Tymna and Ikra are my woke women because the previous general was Teneb. Look at his face: Teneb, the Harvester; he looks so sleepy. I was trying to think of an Abzan General that I liked, which I narrowed down to Teneb. I've had a goal of having every combination of Black at my disposal, as it is my favourite colour, and with an Abzan General I complete my goal. At that point, I was trying to think of something unique. I realized he was a Sabotuer - a Creature with a triggered ability if they hit a player. Normally, this sort of ability is in Blue and is the boring 'draw a card'. I decided to try and make an Abzan Saboteurs deck, led by this sleepy Dragon. After playing a few times, I realized that having these women are the helm makes the deck a lot better; the swap is putting the sleepy dragon into the 99 and placing these awake women on the throne.
Eternal Witness provides so much more utility than Rampant Growth, especially since this is definitely a battlecruiser deck. I want the big splashy stuff, not efficient spells. This is also why I cut Search for Tomorrow and swapped it with an Hour of Promise.
I was thinking if the deck is all about hitting my opponent, and I include multiple ways to ensure that happens, why don't I double that? True Conviction gives me life to survive crackbacks but more importantly, I am able to get more off of Saboteur triggers. Return to Dust was the card with the most white pips and I'm not sure if I need that much spot removal when I have a Commander that can toolbox out of anybody's graveyard.
Tymna is just more draw, especially since the deck is designed to attack. Between True Conviction and her, I'm thinking I'm going to need a Blade of Selves to really get the benefits of Saboteurs. Ophiomancer is solid, it got axed just because of its similar CMC to Tymna.
The next two cuts are just improving on an engine. Nissa, Vital Force is a much better draw engine than Deathreap Ritual. Sword of the Animist gets me a lot more lands than Harrow.
Ink-Eyes is unfortunately very cumbersome. She was in my original draft and I tried to love her, but it's hard to get her Ninjutsu to work or have open mana to Regenerate. Often if someone is open they don't have Creatures in a graveyard because that's not their strategy. Teneb is able to do the same because he comes with built in evasion and he resurrects anyone from anywhere. I put in an Angel of Deliverance because I first thought it was Exile Permanent once you have Delerium. Unfortunately, I misread as it is Creature Exile only. I'll give it a try but I am significantly less excited about it.
Cutting basics for better lands. I normally go bananas with Nonbasics to ensure I have a good manabase as I play. With the deck's strategy of heavy ramp, I actually want as many basics as possible. As I keep ramping lands out, my draws become significantly thinned and I only draw gas after a while.
Ohran Viper was in the initial design but it got pushed out from something else. I don't make enough bodies to justify Champion of Lambholt; in fact, I usually only swing in when I have guaranteed hits via all the different evasion my Creatures have so Dolment Gate isn't a priority either.
I dissolved my Sidisi deck after being disatisfied for a while; which means that I freed up a Sylvan and so I'm slotting that into Teneb. The amount of life gain the deck has should offset the Library's demand for blood, Arguel's is inferior because of the mana requirements.
Angel not exiling a permanent made me never excited to cast her; I decided to put in another 'Teneb Effect' in the deck with Journey to Eternity. Between my board wipes and others, I'm sure this will flip. The fact that it makes any mana is also nice, there are a few triple BBB and WWW despite the deck being Green dominant.
I'm not going to add a lot more nonbasics as a lot of the strength of the deck is the basic ramp. The three lands I added today felt like such a low opportunity cost I asked myself 'why not?'. Canopy Vista can be fetched by Wood Elves and Krosan Verge which improves my land base. Rogue's Passage helps my Saboteurs confirm damage; Vault gives me more life and deathtouch for my little guys to help trade with big problems.
Fauna will let me get early or late game Creatures depending on where I am in the game. I felt like Lord of the Void was too difficult to cast for its payoff; for just one more Black pip I have a Creature that causes players to lose. Sure, Phage the Untouchable requires a bit more work to get in there than Lord of the Void, but the payoff is worth it even with quadruple black. Lord's triple B was a problem, one that Fauna Shaman will be able to fix by finding the Creatures I want.
I was thinking of getting Tireless Tracker but with its price practically tripling I decided to go for a cheaper option. Nissa also helps get out of the early game by finding a land, which I can keep repeating if I grab her out of my 'yard thanks to Teneb. Cut Lord again because of the same reasons: difficult to cast, not enough payoff for its high cost, etc.
This is probably the last basic I'm going to cut, unless I get my mitts on a dual of some kind.
