Greetings, readers! This week, I make my monthly entry into the Let’s Build series. In my Let’s Build series, I give the readers an idea on how I tackle the deckbuilding process, highlighting themes and specific card choices, hopefully giving insight on a different approach to building certain generals.
This month, I’ve decided to delve into my personal builds once again, and I’ve decided to highlight what is arguably my most popular EDH deck, and my second-oldest deck still standing today – the combination of my three favorite colors in Magic–red, blue and green–that come together to form my Maelstrom Wanderer deck.
The thing I’ve noticed about Maelstrom Wanderer in the year or so I’ve carried it around is how ridiculously flexible it is. For one, it is perhaps the most resilient deck in the format against sweepers, as being green lends itself to a ramp strategy, and Maelstrom Wanderer really doesn’t mind dying.
Secondly, while ramp is mandatory, past that, what you run in the deck is entirely your choice. I initially worked with a spellslinger build that ran on things such as Charmbreaker Devils and Boundless Realms, but ever since building and concurrently disassembling a Ruric Thar, the Unbowed deck, I’ve shifted the focus to a more creature-oriented aggro shell.
Firstly, I’d like to cover the pros and cons of Maelstrom Wanderer:
+You get to play Islands and Forests in the same deck
+Mass haste is scary, if predictable
+7 power means Wanderer 3-shots anyone
+Double cascade applies insane pressure, and can set up easy with Scroll Rack, Sensei’s Divining Top or Sylvan Library
+Being at 8 means that your cascades can hit insane bombs such as Tooth and Nail and Avenger of Zendikar
+Extremely spell-independent past a ramp package, which is the good stuff of green in the first place
-Requires an above-average commitment to ramp to be effective; it’s a double-edged sword because you either have to run 8-10 ramp spells or 39-41 lands
-Cascades can be incredibly awkward on the low-end; cascading into Coiling Oracle or Cyclonic Rift is extremely underwhelming
-Resolving mulligans can be difficult, because you can often draw a hand of all bombs and not enough lands to cast any of them
-Inevitably draws hate from the table; whether they tuck Wanderer or consistently sweep you, the deck is vulnerable to hate
-Bribery loves you a little too much
That being said, every deck has its pitfalls, and those that Maelstrom Wanderer has aren’t the hardest to work around.
CHOOSING YOUR GENERAL
When looking at this deck, you look not at the general but the color combination itself. RUG has a grand total of four legendary creatures:
Riku of two Reflections, which tends to lend itself to either a spellslinger shell or an infinite combo, neither of which are really my style;
Animar, Soul of Elements, which is dangerously difficult not to combo with, and while it can apply faster pressure when built properly, is much more vulnerable to sweepers;
and Maelstrom Wanderer, which lends itself to turning creatures sideways, something I thoroughly enjoy doing.
While such a creature-heavy list is arguably better left to Animar, Soul of Elements, I’ve included many mana-intensive creatures that Animar can’t really run, as well as focusing on token generation as opposed to card draw and colorless fatties such as Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre.
A BREAKDOWN OF YOUR GENERAL
Honestly, this is a really great casting cost. At 8, there are numerous 7-CMC bombs to cascade into, and being even, any mana-doubling effect works with his even-scaling mana cost. Add to that that the deck will inevitably contain a ramp package, any sort of acceleration effect you cascade into will allow you to cast him again the concurrent turn should he die. 8 mana seems like a hefty sum, but for what you’re getting in return, it’s well worth the price.
Legendary Creature – Elemental
Funny enough, Maelstrom Wanderer is absolutely fantastic in Horde of Notions‘ 99, because you’re casting Maelstrom from your graveyard, for 5 mana, and giving your creatures mass haste in the process. Aside from that, there are very few reasons other than Smokebraider to commit to Maelstrom Wanderer‘s creature type.
Creatures you control have haste.
This ability creates absolutely insane pressure regardless of how you cascade with him. Being a 7/5 on its own is daunting enough to face down, because any form of evasion coupled with this spells the table’s doom pretty quickly. What the best part about the whole package of Maelstrom Wanderer is, nobody will ever want to kill the Wanderer out of fear of worse things to come from the concurrent cascades, so just running this headlong into opponents can actually create interesting combat scenarios. It’s a great little bundle of aggression, something I thoroughly enjoy in a Magic card in general.
