BuyList April 03, 2015

Buylist
Apr, 03 15
Buylist Prices are subject to change without notice.  We are only looking for a specific amount of each card, once we reach that amount or the price of the card changes we may no longer buy at this price.  I will try to update the buylist prices daily so there is no confusion.  All discretion for buying will be to the person working the counter at time of purchase. (All Prices are for most common version, unless otherwise stated)
Magic The Gathering Trade Cash

FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – LET’S BUILD PART 19

Greetings, readers! This week marks the first entry in my once-a-year take on my Let’s Build series where I take submissions from you, the readers, to help get a second opinion on the deckbuilding process. For those still unaware of the Let’s Build series, it’s my article series highlighting the deckbuilding process for a specific general or strategy, going over card choices, the pros and cons of the strategy, and a general idea of how the process works.

I kick off Let’s Build month with a request from Eric Birkner, who’s building his own list and would like a second opinion. The list is that of everyone’s favorite five-color artifact legend, Reaper King.

Reaper King is an interesting, yet polarizing general. He has a wild best-case/worst-case scenario, in that he provides an incredibly powerful effect, yet he relies on your draws, and those draws have to be creatures of an arguably inferior tribe. It can sometimes have a pretty absurd draw where it just drowns the board in Vindicates, but you can sometimes find you’re just holding a bunch of dead cards that do nothing because Reaper King isn’t on the board.

This submission actually took some thought, but a rather interesting idea buzzed around my head that I’m going to try. If it works, it works; in theory, it has a better worst-case than most lists that just jam every Scarecrow ever printed into the deck. However, before I spoil the surprise, let’s go over the pros and cons of Reaper King, as with most of the recent Let’s Build articles:

+Repeatable removal will always be very powerful. Unrestricted repeatable removal is impossible to ignore.
+Incredibly easy to tutor if put in your library; you’re running all five colors and 2/3 of the game’s tutors can find this thing
+Has 6 power for 5 mana in addition to being a lord, something that goes over most people’s heads; in addition to being a powerful engine of removal, he can pressure most board states quite nicely
+A rather flexible general despite needing a fair amount of build-around; can go with a Maze’s End package, a Doubling Season package or a God package
+Incredibly powerful when ahead; things like blink engines and Prophet of Kruphix go a long way in being able to gain an oppressive grip on the table

-Extremely dependent on the general to function; counterspells and tuck spells are not your friends
-Extremely easy to shut down with Wrath of God, Nevermore and Torpor Orb
-Scarecrows are arguably an absolutely awful tribe, as very few of them actually do anything worthwhile on their own
-Avacyn, Angel of Hope is not very nice

Of course, being in five-colors, all of the problems Reaper King innately has are rather easy to solve, but the biggest problem I’ve found Reaper King to have is that the quality of Scarecrows in Magic are arguably pitiful, but one thing I’ve noticed is that it’s not terribly difficult to just find the one you need and then make 5 copies of it. Thus, the route I’ve decided to take with Reaper King is a Clone shell.

CHOOSING YOUR GENERAL

Reaper King, Magic, Shadowmoor

Reaper King is a wonderful king of a less-than-wonderful tribe, making the most out of rather subpar creatures by making them all Vindicate when they enter the battlefield. It’s an attractive feature when you think of it objectively just on Reaper King itself, but then you realize the Scarecrows of the game are:

-Painter’s Servant (b& lol)
-Scarecrone
-Grim Poppet
-Scuttlemutt
-Heap Doll
-Pili-Pala
-Lurebound Scarecrow
-Tatterkite
-Scrapbasket
-One-Eyed Scarecrow
-Scarecrow
-Lockjaw Snapper
-Fang Skulkin
-Wicker Warcrawler
-Straw Soldiers
-Watchwing Scarecrow
-Wingrattle Scarecrow
-Shell Skulkin
-Rattleblaze Scarecrow
-Antler Skulkin
-Thornwatch Scarecrow
-Blazethorn Scarecrow
-Jawbone Skulkin
-Chainbreaker
-Hoof Skulkin

While there’s an okay number of them, the problem remains that you can’t just blindly shove them all in the deck and call it a day; your card quality suffers as a result, and they do absolutely nothing without Reaper King on the board. Any good EDH deck will be able to use its general as a catalyst, not a crutch, so we’ll take the useful Scarecrows, as well as the various useful Changeling creatures, and run them as our Scarecrows. Aside from that, we’ll double up on our decent Scarecrows by running Clones that copy them, rather than run the subpar Scarecrows, to maximize card value. At worst, the bad Scarecrow creatures are pitiful combat bodies. At worst, Clones are the best creature on the board. I already know which I’d rather have.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH THE DECK?

The gist of a Reaper King strategy is to spam the board with creatures that blow things up. Your early game plan is generally to try and setup a position where you can cast Reaper King safely, using Mother of Runes and Lightning Greaves to protect it while using Grand Abolisher, Vexing Shusher and Cavern of Souls to ensure it resolves through countermagic.

After you’ve gotten Reaper King safely ushered to the battlefield, your goal is to start using the quality generated by it to slowly build an incremental advantage. You can cast a piddly Crow or two and start blowing up problem permanents, while tutoring something like Sakashima the Impostor, Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas or Garruk, Caller of Beasts to ensure you have continuous gas to maintain momentum.

Your endgame plan involves you basically blowing up the entire board by locking opponents out of the game with Ghostway and Eternal Witness. In situations where you just want to be an absolutely awful person, you can use Ghostway to blink your army, and have all your Clone effects copy Reaper King. When they come in, sure, they’ll all die to the legend rule (if you control an even amount of Reaper Kings, anyway), but they’ll also all see each other, and blow up an astronomical amount of permanents. Just to be sure, though, keep this plan safe by having Darksteel Ingot or a God on standby so you don’t wind up blowing up your own things; Reaper King’s trigger isn’t a may ability, so you don’t have a choice but to blow things up.

CARD CHOICES

The first suite of spells we introduce are the most important; the Scarecrows! While there aren’t very many good ones, there are enough passable effects you’ll want that warrant inclusion.

In-
Scarecrone
Scuttlemutt
Heap Doll
Wingrattle Scarecrow
Antler Skulkin
Jawbone Skulkin
Chameleon Colossus
Mirror Entity
Taurean Mauler
Shapesharer
Adaptive Automaton

Next, the Clones!

In-
Body Double
Dack’s Duplicate
Evil Twin
Phantasmal Image
Phyrexian Metamorph
Progenitor Mimic
Sakashima the Impostor
Sakashima’s Student
Rite of Replication
Spitting Image
Stolen Identity
Twinflame

The next suite of spells we go over are those aimed at protecting the plan or ensuring it sticks. As the deck relies on its general to function, getting it out and protecting it is something we have to always be mindful of.

In-
Mother of Runes
Grand Abolisher
Vexing Shusher
Leonin Abunas
Ghostway
Ghostly Flicker
Faith’s Reward
Lightning Greaves
Crystal Shard

Next, our card advantage – ramp, card draw, and engines the deck can use to great efficiency.

In-
Eternal Witness
Archaeomancer
Erebos, God of the Dead
Keranos, God of Storms
Demonic Tutor
Diabolic Tutor
Tooth and Nail
Worldly Tutor
Darksteel Ingot
Sol Ring
Chromatic Lantern
Fellwar Stone
Trading Post
Maelstrom Nexus
Mirari’s Wake
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
Tezzeret the Seeker
Xenagos, the Reveler
Garruk, Caller of Beasts

Lastly for spells, the rest of the goodstuff!

In-
Deadeye Navigator
Brago, King Eternal
Prophet of Kruphix
Athreos, God of Passage
Goblin Welder
Living Death
Austere Command
All is Dust
Cyclonic Rift
Swords to Plowshares
Venser, the Sojourner

As far as lands go, it’s a much simpler 5-color manabase than I’m used to, though it’s very familiar if you’ve read my other 5-color articles. As usual when it comes to manabases, we begin with the color enablers.

In-
Maze’s End
Command Tower
Reflecting Pool
Exotic Orchard
Crystal Quarry
Azorius Guildgate
Dimir Guildgate
Rakdos Guildgate
Gruul Guildgate
Selesnya Guildgate
Orzhov Guildgate
Izzet Guildgate
Golgari Guildgate
Boros Guildgate
Simic Guildgate
Seaside Citadel
Arcane Sanctum
Crumbling Necropolis
Savage Lands
Jungle Shrine
Terramorphic Expanse
Evolving Wilds

Next, we introduce the utility nonbasics.

In-
Cavern of Souls
Homeward Path
Academy Ruins

And last, but not least, the basics!

In-
2 Plains
2 Islands
2 Swamps
2 Mountains
2 Forests

And with that, we’ve arrived at the final product!

Scareclone EDH

General (1)
Creatures (33)
Sorceries (11)
Instants (7)
Artifacts (8)
Enchantments (3)
Planeswalkers (6)
Basic Lands (10)
Nonbasic Lands (18)

CLOSING THOUGHTS

And there you have it, my take on Reaper King! I wanted to try an angle that hasn’t really been explored yet, so this was my attempt. Hope you enjoy, Eric! Though I have a few submissions saved up, I’m still up to hearing ideas, so please submit your thoughts. Thanks, and see you 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

Guidance:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2548

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
M15 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3174

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
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
Part 18 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3181

Let’s Talk Conspiracy:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3138

Let’s Talk Journey into Nyx:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3015
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3030

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

Let’s Talk M15:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3159
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3167

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

Oh My God:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3118

Painting a Target:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2631

Perspective:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3188

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

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

Stacking Up Commander 2013:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2561

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

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
Five-Color - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3156
Golgari - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2760
Grixis – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2984
Gruul - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2669
Izzet- http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2710
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:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2089

FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – PERSPECTIVE

Greetings, readers! Like a complete idiot, I forgot that July has one Wednesday left in it, so here I was thinking that it would be the 1st or 2nd of August for some reason, and that I’d just jump right into Let’s Build month. In light of that, I’m going to divert from my usual cutesy themed articles and discuss an issue that I can’t help but notice when I play EDH.

Over my years of playing EDH, I’ve gone from starting with playing heavy combo-based strategies, then shifted towards a heavy control approach when I started playing at CG Realm, and most recently, after becoming entirely burnt out of permission-based control, I’ve taken to aggro. I’ve tried a lot of interesting things over the years, and some have worked, some haven’t. What ultimately decides whether I continue down the path of playing an EDH deck are a few factors, but the biggest factor I take into account is whether or not the deck’s able to do what I want it to do. At the end of the day, if I’m playing one of the three main archetypes (combo, control, or aggro) and I’m unable to one-shot the table, live until turn 20, or beat everyone’s faces in, respectively, then I’m probably not seeing a future playing that deck, no matter how fun its best-case scenario is.

