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Unstable Q&A with Mark Rosewater
The Dos and Don'ts of Silver-Border Commander
Word of Command: Un-believable
  • posted a message on Daxos the Returned - Enchantment Speed Bumps Galore
    Some Italian versions of cards are pretty cheap, but that one doesn't appear to be. I was able to get an Italian Field of Dreams for a mere 25% of the price of the English version (new condition, too), but Italian Chains looks to be 75% of English. The flowchart would be a nice touch, though.
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on Daxos the Returned - Enchantment Speed Bumps Galore
    I'm a big fan of using artifacts to support the enchantments, and that one is an excellent find. I'd considered saving up to eventually get a Chains, but the more functional deterrent is how often I know I'd have to explain how it works. Even in the same evening, to the same people. No, thank you. Finally got to use Ice Cauldron one evening recently (different deck, of course), and quickly realized that I better be able to use it a lot for its functional value to overcome the overhead cost of educating players.
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on Chainer — In the Darkness of Dreams
    Yeah, it'd be nice to lean more heavily one way or the other for those pieces. If I were to go that rout, I'd probably run Torpor Orb and lean toward activated abilities since a large portion of the list already is activated abilities and/or death triggers. Orb would only affect these cards:
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on Chainer — In the Darkness of Dreams
    Quote from benjameenbear »
    The reason for this is so that if you do decide to convert this thread to a Primer, you already have a second post set aside so that you can fluidly extend the OP Primer post into two posts if you want. Just as an FYI. For my Memnarch Primer, I didn't reserve the second post and had to delete someone else's comment so that I could have the second post for my Primer.
    Ah, okay. Hopefully the way I'm organizing it will work well enough I won't need it, but at least it's there. I was thinking there is (or used to be) a length limit on posts that primers would hit and then need the second post for overflow.

    We'll see if I go for actual Primer status, but I really like this deck and wanted to take a shot at putting together that much structured information about it.

    Quote from benjameenbear »
    Also, I think it might be worthwhile to draft up a competitive list for those who are interested in it. It doesn't have to be the focus of your Primer per se, but I think it would be a good addition to help add depth to your thread. A sample competitive Stax list might look something like this:

    cEDH Chainer StaxMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Chainer, Dementia Stax Master
    1x Chainer, Dementia Master

    Creatures (24)
    1x Carrion Feeder
    2x Disciple of Griselbrand
    2x Soldevi Adnate
    2x Phyrexian Revoker
    2x Dark Confidant
    3x Liliana’s Specter
    3x Fleshbag Marauder
    3x Merciless Executioner
    3x Grim Haruspex
    4x Solemn Simulacrum
    4x Erebos, God of the Dead
    4x Mindslicer
    4x Slum Reaper
    4x Disciple of Bolas
    4x Smothering Abomination
    4x Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed
    5x Sadistic Hypnotist
    5x Sidisi, Undead Vizier
    5x Shriekmaw
    5x Gray Merchant of Asphodel
    6x Kokusho, the Evening Star
    8x Pestilence Demon
    8x Razaketh, the Foulblooded
    9x Void Winnower

    Artifacts (20)
    0x Mox Diamond
    0x Mana Crypt
    0x Everflowing Chalice
    0x Chalice of the Void
    1x Sol Ring
    1x Skullclamp
    2x Charcoal Diamond
    2x Coldsteel Heart
    2x Mind Stone
    2x Winter Orb
    2x Sphere of Resistance
    2x Thorn of Amethyst
    3x Worn Powerstone
    3x Phyrexian Totem
    3x Trinisphere
    3x Phyrexian Altar
    3x Crucible of Worlds
    4x Smokestack
    4x Thran Dynamo
    5x Gilded Lotus

    Enchantments (7)
    2x Blood Funnel
    2x Animate Dead
    3x Contamination
    3x Bottomless Pit
    3x Phyrexian Arena
    3x Necropotence
    4x Grave Pact

    Instants (4)
    1x Entomb
    1x Dark Ritual
    1x Vampiric Tutor
    3x Dismember

    Sorceries (12)
    1x Reanimate
    2x Demonic Tutor
    2x Diabolic Intent
    2x Sign in Blood
    2x Night’s Whisper
    2x Smallpox
    3x Death Cloud
    3x Toxic Deluge
    3x Buried Alive
    3x Victimize
    4x Damnation
    4x Yahenni’s Expertise

    Lands (33)
    1x Strip Mine
    1x Wasteland
    1x Phyrexian Tower
    1x High Market
    1x Volrath’s Stronghold
    1x Deserted Temple
    1x Ancient Tomb
    1x Cabal Coffers
    1x Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
    1x Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
    1x Buried Ruin
    1x Bloodstained Mire
    1x Polluted Delta
    1x Marsh Flats
    19x Swamp

    The competitive list goes fully onboard with resource denial, tax effects, and forced sacrifice effects, creating a truly oppressive and comprehensive Stax package. Definitely not for casual playgroups, I think that this is a good starting point to consider.

    You might also decide not to include it at all. No worries!
    I do know some other primer writers like DementedKirby who give alternate decklists, so that's a possibility I'll consider down the road. I'd probably consider adding a section for a more budget-friendly list before a competitive list. I just don't have fun with stax that keeps other players from playing the game at all. I'm okay with speedbumps and bottlenecks. For example, Chainer can play around Storage Matrix fairly well. I'm also okay with Contamination if it comes down just before a loop to protect that or fish for countermagic, but sticking it on turn 3 to jam up the rest of the table for turn after turn isn't my thing.

    I really don't like destroying people's lands, especially — except for spot removal of ridiculous lands. I consider Phyrexian Obliterator a testing spot for this reason because it could be used as a sometimes unblockable 5/5, but instant speed reanimation could abuse it to utterly destroy somebody's board state in the face of a Blasphemous Act or as a surprise blocker.

    By the way, where did this competitive example come from?

    Quote from benjameenbear »
    Yeah, I forgot about Nirkana Revenant. Such a cool card. It should definitely find a spot somehow in my casual list since it's really good.
    It is pretty good. I just wish it had flying or something. I once pumped it up to 19/19 and attacked to provoke a chump block to get rid of their creature. Then I resolved Disciple of Bolas and sacked it to that. Fun times.
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on Chainer — In the Darkness of Dreams
    Quote from benjameenbear »
    Hey comrade, I like the list! I'm building a more casual version of Chainer for my casual friends, and I took a lot of inspiration from your thread here. Good stuff.
    Good to hear, thanks.
    Quote from benjameenbear »
    A card that you could consider in the spot of Fallen Ideal is Mind Slash. While it loses some utility due to its sorcery speed restriction, I think the ability to strip answers from opponents' hands and/or the best creature for Chainer to reanimate is really important.
    I like that one and will probably try it once I get a copy, though the sorcery speed thing hurts. I do keep forgetting about it, so thanks for reminding me. Added to my wishlist!
    Quote from benjameenbear »
    Also, is there a reason that Black Market is excluded? I think that with as many sac outlets as you have that it would be working overtime in mana production.
    It could indeed produce a lot of mana and accumulate many counters. It just doesn't quite match up with my play style with Chainer because I most often activat him on other people's turns for combat tricks or pseudo-haste. Most of my opponents are trying to play their decks and deal with the battlefield and tend to lose awareness of the potential of any creature in any graveyard coming to the battlefield at a moment's notice. I think that's Chainer's main advantage. For that reason I've preferred land-ramp, a recurrable land booster or two, and I have loops that are at least self-sustaining on mana and life if they're not producing endless supplies of it (Phyrexian Altar is a ridiculous card).

    Once I've honed this approach to Chainer more I might test Black Market (almost certainly in Vedalken Orrery's slot) just to see how it affects how I play the deck, but so far I've had plenty of mana and wanted more life. I feel like Nirkana Revenant would be more likely to keep a slot than Market, though.

    Note to self: make a Notable Exclusions section in the Card Choices section.
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on [[Primer]] Kozilek, Butcher with Juice.
    They're referring to this. So yeah, according to the RC, until January 15th you could run Split Screen. I'd still check with your playgroup, though.
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on SIlverborder being legit in Commander?
    Sweet, maybe I should reassemble Zada for a game since Mons's Goblin Waiters is legal (even though my playgroup allowed it before). Grin
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Anyone have budget builds for these 5 commanders..
    This might get more attention if you ask an admin to move it to the EDH general forum.

    There's also a pinned thread in this forum called List of Multiplayer Primers with links to primer threads located in this forum. There is also a pinned thread in the EDH general forum that serves as a Commander Decklist Database of all the decklist threads in this forum. Budget threads get a special notation next to their entry in that database.

    Not sure about the others, but there is a political/control budget list for Phelddagrif by DirkGently in this thread.
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on Advise needed for Daxos The Returned deck
    Quote from Magiqmaster »
    Quote from lyonhaert »
    I like Darkprophet's suggestion of cutting Death Grasp. We're going to start sounding like broken records about Anguished Unmaking, though.
    I understand the suggestion, however in my playtesting, I seem to lose lots of life via card drawing : Phyrexian Arena, Underworld Connections, greed, necropotence, Razaketh, the Foulblooded and Erebos, God of the Dead all require life loss payment. Same goes with Phyrexian Reclamation. Anguished Unmaking makes me lose more life... All this lifeloss really starts to add up and without Whip of Erebos or True Conviction (although Authority of the Consuls and Blind Obedience can truly help), there isn't much helping towards regaining that life. And I'm not even mentioning the life lost from my opponents either...

    SO, for these reasons, I am thinking to try Death Grasp, not so much to deal with a creature, moreso to fling the damage at an opponent when I have many lands in play. Perhaps I will remove it once playtesting has shown its limits. I wish there was another key enchantment with Lifelink... Smile
    Lifegain is possibly just a bandaid — it depends entirely on whether that cost of life for cards is helping you win or helping you lose. If you lose games quite often because you lose so much life that it's easy for your opponents to finish you off and you rarely win, then it could be a problem, but may also need a different solution (see below). However if you're still winning an appropriate percentage of games and just happen to be low, then there isn't really a problem. As in, welcome to card draw in B. My favorite deck is monoblack and it taught me my life is as much a resource at my disposal as mana is.

    Keep track of how much life you spend on your stuff and how much life you lose due to opponents (maybe use pen and paper and next to each life total change for your life put "me"/"them" and do the math later). If the majority of that life lost is from your stuff, then why aren't you winning with all that card draw? If it's mostly from them, what is the source of the life loss and is there already an answer to it in the deck? Is it instead "political" — e.g. you draw so much early on that your opponents see you as a threat and gang up.

    If a bit more lifegain truly is the solution, then I prefer more permanent ones that keep giving versus the one-time spells — Basilisk Collar, Noble Purpose, Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Gray Merchant is probably the best of these. I don't run any of these, but I don't run Noble Purpose because I don't run True Conviction for its lifelink but rather the double strike.

    Quote from Magiqmaster »
    Do you think that griselbrand should be added?
    He's banned.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Advise needed for Daxos The Returned deck
    I like Darkprophet's suggestion of cutting Death Grasp. We're going to start sounding like broken records about Anguished Unmaking, though. Smile

    Attrition is a YMMV card. It would be quite useful for me in my playgroup, but I somehow haven't even drawn it yet. Even without playing it, you could make a note to yourself to analyze during your games every problematic creature you would want to destroy if you had Attrition in play, and split the count between valid and invalid targets for Attrition. The ratio of invalid:valid targets should help you make a more informed decision. The easiest place to start this analysis is with the other commanders in your playgroup.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Advise needed for Daxos The Returned deck
    I'd rather run Condemn before running Soul Snare. But that's assuming I'm already running Path to Exile, Swords to Plowshares, and any other instant spot removal that's better than Condemn and still, for some reason, need more spot removal.

    Soul Snare may be a rattlesnake, but it wouldn't be a very good one, I bet, but that's playgroup dependent. Sometimes the creature you need gone is Guttersnipe or Purphoros (if they manage let him become a creature), which are not going to attack you. And a green deck will just blow up the Snare before attacking. Spot removal is one of the things that usually shouldn't be telegraphed, if possible. Wonderfully repeatable stuff like Attrition are one of the exceptions.

    Stuff like Sphere of Safety, Ghostly Prison, and No Mercy are all better at sending attacks elsewhere, usually.

    Edit: Test it if you want and see if it's useful. Hypothesizing about the usefulness of cards only goes so far since our circumstances are different.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Chainer — In the Darkness of Dreams
    Latest Changes2017-11-27
    I had chosen Deathgreeter to replace Blood Artist because I didn't want to end up leeching the table while trying to combo with Gonti or Sepulchral Primordial instead. However, most of the combos involve a sacrifice outlet and I usually have one out anyway. This means I can just soften people up (particularly as a solution to lifegainers) from the Blood Artist triggers if I'm going for a different win condition, while helping enable a combat win condition and being a backup win condition itself. Falkenrath Noble could see a return to the fold since it's flying and is tutorable with Dimir House Guard and Fleshwrither.

    Thought Gorger I tried a few times and it wasn't really doing what I wanted, but I did find myself wanting to tutor for one of the noncreature 4-drops, so Dimir House Guard is back.

    Imp's Mischief probably won't be as useful with Defense Grid also here, as well as I spend the majority of the time reanimating rather than casting, so for the same reason I'm not too sad if a creature card ends up in the graveyard. Diabolic Intent usually has fodder here for the additional cost, as Demonic Tutor is in another deck (also, being ripped apart and eaten by Crovax is pretty "nightmarish"). Evidently I'm softening slightly on my tutor limitation.

    Ice Cauldron is a hilarious effect and I finally got a chance to play with it, but there's nothing I really want to rattlesnake in this deck. Also, I don't want to explain how it works, apparently, so if I ever do try it in another deck, its usefulness better be worth all the explanation. In its place enters Dark Deal, which is more what I wanted out of Thought Gorger in the first place.

    Finally, I'm going to test All is Dust instead of Ugin as a wipe that hits enchantments. I probably need better graveyard removal than Shred Memory anyway since that usually serves as a tutor,
    but for the most part people are not going to recur their enchantments. Most often they'll be sacrificing creatures, too,
    and I probably want them.

    Game Recap —
    I had a pretty interesting game last Sunday where I got to practice some new interactions, most of which are from additions originating with the thematic rebuild.

    Had Thawing Glaciers in my opening hand with two swamps and drew Deserted Temple. Decided to drop the Glaciers turn one so I could activate it next turn.

    Bloodghast and Phyrexian Altar did a super impression of Lotus Cobra with all this land fetching (including from a couple of fetchlands). After I cast Rings of Brighthearth, I spent a turn using all of these to go to town on ramping as many basics as I could until I had only three swamps still untapped for either activating Chainer or casting Withering Boon. It was, unfortunately, a long turn — I need to practice these kinds of interactions so I have a rote understanding of how much mana it takes for each cycle of interactions.

    With Kaseto, Orochi Archmage and The Ur-Dragon chipping away at my life, Kagemaro, First to Suffer got a lot of use as a wipe, and X was never less than 7 thanks to Grim Haruspex and Bloodghast. The first time, I cast Kagemaro from hand. The second was a bit more desparate and I reanimated him with Chainer and activated him, killing Chainer, too. After this is the turn I ramped like mad, so I had no problem casting Chainer for 5BB.

    We also got pretty lucky that Descendants' Path revealed his Scourge of Valkas after the wipe and it went to the bottom of his library. Grin

    Had an interesting round of combat where dragons resolved Thundermaw Hellkite while I had Abhorrent Overlord and six harpies. In response I sacked them for black mana and waited for him to do something else so I could respond. He cast Blade of Selves but didn't have enough mana to attach it, and I responded by reanimating the Overlord and getting my flyers back. He attacked me with Kaalia and dropped Mordant Dragon, I think. Blocked and killed them. Definitely a poor choice to attack me then.

    The third time I used Kagemaro, however, I was at 12 life and the dragons player had resolved Kokusho on the previous turn. I sacked my Abhorrent Overlord and harpies for mana (I had plenty, but I wanted to stretch it just in case and I needed another reanimation target aside from Kagemaro). I activated Chainer targeting Kagemaro and let that resolve — 9 life. I activate Chainer targeting the Overlord — 6 life. Rings triggers and I respond to it by activating Kagemaro. To this, finally, I respond by sacrificing Chainer, Bloodghast, and Haruspex to raise my cards in hand to 8 and let Chainer go to the graveyard.

    Kagemaro's ability resolves, doing -8/-8. Kokusho dies and triggers, which resolves and knocks me down to 1 life. I pay 2 to the Rings trigger to copy Chainer's ability and target Chainer. That resolves and he's back as a nightmare. His original ability resolves and brings back Overlord. I cast the Claws of Gix in my hand, sacking 3 harpies to bring my life up to 4 so I can activate Chainer once and reanimate Kokusho. From there I looped him with Chainer, Phyrexian Altar, and Overlord for the win.

    To be candid, I thought I had completely goofed on the math and couldn't activate Chainer again (and had helped kill myself) when I hit 1 life the first time because I had set my hand down before lining up activations. I had been ignoring the Claws of Gix in my hand up until then. It got me out of a corner that I'd put myself in because I wanted to try the Chainer-flickers-himself trick to get around Kagemaro, but I probably could have just cast him for 7BB easily and had enough to reanimate Kokusho.

    I also had Wurmcoil Engine in my graveyard, Head Games and Memory Jar in my hand. So I probably could have stabilized my life and duked it out in combat with the dragons using Abhorrent Overlord and harpies to block and then use Jar and Games to tutor 7 of his best remaining dragons out of his deck and make him dump them. That Scourge of Valkas would have been pick #1!

    After reflecting for a while —
    Starting to think I need a bit more lifegain and artifact recursion, so I'm considering removing Vedalken Orrery for Trading Post or Myr Retriever and possibly switching Shred Memory to Suffer the Past or Crypt Incursion. The only problem I see with Crypt Incursion is not hitting the artifacts that certain red decks enjoy recycling. I'll wait until after more games to decide that. I might have enough lifegain and just didn't find it.

    My thoughts on tutors are definitely changing a bit. I'm okay with the power level of this deck creeping upward since it's my favorite, but what I was actually concerned about in regard to limiting my tutors was always winning the same way or finding combo pieces too easily/quickly. So goal is flexibility and some inconsistency in what win conditions get used.

    I've done pretty well without Caged Sun/Nirkana Revenant so far, and that's without putting Crypt Ghast on the battlefield yet, either. So while the ramping-instead-of-boosters experiment is successful so far (they get blown up way less often), the swamp boosters are probably more powerful as ramp, mathematically. I like Bubbling Muck as a ritual, even though Nirkana Revenant should only ever cost BBB+3 life. But I found myself also wondering if Extraplanar Lens's proper place is as a booster that supplements a primarily land ramp approach. Cheapish enough to serve as a ritual if it gets immediately blown up, but way better than a ritual if it sticks. The ramp also seems to extend its range of usefulness further into the mid-game from the late-game. One of these days I'll test it. If Phyrexian Altar keeps sticking, Lens probably will, too.

    Updating OP soon.
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on Advise needed for Daxos The Returned deck
    Quote from Magiqmaster »
    Just want to mention that these games were 1 vs. 1 only, so the 75% record is not that relevant as I will usually play 3 player games. I played against a deck featuring Kresh and another with Samut (both of which don't have much in the way of removing enchantments).
    That is true, 1v1 data doesn't count toward social aspects.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Advise needed for Daxos The Returned deck
    Getting beat is just going to happen sometimes. I played this weekend and lost to RU spellslinger. Somebody who can counter your enchantments is just going to be a tough matchup.

    In long-term playgroup politics, 75% is probably too much and could build Archenemy reputation (especially if you don't play other decks that lose more often to lower that percentage). If there are 4 players, winning about a quarter of them +/- is the average. Naturally, winning an above-average number of games builds that reputation. You definitely shouldn't be shooting for 100%. Grin

    Also, we generally try to avoid "pulling ahead" until late game so we don't get targeted, but reputation from winning often could still cause you to be targeted. But given your win ratio with this list so far, we could be playing against stronger opponents.

    As for early choices with Enlightened Tutor, I try to save it until I know what I want since it will replace a draw. Land Tax is good if you start with some discard stuff or it looks like you're not going to make land drops. Protection for Daxos isn't bad, either, like Lightning Greaves to protect from spot removal. Card draw like Phyrexian Arena is good if you have BB (this is one I have no problem casting before Daxos). If you're up against tokens/reanimator/flicker then Authority of the Consuls could be a good early enchantment. Or you could just search for a cheap mana rock, Expedition Map, or Wayfarer's Bauble. The latter two could be really good choices if I already have other things covered already and have recursion such as Emeria Shepherd or Sun Titan in hand.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
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