Last time I said I was making a conscious effort not to talk about only blue cards, but this one’s caught my eye after it worked its way into my new Bruna, Light of Alabaster deck. I also happen to think this format suffers from the use of too many tutors, and this card is a tutor, but it’s definitely a tutor with a twist. It’s a strange rare from Scourge called Long-Term Plans.
I said in Friday’s article that this would be about how much and what type of mass removal to include, but while I’ll address that somewhat, the main subject of the article is going to be about gauging the commitment level of other players at the table and how to know when to commit yourself. By commitment I’m not talking about going steady, but committing to the board. What this means is, you start committing to the board when you extend somewhat to secure a position. The commitment aspect really means something like, “commitment with risk” — you have to extend somewhat to secure a position, but you also have to be wary not to extend too much such that mass removal sets you really far behind. As such, it’s a Balancing Act, and requires some amount of skill, a lot of guesswork, and more than a little luck.
This week’s Deck Salad Surgery expands on a little idea I had while reviewing the Magic 2013 set: make a deck designed to exploit Worldfire. The idea consisted of lots of low-cost, hasted dudes so your deck would play better than everyone else’s after a Worldfire. All you need is a Raging Goblin and you’ll probably win. And hey, if you don’t, you still blew up the entire world and there was a crazy finish, right?
Hey everybody. After taking last week off for a little vacation and to spend some time with my folks after a loss in the family, I’m back! While on my long drive out and back, I immersed myself in the world of Magic podcasts (specifically, the Eh Team and CommanderCast, both of which are fantastic.) I have volumes of upcoming new material for you guys, so pull up your sleeves and dig in!
This article stems largely from a conversation I had with my longest-running Magic buddy and fellow Thwomper Brad. He was over at my place after some time at the driving range and hadn’t brought his decks, so he was shuffling up my decks against me. He immediately reached for my Captain Sisay stax build and said something along the lines of, “I need to know what makes this thing work.” He told me that of all my decks, he most loathed to play against that one, which I was certainly surprised to learn. He then qualified that and said, it’s not the least fun to play against — that honor belonged to the U/B Dralnu infinite-turns monstrosity that I built here — just the scariest. I was surprised to learn that what I thought was my best deck, Arcum Dagsson, is neither the scariest or the least fun.
I wanted to understand why he felt this way about these two decks, and the ensuing conversation ties very much into the long-running casual vs. competitive Commander debate that rages on still to this day. It was particularly interesting to me as I consider Brad more toward the “competitive” side of the Commander coin than just about anybody else we play with, save yours truly.
Welcome to the second edition of Deck Salad Surgery! I had the idea for this particular column while driving over to a friend’s place to sling some cardboard. The basic premise is this: what kind of deck would you make if there weren’t any banned cards (except the ante cards, of course)?
There’s obviously a few ways to go with it, but I chose to go top-down. What cards would I most like to play if they weren’t banned? Then, how do I abuse those cards? (Of course, many of the cards on this list don’t require much work to abuse.) Two sprang to mind immediately, but I won’t give away which ones just yet. Instead, let’s look at the banned list and break it down by colour.
The second installment in this series is going to feature another pet card of mine: Grim Monolith. This is one my favoritest artifacts from one of my favoritest blocks. On its face, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher, as over time, it’s net mana loss. But when you dig deeper, it’s super-abusable!
Alright friends, Romans, countrymen! (And if you don’t belong to one of those categories, GTFO.) It’s time for the first instalment of my Deck Salad Surgery* column! And I even have a user-submitted deck for the feature. Things are just coming together like jello in the fridge here, people.
(* This is an ELP reference. I’d hate for you to miss it.)
Today’s column features a Jenara, Asura of War deck chock-full of Bant-colored good stuff.
Well hi there.
You know that feeling? You’ve been hammering on one player all game long, answering their threats, wiping their board, countering their spells. You just know they were the frontrunner. If things got out of hand with that player you simply had no way to get out from under their stranglehold and you were going to lose.
Then the player to his right drops a card and wins. It didn’t look like there was anything going on there. In fact he was down to 10 life and looked like he was dead to the world.
What just happened?
After sitting on the 100-or-so cards we came up with in the last post for a few days, it’s time to start paring the list down a little. Once it’s down to around 70 cards, you can start collecting. In my opinion it’s not worth making a totally air-tight list before you start to play it, as it’s impossible (or at least very difficult) to know what cards are or aren’t working until they’re bricking in your hand, doing nothing on the board, or unexpectedly kicking ass. Further, getting the proportions right on all your various card types is impossible without proper testing. It’s possible to have too much redundancy in one area, as you can see in the Savra list I posted in the Decklists area. It’s also possible to have not nearly enough.
So, as regards Dralnu, let’s refresh our win condition. We’re going to try to accelerate into a board state where we’re taking lots of extra turns with Time Warp-style effects and flashing them back via Dralnu, until we assemble an infinite mana combination and either Exsanguinate or Blue Sun's Zenith for the win (possibly decking ourselves with Laboratory Maniac). Or we can steal everything with Memnarch or bounce everything with Capsize. We’re going to use weenie wizards to help with acceleration, card-drawing, and delaying our opponents. These are our strangleholds. We should evaluate all cards with how they facilitate this plan or delay our opponents from reaching theirs.
I’ve decided, just today, to begin a new deck. The process of retiring Azusa, Lost but Seeking and Savra, Queen of the Golgari and amalgamating them into one other has been quite successful. The deck is currently 5-0! (3-0 play testing against other decks of mine and 2-0 in actual competition.)
So it’s time to start something new. I was briefly tempted to make a rather disgusting Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur deck inspired by d0su on MTGSalvation, but I’ve already got a rather disgusting mono-blue combo deck. Who needs two of those? So instead, I’ve decided to go U/B Dralnu, Lich Lord. The idea is going to be to take lots of extra turns, flash powerful spells back (like extra turn spells), and get there with a bunch of little Wizards. I’ll probably win by Stroke of Genius or Exsanguinate for 1000. Seems fun.
So I figured I’d go through my deck building process for the care and benefit of others. This will be a multi-part article; the first section is brainstorming, adding cards that contribute to the various themes and strategies I identify. I’ll end up with many more cards than I can play. The next article will be a blow-by-blow cutting-down process.