- Ken Carson
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Feb 15, 2019Ken Carson posted a message on If you were to house ban the best tutors, which would you ban?Ban all tutors that put a nonland card, two or more cards into your hand, or put one or more lands unto the battlefield. All other tutors (Vamp, Mystical, Enlightened, Worldy) must be played at sorcery speed.Posted in: Commander (EDH)
You could also functionally errata all tutors to be sorcery speed and go to the top of your library. Expect to see a lot of Codex Shredders though.
Feb 15, 2019Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
Xantcha, Winning with Flavor... Wins
Of Xantcha and Lore
Xantcha, Sleeper Agent pays homage to one of the truly great characters from Magic's lore, introduced in the card Sleeper Agent in Urza's Saga. There is some rich lore with Xantcha, a Phyrexian newt created in the vats of Phyrexia as part of the invasion of Dominaria. She is sentenced to be executed by her overlords because she possesses free will, but is saved by Urza. The two bond, and she helps Urza invade Phyrexia, though Xantcha uses this opportunity to steal her Heartstone, which eventually becomes the core for Karn, Silver Golem. Urza comes into possession of that Heartstone when Xantcha sacrifices herself to save him, immortalized in the original art for the card Victimize. Her story arc is incredibly well-crafted, and the version we get to play in EDH is dripping with that flavor. Like a good little saboteur, she feeds us information until the opportune moment and KABOOM... we take everyone out in one gigantic shot.
Important: Rules and Interactions
Xantcha has a lot of text. And honestly, it's all very confusing for people who have never had it explained to them. So let's take it line by line:
- "As Xantcha, Sleeper Agent enters the battlefield, an opponent of your choice gains control of it."
Xantcha's effect is very similar to Clone in that it is not a triggered ability and it does not target. Basically, if Xantcha resolves, you decide which opponent will control her and she enters the battlefield under that opponent's control. She will not trigger any ETB effects on your side of the battlefield, but she will trigger any effects for your opponent. Additionally, there is no moment in time when abilities can go on the stack while she is resolving. You cannot enchant or equip her, nor can your opponents activate her ability while she is in transit. The unfortunate thing is that when that opponent leaves the game, the replacement effect that put Xantcha under that opponent's control ends, and she returns to your side of the battlefield. You can find that ruling here on the official WOTC release notes. One of the major implications of this is that creating infinite mana with Xantcha alone is not an instant win, as we will kill ourselves with her ability once we have vanquished her previous controller. Due to this, I do not run infinite mana combos in this deck.
- "Xantcha attacks each combat if able and can't attack its owner or planeswalkers its owner controls."
This is nice. Giving your opponent a 3cmc 5/5 with pseudo-haste would generally be a bad thing. However, Xantcha knows who she really serves and steers clear of not only you, but also your planeswalkers. Cool!
- "3: Xantcha's controller loses 2 life and you draw a card. Any player may activate this ability."
I strongly recommend that you not only read this line out to the table, but also explain it. Anyone at the table can pay 3 to draw a card, and the player controlling Xantcha loses 2 life. I've seen players mess up every piece of this, whether the person activating the ability tries to lose 2 life, or Xantcha's controller thinks they get to draw a card. I've even seen people kill Xantcha even when they don't control her because they just don't understand how she works. Take the time to make sure the table understand how she works.
What is this deck, and why would I play it?
The deck is a Rakdos toolbox deck that uses Xantcha's card draw ability to fill our hand with answers until the opportune moment we need to win the game. It is both proactive and reactive, using static effects to create hurdles for our opponents while holding up interaction. It's also got some tasty flavor morsels that might appeal to you if you want that out of your EDH experience.
You will like this deck if:
- You like crafting boardstates that prevent your opponents from winning.
- You like being the player everyone turns to to see if you have an answer.
- You like playing politically and making deals.
- You like killing everyone at once with a huge spell.
- You like holding up mana and drawing cards.
- You like big mana decks.
You will not like this deck if:
- You like to attack with creatures.
- You like to play from ahead.
- You like winning in a unique way every game.
- You like winning through an infinite combo.
- You have a rule against playing land destruction.
Beyond the aforementioned flavor reasons, Xantcha helps address one of the major drawbacks of playing an answer deck by both giving you an outlet for your mana when you don't need to deploy your answers and by refueling your hand when you do. None of the other Rakdos commanders can give you access to cards, with most interacting in some way with sacrifice effects/the graveyard or direct damage. With Xantcha's help, we'll continue to hit our land drops, answer various threats and deal chip damage around the table to get everyone in range of one of our finishers.
CAUTION: One huge weakness
Xantcha is fairly strong as a commander, but not being in control of her can be very difficult to deal with. I've included some utility lands to help mitigate this, but once you give Xantcha's reins over to another player, you are at their mercy. Instead of taking 5 free damage by swinging at a player with no blockers, they may choose to run her into an opposing 6/6. This becomes even more devastating when any number of your opponents have sac outlets, as Xantcha becomes a major liability. Try to give her to UGW. Opposing BRx decks are quite risky. I once gave her to a fellow Rakdos player, who promptly cast Victimize, returning two huge monsters. I was obviously bummed about getting blown out, but the flavor win was real, as Xantcha was sacrificed by a card bearing her likeness.
