Hello everyone, this will be the second deck I have published, I have allot of things running around and in testing, but after testing this one out for a few days I have been really excited with the results and decided to publish. I've been in love with emrakul from his release and it was him being available that made me make the switch to the 1v1 format.
First things first, this is not a Lazav Deck, it is not a deck built around his unique ability, it is a combo deck that uses him as a material and nothing more. So if your looking to have fun playing a fairly casual game where you can abuse his ability this is not the deck for you. This is meant to be a competitive deck that just so happens to have Lazav as a general, rather then a typical deck that has been built around there general.
To those who did not understand the reference of the nickname it pays homage to Cheech and Chongs skit "Daves not here", if you have not heard it give it a Google, it is hilarious, as well as gives you a clue to the fact that it is not a Lazav deck.
I choose Lazav as my general as I have always been a Johnny player, I love creative deck building more then any other aspect of the game, and I always feel that I must be original with what I come up with, and that It also has to be competitive. I'm the type of guy who likes to come up with metas. So on goes my quest to find generals no one uses who I can make something creative with and blast my competition away.
So for some more specific reasons as to my choice, he is one of the very few Hexproof Legendary Creatures, and the only one that is blue and black which are both the tutor and the combo colors. He is also fairly cheap to cast. While he has a handy shape-shifting ability as a back up plan, he is simply the cheapest and most resilient polymorph target I could find. While the deck is not built around his ability, the fact that he has it makes him pretty much an automatic counter to any reanimation engine.
The deck is pretty straightforward, ramp up, tutor, cast Lazav, poly him. Thanks to being hexproof this is rather difficult to prevent short of counter spells, and your packing a large number of those your self, as well as hand disruption. If your against heavy permission blue play cautiously, dont try to combo without either knowing there hand via various discards, bait out counters with your general as he can be recast, or by keeping mana open for your own counter spells and or waiting for them to tap out. There are quite a few ways to Polymorph and or Tutor for one of those methods, use your best judgement. The deck also runs Helm of Obedience/Leyline of the void as an alternate win condition should it be necessary or more practical at the time. Of course you always have his ability to fall back on as the deck does run a large amount of spot control and hand disruption so if your lucky you can get something nasty into their grave while he is out.
I have done the math for the deck, using several algorithm generators, the deck has a 94.5% chance to have your combo ready to go by turn 6, which is typically when your about ready to combo out anyways so it worked out really well. And even on the sad days where you don't get the combo, or get out countered, It is a very heavy control oriented deck so it is fairly resilient. This of course does not take into account any disruption from your opponent, just gives you an idea of the general deck consistency.
The main generators I used to come up with these results can be found here: http://irafay.com/magic.php
And Here: http://www.irafay.com/cards.php
(I know they were both published on the same website but they are different algorithms, and I used the average percentages from both of them, as well as had some of my math major friends crunch the numbers)
Onto card selection and why I have chosen the slots I have.
I opted out of a grind centered deck as while that may have some interesting synergy with Lazav, it is just far to gimmicky and reliant on lucky mills of big creatures which your opponent may or may not even have. Bye opting out of those I was left with a lot more room for a combo centered deck with lots of control to back it up.
The next thing people notice is I am missing many of the staple draw engines like Ryhstic study. This is for two reasons, number one all of the draw cards I picked can get Emrakul out of my hand should it be necessary, number two you really don’t want to accidentally draw into emrakul so having heavy draw power in a deck were it is not needed due to a very heavy tutor package is not necessary, your typicaly better off using your mana for control or your combo then you are trying to generate card advantage.
Tezzeret the Seeker and Fabricate allows for a way to search up Helm of Obedience or proteus staff (another wonderful polymorph tool as well as interesting utility to use against your opponents threats, and or to put a stolen Emrakul back into your deck)
I opted out of time walks as they are relatively high mana which causes them to usually end up as dead cards to me, and are usually too risky to play because should they get countered I'm all tapped out. And mainly the deck was fairly cramped for room.
I opted for mostly sacrifice based removal as apposed to mass removal in order to deal with the pesky hex-proof critters like geist and animar, they are also very cheap to cast which gives me stuff to do turning my first three otherwise dead turns. Mass removal tends to be higher mana cost which is A. Slower and B. Hits my general/emmy. This is something I am still examining though, it will need further testing., but so far I am quite fond of the sacrifice engine.
Other cards I have considered and either took out or haven't gotten around to testing/couldn't find things to take out for them:
From what I have seen so far token generating aggro decks seem to be an issue as they always have something to sacrifice even in the face of emrakul. I have added in alot more mass removal in hopes to deal with those types of decks. It also likely needs more ways other then just o-stone to answer o-ring, I will try to find room for some of the staple bounce cards, but at the moment I am quite torn as to what to take out for them.
Epilogue/Looking to improve:
I think it has potential to be quite competitive, I know there is room for improvement. I’m open to suggestions. Two things I am really looking for help with, 1 is alternate win conditions, 2 is ways to better deal with harder match ups.
__________________ Change Log:
Have Decided to test out a bit more heavy hand control, as generaly turn 1 through 3 I do not do much and the disruption would be best used there, instead of waiting longer for counters. Besides the proactive approach of discarding rather then reacting with counters I feel will be stronger against the things that have been giving me an issue, and On another note a discard engine works quite well with Lazavs ability, and it gives me another way to ditch emmy.
More mass removal added, as much as I loved my sacrifice engine, there were just better options and sadly they had to go.
In the processes of trying to find more room for staple bounce cards.
Since posting thread
+1 Charcoal Diamond, -1 Control Magic
+1 Sky Diamond, -1 Commandeer
+1 Inquisition of Kozilek, -1 Miscalculation
+1 Distress, -1 Negate
+1 Bribery, -1 Spell Peirce
+1 Blackmail, -1 Swan Song
+1 Unmask, -1 Mana Leak
+1 Dream Cache, -1 Pulse of the grid
+1 Innocent blood, -1 Chainers Edict
+1 Clutch of the Undercity, -1 Tribute to Hunger
+1 Damnation, - 1 Cruel Edict.
+1 Toxic Deluge, -1 Geths Verdict
+1 Go for the throat, -1 Diabolic Edict.
+1 Capsize, -1 Innocent Blood
+1 Cyclonic Rift, -1 Dream cashe
+1 night of souls betrayel, -1 Pestilence
+1 Sphere of the Suns, -1 swamp
+1 Talisman of Dominance, -1 jeweled amulet
+1 Infest, -1 Snuff out
+1 Engineered Plague, -1 Blackmail
+1 Dystopia, -1 Liliana of the Veil
+1 Black Sun Zenith, -1 infest
+1 Cruel Tutor, -1 Bribery
+1 Insidious Dreams, -1 Demonic Collusion
+1 Drown in Sorrow, -1 Increasing Ambition
+1 Bloodstained mire, -1
+1 Flooded Strand,
+1 Marsh Flats
+1 Misty Rainforest
+1 Scalding Tarn
+1 Verdant Catacombs
+1 Drown in Sorrow, -1
Oloro is not to bad, zur is a toss up, deveri im still not to sure about, Prosh is an absolute nightmare for me though...so many tokens so fast I have like no answer to it. Ive been wrecking control decks, even ghiest(thus why i choose sacrifice engine to stop all the pesky hard to target peopls.), and im generaly fast enough to beat out aggro...But i may need to tech alot against prosh. Im just concerned if I drop sacrfice cards then zur and the like could be problematic, and if I drop counters permission could be to hard. I've thought about opting for heavy hand destruction as it would work well with him as another alternate win and help vs permission but I have not tested it yet as it is running really smoothly as is.
Initially I was worried about Merieke Ri Berit, but then I realised she is typicaly reanimator, which Ironicly that is another fun factor where the general comes into play, I dont need to combo as I basically auto win against re animator engines.
Really I can not think of many issues aside from prosh and other big token generators.
