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Unstable Q&A with Mark Rosewater
The Dos and Don'ts of Silver-Border Commander
  • posted a message on Erebos, God of the Dead: Your Soul is Mine
    While I haven't had the opportunity to play much Magic in quite some time, I do spend a lot of time theorycrafting and contemplating deck choices, particularly on my commute. So, let's start at the top with an analysis of recent additions then move into cards I'm thinking of adding and the cuts to make room for them.

    Praetor's Grasp has been decent. Not exceptional, but decent. I've only used it once to preempt a combo deck from going off, but most of the time it finds something like Cabal Coffers, Necropotence, or Sol Ring. I'm not 100% sold on it, but a pseudo-tutor that can also hose combo decks is worth more testing.

    Sudden Spoiling surprised me. Casting it on LabMan to cause the combo player to lose felt great. A lot of the time it's just an overcosted Darkness, but my deck can easily handle the negative card advantage via my general.

    Silence the Believers hasn't been used much, so I'm leaving it in until I get the proper chance to test it. I've been toying with the idea of going back to Dismember due to its low cost but not being able to hit Eldrazi or other significant fatties is a real drawback.

    The deck's primary weaknesses are speedy combo decks and creature-light control decks. To that end, I've considered adding in more hate for those strategies.

    Torpor Orb comes to mind immediately. While my deck is very effective at killing creatures, it's less effective at preventing them from coming into play in the first place. Enter the Battlefield Dragon Highlander is a thing, and Orb stops that thing cold. Windmill slamming it against creature-based combo or UGvalue.dec seems good. The only card it effects in my deck is Gary so it seems like a solid option to experiment with. Suck it, Palinchron/Deadeye Navigator.

    Similar to the above, Pithing Needle has come up on my radar again. There will always be activated ability generals, powerful artifacts, and planeswalkers around, so I don't see it being a dead card very often. It's also unlikely to attract attention from players it hasn't been honed in on, which is relevant in a deck as mean as this one. Eat it, Palinchron/Deadeye Navigator.

    Mind Sludge is never far from my mind as a card I'd like to slip back into the deck. Even on turn 5 with 4 Swamps out it's a crippling effect. Blue-based decks are very powerful and putting them in topdeck mode can be the difference between winning and losing.

    Finally, the big reveal: I'm playing Death Cloud. The first list I made included it, but after some conscientious consideration I decided it's too mean to blow up the world. Well, after some more thinking and playing with Torment of Hailfire, I realized Death Cloud isn't a land destruction spell, it's a "y'all should just scoop now" spell. No hands, no lands, and no creatures means most decks just aren't coming back. Indeed, when combined with my artifacts and enchantments as well as floating mana to pump into Erebos to break parity even more it's just brutal. It fits both X-spell Tribal and Death Tribal, so I'm moving forward with it. Damn the salt. If only I could afford Nether Void.

    As for cuts, well, some have been a long time coming. The deck is pretty well tuned at this point, but I have considered some of the under performers.

    Night of Souls' Betrayal has to go. Edgar Markov decks have fallen out of popularity around here, and I have very little trouble with go-wide strategies. It's a solid choice for some lists, and I love the flavor, but it doesn't pull its weight properly here, even with the devotion.

    Words of Waste is getting the axe again. Yes, locking out someone at their draw step when the game goes to 1v1 is very powerful, but enabling graveyard decks and hurting potential allies makes it a bit unwieldy.

    Animate Dead/Necromancy have been on my watch list for awhile now, and I think the time has come to retire them. As I've said before they're generic goodstuff cards that don't progress the deck's gameplan. Despite being flavorful and on theme they're functionally very boring. Good cards, but boring.

    Leechridden Swamp has been activated less than a handful of times and made zero impact on the game. On the other hand, it entering tapped has set me back enough times to warrant its removal. So long janky tech, hello basic land.