Cards by Category
Most of our spells fall into a generalized category, and sometimes straddles multiple categories. There is a redundancy to some of these effects so that hopefully you will have access to one in order to put up some barriers to victory while you sculp your hand.
You'll need a sizable amount of ramp to be competitive in EDH. It is almost always preferred to ramp instead of playing Xantcha if you have the option.
Land-based Ramp: Myriad Landscape/Temple of the False God/Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth+Cabal Coffers
1cmc ramp: Sol Ring
2cmc ramp: Fellwar Stone/Mind Stone/Rakdos Signet/Talisman of Indulgence/Thought Vessel
3+cmc ramp: Burnished Hart/Hedron Archive/Solemn Simulacrum/Crypt Ghast/Black Market/Neheb, the Eternal/Mana Geyser
Xantcha is our main source of card draw, but we will need more cards to sustain our answer density. Note that ramp is significantly more important, because more mana equals more cards with Xantcha.
Hedron Archive/Outpost Siege/Phyrexian Arena/Theater of Horrors/Read the Bones
Black is fantastic at wiping the board of creatures, while red excels at artifact removal. The two of these combine very nicely. Additionally, some of our creatures function as board wipes for decks with small creatures. Note that both Languish and Wildfire will leave Xantcha alive, and both Chain Reaction and Toxic Deluge can be properly calibrated.
Blashpemous Act/By Force/Chain Reaction/Damnation/Languish/Pestilence/Toxic Deluge/Vandalblast/Wildfire/Demon of Dark Schemes/Massacre Wurm
Sometimes you just need to pick off one or two problem permanents. Fortunately, Rakdos has some modal spells that can deal with non-enchantment permanents. However, the fact that enchantments are difficult to kill is often a problem and so we need to bring along Xantcha 2.0 in Karn Liberated. Other targeted removal includes:
Bedevil/Chaos Warp/Curtains' Call/Electrodominance/Hero's DownfallRakdos CharmTerminate/Meteor Golem
Win Condition Hurdles
Probably my favorite part of the deck is setting up little barriers to engines that can frustrate players. Of course, this does come with the downside of being a target if you go too far down this path, so it's important to not overdo something. However, certain types of cards are more prevalent based on how commonplace certain strategies are:
Anti-Land Ramp: Ankh of Mishra/Keldon Firebombers/Zo-Zu the Punisher/Polluted Bonds
Anti-Graveyard: Nihil Spellbomb/Scavenger Grounds/Rakdos Signet/Bojuka Bog
Anti-Life Gain: Sulfuric Vortex/Rampaging Ferocidon
Anti-Token: Rampaging Ferocidon/Massacre Wurm/Demon of Dark Schemes/Rakdos Signet
Anti-Infinite Combo: Harsh Mentor/Kaervek the Merciless/Rampaging Ferocidon/Painful Quandary/Sudden Spoiling
Anti-Counterspell: War's Toll
The deck largely wants to control the game with hurdles and spot removal, building up mana and refilling the hand as necessary, until it can tutor up a way to win at the opportune moment. This strategy relies on chip damage via Xantcha activations, attacks, and some incremental damage from our various punishing effects. Once the window opens, we need a tutor to go get the win.
Tutors: Vampiric Tutor/Demonic Tutor/Gamble
Note: Sometimes you'll tutor for mana, and that's OK.
Win Conditions: Comet Storm/Exsanguinate/Torment of Hailfire/Wound Reflection
It's certainly possible to win via other means, especially if our opponents do some of the hard work for us and knock each other out. However, most games end in a win when we put a Torment of Hailfire on the stack where X=20.
Generically Good Cards
No deck would be complete without a few generically good cards. I find that a couple of these slots are interchangeable and could be anything. The one exception is Heartstone, which will remain in the deck forever as a flavor win. Plus, it really makes a huge difference in drawing copious amounts of cards. Just be forewarned that all creatures have their ability activation costs reduced, so this could get dicey for you. Don't run it out into danger. Other generically good cards include Sensei's Diving Top and Vedalken Orrey, which basically make any deck better so long as they can fit into the deck. With our 6 fetchlands, Top is a very good filterer, while Orrey just has the game on easy mode. Finally, Word of Seizing is a pet card of mine that leads to some pretty hilarious stories. It can be just an expensive Act of Treason, but it can also save your life or even interrupt a player comboing off.
A note on Land Destruction
It is well known in EDH circles that land destruction occupies a controversial space. Personally, I find it to be just one of the tools that have been given to us by the game designers, which we can use to our benefit. This deck in particular runs numerous ways to take advantage of a mana starved table, not the least of which is Xantcha's activated ability. Add to that the fact that land-based ramp is often the best strategy to play, and I feel fully justified in packing some mass land destruction. However, it is important to have the "LD" conversation with your playgroup before you sleeve up spells that destroy more than a single land. I always have Incendiary Command and Strip Mine on hand to replace these cards in case of a more casual playgroup. Your mileage may vary.
A note about combat
I've seen various Xantcha builds that include augmenting her into some kind of Voltron that you don't control. I think this is a trap. Yes, she swings each turn, and 5 damage does add up. However, it's hard enough to kill someone with commander damage when you actually choose who the commander attacks, much less when another person is controlling that commander.
I do include certain lands, however, to protect Xantcha in combat so that I can continue drawing cards with her. Both Shinka and Shizo allow you to interact with Xantcha and make her harder to block or kill. Mystifying Maze is also a nice threat of activation against someone who might be tempted to block and kill Xantcha, as you can threaten to send her over to that commander. Maze of Ith can simply save her at the cost of tapping, which is useful in a pinch.
I find the deck to be very entertaining throughout the game. Of course, winning with a giant X spell isn't necessarily all that glamorous, but I take pleasure in embodying the sleeper agent role, constructing obstacles for my opponents, slowly whittling their life totals down until they leave themselves vulnerable to a vicious thrust. On top of that, I get to play with one of my favorite characters from lore, building in some nice flavor with the Heartstone pictured on her C18 card, and her future self, Karn Liberated. I also enjoy running a fairly unique deck in terms of Rakdos generals.
Feb 13, 2019Posted in: Commander (EDH)Quote from MRHblue »
You seem to be purposely conflating ramp and playing one land per turn as the base rule. I am quite aware you can get multiple lands into play. Under the normal rules you can play one per turn, no such restrictions exist for other card types. If you suspect a board wipe is coming, you can hold back creatures and play as many as you like, limited by mana, post wipe. That is patently untrue about land. And again, you do not need those other card types to play the game, you need land. Post Wrath games still function fluidly, and people rebuild. Post Armageddon games turn into 'draw go' very often, because people can't play anything.Quote from Ken Carson »You are not limited to one land per turn, as you can use one of many spells to get another one. There are lots of cards that allow you to play additional lands per turn as well, including one for 3 cmc that can be in your command zone. Just like a creature deck doesn’t have to run out every single creature into a wrath, you don’t have to run out every land into MLD.
I have zero issue with targeted LD, and even agree MLD is a strategy you can leverage to win. It being possible, and it being fun, are very different animals.
Here's a line of play:
- Turn 1 Forest
- Turn 2 - Island, Rampant Growth getting Forest
- Turn 3 - Forest, Skyshroud Claim getting two Forests, Farseek get Island
The player will untap with 7 mana on turn 4. Every other player needs to hold up mana to respond or risk getting totally buried in advantage by the ramper. Now, if that player has to assume that MLD could be coming, then that player is free to sandbag a ramp spell and a couple lands and recover from a 'Geddon. Instead, because of this notion that lands are sacred, a player can aggressively tutor lands out of their library and fix their mana, setting up for huge turns with no downside.
Contrast that with
- Turn 1 Forest
- Turn 2 Island, Simic Signet
- Turn 3 Forest, Cultivate, Elvish Mystic
This player will untap with 6 mana, plus a land drop, and whether there's a Wrath of God, Shatterstorm or Armageddon, the player will be able to rebuild their mana. This player also may understand that you can;t just assume your mana will stay intact, so instead of running 4-5 versions of Blue Sun's Zenith the player is running a Divination to refuel.
If people don't like MLD, I get it. People don't like Wrath. People don't like Vandalblast. These are all hurdles one should expect to overcome. If you leave yourself extremely vulnerable to losing all of your mana because you have no diversity or you play out all of your mana, that's on you.
Feb 13, 2019Posted in: Commander (EDH)Quote from MRHblue »
You are not limited to one artifact or creature per turn by rules. You don't have to have artifact mana or dorks to play the game. You must have lands, and there is a limit per turn, to start any sort of meaningful game (with a few corner cases). You do not turn off people's ability to play the game with destruction of artifacts or mana dorks. In a format where we are supposed to care about others having fun, that should matter.Quote from PhroX »If a player (or players) has a significant proportion of their mana generation tied up in artifacts, is it against the "social contract" to play Bane of Progress? Likewise for a bunch of elves and a Wrath of God?
(and I'm not meaning this as a "gotcha". I'm genuinely interested what peoples' thoughts on attacking non-land mana sources, and, if they are OK with it, why they view them differently from lands)
You are not limited to one land per turn, as you can use one of many spells to get another one. There are lots of cards that allow you to play additional lands per turn as well, including one for 3 cmc that can be in your command zone. Just like a creature deck doesn’t have to run out every single creature into a wrath, you don’t have to run out every land into MLD.
Feb 9, 2019Posted in: Commander (EDH)Quote from JWK »The pro-MLD folk here seem to be very much ignoring the social contract aspect of the game. If MLD is cool in the group you are playing with, good. But it is also okay if they are not okay with MLD. Insisting that people should be okay with MLD is essentially saying everyone should want to play the game the way you want to play it, and that is about as asocial a stance as one can take.
People who don't want MLD in their EDH games are not bad players or wrong or whatever. They just want a different sort of game than you would prefer, and that is okay.
People who like MLD are also not bad players or wrong or whatever. They just want a different sort of game than the majority of EDH players want - and yes, like it or not, MLD guys, most EDH players are not big on MLD. That's just a fact. But you aren't wrong for wanting what you want, either. NEITHER side is wrong, they just prefer different sorts of games, which is completely okay. That's part of the whole "social contract" thing. Same with people who prefer a more cEDH vs. those who prefer things to be much less competitive. Some people just want to win. Other care less about winning than they do about having a fun, social game where everyone has a good time. Nether is wrong, they are just different.
The solution is for people who like MLD to play with other people who are cool with MLD, or to play a range of decks and not play your MLD decks with people who aren't cool with MLD.
And again, to get back to the original question of this thread, MLD is actually not a very reliable way to deal with ramp decks. MLD is a control strategy akin to stax. Claiming otherwise is at best erroneous, at worst dishonest. 3Drinks is honest about it... it is a strategy he uses to win games. That's a more competitive approach to the game than a lot of EDH players prefer (and most pro-MLD people do fall further to the competitive end of the casual/competitive continuum), but he isn't wrong for liking that, so long as he doesn't insist on bringing that to the table when playing with people who want a less competitive game.
I get what you are saying, and I think that a conversation prior to a game is always critical.
However, the issue becomes when people who say “No MLD” also think it’s cool to play Boundless Realms. It’s akin to someone playing combo and saying “No counterspells” or Elfball combo and saying “No board wipes.” If a deck’s strategy is to vomit as many lands out as possible and do something huge, I’m going to pack answers for that.
And again, it’s important to remember that land destruction spells are spells on the hands of players. You cannot blanket say that every time someone plays MLD that X happens. I play Wildfire in my Xantcha deck because she survives the damage, small blockers get wiped, and it sets a boardstate that often requires Xantcha activations for players to dig to mana sources. All those things help my deck win, and since I have the spell in my hand/deck, I can craft a situation where it benefits me. My answers are cheap, so I can operate on fewer mana sources, and I run a land count on the higher end to lower the probability that I fail to recover if I have to deploy it early.
Feb 8, 2019Posted in: Commander (EDH)
First, if one player has 11 lands and another has 4, that game is already over. So your premise is moot.
Second, Wildfire doesn’t play itself. It is played by a player who is strategically deploying cards. There are situations in which it is very bad, and you do not need to play it. There are other situations in which it is very good. Here’s an example:
I have Wildfire tucked under a Spinerock Knoll. Xantcha is out, and I have Coffers/Urborg and 9 lands, while the ramp player has out 12 lands. Both other players have 8. Ramp player Strip Mine’s my Coffers. In response, I activate Xantcha 4 times and cast Wildfire. When the dust settles, the ramp player has 7 lands, I have 5, and the other players have 4. I wiped the board except for Xantcha, and now everyone is strongly considering using Xantcha’s ability to draw and dig for more mana. Again, the card is a tool in the tool box, not a “Well, I’m at 6 mana, hue hue hue, cast Wildfire. LOL!”
Feb 8, 2019Sorry to necro this, but I’ve built a Xantcha deck and I’ve found a couple ways to help get her through (or at least keep her on the table). Many of them are lands.Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
Shizo, Death’s Storehouse is the best as it can give Xantcha fear, getting through a lot of blockers for just 2 mana. It the best of the bunch. It also is an untapped black source, which is fantastic for a utility land.
Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep has a cheap activation that can shrug off smaller creature double blocks so Xantcha survives. Again, it’s an untapped colored mana source.
Mystifying Maze is a nice threat of activation card. You can basically tell an opponent that if they block and try to kill Xantcha, you can flicker her onto their board. And Maze of Ith can cheaply ensure that she survives combat.
The other thing you can do is control the board so that blockers cannot get in her way. Languish removes anything with a smaller butt than Xantcha. Same with Wildfire which comes with the added benefit of people needing to activate her to draw more lands. You can also calibrate Toxic Deluge to kill off everything smaller than her.
In a pinch, you can also use some spot removal, though honestly as long as Xantcha stays on the field, I wouldn’t worry about whether or not she is connecting. She’s card draw on a stick that doubles as a win con.
As far as sacrifice, yeah it sucks. Best you can do in that situation is pick your spot so she hits the board and you can draw a few cards. Otherwise, you need to go the “player removal” route.
You can definitely incentivize people to use Xantcha by making people need to use her (discard, resource denial) or by making it too lucrative not to through something like Heartstone which notably affects all creatures with activated abilities, not just ones you control. 3 mana for a card is steep, but 2 mana for a card is the rate you get when pumping 6 mana into Blue Sun’s Zenith.
Feb 8, 2019I’ve become obsessed with beating land-based ramp, so I’ve built out a Xantcha deck with Ankh of Mishra, Zo-Zu the Punisher and Polluted Bonds. I also run Wildfire as it conveniently leaves Xantcha alive while putting everyone in a situation where they need to activate her to rebuild.Posted in: Commander (EDH)
Obviously, the deck also includes plenty of ramp of its own with Solemn Simulacrum, Burnished Hart and Myriad Landscape, plus Coffers/Urborg. To win, im going to need a mana advantage, usually, just like anyone else.
I guess where I’m at is that a decent number of people in my playgroup treat lands as sacred, where as I treat them as threats needing to be answered. I also run some single target land removal, but I need answers to the deck that plays T2 Rampant Growth, T3 Cultivate, T4 Nature’s Lore/Explosive Vegetation.
Feb 7, 2019I recently caught up with some old Command Zone podcasts, specifically their stats episodes, and one thing that stuck out to me was the overwhelming advantage that decks with the most lands in play have in winning.Posted in: Commander (EDH)
Generally, people see any land based ramp spell as fairly non-threatening, but getting ahead in mana and therefore spending more mana over the course of the game is the single biggest predictor of winning according to the episode.
All that said, what are some ways to combat these strategies? MLD generally would do it, but it’s frowned upon even by non-ramp players.
Jan 24, 2019Posted in: Multiplayer Commander DecklistsQuote from benjameenbear »I really like this deck concept. It's very streamlined and low-to-the-ground. Props!
Appreciate the kind words. Was able to Explosion the table last night with 9 copies of X=19. Didn’t you guys want cards?
Jan 21, 2019Ken Carson posted a message on Growth Spiraling a Thousand-Year GeoStorm with YidrisI’ve got a pretty similar deck, but I am playing Kynaios and Tiro to get white instead of black. That gives me access to Enlightened Tutor and Academy Rector as extra copies of the big enchantment instead of the black tutors.Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
Looks like you’re only using black for Gitrog and the tutor package, and K&T ramping and drawing cards works really well with getting off a big Thousand-Year Storm turn. Just a thought.
Jan 20, 2019Intro.Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
I wanted to share this deck I brewed up after I drafted the core of it in an EDH Cube. Obviously, everyone knows that Thousand-Year Storm is a stupid, broken card. I'm not breaking any new ground on that here. But I wanted to share my build of it and why I think Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis is a great commander, despite the boys taking a lot of heat for being to enabling to your opponents at times. First, the build:
Section 1: Building a Board
The first thing that I try to do is vomit out as many lands as possible. The first place that this starts is in deckbuilding. I run 40 lands in this deck, and at times I want to even add another couple. Maximizing your land count with Kyraios and Tiro is crucial, because if you aren't drawing a card AND making a land drop every turn, you're enabling your opponents without pulling ahead of them. However, the deck also has some built in plans to address this.
1B. Bouncelands/Cultivate/Kodama's Reach
Bouncelands are extremely important to a successful Kyraios and Tiro deck, because they ensure that you get extra lands to hand. Playing the Greek boys gives you access to all of the nonblack Ravnica bouncelands and I strongly recommend running all of them. Yes, they are extremely vulnerable to land destruction, but they make your extra land drop at end of turn a ramp spell. These also combo very nicely with Mind Over Matter which generates 2 mana on discard, often being the fuel that you need to go off. Cultivate and Reach are auto-includes in many builds of green-based decks, as ramp and fixing is always welcome at the table. It is even more important with Kynaios and Tiro because it increases the likelihood of the additional land drop.
1C. Artifact Mana
The artifact mana in this build has to hit 2 of 3 categories. First, it must produce U or R (preferably both!). Second, it must cost 2 mana or less. Third, it must provide an extra benefit outside of mana. The only exception is Sol Ring because... yeah. You'll notice that I'm not playing all the signets that I could, and that is because W is the least desireable color in the deck, and so I am not playing any of the W producing signets. The card off Commander's Sphere is more valuable to me.
1D. Ramp spells
Aside from the 3cmc spells that provide ramp, I also play several 2cmc ramp spells. This is to maximize the chances of a turn 3 commander. It's also nice when the ramp comes with an effect, even it's minor like on Broken Bond or Growth Spiral. Both of those are also nice in that, like Nature's Lore, they also put the land into play untapped. This can be exceptional mana generation when cast along with Thousand-Year Storm or Eye of the Storm triggers.
1E. Card Draw and Hand Sculpting
We run tons of card draw effects, and we want them to be cheap. Ideally, they are either 1 or 2 mana, or mana neutral. These effects are so plentiful that you don't really need to be too judicious with them. Fire them off as needed to dig to additional land drops and artifact mana. We have a plethora of ways to recast these spells from the graveyard or return them to our hands when going off, so don't be afraid to tap mana or discard good spells to Faithless Looting or Frantic Search.
1F. Standard Opening (sans Sol Ring)
Turn 1 - Land drop (end with 1 mana)
Turn 2 - Land drop, ramp spell/2 cmc artifact mana (end with 3 mana)
Turn 3 - Land drop, K&T, additional land drop (end with 5 mana)
Turn 4 - Land drop, ramp spell/artifact mana, ramp spell/artifact mana or card draw spell, K&T landrop (end with 8-9 mana)
Turn 5 - Transition to the mid-game
Basically any hand with 3-4 lands and a 2 mana way to ramp is a snap keep. Due to redundancy in our deck and our 40 lands, this is a fairly regular line of play. As you can see, this requires 6 lands to be drawn to maximize the effect, which is where bouncelands and the ramp/search spells become so crucial. Obviously, a turn 1 Sol Ring or Mox Diamond can explode you even faster (with the Mox being the only way to cast our boys on Turn 2).
