In a joint competition with the official EDH site, I want to bring this competition here. When I say joint I do not represent either faction, but am running both competitions jointly so if you submit or judge for one you judge or submit for both. As far as I know there is no legal relationship between the RC and MTG Salvation.
Welcome Contestants, Judges, and Visitors to what should be one the of the most awesome Commander EDH experiences ever, short of actually playing. Inspired by the TV show Iron Chef and a spin on it from Dungeons and Dragons the Iron Chef Optimization Challenge EDH edition is designed to elicit fun, freedom from boredom, expansion of EDH powers, and online friends.
Judging will comprise of an evaluation of each deck based on four factors, Originality, Power, Elegance, and Usage of the Theme. The maximum score for a factor is 5 and the minimum factor 0, a 0 would be the equivalent to a Refusal to Judge, e.g. someone submitted buffalo wings to a risotto contest.
Originality This category revolves around the usage of cards on decklists guides online, expected by the judges, used by other contestants, new and interesting combinations of cards, thematics not normally used, etc. This is highly up to the Judge’s opinion, just like that of players at a local game store or kitchen table.
Power This category revolves around the ability to win the game, through attrition, sheer beats, combo, alternative win cons, etc. The ability to stop aggro, control, combo, attrition, etc. style decks. The ability to curve out when needed, and to cast its spells. This is also highly up to the Judge’s opinion.
Elegance This category revolves around the prices of cards used, rules manipulations, i.e. stack shenanigans, that confuse or hinder new players, using cards that represent an oppressive or unfavorable game state, etc. This is also highly up to the Judge’s opinion.
Use of the Secret Ingredient This category revolves around building a deck around the theme, using a General for more than its color identity, running with the theme from a storyline segment, as well as running with the theme from a mechanics segment. Guess what, this is also highly up to the Judge’s opinion.
The Challenge revolves around an unlimited number, 25 seems to be the max, of contestants and 3 to 5 judges, in a simulation that the contestants build a deck revolving around a secret ingredient and the contestants are designing the deck to be the most original, powerful, elegant, and thematic as possible. In short to build a deck that, almost, everyone would say nice deck!
Entries will comprise of summary of what the deck does, how it synergizes with concepts and themes, the combos, the power, the play style, etc. Please keep it to 1,500 words or less, while there is no minimum please note that if you don’t tell the Judges what your deck does they may not be able to magically figure it out, pun intended. Followed by a decklist comprised of 99 EDH legal cards separated by card super type, don’t worry about legendary. Each section Summary and Decklist will be covered in tags clearly identified with Summary and Decklist. Entries will be submitted via PM to the Chairman, poster of this post, who will reveal them at the end of the submission timeline to the Judges.
The Chairman will receive entrants, via PM, and post their entries, removing their name, upon the scheduled time, and the Judges will give their scorings once they have completed all of the scores. Everyone is encouraged to refrain from speculations, clues, guiding during the cooking period, before the reveal. After the reveal, feel free to post as much as you want.
Judges will have until the completion time to post their scores, if an entrant disagrees with a Judge’s ruling they have the right to dispute, PM the chairman identifying their deck, and respond to the scorings. Please note that opinion is highly a matter of an opinion and a mechanic is a fact of the game, while it’s okay to correct a judge, nicely, about a mechanical discrepancy it isn’t okay to flame because you disagree with them. Since this is anonymous, people shouldn’t take it personally and it should be reflective of the game style differences.
After completion time, the Chairman will reveal the final scores and the builders. Winners will receive an image in Gold, Silver or Bronze etch style suitable for including in your signature on this site that declares you as the winner.
Judge Volunteer PMs April 1st Judges: The Commander Cast Crew (it may be discussed on a podcast, I don't know)
Submission PM deadline April 6th Submission Count: 7
since this is some kinda competition, and is secret (i.e. people probably wouldn't post stuff here often) shouldn't this be pinned to the top so people could see it even if they don't check up the site often?
I now have 3 submissions and 1 judge, please say if you are interested in either. Judging is hard work but all you have to do is know Magic in order to do it, the yard-stick for comparison is a kitchen table game. As always I will look for a Celebrity Judge.
A response from some of the Judges to this question asked on the EDH site:
First, I'm not quite sure how dual lands affect the price tag rules. Obviously we shouldn't be running 3 ABU duals, 3 shocks, 9 fetches, 3 filters, and a Diamond Valley, but I also feel like too little just makes the deck too weak if for nothing but the nature of tricolor alone (not to mention Zedruu's very color intensive ability). I'm thinking a manabase that accounts for 35-45ish% of the total monetary value would be fine, but I'd like to have an official opinion to ensure that I (and the other participants) don't unintentionally go too far into either direction.
Captain Red Zone:
To me, an elegant land base is full of cards with a simple yet strong purpose. Can you fit a expensive card in there? Sure, but does it fit or is it just there because it's broken or because you just happen to have it? If it fits an overall theme or fits into a subtheme it must be clear. If you're planning a landfall deck with Red then the Molten Pinnacle is fine unless your deck only runs 7 mountains.
So in short, every spot in your deck is a card that could make your idea work, don't waste any on unnecessary includes.
I personally think of a elegant deck as either most cards working you towards a single purpose (ie: an all in voltron deck that is all about digging up and using the best equipment) or a deck where cards have huge amounts of synergy with multiple other cards in the deck (ie: tribal decks)
So these judges are going to mark off for having a proper manabase? That is so incredibly wrong. This is theory-world, and as such there's no reason why a deck, especially as intensive as Zedruu, shouldn't be playing the best colour fixing it can get (even more true as Jeskai doesn't get access to G to help fix).
I just want some clarity on these arbitrary decisions from them, is all.
From my read of the two responses that we did get from the judges, I think they understand the mana intensive nature of Zedruu. I cannot speak for what they will penalize or award for other than their own statements above.
The price caveat is mentioned because feel basd that a casual player can have when versing a deck worth more than their car. Where that point is at is up to the judges just like it is for each player at a table.
I decided to build a deck that focuses on not giving away things that hurt opponents, or cards or help all players, but rather helping only one opponent. The deck plays creatures and permanents that when given away, help one opponent win through combat. This includes giving haste, double strike, extra combats, doubling damage, and pumping creatures. There are also cards that enable what I'd like to call "Spontaneous Collusion." These are cards like Fact or Fiction, Guild Feud, Soul Echo, and Intellectual Offering as well as others. The deck also plays temporary theft effects that lets you steal cards from your "real" opponents' and give them to your friend. There are also a couple of cards that allow you to take back your stuff and win the game. These are Brand, Faith's Reward, Reins of Power, Insurrection, and Venser, the Sojourner. To enable the strategy further, the deck plays a good number of counter spells. I tried to only include cards that help your buddy win through attacking and not through whatever their deck is supposed to do, so that is why there are no cards that enable them like making them have tons of mana or drawing tons of cards.
Zedruu has a really obvious theme built right into her and I really wanted to play right into that. There’s a slight pillowfort subtheme, but mostly a chaotic theft/copy/donate deck.
There's a handful of real nasties in here, like Illusions of Grandeur and Transcendence, that compliment Zedruu herself as wincons, in addition to theft and copy spells to steal your opponents threats. There's also a few true chaos cards, like Warp World and Ruhan of the Fomori, that will create interesting board states and stop decks that like to play the same way each game in their tracks.
Many cards stand out as being good utility in their own right, and also play right into Zedruu’s ability, including Meddling Mage, Nevermore, and Stuffy Doll - cards which allow you to name targets as they come into play, then donate them where they sit on an opponent’s board, passively buffing your general and retaining your targets.
The deck is also fairly budget as far as most Commander decks go - I wanted to keep it to something I would be willing to buy almost in its entirely, and then trade for the beefier land cards that stabilize the mana base.
Zedruu is truly one of the most kind-hearted souls in all of the Multiverse. Even when called to command an army into battle, she does not want to do anything to cause harm to other living beings. To avoid this utter sin, she delves into her teachings and realizes that only by giving up herself and her possessions to the heavens to escape this mortal world of fighting and killing. Her one goal is to stand alone, much like the cheese made from her non-sentient bovine cousins.
This deck is a mix of Pillowfort, Group Hug, Control, and Combo. All categories that I despise on their own, but I believe that this deck is a classic example of the whole being far greater than the sum of the parts.
Ultimately, the goal is to pull off a Barren Glory victory. The numerous cheap draw spells and enchantment tutors are one way to acquire the win condition. The deck generally wants to get some combination of the cards in the "combo piece" section in play to sacrifice all permanents other than Glory.
Now, the majority of the rest of the deck falls into one of three categories. The first is cards that allow me to get what I need. These are draw spells, tutors, and ramp: your staple utility cards. The second are cards that actively discourage/prevent the opponent from ruining my stuff. They can be a deterrent like Isperia, Supreme Judge, a protection like Spiritual Asylum, or a recovery like Marshall's Anthem. And finally, the last group of cards fall into the politics section. These are any and all cards that exist solely for the purpose of me helping opponents out in exchange for them not hurting me. They can be stuff to donate, cards with global effects, or ways for me to help others out. As you can probably tell, most of these cards fit into more than just one category.
Something you may or may not have noticed is the distinct lack of removal. Zedruu does not attack nor harm others and she doesn't like to mess with people's stuff. However, that doesn't mean the deck is just a pillowfort with no way to interact with the opponents. Zedruu's donate ability plus other cards that allow me to help opponents out get me to interact even more than most other decks I use. The key to the deck is above all else to paint the target onto everyone else's head.
Finally, I tried to keep the manabase as budget as possible. Feel free to swap out some of the weaker duals like the Refuges and the Vivids for better stuff when playtesting. The one set I would recommend keeping is the Temples, as they fit really well thematically and have actually won me games before.
To get started I wanted to fill the deck with cards that don’t care who their controllers were. This led me strait to an enchantment themed deck. This fit well as I have wanted to utilize Sigil of the Empty Throne for a while now. The deck plans to win attacking with Zedruu pumped with auras and such. There are a few other win conditions such as angel tokens from Sigil. To control my opponents the deck is filled with enchantment controlling effects (like pacifism or oblivion ring) who I can then donate to my opponents. I want more lands than normal to ensure that I get early land drops an can start drawing cards right away, later I can donate extra lands or throw them at my opponents via Seismic Assault. I stuck close to basics for 2 reasons. I wanted simple lands that are donate friendly, and I wanted to keep the cost low. I’ve avoided cards that search libraries (other than basic lands) intentionally. There are a few pet cards (like the Honden cycle) that I just had to add. Venser and Brand are 2 ways to get donated items back under my control. Words are in here as alternatives to drawing if I have a full hand or am risking decking myself.
"To Arms, the monastery is under attack!"
The call split the night air, and the faithful answered. Leading her troops into combat, Zedruu prepared great magics to help increase their effectiveness in battle. Armed with the knowledge than should a monk fall, the enchantments she bestowed would become available to another monk later.
Zedruu Monk Tribal tries to realize her effectiveness beyond Group Hug, Kingmaker and Griefer strategies that are commonly found in decks helmed by Zedruu.
Buyback spells like Haze of Rage and bounce Auras like Mark of Fury and Spirit Loop allow Prowess to be triggered over and over. Zedruu can safely donate an Aura here and there without losing the benefit it provides. Share-Lands like Rainbow Vale have no better home than under her command. Magemarks allow the Auras to feed on one another. You can even give away Homura, knowing you will gain his essence back if he should fall in battle.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Monk is all about Sharing (short term only), Prowess, and setting up epic bounce, destroy, reuse patterns. Sure I'll donate my Undying Rage to your attacking creature. My turn? Draw and Gain Life. I'll Allay my Undying Rage, with buyback. Prowess. Cast it on my Dragon-Style Twins. Prowess. Oh, and Haze of Rage with buyback and storm. Oops, Prowess again...Attack!
My themes for this were three-fold:
1. Lots of Enchantments
3. Absurdly expensive past the point of reason (roughly 10-15x more than my typical decks)
For the play portions, I went with my personal interpretation of Zedruu as a pacifist. She doesn't want there to be bloodshed unless it is neccessary to close out the game, so a lot of cards are based around anti-combat.
- This deck is geared to act as a Jeskai control deck. The premise is simple - use your commander (Zedruu) as a positive Phyrexian Arena and ensure you always have plenty of cards in hand.
Play Style & synergies
- Cantrip your way to midgame through use of Brainstorm effects and cards like Spreading Seas. use your Wall of Omens to stave off early aggro and wait out the first eventual board wipe. You play two (one of which is uncounterable), so take advantage of the fact that most players like to play "sweeper.dek" and they will jam seven or more into their deck. Make them use these resources and only blow up the board when it's absolutely needed. Keep note you have Angel's Grace to blank an opponent's combo turn if needed, and it is fetchable off your Sunforger.
- Generally you play Zedruu after the first board wipe (because you know it's coming in the first five turns), then once you untap with Zedruu "hand off" something to somebody. Could be a Spreading Seas or Journey to Nowhere (these are ideal as the controller of them doesn't matter) or it could be an excess land. However Zedruu's ability is activated, so always wait until the end of the player to your right's turn to use it. Use it twice if you have WWUURR available. This ability is your bread and butter - with an extra card/turn you'll be almost invincible.
- Every counterspell in the deck is multicoloured. This means you ca utilize your Sunforger to pull something out of the deck to protect your board (Hindering Light is great for this), stop a game winning spell (counterflux), or the beginning of a combo player's turn (render Silent). You can even generate some pseudo CA by targeting two player's currently-resolving spells with Double Negative.
Combos & Finishers
- I've chosen to eschew "instant I win" setups, although there is a strng synergy I have to mention - Illusions of Grandeur + Venser, the Sojourner. Play Illusions, gain twenty. Activate Zedruu to "donate" it to someone else. Then activate Venser's +2 to "blink" Illusions (they lose twenty) back to your side, which allows you to gain another twenty.
This deck is a strong control deck for a medium power level group (don't bring this to a group where everyone plays Storm and Hermit Druid). There are a lot of niche interactions in the deck, built-in CA engines, and life engines, and Planeswalkers to offer time to put your pieces into position.
All 7 submissions have been entered, the Judges are free to start, people are free to talk among themselves. I ask that the Judges do not allow comments to influence their judging and only focus on the submissions themselves.
The reveal is dekayed, the scores are in but the Commandercast crew has decided to release their scores on Monday with just about an entire podcast dedicated to the decks. That is right, in the 2nd longest Commandercast podcast you (as contestants) made a great show.
I look forward to it. With Monday being the reveal, Tuesday a new challenge will by issued, hope to see you then.