I've noticed a lack of Haste with the deck, so right now I'm contemplating possible cuts and additions for that. After all, if I kept away from my combat step via removal, wraths, etc. then the deck doesn't do that well.
Woebearer was one of the first Creatures I had in mine when I decided to go with a Saboteur deck but I always knew she was a little sub-optimal. It has finally bothered me enough that I decided to fix it with Oversold Cemetery. The amount of times I can just randomly discard my Creatures to effects and then have Teneb resurrect them means I know that I usually have 4 or more Creatures in my 'yard, easy. It also makes Key to the City into a true card advantage engine instead of pseudo due to letting me see more cards.
People seeing the Ibex in my 'yard would freak out, telegraphing that I had quite the punch. I wasn't too happy with it and I had another issue: without Haste my deck is pretty easy to see coming from far away. Swiftboots gives Haste, Hexproof protects while leaving my suite of evasion that targets alone and will let me surprise people with some Saboteur they hopefully cannot handle (Phage the Untouchable being the dream).
Blinding Angel's payoff wasn't worth the hoops jumped through, so I axed it for more Ramp. Trying out Grow from the Ashes.
Nearly half of the Creatures won't trigger off of Packleader, so he's the card draw I'll cut. The deck likes mana, so Explore will be great for gathering. With Teneb's ability, I can also use Path to mill a Creature and then Resurrect it. Let's see how this works out.
Path didn't provide me with enough cards, even if I was fine with it milling my Creatures in theory; I just needed more fuel. Foster should do that, especially how often this deck kills its own.
Devout Witness has never stuck around to actually get rid of a problem, it has always been a dead card. With Oblation, I have a catch all problem solving Instant.
This deck has a lot of Ramp; it either grabs Basics or targets specific land types. Pilgrimage does both and I don't want that. I put the Sword in because I want Haste on my Saboteurs, Trample to get the Saboteur effect, First Strike to make themselves possibly survive the attack and Vigilance is nice for how big they are. It also increases my kill clock on Teneb.
Volrath's Stronghold is a no brainer in such a Creature heavy deck, so it slots right in. I got Winding Canyons out of the sale as well and I didn't know exactly where to put it. With this deck emphasizing on trying to sneak out hasty Saboteurs, casting them on someone's end step seems like a good way. It'll also be nice to surprise my opponents with blocks they didn't expect.
I have had a love affair with Scythe Specter for a long time now and it finally got play today. It hit a player, made everyone discard and was overall... lacklustre. I'm disappointed at the benefit to cost ratio on him. I was deciding between Kheru Mind-Eater and Liliana's Reaver; I decided to go with Mind-Eater because it has built-in evasion with Menace, it gives me access to cards from other peoples' decks and I can play lands if they decide to chuck that.
Foster didn't really impress me when I held it in hand, so I decided to put something in my deck that will be impressive: Blackblade Reforged. With some of my Saboteurs, the size will be impressive but I'm really excited for massive Commander hits; turning Teneb into a one or two shot Commander with the amount of ramp that is in this deck.
Oversold Cemetery was actually a dead card. I would regularly have three Creatures, or perhaps use it once with four. It just felt like a had a lot in my Graveyard due to Teneb being able to steal from everyone's Graveyard. I put in Multani in due to his sheer size, ease in Raising himself, blocking incoming flyers and Trample to kill my opponents.
Shamantic Revelation didn't quite gain me enough life nor drew me too many cards. I am a little concerned with this update that I'll lose out on too much draw, we'll have to see. I put in Suffer the Past because the amount of recursion in the meta now is backbreaking. Suffer lets me kill players, ruin their recursion, heals myself and provides more targets for when I cast Seasons Past.
Explosive Vegetation is what I think is my worst Ramp spell, so it got axed in favor of Pir's Whim.
I realized that not all of the Evasion I had was necessary, so I cut them in favour of more powerful Equipment. Granted, the Sword of F&F becoming available is due to the dissolution of Akiri Kraum. Trailblazer's Boots are sometimes ineffective because some players have started using more Basics in their builds, so Sword of F&F will get me in versus many opponents and the Untap is incredible since this deck is fairly mana hungry.
Whispersilk Cloak is another axe of evasion, instead of trying to hit one player I could try hitting all of the players with Blade of Selves. I can't wait until I do something stupid like Blade of Selves a Hydra Omnivore or Giant Adephage. It also has innate synergy with Tymna the Weaver who will help with the deck drawing cards.
The last shakeup to Equipment was realizing I didn't quite needed to end games quickly, so Blackblade wasn't that appealing anymore. Instead, I got tired of having my team screwed with when I attacked. The whole deck revolves around turning sideways, so if someone can ruin that I don't stand a chance. I found a Flail in the collection I bought and figured it would be great in Teneb.
Terrain Generator is just another way to spend excess mana and Ramp myself.
One of the common ways to stop this deck is to mess with my Combat Step. Grand Abolisher stops that. Though I am saddened that I had to cut Raving Dead. I found it hilarious because I didn't know where it would go or how much damage it would do but there hit a point where that unreliable nature started to chafe.
Stoneforge Mystic grabs whatever the hell I need at the moment and that was worth cutting the Granger.
The next update focuses on turning the heat down a little:
Blade of Selves would cause so much heat, I would immediately be declared Archenemy and get taken out. I also couldn't really seal the deal with Blade or Selves, plus the amount of Legendary Saboteurs I have made the Blade sit dead in my hand at times. I'll use Blackblade Reforged instead to count to 21, as well as just hit really hard.
Prowler's Helm is fairly ubiquitous in my meta, as it is another way to get your Creatures in. Perhaps the new Arcades, the Strategist will change that up with more walls in the meta. With Suspicious Bookcase, I am adding a well to help defend myself from a Helm while still giving my Creatures a way to get in. With Zendikar Resurgent and Lifecrafter's Bestiary, having a Creature vs non-Creature is beneficial. Even if it is just to hold Conqueror's Flail to protect my board on my turn.
Living Hive costs a lot. I hadn't cut it previously because I liked that I could get in with it and then have a set of blockers. Sure, they could be fodder to Skullclamp but that isn't always the case. I have died to too many Alpha Strikes that a Constant Mist could have stopped; hell, there are some decks that would flat out lose to Constant Mists.
Hydra Omnivore would cause the whole table to collapse on me, whether I was ahead or not. It's like no one wants Hydra to connect. Even if they answered it, there was a shared feeling that carried them through to finish me off. Zetalpa was hot there for a minute but my meta seems to have forgotten him. I'm willing to overlook his lack of saboteur ability due to Double Strike making all of my Equipment that may have a Saboteur ability go off. He is probably as deadly as the Hydra Omnivore, but doesn't threaten the whole table immediately plus he's king on defence and difficult to remove.
I really wanted Ashling to work out, it's a cool Saboteur effect and a Legend on top of that. Unfortunately, she was sizeable enough that people wouldn't be fine with a random poke or ping. She wasn't quite big enough to bully her way past defenders. Plus her effect made sure that people jumped in the way. Overall, I didn't feel like she was pulling her weight. Not in a 'So good it cannot resolve' way some cards get targeted, but 'this minimal effort stops you'. In her stead, I put Sun Titan who works like a Saboteur with on On Attack trigger. I did consider Anafenza, the Foremost but then I realize it would be anti-synergestic with my Commander's Saboeur ability. I am going with Sun Titan and he has plenty of targets to bring back.
I probably want to pick up a Judgment or two for other decks but I want the price to drop. Oblation is the weakest in my suite of interaction, so it got the axe. I did think of adding Boreas Charger to this deck but with the amount of Ramp, it would be rare for it to fetch anything even if it could fetch lots of good Plains. After seeing Loyal Unicorn in action, I thought of adding it to this deck. It would help Teneb on defence and I could swing in fearlessly with many of my smaller Saboteurs.
This deck makes a ton of mana and I needed a new way to win. Outside of surprising someone with a lethal Suffer the Past I had no way to win outside of combat. I did take pains to alleviate someone using shenanigans against me during combat with Grand Abolisher and Conqueror's Flail but if they sat behind a pillowfort of Glacial Chasm I had no recourse. I decided to cut Whip of Erebos because I am using Exsanguinate: life gain for life gain. I never actually wanted to use Whip of Erebos' activated ability, so it was just lifegain on a do nothing permanent. Between Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper, True Conviction, Vault of the Archangel and Loxodon Warhammer, I already have enough permanents that gain me life. Plus my two slot is thin, giving myself a better option with a Seasons Past.
I like Teneb but sometimes I don't have time to cast him. Geode Golem will help with that, plus it's a Saboteur so in it goes. The Centaur Rootcaster has been lacklustre for a while now, I kept it because ramp is powerful but this deck has more than enough in that department. I frequently end games, win or loss, with more than ten lands. The Rootcaster is not responsible for that, as I would frequently require some sort of political shenanigans to get him in. I'm sure I won't miss the Rootcaster and I'll enjoy the Golem's ability to get in there with Trample.