Category: Guest Post


An Examination of Time Walk Effects in EDH (Guest Post)

time-walk

Let’s Not Do It Again: An Examination of Time Walk Effects in EDH

Guest post by Eamonn Naidoo

I like playing blue. I like the sense of control it gives when I play – the ability to counter almost any threat to my game plan, while drawing enough cards to make sure I have threats of my own is invaluable, especially in a format like EDH. I also however, know what it’s like to sit across from a blue commander with a non-blue deck and feel pretty dismal, because you just know everything is backed up with permission, and annoying effects like Capsize (does that thing even have a non-buyback cost?). But, those effects are understandable – blue has those effects in its color pie identity (pie-denty?) and those effects are both useful and powerful in EDH. They are not very fun for your opponents, perhaps, but they are necessary. There are aspects of blue that I truly despise though. Two facets specifically – creature stealing and extra turn effects. Nothing incenses me more than those. Today, I’m dealing with the extra turn effects: hopefully I can convince any time walkers out there to lay down their love of temporal manipulation, and to recapture, not Jingue, but the fun of this format.

time-warp

So, why do I hate extra turn effects so much anyway? Well, let’s imagine what happens when some player lays down, let’s say, a Time Warp in a four player game. What happens? Well, for a start, the game slows right down and the normal turn cycle is interrupted. Straight away, there’s a problem. Turns are important in EDH – lots of stuff can happen very quickly. But, in the early turns of the game, people are generally setting up their resources, carving out some sort of game plan for themselves. An extra turn for a player is then pretty good. However, you are then denying the next person, and indeed, the whole table of an entire turns worth of resources. Maybe, you say, that’s just a good use of resources, like playing a Sol Ring on turn 1. Playing a Sol Ring on turn 1 doesn’t require the entire table to watch you for double the normal time however. Which leads me on to my second point: it shifts attention to the player taking the extra turn.

Why is that a bad thing, though? Well, much like the annoying girl on your Facebook feed (“If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best” followed by “Just did body shots off the bartender #ABSolutelytrashed #thisishowwedo”) you don’t particularly want to give the extra turn player your attention, but there they are, militantly posting photos of them and “the gurlzz” hitting up clubs and plastering them all over your news feed. You don’t even have the luxury of “deleting” them in this scenario. And that attention-hungry behavior is, I believe, a real problem in EDH. This format is, by design, a multiplayer format. That means there are all sorts goofy things you can do here, that you can’t do in other formats. Moreover, the fun comes from interaction with other players (90% of the time. The other 10% is you getting to play that sweet new card you just traded for). Extra turn effects take that interaction away. The player taking an extra turn effectively shouts “look at me!” and (without completing their rendition of Lady Bump) forces the whole table to watch as they pretty much just cast a really expensive Explore. What kind of player would do that? I think I’ve narrowed it down to 3 types of player:

1. The Newbie

Everyone wants to break the rules when they can. Fastbond, and other similar effects (time walks included) have this innate appeal to them – a sense that you alone are so powerful that you can break these fundamental rules of the game. So, of course, given a format where most of that wackiness is legal, the new player will play those effects. They are drawn to the power of these effects and are oblivious to any boredom they may cause. Just give them time (see what I did there? That was hard to come up with. This article is really exercising my temporal lobe. Okay, I’ll stop). Hopefully they will repent once they learn the error of their ways.

2. The Die-Hard

The second type of player is the most common (at least in my playgroup). Specifically I have this friend who has this annoying Azami deck complete with every Time Walk effect, save for the $100 + cards. He isn’t a n00b. He knows what’s going on. He is, by all measure, a very good player. Yet, he plays loads of extra turn effects. What’s up with that? Well, when you ask him about it, he restates his opinion that extra turn effects “aren’t that bad, nor are they oppressive or boring”. No matter how much I try to convince him otherwise, he won’t relent. He’s gotten a taste and now firmly (but incorrectly) believes that extra turns are the only way for mono blue to get ahead. This, coming from the deck with a potential 2nd turn Jace, the Mind Sculptor or a turn 3 Patron Wizard, soft-locking everyone out of the game until someone finds a Supreme Verdict. Yeah, mono blue’s got it real hard.

3. The Self-Confirmed “Dick”

Buckle up Lana, ‘cause we’re in the danger zone. I’m sure we’ve all encountered this player before: the player who always brags about how OP his deck is, or how “brutal” his 17-piece combo finisher is. Sometimes, this player might actually have an actually annoying combo (like Knowledge Pool + Teferi, or Mindslaver + Academy Ruins) and when asked why they run it, instead of a more friendly, disrupt-able combo, their answer is always the same: “Because I’m a dick”. They revel in it. They savor every syllable, making sure you know exactly what you’re dealing with, and that no amount of reason or logic can convince them to do anything they don’t want to. Now, this player loves taking extra turns because they know it’s annoying; they know that the entire table hates them, and that when they assemble the infinite turn combo lurking in their deck, the table will most likely concede out of sheer boredom. And they love it.

And that’s another thing: chaining extra turns just exacerbates the problems mentioned previously. The game slows to almost a complete stop, there is no interactivity (and therefore, no fun) and you might as well just be playing solitaire. But there is one thing they don’t do: win the game for you. It’s not a Mikhaeus + Triskelion situation where everyone dies immediately; it’s a slow, durdly, painful limp towards the finish line that is victory. The worst is when they can’t even find a kill condition in the ±4 extra turns that they’ve taken. You made everyone watch you for 30 minutes, and now you can’t even kill us?! If I wanted to watch someone play with themselves for 30 minutes I would … yeah, you can probably figure out the rest.

I could say a lot more on this subject, but I think it would just devolve into me ranting about things I don’t like in general (!) about EDH. Or it might just end up being a poorly contextualized list of Magic related puns (when it comes to Predators, I prefer to let Trygones be Trygones)  Anyway, hopefully, some of what this article said makes logical sense, and even if it didn’t: if you see your playgroup moaning every time you cast Time Stretch, maybe you should take the extra turns out, and see how they react. You could find yourself in a much happier playgroup than before. You may even find yourself having a bit more fun seeing what hilarious situations you – and your friends – can create out of this Magical format.

– Eamonn Naidoo

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Hey gang,

So I wanted to start my first post by talking about an EDH deck that is near and dear to my heart: Prossh, Skyraider of Kher. It uses the three color combination of Jund (BRG). This deck was my second deck, but is the one I’ve played and tweaked the most. So without further ado, let’s look at the commander:

prossh

Look at that majesty! Look at those consummate V’s! For only six mana (3BRG), you get an awesome 5/5 dragon with flying. But wait, there’s more! He even comes with abilities:

When you cast Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, put X 0/1 red Kobold creature tokens named Kobolds of Kher Keep onto the battlefield, where X is the amount of mana spent to cast Prossh.

Sacrifice another creature: Prossh gets +1/+0 until end of turn.

Pretty nifty, eh? You’ll note that his ability will always consider the amount paid for casting – an excellent ability for a format where you can repeatedly cast the creature. Prossh, like his contemporary, Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge, gains increasing value for each time he’s killed. So what does that mean? Your opponents have two options:

  1. Kill Prossh, knowing that he’ll be back, bigger and meaner.
  2. Don’t kill Prossh, in which case Prossh kills you.

I’ve seen a couple variations of Prossh online, but when building my deck, I wanted to go the obvious route of tokens. Therefore, nearly all the cards you’ll find in the deck relate in some way to gaining benefits from massive amounts of creatures coming in or leaving. Cards I would recommend for a token deck based in Jund colors are (in no particular order):

purphoros

Purphoros, God of the Forge – He turns those little 0/1’s into mini shocks. He also doubles as a pump! Valuetown.

doublingseason

Doubling Season – This little guy nets you some extra tokens and lets Planewalkers ultimate (or almost) the turn they come in.

parallellives

Parallel Lives – For when just one token isn’t enough.

sarkhanvologrebattledriverinthewebofwarfiresofyavimaya

Sarkhan Vol, Ogre Battledriver, In the Web of War, Fires of Yavimaya – Most of the time people won’t let you untap with an active Prossh on the board. These guys let you swing as soon as he hits the board (with the first three providing additional power to your Kobolds).

essencewarden

  • Essence Warden – I’ve become a huge fan of this card lately. She can provide noticeable amounts of health whenever you cast Prossh, and you’d be surprised at how much the odd life gain can add up over time. It is important to note that she doesn’t care on whose side the creature enters.

