TWR: Such Uncommon People Emerge Radically Friends

In case you don’t catch the meaning of this post title, this is a new deck I brewed up using Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice along with a pile of new and old Planeswalkers. That means, we’re talking Superfriends!

Such
Uncommon
People
Emerge
Radically

F
R
I
E
N
D
S

Hopefully that clears things up. I don’t know if that’s clever or not, but I like naming my decks random things if something catchy comes to mind, and there you have it. But enough about the naming convention, let’s look at our queen of the deck, Atraxa herself:

I’ve owned a copy of Atraxa for nearly a year. I purchased her and a copy of Doubling Season at GP Vegas last summer, and this summer’s convention is fast approaching as well. Originally I wanted her to build a superfriends deck, but then I started thinking I’d like to have access to red and wanted to make her into an infect deck instead. I still like the idea of infect for Atraxa, and I wrote about it before, but I never did get around to actually building the deck. As such, she sat and collected dust while I worked on other things. With the release of War of the Spark and the plethora of new Planeswalker additions I just knew I had to go back to my original idea for the commander. The reason infect or superfriends builds are so popular with Atraxa at the helm is because she has that one line of text that reads “At the beginning of  your end step, proliferate.” This means that at the end of your turn, anything with a counter on it, will get an additional counter. So if players have infect counters, or Planeswalkers are on the board, or if anything has a +1/+1 on it, they’re getting one more. Combo this with things like Doubling Season and the Chain Veil, and you can do some fun stuff. First though, let’s look at other ways we can proliferate without relying on our commander completely.

Proliferate Effects:

I’ve added in a handful of creatures that help with our proliferate theme, mainly by proliferating after a certain requirement is met, be it lands entering the battlefield or spells being cast. We have one draw spell that also proliferates, and an enchantment that doubles up with Flux Channeler. Deepglow Skate can be the finishing touch if you already have a bunch of Planeswalkers on the board. Next up I want to talk about the Planeswalkers themselves, but I have a couple of notes: First, I actually threw this deck together strictly with cards that I opened up with my War of the Spark box, along with cards I already owned. Having a Doubling Season and The Chain Veil made this an easier deck to slap together. The mana base is currently shit, and there are some more powerful walkers that I could include in the deck, however some of them have hefty price tags and those have gone up after the release of this set. So this was sort of a budget build for me, but also would still be kind of expensive for one to purchase as singles all at once. So these selections I’m going to show you were either lucky pulls for me, or cards I already owned, so I didn’t have to make a big investment to slam the deck together. As such, it is a little all over the place, but I intend to smooth it out over time.

Planeswalkers:

As you can see, the majority of the Planeswalkers I’m using are from War of the Spark, with the exception of a handful of ones that I already owned and had primarily used in other decks. However, I wanted this to be playable now, and tune it as I go. As it stands it did well in the games I’ve played with it, but that hasn’t been too many. I have some powerful Planeswalkers here that will do some cool things, but I don’t have ones like Jace the Mind Sculptor which has a $150 price tag — but it will win you games. The main idea here is to just throw down some Planeswalkers that will create some tokens and get some proliferation going on so that your walkers are getting closer to their ultimates, you’ll get more tokens, and if you can get some counters down you’ll also get more of those. I managed to have a pretty good game with some of the less powerful ones, so if they don’t get answered immediately you can run away with a game. However, in multiplayer I imagine this doesn’t go as well, but I also know ways that we can shore things up. Perhaps I don’t have enough of a removal package or am not playing enough counters. Maybe I need to shift in other directions as far as my Planeswalker choices go. That’s the beauty of this game, being able to throw something together, find out what works and what doesn’t and then make adjustments accordingly. Not to mention, with each new set we get new walkers and new synergies and soon decks take on a life of their own. But I digress. I’m not going to share any more of the cards here today as I think you get the gist of where this is going. However, I wouldn’t recommend building this sort of deck unless you have at least a few of the better walkers along with Doubling Season and The Chain Veil. Oath of Teferi is helpful too. That’s all for today. You can check the full decklist here.