Too many people I know are obstinate about making their game plan work. Whether their argument is “I want to just play it for fun!” or “I want to cast this spell, or attack someone with this creature!”, or “I want to win.”, people will run headfirst into danger. While I don’t want to evoke my first article series, Adapting to EDH Metagames, too much by saying metagames have an impact on the deckbuilding process, it’s an undeniable fact, and if your proactive plan of using Jhoira of the Ghitu to cast Obliterate into Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre continues to steamroll your local playgroup, it’s not up to you to make your deck worse by comparison. You want to do what you want to do; with a deck like that, I’d wager winning is a pretty high priority for you, and a strategy like that is pretty solid, if you ask me. If your playgroup would rather whine about you using “unfair” cards than adjust their strategies to what you’re doing, that’s the problem of your metagame and not you, and don’t let side eyes and trash talk misconstrue your perceptions.

But let’s see the argument from the other side. You and your friends are a nice little playgroup with your tokens deck, the Oloro, Ageless Ascetic deck that reaches 200 billion life every game, the wacky tribal list that worked that one time (and they’ll never cease to remind everyone about it), and then there’s that guy; the guy who walks in with his foiled out Grand Arbiter Augustin IV deck with a turn 1 Mana Crypt into turn 2 GAIV into turn 3 Linvala, Keeper of Silence into turn 4 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Perhaps even more frustrating to play against is the proactive strategy that’s just as linear as it is miserable. See: Hermit Druid.

In general, it’s your choice how you want to win your games, but a concept I think few players realize they’re doing is mashing their proactive strategy against an opposing proactive strategy and just hoping for the best every time. That sort of approach will favor the better-constructed deck nearly every time (and an absurdly lucky draw in the remaining cases), and anyone who’s put time and effort into making their proactive strategy difficult to stop will have the tools necessary to put up roadblocks against you that deter you so thoroughly you’ll eventually be buried in them while your opponent steamrolls you into the pavement.

The solution, however, is not to cry broken and lament over something insignificant as “how your deck sucks” or “man he just drew so perfect”. EDH is nothing if not a flexible format, and while some people are able to drop some serious cash into their hobbies, Magic’s immense card pool allows cheap, efficient answers so that even the most expensive decks can falter if a timely response disrupts a critical piece of their engine. What bothers me most, and the reason I’m writing this article, is that so few people are willing to see the two biggest issues that are holding them back from becoming great players, the players their metagame fears.

The first and most important part of “stopping the menace” of your store is to realize how they win. The biggest way someone can be oppressively reactive is to stick something that both adds pressure and allows them to overextend. The biggest perpetrator of this crime by an astronomical margin is Avacyn, Angel of Hope; if the player is playing aggro, sticking Avacyn will answer the biggest problem an aggro deck has; Wrath of God. The next thing your opponent will try to do after sticking Avacyn is giving her hexproof, through Asceticism, Privileged Position, Lightning Greaves or Archetype of Endurance. While it’s a powerful game plan–your board is indestructible and your threats have hexproof–if any sane person allows this to happen, you really have to question why you aren’t able to handle this. If you can, and you didn’t draw what handles the problem, that’s one thing, but there are a number of factors to consider when it comes to a setup like this. For one, it costs anywhere between 10 and 16 mana to setup, so if your deck is “proactive”, you should be proactively removing this sort of threat from the table, and you have no reason not to if you know what that player is capable of.

If you’re more of a reactive deck, with answers and counterspells, you have to always be aware of who and what you should be answering. If someone attempts to remove your permanents and you have just enough mana to counter it, consider letting it die so the next player in turn order doesn’t combo off and win the game. Yes, it sucks when your opponents sweep your board, but always be mindful of the greater good.

Once you’re aware of how your opponents win, you can adapt your playstyle to them. Generals and specific cards become familiar game to you; I don’t think I’ve ever learned this lesson harder than watching a Rhystic Study hit the table. That being said, ensuring that you properly allocate your resources comes first; usually, the player who casts the first-turn Sol Ring and has a follow-up play with it is the one to watch out for, but keep in mind if you remove their resources and suddenly someone else is the threat, don’t keep kicking them when they’re down; make sure you assess the threat density of the table appropriately as the landscape of the game evolves.

Magic has a beautiful tendency to create cards that are proactive, reactive, and not totally dead all at the same time. Let’s backpedal to Jhoira of the Ghitu for the moment; while terrifying, you can play things like Pithing Needle and Nevermore, which are cheap and effective, or you can play things like Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir or Linvala, Keeper of Silence to stop her as well. While the former two are a little inflexible in that Pithing Needle is only really good as a Trinket Mage target in a vacuum (you won’t always be playing against a general with an activated ability), and Nevermore is an awkward card on its own, Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir has the bonus of stopping opponents’ other spells (like counterspells), and Linvala, Keeper of Silence doesn’t restrict you to naming a card (by joshua). While I realize these latter two are expensive to invest in, it’s merely an example to show that if you really want to stop specific strategies, there are ways to do it without the cards being dead draws in other matchups if the consistency of your strategy is something you value.

The biggest answer to the question of “X card is starting to show up in my meta and I need to beat it” is “run more removal for it”. I will tell people until the end of time, it’s as easy as shoving Swords to Plowshares, Cyclonic Rift, Grave Pact, Chaos Warp or Beast Within in your deck and calling it a day. Running your deck entirely proactively without at least some room for spells that react to a potentially more proactive deck than yours is just asking for those decks to show up and destroy you.

For reference, I’ll give you a nice little list of spells you can run as potential removal, to save you the trouble of looking them up:

-Swords to Plowshares
-Path to Exile
-Oblation
-Cyclonic Rift
-Capsize
-Rapid Hybridization
-Grave Pact
-Ashes to Ashes
-Fleshbag Marauder
-Chaos Warp
-Aftershock
-Wild Ricochet
-Beast Within
-Krosan Grip
-Desert Twister

If you’re running removal in your deck and you still get steamrolled, maybe your opponent did draw well. Maybe you drew terribly. Maybe you wasted your removal spell on something you didn’t need to. If you want to better yourself as a player, though, and break through a bad losing streak in your metagame, consider why you lose the games you lose, and what you can do to make your deck better and your draws more consistent. Maybe you need to add more removal. Maybe you just need to cut the dead cards.

That brings me to my next point, something I struggled with for the longest time. Sometimes, there’s that combination of cards we really love to draw, and have a great best-case scenario together. For example, in my Marath, Will of the Wild deck, I used to run a Goblin Welder alongside Wurmcoil Engine and Solemn Simulacrum. While I didn’t mind drawing it after I had the latter two, on its own, it was extremely weak, and ended up just being cast as a 1/1 blocker while I was behind. Mind you, when ahead, I was constantly swapping those two artifact creatures and making a bunch of tokens with Seedborn Muse and Doubling Season, but overall, I found that its worst-case happened far more often than its best-case, and it just slowly found itself becoming the worst card in the deck.

Sometimes, we just have to understand that cards like that just don’t have a place in our EDH decks. While the card is powerful, narrow, swingy cards that do absolutely nothing when you’re behind ultimately are the first cards you cut from your deck. Anything that depends on anything else already being in play ultimately falls by the wayside when you want to improve the consistency of your deck.

There’s also a case to be made about redundancy. I’m without a doubt the type of Magic player who would rather run a bunch of silver bullets and tutor them all than be bothered to run three variants of Acidic Slime. While removal has a bit of leeway from this argument, there’s something to be said when you hold 3 cards that all have to wait for your opponent to play something for the card to be good. Running cards that remove different things in different ways, or are more flexible in their targets, are the best types of removal to consider, in my opinion, as they’re rarely ever dead, and if you draw multiple removal spells, you have the opportunity to answer multiple things as opposed to answering the same thing multiple times.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

This article is merely something to consider. Overall, I’ve heard a lot of complaints about a lot of things, whether it be blue, combo, or some unfair card or another. I wrote this as an answer to the outcry of problems people seem to have, because it’s really that simple: make your deck better. I’ve gotten to the point where my Marath, Will of the Wild list has a “sideboard” of cards that are only really powerful in certain matchups but fall flat in others, and I just put them back in the deck as the metagame shifts. Learning how to adapt to the playstyles of the people around you is the first step you can take if you want to win, or at the very least, have a significantly less miserable experience playing against certain strategies.

Remember, for every problem in Magic, there’s a solution.

Next week begins Let’s Build Month. Until then!
~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

Guidance:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2548

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
M15 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3174

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
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
Part 18 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3181

Let’s Talk Conspiracy:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3138

Let’s Talk Journey into Nyx:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3015
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3030

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

Let’s Talk M15:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3159
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3167

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

Oh My God:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3118

Painting a Target:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2631

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

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

Stacking Up Commander 2013:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2561

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

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
Five-Color - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3156
Golgari - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2760
Grixis – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2984
Gruul - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2669
Izzet- http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2710
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:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2089

FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – LET’S BUILD PART 18

Greetings, readers! To usher in my month-long string of content based on my Let’s Build series, I’m putting the series’ routine end-of-the-month entry. For those unaware, the Let’s Build series focuses on breaking down the deckbuilding process, highlighting specific generals or strategies and the card choices involved with each.

This week wraps up my month-long dedication to articles on Magic’s newest expansion, the 2015 Core Set, by talking about a general from the set I’m sure has been on a lot of people’s radars, Sliver Hivelord.

A lot of people might question why I chose the Hivelord as my focus for a Sliver deck. Arguably, Sliver Overlord is the superior general for its flexibility and raw power as a tutor. However, while the Overlord is a 7/7 for 5 that tutors, he’s not Avacyn, Angel of Hope for 5. Whereas the Overlord has more power the longer the game goes, the pressure and staying power Hivelord gives is just impossible to outright overlook, and while tutoring is powerful, ensuring the safety of your board is an option to at least consider, and it’s one powerful enough to build a deck around, in my opinion.

Like always, we’ll first consider the advantages and disadvantages of Sliver Hivelord:

+He gives an effect that’s absolutely busted at 8 mana, at 5 mana.
+General damage is extremely easy to punch through with multiple enablers for evasion and insane damage
+You have both pressure and board control through various effects that both boost your damage and remove opposing resources
+With all five colors at your disposal, you have access to cards such as Prophet of Kruphix, Maelstrom Nexus and Maze’s End
+Cavern of Souls is not just a one-trick pony in your deck

-Being as dependent on sticking your general as you are, Hinder and Chaos Warp are not your friends
-Not being able to reliably cast Hivelord until turn 5 can be a pain as your blue matchup is subpar without Root Sliver
-You have a pretty wild best-case/worst-case, as some Slivers, while silver-bullet in nature, can fall flat in certain matchups
-Often times, you can find yourself running out of spells to cast without some sort of draw outlet

Obviously, the good outweighs the bad, but the list I’ve created is aggressive through and through, so the typical outs to your aggro matchups can seriously screw with you. That being said, this deck can do a ton of damage incredibly fast, so decks that spend their first few turns screwing around not doing much can get blown out by how quickly you can deplete life totals.

