Greetings, readers! This article marks the conclusion of a seven month-long series known as The Top Soldiers Of. In this article series, I give you, the readers, tips on deckbuilding through highlighting power players that I think have some niche or widespread use, giving some insight on just how powerful and useful these cards are.
This is the last entry I’ll make, and it’s a strange one, because of how few non-legends and how many legends are worth running for it. Regardless, I plan on highlighting ten cards for this combination that encompasses all of Magic, Five-Color.
5C has the reputation of being the most expensive and yet most illustrious combination in Magic. Expensive because you’re running a 5-color landbase; while it’s easy to go “10 fetches, 10 duals, 10 shocks, Command Tower, bob’s your uncle”, you have to consider the fact that you’re likely dropping around $1500 just on the duals. It’s not a small feat to make your manabase competitive, and if you don’t, you’ll find that you struggle to find yourself able to cast your spells most of the time. (There is, however, a remedy in Vivid lands and a Maze’s End package, but I’ve gone over that twice already in my Let’s Build article series, so most of you already know the nuances of a cheap 5C manabase (by joshua). It’s not nearly as horribly expensive, but it’s much, much slower.)
The combination is illustrious, however, due to its flexibility; while a lot of 5C strategies are rather linear (Doubling Season, Maze’s End, etc.), the combination can run combo, control and aggro and feign a general of some other archetype. That in and of itself makes the combination unpredictable and dangerous.
There are only a few noteworthy 5C spells, so let’s get right into them:
#3 – Maelstrom Archangel
I like to think of Maelstrom Archangel as a less threatening, potentially more powerful version of Sword of Feast and Famine. They perform similar roles–damage, casting more spells and turning creatures sideways–but what makes the difference is that the Archangel can allow you to cast spells whose cost exceeds the mana you have available to you. Granted, everyone’s first thought is an Eldrazi or Blightsteel Colossus, but if you want to be that guy, I’ll remind you she does trigger Eldrazi’s cast triggers. She’s very powerful overall, and efficient for her cost, but she fits much more in an aggro-oriented shell such as Horde of Notions or a Sliver list rather than a control shell.
#2 – Conflux
Conflux, while steep in its mana cost, makes for an absolutely terrifying bout of card advantage. For one, it tutors virtually any combo in the game by itself, which makes it a must in 5C combo lists. Secondly, it allows for a control deck to grab two sweepers of its choice and answers for what its sweepers don’t rid the board of, which make it similarly powerful in a control shell. Obviously, aggro decks won’t want an 8-mana spell that doesn’t add pressure to the board, but when you take into account that you can tutor All Suns’ Dawn with this, it just gets that much sillier. Overall, Conflux is an incredibly powerful tutor and well worth its weight in mana cost, especially if your deck is built to survive long enough to cast what you’re tutoring.
#1 – Maelstrom Nexus
This should come as no surprise whatsoever to anyone. Giving your first spell every turn Cascade is just a stupid amount of card advantage for combo, control and aggro alike. Combo will appreciate digging for its combo pieces and cast them appropriately (Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker cascades into everything it combos with short of Zealous Conscripts.); control will like the fact that it can trigger this every turn; aggro will like paying 5 mana to put 8 power on the board. If you’re playing five colors, unless your cascades have the potential to horrendously backfire, I wouldn’t start your list without one of these.
Now that we’ve gone over the non-generals, it’s time to talk about the various powerhouse generals 5C has access to. Spanning all three of the big archetype strategies in Magic, these generals don’t even need to be built the way they’re designed to; having access to every legal card in the format can just make for some silly surprises.
#7 – Sliver Legion
Sliver Legion is the Sliver player’s general for fast games; typically, you’ll play every combat-relevant Sliver and attempt to either bowl over the table with numbers or just do 21 general damage. To the former, Avacyn, Angel of Hope is a great supplement, and your mana, haste and trample Slivers become the most important pieces of your army; to the latter, Sublime Archangel and Silverblade Paladin make great supplements, and Slivers that grant evasion and trample become the priority Slivers. Overall, while not the greatest Sliver general by a fairly wide margin, Sliver Legion can create extreme pressure, which makes it terrifying if allowed to setup.
#6 – Progenitus
Progenitus, the darling of Legacy and a ridiculously silly card in hindsight, can be a very strong general if enabled. Finest Hour and Silverblade Paladin go a long way in allowing him to one-shot people, and while he can’t be targeted by anything you do, your opponents will find it just as difficult to interact with him, as well. Such is the makings of a powerful card, and while there’s little to build around for him, I’ve found, Progenitus‘ greatest strength lies in his ability to bluff your overall strategy. You can build just about anything when it comes to him; he’s a great control finisher, he’s a great aggro general, and he’s a great out if your combos fail you.
#5 – Child of Alara
Child of Alara is actually a general I myself did a Let’s Build article on not too long ago. It’s one of the 5CC’s better generals, as they’ll always welcome a sweeper they have easy access to, especially one with a body that ends the game. Granted, Novablast Wurm fills a similar role in 5CC, but Child’s general damage can add up quickly. Typically, however, Child of Alara is a good a sign as ever that someone’s 5C deck has a strong control element to it, as aggro won’t ever risk being blown out by its own general dying, and destroying all nonland permanents can similarly screw combo over.