garascradle xenagosthereveler

  • Gaea’s Cradle & Xenagos, The Reveler – I’m pretty sure I don’t have to explain these cards, but just in case: they provide serious ramp in a deck that is looking to make as many little creatures as possible.

beastmasterascension

  • Beastmaster Ascension – This is a huge threat and needs to be dealt with whenever it hits the board. It becomes active the turn you get to swing with Prossh and his little minions.

foodchain phyrexianaltar ashnodsaltar

  • Food Chain, Phyrexian Altar, Ashnod’s Altar – These can be a huge boon when you have no Prossh and a handful of Kobolds. Turn those unhelpful 0/1’s in to extra mana to recast Prossh. These also provide an infinite mana combo when used in conjunction with sacrificing Prossh and his tokens. Be cautious with these as they are easily interrupted and can leave you with an unaffordable Prossh.

championoflambholt

  • Champion of Lambholt – She can be a huge beater and doubles by granting evasion to all your other creatures.

skyshroudclaim

Let’s talk about ramp. Since we’re in green, there is an abundance of land ramp available through spells like Cultivate, Kodama’s Reach, Skyshroud Claim and Farseek. I’m a little biased when it comes to ramping in green; I almost always prefer a Mountain to a mana rock, though it leaves you vulnerable to land destruction rather than artifact destruction.

phyrexiantower

Next, you’ll want a decent amount of sacrifice outlets to prevent creatures from being stolen or exiled. As I mentioned before, cards like Phyrexian Altar, Ashnod’s Altar and Phyrexian Tower fill this role quite nicely, while Goblin Bombardment can give your deck a bit of reach.

skullmulcher

For card draw I would recommend Skullmulcher. He can become a massive threat by devouring all your little tokens can create a huge threat and give you some much needed card draw.

garrukprimalhunter

Garruk, Primal Hunter can also help you refill your hand with his second ability. There’s no better feeling than drawing a handful of cards before swinging with a massive Prossh.

darkprophecyfecundity

Lastly, Dark Prophecy can hurt you, but with this many little guys dying it can provide you some valuable digging. If you’d rather trade loss of life to helping everyone, Fecundity is also a good option.

toothandnail

Now comes the dicey part: tutors. Since Prossh has access to green, Tooth and Nail is an easy inclusion with no drawback. Fetching an Avenger of Zendikar and Craterhoof Behemoth is a game ender.

diabolicintentskullclamp

If your group doesn’t like that then I would suggest something like Diabolic Intent in addition to its cousin, Demonic Tutor. While you have to sacrifice a creature, you won’t really mind killing off a 1/1 to draw whatever answer you need, especially if that creature is wearing a Skullclamp.

chordofcalling

Additionally, with M15 we saw the reprinting of a fantastic creature tutor: Chord of Calling.

So, we’ve covered the basics. I realize some of these cards are a little expensive (I’m looking at you, Gaea’s Cradle) but for the most part they act as extra copies of pre-existing effects for deck consistency. You will want to run mostly creatures that either pump or generate their own tokens.

avengerofzendikar craterhoofbehemoth antqueen

Things like Avenger of Zendikar, Craterhoof Behemoth and Ant Queen, can all easily find homes in a deck like this.

kherkeep

Thematically, you’ll want to include Kher Keep, because, well… you know… Skyraider of Kher.

purphoros

There are numerous ways that the deck can win outside of going infinite with Prossh (which is arguably my least favorite way of winning). Resolving an Avenger of Zendikar with Purphoros, God of the Forge on the field will quickly either kill the table or paint an enormous target on you.

viciousshadows

Having a sacrifice outlet such as Goblin Bombardment, some tokens and Vicious Shadows can get through even the most impassable of board presences.

overwhelmingstampede

There’s also just the good old fashioned Overwhelming Stampede or Craterhoof Behemoth (or both!) to turn even the weakest of tokens in to a game ending threat.

kessig-wolf-run-innistrad

Heck, you can even just pump a 0/1 Kobold token to do lethal with Kessig Wolf Run!

Skeleton List:

Commander:

  • Prossh, Skyraider of Kher

Lands: 

  • Gaea’s Cradle
  • Kessig Wolf Run
  • Kher Keep
  • Phyrexian Tower

Artifacts:

  • Ashnod’s Altar
  • Phyrexian Altar
  • Skullclamp

Creatures:

  • Ant Queen
  • Avenger of Zendikar
  • Champion of Lambholt
  • Craterhoof Behemoth
  • Essence Warden
  • Ogre Battledriver
  • PurphorosGod of the Forge
  • Skullmulcher

Enchantments:

  • Beastmaster Ascension
  • Dark Prophecy
  • Doubling Season
  • Fires of Yavimaya
  • Food Chain
  • Goblin Bombardment
  • In the Web of War
  • Parallel Lives
  • Vicious Shadows

Instants/Sorceries:

  • Chord of Calling
  • Cultivate
  • Diabolic Intent
  • Farseek
  • Kodama’s Reach
  • Overwhelming Stampede
  • Skyshroud Claim
  • Tooth and Nail

Planeswalkers:

  • Garruk, Primal Hunter
  • Sarkhan Vol
  • Xenagos, the Reveler

– reddit /u/MagicMuddie

We’re proud to announce the introduction of yet another new writer, J.C. Wilbur. He is an avid EDH and Legacy player who will be sharing his knowledge with us, especially about Legacy, a format that we have not written about at all on Win Target Game so far. Also, be sure to check out his brand new blog: http://devastatingdreamer.wordpress.com

Today, J.C. takes a look at his Krenko, Mob Boss EDH deck and explains why Red is most certainly not the “worst color in EDH” as many believe. Enjoy!

“The Red Zone: Why the “Worst Color in EDH” is Anything But”

“Red’s just terrible in Commander, bro!”

I hear this kind of opinion all the time.

“It’s a splash color at best. But you can find better options in other colors.”

“Green destroys artifacts anyway, has better creatures and it ramps you. Why play Red?”

“Land destruction? Please stop being such a dick!”

Everyone seems to have these canned responses to Red in EDH. These are views that I honestly believe are fostered by an ignorance of the color’s flexibility and sheer power. I, as you may have guessed by the title, am here to persuade you otherwise; Red is actually a brutally strong color if you know how to play it right (and, yes, we will be talking about land destruction).

First, introductions. I have been playing Magic for around seven years now; I started in high school, probably the worst time to be playing it from a social standpoint but we won’t get into that. In college I began my Legacy career, starting with Affinity and then cutting very deep into the format. I have played many, many different kinds of decks and, while I appreciate all the colors and combinations thereof, mono colored decks have always held an allure. It’s a challenge, you see: it’s relatively easy to just say to yourself “I’m lacking X kind of card; better splash Y color that has X in it!” But it’s entirely different to sit down with a mono White deck and say to yourself, “Okay, he has True-Name Nemesis and a Stoneforge Mystic with a Jitte in hand. How are we going to stop that?” We’ll be avoiding that particular Legacy scenario today. Instead let’s ask ourselves another question: “I know my Rhys, the Redeemed opponent plays Elesh Norn; so, what can my mono Red deck do to answer that?”

The answer is pretty simple: beat them before they beat you, using any (some brutal) means necessary. Fortunately for Red, winning quick is one of its strong points. Take my current Krenko, Mob Boss list for example:

http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/krenko-mob-boss-goblins-and-gangbangers/

Perhaps on the surface this seems like just another aggressive beatdown deck—and you wouldn’t be incorrect. This deck is all about pummeling your opponent as fast as you can. However, this list has more in common with its Legacy cousin than your typical Red aggro that flames out after a few turns. Come, let us go deeper into the warrens.

The Green Men

krenko

Krenko, Mob Boss

He really is a boss. Krenko takes the big chair in this deck over Kiki-Jiki because his ability is, simply put, broken in this deck. Doubling your army with expendable tokens is more relevant than just spamming combat—though that is always your primary plan. The tokens give you everything you need: mana from Skirk Prospector/Phyrexian Altar, damage from Siege-Gang Commander/Purphoros, God of the Forge and added buff with a Coat of Arms in play. Krenko himself has a few very relevant elements: being a 3/3 means that he survives Elesh Norn, allowing you to rebuild quickly if she does land; having a CMC of four means that Austere Command, unless choosing all creatures, may not hit him since your opponents are likely more worried about the tokens; finally, since he actually is a Goblin, Krenko is easy to recover from an Oblation, Spin into Myth or Chaos Warp—or he can be ignored completely. That’s the brilliance of this particular build, I think: it’s completely autonomous without the commander but becomes exponentially more lethal when he’s around.

kiki-jiki

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker

Krenko’s right hand goblin. Although Krenko is all-around more efficient, Kiki-Jiki is definitely the more powerful card and functions in complete symphony with the rest of the deck. He’s the card that Legacy Goblins has wet dreams about—a utility machine that just creates insane value. Beyond the obvious combo with Zealous Conscripts, Kiki-Jiki turns your already great Goblin Matron, Ringleader and Settler into repeating effects that will only infuriate your opponents. Or you can copy Piledriver to end a game sooner, Siege-Gang for more bodies or any of the lords to buff your team. There is very little to say about Kiki-Jiki other than that he is one of the reasons you should play Red.

goblin-assassin

Goblin Assassin

On the surface, the Assassin looks bad—terrible, really—until you consider his interaction with Krenko. Suddenly, your tokens become edict effects, albeit random ones. However, if you’re spitting out eight tokens, more than likely you’ll keep a few and your opponents will lose some, if not all, of their creatures. Goblin Assassin is the kind of card I go heads-over-heels for—a hidden card advantage engine if you use it properly.

sensation-gorger

Sensation Gorger

A Wheel of Fortune on legs. Except when you wheel with Gorger, you draw an extra card for turn, putting you at a temporary advantage—and, as a plus, you are guaranteed some kind of gas to go with him.

zo-zu-the-punisher

Zo-Zu, the Punisher

Rounding out the less obvious of the creatures is Zo-Zu, a card your opponents will learn to hate. Like Sensation Gorger above, Zo-Zu is a walking version of another card—Ankh of Mishra in this case. Zo-Zu is nice because he is a response to a common behavior among all EDH decks: ramp. From the best of the best in Exploration to something janky like Burnished Hart, Zo-Zu despises them all. Maybe your opponents will ignore him and take the damage, hoping to slam a lifesaver—and maybe the six-to-ten damage they have taken over the course of those few turns has softened them up for an alpha strike.

There are other cards I’d love to ramble about but I’d like to move on to other cards in the deck and how to relate to Red’s power in the EDH format. Specifically…

 

Land Destruction (or How I Learned That Sometimes You Have to Be a “Dick”):

So, here’s the thing: land destruction isn’t that bad. Yes, I know. You can’t cast your Tooth and Nail. I get it. It “sets the game back.” I know. I hear you over there, across the table, bemoaning top decks with no mana sources. But you know what? LD gets too much hate. If you cast Tooth and Nail, for example, and slam down an Iona and an Elesh Norn against my deck, I lose. That’s really all there is to it—maybe, yes, I’ll find Karn for your Iona and Chaos Warp your Norn, but that’s really, really unlikely. Meanwhile, you get to sit in behind your fat hatemonsters, wondering why I am frustrated. And I’ll tell you why—I wish you would have casted an Obliterate instead. Hell, Worldfire if it wasn’t banned. At least then I could maybe play some Magic.

Perhaps you choose a different kind of deck and you flip an Erayo, Soratami Ascendant and cast an Arcane Laboratory. How is this much different from me destroying your lands? Your opponents can’t cast anything, short of an Abrupt Decay or something off a Boseiju/Cavern of Souls, without losing it—in fact, it’s even less fair since you get to play your game while we sit around. Frankly, I don’t see how dominating with something like the previous two scenarios or something a bit more tame like a Sun Titan & Pernicious Deed lock is any less fair than cycling a Decree of Annihilation.

Here’s what I’ve learned about land destruction in EDH: people rarely play it “just to be a dick.” Aside from the handful  of people that think to themselves “man, I’d really love to play Hokori, the Dust Drinker” and massage themselves, most people running land destruction run it because they need an equalizer. Take something like Kaalia—right from turn zero, everyone at the table knows who they’re attacking first, who they’re playing their hates spell on first, who they’ll be “dealing with” first. It’s not unreasonable, Kaalia is a real bitch if she gets going—but it is dickish singling anyone out because they like a certain strategy. We’re all out to win, after all; even if we tell ourselves we’re “here to have fun,” Magic is a game in which there must be a victor—and sometimes that means you are destroying lands. In my mind, it’s completely fair to cast Armageddon with Kaalia in play since, without it, everyone else will simply crap on her for the entire game.

With Krenko, it’s much the same. As a committed aggro deck, I can’t afford to play the typical slow-game of EDH. I have very few “battlecruiser spells” (Insurrection is the goofiest I get) and most of my deck starts to grow stale past turn six. I need an equalizer, something that can give me an edge if the game goes long, and it shall if more than two people sit across from me. Land destruction naturally fits that need—by effectively taking us back to the early game, I can regain my footing and maybe scrape out a win.

Maybe you still dislike my rationale and that’s perfectly fine; if everyone preferred the exact same archetype and strategy Magic would become an entirely boring ordeal. All I ask is that you don’t castigate someone for liking or pursuing a particular strategy; instead, seek out your best way of counteracting it, be that through cards like Terra Eternal or simply sandbagging a land or two in your hand.

My current land destruction package is admittedly light; however, I dislike cards like Wildfire or Obliterate that wipe out my forces with them:

goblin-settler

Goblin Settler

This one is obvious: Stone Rain on a Goblin is crazy, crazy good. Especially with Goblin Lackey or Kiki-Jiki as I mentioned above.

wasteland stripmine

Wasteland/Strip Mine

Both are, in my opinion, necessary in most EDH decks. It’s nice to have an out to manlands, Maze of Ith and out-of-control ramp cards like Gaea’s Cradle, Cabal Coffers and Serra’s Sanctum. Note that I don’t run Crucible of Worlds because, frankly, I haven’t become that heartless yet.

price-of-glory

Price of Glory

Another reason why Red is awesome. Flavor text notwithstanding, Price of Glory forces your opponents to respond differently or suffer the consequences—while your game plan is completely unchanged.

bloodmoon

Blood Moon

Ah, yes, the bane of tri-color decks since nearly the dawn of the game itself. Blood Moon is another card that can blow some opponents right out of the water while leaving you basically unscathed, especially if they aren’t on Red.

impending-disaster

Impending Disaster

I love it when flavor (especially something that syncs with your commander) and mechanics come together. This card only becomes better with more players, and can take the heat off one of some other Krosan Grip-destined card you or a friend control.

Decree-of-Annihilation-FtV-Annihilation-Visual-Spoiler

Decree of Annihilation

Yes, the one everyone hates. Uncounterable, instant speed and draws you a card. You’ll be cycling this card 90% of the time, but sometimes it’s nice to just equalize everything.

ruination

Ruination

A nice answer to three-or-more color decks with very little downside for the mono Red player. It’s also nice that, even under a Blood Moon, Ruination destroys lands. Land Destruction isn’t the only reason to play Red. In fact, there are at least three other advantages Red has over any other color: Haste, Direct Damage, and Chaos. Let’s break each of these down.

fervor masshysteria hammer of purphoros

Haste

Oh, haste. Hasty haste. Other cards may give your creatures haste like Lightning Greaves or Concordant Crossroads, but none compare to Red. In my list alone (not including Goblin Warchief, Goblin Chieftain and Hellraiser Goblin), I have Fervor, Mass Hysteria and Hammer of Purphoros; even these don’t scratch the surface of other haste cards like Ogre Battledriver or Anger.

So, why care about haste? It only lasts for a turn, after all. Here’s the thing: one turn can make or break a game. One additional combat step can tilt the game in your favor, leaving slower opponents scrambling to keep up. This is only further compounded by Krenko’s ability; once you start spamming the field with twenty or so goblins at a time, your opponents suddenly start to get worried, often too late.

I also find many people like to play board wipes. Once things start to get hairy, your White mages start clutching their Austere Commands with great eagerness; your Blue mages, now realizing they can’t counter everything you do, start tutoring for Cyclonic Rift or Evacuation. Once the dust settles, things are back to the same, stalled safezone that “everyone wants” while they return to assembling their pillowforts. Haste gives the Red deck the ability to recoup after a wipe and continue to disrupt your reactive opponents, keeping the damage stream going. On that note, let’s talk about…

Direct Damage

And I’m not talking about Lightning Bolt. In my list, there are a few cards that do DD, but each are more devastating than your typical bolt; some are more goblin- or token-centric, so take this list with a grain of salt.

goblin-bombardment

Goblin Bombardment

Again, flavor win. Most of the time this doubles your damage output, turning any goblin that deals damage to your opponent into a bomb. However, it also gives you good creature removal, generating card advantage via Krenko’s token ability and by making your Goblin Sharpshooter go berserk.

siege-gang commander

Siege-Gang Commander

Functions much like Goblin Bombardment, except that he deals more damage and brings a bunch of cousins to load into the cannon.

purphoros

Purphoros, God of the Forge

A blessing for Red, Purphoros demolishes pillowforts with his godly hammer. His pump ability, though expensive, is a nice touch. Sometimes you’ll be swinging with him, though this is just icing on the cake.

chandra-ablaze

Chandra Ablaze

I was skeptical of it at first, but Chandra deals with most commanders, creatures, other planeswalkers, your opponents… honestly, she’s just great, even if you are discarding Red cards. Her other abilities, especially her little wheel, are bonuses as far as I am concerned.

bonfire of the damned

Bonfire of the Damned

B-B-B-Burn everything in your path! A one-sided wipe is very much what this deck wants, especially when it can hurt planeswalkers or straight-up dome people.

mizziummortars

Mizzium Mortars

A staple of Red EDH decks and in this deck for the same reason as Bonfire, though the fact it can never be turned on you and can be a decent Flame Slash.

goblinsharpshooter lightning crafter

Goblin Sharpshooter/Lightning Crafter

More synergy with the rest of the deck; Crafter has the bonus of saving a Goblin Matron or Goblin Ringleader from a boardwipe, Sharpshooter has the ability to go nuts with a bunch of tokens and a sacrifice outlet.

pandemonium-time-spiral

Pandemonium

If you’re one of those Norin the Wary type,s you are already familiar with this card. Beyond costing much less than a Warstorm Surge, Pandemonium creates just that: complete chaos. Suddenly your opponents are hurting one another; players previous lacking in removal need only play a creature to remove the Nekusar or Azami that has been plaguing them. Sure sometimes they may hit you, but there’s a chance they won’t—and this brings us to Red’s last saving grace…

wheeloffortunealpha

Chaos

Ever since the printing of Wheel of Fortune, chaos as a theme has been Red’s major advantage and disadvantage. When you’re winning it does not seem advantageous… but if you’re losing? What’s the worst that could happen? Chaos further adds to Red’s political advantage that I think few players appreciate.

warpworld

Take Warp World, for example (it’s not in my Krenko list, but it is definitely a good Red card): its effect screams “Hey guys! Let’s see what we can do next!” Warp World is the kind of card that gives players who are losing or being oppressed by other commanders a glint of hope — this is Red’s most underplayed advantage, I believe: not the ability to necessarily change the board, but to change the minds of your opponents. If you cast a huge, chaos-y spell that gives previously bloodied players a second wind, you’ll gain political currency with them that can translate into a direct advantage in-game (note: do not expect any favors from Spikes; they’ll thank you for releasing their shackles and proceed to kill you just as mercilessly as your opponents).

A few cards I run under the Chaos banner are:

gamble-urzas-saga

Gamble

Flavor text says it all. Sometimes this card nets you a Sol Ring on turn one, sometimes you discard a Kiki-Jiki and frown. But, either way, there’s a chance. Not that this card is a fun way to make friends by choosing someone to choose your card to discard.

chaoswarp

Chaos Warp

Pretty much standard in all Red EDH decks. As a Red Oblation, this card trades something really scary (Elesh Norn, Propaganda) for potentially something else. Or you can use it to gain favor from someone who has had a commander or beloved fatty stolen. Your choice.

wheel-of-fortune

Wheel of Fortune

Another card that is basically a staple. Wheel effects are a nice way of restocking an empty hand with fuel and also a great way to equalizes anyone with a stocked hand and a Reliquary Tower out.

Well, I hope you’re still with me! This article definitely turned out to be more of a monster than I originally intended, but I hope you enjoyed reading it. Hopefully I’ve swayed your opinion on land destruction and Red’s power in EDH; maybe you’re sharpening your pitchforks in the comments section. Regardless, I have one thing to remind you of before I go…

Red deck wins!

– J.C. Wilbur

Commanding Opinion – Toshiro Umezawa Commander/EDH

Does anyone else out there remember when every Magic set got a novel? I used to love that, I collected those little paperback bastards and would always have a dogeared copy of one of them in my backpack next to my books for English class. While Kamigawa block had some gameplay issues, its novels were stellar. I recently reread them and in doing so reacquainted myself with Toshiro Umezawa.

Last time I read through the Kamigawa trilogy, EDH was not a thing, now I had the ability to bring my favourite character from the books to life on the tabletop. This is how my Mono-Black KILL ALL THE THINGS deck was born.

toshiroumezawa

Having played him for a while now, I have discovered that Toshiro is a very cool card and he possesses exceptional potential – but he comes with some serious pros and cons.

Pros:
He Is Cheap – A mono-color Commander with CMC 3 is exceptionally easy to cast and re-cast. You can reliably count on Toshiro to be present for the majority of the time you’re playing the deck.
He Is Unassuming – Commander players take the phrase “fear the unknown” and turn it on its head. When you sit down for a game of Commander, the table is far more likely to attack the deck that has slaughtered them before than the deck they have never seen. There is almost no one out there that has seen a Toshiro Commander deck which is a massive advantage for you.
His Ability Is Powerful – Once you have figured out how to make Toshiro tick, he is an absolutely devastating Commander.

Cons:

He Is Tricky To Master – Figuring out what makes Toshiro tick will take some time. I have been playing him consistently for 3.5 months, with solid success, and there are still micro-interactions in my deck that I don’t notice until it is too late.
Indestructible and Hexproof Ruin Your Day – You will have to play some niche answers to these keywords because an Avacyn or an Uril will shred your face if you’re just relying on Black “good stuff” to carry the day.

Toshiro is an odd duck because he is both linear and flexible.

In order for it to make sense to play him as your Commander, you have to have lots of Instants and you have to make sure that there are a lot of things dying on your opponents’ side of the board. A Commander with so many caveats to success definitely falls into the “linear” camp.

Toshi’s flexibility comes from his colour identity. Mono-Black loves playing Instants that also happen to kill things. There is a surprisingly deep card pool of viable options to choose from with Toshi and there are many viable lists that can be drawn from such a “linear” Commander.

The wide variety of options aside, here are some things most Toshi lists should play:

A Quick Disclaimer: Before you die-hard Elder Dragons out there tear apart some of my suggestions, I need you to breathe deeply and remember the lesson that Necropotence taught us all those years ago: It doesn’t matter what your life total is if you’ve already won the game.

  • Black Market
  • Cabal Ritual
  • Crypt Ghast
  • Dark Ritual
  • Entomb
  • Imp’s Mischief
  • Lethal Vapors
  • Liliana of the Veil
  • Nirkana Revenant
  • Null Profusion
  • Silence the Believers
  • Spoils of Evil
  • Vampiric Tutor
  • Vendetta
  • Withering Boon 

blackmarket cryptghast nirkanarevenant

Black Market, Crypt Ghast, and Nirkana Revenant are all-stars in most Black decks. Toshi can get a little mana-hungry, especially if your graveyard is very full and lots of things are dying, and having any combination of these three on the battlefield ensures that you will never be at a loss for options. Toshi decks tend towards being controlling, and the Extort from the Crypt Ghast can get some surprising mileage in longer games.

cabalritual darkritual spoilsofevil

Cabal Ritual, Dark Ritual, and Spoils of Evil also address the issue of mana, but do so in a very different way. Playing Toshiro is all about learning how to chain the spells from your hand and the spells in your graveyard together in order to properly manipulate the state of the board. While “ritual” effects are not always very good in Commander, they are excellent in a deck that can use them to establish a presence early in the game and then be guaranteed to use them later to maintain advantage.

entomb vampirictutor

Entomb and Vampiric Tutor are both instants and tutors, which is important to Toshiro. Toshiro is a deck that is very much about setting up your dominoes and then knocking them down just right. The ability to tutor twice with one card is instrumental in executing a victory with Toshi.

silencethebelievers

Silence the Believers is currently the best Black answer to Indestructible creatures. It sucks that Toshi won’t see them die, but sometimes Avacyn has just gotta go.

vendetta

Vendetta is generally considered bad in Commander. In a format where mana is rarely a problem and creatures tend to be BIG, a removal spell that trades its casting cost for a penalty directly influenced by the size of its target seems bad. Trust me on this one though – after many games with Toshi, having a 1-mana removal spell is amazing.

lilianaoftheveil

Speaking of generally considered bad in Commander, Liliana of the Veil is right at home here. Her +1 has synergy with Toshiro’s graveyard manipulation, and her repeatable edict that costs no mana is insane in this deck. When anything dying lets you cast a potentially powerful spell from your graveyard, your opponent sacrificing a token to her ability seems a little less heartbreaking.

witheringboon impsmischief

Withering Boon and Imp’s Mischief don’t seem very good. Both of them are worse versions of cards in other colours, but this doesn’t mean you can write them off. Both of these cards allow Toshi, and Mono-Black in general, to catch opponents off-guard. It’s amazing to witness how powerful people’s assumptions are, even if you have these lying in your graveyard, plain to see, people will still be surprised when the Black deck counters their Sigarda after casting Doom Blade on their Wurm token.

lethalvapors

At its very worst, Lethal Vapors reads “target player loses a turn”; at its best, no one is quite sure how to react to this card and you get to harvest substantial advantage from it. If you have cast a lot of utility instants in the first few turns, this card will let you maximize their impact and set you up for the mid-game. If the momentum of others players has been out of your ability to control, this card will let you curtail that momentum for a bit so that you can stabilize.

nullprofusion

I have saved the very best for last: Null Profusion. If there is one thing that this deck is going to be doing a lot of, it is casting spells. Null Profusion is the perfect card advantage engine for this deck, because while you’re going to be getting more than one use out of most of your spells, you’re still going to be burning through them. Null Profusion ensures you never run out of fuel for your Mono-Black Murder Fire.

The cards listed above are things that I would recommend for anyone thinking of building a deck around Toshiro Umezawa. To fill in the rest of the deck, I would suggest the following categories of cards:

  • Creatures that kill things when they enter the battlefield (eg. Shriekmaw)
  • Things that let you pilfer from opponents’ graveyards (eg. Fated Return)
  • Things that let you profit when lots of creatures are dying (eg. Blood Artist)
  • Answers to Hexproof and Indestructible

Lastly, you should settle on a consistent way to win the game. My Toshiro deck is what I would call Attrition-Combo: I chip away at the life total in the early game using opportunistic attacks and creatures taken from the graveyards of my enemies, I then close out the game with repeated castings of Tendrils of Agony thanks to Yawgmoth’s Will or a powerful creature buffed with Hatred and Tainted Strike.

I have seen Toshi builds that hew much closer to traditional Mono-Black control and I have seen hyper-aggressive Toshi strategies that try and clear a path to the red zone as quickly as possible. There are a lot of ways to play Mr. Umezawa and the best approach is to play and tweak until you find something that works for you.

Good Luck and Happy Building!

PS: Toshiro makes a cool addition to the 99 if you’re playing a graveyard-centric Black deck. Since I started using him as a commander, he has popped up in my playgroup outside of the command zone. Jarad Dredge, Marchesa Board Wipes.dec, and Skeleton Ship Control have all made use of Toshi. If you’re planning on having a full graveyard, you are going get your money’s worth out of a three-mana permanent that does a good impression of Yawgmoth’s Will.

-/u/JackSonor

This is another new section from another writer, Anycolorbutblack. This is the first in a series of EDH Theme Decks – the first one being 5-color spirit tribal. 

The Great Serpent

Hello everybody, I’m Anycolorbutblack, and today I’d like to bring to your attention my favorite part of the Commander format (and truth be told, all of Magic), building thematic decks.

Commander is (in my opinion at least) the best format for making playable decks of this nature, partly due to the fact that the games last longer, and cards that cannot be played in other formats make an appearance, and partly because the Commander (or General) of the deck makes it really easy to have a concrete base a theme off of them.

Although using the commander as a starting point for the theme isn’t really necessary, sometimes it’s not even possible to find a commander who fits the colors and theme of the deck you want. Sometimes sacrifices must be made for the good of the theme. Be warned that thematic decks are not for the hyper competitive player that wants to win 95% of his games (this doesn’t mean that you should expect to lose either). You’re going to be in it for the long haul with a theme deck (or at least the ones I make always turn out that way), so don’t expect to combo out turn 2, but longer games mean more time to show off the beautiful interactions (both mechanically and flavourfully) in your deck.

Anyways. Without further ado, I give you the first Common Thread.

progenitus

Progenitus. Kamigawa. Spiritcraft. This might seem like an odd way to start a series on Commander theme decks, with the commander not matching the theme of the deck, but sometimes things don’t always work out the way you want them to (and sometimes if you squint hard enough, they just might).

This deck originally started as a five color good stuff deck after receiving Progenitus as a Christmas gift, just without the good stuff. I don’t really remember the exact list, but I can clearly recall it running a Master of Diversion as the only card that tapped peoples stuff, or even had a trigger on attack (it was my first EDH deck okay?), so not really a theme deck (mechanical or otherwise). I realized that this was incredibly boring and, well, complete garbage. So I decided to make a change, and that change pretty much determined what the rest of my EDH decks would look like.  Kamigawa was always my favourite block, and I’ve always liked tribal decks, so I decided to put two and two together and get something resembling a four. A five color good stuff/spiritcraft deck (for the uninitiated, spiritcraft is the name given to “Whenever you play a Spirit or Arcane spell, do [insert mediocre effect here.]”)

You can find my decklist of it here.

In the final incarnation of this deck, there are a number of minor themes that unite to create the overarching theme of The Great Serpent.  First, we have as mentioned previously spiritcraft, spirit tokens, Legendary matters, tribal pumping and five color good stuff (FCGS). Of these themes FCGS quite clearly doesn’t seem to mesh that well with the others, this was a small(ish) sacrifice that was needed to make the deck more playable. Of course another theme in this deck is that a lot of the cards are from the Kamigawa block, mostly because that’s where the tribe got a lot of its 5 color support.

Representative Cards:

  • Oyobi, Who Split the Heavens/Sekki, Season’s Guide
  • Coat of Arms
  • Time of Need

oyobiwhosplittheheavenssekkiseasonsguide

Oyobi, Who Split the Heavens is a fantastic example of the kind of spiritcraft effects that are found in this Tribal themed deck. Play a spirit; get an effect, in this case another spirit. Oyobi fits the deck really well thematically, because 1) she’s a spirit, 2) is legendary, 3) creates spirit tokens, and 4) is from Kamigawa.  The fact that she makes tokens that large are pretty solid, too. Sekki, Seasons’ Guide also makes tokens, but also has some recursion built in – by sacrificing 8 spirits, you can return him to play. If Sekki takes 8 damage and gets you 8 1/1s, you can just sacrifice them to bring him back and get even more tokens.

coatofarms

This card is a must have in any tribal deck, and five color spirits is no exception. It showcases the power of token power possible in this deck, because it makes your tokens gained from Oyobi and Sekki (as well as others) into massive beaters.

timeofneed

This card is really quite useful in the deck, due to the fact you can tutor an answer for pretty much anything with it. Someone just get 100 Tokens with Empty the Warrens? Grab the Myojin of Cleansing Fire. Did the mono Blue player Zenith for 18? Get the Myojin of Night’s Reach. Someone just play a land? Better punish them with the Myojin of Infinite Rage. It also represents a great moment in the Kami war, which you can find on Wizards website. (The most flavourful pull is always Jugan).

In this final section of Common Threads we’re going to discussing what would happen to this deck, if we could change a few things about the reality of Magic: The Gathering. We first start off at the edge of our reality in a world where we have an unlimited budget, and what changes that would entail in the deck. We then dip our toes into a world where some cards are altered just slightly to fit the theme of the deck a little bit better. From there, we go straight off the deep end and look at a card specially crafted for our theme, and discuss some very thin threads.

“You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.”