CHOOSING YOUR GENERAL

Sliver Hivelord, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

Hivelord, unlike its legendary kin, fits an aggressive playstyle much more fluidly. While Sliver Legion has superior pressure, what it lacks is staying power, making it fall flat to a Wrath of God. Staying power goes a long way in maintaining pressure and momentum throughout a game, and I can’t reiterate enough how insane getting Avacyn, Angel of Hope for 5 mana is.

With all of the collateral effects every other Sliver you play pumping the Hivelord, it’s also paltry to make him a must-answer threat for your opponents. When ahead, you’re almost impossible to stop, as a fast Sliver Hivelord cast into Crystalline Sliver as a followup makes the options your opponents have few and far between when it comes to stopping you.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH THE DECK?

The goal of this deck, like many other aggro decks, is to cast a consistent stream of threats while maintaining the pressure required to kill the table. Usually, consistent draws will bury the table in a ton of damage extremely quickly, whereas at the very least, inconsistent draws will still have you casting your general and attacking and blocking with an indestructible army of Slivers.

Overall, spamming the board with Slivers and having each give the rest an absurd ability on offense or defense is the typical game plan, and there are certain Slivers that accentuate both the offensive and defensive abilities, letting you play both game plans pretty seamlessly. As the game goes on, interaction with you can get harder and harder, though there are still things like Terminus or Cyclonic Rift that can screw your board up pretty hard.

CARD CHOICES

As an aggressive Sliver shell, the first thing we’ll establish is the Slivers which allow for a more offensive line of play through attacking, evading opponent’s blockers, or just allowing fast starts.

In-
Bonescythe Sliver
Bonesplitter Sliver
Brood Sliver
Essence Sliver
Frenzy Sliver
Galerider Sliver
Gemhide Sliver
Heart Sliver
Leeching Sliver
Manaweft Sliver
Megantic Sliver
Might Sliver
Mirror Entity
Muscle Sliver
Predatory Sliver
Sedge Sliver
Shadow Sliver
Shifting Sliver
Sidewinder Sliver
Sinew Sliver
Synapse Sliver
Syphon Sliver
Thorncaster Sliver
Two-Headed Sliver

Next, we establish the more defensive, utility, and removal Slivers, used to disrupt and defend against the opposition.

In-
Constricting Sliver
Crystalline Sliver
Darkheart Sliver
Diffusion Sliver
Harmonic Sliver
Homing Sliver
Hunter Sliver
Necrotic Sliver
Quick Sliver
Quilled Sliver
Root Sliver
Sliver Overlord

Of course, as good as Slivers themselves are, the deck runs a few specific non-Sliver creatures to accentuate both the offensive and defensive lines of play the deck can make.

In-
Athreos, God of Passage
Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Erebos, God of the Dead
Iroas, God of Victory
Mother of Runes
Novablast Wurm
Prophet of Kruphix
Sigarda, Host of Herons
Trygon Predator

Of course, the deck is backed by a few choice noncreature spells as well, either to accelerate the mana or help remove problem permanents from the board.

In-
Austere Command
Genesis Wave
Patriarch’s Bidding
Wargate
Cyclonic Rift
Swords to Plowshares
Worldly Tutor
Chromatic Lantern
Darksteel Ingot
Fellwar Stone
Sol Ring
Maelstrom Nexus
Mirari’s Wake
Garruk, Caller of Beasts

Now that we’ve established the spells, we move onto the lands. As always, the color enablers come first.

In-
Ancient Ziggurat
Arcane Sanctum
Azorius Guildgate
Boros Guildgate
Cavern of Souls
City of Brass
Command Tower
Crumbling Necropolis
Crystal Quarry
Dimir Guildgate
Evolving Wilds
Exotic Orchard
Golgari Guildgate
Gruul Guildgate
Izzet Guildgate
Jungle Shrine
Maze’s End
Orzhov Guildgate
Rakdos Guildgate
Reflecting Pool
Savage Lands
Seaside Citadel
Selesnya Guildgate
Simic Guildgate
Sliver Hive
Terramorphic Expanse

Past that, there are the utility lands as well.

In-
Alchemist’s Refuge
Bojuka Bog
Homeward Path
Tolaria West
Vault of the Archangel
Windbrisk Heights

Lastly, we establish the basics!

In-
Plains
Island
Swamp
Mountain
Forest

And with that, we’ve arrived at the final product!

Sliver Aggro EDH

General (1)
Creatures (48)
Sorceries (4)
Instants (3)
Artifacts (4)
Enchantments (2)
Planeswalkers (1)
Basic Lands (5)
Nonbasic Lands (32)

(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 TappedOut here.)

CLOSING THOUGHTS

And there you have it, my take on a Sliver Hivelord EDH deck! Next week will be my first entry into Let’s Build Month, so I’ll be taking consensus from you, the readers, to decide which four generals or cards to build around! Until then!
~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

Guidance:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2548

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
M15 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3174

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
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:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3138

Let’s Talk Journey into Nyx:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3015
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3030

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

Let’s Talk M15:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3159
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3167

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

Oh My God:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3118

Painting a Target:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2631

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

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

Stacking Up Commander 2013:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2561

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

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
Five-Color - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3156
Golgari - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2760
Grixis – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2984
Gruul - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2669
Izzet- http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2710
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:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2089

FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – THE HITS AND MISSES OF MAGIC 2015

Greetings, readers! This week, I take my seasonal look at Magic’s newest expansion from an EDH perspective and rank the top 10 biggest flops and the top 10 biggest superstars of any given set. Through these articles, I hope I give you, the reader, some insight on potential additions to your lists, even though I will be the first to admit I’ve made some inaccurate assumptions.

Before going over each hit and miss individually, I’ll say that M15 as a whole thoroughly impressed me. While I’m sure the hype will wear off in time, there’s a lot of power in this set, something unheard of for the yearly Core Set (which is mostly just strange reprints for Standard’s sake), which is refreshing to see, since most people gloss over the Core Set, dismissing it as a miserable necessity. For once, WotC has managed to make the Core Set worth talking about.

Before I get into the review, like with M14, I won’t be discussing reprints. (Assume Chord of Calling is great, anyway. Because it is.) But what I will be discussing is new cards, starting with the misses as always. We begin with:

#10 – Avacyn, Guardian Angel

Avacyn, Guardian Angel, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

Avacyn isn’t particularly a terrible card objectively; it’s subjectively where she falters. The shoes of her original incarnation, Avacyn, Angel of Hope are extremely difficult to fill, and the Guardian Angel just doesn’t get you there. Another problem Avacyn has is her inability to protect herself, making her otherwise stellar ability to be a powerful Voltron general. That’s not to say she doesn’t have merit as a defensive brick wall once you hit 7, but she still dies to commonly-played removal and can’t protect herself, which is really detrimental no matter how you look at it.

#9 – Soul of Zendikar

Soul of Zendikar, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

What I find about Soul of Zendikar is that it has an extreme best-case / worst-case scenario. Best-case, it’s a win-more beater who makes more beaters and closes out the game quickly and effectively. Worst-case, you’re Time Walking yourself as you hopelessly overextend into Wrath of God. What it comes down to at the end of the day is that Soul of Zendikar is incredibly weak–much more than its bretheren–once it’s in the graveyard. While it’s not the worst of the cycle due to its strong best-case (and all six are on here in some form or fashion), it’s by far not the best, and if you want to be doing this sort of effect, you’re likely playing Craterhoof Behemoth, so just play Ant Queen instead.

#8 – Return to the Ranks

Return to the Ranks, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

Return to the Ranks seems like a cool card in theory, but like many cards that end up on the Misses side of these Hits and Misses lists, what makes the card fall flat is how poorly it stacks up against cards that do similar or better effects. If you want a mass recursion engine in white, you’re almost assuredly playing black as well, where Shirei, Death’s Caretaker, Immortal Servitude, Debtors’ Knell, Sheoldred, Whispering One and the like will serve you better. Even in mono-white, Sun Titan and Order of Whiteclay will outperform this a lot of the time. If you’re running a tribal theme or a reanimator shell, Living Death, Twilight’s Call and Patriarch’s Bidding will also outperform this. With so many better options, Return to the Ranks finds itself getting edged out quickly, making it the victim of an easy cut at the end of the day.

#7 – Soul of Ravnica

Soul of Ravnica, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

Soul of Ravnica‘s biggest issue, I’ve found, is its inability to function except in extreme niche situations. What I think of when I see this card is “If you ever get to activate this card, doesn’t that just make it win-more in nature?” I understand draw engines are for the most part necessary, but I find that it relies too heavily on having other permanents in play to be effective. On its own, it’s still a 6/6 flier for 6, which is certainly powerful, but when you stack this up against Consecrated Sphinx, unless you control something like Prophet of Kruphix, Maelstrom Nexus, and 14+ lands, it just feels inferior to the Sphinx to me, and if you’re in that situation, you’re probably winning without much help from Soul of Ravnica.

#6 – Soul of Innistrad

Soul of Innistrad, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

Explaining how bad Soul of Innistrad is is rather difficult, to be honest, because it’s extremely simple to see why. Stack it up against Sheoldred, Whispering One, that’s literally it. It’s a big, dumb beater who really doesn’t do anything to immediately impact the board and gives you incredibly slow card advantage. As an attacker, it’s significantly worse than Grave Titan. As recursion, it’s significantly worse than Sheoldred, Whispering One. As card advantage, it’s arguably significantly worse than Harvester of Souls. For a cycle of cards seemingly designed for EDH, I find it strange that they decided to make half of them so bad.

#5 – Indulgent Tormentor

Indulgent Tormentor, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

M15′s misses might as well just be a collection of “You could play this, or you could just play this other card that’s just better.” You can look at it in a different light, I suppose, and see it as a miniature Sheoldred, Whispering One, but honestly, it’s the fact that it only works on your upkeep, and the fact that it’s a choice, that make its effects stack up poorly. It feels strictly inferior to Bloodgift Demon, because in almost every scenario, you want to just draw the card, so you’ll hang the trigger over the head of the opponent who won’t sacrifice the creature or take 3. That’s another thing; paying 3 life seems like the go-to option in EDH, and the fact that you can’t do this to every opponent makes it incredibly sub-par.