The War Report: Kefnet Slings Spells

The God-Eternal series that released with War of the Spark was inspiring, and better than their previous forms by a long shot. I never really used the Amonkhet Gods in any of my decks, but this time around they were all worthy inclusions into many decks. I slotted the Boar into my Jodah deck and Oketra slammed into zombies. I didn’t pull Bontu out of my box, but he’ll get picked up and used eventually. Kefnet was the only god that didn’t seem like he would be better in the 99 of another commander’s deck, no he seemed worth building around entirely. I’ve never really built a mono blue deck before, and as some of my friends have already done so I know a couple of tricks but wanted to make something that was my own. Let’s take a closer look:

God-Eternal Kefnet is a flying 4/5 for four CMC. That’s huge right there, as most cards this cheap will usually be a 3/3 or so and not have nearly as much relevant text. His main ability is that you may reveal the first card drawn each turn (even on opponent’s turns, keep this in mind) and copy it while reducing it’s cost by two generic mana. This means you can cast spells twice, because you draw the card and only cast a copy, and it also allows you to save some mana in the process. This means we can include cards that are normally a little bit suboptimal like a three mana draw two spell, but will actually only cost us one mana when casting the copies. There are other ways that we can abuse this ability, but the most important part of the plan comes via top-deck manipulation. I’ve tried to keep this deck fairly budget but there are a few cards that are necessary evils.

Top-Deck Manipulation:

Scroll Rack and Sensei’s Divining Top have both gone up in price recently. They are the money cards here, but they are absolutely needed to be able to abuse Kefnet’s abilities to the maximum potential. Being able to rearrange the top few cards of your library, scry cards to the bottom or otherwise choose your fate will allow you to set up spells that can be copied while Kefnet is on the board. This will also help you to dig for your win-cons, and I’ve included a few that should be able to keep this deck competitive or near it.

Win Cons:

There are a few combos that are included in the deck, and the first will make you infinite mana. I’ve covered this before, but by using Dramatic Reversal imprinted onto an Isochron Scepter, you can produce infinite mana with a basalt monolith, gilded lotus, or whatever you need. With said infinite mana, you can do a number of things, but one option is to unload the pain on everyone with a Walking Ballista. Add infinite counters, and remove those counters to ping everyone to death. Or, you can use the mana to cast a large Blue Sun’s Zenith to draw your library and win with Lab Man or the new Jace. Conversely, you can use BSZ to target other players and mill them out, you’ll just have to be able to re-draw BSZ once it’s back into your library.

The other pairing for Isochron Scepter is the new Narset’s Reversal. It is an instant that will return a spell back to its owner’s hand, while allowing you to copy said spell for free. This means we can do some twisted shit with extra turns! As such, I’ve included a number of extra turn spells, and again these are the money cards that you can’t really avoid to make the deck work the way I intend. Basically, with Narset’s Reversal imprinted, you can cast an extra turn spell and then respond with the Scepter activation, returning the card to your hand but also casting a copy of it. You can then cast it again and rinse and repeat. Each new turn you’ll be able to untap your lands, so you’ll essentially have infinite mana too. You can then just create a loop of sorts, gaining life with Aetherflux Reservoir and then blow people up with it.

Lastly, the deck is set up well to go wide with tokens, and so I’ve included a few ways to create them. If you can get one or more of these on the battlefield for a few turns, you should be able to make one of those infinite turn loops, or just cast a bunch of cheap spells to create a bunch of tokens, and in the case of Metallurgic Summonings, you can later sacrifice it to recur all of your spells from the graveyard to set up for an explosive turn.

Removal Package:

Outside of a ton of counterspells (mostly budget), these cards are here to deal with big threats. Turning an Eldrazi Titan into a 3/3 vanilla creature will piss your opponents off. Or you can turn their whole army into 1/1’s so that a big swing doesn’t hurt so much. Have a ton of mana? Capsize can help you remove a bunch of threats and keep your opponents busy recasting spells.

Other Utility:

Otherwise, I’ve included cards that will help you to draw more cards on other player’s turns so you can get more free casts (or at least card draw), and ways to make spells cheaper. Baral, Kefnet and Jace’s Sanctum on the board at once and you’re casting most spells for one mana. There is some tutoring with cards like Mystical Tutor, Long-Term Plans, Trinket Mage and Spellseeker, also Fabricate. And you can turn off all of those fancy duals your friends play with by dropping a Back to Basics on the board. Good times.

I think Kefnet has the power to be great, and I’ll be putting this together with real cards soon. Mono Blue is evil, and I want to join in on the fun!