Section 2: The Mid-Game
2A. More of the Same
By turn 5 or 6, you should be flush with mana. However, we're going to need a lot of mana to ignite our engine, and so we need to keep ramping up and keep filtering cards until we have a win condition in hand. Savvy players will recognize that you are a threat, but if you can play politically, you should be able to continue building in relative peace. Ideally, you can find the player who is stumbling on mana or board presence and remind them that you are there for them, providing them cards to help draw them out of whatever issue they are having. Meanwhile, build up as much mana as you can, with an extreme emphasis on U and R, with G being secondary, and W not exceeding more than 2-3 sources. You really won't need much white outside of casting SUPREmEVERdiCt.
Unfortunately, Kynaios and Tiro are very inclusive of our opponents and so we need to consider that now would be a great time to interact with our opponents. However, we want to do what we can to ensure that our interactive spells also work well within the rest of what our deck is trying to do, which is go off with one of our Storms. Therefore, it's ideal if these interactive spells can also help us combo off. Swords to Plowshares is the OG removal spell, and it costing just a single W makes for a perfect fit. Lightning Bolt isn't nearly as effective with bigger threats, but if we can stick it onto an Eye of the Storm or copy it 10 times with Thousand-Year Storm, we can do some really damage, potentially even eliminate a player or multiple players. Banefire and Explosion are both begging to be copied by TYS, and can end games if they are, but also they can be pretty effective removal with all the mana we vomit onto the table. Electrodominance pulls triple duty as a way to interact with a creature, combo someone out with a giant X spell copied and as a way to sneak one of our win conditions onto the battlefield. Blasphemous Act can usually do the job of wiping the board, and often only costs one R, letting use that as a way to jump start our engine, while Supreme Verdict loses points for it's difficult mana cost, but it rarely has a problem wiping the board when the board really needs wiping. Also, Thing in the Ice can pretty easily flip the turn that you play him, or even when you want on an opponents turn by hanging on to an instant to make sure you don't die to combat if you need one more turn to go off. Some more targeted options like Broken Bond and Vandalblast can get rid of problem permanents, while also being efficient at helping us go off if we need them to. Oh and we are also running Cyclonic Rift as catch all permanent removal and a cheap way to interact while comboing off.
One of the best ways to really screw with the opponents that we have helped ramp and draw is to make the cards the play extremely awkward and complicate the timing. Enter Possibility Storm and Knowledge Pool. These effects can be very easily exploited by this deck, while amplifying what we're trying to do. You'll notice that we run only 4 enchantments and 5 creatures. This makes playing these under a Possibility Storm a very likely to hit tutor. This is especially true for the enchantments, because nearly all of them will win the game if unanswered with just a little fuel from our spells. Knowledge Pool is exploited by the fact that we run very few big spells. In fact, we run 44 spells that cost 3cmc or less, plus a few others like Blasphemous Act and Treasure Cruise that can cost us less when we cast. So generally we add very little of substance to the pool of knowledge at the table, but we can profit from it greatly.
I also want to mention here that these effects work amazingly well together. When you control both pieces at the same time, you can effectively lock all other players out from the Knowledge Pool. You control the order of the triggers for all players since they are your effects. Since the rules text on the Pool references "if the player does," then if that spell goes to the bottom of the caster's library through Possibility Storm, they do not get to cast spells from KP.
Additionally, these spells are bonkers with Thousand-Year Storm, as you get the copies of the spell no matter how you cast them, so PS will net you 2 spells for everyone one that you pay for, and their corresponding copies. KP will give you double spell triggers if you cast an instant or sorcery from the pool, but can also let you grab something else if you want to. Things also works similarly with Eye of the Storm, triggering PS while also exiling the spell under EotS and giving you a copy. Unfortunately, that interaction also works for our opponents, but you still can lock opponents out of the Knowledge Pool with an active EotS.
2C. Setting up a Win
As your mana develops and you're interacting and disrupting as necessary, you should be cycling through your deck to a win condition. Along the way, you'll encounter some very useful cards that can help ensure that you do exactly what you need to do when you go off. Primal Amulet is a great piece to have right before going off as you can save some mana and copy a spell. Simiarly, Baral, Chief of Compliance can provide the mana savings you need as well, though his second ability is sadly not used. Alhammarret's Archive basically ensures that you're going to draw you deck. Academy Rector and Enlightened Tutor help find your win condition. Wheel of Fortune and Windfall can also be excellent, as the nature of our deck is to trade cards for land drops and mana, so we generally get to a very small hand size. Time Spiral is better when going off, but can also be used as early as turn 4 if necessary. As a side note, there is such a good feeling when you use that card to untap multiple bouncelands.
Section 3: Winning the Game
3A. Winning with Mind Over Matter
This card is simply absurd in this deck. It can do many, many things, but let's talk about how it can win the game, as it's probably the easiest to navigate, and can demonstrate an infinite loop the fastest. With MOM in play, you're looking for a few cards that combine together to form this equation: 3 + Mikokoro, Center of the Sea = 2 cards. The easiest way to do this is with Gilded Lotus and Alhammarret's Archive. Lotus pays for the Mikokoro activation, Archive gives you 2 cards instead of one, and those two cards give you the untaps required to draw your deck. Once you get going, you'll find a way to generate more mana and draw more cards so that you should end up with enough cards in hand to tap out your opponents lands, proceed to your second main phase and then cast Laboratory Maniac and proceed to draw out your library. Usually, your opponents will be tapping all their mana on their turn because you've given them so many things to do, plus if you have a disruption effect on the field, it makes it very difficult for them to do anything to stop you unless they get a little lucky. Once Lab Man resolves, you should be pretty safe, as long as you have a couple extra cards to continue the loop in response to interaction.