#4 – Jace, the Living Guildpact

Jace, the Living Guildpact, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

I tried to defend Jace, I really did. I thought the fact that he played well with Doubling Season and started at essentially 6 loyalty was worth it. I was wrong. Jace does little to alleviate pressure, and while he creates decent tempo, Jace, the Mind Sculptor creates superior tempo at a much less prohibitive cost, and while the library manipulation is cute, it’s really hard to protect this Jace, as his ultimate is a strong enough threat to warrant wayward aggro. As far as Jaces go, while Jace, Memory Adept has worse overall abilities to offer, it at least does some justice by replacing itself. If you +1 this Jace and it immediately dies, all you’ll have essentially done is gain life, which is not something you want to be doing when you cast a Planeswalker.

#3 – Aggressive Mining

Aggressive Mining, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

As much as I want to like a card Markus Persson designed, I have to really say that Aggressive Mining is just a bad card. It has a great best-case; you control effects that do the work for you and put all your lands into play (Manabond, Sakura-Tribe Scout, etc.), but really, I’ve found especially recently that when you look to cut a card from a deck, the first things you look for are what are called “dependents”–cards that require other cards to do anything. I mean, if you’re a combo deck and you just need to dig (and you had best believe going there was entirely necessary), I can understand that, but there are better options for doing so, I think. Ultimately, limiting the controller to not being able to play lands killed any chance this card had at being playable.

#2 – Resolute Archangel

Resolute Archangel, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

Now, I don’t think it’s a big secret to anyone that I’m no fan of lifegain effects. Cards that do nothing but essentially gain you life are not exactly cards I particularly enjoy playing. Granted, I played a Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice deck for the longest time–a list which featured four Soul Warden variants–but that’s partially why I’ve grown to hate effects like this. Let me just reiterate that unless you are in a down-to-the-wire race with an opponent, gaining life is never going to be relevant. Life is the one resource in the game that only matters when you have extremely little of it. How many cards you have in your hand and how many permanents you control will always be much more relevant resources, and while this is a 4/4 flier, it costs 7 mana, and dies to a Luminarch Ascension activation. I realized there is some minor worth in a flicker list, where you can use her as a defensive brick wall to prevent your opponent from sticking combat damage, but let me remind you that general damage, and more importantly, removal, are very real things, and if you can survive and outrace anyone with something as cheesy as this, they need to reevaluate their game plan against you.

#1 – Mercurial Pretender

Mercurial Pretender, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

I recall writing up last week’s article, my Limited review for the set, and thinking to myself “Blue gets a 5-mana Sakashima the Impostor; that’s actually rather solid!”. Then I read the card and realized it only copies creatures you control, and instantly gave up all hope. Being able to only copy the creatures you control is hopelessly win-more, and while it has the ability to protect itself at the very least, it seriously loses an absurd amount of flexibility. People play Clone and its ilk to control creatures beyond the realm of the colors they’re forced to play. This just shoehorns you into having a second copy of something you already have: if you get a good target, this is win-more; if you have a bad target, this is useless. Being able to bounce it changes nothing aside from the fact that if you have a lot of mana, it’s a great blocker…for one creature.

Okay, now that we’ve gotten past the bad, we can move onto the good! Let’s get right into the hits of the set, beginning with:

#10 – Hushwing Gryff

Hushwing Gryff, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

Maybe I’m being a little speculative here. (I feel like this is where I screw up the most, because I used speculation to fuel my bases for a lot of my previous reviews, and I’m trying to be a bit more careful this time around, and not giving too much to the cards I think are the best in a vaccuum.) I don’t exactly know which decks would benefit the most from having a Torpor Orb on legs, but I just see someone casting this in response to a Tooth and Nail and causing that player to tank. That sort of interactive play makes me appreciate a card like this, and while it’s hard to speculate on what kind of home a card like this can find, it has the potential to be extremely powerful, but I won’t deny it has similar potential to be entirely ignored. While Torpor Orb is a strong card, few strategies can afford to run it, with ETB’s getting better and better.

#9 – Waste Not

Waste Not, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

Waste Not finds itself at the opposite end of the spectrum; while its use isn’t nearly as widespread, its power and homes are as clear as day. Nath of the Gilt-Leaf and Nekusar, the Mindrazer are two strategies that will absolutely adore having this. The sheer value of being able to turn your opponent’s cards against them is absolutely brilliant, and my hat goes off to whoever in the community pitched this idea to Wizards. The potential for combo is there with the land clause, admittedly, but it just adds so much value to discard spells that blow Megrim and Liliana’s Caress out of the water.

#8 – Perilous Vault

Perilous Vault, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

Perilous Vault, like Coercive Portal before it, is a move by Wizards I enjoy; introducing more colorless sweepers to the format. Honestly, Nevinyrral’s Disk is such a miserable card to be forced to play, and while you lose the ability to access the resources you lose to this from your graveyard, your opponent does as well, and there are very few situations in which you’ll activate this and lose more resources than your opponents will, which are what give sweepers such high value. In addition, exiling gets around Avacyn, Angel of Hope, Darksteel Plate and other such shenanigans, which add to its value.

#7 – Ajani Steadfast

Ajani Steadfast, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

See, now while I’m not a fan of most lifegain cards, Ajani has something about him that makes him a lot more powerful than those; he can do something other than just gain life. While this Ajani is very much dependent on having creatures or Planeswalkers out, he does a very good job of protecting himself with just a single creature, as you’re allowed to race your opponents with your attackers and keep the best one as a blocker. If they’re not attacking Ajani, they’re attacking you, and your best creature is gaining you a bunch of life to combat that. If your army is large enough, Ajani can opt to just make them that much more powerful, and while the ability in that sense fails to evocate his original incarnation, Ajani Goldmane, where this Ajani succeeds is his emblem; much like Venser, the Sojourner or Elspeth, Knight-Errant, his emblem is impossibly difficult to break through, and Doubling Season makes it a frightening possibility. That’s not to mention just how well he plays with other Planeswalkers, being one of the first effects to place loyalty counters on other Planeswalkers specifically. Overall, Ajani brings a fair amount to the table, I find, and has merit in a few strategies as a powerful enabler and has great potential in a creature-based goodstuff list.

#6 – Soul of Theros

Soul of Theros, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

Like Ajani, Soul of Theros is the type of lifegain effect I can get behind. Untapping with this is indicative of a won game, as the life you’re inevitably gaining from a single activation is astronomical in the right board state; not to mention the fact that your creatures are becoming brick walls on both offense and defense. Alongside Heliod, God of the Sun and Iroas, God of Victory, this thing just seems absurd, and I’m not going to lie and say I haven’t considered it as a top-end finisher in Marath, Will of the Wild. Tokens and any value creature, particularly deathtouch or power-matters ones, will very much enjoy a boost from Soul of Theros, and while it definitely feels win-more on the surface, it’s an absolutely fine creature on its own, as it will attack into as well as block a large portion of the format with impunity, and its activation is threatening both on-board and from the graveyard as well.

#5 – Soul of Shandalar

Soul of Shandalar, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

Let me just give you one piece of information that you’ll need to evaluate this card’s worth in EDH with; this thing can beat Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite by itself. Not many creatures without the innate ability to remove a creature on its own can say that, and while Shandalar can innately remove Elesh Norn, if you can muster 21 mana to zap an Elesh Norn, something must be going wrong. This thing is an absolute nightmare to block or attack into, and is actually an extremely impressive sink, as you can activate this into a hexproof board due to its wording, and a sink that doubles as removal and pressure is always going to be useful. While its ability isn’t as relevant in a graveyard, it still has a ton of value, arguably more than most of its kin.

#4 – Yisan, the Wanderer Bard

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

Now, while I’m certainly the biggest fan of this card you’ll likely ever see, Birthing Pod the creature is not without its weaknesses. The first and most glaring is that summoning sickness is a mechanic in Magic that exists, and having to untap with this thing is a painfully slow process. The second is that you can’t drop this and immediately tutor something that costs 4 or more (unless you control both Doubling Season and Vorel of the Hull Clade), but as a proponent of Serra Ascendant, I’ve never really considered that to be that big of an issue. Yisan’s interactions are endless, from the manipulation of its counters with Doubling Season to untapping it with Kiora’s Follower or Thousand-Year Elixir, or controlling Seedborn Muse or Prophet of Kruphix and just getting something on everyone’s turn. I still have yet to pick up my copies, but rest assured that when I do, I’ll be continuing to sing the praises of Solid Snake Bard forever. Easily my favorite card of the set by a fairly wide margin, but I understand not every deck can simply jam it in and call it a day; you have to actually be able to interact with it to make it good, otherwise it’s slow. Even at its worst, it can still get you there eventually, though, which means it’ll never not have value if your deck gives it a little leeway.

#3 – Ob Nixilis, Unshackled

Ob Nixilis, Unshackled, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

God, do I hate this thing. I hate it so much. I hate it because it’s absurdly powerful, it’s splashy, and some jerkwad is going to jam it into their deck because it has the potential to screw people. Spoiler alert: that someone will 99.8% of the time be me, and I will hate you forever for it. Try Path to Exile on an opponent while this is out and see how they like the prospect of the price of Rampant Growthing. Or slap a Darksteel Plate on this and cast Wrath of God. Overall, whether you play him as an absurd hoser or a giant beater, he has the power to do both extremely effectively, making him one of the set’s all-star cards overall.

#2 – Sliver Hivelord

Sliver Hivelord, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

The subject of next week’s Let’s Build article, which will herald a 5 week-long string of content dedicated to the series, Sliver Hivelord is a card I vastly undervalued at first. While I correctly valued it as a cornerstone of the Sliver strategy, what I failed to understand was just how much you wanted this in play at every juncture of the game, and how powerful a general a 5-mana Avacyn, Angel of Hope actually is. In addition, Slivers aren’t exactly lacking in their ability to become evasive or threatening, given their vast array of pump and evasion effects, so not only is it possible to easily push through 21 general damage, but a mass aggro deck for the Hivelord is also extremely easy to conjure. Giving indestructibility is an ability so imperative to breaking the tribe wide open in the format (they previously had a pretty rough go against Wrath of God beforehand) that we may very well see a return of the Hive in the coming months. Time will tell, I suppose.

#1 – Soul of New Phyrexia

Soul of New Phyrexia, Magic, Magic 2015 (M15)

I don’t think the news that Soul of New Phyrexia is an absurd powerhouse in EDH is lost on most people. It’s a rather absurd creature if you ever untap with it, it has insane value even in your graveyard, and any deck can run it, so if you value specific permanents being in play or just making your creatures stick, run this and be done with it. While it’s not exactly Avacyn, Angel of Hope, it evokes her absurd power in a way where everyone gets a piece of the color pie here, and it’s actually a rather stupid card to fight against if you can’t muster an exile effect for it.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

There you have it, my thoughts for the best and worst of M15! Next week will be my Let’s Build entry for the month, focusing on Sliver Hivelord, and then I’ll be going into my delayed Let’s Build month, focusing on entries from you, the readers! Stay tuned!
~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

Guidance:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2548

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:
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
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:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3138

Let’s Talk Journey into Nyx:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3015
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3030

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

Let’s Talk M15:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3159
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3167

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

Oh My God:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3118

Painting a Target:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2631

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

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

Stacking Up Commander 2013:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2561

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

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
Five-Color - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3156
Golgari - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2760
Grixis – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2984
Gruul - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2669
Izzet- http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2710
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:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2089

FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – LET’S TALK M15, PART 2

Greetings readers! This week, I’m continuing my string of content on M15 by giving a second review of the set. However, I’ve made a grievous error in my timing for writing this article, as M15 was spoiled in almost its entirety as of last week, so with the rest of the set spoiled and not much else to talk about, I decided I’d make this article more about Limited than EDH. Shocking, I know, but at this point I think I’ve gained the right to take the time to make a lengthy discussion about Limited.