Mirke 1 win
Prosh 2 win 4 loss
Gheist 6 wins 1 loss
Clique 3 win
Azusa 1 loss
Eight/half Tails 2 win
Zur 1 win, 1 loss
Jenara Oath Enchantress 1 win, 1 loss
Derevi 1 win 3 loss
Derevi Oath, 1 win
Grand Arbiter 2 win, 4 loss
Reaper King 1 win
Eladamri, Lord of Leaves 1 win
Maelstorm 2 win, 1 Loss
purphoros god of forge 1 win 1 draw
Rhys the Redeemed 1 loss
Orolo doomsday 2 win
Omnath 1 win
Marath 1 win 2 loss
Kumano, Master Yamabushi 1 win
Thalia 1 win
animar 1 win 2 loss (go enginired plauge!)
zo zu the punisher 1 win
Krador 1 win
Doran 2 win, 3 loss(damn Armageddons, and other mld!)
Skull Briar 1 win
Akroma MLD 1 win
Uril mist stalker 1 win
Skithrax blight dragon 1 win, 1 loss
Azami scrolls 1 win
Thrus last troll 1 win
Rahda Aggro 1 win 1 loss
Rahda Mld 1 win
Tetsuo Umezawa 1 win
Erorbors god of dead(aggro control) 1 win, 1 loss
Tarland could be a nightmare for me, have not run into that yet.
Animar: Pro black, and a combo on average 2 turns before me is quite concerning. Given his combo is not quite as consistent, and I can hit him with mass removal/counters. I have a feeling it will be a tough match, but not unwinnable, dont think it is in my favor but I have not gone up against it enough to really know. Trying to find more room for bounce to answer him. Also night of souls betrayel and engingired plauge where added to deal with him, and they slow down prosh alot as well..
Marath: This one was largely lost to mana screw, I beat her hard g1, g2 only got 1 mana after 4 full mulls, and never drew another, g3 she did beat me fair, she was packing enough artifact removal to answer both proteus and helm. She is a strong deck but I don't think she is fast enough to really give me an issue.
Azusa: Seemed pretty even with me and azusa, her lack of permission and such lets me control well, but she generates card advantage super fast and killed my emmy with a hardcasted ulamog twice thanks to eye of ungin, not a bad match up but could go either way, definitely one where I want to try for helm combo if I get tutors, polly in hand generally is fast enough though. With the addition of more mass removal I think it will be more in my favor.
Derevi: Allright she is a real ***** to deal with, still pretty confident i can at least 50 50 her though, was loosing to lock derevi but only just barely allways really close games. My win against her was against midrange/aggro. Would like to do a number crunch on how consistent she can get a lock out before turn 6, that would really tell me how I stood against her.
Jenara: I feel like I have a fairly good advantage over jenara/Derevi as I can combo much more consistently and quickly, and have really easy access to bribery, she only wins if she can get an early nevermore/oath, or gets a lucky o-ring/journy when I use emmy. On a side note oath is not to threatening to me as I dont play creatures, and only use my general if I am ready to poly.
Arbiter: Now that I have switched to alot more hand destruction I feel arbiter will be easier, I only loose again to super lucky orings, and early nevermores.
Maelstorm: Its a fun match up, but i feel its definitely in my favor, we are about the same speed, but I am more consistent and have disruption, very little luck on my side, But maelstorm can still pull off his devastating wins a good chunk of the time.
Rhys: Its largely in the same boat as azuasa, could go either way, however because it gets to splat white It has an advantage over me as It of course has orings, and can very easily tutor manga corordor. A tougher match up for sure, but not horrible either I would say 40-60 in his favor.
Zur is a scary bastard, and everyone knows it, its pretty even with me and him, just whoever has more counters in hand tends to win. I have alot of answers to zur, but zur is an answer by himself to everything I do if he sticks. Definitely a toss up match to the better hand.
Prosh is a nightmare, allthough with the addition of mass removal I have started beating her.
MLD Doran: Giant dick move, but pretty much a hard counter to me as I am typicaly really mana hungary on top of him having sacrifice and white. Classic doran is not to hard, but as for mld doran it is really not in my favor and Im not sure if there is much to be done about it.
Rahda: Damn he is fast, allways really close games with me down to just a couple life as he kills about the same time I combo, however all it takes is a well placed mass removal in order to set me ahead, it is a deck that can definitely beat me, but I feel it is in my favor.