#4 – Reaper King
Reaper King is an interesting approach to 5C that’s reflected in another general I’ll go over later – the tribal element. Clearly, the incentive to dive headfirst into that element is extremely strong with Reaper King, as your creatures double as Vindicates, and there are a number of unique approaches to the strategy (Xenograft is actually a card? What?). Aggro will love the +1/+1 and the removal of problem permanents such as Ghostly Prison and Blazing Archon. Control will love the fact that it gets value out of its spellcasts, and can forego “shove 32 sweepers in your deck and call it a day” 5CC often does. Combo will love the LD, but that’s about it; in all honesty, Reaper King isn’t a very strong combo general for 5C. However, being able to play things like both Tezzeret the Seeker and Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas is quite useful. Of course, like most artifact-heavy strategies, Vandalblast is by far not your friend.
#3 – Sliver Overlord
The true best Sliver general, Overlord has a lot going for it that makes it the best. First of all, while a Sliver’s base power is near-inconsequential due to how many freaking lords they have, base 7 power is amazing to have. On its own, 3 swings kills someone, which is always noteworthy. Then there’s the fact that it tutors other Slivers, which just makes it absurdly useful both upfront as an engine of tutoring and in the long run, as its incrementals make it have great lategame power. Aggro and combo will enjoy having him, as you can just stuff a random combo in there to surprise the table (Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker on its own is really good because it can just copy something like Brood Sliver or Megantic Sliver), but a creature-heavy deck will not enjoy playing the control element.
#2 – Scion of the Ur-Dragon
Okay, maybe I’m biased. Maybe I miss the days when I could just make 82473943 copies of Primeval Titan until I had the right combination of lands to cast Scion, turn him into Hellkite Overlord, give him double strike and gloriously one-shot someone in a single turn. Maybe I miss the days when I could kill someone on turn 6 with the right draw. Maybe I just really, really, really miss Primeval Titan being a legal card in EDH. Excuse me while I go sob in a corner forever.
Scion of the Ur-Dragon is pretty threatening, however. 12 mana means someone straight-up dies if you have a haste enabler (I liked Lightning Greaves, personally). He was easily my favorite EDH deck that I ever built, being an extremely powerful Voltron enabler with Hellkite Overlord or Dragon Tyrant, and even having light control elements with Yosei, the Morning Star or Scourge of Kher Ridges, but when Primeval Titan got banned, that truly broke my spirit to play the deck.
When Maze’s End was spoiled, the urge to build a list for it was too strong, and I caved and built 5CC for a while. It worked out rather well despite not owning an Exploration (and trust me when I say I’ve thought very hard about rebuilding the deck in the advent of owning one now), but in the end, Scion is an aggro general through and through. He doesn’t require much to be built around him, making him an ideal combo general as well (you only really need Dragon Tyrant as a target for him).
#1 – Horde of Notions
I have to give the #1 spot to Horde of Notions here, however. There’s too much it has going for it that makes it the best 5C general. Between being a fantastic Voltron general due to innate haste and trample, being a great aggro general overall due to its interaction with Maelstrom Wanderer, and its extreme value on its own allowing it to be a combo general as well, its flexibility and raw power allow for a number of approaches, making it the best.
I mean, there is incentive to run it as a tribal list, but what makes Horde of Notions so insanely powerful is its independent pound-for-pound value. For 5 mana, you get a 5/5 creature. In and of itself, that’s great. It also has vigilance, trample and haste. The first two are nice, but having haste just puts it over the top. Then you realize you can cast your dead Elementals, and it just gets gross from there. It has insane value in aggro, as it just resurrects your fallen over and over again. In control and combo, it merely needs to plug Maelstrom Wanderer and Crib Swap as its only Elementals and go from there. Such is the insane value of Horde of Notions, which makes it by far the most powerful 5C general.
There you have it, the Top Soldiers Of series is now finished! I hope you enjoyed my long-winded opinions on some niche, but silly cards.
One thing I wanted to take note of, however, is the next month of article content. I made a mistake in forgetting that M15 is just around the corner, and I want to talk about the set somewhat, as it’s actually rather impressive with what little we know of it. As a result, Let’s Build Month will be postponed to August while I dedicate July to mostly M15 content.
Next week will be my initial look at the set. 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
Journey into Nyx - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3101
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
Part 13 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2822
Part 14 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2933
Part 15 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3086
Part 16 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3134
Part 17 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3153
Let’s Talk Conspiracy:
Let’s Talk M14:
Oh My God:
Painting a Target:
Planeswalking and You:
Stacking Up Commander 2013:
The Slippery Slope:
The Top Soldiers Of:
Azorius - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2640
Bant - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2907
Boros – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2854
Dimir - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2653
Esper - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2957
Golgari - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2760
Grixis – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2984
Gruul - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2669
Jund - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3124
Naya - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3146
Orzhov - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2681
Rakdos - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2663
Selesnya - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2677
Simic - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2900
Trial & Error: