Greetings, readers! This week, I continue my Journey Into Nyx-related string of content by bringing you this month’s entry into the Let’s Build series, in which I take the readers through the deckbuilding process and card selection for building generals, strategies, and combinations that I like to think work well. Hopefully, through this series, I’d like to help give you guys an idea or two when going through the deckbuilding process.
I think once the Top Soldiers Of series is topped off (which will be soon, as I’m not covering any wedge combinations), I’m going to do a second monthly string of Let’s Build articles. I enjoyed doing articles based on the feedback I received from the viewers, so if you have any suggestions, I’ll take them, even though this probably won’t be for at least another month or two.
Regardless, this month’s entry into the series will once again be one of my own personal builds, as it’s still very much in prototype stage. As this article is posted, I’ll likely have already given it its first test run, but since the moment it was spoiled, I’ve been downright giddy over the prospect of what has to be the general in its colors with the most variance printed thus far – Athreos, God of Passage.
I was a little too content to sit on a control shell of annoying creatures and kill spell variants in which I lost the creatures in the process when I first saw Athreos, but it didn’t take me long to hear the whispers of the Standard players for me to change my tune. Soon, I started forcing Hero of Bladehold and Precinct Captain into the deck, and I never looked back from there.
The strategy I’m choosing to go with is an extremely aggressive creatures-matter list. I think this is the correct way to pilot Athreos, to keep his devotion high and your opponents’ life totals low so that paying the toll becomes a difficult prospect. Before I continue, I’d like to highlight some of the strengths and weaknesses of this strategy:
+Unlike most strategies of this nature, with Athreos on board, your opponent can’t just slam Wrath of God and call it a day
+When your creatures do inevitably die, you can put more pressure on the board by forcing your opponents to pay life in order for your creatures to stay dead
+Can have Athreos become a creature as early as turn 4 with the right draw, and almost always on turn 5
+Fast, aggressive and provides crazy pressure to any board state, keeping your opponents on their toes as opposed to letting them relax and build their durdly combos
+You use Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to great effect in this deck
+You don’t even have to have the player who killed the creature that died pay the toll to keep it dead; you can simply ask an opponent who the creature doesn’t affect if they want to inconvenience themselves to make sure the creature stays dead, which has great political makings written all over it
-The deck is heavily reliant on Athreos to function; without Grand Abolisher as backup, getting Hindered can seriously spell your doom
-Because of how much the deck relies on casting permanents that increase devotion, the manabase is sketchy at worst and incredibly frustrating at best; you need turn 3 Athreos every game
-Smart opponents can pack disruption for Athreos such as Unravel the Aether or just bounce him to your hand and then Wrath
-You have to know who to kill right off the bat going in, and if you pick the wrong target, it can seriously screw you
-Not curving out and drawing the wrong combination of spells can make for a slow hand, which is not what the deck’s built to be
However, no deck is without its weaknesses, and the deck is constructed with at least one out to every weakness it has. I’ll say it here that I was considering adding a sacrifice outlet to dodge Chaos Warp and the like, but it allowed me to perform a 4-card infinite combo. While I understand 4-card is approaching the realm of “You deserve to combo with that many cards”, I’m still adamant in my distaste for infinite combos, so unless those tuck spells become a huge problem for me, I’ll continue to keep Cartel Arisocrat and Bloodthrone Vampire out of the deck.
CHOOSING YOUR GENERAL
Athreos is cheap, efficient, and incredibly powerful. He makes the proposition of killing your creatures a daunting prospect for your opponents, and while they sit there wondering if they should, they deal with an ever-growing army, making the prospect of killing your creatures that much more miserable as you slowly grind the table into dust.
Usually, these types of super-aggressive creature-heavy strategies have been oft-forgotten in EDH, being very under-the-radar, but in the wake of Athreos, I think there will be at least some heed paid to these strategies. I’ve always personally been a huge fan of them, but it’s a strategy that’s hard to make work when a single spell can rob you of all the gas you have, and it’s a spell each opponent should have at least one copy of in each of their decks. Athreos changes all that by not only surviving those spells himself, but providing pressure on the way out by forcing your opponents to dwindle their life totals to not just have you rebuild your army.
As a 3-mana, 5-power indestructible creature, he’s also invaluable in this strategy, as he can just be your win condition if you slap enough Auras onto him and use Shizo, Death’s Storehouse to give him the evasion he needs to punch through damage. Overall, there are quite a few angles of attack you can take, but if you like turning dudes sideways and depleting life totals quickly and efficiently (or, if you’re just Craig Wescoe), then this deck is definitely for you.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH THE DECK?
Attack. Literally, it’s that simple. While there are strategies such as Momir Vig, Simic Visionary that can be complex and reward smart use of the stack, this deck is incredibly simple, making it attractive for newer players as well as old-school fans of the white weenie archetype; you cast the creatures you draw, overextend like an idiot, and smashy smash until you’re blue in the face.
Mind you, there are static, activated and triggered effects in the deck you have to be aware of while piloting it. Whether you’re getting tokens with Precinct Captain, making your army terrifying with Mirror Entity or just attacking for +4/+0 on each creature because of Crescendo of War, being aware of who, with what, and for how much you’re attacking can make all the difference.
Overall, though, quick starts can make for quick games if your opponents aren’t careful, as if you get a game where your opponents attempt to muster a defense (read: they didn’t draw the Wrath of God or Swords to Plowshares right off the bat), you can steal the game just by creating pressure in the early turns, pressure that transitions easily throughout the mid- and lategame with mass pump, evasion and first strike.
The first suite of spells we cover for the deck construction section are our meat and potatoes–the attackers. These are the creatures whose sole purpose is to get in the red zone and cause havoc; whether they create tokens, gain you life or bolster the strength of your board, these are the marquis soldiers that create pressure, which is the goal of the deck.
Champion of the Parish
Skirsdag High Priest
Archetype of Courage
Heliod, God of the Sun
Hero of Bladehold
Divinity of Pride
The next suite of spells we introduce are the disruption spells. This is where you’ll likely see the most obvious spells, as the auto-includes are all disruption spells. Athreos makes quite good use of Evoke, Echo, and a few other mechanics.
Kataki, War’s Wage
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
War Priest of Thune
Agent of the Fates
Swords to Plowshares
Aura of Silence
Dictate of Erebos
The next thing I wanted to do with this deck was give it an enchantment theme; Athreos is difficult to get rid of already, so I wanted a backup plan where if Athreos’ creatures were kept bogged down, you could keep him a creature by enchanting him with a bunch of Auras.
No white weenie deck would be truly complete without a suite of spells dedicated to bolstering the strength of your army. Whether you’re on offense or defense, having a stronger army is always going to be a worthwhile effect in a deck with 53 creatures.
Last, but not least, we solidify our spells with our utility and card advantage engines. Attrition and pressure are two things the deck is very good at, so keeping pace with your opponents’ draw effects to apply pressure is an oft-welcomed thing.
Mother of Runes
Aegis of the Gods
Knight of the White Orchid
Mentor of the Meek
Tethmos High Priest
Angel of Glory’s Rise
Now we move onto lands! We begin our list of lands with our color-enablers:
Caves of Koilos
City of Brass
Temple of Silence
Then, the rest of the nonbasics; the utility lands.
Lastly, the basics!
And with that, we’ve arrived at the finished product!