery Slope:
The Top Soldiers Of:
Azorius - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2640
Dimir - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2653
Gruul - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2669
Orzhov - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2681
Rakdos - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2663
Selesnya - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2677
Trial & Error: