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  • posted a message on Anje Falkenrath is a failure of design and one of my least favorite cards after playing with it
    I'll add my vote to those saying that Anje doesn't automatically lead you down this direction. Magic is a game of resources, and threat-density is one of those resource measurements. So, it is not automatically the best build to slam 40 cards in your deck with cycling 0.

    The problem with the WGD combo is that you almost certainly lose the game on the spot if you're interacted with. By building your deck with 40'ish redraws, you graft that problem into any other win-condition you could achieve in your remaining cards. Say Mike-Trike, Dread-Return, something like that, you eat a Faerie Macabre and you are basically out of the game. Add to that the fact that Rakdos colors are not that great at interacting with other combo's, very poor at protecting your own combo, and not as good as Green decks for mana generation.

    It is essentially the same problem with Hermit Druid decks. You need to put a lot of cards into your deck (narcomoeba, bloodghast, etc), just so that you can have a win when your mill your library, then other cards that keep you from decking yourself. If you are interacted with at all, you are a long shot to any recovery, and some many not even build their deck with any recovery at all. Consequently, Hermit Druid is not a favored combo enabler in cEDH, quite far behind Protean Hulk.

    If you're set to follow down the path of optimization (which is far from a given, like other posters have said), this format leads you to very few options outside of 4-color partner decks with lean win-cons like Dramatic-Scepter, packing the rest of the deck with interaction.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Welp it’s finally happening for black/rakdos players...
    Color pie is a feeling. As long as it "feels" Black, I am all for it. Expanding the power level of available cards divided by number of slots in the deck has always been enough incentive to add other colors. Giving Black straight-up Mortify would not stop anyone from playing White.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Which Azorius Commander?
    Yeah, that's another thing that I found surprising when playing Raff. He's very good on his own with equipment. So with some cards like Medomai the Ageless, extra turn spells, and a few other strong creatures in White, you are in good shape.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Which Azorius Commander?
    Quote from OCPunisher »
    Welp, I finally managed to get a game in with Ojutai last night (darn kids!) and I actually won the game!

    The last turn was nuts:
    - my opponent (Kess) was at 2 life.
    - I casting a Gilded Drake to eat the opponent's Counterspell/, the cast a Sun Titan to get it back, targeting his Niv-Mizzet.
    - Finally, I cracked a Blighted Cataract to draw two cards for the win.

    That being said, Ojutai itself (herself?) was largely unimpressive. The hexproof keyword was mostly useless in a field full of wraths and Grave Pacts. She lasted an average of about one untap step, got a total of two hits in against a table of three opponents, and was otherwise stuck in the command zone. Unfortunately, this is mostly a normal set of circumstances for my group.

    On the other hand, Theros gods are usually either left alone or just harder to deal with. So, I think I'm going to try out Ephara next time, whenever that is.

    If that is your meta, I would recommend Raff. It is very hard for you to fall behind on tempo as a result of playing out Raff. He'll get at least one other extra orbit before dying to a Grave Pact or Wrath, and whatever you cast with his flash-granting ability gets a similar benefit. It wouldn't appear so at first, but there are a lot of synergies with him that are strong enough to define a deck. Vehicles are very strong with him, and dodge wraths as well. Also, just cards like Duplicant and Meteor Golem along with Sword of Light and Shadow tends to lock up the combat step with a Raff out. The threat of the cards in hand is enough.

    Honestly, I am in a meta where there are a lot of strong synergies played, and not a lot of tempo resetting tools like Wraths, so I would initially tend more toward a general like Ojutai. But if I were in a back-and-forth meta like the one you are describing, definitely would go with Raff. In my experience, the short list of cards that play well with Ephara is the same and mostly functional in the area of disruption, but there is a lot longer of a list that plays well with Raff, and enough card-advantage and card-saving tools with him to potentially make up for reliable draw in the command zone.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Going Infinite and "I Win" Combos Outside cEDH.
    Any iterative process to improve a deck’s win rate will eventually get you to a deck that is all about a combo. You could start off with Yennett Sphinx tribal and end up with Doomsday Zur. So unless you are going to take the gloves off, it is hard to play this game on any sustained basis without drawing the line somewhere.

    That said, some strategies are impossible to win with unless it’s by some kind of combo. For example if you have an Izzet spellslinger deck, you are just putting everyone through misery if you can only win by Balefire Dragon beats.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Combos, Conceding and Answers
    Here is the thing - I would rather not win by tricking my opponent into letting their guard down. If they can protect their combo, they should, and I accept that if they explaining their combo to get concessions it is more to save time than anything.

    This. If the only reason I don’t lose is because someone mis-played, then I won’t internalize that much differently than a loss. I am ostensibly developing my deck to respond to the situations my play group poses, and no response here, so the way I see it I came up empty, either way.

    No sense in trying to trick someone into shortcutting just so I can rewind the tape to the point I want. Not fulfilling. That being the case, I don’t mind whether going through the motions raises their alertness. They either have a way through the disruption, or they don’t.

    I'm quite lucky in my playgroup that we uphold curtesy for each other in terms of situations like this. Also, being a solidarity player, i'm also in the habit of making one move, then pausing to ask "resolves?" before continuing.. and also making notes when i start making stacks that have 7 or more triggers/spells/whatevers on it.