(These are matches, I did loose one or two rounds to gheist and nevermore/meddling)
Blargh You didnt wreck my ratio...as I said that ratio does not include disruption from your opponent, it was ready to go by or before turn 6 on all 6 of our games...it just didnt matter cus you either bounced emmy, or land locked right before poly...but anyways very close games gg.
Innocent blood is a very good card, I will find room for it.
I do agree I should make room for some of the staple bounce cards, however more for O-ring/journy then for nevermore/ aura. Nevermore can only stop one of my combos, either poly by hitting lazav, or helm/void but not both so I am not completly boned by it, allthough yes i would likely bounce it given the chance :P, and I do still have the ability to tutor/Draw o-stone. Not sure how aura bothers me as Proteus is only one of many poly options and is one of my less often tutored ones. And helm goes off before aura can destroy it anyways.
Bitterblossom is a nice suggestion, but the deck is not really in need of more polly targets, as because Lazav is hexproof he does not get killed like most poly targets, which was my big reason for picking him. I'm usualy fast enough to survive aggro regardless, and the lifeloss from bittblossom kind of outweighs the stall it could give me anyways. But on that note I am looking to add in more mass removal, just cant figure out what to drop. So if you can suggest any cuts, and or help me think of good removals please do.
Defense grid is an interesting suggestion that I may give a shot, I am hesitant on it though as I use a'lot of instants and end phase effects my self.
Im still not sure on transmute artifact as I only have 8 artifacts that I could use it on, and I do have an awful lot of tutors as is.
Pestilence: unclear why this is in Sickening Shoal: no way you need removal this badly increasing ambition: really? Dream Cache: Dislike. Much better draw options in your colors (even if it helps with Emrakul) Snuff Out: Personal opinion, but I wouldn't play this with Zur being one of the best decks in the format. You're also not a tempo deck, and don't really benefit from the free casting cost Tribute to Hunger: Better options in your colors Geth's Verdit: Again, better options in your colors
Pestilence is a very strong mass removal that helps me against token/elf decks which have proven to be difficult, it is needed.
I agree I am giving up most of my sacrfice engine for mass removal and or your adds. Although somewhat concerned about geist by loosing them, but so far I have not had an issue with him, given party due to sacrifice engine.
Sickening shoal and snuff out are way to good to give up, a free cast removal card is hard to come by. My deck likes to tap out often when it has the option, and those are in there to deal with banisher priest, Hokori, various tap and steal cards which can be big problems for me. Zur while a horifying and powerful general typicaly does not give my deck to much of a problem as I can combo quite quickly and either spot control or counter him plenty long enough to combo.
Increasing ambition is very very good for my deck, I rely on tutors to win, and cant get enough of them. The deck typically goes cast lazav turn 3, tutor with a 5 cost turn 4, combo shortly after, and ambition also does a huge thing for me by if my initial polly combo that i used it to search for does not work, shortly after I use it to tutor both helm/leyline. It has won me more then one game.
I explained that to much draw can be rather bad as I can draw into emmy which is quite bad, and thats why I picked draw cards that get emmy out of my hand. This is very important, and again in a fast consistent combo deck generating card advantage is just not as important as other things. The two you suggested are very good, and kind of fall into the same boat as Jace, but at the moment Just dont know what to cut for them.
Jace is an auto include, and he was initialy in the deck, I ended up cutting him for a tutor. At 4 mana cost for several effects I really dont need he was not as essitial as I thought he would be compared to every other deck with blue in it I have ever seen or made. Again he is retarded strong and If I can find extra room he will be the first thing off my maybe board to go in. But at the moment id rather just a removal spell then him.
Temporal is again in the same boat as jace, as I cant imagine a time when I would tutor for it rather then a combo piece and or force of will. If there was spare room it would go in right after Jace.
Most of your add suggestions are very good thank you very much.
I like the mana base as you really focused on getting the 2 black and 2 blue to cat the general consistently. How do you feel about fetch lands to thin the deck, and perhaps wasteland and tectonic edge in the land list?
Fetch lands are wonderful, I have not updated the list for a long time, but they would definitely go in. The deck really does not go after peoples mana base, and as strong of staples as waste/tectonic can be due to the color intensive general I want to make sure I am getting colored mana.