If we had no limit on what we could spend on this deck, the first thing we’d do would be to fix up the mana base. Right now it’s a bit hobbled together by the cards I already owned, but without a budget, it could become a lot more consistent. Of course we’d keep Cavern of Souls, and then for starters we’d pick up a set of shock lands, then a set of duals (beta of course), ten fetches, and finally round it out with some check lands (which might not be the best choice, but there are my personal favourite and work well with the duals and shocks.)  A Geist of Saint Traft would be another solid addition to the list, and after that who knows. (There aren’t that many expensive spirits)

With some wet feet, we proceed into the world of complete fantasy (impossible instead of improbable). If I could change one card in the deck slightly to fit with the theme, it would of course be the Commander himself. He’d become a Spirit Hydra, which would allow him to be pumped more easily, add to the impact when he hits that field by triggering spirit craft (not that he isn’t already a huge impact) and by making him uncounterable with the Cavern  without sacrificing its usefulness in mana fixing for the rest of the deck.

If I had the chance to make one card specifically for this deck, it would have to include the spiritcraft ability, involve all five colors, be mindful of the Kamigawa block and the cards printed in it, and interact somehow with legendary cards. With that in mind, I give you Kakuriyo, named for the spirit world of Kamigawa.

Kakuriyo

Kakuriyo

Legendary Land

Tap: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to cast legendary spells. Kakuriyo doesn’t untap during your next untap step.

Spiritcraft—whenever you cast a spirit or arcane spell, put a 1/1 spirit token with colors the same as that spell on to the battlefield.

If you really squint hard enough, you can see a reason why I chose Progenitus to be the Commander of this deck other than his colors and the fact I got him as a gift. There’s a theory that’s floating around on the net (that I did not come up with) that the Great Serpent, O-Kagachi and Progenitus are actually the same entity. This is supported (very loosely) by the shared appearance between the great creatures, the fact that they both serve as an avatar or “Soul” for their respective planes. At least that’s what I like to believe. One can always dream and grasp at the threads.

– Anycolorbutblack

This is a guest post from a fantastic magic writer from Tumblr, Shawn from CommanDollar.

Enjoy the article!

-SolemnParty

Rejoice! For Xenagos, the God of Revels is now in command.

xenagod

The gods of Theros create a very unique playstyle as commanders; when they come out on the field, they usually aren’t creatures – which makes their other abilities far more dangerous. Removal is now a major issue, as the only way to get rid of a god is to exile it (cards like Revoke Existence and Deicide come to mind) or return it to it’s owner’s hand.

Xenagos, God of Revels (or Xenagod) functions as a great addition to the voltron style, even if he doesn’t have enough devotion to be a creature, as well as aggro. His final ability, which doubles the power of a creature and gives it haste for a turn, can turn your threats into even more potent threats, giving you the advantage in combat every turn. Your goal with Xenagod as your commander is to ramp for more mana as quickly as you can manage, cast your commander, and then start attacking with creatures every turn after that. Creatures with trample will make the Gruul beatdown you delve out more efficient.
So now you have an idea of how Xenagod should play-but no idea as to which cards belong in the deck. Here’s a helpful breakdown of some cards that can help you win target game:

Mana Ramp/Land Ramp:

These cards are meant to get you mana and get it fast.

harrow

  • Harrow
  • Rites of Flourishing
  • Sakura-Tribe Elder
  • Sol Ring
  • Sylvan Caryatid
  • Yavimaya Elder

These are for the first few turns of the game, to speed you right into cards like:

oracleofmuldaya

  • Oracle of Mul Daya
  • Caged Sun
  • Gauntlet of Power
  • Boundless Realms

The more lands you have, the easier it will be to cast those creatures you want to play, and the better of a chance to draw creatures rather than land!

Ways to Cheat Creatures out:

Even though you have all that mana to work with, you still want to cheat out your higher-costing creatures.

deathrender quicksilveramulet

Deathrender and Quicksilver Amulet let you do so with a small bit of effort on your part, though your opponent(s) will see it coming.

defenseoftheheart

Defense of the Heart is great if someone is trying to build up their defenses against your board – every upkeep when an opponent has at least three creatures, you can sacrifice Defense of the Heart to get any two creatures and put them into play.

garrukshorde guildfeud lurking predators

Garruk’s Horde, Guild Feud, and Lurking Predators, all build your board straight from your deck.

genesiswave

Genesis Wave puts all that mana you have to good use, letting you drop a massive amounts of cards directly from your deck onto the field.

Help Connecting for Damage:

Once you have that aggressive board state, you need to make sure you connect.

archetype of aggressionnylea

Archetype of Aggression and Nylea, God of the Hunt are enchantment creatures that both grant trample by just being in play, and Archetype of Aggression has the added bonus of removing trample from your opponent’s creatures as well. Of the two, however, Nylea is much more powerful, at a more managable mana cost. 1RR is harder to pay for than 3G, and she also becomes a 6/6 (though without trample) that can easily hit people hard, and can also pump a creature +2/+2 until end of turn for 3G.

rancor skarrg guildmage triumph of the hordes

Rancor, Skarrg Guildmage, and Triumph of the Hordes also give trample to help punch a hole through their life (seeing as the quickest way to a person’s heart is through their chest). Triumph of the Hordes is also a win condition in the right situation – especially with the card below.

mageslayer

Mage Slayer is an absolute must in this deck; being able to hit someone for damage even before blockers are declared with this can mean the end of the game for someone. If that creature has infect, it poisons them before they can even try to block you – and if you connect it’s basically game over.

warstormsurge

Warstorm Surge is also huge – every time you drop a large creature, take a chunk out of your opponent. Then if Xenagod is on the field, take some more. It’s important to note that it also hits creatures as well, so removing annoyances like Magus of the Moat that would usually be a problem is easy with this card.

Creatures that Bring the Pain:

Now you have an aggressive board state. You just need a hammer to nail it all down.

infernotitan

Inferno Titan is one of the biggest red “good stuff” cards. It can toss 3 damage per swing and when it comes into play, wiping out small creatures and smashing face.

vorinclex

Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger, is probably the meanest of the Praetors. Mana doubling and denial on a 7/6 beater with trample is awesome.

worldspinewurmborborygmousenraged

Worldspine Wurm and Borborygmos Enraged are big and come equipped with trample and more.

balefiredragon hellkitetyrant

Balefire Dragon and Hellkite Tyrant fly, making things even more difficult when your opponent expects you to stay on the ground. Balefire with a Xenagod trigger can blow out an opponent’s boardstate, while Hellkite takes advantage of the huge amount of artifacts in Commander.

rubblehulkmistcutterhydra

Rubblehulk is just as big as all those lands you’ve been putting out, and Mistcutter Hydra can be too!

malignus

The killer is Malignus – if an opponent has more life than you, team that up with Xenagos and Mage Slayer for a one-hit KO!

So, overall, here’s a skeleton list:

[column width=”200px” padding=”10px”]
Creatures:
Xenagos, God of Revels
Archetype of Aggression
Balefire Dragon
Borborgymous Enraged
Brawn
Garruk’s Horde
Hellkite Tyrant
Malignus
Mistcutter Hydra
Nylea, God of the Hunt
Oracle of Mul Daya
Rubblehulk
Sakura Tribe-Elder
Skarrg Guildmage
Sylvan Caryatid
Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger
Worldspine Wurm
Yavimaya Elder

Sorceries:
Boundless Realms
Triumph of the Horde

Instants:
Harrow
Worldly Tutor

Enchantments:
Defense of the Heart
Guild Feud
Lurking Predators
Rancor
Rites of Flourishing
Warstorm Surge

Planeswalkers:
Xenagos, the Reveler

Artifacts:
Caged Sun
Deathrender
Gauntlet of Power
Mage Slayer
Sol Ring
Quicksilver Amulet
[/column]
[end_columns]

The idea of this deck is very forward; ramp quickly, play Xenagod, then start hitting your opponents until they have no life left. You should also make sure to bring some removal for artifacts, enchantments, and deathtouch. Fortunately Gruul has so much available for that kind of removal. Also keep in mind that once you cast Xenagod, your creatures will have a much bigger impact during your combat phase-even 1/1 tokens! The deck is more fast paced, but can hold out for a while, so long as you prepare for such. The strength of this deck, however, is to be attacking almost every chance you get, so you can revel in victory over your fallen opponents.

-Shawn from CommanDollar

Thanks to MTG Quick Shop for letting us re-blog this post here on Win Target Game. Today, he takes a look at a couple of decks that should perform quite well in the Post-Return to Ravnica Standard format. Enjoy!

nissa-worldwaker

Well, well. It looks like we are only about a month from rotation!