Speaking of Limited, it’s that time of the season again; prerelease time! Rather than post times, I’ll just copy the image my benefactors at the CG Realm have posted as a reference to this weekend’s events:

Be sure to come out and support your local game stores!

Moving on, this week I’ve decided to take the time to discuss M15 from a Limited perspective. Having won the last two major prerelease events (I can only hope I place similarly well this upcoming Friday. Fingers crossed!), I feel I am in a good position to educate others on the format, so in this article, I’m going to be going over the bombs you may be running into at the prerelease events, and how to evaluate them when playing them, and how to deal with them playing against them. I’m not going to waste too much of your time by going over every single rare, but most of the noteworthy ones. Mythics are for the most part auto-include if they’re not Sliver Hivelord or The Chain Veil.

I feel that the biggest key to winning a Limited event is to know what to expect from your opponents. Knowing what promos your opponents are playing, and expecting common and uncommon creatures and tricks are things that need to be taken into account when playing this Limited format. Granted, like in most Core Set Limited formats, luck is a huge factor; while balance is a factor, it’s arguably less so than in the expansions. If you open a Soul, you’re almost assuredly playing it unless your pool literally can’t support it.

WHITE:

Avacyn, while not her original incarnation, Avacyn, Angel of Hope, is actually an absurd bomb in Limited. While she has a steep, restrictive casting cost, she’s a powerful body at 5/4 with flying and vigilance for 5, and her abilities are extremely potent on offense or defense. Her first activated ability allows her to basically make creatures indestructible, reminiscent of her first incarnation, and her second ability makes it virtually impossible for your opponent to break through. Oppressive Rays, Encrust, Flesh to Dust and Pillar of Light are good answers for her at common (Encrust doesn’t tap her, but it prevents her from making creatures invincible), and she’s not unbeatable, but she is extremely tough to break through.

Spectra Ward, on the other hand, breaks stalls and adds pressure to a board state, in addition to making even the most mediocre creature extremely threatening. Mind you, Tyrant’s Machine still deals with the enchanted creature, and there are many post-board answers for it (Back to Nature, Naturalize, Solemn Offering, Reclamantion Sage). That being said, Heliod’s Pilgrim is at common, and giving this to a flier just seems gravy. Careful an aggressive start doesn’t get you buried by this card.

White’s promo, Resolute Archangel, is a card that’s painful to evaluate for a Limited format. It has value in a race, and it screws over decks running things like Lava Axe pretty hard, but Netcaster Spider, a 3-mana common creature, effectively walls your 7-mana “bomb rare”. If something about that doesn’t bother you, I don’t know what to tell you, to be honest. Granted, I like its interaction with Roaring Primadox a fair amount, and I’d play the card in most situations, but it seems a tad overcosted for its stats. A single point of toughness wouldn’t have really made that much of a difference, in my opinion, but as is, it just feels underwhelming.

BLUE:

I don’t know about you, but I prefer my 4/4 fliers costing 5, don’t you? I also prefer when they do something other than gain you life. Granted, anyone who guesses over 4 is doing it wrong, but there is the real chance that you can just cast some superbomb for free. That comes down to luck a lot of the time, but if you have a half-decent curve, there will be few instances where you’ll have something more than 4 to cast with this. Needless to say, this is a bomb rare at its best, and while luck is a huge part of getting a trigger out of it, it’s something you can’t outright ignore.

Lorescale Coatl got a massive upgrade. This thing is downright terrifying in a stalled board state, as it will inevitably tower over your blockers soon enough. Killing it isn’t enough, either, as if you don’t kill it fast enough, it produces an army of octopi that will Overwhelm you (I know, I’m too clever.) It looks underwhelming on the surface, but this thing gets pretty scary pretty quick, especially when cast on turn 3. There’s a fair amount of removal that can deal with it; Festergloom and Forge Devil can snipe it fast, and Pillar of Light can stop it cold once it gets large, but if you aren’t playing red, good luck finding the proper answer for this thing.

Having a Clone effect as your promo is always going to be powerful, even though it comes at the cost of not being able to Clone your opponent’s creatures. Granted, this one has the potential to backfire on you if the best thing on the board is a vanilla 3/3, and an opponent removing what you intend to Clone in response to casting this is downright miserable. You have the safety net of the added ability to self-bounce, which actually gives it credence as a decent Clone effect overall, but with how durdly the set can be (you cast bears and bombs, I’ve surmised), this is either the best or worst card in your deck. While it has great best-case, its worst case is impossible to ignore.

BLACK:

Ob Nixilis, while clearly designed for EDH, has some real worth in Limited as well. Very few effects in Limited really search your library (you could potentially be against the Aura subtheme deck, but they’ll have cast their Heliod’s Pilgrims before the ability is relevant), but it’s more the fact that it’s a 4/4 flying trample creature for 6 that grows whenever a creature dies that makes it such a bomb in Limited. It’s something that you can’t outright ignore, because black is notorious for having its removal (though, oddly enough, no Doom Blade this time around; something I found rather jarring, in all honesty), and the threat of potential growth at instant speed can make his ability an interesting combat trick as well. Your opponent blocks him, you remove the blocker and trample over that much harder!

Cruel Sadist, like Chronomaton before it, has the ability to come down turn 1 and threaten a large amount of damage if left alone. Mind you, the 1 life makes it stack poorly against the uncommon construct of old in theory, but when you consider Cruel Sadist doesn’t die to Smelt, things look up for it. It’s a card that’s unwise to underestimate, because it can just give itself a bunch of ammo and eventually remove any ridiculous bomb you play, which makes it quite valuable. In addition, it has decent synergy with Living Totem, as well as Eternal Thirst.

Black’s promo is more and more evidence that putting the decision in your opponent’s hands is never going to be for your benefit. Mind you, none of the choices your opponent has are particularly attractive, but this just seems outright pitiful against the token subtheme M15 brings with itself. In addition, while 5 power for 5 mana and flying has the potential to just end people, 3 toughness on the back of that means a fair few commons and uncommons can go toe-to-toe with it. It’s powerful, and it has a fair amount of incremental value, but it’s not particularly suited to survive, and historically, cards that give your opponents a choice have never been very powerful.

RED:

While an Aura at the end of the day and just asking to get 2-for-1′d, this card does an absurd amount of work if it sticks. That’s not to mention if you stick it on one of the random deathtouch creatures this set graces us with, which is just disgustingly powerful in Limited. It’s very clearly got its weaknesses, but the longer you can keep this around, the more hard-pressed your opponent will be to muster a counterattack against you, even if they do end up removing it eventually. By then, it might just be too late for them.

This little explosives expert is an easy pick for me as a slept-on rare of the set. There is an unquestioned factor of luck that plays into how useful the Kaboomist will be, but Inferno Fist is a card I wouldn’t cut, so I similarly wouldn’t cut this. At its worst, it produces one mine and you remove their early attacker. At its best, you control Paragon of Fierce Defiance, and you drown your opponent’s army in a field of explosives.

Red’s promo, Siege Dragon, is best described as…awkward. It’s powerful, that’s for sure, but one thing I’ve noticed is that while it’s nice to have an unblocked 5/5 flier, most Walls in this set lack the ability to block it, and you always want to be Pyroclasming their board when this attacks. That being said, the Walls in this set are also for the most part all solid blockers, so you’ll at least get 1 or 2 per event you sleeve this up for. It’s bomby, being a 5/5 flier, but if you go red, it may very well be one of the few bombs you open. (Most of red’s rares are where the misses of the set lie, which I’ll cover in next week’s Hits & Misses article.)

GREEN:

Mind you, Kalonian Twingrove has the potential to be paltry when you first cast it (because on average you’ll have 3 Forests when you cast this on the sixth turn), but the potential for both it and its token to grow out of control quickly is what makes it such a powerhouse. In addition, your opponent has double the Twingrove to worry about, and while it lacks trample, it makes up for in being able to crush just about anything it attacks into, and is a superb topdeck in the lategame.

Hornet Queen might not seem impressive on the surface, as its stats are rather paltry, but Hornet Queen‘s worth as one of the most disgusting defensive brick walls to break through is unreal. Paired up with blue, you also gain access to Into the Void, Peel from Reality and Quickling, which allow you to self-bounce and replay the Hornet Queen for more bugs. She’s arguably one of the best cards to pair with Overwhelm in the set, and she does a ridiculous amount of work at keeping your opponent’s offenses at bay.

Green’s promo, Phytotitan, has a lot of merits. First of all, opening it alongside Life’s Legacy is nothing short of hilarious. Second of all, it dodges an otherwise fatal opponent in Pillar of Light (though it doesn’t dodge Dissipate). While it’s relatively easy to block (especially with a first strike blocker), it has pretty easy potential to bury your opponent over time, as it doesn’t ever fear death, so you can swing with impunity with the hopes that you’ll eventually bury your opponent in the combat advantage it provides. Ignoring it is something you’re rarely, if ever granted the privilege from in this format, and while counterplay options for it do definitely exist, they’re few and far between.

COLORLESS:

Scuttling Doom Engine is actually a rather ridiculous bomb, and I’m surprised they went ahead with this one. It has pseudo-evasion, as your opponent can’t just chump block it forever (unless they have a Soul of Zendikar), and you can’t just Naturalize it and call it a day, because you’ll take 6. In addition to that, it has 6/6 stats on a 6-mana body, which is unheard of in a set not dedicated to artifacts. Regardless, a bomb that doesn’t require color commitment is a dream for Draft and even in Sealed can do an absurd amount of work.

Don’t for a second underestimate how powerful this card is. At 1/2, it’s a better Darksteel Plate in almost every Limited circumstance, as short of Soul of Innistrad, nothing is going to be able to kill what this is attached to. While it seems a little wonky, it makes combat for your opponents a nightmare, as they’ll have to throw multiple blockers in front of a 3/3 in order to kill it, and the right combat trick can spell doom for your opponents. Like the Doom Engine, draft this card early and often, as especially in white-based decks, this can just be a more powerful Darksteel Plate.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

That’s it for my review of some of the bomb and sleeper rares of M15 for Limited! Next week will conclude my review of the set with my Hits & Misses entry, so stay tuned for that! Until then!
~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

Guidance:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2548

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:
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
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:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3138

Let’s Talk Journey into Nyx:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3015
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3030

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

Let’s Talk M15:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3159

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

Oh My God:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3118

Painting a Target:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2631

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

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

Stacking Up Commander 2013:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2561

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

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
Five-Color - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3156
Golgari - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2760
Grixis – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2984
Gruul - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2669
Izzet- http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2710
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:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2089

FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – LET’S TALK M15, PART 1

Greetings, readers! I’ve postponed my month of Let’s Build articles in favor of discussing the 2015 Core Set this month. Usually, Core Sets are uneventful, mostly being reprints and basic things that Standard requires, but this year, the Core Set brings EDH a lot of new toys for once, which is equal parts surprising and refreshing. Without further ado, let’s jump right into the spoilers:

The first batch of spoilers I’ll discuss here will be the Soul cycle, which are all nigh-unbeatable in Limited and do a pretty damn good job of pulling their weight as top-end finishers in EDH. Sinks are always welcome for G/X, and Soul of Theros fits right into token shells as a top-end bomb. Having vigilance as a 6/6 makes it very difficult to attack into, and his activated ability makes him impossibly hard to race.

This brings up his worth in Limited. If you don’t have a Doom Blade or a way to stop him from activating his ability, you are well and truly screwed. On its own, trading with 8 first strike damage is damn near impossible, but on top of that, the lifelink makes it stupidly difficult to race if you’re in a cluttered board state.

Removing it doesn’t even solve the problem, though; its controller can just remove it from the graveyard and get the effect when it benefits them the most, making the whole cycle just stupidly powerful in Limited in general. Soul of Theros is the hardest to race overall, which is good for Limited G/W strategies that tend to have at least one game playing the mirror where both players have 12+ creatures on board and neither are making progress on each other’s life totals.

Soul of Ravnica, while not the Standard powerhouse it was predicted to be with 3UU costs on its activated abilities, is still a very powerful engine to draw cards with in the right shell, and is a 6/6 flier for 6, making it have rather ridiculous threat density on its own. Its activated ability arguably is the weakest of the cycle as far as Limited goes, but in EDH, it has a home in any deck with three or more colors, in my opinion, as drawing 3 cards at instant speed even for a cost as heinous as 7 is still worthwhile. That being said, there really isn’t much to discuss when it comes to this one, as its abilities are bland, unexciting, and don’t mesh well with much. I suppose it wears Illusionist’s Bracers well?

Grave Titan he isn’t, but with Gravedigger getting a reprint, this thing might as well be impossible to remove in Limited. Add to that that his ability costs a paltry 5, and we have the makings of a winner. He even goes a long way in removing bombs, and in EDH, plays well with both Buried Alive and Body Double in addition to self-mill, letting you dredge yourself silly until you’ve found the creature you want to recur; even in your graveyard, he can activate his ability, and Innistrad is the soul who arguably makes the best use out of this. Mind you, deathtouch is by far the least exciting ability to slap onto this thing, as it’s not going to interact with much outside of trample, and there are few things this doesn’t already kill.

It’s no surprise that red’s gotten a lot of love lately, in the wake of an outcry for more powerful red EDH cards, and this one’s got a pretty impressive resume. First strike isn’t something you can outright ignore, as it means Kessig Wolf Runed creatures can’t trade with it, and multiple blockers have to be pretty hefty to end it. When you take into account that it can also fry the things being thrown in front of it, it doesn’t get any better for your opponent. As a huge fan of Xenagos, the Reveler, I’m strongly considering adding him to Maelstrom Wanderer, as he’s quite an impressive sink, giving an already-aggressive deck some much-needed reach, as well as spot removal. Arguably, he is the least relevant Soul in the graveyard, but a Searing Blaze is a Searing Blaze.

It perplexes me that something called “Soul of Zendikar” doesn’t have anything to do with lands, but then it likely occurred to me that just as it was about to be designed with “3GG: Search your library for a land card and put it onto the battlefield tapped.” as its activated ability instead, Sheldon Menery himself descended upon R&D and decreed he’d immediately ban it in EDH because he can’t help himself but take a giant gulp of that haterade when it comes to ramp. It’s fine, though; Iona, Shield of Emeria is a perfectly acceptable card. In Limited, any sort of pressure without resource cost is always going to be bonkers, as your opponent answers this or gets buried in tilt pigs. In EDH, strategies that want this want Craterhoof Behemoth, and are better off with Ant Queen.

What I wasn’t expecting from this cycle was a sixth variant. Soul of New Phyrexia definitely brings an ability that’s impossible to ignore to the table, as indestructibility breaks open stalls in Limited like no other. That being said, the thing with its ability that makes it somewhat underwhelming for Limited’s sake is the fact that it doesn’t add to your pressure; aside from a 6/6 trampling beater, you’re not getting much when you stack it up against the other souls. However, in EDH, the effect is arguably at its best, as mass indestructibility makes it extremely difficult to stop any offense you mount, so long as you can maintain tempo by keeping 5 mana up. The fact that it’s colorless adds to its viability, letting any deck run it, and the fact that it can make your board indestructible while in your graveyard is also quite powerful, making it an all-star.

Ajani Steadfast is something I very much enjoy from a flavor perspective; wearing the robes of his fallen friend Elspeth Tirel, protecting others and bolstering the strength of your army. He has a number of strengths that make him powerful in both Limited and EDH; you can make the largest creature on your board attack with first strike and lifelink and then block as well due to vigilance, and using it with a deathtouch creature is just nasty. (Soul of Innistrad, anyone?)

Of course, his other abilities are for the most part squarely EDH fodder. He’s more splashable than his original incarnation of Ajani Goldmane, but he’s right at home in a Doubling Season shell, where he can immediately get his emblem off and then start being a battery that bolsters your other Planeswalkers. Granted, his -2 is not to be ignored in Limited, where you’re getting a free Anthem, but for the most part, the vigilance Ajani Goldmane provides makes it superior overall. I have to admit, however, getting a Serra Avatar token and then playing Steadfast as a follow-up to give it lifelink is nothing short of hilarious. Add Xenagos, God of Revels as a haste enabler for maximum hilarity!

I think too many people have dismissed Jace. Let me put what he does in context for you. In Limited, you can sit on flying blocks and big-butt walls and draw out answers faster than your opponent. When your opponent attempts to play something, you can bounce it to your heart’s content (by swain). When you’re about to mill yourself out, use his ultimate and screw your opponent. Sure, that hinges on a good board state, but it’s the furthest thing from impossible to achieve.

EDH is where I think he’ll be at his best. He doesn’t have any threat density whatsoever, so if people are attacking him, you’re honestly gaining life at that point. He also helps deal with silly locks such as Avacyn, Angel of Hope that prevent other players from sweeping the table. And using his ultimate following an overloaded Cyclonic Rift is just disgusting.

Let me remind people; he might not be terribly impressive with the +1, but he essentially starts at 6 loyalty for 4 mana, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Nissa, on the other hand, disappoints on a number of fronts. As an upgrade to Garruk Wildspeaker in mono-green, she’s fine (unless you’re lucky enough to own a Gaea’s Cradle), and she’s quite useful with silly things like Riftstone Portal and Flagstones of Trokair, but aside from that, I’m not seeing what she does aside from makes a lot of mana. If you’re untapping four Forests, just play Vernal Bloom instead; it might help certain opponents in some situations, but your opponents can’t attack a Vernal Bloom. What bothers me most about her, I think, is her inability to interact with Doubling Season effectively. She’ll be fine in Limited, but I don’t see her having that much impact anywhere else.

As the person who spoiled Garruk to the Windsor community, I’ll reiterate for the most part what I’ve mentioned already; I feel that for 7 mana, the fact that he does a lot of things doesn’t gloss over the fact that other ‘Walkers just do what he does better. Destroying another planeswalker and another creature just seem inferior to what Vraska the Unseen does, in all honesty. While Vraska is the inferior rattlesnake, the comparisons between the two are stark on all fronts. You trade 2 mana for going up on hitting Planeswalkers, but Garruk has a very swingy ultimate if you aren’t prepared to take advantage of it yourself. I will admit, though, it has potential to impress, and the fact that it interacts quite well with Doubling Season is also commendable. The flavor of this new Garruk is also quite nice, as well, but I just like Vraska better overall. Perhaps I’ll slot him into Damia, Sage of Stone and see if he pulls his weight. He certainly has potential, especially when I can Mindslaver the guy with the most cluttered board to attack the biggest threat.

Okay, I’ll admit, I underestimated the power of Sliver Avacyn, Angel of Hope. The fact that you can reliably run it as your general just makes it worth talking about on its own; indestructibility is an ability Slivers have been desperately wanting since their inception, and while there are plenty of variants that get around sweepers, few do it better than this one. With no shortage of good Slivers being printed lately, as well, the thought of a Sliver deck of my own becomes something…very tempting, not gonna lie.

It’s “and” that puts this thorn in my side over the top. This card is so anti-me it literally hurts. There’s nothing I love doing in Magic more than tutoring, and this guy just says “hahaha; how about no“. If you play this against me, I will kill you first, I will warn you now. Don’t dare question why, either. This creature, while undeniably powerful–insanely so, in my opinion–is just a huge pain to see on the board, and will draw ire from literally everyone, moreso than Stranglehold, which was already a pretty douchey card…………………..

This, however, is so me it literally hurts. It was even spoiled on my birthday, if that wasn’t enough. Solid Snake Bard, as I will henceforth refer to it as, has a number of ridiculous interactions in a number of my EDH decks (and you had best believe I’ve been testing him already), both as a second Birthing Pod and as a creature. He functions well with a number of EDH powerhouses; in Marath, Will of the Wild, I enjoy using him with Seedborn Muse and Doubling Season to tutor Stoneforge Mystic into Purphoros, God of the Forge into Aurelia, the Warleader. In Maelstrom Wanderer, I use him with Prophet of Kruphix and Kiora’s Follower to great effect. Overall, he’s an insanely good creature in EDH, and seeing him preorder at $1.50 makes my heart skip. I’ll honestly take a foil playset, please.

Seeing this get the nod for the reprint is equal parts predictable and fantastic. With a great piece by Kopinski, I’m just glad to see it at $12 and not $36. It’s honestly a great card overall, along the lines of Green Sun’s Zenith, and while I’m not sure what deck other than Sek’Kuar, Deathkeeper would want it, if I happen to open one, I doubt I’d part with it. I think Standard will enjoy having this around, for sure, but as an EDH player, any expensive card getting a reprint makes me quite happy.