Don't forget that MOM also works very favorably with your bouncelands, so you can float a ton of mana and then cast a Draw 7 effect.
3B. Winning with Thousand-Year Storm
It is highly advised that you attempt to win on the turn that you cast Thousand-Year Storm, as if a player can interact with it before you go off, they most certainly will. That's why land drops are so incredibly important both early and during the midgame, as you'll probably need between 12-14 mana to reliably win. Cost reduction of spells or playing the enchantment at the end of your opponent's turn via Electrodominance change the math a bit, but essentially you'll want access to at least 6 mana once TYS hits the battlefield. The big picture "how" to kill with this is quite easy. You cast a bunch of spells which explode out of control. The sequencing of this is quite a bit more involved, but essentially you want to cast 1 and 2 mana spells until you're running low on mana, and they cast a mana-generating spell. The major spells to look for are Frantic Search, Growth Spiral, Manamorphose, Nature's Lore, Pirate's Pillage and Time Spiral. Broken Bond also works in theory, but only for as many targets as their are on the battlefield, though if their are only a few aiming them all at a Darksteel Ingot will do the trick. You can supplement these by having a lot of cards and Mind over Matter in play, again enhanced greatly by bouncelands. To ensure that you don't fizzle, mix in Regrowth, Recoup, Past in Flames, and Mission Briefing, all of which can basically slam the door when cast. Most people concede to these effects once you've generated 10+ spells. If they don't, eventually you'll build up enough spells where you can cast Banefire, Explosion, Blue Sun's Zenith, Electrodominance or even a Lightning Bolt at the table for lethal. One thing to be aware of is if you have Alhammarret's Archive out while trying to win through a TYS kill. It is quite easy to deck yourself this way, so I suggest generating a ton of mana and switching to the Mind Over Matter + Laboratory Maniac kill. You can technically also win via Lab Man while going off with TYS, but without MOM, you are much more vulnerable to interaction and you'll have plenty of cards to tap everyone out if you just switch over.
3C. Winning with Eye of the Storm
This is the most dangerous way to win as the spells you store in this Storm are fair game for anyone to use if they can trigger it. Our spells are generally pretty low impact individually, but once even a couple get stacked under the storm, it becomes less and less likely we can lose if left unchecked. Like Thousand-Year Storm, it is highly advised that you win on the turn you play Eye of the Storm. Unlike TYS, you want to frontload all of your mana generating spells so that they are cast as often as possible to maximize triggers. You specifically want to lead with Nature's Lore if possible to grab all the Forests out of your deck before you start drawing them all. Also note that all of our X spells are functionally useless under an EotS, so you'll want to use the Eye to generate cards and mana before switching over to one of the other 2 win conditions. The other was to win is through Mind's Desire, which interacts pretty favorably with Eye of the Storm. Say you have exactly 13 mana and cast Eye into Desire. Your initial Desire will trigger Eye and add 2 copies of Mind's Desire to the stack. On top of that, you resolve the Eye effect and cast Mind's Desire again, which also gives you 2 copies of Desire. If we hit one of our 38 instant or sorcery spells in the top 4 cards of our library, then we cast it of Desire, which triggers Eye and we can cast it again as a copy. This also let's us cast Desire again, but this time the storm count is 4, so we'll add a total of 5 copies of Desire to the stack. Obviously this is increased by any nonland cards that we hit in the top 4 and eventually we get to a point we where will almost assuredly cast our entire deck. Again, I recommend switching to a safer kill as this can easily draw us out, though if you actually get to the point where you've Desired out your deck, it's unlikely that your opponents have a way to interact or they would have already.
Section 4: Card Selections
4A. Why Kynaios and Tiro
It may seem odd that I'm running a 4-color commander that plays win conditions that are limited to Izzet colors. I've also spent a significant number of keystrokes noting that white mana isn't actually all that desirable in this deck, and green doesn't seem all that good in spell-based deck. The global reason that these are really useful is how important the bouncelands are to the deck. I cannot stress enough how useful they are in making the engine hum, and playing 4 colors gives us access to 6 of them.
White only brings Supreme Verdict, Swords to Plowshares,Enlightened Tutor and Academy Rector. However, both Verdict and Swords are the absolute best versions of those effects, and the other two cards are extra copies of our win conditions. Overall, white brings a small amount of consistency to the deck that is increased by the fact that it doubles our bounceland count.
Green really unlocks the ramp potential by providing spell-based ramp, often on turn 2. The combos in this deck need a serious mana investment before they can really take off, and without the green spells powering out additional mana, this deck would just be too slow to play at a competitive table. Additionally, it brings a couple spells that really grease the tracks on our way to victory. Manamorphose is absolutely the card you want to draw while comboing off with a Thousand-Year Storm. Paying 2 mana for 12 and drawing 6 cards might very well end the game. Additionally, Regrowth is pretty spectacular in this deck, ensuring that cards that went to your graveyard are ready to come back. Along with Mission Briefing, it's basically a fizzle-stopper when cast while going off.
Beyond the color identity, the ability text on Kynaios and Tiro is deceptively powerful when a deck is built to always get both an extra card and land drop. Cards like Exploration are fine early plays, but can run you out of cards quickly. A Howling Mine is a fine enough way to keep your hand full. These two effects together are extremely potent, with the draw fueling the land drops and the land drops fueling the spells you draw. Our lovely lads are both effects in the command zone at once, with the minor downside of giving our opponents half a card and half a land drop every turn it's in play.
All of these factors add up to form a synergistic base from which to build out and execute a master plan, just like the lore of Kynaios and Tiro. Something about everything just kind of falling into place brings a real sense of completeness to the deck. I can't explain it any better than that.
I aspire to own this deck in real life, so that is why you won't see any Revised duals in here, but you could certainly add them to streamline the deck even more. I run a pretty high count of basics because the deck does a lot of land searching and so land-type is a very real consideration when adding these. Aside from fetches and bouncelands, the deck only runs 2 lands which cannot be found by a ramp spell, and I think that's very important to ensure consistency. I'm also not running any fetchlands touching black as I'll often be needing to get a specific color and I don't want a Verdant Catacombs lock me out of U mana because I already have my Breeding Pool in play. As an aside, it is kind of annoying that there is so much support for allied-colored fetchable lands but not for the enemy-colored. I'm not sure I completely understand why there are twice as many Swamp/Island combinations as there are Mountain/Island combinations.
4C. What's not in the deck
Despite all the spells I'm casting, I don't have room for Grapeshot. Lightning Bolt is just significantly better with Thousand-Year Storm, and while Grapeshot does interact a bit more favorably with Eye of the Storm (see: previous section on Mind's Desire), Bolt is just a way more efficient removal spell, which may be necessary before you can go off. And at one mana, Bolt is a much better combo starter to be played before a Frantic Search or Manamorphose. Brain Freeze is just too unreliable with Eldrazi running around, and don't even get me started on Empty the Warrens. Though you could run Tempt with Vengeance if you're desperate to win through the combat step.
Another seemingly obvious inclusion into many of these "copy spell" decks are extra turn cards. There is certainly a build like this deck that would want to play multiple extra turn cards, however, I am choosing not to play any beyond Temporal Trespass. First, their converted mana cost is always at least 5 mana (OK, except for one... keep reading), and while the effect is hugely powerful, that cost will make going off difficult if I'm not already very likely to win through other means. Second, they are extremely dangerous to tuck into Eye of the Storm, as any player with an instant on my end of turn step can take over the game before I can go infinite with turns. However, since Trespass is pretty darn efficient at UUU, it's worth the risk.
Another intentional non-inlcusion are ritual effects like Desperate Ritual. As fantastic as these cards are at making obscene amounts of mana while comboing off, they don't provide anything else, and I'm really asking my mana generators to pull double duty. Frantic Search, Growth Spiral, Manamorphose, Nature's Lore, Pirate's Pillage and Broken Bond all add at least one mana (in most circumstances, and when comboing off generally they allow us to add several different colors of mana so we don't become locked with tons of useless R in our pool. And other than Nature's Lore, they either draw us a card or affect the board.
I also don't have any room for standard utility lands like Wasteland or Desolate Lighthouse. The deck is very color hungry, with most spells requiring only 1-2 non-specific colors of mana, and we already run 2 ways of cost reduction. However, I am toying with the idea of cutting a few redundant spells to play a couple utility lands with a Crop Rotation tutor package. It seems a bit too cute, but it could be the next evolution of the deck.
Section 5: Final Thoughts
I hope you enjoyed the read, and give the deck a playtest or three. I'm eager for some discussion on the deck in hopes of making it better and more resilient, both through improved card quality and newly discovered play patterns and game navigation. I also need to give a special shoutout to tStorm and his Zedruu primer which has formed the basis of my knowledge on some of the card interactions, and helped inspire my creativity in EDH in general. I encourage you to check that epic deck out as well.
Jan 19, 2019Posted in: ComboQuote from Wood_Sage »I've just finished a MTGO Modern league (3-2) with a UR Electrodominance build, and it seems it's everywhere. I lost a mirror match because my opponent was playing cards like Chancellor of the Annex, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Iona, Shield of Emeria alongside the usual blue cyclers.
He had Quicksilver Amulet from his sideboard to sidestep graveyard hate !!!
My own creation was adding the Kiki Jiki, Mirror Breaker- Deceiver Exarch combo, which has the advantage of being resilient to graveyard hate and castable from hand. I've also toyed with a version with 2 combos (Mikaeus, the Unhallowed/Triskelion), and the LD build with Ashen Rider and Woodfall Primus.
Electrodominance is dirty, I had the turn 2 win once - couldn't pull it off because I had a basic Island, but I did pull it turn 3 several times.. instant speed. It's probably ban-worthy.
Please this take discussion to one of the other threads on the forums (linked in the primer) related to other ways to combo with Living End. As Electrodominance cannot be played in decks with cascade effects, the discussion in this thread would be fruitless.
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