TWR: Light As A Feather

Now that War of the Spark spoilers are said and done, it’s time to take a closer look at the cards that we can use in our EDH decks, along with new legendary creatures we can brew around. I tend to build at least one new legendary creature per set, but there are times when that varies. Some sets in recent years had better cards for the 99 of other decks, and in the case of this Ravnica block, there have been plenty of new commanders I’d love to build in EDH. As such, here’s a new brew from the latest set, featuring quite possibly my favorite card being printed:

Feather, the Redeemed is apparently a character that appeared in an older Ravnica set, but didn’t have its own card until now. As with most characters in the MTG world, they typically end up being a legendary creature at some point or another. Feather is a character I hadn’t heard of before, but I really like this card. Boros as a color pair has always been a bit on the weak side, and typical Boros commanders usually rely on combat and combat tricks to do their thing. White and Red are also the worst at card draw and land ramp, so the pair has been at the bottom of the barrel for a while. Recent additions in the past couple of years have made a difference — cards like Smothering Tithe can really help out this color pair. Anyway, back to Feather. She’s a 3/4 flyer for three CMC which is a pretty decent start. I enjoy low costed commanders because they come down early and have the ability to be recast several times in a long game. What makes Feather really interesting though, is her paragraph of text that says anytime I target one of my creatures with an instant or sorcery, it then goes to exile instead of my graveyard, and I get it back to hand at the end of that turn. This does mean you can also cast instants on other people’s turns and get them back at their end step, so there is some flexibility here. The only problem I saw initially was that these colors tend to have good removal but not as much utility outside of combat tricks, however there are a ton of good cantrips (a card that does something but also says “draw a card” on it) in these colors, and that’s how we can get some card advantage, not to mention the baked in advantage this ability brings. Let’s take a look at some spells we can try to exploit:

This is a smaller sampling of what’s included in my build, but it covers the major tricks we want to cover. Cantrips include Crimson Wisps, Defiant Strike, Expedite and Gods Willing. These cards will all replace themselves by instantly drawing you a card, but then will also come back into your hand for later use. You should be able to cast these spells over and over and get major value, and no one is going to waste a counter spell on these because normally they’re garbage cards that no self-respecting EDH player would use. Speaking of, this deck ends up being pretty budget because of this fact, with plenty of cards floating around a quarter or less. We have some other tricks though, where we can use cards like Expose Evil or Spawning Breath, both of which spawn tokens we can use to ramp/draw cards, and these cards can too be cast every turn. There are some go-wide burn spells included as well, though you’ll want to make sure to throw a point of damage at one of your creatures if you want to get the spell back to hand. I’ve also included a few ways to blink our own creatures, mainly so that we can avoid our opponent’s removal. There’s a white counterspell that might come in handy some day, and Seize the Day can get us an extra combat every turn if we do end up wanting to go sideways more often. As I said this isn’t all of the cards, but it gives you an idea of where I’m going with this. Next up, what creatures do we want in this spell heavy deck?

The main focus of the creatures in this deck is to compliment the spell heavy build. This means cards like Guttersnipe and Firebrand Archer that do damage to our opponents when we cast spells. This also means token generation for casting spells, ala Young Pyromancer and Monastery Mentor. This also means including some cool Heroic keyword cards that I’ve never really found a use for, and most of them too create more tokens or other shenanigans. Lastly, we have Mirrorwing Dragon and Zada, both of which will copy spells if you target them, meaning you can cantrip off of zada and then draw multiple cards at once, for like a single mana. Good stuff man. I don’t have a really clear cut win con here, it’s just a value engine and hopefully you drain people down low enough to swing with a bunch of tokens for the win. I really don’t have a bunch of other tricks up my sleeve either. You can check out the full deck list here.

The War Report: Mail Day!

In the past couple of months I’ve mostly spent my M:TG budget on packs and the guild kits from the most recent set. This month I knew I didn’t want to buy more of the same set, instead I decided to pick up some cards for existing decks along with a couple of commanders that I’ve been wanting to build. I think in coming months I’ll get at least a couple of these finished off. “Mail Day!” is a common phrase used in M:TG circles — it’s usually accompanied by a picture of cards that were just delivered via mail. Sometimes people add to it by asking others to guess the commander or other things along those lines. So today, I’m sharing my most recent mail day with you.

My Zur deck is my pride and joy. I love having a deck that is so powerful and full of great (expensive) cards. I’ve seen the judge promo foil before, and I can’t get over how much better this version looks as opposed to the original. I decided I wanted to have a copy of my own to further “pimp out” my deck. I was also technically missing one card: the most expensive fetch land in his colors.  So the new version of Zur and Marsh Flats made it into my tier 1 deck, and I’m happy to say it’s complete. About the only other thing I want to do is get all of his basic lands changed into full art lands (I think I’m missing one or two) and I’d also like to add in a Mana Crypt, but those are fucking expensive so I’m waiting on a reprint. You can see my current list here.

The other two cards that I slotted into a deck right away was Kozilek and Ulamog. They were recently reprinted with Ultimate Masters, and the prices have leveled off lower than they were prior to that printing so I figured now was the time to grab them. I have the newer versions of them both, along with the newer (not banned) Emrakul already in the deck. Jodah now has all of the best Eldrazi in the deck. I also slotted in Captive Audience and Smothering Tithe from the new set, as they just felt appropriate for the deck. You can see the updated list here.

The last three cards I picked up were three new commanders that I want to build. Karador is another competitive build that I shared a while back. I don’t really have many cards for it though, so it will probably be a buy-it-in-pieces kind of deck. The other two however are a bit more budget friendly and since I no longer have a Dimir deck and have never completed a Gruul one, I’d like to get them done sooner than later. Nikya looks to be a fun way to smash face and not really worry about spells (check out my write up here), while Lazav is probably a lower tier deck but still looks like fun (write up).

Another couple of projects I want to work on are Judith and Estrid. I’ll have some more new builds soon enough, because I haven’t brewed anything in a while and another new set is right around the corner.

The War Report: Death Rattle

Shortly after the arrival of Ravnica: Allegiance, I spoke about some of the new legendary creatures I was really excited for. Two of them were from color pairings that I’ve made multiple decks around, so I instead focused on the new Rakdos general Judith, along with the Gruul warleader. Admittedly, those look like fun decks to pilot and I am excited to build them — they definitely fall somewhere outside of my normal wheelhouse, and I love that about this game. Recently I was finally able to purchase some packs of the newest Magic: The Gathering set, and managed to get my hands on a copy of the new Teysa, and I rather enjoy her design.

She’s a 2/4 for 4, which isn’t a bad body alone for the cost, allowing you to avoid smaller burn spells. Teysa has two lines of rules text, and though they are both going to be relevant in my particular build, there is one portion that I want to focus more of our energy on. Teysa is the Panharmonicon of death triggers, much like Naban was the Panharmonicon for Wizards. She’ll double triggered abilities from creatures dying, and this can be a powerful effect however you should probably run a fairly creature-heavy build. I have done so, and first up I’d like to talk about some of our best death triggers:

Death Triggers:

It makes sense to add not only creatures who do something when they die, but also to include some creatures that do damage when other creatures die. Let’s look at our commander’s second line of text: Creature tokens you control have vigilance and lifelink. May I remind you that Orzhov as a guild loves to create spirit creature tokens, which are typically 1/1’s with flying. Now they’ll have vigilance and lifelink, and if they die, creatures like Blood Artist or Zulaport Cutthroat will do not one, but two points of damage and will heal you for more beyond the lifelink. I think this has the potential to be potent given enough tokens, so I’ve included several creatures who create tokens when they die. Elenda is probably the most note-worthy. I’ve also included ways to create more ramp in the form of Pitiless Plunderer, Pawn of Ulamog and Sifter of Skulls. They’ll create mana rocks/dorks for us when creatures die. All of these creatures have some great triggers that our commander can double, so I’d recommend you take a closer look.

Supporting Cast:

Not all of our creatures have death triggers, but they still serve our overall purpose. Here we have a selection of creatures that can remove other problems, give us some recursion for our sac outlets, and can even tutor for other creatures. There’s some card draw with Mentor of the Meek, and a Reassembling Skeleton can be used over and over to create a loop if you have one of those above mana producers and a Zulaport Cutthroat along with a sac outlet. I’m also really digging the idea of Elesh Norn buffing my creatures and destroying opponent’s token strategies, but it will also stack with another new card that I’ll talk about later.

Removal Package:

I’ve included a pretty standard Orzhov removal package, with some single target and board wipes in a variety of flavors. We want to be able to blow up permanents of all types, be it by destroying or exiling. Check the cards for more specifics.

Everything Else:

Some additional ramp and card draw was included with Land Tax, Black Market and Smothering Tithe. They are all sort of dependent on the board state but they will help to keep you from falling too far behind. As I mentioned earlier, I’m also running Ethereal Absolution to combo with Elesh Norn for a nice -3/-3 to opponents’ creatures and +3/+3 to my own, and it has a mana sink for your Black Market built in, allowing you to exile problematic cards from graveyards while creating more spirit tokens. Lastly, I’ve included two alternate win conditions, both of which are pretty situational and probably won’t work. Still, with all of the lifelink and ways to gain life I figure Approach of the Second Sun is a potential win con for stalled out games. Revel in Riches can potentially go off too, if I can get a loop going with the appropriate cards out, or just happen to luck into that many treasures. I think it could happen, but it’s one of those random things that won’t happen too often.

You can see the full decklist here.