I like this card as much as I hate it; there are lists far and wide that hate Torpor Orb, and one that wins you the game is fantastic. On top of that, the thing has Flash, for God’s sake, and flashing it into something like Craterhoof Behemoth is just disgusting. I’ll love seeing this card in all sorts of formats, but I’ll definitely want one for the Gaddock Teeg list I’ve planned for the future.

Don’t get me wrong, this card is rather terrible overall, but can we just take a moment to really appreciate the various video game developers who’ve lent their creative talents to their own cards for M15? For those who aren’t aware, Markus Persson is the owner of Mojang, the guys behind Minecraft. The man behind Minecraft made a card called “Aggressive Mining.” The art for it is just so reminiscent of the game, as well. I want a foil just on principle, because while the card’s nothing to write home about, the flavor and brilliance behind it just make it effortless to appreciate.

And last, but certainly not least, a reprint that will warm the hearts of Swamp-loving EDH fanatics everywhere, Urborg. If Cabal Coffers could get the nod as well, that would be beautiful, but any step in the right direction is a good one, and I for one was absolutely floored to see that Wizards had decided to print Urborg in M15. I have my foil copy already, but I certainly wouldn’t object to another.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

There you have it, my initial thoughts on the M15 spoiler season! Next week will likely be continuing the spoilers discussion. Until then!
~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

Guidance:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2548

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:
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
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:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3138

Let’s Talk Journey into Nyx:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3015
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3030

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

Oh My God:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3118

Painting a Target:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2631

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

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

Stacking Up Commander 2013:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2561

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

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
Five-Color - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3156
Golgari - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2760
Grixis – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2984
Gruul - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2669
Izzet- http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2710
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:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2089

FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – THE TOP SOLDIERS OF – FIVE COLORS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

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!
~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

Guidance:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2548

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:
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
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:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3138

Let’s Talk Journey into Nyx:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3015
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3030

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

Oh My God:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3118

Painting a Target:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2631

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

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

Stacking Up Commander 2013:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2561

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

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
Izzet- http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2710
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:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2089

FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – LET’S BUILD PART 17

Greetings, readers! This week, I’ve decided to clock in my monthly entry to my Let’s Build series, wherein I take you guys through the deckbuilding process for certain generals or strategies. Through this series, I hope to give you guys some ideas to add to existing similar builds, or perhaps inspire you to pick up new generals and try them out instead.

In light of my upcoming project to dedicate another month entirely to Let’s Build, I’ve decided to put my entry for this month a week ahead of schedule (normally, I write them for the last week of every month), and this article will focus on one of Conspiracy’s newest additions to EDH, Brago, King Eternal.

Brago is arguably the blink archetype’s premier strategy; while Roon of the Hidden Realm allows you that crucial third color, it’s arguably far too slow and clunky for what the strategy demands. Brago fixes this issue by offering something the strategy needs to really compete; mass flickering. End of turn blinking was arguably too slow, so instantly flickering your permanents makes Brago more useful in comparison, especially when you consider the ability to run additional blink / flicker effects and get multiple ETB’s from a single permanent in a turn.

The first things we’ll go over with Brago, as with the more recent Let’s Build incarnations, are his strengths and weaknesses:

+Can chain flicker with Restoration Angel and Venser, the Sojourner among others to get multiple ETB triggers in a single turn
+Parallax Tide allows you to cheat and flicker your lands as well
+Double strike is both effective for flickering and non-threatening in the long run due to the fact that you’re likely only going to deal 4 general damage, which is paltry for double strike’s standards; opponents will generally allow you to do this without fearing Brago all that much
+Brago allows for multiple Planeswalker abilities in a turn; most notably, Venser, the Sojourner can give him the evasion he needs to be able to flicker him as well as your other Planeswalkers, such as Tezzeret the Seeker
+Spot removal is both plentiful and reusable in this, with three Oblivion Rings and cards like Reality Acid and Exclusion Ritual

-Torpor Orb is seriously rude, and makes all the spot removal absolutely necessary
-Maze of Ith and flying blockers suck
-The deck relies heavily on Brago; if he gets tucked, some of your draws can be absolutely dead
-The combat step doesn’t favor a deck whose creatures need to stay alive and are generally really terrible in combat
-Without going infinite through Palinchron or Strionic Resonator, the deck’s threat density is incredibly low; actually winning the game without being the collateral damage of someone’s sweeper can prove difficult sometimes

CHOOSING YOUR GENERAL

Brago, King Eternal, Magic, Conspiracy

The blink archetype has a very noncommittal spell base for its generals; you’re mostly going to be playing the archetype’s (albeit different entirely) definition of goodstuff. Few spells need to be dedicated to Brago himself to be effective. Strionic Resonator and Inquisitor Exarch are always an option if going infinite is your bag, but it’s not mine, and thus I’ve opted to forego that option for this build.

I’m strongly considering making him part of my actual rotation for a while, seeing as I’m actually stuck on what to do with my Athreos, God of Passage list. I might just horse around with TappedOut’s playtest option and see how it performs, and if it’s dynamic enough that it suits my playstyle, I’ll try him out.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH THE DECK?

The blink strategy has cemented its reputation as a tempo-based strategy at its core, getting its kicks off the incrementals it generates through having its permanents enter the battlefield to do what they do multiple times. This incarnation is no different; rather, it uses a number of oddball permanents to take advantage of the fact that Brago flickers your noncreature permanents as well.

The strategy’s biggest claim to fame is its resilience; while extremely reliant on its ability to setup a board state, its ability to grind out the lategame stages is what makes the strategy have worth. Being able to consistently recur your graveyard and exile multiple permanents or tempo your opponents out is what gives the strategy such powerful lategame potential.

CARD CHOICES

Our first suite of spells is the hearth of removal, tempo and countermagic the deck has.

In-
Glen Elendra Archmage
Sunblast Angel
War Priest of Thune
Angel of Serenity
Azorius Guildmage
Supreme Verdict
Akroma’s Vengeance
Austere Command
Hinder
Spell Crumple
Render Silent
Dissipate
Cyclonic Rift
Capsize
Swords to Plowshares
Return to Dust
Eye of Doom
Spine of Ish Sah
Oblivion Ring
Detention Sphere
Banishing Light
Act of Authority
Reality Acid
Exclusion Ritual

The next thing we establish is our suite of card advantage; drawing cards, ramping and other such effects.

In-
Solemn Simulacrum
Kor Cartographer
Mulldrifter
Plea for Power
Fact or Fiction
Sol Ring
Azorius Signet
Skullclamp
Rhystic Study
Mystic Remora
Jace, Architect of Thought

Though the deck innately relies on Brago, there are other blink engines to use alongside of him that help chain your blink effects.

In-
Deadeye Navigator
Restoration Angel
Ghostly Flicker
Ghostway
Parallax Tide
Parallax Wave
Skybind
Venser, the Sojouner

Lastly for spells, we establish our goodstuff, most of which is in the form of good ETB’s.

In-
Karmic Guide
Reveillark
Knight-Captain of Eos
Silverblade Paladin
Trinket Mage
Archaeomancer
Mnemonic Wall
Phyrexian Metamorph
Body Double
Sun Titan
Auramancer
Mulldrifter
Lightning Greaves
Sensei’s Divining Top
Relic of Progenitus
Swiftfoot Boots
Nevermore
Steel of the Godhead
Tezzeret the Seeker

We move onto lands from here, and begin with the color-enabling lands:

In-
Hallowed Fountain
Mystic Gate
Seachrome Coast
Adarkar Wastes
Nimbus Maze
Glacial Fortress
Skycloud Expanse
Temple of Enlightenment
Azorius Chancery
Sejiri Refuge
Command Tower

Next, we establish utility lands.

In-
Academy Ruins
Ancient Den
Seat of the Synod
Tolaria West
Cavern of Souls
Kor Haven
Thespian’s Stage
Halimar Depths
Reliquary Tower
Mistveil Plains
Windbrisk Heights

And last, but certainly not least, the basics!

In-
8 Islands
8 Plains

And with that, we’ve arrived at the final product!

Brago EDH

General (1)
Creatures (21)
Sorceries (4)
Instants (11)
Artifacts (9)
Enchantments (13)
Planeswalkers (3)
Basic Lands (16)
Nonbasic Lands (22)

(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 TappedOut here.)

CLOSING THOUGHTS

And there you have it, my take on Brago! Next week will likely be my conclusion of the Top Soldiers Of series to usher in my month-long string of Let’s Build articles. Until then!
~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

Guidance:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2548

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:
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
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

Let’s Talk Conspiracy:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3138

Let’s Talk Journey into Nyx:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3015
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3030

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

Oh My God:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3118

Painting a Target:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2631

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

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

Stacking Up Commander 2013:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2561

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

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
Izzet- http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2710
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:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2089

FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – THE TOP SOLDIERS OF – NAYA

Greetings, readers! This week marks my return to the nearly-concluded Top Soldiers Of series. For those unaware, this is the series where I highlight power players in specific color combinations that you might not be aware of, in the hopes that you get some spicy new ideas when undertaking the deckbuilding process.

This entry is the final shard, and it’s the one freshest in my memory, since all I seem to do is play it these days. Combining the pound-for-pound best creatures, insane combat tricks and synergy with flavor, this combination of red, green and white is one I’ve taken quite a large interest in in the past year. That combination, of course, is Naya.

Naya’s generals exhibit a number of different strategies, ranging from some terrifying token shells to goodstuff builds featuring artifacts, creatures or enchantments. There’s a fair amount of flexibility in the color combination, and a number of interesting takes, to say the least.

Before I get into the generals, however, I’m going to go over the top 5 Naya spells. We begin with:

#5 – Meglonoth

Meglonoth

Meglonoth has an interesting niche in EDH in that it’s a relatively versatile combat creature. It attacks well, being a 6/6 trample body for 6, but the fact that it additionally blocks is quite powerful. A Sword is ripe to fit in this behemoth’s mouth, but what makes it interesting is that it offers an effect often aligned with Rakdos; Backlashing your opponent’s attackers. When you’re staring down an Omnath, Locus of Mana, or any general aimed at dealing you crazy amounts of general damage, the rattlesnaking threat Meglonoth has is pretty impressive.

On top of that, Meglonoth has a very strong political aspect to it as well. “Don’t attack me, or you’ll take damage.” No matter how insignificant that seems, few people will actually run their armies into this if they can just eliminate the inconvenience of 3-5 damage coming their way, which is paltry for some. That in and of itself gives Meglonoth a varying political edge, but it’s really up to your playgroup. If you feel you can cheese the board into not attacking this thing, by all means, feel free to run this, but some opponents will see that the risk is well worth the reward and attack you anyway. It’s a pretty nasty Mayael the Anima activation, if you get lucky.

