I have finally succumbed to the Siren's call. Solrune's Marchesa just looked way too fun to pass up.
I'm doing something different than most other Marchesa decks which I would say that they either build towards Midrange or Combo-Artifice-based. I am playing traditional aggro. You can't really do that without a gimmick in EDH because of the prevalence of board wipes that kill the tempo that aggro requires to win. Most aggro decks either go with a go-wide strategy with tokens where they only risk one or two cards that generate token board states that they can replace if a piece falls. The other option is to go tall with Voltron, put lots of power in their Commander and try to count to 21.
My Marchesa does neither, I play threats on curve. Marchesa's innate ability makes her able to play traditional aggro because her Creatures are able to ignore Wraths. As I'm trying to do 120 to the table, a great many of my card choices are to speed that up as much as possible. I need threat multipliers and while Marchesa provides that with Dethrone growing her Creatures, I need even more. Hence a great many of effects that deal damage when a player goes about their business or cards that make me deal damage to each opponent.
A traditional Marchesa, a midrange aggro deck, would not run a lot of these effects. It would be concerned with staying off of the Throne and attacking for advantage. Our deck does something similar at first, but then changes gears. The greatest weakness of Midrange Marchesa is dying to crackbacks. If you're always pushing yourself to be off of the Throne, it is quite easy for an opponent who is at low life to kill an even lower life Marchesa. By playing traditional aggro and dealing damage with any means of force multipliers, there will be a time where Marchesa's Dethrone will no longer work due to everyone being lower than you. At this point, you need to coast to victory with your board state and have less of a worry about dying to crackbacks. If your opponents do crackback, it's possible to retaliate with a board that now gets Dethrone triggers for the final push.
Mer-Ek was the first 'obvious placeholder' so I went with the amazing Clever Impersonator, who can hop out due to the Transfigure from Fleshwriter. It'll always be the best thing, which is pretty nice. Chromantic Lantern is leagues better than Obelisk of Grixis, as well.
The value engine of Marchesa meant that the Phyrexian Gargantua was kind of a waste, Drana, Liberator of Malakir provides +1/+1s for the team. Her coming down the turn before Marchesa and then landing a swing is amazing.
Butcher was slightly too expensive and I'm quite fond of Ob Nixilis, Unshackled. He creates his own +1/+1s for Marchesa, he hurts anybody who searches and the sacrifice clause means he feeds into his own ability to grow larger.
I'm not sure if Grave Titan is 10 times stronger than Sire of Stagnation, Sire draws a lot of cards. I'm playing with the Sire because it's cheap dollarwise and it isn't a Consecrated Sphinx. Marchesa is already against the entire table, in essence, I don't need to encourage that. Though making tons of 2/2s is pretty sweet. I guess it comes down whether I should trim the Primordial or not, as it does have a lot of potential but I'm slightly lacking in Sac Outlets.
I guess I should have Kiki-Jiki, if only for the Infinite Combo with Zealous Conscripts. I also guess randomly copying your own dudes is worthwhile enough.
Good catch on the Flamekin Village, though I'm hesitant to cut another Mountain. I really don't want to start investing in the real expensive Fetches/Lands, especially with already building a Basic-based Landbase.
I have quite a suite of Wizards, so being able to tutor for them made me include Vedalken Æthermage. Feldon got cut because he was more expensive, in fact, that's what informed my decisions with my cuts. I spend too much of my mana doing stuff, which I like, so I don't have time for these big haymakers that might be countered or killed. After playing with Marchesa a few times, she's a Commander that literally pits you against the entire table. Her effect is so strong that it warps everything else. Being able to sacrifice on demand is why I added Altar of Dementia and Goblin Bombardment; I expect to replace the Altar as I don't mill - I just needed a way to sacrifice on my own terms.
I'd love to get a Phyrexian Altar but damn, it's expensive. Same with Miren. I just have a hard time paying big bucks for mana sources, as they're not as exciting. But great suggestions.
The Aethermage is literally to search for Voidmage Prodigy. If I can control the board with Counterspells that just won't go away, I'd be golden. Right now I'm aiming to get a Glen Elendra Archmage.
Redcap lets me go Infinite with Mikaeus, the Unhallowed and a sac piece. Hellrider costs the same and hasn't impressed me that much, so it got cut. Ashnod's Altar is far superior to Dementia for what I want, so that's a simple switch. A Mountain for Flamekin Village is also a simple choice.
Now, with Grenzo I didn't have a 4 drop that made me go "That's weak", so I went down to 3 drops. If Grenzo gives card advantage, then I cut the simplest form of that. We'll give him a try, he looks interesting I hope the results are awesome.
