Karador is by far the oldest deck in my EDH box. I've been playing it for a couple of years now, and I've gone through about 500 playable cards that could easily make the list. So, I finally decided to write a primer on this deck.
1. The deck list.
2. Strategic overview
3. Individual card break-down.
4. Cards that did not make the list.
5. Cards on the chopping block.
6. Change log.
First off, let me say that there are lots of different themes and strategies that you can do with BGW in this format, just like with any three-color combination. I'm not going to argue one strategy over another; having a lot of possible strategies is one of the best reasons to play BGW. I'm just here to document my strategy and why I like it.
Now then, my strategy revolves several different ideas. Each of them interacts with each other to create more synergistic advantages:
- Sacrifice is all about taking advantage of the bodies I produce, and putting them to work as a resource. Most people play creatures so that they can either attack with them, or use their individual abilities to their advantage. While I use some of my creatures for their abilities, each of them is completely expendable.
- Furthermore, your general is going to need bodies to bring back if/when he connects with someone. Therefore, if you can benefit from putting bodies into the graveyard, you will be that much better off when you activate Teneb Karador.
Leaves the battlefield triggers:
- Because your stuff is going to die sooner or later, possibly to your own sacrifice outlet, it is helpful to have cards that do things upon leaving the battlefield, as opposed to activated abilities that need to be paid for or given haste in order to work.
Enters the battlefield triggers:
- Again, because your stuff is going to die sooner or later, it is helpful to have cards that do something as soon as they hit the table, so that when they do kick the bucket, at least you will get something for them.
- Recursion goes hand-in-hand with sacrifice, and also with the idea that my stuff is going to die. If you accept the fact that your stuff’s gonna die, and the fact that you only get one of everything in this format, then you should probably try to find a way to get your stuff back. - This is where playing BGW really shines. BGW has the tools to get back just about everything you want.
- If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing over and over again. Now, obviously it’s much easier to get a Rampant Growth effect to repeat itself than it is to get a Cruel Ultimatum to repeat itself, but still, I’d rather have multiple Rampant Growths than one Cruel Ultimatum over the course of an entire game.
Notes on my general:
- I chose Teneb Karador as my general for several reasons. His color combination is fantastic for recursion, sacrifice, card advantage, utility, removal, etc.
- Teneb Karador does not need to be cast to win. He is merely another tool at my disposal. If he gets Hindered, Condemned, etc, it is not a huge set-back.
- There are times when I think about how much easier it would be to change my general to Savra, Queen of the Golgari. Savra has a built-in Grave Pact (which I love), a smaller casting cost, and a smoother mana base. However, I cannot let go of white largely due to two cards: Karmic Guide and Reveillark. While all of my white spells are excellent, those two are the main reasons why I play white.
You might notice a severe lack of cards that tutor or draw extra cards in my list (like Harmonize, Promise of Power, and Survival of the Fittest. A few notes on this...
- I don't run the draw spells because they only work once. I am trying to build more long-term effects into my deck, and playing something like Harmonize doesn't fit that plan. I'd rather play something like Carnage Altar or Phyrexian Arena for more draw power. Furthermore, I usually spend so much time ramping and reanimating stuff I already have that I don't need to draw anything else.
* = bonus points for being a Reveillark target.
** = bonus points for being a Fierce Empath target.
- Academy Rector*: Finally convinced myself to play this guy, along with Martyr's Bond. The utility and the fact that it's a four-drop (which I was lacking), was enough to get it in the list.
- Acidic Slime*: A format staple, no exception here. Versatile effect (Creeping Mold) on a stick. Only one extra colorless mana to get a 2/2 deathtouch + the Creeping Mold.
- Angel of Despair**: She's back in the game due to her interaction with Fierce Empath. Time will tell if I need both this and Necrotic Sliver.
- Archon of Justice: I love this card, and I love it even more in this deck full of free/cheap sac outlets. Vindicate is an amazing effect, so naturally Vindicate + RFG = even more amazing effect. Throw in an Air Elemental body and you can see why I love this card.
- Avenger of Zendikar: Game-winner. Tons of sacrificial fodder that can grow very quickly. No explanation needed.
- Butcher of Malakir**: I'm built around sacrificing things, so Grave Pact is an all-star. Toss in a 5/4 flying body for 3 more mana and I'm sold.
- Creakwood Liege*: This guy has been surprisingly good. The Worm token gets used up very quickly, and free stuff every turn is always good. The boosts to black/green creatures is icing on the cake.
- Eternal Witness*: You can't have a Teneb deck without this guy. He needs no discussion...he's just that good.
- Farhaven Elf*: Almost forgot to include this guy in my list. A very important card: ramps effectively, plus it gives me a small body to sacrifice. If I could run more, I would.
- Fauna Shaman*: He's cheaper than Survival, and he's a Lark target, and his ability is well documented.
- Fierce Empath*: My new package. Once I decided to spring for Primeval Titan, this was a natural addition. It can also find removal, recursion, my general, and win-conditions. Plus, it's a 'Lark and Sun Titan target.
- Gutless Ghoul*: He's gently getting pushed aside by Claws of Gix, but the fact that he himself is easily recur-able is keeping him in for now.
- Harmonic Sliver*: Disenchant + a body that's easy to sac and recur = excellent.
- Karmic Guide*: No explanation needed here.
- Krovikan Horror*: An obscure card that just happens to do all the things I need. If only it were a Sun Titan target...
- Massacre Wurm**: What a house. A Fierce Empath target that can really make people pay for letting things die. Can't wait to see this in action with Grave Pact...
- Oracle of Mul Daya*: I believe Sensei's Divining Top is the best card in EDH. As a result, I think the Oracle is the most under-played card in EDH. Even if it doesn't have a Top to work with, it's still a great ability.
- Pawn of Ulamog*: It's like Golgari Germination, only with better tokens. It's also much easier to reanimate if it ever gets killed.
- Primeval Titan**: A format staple that immediately pays for itself. Here's to getting Emeria online that much faster.
- Reassembling Skeleton*: Self-reanimator that provides excellent fodder for other sac outlets.
- Reveillark: No explanation needed.
- Riftsweeper*: I was ecstatic when this guy got unbanned. Graveyard hate is this deck's big weakness, and this guy brings stuff back for me to use.
- Sakura-Tribe Elder*: A format staple, no exception here. STEve is awesome.
- Sun Titan**: I'm hoping that this guy will be just as insane as Reveillark is for me. Currently looking into more non-creature permanents for him to target.
- Viscera Seer*: This guy is a free sac outlet, library manipulation that helps Lurking Predators and Oracle of Mul Daya, and a small body that can be brought back with Sun Titan and Reveillark.
- Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter**: Added this guy in over Geth, mostly to see if he was any good. Have yet to draw him, but I have a whole other deck devoted to Geth, so I don't need to play him in here.
- Withered Wretch*: This guy is perfect: dirt cheap to cast, effectively sized, dirt cheap to activate, targets only the stuff I don't want to reanimate.
- Wood Elves*: I enjoy putting Bayou and Savannah into play UNtapped. Recurring this guy is always good.
- Woodfall Primus**: Another format staple, no exceptions here. The persist thing is just gravy.
- Yavimaya Elder*: Seems a little better than Yavimaya Granger at the same price.
Notice how most of my creatures have the following things in common:
- An enter/leave the battlefield ability (which makes them more expendable).
- Smaller size and smaller casting cost (which makes them easier to re-cast).
- Birthing Pod: Shenanigans! Great tutoring card for this deck. With 30 creatures, most of which have ETB triggers, I made sure to use this every turn whenever it was in play.
- Claws of Gix: A very cheap sac outlet that gains decent life and protects non-creature permanents as well.
- Coalition Relic: Another format staple. Better than Signets at ramping/fixing.
- Crucible of Worlds: A format staple. Especially good for me, since I'm all about recursion.
- Darksteel Ingot: Another format staple. Better than Signets at ramping/fixing.
- Helm of Possession: Sac outlet that allows me to steal other things on the board, which I usually sacrifice at some point. Just a great card.
- Mimic Vat: One of those cards that is good in every deck, with no exception. In here, it's just the right size, and its ability is stellar as always.
- Mox Diamond: I chose this to replace a Signet because it can synergize with KotR/Crucible.
- Sensei's Divining Top: The best card in EDH, in my opinion. I'm particularly fond of the Oracle of Mul Daya interaction.
- Skullclamp: A format staple, especially broken with all of the small guys and sacrifices I make.
- Aura Shards: A format staple. No explanation needed here.
- Black Market: No mana burn means that this just a ton of FREE MANA EVERY TURN. Furthermore, adding a charge counter is not a "may" ability (kinda like the original Soul Warden)
- Golgari Germination: This card turns all my sacrifices into 2-for-1's. Amazing!
- Grave Pact: My main source of creature removal. All of my sacrificing makes this card insane.
- Greater Good: I've got a lot more small guys, so this isn't quite as good as it could be. Still, it's a free sac outlet that gets cards into my graveyard, which is good enough.
- Martyr's Bond: Been wanting to try and get this in my list for awhile now, and adding Rector was the last straw that got it done.
- Mirari's Wake: A format staple. I have gone without it sometimes because it attracts too much attention.
- Perilous Forays: This is my best sac outlet. Cheap and effective, it turns all my creatures into extra lands. I routinely get 20 or more lands with this card.
- Pernicious Deed: An excellent wrath spell, and it's recur-able with Sun Titan. So glad I finally bought one.
- Phyrexian Arena: A free card every turn seems good.
- Phyrexian Reclamation: Cheap, re-usable recursion. Very effective.
- Strands of Night: Even better than Phyrexian Reclamation because it puts the creature directly into play.
- Fracturing Gust: Instant-speed + massive life gain + sweeper = excellent card.
- Adarkar Valkyrie: I cut this card because it was expensive and took a long time to get online. The Valkyrie is one of those cards that attracts a lot of negative attention, and I just don't need that.
- Akroma, Angel of Wrath: She's a nice big beater, but I don't really need that.
- Brutalizer Exarch**: Extremely versatile card...both modes are very useful for this deck, and it's a 6-drop, so Fierce Empath can go get it. First place on the waiting list.
- Bloodghast: For some reason, this card never really excited me. It was pretty good with Skullclamp or Perilous Forays, but not so much without either of those. I think the fact that it can't block was somewhat of an issue. Plus, Reassembling Skeleton does the same thing a little better.
- Divinity of Pride: This is another card that attracts a lot of negative attention, and it usually doesn't survive long enough to get an attack in.
- Doomed Necromancer: A hard one to cut, but I rarely if ever used him.
- Genesis: Another hard one to cut, but I already draw enough grave-hate.
- Ghost Council of Orzhova: It's a little tricky to cast, and the effect is one that will not kill anyone but will certainly bother them enough to make my life miserable. Granted, it is a cheap sac outlet, but it's probably not necessary. Might try it out at some point.
- Grave Titan: All it really does is make bodies, and Avenger of Zendikar is better at this.
- Hag Hedge-Mage: A long-time staple, but I'm starting to dislike the "on top of library" effect.
- Juniper Order Ranger: In this deck, size doesn't really matter. Feels like he could be put to better uses in other decks.
- Kitchen Finks: The Finks got beat out by several other sources of life gain that were just a little better, namely Spike Feeder.
- Knight of the Reliquary: Vanilla body, the land tutoring was never important. Primeval Titan is superior in every way.
- Magus of the Disk: Used to run this guy, but I don't have a way to untap it, and as a creature it is more fragile that the original Disk, so it doesn't work quite as well.
- Marsh Flitter: This feels like a one-trick pony to me, and I hate those effects. Even if it is Lark-able, I feel like I can find more permanent token-makers.
- Necrotic Ooze: Seems like a fun card to try out. Need to acquire one.
- Necrotic Sliver: Six mana for a Vindicate was too expensive, and I rarely got it back with Sun Titan or Reveillark.
- Phyrexian Plaguelord: Needed to cut a 5-drop for Black Market.
- Puppeteer Clique: A good man, but not as good as Geth.
- Sadistic Hypnotist: His ability is very powerful, and his body is the right size for my deck, but the fact that it is considered a sorcery makes him seem very bad for me. If blue/combo players become more of a problem, he might come in.
- Saffi Eriksdotter: Even though I wouldn't be likely to use it as a combo piece, others would assume I am trying to combo out. Another card that brings about unnecessary attention.
- Savra, Queen of the Golgari: The color requirement is a bit cumbersome, and usually I prefer to have a regular Grave Pact.
- Spike Feeder: I like this guy, but something had to go for It That Betrays.
- Stonecloaker: I'm finding it to be a little more expensive than Withered Wretch for the same effect.
- Teysa, Orzhov Scion: The color restrictions make Teysa a little tricky for me. If I could find a reliable way to get the right color tokens, she will get added.
- Tidehollow Sculler: He seems quite good if you can stack his trigger and sac him off to something (so the card you remove will never come back), and he is the right size for the deck. However, he seems pretty weak by himself, and cards that don't work by themselves are usually not good enough for me.
- Yavimaya Granger: This got cut for redundancy purposes, and I wanted Yavimaya Elder instead.
- Altar of Dementia: I'm not going to win by milling opponents unless I go for some kind of infinite combo (which rarely happens), and if I mill myself, someone's going to find a way to nuke my yard. There are enough good sac outlets that I don't need this one.
- Ashnod's Altar: This long-time staple is getting cut because I never really want to cast it.
- Golgari Signet, etc: The activation cost was cumbersome, and there were other artifacts that did a better job.
- Nim Deathmantle: I wasn't impressed by this card. It's very expensive, and I want to spend all my mana every turn, not wait for something to die.
- Phyrexian Altar: Same as Ashnod's Altar.
- Angelic Renewal: Just didn't pull its weight. It has to be in play before the creature dies, and it only works once unless I have a Sun Titan.
- Attrition: I have lots of other sac outlets, and the fact that this can only hit non-black creatures turned out to be far more relevant than I had originally thought.
- Bitterblossom: I got rid of my set before Lorwyn rotated, so I don't have one anymore. That being said, Creakwood Liege is working very nicely, so this might come back in.
- Field of Souls: Man, this was a hard cut, but there are two other similar spells in the deck that each cost three mana (including a 2-power creature), so this just became redundant.
- Haunted Crossroads: As Molten Shark accurately pointed out, putting things on top of my library is not as good as putting them in my hand. Plus, I finally got an Oversold Cemetery.
- Lurking Predators: The percentage of times that I hit on this card were not very high, and Genesis Wave has a much higher chance to hit.
- Marshal's Anthem: This was one of the more expensive spells in the deck, and I needed to find something to cut.
- Oversold Cemetery: Another sad cut, since I finally bought a sweet German copy. Unfortunately, I couldn't read the part about needing four creatures in my yard to activate it.
- **Survival of the Fittest: It took me several years and three Thoughtseizes to get my first copy of this card (a Judge foil). It is currently married to my French foil Mercadian Masques copy of Squee, Goblin Nabob. It's also a tutor and a card that attracts a lot of unwanted attention. If I ever change my mind on tutors, this will be the first one to come back in.
- Liliana Vess: Every time I played her, she got to tutor once and then got killed. 5 mana is way too much for a tutor, and planeswalkers are difficult to recur. Also, the "on top of library" part is not very good.
- Vampiric Tutor: I don't own one, and I have enough spells that cost me life.
- Victimize: Too many conditions needed to be satisfied for this card to be any good.
- Beseech the Queen: Needed to cut something for the Empath package, and this is a little tough to cast sometimes.
- Horizon Canopy: Been trying to trade for one of these for awhile now. If I ever get one, it will immediately go in here.
** denotes a card that is probably on its way into the list.
Yes, I forgot to add the Saga Cycle lands, thanks for reminding me.
I also want to add Necroskitter and Pyrrhic Revival because they combo well with a Wrath effect. Any ideas on what I should cut out in favor of those two?
Anyway, this is mostly WBg "Good Stuff", although there's some synergies going on. It's basically focused on recurring your own graveyard, so it has lots of effects that let me get cards back. Also, there's a small theme revolving around lands in my graveyard.
- Academy Rector: Not enough enchantments to make it worth it, I think.
- Bitterblossom: Couldn't find room for it. I don't think my deck is token based enough to demand this kind of outlet, although recurring chump-blockers is nice. However, I only get one 1/1 flyer every upkeep, and this isn't really enough in multiplayer without some other way to abuse it.
That's all I can think of to say for now. Thoughts/comments? I had to make a lot of hard cuts to this deck to fit in everything I wanted to. Please feel free to suggest anything; it's possible that I missed something obvious.
With the cycling lands and Eternal Dragon, I've been quite happy with Astral Slide in my Teneb deck; you have lots of juicy targets for that effect. I've also got Undead Gladiator for more cycling options.
Too small of an effect if you ask me. I'd much rather run Syphon Mind or Mind Twist if I wanted discard, because one draws me cards (so I don't need the Loam engine online already), and the other one is simply much more powerful for single-target discard.
It's good, but it's rather mean, and you do need to cast it from your hand. I don't run it because my group tends to hate it way too much, and I agree that it doesn't lend itself well to the fun factor that EDH is supposed to have.
For me, it's too narrow for multiplayer, although admittedly, it can completely lock someone out of the game. I don't run it for the same reasons as the Myojin though.
With the cycling lands and Eternal Dragon, I've been quite happy with Astral Slide in my Teneb deck; you have lots of juicy targets for that effect. I've also got Undead Gladiator for more cycling options.
Slide tends to be too unreliable for me to run it, as much as it is one of my favourite cards. However, if you do run it, add Krosan Tusker and Decree of Pain.
Quote from Kalean »
I like the Reveillark choice. I never thought of it for the teneb deck I built. I like since it grabs Eternal witness, duplicant, solomn, and biggist of all Phantom Nishoba
Glad you noticed! Once I saw the Nishoba, I couldn't help but grin when I thought of Reveillark, so I had to put it in. I recommend the Nishoba highly for anyone running Lark.
EDIT: Actually, if you incorporated shenanigans with -1/-1 counters at all, you should probably add Flourishing Defences. It combos nicely with Harbinger and Necroskitter. In fact, rather than explain all of these combos, I'll just point you to an article by Bennie Smith from a couple weeks ago. He runs a -1/-1 counter theme very heavily with this general, so you can find some ideas from there probably.
EDIT 2: Other good cards for -1/-1 = Power Conduit and Fevered Convulsions. Conduit has nice synergy with Sun Droplet if you run that, and helps turn those -1/-1 counters into bonuses. Convulsions works well with your 'Skitter and isn't a big enough threat for most people to get too mad about it.
If I find a Necromancy, it will go in there. The Stomphowler doesn't have nearly as much synergy with the rest of the deck as Necrotic Sliver or Mirror Entity - both of those could be brought back with either Reveillark or Order of Whiteclay. They also combine with Worm Harvest, which has been a good finisher given all the lands I put in my yard.
It's been awhile since I played my Teneb deeck, partially because all it ever did was cycle lands with Life from the Loam, and also partially because someone else in my play group started making an aggro Teneb deck that really pissed me off.
But, now I'd like to revamp mine based on a couple of foundations:
- Teneb has access to creatures that do just about everything.
- Teneb has access to recursion that can bring back just about everything.
- Teneb has access to enchantments that have a lot of synergy together.
Based on those three, I put together a list of all the possible creatures and enchantments that would probably go together, listed below:
Obviously, this is not a complete list, as it's missing lands, planeswalkers, and non-permanent spells. I was hoping to get some advice on cards to cut, as I've already got too many spells without adding in planeswalkers or non-permanents.
The main objectives are still fairly straight-forward:
- Sacrifice outlets
- Sacrifice triggers
I'm also getting more into the Pestilence effects (can't wait for the new Pestilence demon guy from Rise of the Eldrazi). I used to run Vigor effects to combo with the Pestilence guys, but I've since cut them because they aren't nearly as good without a Pestilence. However, there was one occasion where I got to live the dream of playing both Vigor and Thrashing Wumpus off a Tooth and Nail with an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth in play.
EDIT: The Vigor combo was fun, and it helps my smaller stuff get bigger.
Probably don't need a library manip category as its only a few cards and not really thematic with your general. The oracle is as much mana ramp as she is library manipulation here. Throw SDT, library and predators in a utility/other category.
Same for GY removal - 2 cards does not a theme make. Move these to your utility section, or just have a generic "removal" category with your mass, targeted and GY stuff all there.
Sac triggers is kind of random. I would just put savra/pact/butcher as removal and put clamp and finks as utility.
As for the deck itself, my Teneb deck is focused on sweeping the board and mass discard and then reanimate (hymn of rebirth, beacon of unrest, crime // punishment, animate dead). The idea is that opponents are damned if they do (wraths) and damned if they don't (discard). I then recur from their yards whatever I need either with Teneb or my spells. I run the usual suspects for utility/mana - witness, tribe elder, yavimaya elder, simulacrum etc.
One card you should try to add is angel of despair. She is almost always my #1 reanimation target. Necrotic sliver is similar but not nearly as juicy.
An interesting mana option is mulch if you really want to get the cards into your yard - I'm not sure how badly you want this with this deck but consider it.
I would say the main weakness I see in your deck is that most of what you reanimate is tiny, I assume you usually win by general damage since a kitchen finks doesn't exactly strike fear into the hearts of men, or by degenerate reveillark/karmic guide combo.