    Tentative changes:
    - Night of Souls' Betrayal
    - Words of Waste
    - Animate Dead
    - Necromancy
    - Leechridden Swamp

    + Torpor Orb
    + Pithing Needle
    + Mind Sludge
    + Death Cloud
    + Swamp

    Any feedback or criticisms?
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on Mono Blue Ramp
    The issue is between the start of the game and turn 6 I feel naked, slow, unresponsive.
    This has less to do with your ramp package and more to do with your mana curve and card selection. You're already running most of the best ramp cards on color but your list is incredibly top heavy so it feels like you're not running enough. Rather than jamming in bad ramp like Eye of Ramos I think you'd be better served by reducing the number of expensive haymakers you run and replacing them with card draw, which your list is sorely lacking in.

    Also, I understand the urge to not run Counterspell because it isn't reduced by Baral, but it's still better than, say, Dissipate.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Christine Sprankle and Harassment in the MTG Community
    Quote from Cainsson »
    Teia Rabishu and you decided to antagonize me for my choice of speech figures

    They called you out on making non-arguments.

    as per usual when it comes to left vs moderate arguments

    Hypocrisy of the highest caliber given your statements about "we" vs "them" dude. Leave out isms and ologies if you want to make a salient point.


    False compromise in this situation.

    Quote from Cainsson »
    Because the internet is being used by political interests to segment the people, in a world led by a bipartisan socio-economic potence. Either you're "we" or "them" and if you dare not chose they chose for you.

    Conspiratorial thinking not based in reality.

    I am a nazi marxist, a misandrist mysoginyst, a racist against everyone and a capitalist communist all at the same time because I chose to think in colors other than red and blue.

    Incoherent rambling.

    It's not hard. Make a reasonably succinct point based on evidence dispassionately.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Christine Sprankle and Harassment in the MTG Community
    Quote from Cainsson »
    When you see people refusing to even consider they may be becoming clouded by radicalized partisanship there's either fascetious levity or anger.
    The irony here is that you're the one refusing to consider whether you're right or wrong. Feel free to bring up counterarguments instead of strawmans.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Christine Sprankle and Harassment in the MTG Community
    Quote from NGW »
    This is not a male thing, it is a human thing.
    You're right, last time I applied to join Suzy's sewing circle she laughed and called me a beta male cuck.

    Sure, it's more fundamentally correct to say that it's the systemic toxicity in this and other hobbies dominated by an insular, powerful group, but let's not equivocate. The specific problem in this instance with this individual and others like him is toxic masculinity full stop.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Christine Sprankle and Harassment in the MTG Community
    The plot thickens!

    I don't see how a meaningful discussion can be had on this subject without wading into a broader political one. These is a very obvious connection between what's happening in this instance and what's going on with the world at large.

    The fundamental problem isn't the targeting of Sprankle with harassment (though that's obviously pretty bad), it's the systemic toxicity in this and other male nerd dominated hobbies that continues unabated. Maybe this is a watershed moment where things will change, but I very much doubt it.
    Posted in: Magic General
  • posted a message on Random Card of the Day - HIATUS
    Excellent card in Xenagos, God of Revels. Comes out the turn after you plop down Xenagos, excellent cost/power ratio, and two relevant abilities for the deck makes it an easy include. It's no Carnage Tyrant but it can still do work.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Gazing into the darkness of the human psyche with Phelddagrif
    Quote from DirkGently »
    I hope I don't sound too dismissive [...]

    Nah, it's all good; you have much, much more experience playing this kind of deck so I was just fishing for more reasoning behind certain choices or omissions.

    Is Future Sight too good to run here? Probably. It's a one-card card advantage engine which typically places a large target on your head. Maybe Holistic Wisdom as a recursion engine to generate powerful card selection? It's a card I think is woefully underplayed but once people read it and see it in action it might generate too much attention. You can have your Tasigur and eat it, too!

    What's your reasoning behind not running any of blue's cantrips? They're deceptively powerful even in EDH which seems to go hand in hand with the deck's core. Obviously they're most powerful on turns 1-4 to smooth out land drops and such but no one bats an eye at a turn 8 Ponder despite the fact that it's still a powerful play.

    I'm thinking of going tutorless in my list. Tutoring always raises an eyebrow with the people I play with even if the card has to be revealed, so cutting them in favor of more redundancy and card draw seems like a decent move towards keeping my threat profile low. I suppose there's a certain political element that comes with the reveal, but that's outweighed by the undue hate you get if you tutor for juicy targets even if they're not combo pieces and you can always freely expose what's in your hand for a similar effect. What are your typical tutor targets? Telepathy, Pulse of the Grid, and generic answer A to problem B seem like the ones you use most if I remember correctly.

    Probably my favorite thing about this list is that it's really a 1v1 control deck masquerading as an EDH deck. Once a control deck establishes dominance it really doesn't matter what their win condition is (see: Pauper UB Teachings and Evincar's Justice or Curse of the Bloody Tome). Combining your win condition with abilities that help you get to that 1v1 stage where the deck is strongest is pretty ingenious honestly.
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on Gazing into the darkness of the human psyche with Phelddagrif
    I'm working on a pseudo-budget list for this deck concept before I commit to it fully, but I was wondering about your opinion on a few cards. Note: I have a break due to work where I can't play EDH for awhile so I won't be able to test things out until the project is finished.

    What about the Vow cycle? They seem a bit ham handed and stick-y (as opposed to carrot-y) but I do like that they throw attacks elsewhere and act as either Pacifisms or Hippo pumpers when you get to the 1v1 phase. Reducing the number of attacks Phelddagrif needs to make before killing with commander damage from six to four (three with Wildness) seems decent.

    On the subject of speeding up kills, have you considered Runechanter's Pike? Again, it's ham handed and threatening but being able to randomly knock people out of the game in one or two attacks is very powerful. I jam that card into every spellslinger deck I can and it's always been good to me. Like the Tasigur deck idea I shamelessly copied from you I can see games taking forever with this deck and having a way to close things out quickly is considerate of your opponents' time.

    I see you're running Bant Charm but no Treva's Charm. Treva's is notably worse since its last option is just awful, but I love modal spells because they're basically virtual card advantage. Indeed, I think including more modal spells might be the key to keeping your threat profile fairly low while still having plenty of options. You're already running a lot of the good ones, though, so I'm not sure what there is left to add.

    I'm surprised you're not running Curse of the Swine as a board wipe. It's very, very good, and fits with the political reparations theme going on. Sorry I exiled your Blightsteel Colossus, here's a piggy and a hippo.
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on Any unique decks out there?
    Quote from Jim Jarmusch »
    Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to."
    I love this quote and use it every chance I get.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Best shell for Angus Mackenzie?
    Pillowfriends. Your commander's ability, other Fogs, Propaganda and friends, and Wrath of God effects to protect your 'walkers until you can ride them to victory. Stax effects that lock down combat like Peacekeeper and the others you mentioned complement the strategy well.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Is it gentlemanly?
    Quote from DirkGently »

    This is my secret tech. I haven't outright said it to my playgroup, but my opponents understand there's an opportunity cost to taking me out of the game. Of course it doesn't happen often; usually I've spent my spot removal on problematic creatures so that I don't have them in hand. Still, much like playing around counterspells, aggressors are forced to calculate their attacks instead of mindlessly swinging into me.

    A sort of dying wish, if you will.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Erebos, God of the Dead: Your Soul is Mine
    Quote from lyonhaert »
    Of those, I'd be drawn to Sudden Spoiling and Praetor's Grasp. You have a lot of wipes and just added another spot removal, so you could possibly wait to see if you need more. Spoiling plays well with Massacre Wurm and can also stop some combos. And I really like Grasp because you can even go take somebody else's Coffers or Urborg.
    Those were the two I was leaning most towards, actually. They both seem very versatile as well as being anti-combo tech. Like most non-blue decks I can struggle against combo, so having another preemptive strike effect and a nigh uncounterable disruption effect seems good.
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on Chainer — In the Darkness of Dreams
    Quote from lyonhaert »
    I'm only running one doubler at the moment [...]
    Don't forget Scrooge McDuck's horde!

    Which lands do you think are bad currently in the list? I have three guesses at the moment, but you might be thinking of more/others.

    I don't think you have enough artifacts to reasonably support Inventors' Fair (it also sounds too pleasant and optimistic for the flavor of the deck) and Buried Ruins's target pool is pretty low, though I suppose it does get back your combo altars and is redundancy for Yawgmoth's Will for that. What do you usually name with Cavern of Souls? It seems like you don't have enough consistent targets to make it tap for black enough. Maybe it's useful for pushing through one or two important critters and then you're fine with it only producing colorless. I want to criticize Homeward Path but I do like the idea of reanimating something and giving it back to its owner... for a price, so I'll leave it be. I'm also skeptical of Crypt of Agadeem but with your creature density it probably works okay for you.

    I did overestimate the number of doublers you run, though, so feel free to ignore all of the above. It looks like your loops are self-contained and don't require boatloads of mana so it seems less critical for you to go the typical big mana black route.

    Otherwise I think your list looks like a lot of fun and I appreciate the balance of flavor/functionality. Also, +rep for the Dio reference.
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on Erebos, God of the Dead: Your Soul is Mine
    Thoughtseize has been... okay. I've only been truly happy to see it once when I was able to remove a counterspell someone was holding onto to stop my big ol' Torment of Hailfire but beyond that it's often just a value play that doesn't advance our strategy or disrupt opponents significantly. It's a damn shame, too. I guess pinpoint discard is pretty mediocre in the format after all.

    Night of Souls' Betrayal on the other hand has performed better than I thought it would. Obviously there's quite a few Edgar Markov decks running around lately and being able to completely shut down their gameplan until they can find their enchantment removal is incredibly strong. Even against midrangey decks with larger creatures being able to shave 3-4 damage off of a big attack is surprisingly relevant. It's the perfect kind of card to fit into a toolbox tutor strategy. True, Pestilence is better most of the time, but switching to Snow-Covered Swamps for a second Pestilence is off the table for aesthetic purposes and they're just different enough to perform separate roles.

    Silence the Believers has been on my radar recently. I lost an exile effect in Scour from Existence, and sometimes a creature just needs to not be around anymore. 4cmc for spot removal is steep, but the scalability of it into the late game is attractive to me. I also get to make quips like, "Your first amendment privileges are being revoked," or, "Time to shut up."

    While we're on the subject of 4cmc removal, Tendrils of Corruption has got to go. It's not terrible, but 4cmc for a card that doesn't necessarily kill a creature isn't a card this deck wants to cast, even with the added life gain. I have done the occasional techy play of casting it on my commander to save myself from an opposing burn spells, but those are niche situations compared to the times I've drawn into it and wished it was any other spot removal card.

    Finally, there's Sorin Markov. It's time for us to part ways. I don't think I was ever sufficiently critical of the card, which is why it's lasted so long. It's a powerful effect, but since it's single target and doesn't directly kill anyone. Sure, it occasionally creates a blood in the water situation where other players will opportunistically take out someone I Sorined, but more often it just upsets people. One player in particular recently became the King of Salt and scooped immediately afterwards. Beyond that it's honestly superfluous. Incremental damage with the life total cap Erebos imposes is more subtle and thus more valuable as a life total reducer than a bomby reduction. That's what Exsanguinate and Torment of Hailfire are for, and they actually kill opponents. Also, on the off chance someone manages to remove Erebos and gain infinite life and commander damage isn't a reasonable plan, there's always the back up infinite mana combo.

    - Thoughtseize
    - Tendrils of Corruption
    - Sorin Markov

    + Silence the Believers

    That leaves two slots open and I'm more than willing to experiment with different options. Snuff Out, Dismember, Slaughter Pact, or Malicious Affliction for more cheap spot removal? Praetor's Grasp to find Sol Rings, other goodies, and combo pieces? Sudden Spoiling to stop combos and pseudo-Fog alpha strikes? The return of Drain Life, Death Cloud, or Read the Bones? I'm all ears!
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
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