After seeing a Gonti deck in action, I got really impressed. The amount of versatility you can squeeze out of him is astounding. I am going for a more 'midrange Marchesa' where I play a lowered curve but still plenty of mana to use on activated abilities, like Fleshwrither and Riptide Shapeshifter. Using him to grab removal that's outside of the Grixis pie chart is awesome, especially if you can do it repeatedly. With Marchesa, repeat is normal. I had trouble deciding on what to cut on and eventually settled on Profaner of the Dead. The Exploit is a little lacklustre, but his Wizard creature type really made me unsure as it's part of my Voidmage Prodigy Counterspell lockdown. Between him, my Ogre Battledriver and Reef Worm, I decided that Profaner was the most obvious replacement. Profaner is supposed to supply me with answers, and he has been failing the last few games, so Gonti should pick up the lack. What's also nice is his Aetherborn creature type is unique for a Riptide Shapeshifter to search for, aside from the Taurean Mauler, and he costs four for Dimir House Guard to Transmute for.
I like Reef Worm in theory, in practice, ehh... The idea of being a wrath-proof aggro deck should be exemplified with this guy, but I rather get something that'll immediately make Marchesa wrath-proof. Also, lowering the curve in an aggro deck is always good.
Finally, High Market is an easy addition to have more sac on demand outlets. Island was cut as I have more Black in the deck than Blue, especially after swapping Profaner of the Dead for Gonti.
No real observations for Marchesa this week, the one game I got in with her was 1v1 and I got absolutely stomped against my own Erebos, God of the DeadEDH Deck. Hard to dethrone someone when they're losing as much life as you to keep drawing gas and kill.
I used to run Marchesa not too long ago. If I were to suggest 1 card to add and 1 to cut, it'd be out with Painful Truths and in with either Phyrexian Altar or Sadistic Hypnotist (<-- this guy seals games, that discard is no joke.).
Also, how is Sin Prodder working for you? I'm not typically a fan of cards like this that let my opponent choose.
I do like Painful Truths because it's 5 life for 3 cards on Average. I know, that sounds like a bad deal to most decks but Marchesa likes our life total lower. I'd love to get a Phyrexian Altar but it's now $30. Sadistic Hypnotist seems like a more sensible option, seems like it can close out games fairly well. The Minion creature type also means its easy to retrieve with the Riptide Shapeshifter. Sin Prodder is working OK. The Menace is great to land hits, I don't mind whatever option people use as it lowers their life total. Haven't had a situation yet where that caused no one to be an eligible Dethrone target.
I've added in two cards from my Type 4 Cube. No one wants to draft it where I moved as they've never heard of the format, so I'm putting those cards to good use in the mean time.
Swamp is the highest basic count so it got cut for the unexpected Miren, that'll probably be the last basic I'm willing to cut due to the variety of Basic Searches and Checklands/Tangolands. I'm sad to cut the Sire, while it does draw me a lot of cards, this lowers my curve even further when the Glen Elendra Archmage, who is going to be absolutely oppressive against my opponents.
Burnished Hart didn't often have time to become a Magical Christmasland of lands over lands. Olivia, Mobilized for War lets me put a counter right away on Marchesa, the Black Rose, and provides Haste to instantly add Dethrone pressure. Unfortunate, Olivia muddles the Knight creature type meaning I can't solo search for Márton Stromgald. The Vampire creature type is already filled with dead, non-silver bullets. I do think she overall increases my aggressive stance enough that's worth adding her as a potential mess up for Knights. The same mana cost is another reason for the choice.
Aura Thief steals all the Enchantments, which makes him great! I cut the Battledriver due to cost, but also because of him cleaning up the Warrior Creature-type for Riptide Shapeshifter searches. I found the Haste to be OK most of the time, the problem is putting him in the same mana slot as our Commander. Thief's effect is so good we're fine even if he dies without a +1/+1.
Sadly, you might be right. I wanted to keep it as many creatures as possible, just for a beatdown. Rift, Warp and Deluge are all great cards that help you win the game. Especially Rift, which you can't fight outside of a Counterspell. The rumblings of a Ban make me think it wouldn't be so bad.
I would definitely have Dark Confident in over Pain Seer, but one costs $40+ dollars and the other is a dollar.
Though I will disagree on Stunt Double on Dack's Dupliate. The Haste compensates for the lack of Flash and Dethrone stacks, making him a very efficient beater and grows big scary fast. I would run Stunt Double if I had more 4 drop slots but I'm already bloated there.
I intentionally built my deck to have as many creatures as possible just because I find playing creatures and beating down to be fun. Marchesa currently gets a lot of disruption and I'm now looking for ways to protect her.
Counterspell and Rift are just good Instants to have. I am contemplating a Wheel because it fills my hand, but with the amount of disruption I run and face, I'm worried I'm just giving my opponents a way back into this game.