Cascade, cascade (When you cast this spell, exile cards from the top of your library until you exile a nonland card that costs less. You may cast it without paying its mana cost. Put the exiled cards on the bottom in a random order. Then do it again.)
The reason I included the reminder text is simple: cascade is a rather complex keyword. The trigger gets put on the stack on top of the spell with it, because it triggers as you cast it, so until both of Maelstrom Wanderer‘s cascaded spells resolve, the Wanderer itself will not hit the board. This makes effects that benefit the Wanderer through targeting it rather pointless to run alongside it, but regardless, the whole point of me mentioning this is how he interacts with spells such as Chain Reaction and Crater Hellion; they’ll resolve, do their damage, and Wanderer will enter unscathed, ready to wreak havoc.
Obviously, though, the big grab is how cascade as a keyword inherently functions; the bigger the cascading spell is, the better your cascades inevitably become. There are no shortage of bomby 7-CMC spells in EDH, even with the recent Sylvan Primordial ban, and there are plenty in my shell.
7 power is nothing short of incredible, requiring only three swings to finish a player off. 5 toughness means a 6/6 chumpblocker runs the risk of just letting its controller simply cast Maelstrom Wanderer again, which as I’ve already mentioned is a daunting prospect, because its cascades will inevitably be scary (if a little reliant on luck).
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH THE DECK?
Typically, the game plays a rather routine strategy of green decks that contain a lot of top-end threats; it spends the first couple of turns accelerating its mana in order to cast its threats as soon as possible.
The most ideal hand this deck can have obviously begins with a turn 1 Sol Ring, going into a turn 2 Skyshroud Claim into a 2-mana ramp spell, and dropping an eighth mana source on turn 3 to cast the Wanderer.
Your entire game plan is just to cast Maelstrom Wanderer, cascade into something ridiculous, and attack / spellsling your way to victory. Despite how flashy certain spells in the deck are, nothing in the deck has a comparable flashy factor to simply slamming Maelstrom Wanderer at every given opportunity. No matter how ridiculous your hand is, you apply significant pressure just by abusing the absurdity that is the cascade mechanic. Your hand takes a back seat if it doesn’t contain ramp and you’re at the point where you can cast Wanderer.
The first batch of spells is what I feel is mandatory in every single Maelstrom Wanderer list; ramp. Slowly building 8 mana is a recipe for disaster; why not accelerate the process whenever possible?
The next thing we establish is our wealth of top-end threats. These are the cards we always want to cascade into, and apply pressure with.
Archetype of Aggression
Deus of Calamity
Dominus of Fealty
Archetype of Imagination
Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
Avenger of Zendikar
Chancellor of the Spires
Tooth and Nail
No Simic-aligned deck would be complete without its wealth of card advantage and utility spells.
Prophet of Kruphix
Soul of the Harvest
Rite of Replication
Sensei’s Divining Top
Garruk, Caller of Beasts
As an aggro deck, removal is essential to get rid of the pesky blockers that get between your creatures and the table’s life totals.
Now that we’ve covered the spells, the lands are next. Since my initial list contained both Boundless Realms and Ruination, I made sure to pack as few nonbasics as possible. I’m not sure if I should move towards a stronger nonbasic theme, but for now, what I have has gotten me by. The only difficult spells to work with for this manabase have been Dragon Broodmother and Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius, which are not actually terrible to work with, either.
Believe it or not, that’s all the nonbasics I decided to run, so with that, we move to the basic count.
And with that, we’ve arrived at the final product!
Maelstrom Wanderer EDH
(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 here.)
Well, there you have it, the breakdown of one of my most beloved creations for the format as of yet. I’m definitely open to any feedback – cards you think I should add, replace, etc.
Next week will return to my Top Soldiers Of series. 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
Born of the Gods - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2800
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
Part 12 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2691
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
Golgari - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2760
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: