The genesis of this deck began as a Gisela, Blade of Goldnight list that aimed to be better at combat than the other folks at the table. It did so by utilizing her ability to make attacking hazardous to the table (Powerstone Minefield and the like), but damping the effect for myself. As new sets were released, this deck strayed more and more from the original intent until it essentially became a boros goodstuff deck. This was fine, and it was a fun deck to play, but it lacked the political aspect I was looking for originally.
Once Goblin Diplomats was spoiled, I knew that this was the kind of effect I wanted to focus on. I wanted to force combat while still enabling a choice at where the damage was headed. I also wanted to disincentivize those attacks from coming my way by generally being better at combat than my opponents. Bringing in blue allowed me a stronger Sunforger package as well as access to the types of creatures that help in shaping the flow of combat (Courtly Provocateur and the like). In my meta, typical pillowfort effects that restrict choice are not enjoyed by most folks, and as I found out with my now retired Angus Mackenzie list, can result in the majority removing the offending player from the table. Thus, I sought to influence the game through combat while still enabling choice. With this new list, I try to set up situations where you have to attack with key creatures, and while you’re more than welcome to send that creature my way, you’d be better served sending it elsewhere.
After several games, the result is a highly political deck that encourages temporary alliances with the other players. As an example, forcing Ghave’s Oracle of Mul Daya to block at the beginning of Ruric-Thar’s combat shares responsibility for the Oracle’s demise with the Ruric-Thar player, should they decide accordingly.
All told, this deck is meant to control the flow of combat by dictating key attacks and/or blocks, and generally being better suited to combat than your opponents.
What this deck is:
Highly political – If you enjoy pitting your friends against each other, you might enjoy what this list can bring to the table.
Multiplayer – While Ruhan can certainly do well 1v1, this deck was created with multiplayer politics in mind.
A puppet master – This deck shapes the battlefield and thrives in an atmosphere wherein agro and mid-range strategies are prevalent.
What this deck is NOT:
A combo killer – While you may be able to stop a key combo piece here and there, this list needs creatures on the field to do what it does best.
Explosive – This is not a deck Timmy would be interested in, as it’s more than a little subtle.
Highly competitive – Those with play groups that shade toward the cut-throat would probably do better elsewhere.
Spilling into blue, I was able to add a small bit of countermagic to the Sunforger arsenal. I won’t belabor the point here as there is plenty of info on these forums on what to include. However, if you’re going to put together a Sunforger package, do yourself the favor and add Mistveil Plains to the mix and allow your targets some recursion.
Building a Better Battlefield:
Herein are the various effects that either force or restrict an attack or block (Heckling Fiends, Boros Battleshaper, et al). Many of these creatures are pretty weak on their own, and I must admit that I did see some eyebrows fly when I slapped an Alluring Siren on the board. However, many of them are extremely cheap to play and very low on the threat assessment table, allowing you to slip below the radar for the early game. Generally, the strongest player out of the gate is the one who gets the first volley of hate. Use these battle shapers to influence combat at this time, incentivizing players to attack others by opening up holes in another’s defense, or offering up a key utility creature as a chump blocker. If you do it right, you’ll sew rivalries between your opponents while being viewed as either a temporary ally or a non-threat.
It’s worth noting that there is only one card in this list that forces all creatures to attack all the time (Fumiko the Lowblood). Outside of this, the battle shaping is more pinpoint (or single use with regard to all out attacks), allowing you to be far more subtle about how you affect the board. I found in my group that if you force rules too heavy-handedly, it tends to invite aggression. Thus, I prefer to use single use effects that allow at least the illusion of choice.
A quick look at the RUW options available and the question quickly becomes, "Why not Ruhan?" Honestly, there aren't many choices in these colors, but for a deck that wants to control combat I felt Ruhan best encapsulated the theme I was going for. I like the juxtaposition of having an uncontrollable commander at the helm when all the deck wants to do is shape the flow of combat. Additionally, because of his randomness, I found I was able to avoid a majority of the hate thrown my way because of his random nature. For some folks, you can get them to bemoan the nature of chance rather than any possible ill will you might have for them within the context of the game.
As always, I look forward to commentary and criticism you may have, as differing perspectives ultimately lead to a better finished product. All told, this deck has been a blast to play, and I very much hope someone finds my rambling useful in some way.
I would appreciate any feedback you have for my Ruhan list, too. It's my first time playing Raka and only my second time playing with U, so I'm looking for advice.
Thanks for posting your list!
Pisces: Hey thanks for taking a look! I've definitely considered Counterflux, I just don't happen to have one at present. I will definitely swap Suffocating Blast for it the next time I happen by the LGS and give it a whirl. The bonus 3 damage has been helpful in taking out the odd utility creature, but then that isn't an issue with this list. I have a feeling the uncounterable counter (with upside!) might just be the better utility option. I'll check out your list as soon as I'm done posting here.
foo: The Torpor Orb is a bit of a meta call for me. Most of the folks I play with aren't particularly abusive on ETB (I have mostly agro, control, and token to worry about). It is something I'm on the lookout for and I have one set aside in case I need to be a bit fun policey. Master Warcraft is a card I go back and forth on. It's precisely the kind of card this deck wants, and fits snugly in the Sunforger package. However, I keep getting the feeling I have enough of creatures that provide this effect repeatably, which is where I always end up backing down on it. It needs 2 other cards before it becomes repeatable, whereas most of my creatures provide it at least every turn.
One major change I made this weekend just about broke my heart. I told Gisela, Blade of Goldnight to ride the pine in my trade binder. I've been Bribery'd one too many times and I found that if I don't have spot removal in hand, I really can't deal with my own Gisela. She may go back in eventually once folks decide to figure out what bombs other folks are playing, but until then she'll be getting a break. I replaced her with an Adarkar Valkyrie I pulled from a Modern Masters pack I picked up this weekend. She's another kind of creature this deck is looking for: Good on offense and defense. The extra recursion is pretty awesome as well.
Again, thanks for the feedback! This deck is rapidly becoming one of my favorites, and I hope you guys are having fun with your versions as well.
foo, you had me slapping my forehead this morning. I'm really digging your take on this, and those are some really awesome suggestions, thanks! Where to start?
Tamiyo, the Moon Sage is a no brainer. She's exactly the type of planeswalker this deck needs. She's very powerful all on her own, and she further crafts the battlefield with her ability to tap down key creatures. Add to this the card draw, and we have a card I'm really exited to add to the pile.
Kor Haven, Mystifying Maze, and Maze of Ith are lands that I hadn't considered, but are fantastic for what this list wants to do. I'm not sure I can get my hands on a Maze of Ith (and if I did so I'd swap a spell out for it), but I'll definitely be picking up a Kor Haven today.
I also like Coastal Piracy (certainly wouldn't mind more card draw), but I'm unsure of what I'd remove for it. I think its something I'll revisit after I've solidified the current changes.
Finally, on Gisela, I think I'll put her back eventually. Honestly, I just want my play group to try branching out a bit more when they go pilfering other people's decks. in the past, I had been a prime target because they knew I ran Gisela in the 99 (Bribery is a particular favorite around our table). I want her to not be available to them for a few games so that they might consider other targets in the future. You're correct in that she's sustainable in the deck; it's just more of a temporary meta call.
play cryptic command. it taps all the creatures of one opponent, and that seems to be the kind of thing you want to do. or, if this effect is not helpful in one momment, you can always just counter something and draw
I took a look at how Cryptic Command might fit in the deck while I was working in Kor Haven and I'm afraid the triple U just isn't doable in the list I'm currently running. The majority of the deck is currently WR and with only 9 or so U sources (not counting artifact sources), I think it'll wind up sitting in my hand uncastable a majority of the time. The counterspells currently included have the bonus value of being Sunforger targets. I also tend to like keeping my countermagic at a minimum in my lists, as the folks in my playgroup won't play around it nearly as much if its a fairly uncommon occurrence. That, and I'm not the only person running countermagic at any given time, so no need to police the table that much.
In trying to decide what came out for Tamiyo, its becoming clear that for my instants to posses a compelling reason to stay, they need to either have a very powerful effect, or they need to be a Sunforger target. Bonus points go to those with both attributes. To that end, I see your point with regard to Keep Watch. Its a great effect in this deck, but it has a few drawbacks. It isn't a Sunforger target, and as such recurring it after a single use with Mistveil Plains is of negligible impact. Its almost better to run Blue Sun's Zenith in that case. I certainly could use another sweeper, and while Cyclonic Rift isn't Sunforger-able, it is the kind of effect that can win a game out of nowhere.
While I wouldn't label this as a combo deck, I certainly don't see the harm in having one or two in the mix, provided the components were useful to the overall whole (some kind of Aurelia infinite attack shenaniganry, for example). We've all had that forever long game where everyone at the table is just begging for someone to end it. My play group doesn't appreciate early combos, but finishing up a game given a reasonable amount of playtime and interactivity is generally good regardless of how it ends.
If that's your fancy, I think Claws of Gix would be the go-to sac outlet here. It wouldn't be exactly infinite, technically speaking, but it buys you an extra attack step for 1. That that point, how many extra attack steps do you really need?
I got to experience this deck being unsubtle last evening. I was playing a three player game against Kaalia of the Vast and Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts in which the Kaalia player got a little overzealous and overextended with Waves of Aggression. Luckly, I sat behind my Rhystic Study for a few turns while Teysa and Kaalia ignored me for the most part (apparently just content to play whack-a-mole with Ruhan and leave it at that). I ended up winning with a board consisting of a Sunforger'd Sun Titan and Isperia, Supreme Judge with Tamiyo setting it up and Gideon knocking it down.
Tamiyo was an absolute beast as to be expected, but her best performance of the evening was her interaction with Gideon. I slapped both planeswalkers on the table during the same turn to the tune of groaning opponents. Ruhan was great at eating spot removal and ended up placating my opponents' need for my blood. If one thing is true, its that this deck definitely needs one more sweeper. Had I not had Blasphemous Act in my opening hand to respond to Kaalia's over-extension (see the spoiler for details), it would have been a real short game. That being the case, I've ordered a Cyclonic Rift and will be making room for it as soon as it arrives.
Also, Raging River is AMAZING! I knew this card would be good, and I really enjoy the old school flair it brings, but I had no idea it would work out as well as it has. Its pure combat advantage for your side, and with creatures that are good in combat anyway, your opponents have very few options in the way of effective blocks. Raging River is the absolute hidden gem in this list.
My preorders are in and the little nose-thumbing muse that started this list has finally made it into the pile. This deck is getting increasingly difficult to cut, but Tidal Flats eventually fell before the plow. I loved the old school flavor of the card, but ultimately UU per activation was a bit much on the manabase. Cutting it to make room for Goblin Diplomats made it a bit easier.
I haven't had much time for interests outside of work and family lately, but I can't wait to shuffle this up again. This seems to be the deck I reach for the most.
I managed to get my grubby paws on a FTV version of Maze of Ith in trade last week, and it has made its home in the Ruhan list. I swapped out Swerve for the Maze, as it was pulling double duty with Wild Ricochet.
As for Theros spoilers, I'm very excited for Bident of Thassa! Stapling another Goblin Diplomats-type effect onto a card I'm already running (Coastal Piracy) is just too excellent and will be an easy swap to make next month.
I'm also interested in the owner of said bident, Thassa, God of the Sea. I'm not sure I'll be able to make her a creature very often, but I think being able to scry every turn and making Ruhan unblockable will be more than worth it at 2U.
The first of the Theros updates to this list is a sphinx swap. I managed a Prognostic Sphinx at my prerelease (2 actually), and decided to give it a try here. I don't think its strictly on theme here, but its a far cry better than the Jelenn Sphinx.
I'm also going to make an easy swap of Bident of Thassa for Coastal Piracy. I'd be hard pressed to think of a more perfect fit of a card for this deck.
Additionally, I'm going to try and work in the Bident's owner, Thassa, God of the Sea. I'm not sure what I'm going to swap yet, but I'll update this once I have my preorders and I've made the appropriate cuts.
I'm currently running Return to Dust in the list, but I have my eye on Revoke Existence specifically for Purphoros. I have a good friend in my play group with a Wort, Boggart Auntie gobbo deck that practically salivated when this god was spoiled. I'm going to leave it as is and see how much of an impact Purphoros has for now, but I have a copy of Revoke Existence waiting in the wings. I wish it were a Sun Forger target, but with all the new gods running around, an extra answer might be worth it. Wait and see for now.
I love this list, it has a few cards I might consider for the Oros list I'm brewing. (Which also wants to control combat). Have you thought about Akroma's Memorial or True Conviction as a way to make your own creatures better in combat?
Thanks for the input, gumgod! I think I want to stay away from the tri-colored mana symbols if at all possible. I've found the mana to be pretty good on average, but I'd rather not push my luck on that front.
As for Akroma's Memorial I'm a bit torn. The 7 CMC commitment makes me hesitate, but the effect for that cost is potentially game winning. I don't think I'm going to rush out and buy one, but I'll be keeping an eye out for trade opportunities. Its definitely worth trying.
I picked up a few of the new precons this weekend, and Ruhan enjoys the spoils. I swapped Alluring Siren out for Serene Master. This guy is my absolute favorite of the new stuff, and he perfectly encapsulates the, "You're welcome to attack me if you want, but you'd do better elsewhere,"-vibe of the deck. The siren was pretty low impact, and I have better effects in this vein, so she was an easy cut.
I also traded tricks for gambits, and oh how I wish this card had R or W in its mana cost. Even without the ability to nab it with Sunforger, Illusionist's Gambit is a fantastic card. I don't know how, and I don't know when, but this card is going to punish someone, and we're all going to laugh.
A quick update and a word on BNG now that the full set has been spoiled.
Firstly, I swapped Defensive Formation for Path to Exile with a bit more trepidation than you might expect. I really like what Defensive Formation does for this deck, but ultimately its a miserable late game draw. Path to Exile is something I've wanted to add to the Sunforger package for awhile, and after acquiring a sweet Venser v Koth version in trade, something had to go. I may try to work it back into the deck at some point.
As to Born of the Gods, really the only cards that interest me are the Archetypes, and specifically the Archetype of Courage. First Strike for me and no one else is snugly in Ruhan's wheelhouse. I gave thought to Brimaz briefly, but ultimately decided against it. Sure, he's good on both sides of the ball by himself, but he doesn't necessarily improve the overall quality of my team in combat like the Archetypes do. I will, however, give him a try should I be able to pick him up by fluke (come on prerelease :)).
Finally, Doctor Church: Apologies for my response coming so late (crazy holidays/new year) and I hope you're enjoying the deck. I do enjoy some extra attack steps, and I considered Aggravated Assault originally. Ultimately I decided that I'd rather my extra attack steps come attached to things that can actually attack themselves (IE Aurelia, the Warleader). Were I to add another of these effects, I think I'd try out Hellkite Charger first (although there is something to be said for the Sun Titan recursion on Agg Assault).
You also bring up an interesting consideration in Powerstone Minefield and Lightmine Field. Something I've found through playing the deck is that you have to be very judicious about when you use these types of enchantments. You almost never want both of them at the same time, and you can really only play them effectively when you're either just sitting back trying to control the board, or when they're of negligible impact to your board state (IE big creatures or some kind of voltron configuration). For the most part, these enchantments eat removal eventually, but it may become necessary to use your own removal should they hinder more than help. In this case, more often than not, they've usually done their job in allowing you to progress to the better board state while forcing those awkward attacks for your opponents and at this stage you're just ready to blow them up and make your move.
I've slid up the mana curve slightly to incorporate Archetype of Courage and Archetype of Imagination. I removed Oracle en-Vec because it's never quite done what I want it to, and ultimately I had to concede that I was still holding onto it for nostalgic reasons rather than thematic or performance reasons up to this point. The Sphinx got the ax because it was really never on theme, but rather a decent creature that I happened to open when Theros released. The Archetypes give me that edge in combat I'm looking for, and also has the side benefit of making Ruhan less chumpable. I've also noted that my mana base is noo quite accurate to this point, as I've since added the scry lands from Theros and Born, so I'll get that straightened out the next time I have the deck laid out in front of me.