The Rishadan Pirates are ways to really screw my opponents over and if I get them looping, it would be very brutal for my opponents. Scourge because it is the most-in theme beater available.
Vedalken Aethermage's experiment is over. I never had time to assemble a Voidmage Prodigy lock out and rather have value. I faced against a Marchesa who used the Sultai Emissary to keep popping out more and more permanents. He would put a +1/+1 on the Emissary, it would die as a 2/2 or he'd sacrifice and then Manifest. After putting a +1/+1 on the Manifested card, it would back face up and if it was a permanent he would get that in play. It's a way to quickly go wide, which Marchesa's static distribution of +1/+1 counters really benefits. Trying him out.
I've also found that I've had problem with dead draws or too expensive things, so I've begun cutting cards that are expensive when I think I can get something cheaper. I really like the card draw of the Graveborn Muse but it's something that stood out as 'expendable' for cuts. It doesn't quite bring me something unique. Victimize brings back two of my creatures that fell in previous turns.
Thalakos Deceiver never really worked. Helm doesn't care about the vagaries of the board. It's another sac outlet and lets me grab enemy creatures, which I could then sacrifice to gain back control of to keep chaining together.
Smothering Abomination has caused me problems. The card draw is great, no doubt about that. The problem is keeping a wide board state, I wanted to keep hitting players but he kept making me sacrifice creatures. This caused me to be painfully short for activating Westvale Abbey a few times as well. I've found that Marchesa gets messed with, the Cutpurse will let me proactively mess with them and it is something I'm fine with recycling with Marchesa.
The Shapeshifter is a cool gimmick but its expense is what relegated it to just being that gimmick. Frankly, if it stayed alive I already won by assembling Infinite combos. I rather guard my position, which is why the 2nd Rishadan is here to be affordable and mess with my opponents board states.
Rishadan Brigand is the final Tax Pirate that rounds out the suite. As good as Sidisi is, she causes a body problem even with the tutors. I think it's more important to keep tempo up by assaulting the board rather than tutoring. When things get more polished, perhaps she'll return. She's also the only one who I cut for CMC parity instead of reduction.
Rune-Scarred Demon also costs a lot of mana and while it would be ideal to reduce my Curve severely by using another low cost creature, Scourge is just too awesome in-theme to be left alone.
I personally think that you should probably bring back Sidisi at some point soon, as it is very good and I would play it if not for the theme that I have.
I play Diabolic Intent, which is the one-use version of that card and I find it phenomenal. Then again, it's easier for me to keep counters on my creatures. I do make attacks, however my version is usually not as good at taking down players from 40 life because of the theme I use.
I agree with cutting your curve. I can afford to play a higher curve because of my access to big manarocks (and ways to get them back if someone wants to destroy them!).
Also, I have a distinct feeling that you'll hit lands a little too often with manifests to feel good about it.
EDIT: After playtesting more, yeah, I think I don't quite have the body problem you have because A) I'm less aggro, more combo and B) Every time I need to sac a creature for something and I don't want to lose an attacker, there's Arcbound Ravager.
I'm actually going to try to lower my curve even further. I realized that not having a creature or two before Marchesa comes down really hinders my ability to go wide. I think if I played with more Instants/Sorceries for Disruption. If my play group keeps hitting my Marchesa, I'm going to put in Jokulhaups. Sidisi makes me get rid of bodies when I just want to keep assembling a larger force.
If you wanted something that fits your needs, I was going to recommend Spellskite, but that too is around $20!
Honestly, I kind of want to cut my mana curve down too, although I could just throw in a Mana Crypt (temporarily borrowed from Xenagod)... but I kind of don't want to. There's literally no downside to doing it, but I feel that would be... a little much.
Speaking of which, he has kind of spoiled me on my expectations for aggro strategies. I never feel like I'm doing it fast enough unless I'm doing at least 20 damage an attack. I've tended to care quite a bit less about the attack step because of it. Also because of Xenagod people play turbofog and other strats like crazy around here so it's not like I have much of a choice in my approach.
And yes, this is very much a Jokulhaups deck. Hell, if I added more manarocks, it could be a Wildfire deck as well.
EDIT: Actually, this discussion gave me an idea. I wonder what kind of low-cost evasion I can grant onto Marchesa? I run Cranial Plating and I want to have the option of nuking people via Commander damage. The main issue is that I would never use whatever I play for evasion otherwise. Maybe I guess I just wipe all creatures then swing her next turn onto an empty board?
Key to the City is probably the most underrated evasion card. It's filtering and provides unblockable. You can choose other creatures too, so you can have another players creature become unblockable.