Some of us are still playing Magic in Modern, others are still playing in the current rotation, but the end is near! If you are like me, then you are looking into the future, for post-rotation standard. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Immediately after rotation, if we exclude Khans of Tarkir (but more on that later), there are a couple of top tier decks:
Mono Green, Rabble Red, Mono Black, Jund Super Friends, Gruul and BUG Walkers. So which one should you play?

In this part we will be examining two options, Rabble Red and Mono Black.

Because of the lack of useful dual lands, the post-rotation Standard will be slow. These two decks, which are both aggro, seek to exploit this by winning early and quickly.

First off, decklists:

The standard choices are there, such as Goblin Rabblemaster, which provides a strong core for the deck and is easily the strongest creature in the deck. Akroan Crusader and Firedrinker Satyr are there as extra one-drops to speed up the deck, in addition, the interaction with Hammerhand is very useful. Generator Servant adds a lot of speed and power to the deck and has great interactions with Goblin Rabblemaster, and sometimes, Krenko’s Enforcer. Purphoros, God of the Forge provides an extra late game boost along with his Hammer of Purphoros which, used correctly can end the game early. Twinflame often ends the game when used with Goblin Rabblemaster, while Chandra provides late game power, which solves the problem that previous red decks had when they would run out of gas in the late game. Hall of Triumph and Obelisk of Urd can also end the game when used correctly, and finally, Lightning Strike and Stoke the Flames are easily the most versatile and/or best burn cards in the post-rotation standard format.

In the sideboard, we have a host of choices to deal with expected popular decks, Altac Bloodseeker should be a strong two drop against creature-heavy decks and Forge Devil is good in aggro mirror match-ups and killing Elvish Mystic and other one-drops. Eidolon of the Great Revel shuts down control (although that probably won’t be a problem). Harness by Force is a good game-ender against Jund Super Friends and Mono-Green, should they get out a monster that early. Phyrexian Revoker shuts down Elspeth, and is there almost completely specifically to shut down Elspeth and only her. Finally, Fated Conflagration hits BUG Walkers hard. The playtesting winrate for this deck was 60%, not bad but not ideal either, however, it is worth noting that it had the earliest kills, and most of its matchups were not very good.

Good matchups: Slower decks

Bad Matchups: Mono-Black Aggro (Forge Devil remedies this to some effect)

Now, let’s take a look at the Mono-Black Aggro!.

 

Mono-Black Aggro is a lot simpler and does not require as much explanation, usually, you would want to put two Thoughtseize‘s in the mainboard and two in the sideboard, although in this decklist, I did not include them since this was originally meant to be a budget brew. Brain Maggot acts as a 3rd and 4th Thoughtseize with the added security of not taking damage, although it seriously slows down the tempo, overall, a balance is probably best. The rest are self explanatory cheap beaters. Bile blight is actually used less than Ulcerate, and the reason for that is in an aggro deck like this, it is a price worth paying to preserve the extra mana. Maxed out copies (4) of Hero’s Downfall is used as it will be very good against BUG Walkers and gives it extra utility and removal. Finally, two Halls of Triumph are very good game enders when used properly. In the sideboard we have a host of utilities designed to give us the advantage on the battlefield. The playtesting winrate for this deck was 80% although you may want to take this with a grain of salt, as I mainly had overall favorable matchups.

So which deck should you play?

I’ve listed the pros and cons of each to make your life easier:

Rabble Red:

Pros:

  • Very Fast
  • When sideboard hate can be used it is extremely strong and effective.
  • Red will likely be a strong archetype with the release of Khans of Tarkir (more information on the exclusive information will come later in the series!)

Cons:

  • Not as consistent.
  • Loses steam in the late game.
  • Low utilities.

Mono-Black Aggro:

Pros:

  • Very consistent and pumps out extreme pressure every turn to secure victories.
  • Higher winrate.
  • Has a lot of utilities in the form of removal and spells.
  • Black will likely be a strong archetype as well.

Cons:

  • Not as powerful early game.
  • Sideboard hate is not as specific.

Well, there you have it folks! Decide from this or do some play-testing on your own.

You’ll want to check out the MTG Quick Shop blog, as he will also be exploring other top-tier deck strategies, as well as some exclusive information on Khans of Tarkir!

This is a guest post from /u/SofB, who wanted to write a little about Horde of Notions – so here’s his article! 

-SolemnParty

hordeofnotions

When I first saw this card in a trade binder I was looking through, I lit up in a way I hadn’t in a very long time. Horde of Notions didn’t speak to me in a particularly weird way, many players know exactly how my deck plays just by looking at his ability. Horde’s a very simple whale, tree, bear, fox, rabbit hybrid…. thing, but actually simple is what he wants to do: Hit hard, block hard, and bring out his other big Elemental friends so they can go hard on your opponents.

Once you hit that casting cost, he hits the ground running, swinging in for 5 damage with haste, ignoring chump blockers with trample, and he even stays up to block with vigilance. What’s more interesting is what you can do with his activated ability: you can pay WUBRG to play an Elemental from your graveyard without paying its mana cost. No restrictions on when you can activate it either; if you have one mana of each color, any Elemental spell in your graveyard threatens to return to battle once more.

Great Tech:

smokebraider

This card is a windmill slam for Horde of Notions. Our number one go to mana guy casts for 1R, and is a 1/1 with the ability to tap for 2 mana in any combination of colors, so long as the mana is spent casting an Elemental or activating an ability of an Elemental. Maybe it gets beat out by Generator Servant in most environments, but in a deck chock full of Elementals… lets just say that this is one of very few mana dorks that can elicit groans from opponents. If you have 3 different colors when you untap with this guy, he can power out Horde on turn 3! And then you can swing for 5 commander damage with vigilance! On turn 3! This card is an absolute must in any list that uses Horde of Notions.

cribswap

For 2 and a white, you can exile any creature, but you opponent gets a 1/1 creature token in return. That seems pretty boring, right? WRONG. This upgrade over Afterlife has the ability Changeling, which means it has all creature types all the time. Since this includes the subtype Elemental, you can have this innocuous little instant sit in your graveyard until just the right time, and then pop it out with Horde of Notions ability! 5 mana to exile a creature with a downside sounds bad on paper, but in a game where you can sit on 5 mana while commanding the board with an Elemental horde, this babymaker can take out a whole lot of resilient threats.

celestialforce tidalforce  balefulforce

The Force cycle (except blue): This cycle is one of the most drawn out cycles in Magic history, starting out way back in 1997 with Verdant Force appearing in Tempest, and finishing with Baleful Force in Commander 2013 (okay, the blue one was printed then too, but we aren’t going to talk about that one). The Forces are all 8 mana for a 7/7 with an ability that triggers on each upkeep. In a two player game, they can be a little lackluster, but in a game with more than 3 people, they get out of hand, and they do it FAST. The white force gains you 3 life each upkeep, the black one is a phyrexian arena, the red one bolts things, and the green force makes 1/1 saprolings. In a 4 player game with all of these guys out (all of which are 7/7, it’s worth noting), by the time you get to your next upkeep, you’ve netted yourself 8 life, drawn 4 cards, made 4 blockers and bolted 4 other things. It’s worth noting that the blue one twiddles things, but I mean, why twiddle things when you can hit thing in the face with a lightning bolt or draw cards? I’m sure it has a home, but it’s not in my stompy list.

magmaticforce verdantforce

Lackluster tech:

skullbriar
When I first put my list together, I thought that Skullbriar, the Walking Grave was going to be a very worthy include. You play him early, hit people until he gets killed, and then bring him back as big as he was with Horde of Notions. Unfortunately, without evasion he stops getting big, and he is very vulnerable to exile, bounce and tuck effects. Without the safety of a command zone, Skullbriar is quite lackluster.

liegeofthetangle

While Liege of the Tangle is a rousing Vorthos success in an Elemental deck, he is never something I want to cast. Turning your lands into big beater with a subtype that your deck is built around feels really good, but having it immediately followed by a Wrath effect feels considerably worse. Liege is fun, but leaving yourself so vulnerable is never a great plan.

primalsurge

For ten mana, you could activate your commander’s ability twice, or you could gamble it on this card. It’s not a bad option for all that mana, but if you use ramp or fixing spells like Rampant Growth, Shard Convergence or Cultivate, or run removal, like Swords to Plowshares, Wrath of God or Cyclonic Rift, your chances of whiffing on Primal Surge go up, especially later in a game, when you don’t want to exile your removal. I’d only recommend this if you’re playing a build that’s almost entirely permanents.