#4 – Naya Charm

Naya Charm

Naya Charm, like its brethren before it, has a lot of flexibility in that it’s removal that has utility tacked onto it as well. Naya’s Charm, however, lacks in raw power in comparison, not really being the best removal spell in your deck, nor the best utility spell. If you want cards that do more in terms of raw power, cutting this is certainly an option, but having your Lightning Bolt be a Regrowth (at instant speed, as well) too can be quite useful in certain situations.

Of course, tapping down your opponent’s army does have pretty useful applications, as it saves you from a lethal swing from a hexproof general, and it can be used offensively to clear the way of blockers, but a lot of the time, Master Warcraft outperforms it as a combat trick. At the same time, Charms are always a question of flexibility vs. raw power; while the Charms usually have a standout option, usually other cards are better options at doing what the Charms can do on their own. It’s a decent Sunforger target.

#3 – Titanic Ultimatum

Titanic Ultimatum

Titanic Ultimatum, while ridiculously win-more in nature, is an absurd way to either end the game outright, or just gain yourself an absolutely mind-boggling amount of life. Obviously, it does nothing when behind, but the best-case of this after dropping a large Avenger of Zendikar trigger on the board just makes it hilarious in concept. The sheer power it potentially has to steal a game away isn’t to be underestimated, and don’t forget that first strike makes it absurdly difficult for your opponent to block even if their armies are up to the challenge. I’d run it in a token shell; say, Rith, the Awakener.

#2 – Mayael’s Aria

Mayael's Aria

Again, Mayael’s Aria is guilty of doing very little as a topdeck and being win-more in nature, but it has the potential to literally win you the game. While I applaud anyone who’s ever won a game off a trigger of this, actually achieving the feat takes a whole lot of work (although Uril, the Miststalker) goes a long way in making this happen), and it’s mostly a consistent stream of +1/+1 counters and lifegain. That being said, 10 life a turn is a lot if you manage to control a large enough creature, but often times when that’s the case, your opponents will prioritize removing this, or you’ll win the game without controlling a colossal monstrosity.

#1 – Godsire

Godsire

Godsire is unsurprisingly the penultimate embodiment of Naya’s flavor; an absolutely massive creature that costs an obscene amount of mana to do something that’s really powerful, but not all that flashy. Godsire’s power, however, is the fact that it’s an incremental; the longer this stays out, the easier it is to make absolutely ridiculous.

First of all, Seedborn Muse. That in and of itself provides absolutely ridiculous pressure, because you’re putting 32 power on the board when you’re untapping on your turn. Second of all, Doubling Season. Combine the two, and you’re putting now 64 power onto the board. Haste, lifelink, trample and some silly enablers make this creature a solid finisher, welcomed in Mayael the Anima as its staple creature, as well as various other Naya decks who want an 8-drop that will literally win you the game if not dealt with.

Now that I’ve discussed the spells, let’s move onto Naya’s legends. We begin with:

#5 – Rith, the Awakener

Rith, the Awakener

Rith, like many of the generals in his color, is quite powerful when allowed to do what it’s supposed to do. One thing I’ve found when playing or playing against Rith, however, is that few people will ever let you get more than one activation. In white, effects like Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Cathars’ Crusade are commonplace, and in red, you can just play Mana Echoes and get really dumb.

Overall, there are plenty of enablers for Rith, but he’s definitely subject to “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”, which can be commonplace in EDH if you’re attempting something really disgusting. (For the record, building a deck with the sole intention of flashing Notion Thief into a Jace’s Archivist activation is a terrible idea; don’t do it.)

#4 – Hazezon Tamar

Hazezon Tamar

Much like Adun Oakenshield and Angus McKenzie, Hazezon has the unfortunate pitfall of being an accidentally EDH-designed card, and thus its price is obscenely high due to demand. Is Hazezon worth it? I mean, it’s in theory more useful than Rith because you never have to worry about doing damage, but at the same time, it’s a token build through and through, making it vulnerable to sweepers, and the tokens don’t immediately hit the board, making it difficult to gauge its worth.

That being said, Purphoros, God of the Forge is no stranger to “and suddenly there were creatures”, though this combo will obviously draw ire from the table, but there are a number of powerful enablers for the list, from Crescendo of War to Shared Animosity that will enjoy having a large influx of creatures to work with, which can make Hazezon powerful in theory.

#3 – Mayael the Anima

Mayael the Anima

Mayael is certainly one of the flagship generals of EDH, having one of the most encapturing “this seems great to always have access to” effects in the game. She’s also one of Naya’s most powerful generals, having an effect that’s both easy and extremely fun to build around. Tribes of Beasts, Dragons and Angels are easy to build with Mayael when you realize many of their most useful creatures are 5 or more power, and what makes it even better is how easily Mayael is enabled. You can activate Mayael on turn 4 or earlier with the right draw, and with Seedborn Muse, you can establish a dominating board presence right out of the gate.

What makes Mayael so great is that it’s not only easy to build around Mayael, but it’s fun as well. There are a number of flashy and powerful 5+-power creatures to sneak in, between Avacyn, Angel of Hope, Utvara Hellkite and Vigor that can make for quite a splashy board state. In addition, you don’t need to dedicate much to Mayael herself that isn’t a far stretch from a goodstuff deck in the first place; all you’re really doing by putting a bunch of fatties in your deck is heightening the curve, which is offset by good acceleration. Overall, Mayael, while easy to shut down, has a very goodstuff vibe about her, which a player like me can surely get behind.

#2 – Marath, Will of the Wild

Marath, Will of the Wild

Gasp! Marath, the apple of my EDH-playing eye, is not number 1? What blasphemy have I wrought? Well, Marath definitely has a lot going for it, but in my time running him, one thing I’ve found when resolving him is that he rarely ever poses a threat to the table. Purphoros, God of the Forge or Doubling Season are just about the only spells in my list that make people care that I have a Marath on board. That being said, what Marath lacks in threat density he makes up for in just about everything else. He’s literally Naya’s Swiss army knife, and while it may be a tad confusing to take in what he does, allow someone who’s had extensive experience with this lovely little antelope show you the ropes.

First of all, his returns. Marath will bounce back from death to come back stronger and stronger, and he’s by far the best incarnation of this effect. The ammo Marath gets make it less and less advantageous for the board to ignore. Putting counters on a creature is not terribly useful on its own; you’ll likely counter a Chaos Warp by merely transferring Marath’s counters to a combat-relevant creature–I personally enjoy having Kor Duelist or Serra Ascendant around for when this happens–but its most deadly application of this effect is when you control a Doubling Season. Because the counters go on any target creature, removing a counter and placing one back onto Marath will in fact get you returns and double his counters for the mana you’re paying. If you’re not really doing anything else with Marath, you can just gorge him on his own counters and make him a massive monstrosity. If you back him with evasion in some form or fashion, you can actually achieve 21 general damage quite easily.

Dealing damage allows Marath to mow down utility creatures and generals alike, which for some, such as Kaalia of the Vast or Norin the Wary players, can make Marath quite a threat, but of course, everyone by now has figured out that deathtouch makes this ability bonkers. I don’t know how many times I hear “You should put Basilisk Collar in your deck!”, but while I understand it’s a good card, as a Sunforger list, my Marath deck gets insane mileage out of another deathtouch enabler; Bow of Nylea. As soon as you declare Marath as an attacker, you can mow down the board to your heart’s content, and the two provide a deadly combination, as the Bow also replenishes Marath’s ammo. The fact that it fights graveyard hate and lets me recycle my Sunforger’s spells is what makes it the perfect card in my particular Marath shell. While I lose the ability to have deathtouch at instant speed, the offset ability to do everything my Marath deck wants makes it an absolute workhorse in my list, and I recommend others who play Marath to consider the card as well. Just having the two on board can win you the game on its own, and while Swords and Swiftfoot Boots can be a pain, Aura Shards is in your colors.

Lastly, the token ability; the most commonly used, it has great applications with a lot of cards across the board. Mostly, you’ll find Puphoros, God of the Forge doing a lot of damage with it, but you can cheese with the slow, yet efficient Cathars’ Crusade for some fun board states. Obviously, mass pump makes the effect that much better (I use Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Mirari’s Wake, personally), but what I like most about the effect is how you can just have blockers at will for one mana, which is actually somewhat difficult to pull off for as cheap as Marath provides. Overall, while I know I’ve dragged on slightly with Marath’s explanation, he’s my favorite general for a number of reasons; he’s just a good creature overall, and he does a lot, providing pressure, removal and being superb on both offense and defense. He just has so much value that I couldn’t ignore him if I tried.

#1 – Uril the Miststalker

Uril, the Miststalker

Of course, Marath’s raw power pales in comparison to this behemoth, the most imposing of the Hexproof Five, Uril, the Miststalker. For one, it has the best stats in combat, tied with Sigarda, Host of Herons (which, funny enough, fits right into the 99). Secondly, it gets absolutely stupid huge with a single Aura. Slap Bear Umbra on it and attack for 9 on turn 6 (or earlier). Follow up with Daybreak Coronet and it gets really silly. Uril has a downright terrifying amount of power with a single Aura attached to him, and when you give him evasion or trample, it’s disgustingly simple to end the table in sequence.

What makes Uril dumb is how easy it is to build around him. You play Enchantresses such as Verduran Enchantress and Kor Spiritdancer to draw a bunch of cards. You play Grand Abolisher and Vexing Shusher so Hinder doesn’t screw you. You then play Aurelia, the Warleader, Seize the Day and Waves of Aggression so that you go from ending one person to ending everyone in one fell swoop. It’s seriously dumb how quickly you can end games with Uril, and how little your opponents can do to stop him. If you get Hindered, that’s your own fault (and even then, it’s not particularly difficult to find him again, being in green and whatnot). If you get Cyclonic Rifted or Terminused, that’s just bad luck on your part. Overall, the situations in which Uril doesn’t have a chilling presence from even the command zone are few and far between, and well-tuned Uril decks can dominate if they counter their meta properly enough.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

There you have it, my thoughts on Naya’s top power players! Considering that all that’s left for the Top Soldiers Of series is 5-color, I think I’m going to move onto a new monthly segment to replace it where I discuss sleeper hits or things I suggest to our local players, to give a similar feel of suggesting things for the deckbuilding process. I really appreciate the feedback everyone’s given me on this series, and as I look towards closing it out at the end of the month, I’d like to keep the momentum and focus of the series going. After I close it out, I think I’m going to be doing another month-long string of Let’s Build articles where I take consensus on generals to build, and then I’ll start August with this new article series.

Until next week, when I figure out something for my monthly Let’s Build article!
~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

Guidance:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2548

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:
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
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

Let’s Talk Conspiracy:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3138

Let’s Talk Journey into Nyx:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3015
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3030

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

Oh My God:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3118

Painting a Target:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2631

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

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

Stacking Up Commander 2013:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2561

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

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
Izzet- http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2710
Jund - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3124
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:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2089