Hmm... Wildfire is "fair" MLD. Quite honestly, I don't care if my creatures survive as Marchesa brings them back. My main issue right now is finding a way to protect Marchesa. Having early threats that cause people to waste removal is one thing. I'm right now even considering Swiftfoot Boots despite the Equip cost (Lighting Greaves spoils me terribly). Right now I have two creatures that protect Marchesa, Sage of Fables and Olivia, Mobilized for War. I want a Kira, Great-Glass Spinner but I'm stunned that's she's $20 - I remember people considering her a junk rare when Kamigawa came out.
Yup. Key to the City is probably the best thing if I decide I want the option. Just like how I don't actually activate Inkmoth Nexus that often but the option is very good in case I need a 1-2 attack evasive clock on someone with the help of dethrone/modular/cranial plating. However I'd probably go for O-stone + cheap manarock first. Honestly, I should tutor for plating more often in a big board state. That thing just adds so much easy damage to attacks that normally feel inconsequential. Although those attacks might feel inconsequential because I run about half the number of creatures that the other Marchesa lists run. I mean, there aren't a lot of good qualifying artifact creatures in the game...
As far as protection creatures go, the best I can think of is Spellskite and Kira. Both are $20. I could also use a couple more ways of protecting Marchesa. The most hilarious and janky method would be Ashnod's Transmogrant. I would never do it because of space concerns, but making her into an artifact so that all of my sacrifice outlets can work on her is quite amusing.
Swiftfoot Boots isn't the worst. I mean, paying the 1 isn't terrible if you play her like a 5 drop and play something that costs 4 beforehand. The main issue is that if you played boots on turn 2 that means you didn't accelerate on turn 2...
EDIT: Well you're in luck. A 2-drop artifact creature got spoiled that suits your needs perfectly. It is even more perfect for mine.
Leovold, Emissary of Trest is a giant pain in my ass in my meta, so the Flamespeaker gets around an inability to draw. Furthermore, it scales quite scarily with double strike and turns into a force to be reckoned with. The Shadowmage Infiltrator is the most similar card in function, so that's the swap.
Metallic Mimic comes in for Blood Artist, the Vampire never really impressed me while the Mimic provides so much more value to Marchesa.
Voidmage never really worked, too much mana to cast and use. It is easier to try to get a Glen Elendra Archmage lock, and with a Mimic and Sage of Fables that's a solid soft lock. With that amount of mana intensity, Toxic Deluge feels much more liberating as an answer plus it kicks you off of the Throne in addition to handling whatever.
Pain Seer has been a hitch in my plans, whenver I sacrifice him he comes back untapped which denies me the sweet, sweet card draw. Phyrexian Arena is harder to get rid of, costs life and draws me cards so I keep off of the Throne and get gas.
Treausre Keeper is Matter Reshaper's big brother, casting cards whenever it dies. I see great things in the future fort his. I unforunately had to cut Solemn whose ramp and card draw has always been welcome, but I didn't want to sacrifice my curve. If another four drop isn't quite working out, I might want to put Solemn back in.
Disciple of Bolas is supposed to be card advantage, nothing like Grave Pact as card advantage to keep my swings clear and into my opponent's faces.
Dimir House Guard frequently doesn't let me Transmute because I need to keep putting pressure on my foes and I don't have time to dally for answers. As it stands, he's a bad resilient sac outlet. Yahenni is not, plus the built-in Haste is welcoming in addition to Indestructible and +1/+1 counters. He's a man after Marchesa's heart.
Cutpurse and Study are both one cost Taxes, but Study's stupid card advantage due to people's unwillingness to pay for their spells. Cutpurse only really punishes incredibly aggressive players, but with the wild variation in costs people usually have a mana or two to pay for the cutpurse.
Necropotence is card draw that keeps you off of the Throne, which is why I decided to cut Mulldrifte to lower my curve further but because of similar function.
With the changes to my mana base with cutting multiple Blue cards and adding Black with double and triple Black, I swapped a Swamp in for an Island.
In fact, I'd probably even try and get some of the filter lands to help acquire those double and triple black costs early, such as Sunken Ruins and Graven Cairns. You can leave out Cascade Bluffs because it's the most expensive and also the least useful to you.
I already moved my copy of Sunken Ruins into my build in order to handle the numerous double and triple blue costs I might be facing.
Personally, for my build I'd cut my red gearhulk for necro, but necro is pretty frowned upon in my group and so I prefer not to use it. It's also better than running Mulldrifter because it's a big body and I can abuse it more easily.
I pretty much cut out all cards with expensive activated abilities because I'll absolutely never have time or spare mana to use em. All activated abilities need to be cheap or free to use. I think my highest is Cranial Plating with it's BB instant equip. I cut Mirrorworks for the same reason you cut House Guard.