Surprise Tech:

thundermare

A 6 mana 5/5 that stops your other guys from attacking? That seems pretty bad, I hear you say. And when you cast it during your turn, unless your opponent is at 5 life, yeah, it’s pretty bad, but if it’s in your graveyard, you can use it to fog all of your opponents, and leave them vulnerable to an alpha strike by your untapped army when the turn comes back to you.

ghostway

3 mana to exile your board can not only protect it from any Wraths, it can also get quite a lot of value from creatures with ETB effects, and especially creatures with Evoke, since some creature trigger upon leaving the battlefield while others trigger when they enter the battlefield. Since basically every evoke creature worth anything is an Elemental, you can usually get quite a bit of value out a well timed Ghostway.

foundrychampion

This card surprised even me when I first got to cast it from my deck. In a long and drawn out game, where you’ve got a good board but can’t quite get the damage through, Foundry Champion can come in and straight burn out most threats, and if you have enough guys, you can burn out a player with one too.

Here is the decklist I currently run for Horde of Notions. As with many 5 color decks, the biggest issue is going to be the mana base, which is a problem which is solved best by throwing money at the deck, unfortunately. While my deck runs 1 of each shockland, and a Cavern of Souls, there are also some more budget alternatives. Primal Beyond is tailor made for this deck, and Crystal Quarry can help you out in a pinch. A good number of fetchlands would also benefit this deck, whether they be from Zendikar, or just the Alara fetchlands and an Evolving Wilds and Terramorphic Expanse. A Maze’s End and 10 gates are also something I considered, but Maze’s End often paints a target on you, as players will assume that you plan to win with it.

And that is a look at some tech and traps for Horde of Notions! If you want to build a deck yourself, I hope you keep these cards under advisement, and if you’ve got a deck already, maybe you have some other cards that perform well or badly for you, which I’d love to hear about!

-/u/SofB

 

This is a guest post from /u/Jacksonor, and is the first guest post on the site! He mentioned a few unique decks and I wanted him to talk about Rakdos, Lord of Riots. Anyway, on with the article.

-SolemnParty

Ladies, gentlemen, and everything in between – the party has arrived. Please allow me to introduce the big man himself:

rakdos

Much like the always stylish mullet, Rakdos is all business up front, with a party in the back. Before we get to the fun, let’s take care of brass tacks, shall we?

Rakdos, Lord of Riots is a 6/6 Legendary Demon with an unusual limitation.

Even without his main attraction, Rakdos has a lot going for him. He is (very) aggressively costed and comes with evasion AND trample – because there is no kill like overkill. However, all great things come at a steep price and Rakdos negotiates up front. If you’re just sitting around sipping cocktails and indulging in “conversation” Rakdos won’t come to your party. The big bad demon only attends “fun” parties.

A “fun” B/R party means that players are taking damage and are very likely to take more.

If you want to play Rakdos, you have to also play things that can deliver pain to your opponents early. If you’ve gotten in the red zone early enough, the big man can arrive right on turn 4. If Rakdos arrives on the scene in time, things are going to get out of hand fast.

While kicking things off with a bang is great, you need to sustain that momentum if you want to have a chance of recovering if Rakdos is tossed off the board early.

Here’s a few cards that bring pain, enough pain to share lots with your friends:

  • Blind Zealot
  • Bloodgift Demon
  • Cunning Sparkmage
  • Hellrider
  • Mogis’s Marauder
  • Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
  • Pestilence/Pyrohemia
  • Pulse Tracker
  • Punishing Fire
  • Purphoros, God of the Forge
  • Spiteful Returned
  • Stuffy Doll
  • Vampire Nighthawk

blindzealot

Blind Zealot, is one of our creatures that populates the curve that leads into Rakdos. A 2/2 for 1BB, he can easily get in for damage due to having Intimidate. And if they had a potential blocker, he can also kill off that creature by sacrificing himself.

mogis

Mogis’s Marauder gives at least one of your creatures intimidate and haste when it comes into play, and maybe even more.

spitefulreturned pulsetracker

Pulse Tracker and Spiteful Returned both make opponents lose life without actually hitting anyone.

vampirenighthawk

Vampire Nighthawk, as always, is a really fantastic creature with 3 abilities for 1BB.

bloodgiftdemon purphoros

Bloodgift Demon, Cunning Sparkmage, Hellrider, Ob Nixilis, the Fallen,  Purphoros, God of the Forge and Stuffy Doll all get to deal damage right to people’s faces without going through all the obnoxious effort of attacking. They can be counted on to allow repeated castings of Rakdos without having to risk themselves by attacking.

stuffydoll

Stuffy Doll also has some sadistic synergies with two of this deck’s favourite enchantments: Pestilence and Pyrohemia along with Punishing Fire are even more reliable than the last group of threats because they are obnoxiously hard for opponents to get rid of. The twin enchantments also act as excellent doormen for your little celebration, keeping out unwelcome guests until the time is right to deal with them properly.

pestilence punishingfire pyrohemia

Now that we have squared away the business end of things and covered how to convince Rakdos to attend your party; it’s time for things to get rambunctious.

Rakdos doesn’t like to party alone – he wants his giant friends to come along as well. To make it easier to fit his favorite fatties on the guest list, Rakdos ensures that every point of damage that is dished out to opponents makes your giant creatures cheaper.

Fun Fact of the Day: Giant creatures are great in EDH.

  • Abhorrent Overlord
  • Artisan of Kozilek
  • Bogardan Hellkite
  • Inferno Titan
  • Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
  • Massacre Wurm
  • Myr Battlesphere
  • Rune-Scarred Demon
  • Sepulchral Primordial
  • Soul of New Phyrexia
  • Wurmcoil Engine

Kozilek, his Artisan, Myr Battlesphere, Soul of New Phyrexia, and Wurmcoil Engine are all excellent because they come down for free with enough damage and all help stabilize your board position in one way or another.

Rune-Scarred Demon, Sepulchral Primordial, Massacre Wurm, Inferno Titan, Bogardan Hellkite, and Abhorrent Overlord are also excellent fatties that help you stabilize and, more importantly, impact the board immediately; even if your opponents boot these guys from the party early, they get their chance to leave a lasting impression.

Abhorrent Overlord and Myr Battlesphere deserve special mention for the times they show up right after their main-man Purphoros. Dealing 10 to each opponent’s dome at once is brutal, but effective.

Lastly, when you’re throwing a kick-ass box social like this one, you need some sweet decorations:

  • Exquisite Blood
  • Wound Reflection
  • Pandemonium
  • Vedalken Orrery

exquisiteblood pandemonium woundreflection

Exquisite Blood, Wound Reflection, and Pandemonium are all ways to make sure you trash the board before anyone else has a chance to enjoy themselves. Any of these three enchantments can let you run away with the game if they are left alone.

vedalkenorrery

Vedalken Orrery is an all-star. No matter who is beating on who, you get the chance to show off the beef hiding in your deck. “End of turn, cast Kozilek” is one of the sweetest sentences you can say while playing Magic.

So, that leaves us with this lovely skeleton list:

[column width=”200px” padding=”10px”]
Creatures:
Abhorrent Overlord
Artisan of Kozilek
Blind Zealot
Bloodgift Demon
Bogardan Hellkite
Cunning Sparkmage
Hellrider
Inferno Titan
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
Massacre Wurm
Mogis’s Marauder
Myr Battlesphere
Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
Pulse Tracker
Purphoros, God of the Forge
Rune-Scarred Demon
Sepulchral Primordial
Soul of New Phyrexia
Spiteful Returned
Stuffy Doll
Vampire Nighthawk
Wurmcoil Engine

Enchantments:
Exquisite Blood
Pandemonium
Pestilence
Pyrohemia
Wound Reflection

Artifacts:
Lightning Greaves
Vedalken Orrery

Instants:
Punishing Fire
[/column]
[end_columns]

Take this list, add in your favourite removal, tutors, and good stuff, and you will have the recipe for one hell of party. Rakdos is here and it’s time you got down with the clown.

-/u/JackSonor

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