    This is where the answer is, for me. Communication, people need to learn how to do it. It's all well and good someone comboing off, we all get they wanna do that, but this game isn't solitaire, and almost every action you take in this game has a responding answer, so people really should just give courtesy and acknowledge that step rather than assuming the game is in the bag. It's not even a courtesy, it's a step that happens as a part of the game's rules, so if someone is not acknowledging that the onus is on them to do so.

    This also. If you legitimately have a playgroup that enjoys playing combo, then they probably enjoy the phase of the game where they’re probing for answers, going through priority, etc. If you have a situation where someone draws it and by experience they don’t even need to ask, that probably indicates some playgroup issues. In all likelihood if the other side of the table never has an answer and is never expected to have one, it’s not something that they want to play against.

    For positive examples of how combo situations should be handled, I recommend watching a video from Laboratory Maniacs on YouTube. The way that they do it is exactly how it should be done. One player announces spell, then each player in turn order confirms whether priority is being passed. When everyone passes, it moves on to the next object on the stack. So on. It takes a long time, but games are also quick in terms of number of turns in. And if you don’t like playing this way, chances are you don’t like playing against combo. Fix your group.

    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Humility vs Aurification
    It seems like you have enough space for Aurification, so why not? Actually, I see that there is basically only pillow-fort and removal cards in your deck… Sanguine Bond as win-con…. If you were in my group, we would target you on sight just for delaying the game this badly.

    Off this topic but in relation to your deck, Phyrexian Unlife is another good one. Pros, it works well with Oloro since you can get your life back up above positive easily. Cons, doesn’t have any effect until you actually get to zero or less.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Orzhov or Mardu political commander
    Queen Marchesa (long may she reign) is hands down the most political one. The trick is to not want to be the monarch yourself, just use it as a bone so the other players attack each other. Add a few judo cards like Comeuppance or Deflective Palm and you’re good to go. Win by any means other then combat damage.

    I am quite fond of my Mathas, the Fiend Seeker Mardu spellslinger deck. Here is a (slightly outdated) list: https://deckstats.net/decks/72484/1042047-mathas-spellslinger/de

    I plan to do a more detailed write-up in the decklist forums soon. While it is not primarily a political deck per se, Mathas is very good at generating friends at the table. It's a blast to play. The rough strategy is somewhat similar to DirkGentley's Phelddagrif deck (see the link in his sig) in that you aim your removal and control options - and your bounty counters - at the most powerful player and support the weaker players, thus maintaining a balance at the table until you are ready to win in one fell swoop. And Toshiro Umezawa is awesome in Mardu spellslinger.

    I like this deck a lot. I've played a Vial Smasher - Ravos, Soultender deck that shares a lot of these cards - Mirror Strike, Deflecting Palm, etc. I consider it really political in that it's always an open question for opponents whether to attack into untapped mana, and they are great when you get down to the 1v1 situation.

    Mathas seems like a solid source of card draw, which is a role that Ravos was fulfilling in my build.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Niv-Mizzet, Parun

    Any thoughts on Mindmoil and Arjun, the Shifting Flame? I see them in a lot of other decks, and they seem designed to put out triggers without the risk of someone decking themselves.

    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on What SCG Con Taught Sheldon About Commander And Its Players
    The phrasing is very telling:

    “…a player who said we could call him "Costas" asked if he could take the seat. In jest, I said "I dunno; are you the kind of person we want to play a game with?" He shrugged and said "Yeah, why not?"”

    This would only be said this way by someone who thought the person already knew what kind of game they wanted. Otherwise, they would have first explained what kind of game they liked, then asked the question. It seems from Costas’ response also that he is half-asking Sheldon to elaborate on just what kind of game he’s talking about.

    In some places, the RC has said that the format can be different things to different groups. But this kind of thing reveals that in their mind there is a principal constituency, which players can be presumed to understand, then every other group who might find something different out of EDH.

    This is a prime example of the latent failures of the RC rule #1 - "...Players should aim to interact both during the game and before it begins, discussing with other players what they expect/want from the game." This doesn’t happen because of burden shifting. The main constituency believes that it’s everyone else’s job to know when they have a deck that needs a disclaimer. Whereas, others see this burden on the shoulders of the format rules – things that aren’t banned are ok, there are just different power levels.

    There are enough problems with this, intrinsically. It is hard enough to regulate a game that is different than the game whose rules you actually have.

    To me, it also ignores that grief is a question of degree, not of morality. People know that Jokulhaups is strong. But there are decks where it would be a wasted card. Certain decks can be expected to win with less than 6 mana before it’s castable, the most common answers in that environment are much cheaper than the threat, and even if it does land slowing the game down makes it more likely that combo’s needing 3-5 mana or so will be drawn.

    Approaching the question as a line between in-group and out-group rather than along a spectrum leads the RC to escape the fact that regulating the most powerful things of the format actually can have a trickle-down effect. It’s harder for someone to escape the knowledge that the deck is restrictive when it’s among the best of the format, rather than when they look at a card like Jokulhaups and see it in virtually no decks advertised as competitive.

    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Are there cards you don't play for power reasons?
    I resonated a lot with the premise of the article, mostly because I think a lot more things should be banned in this format if it’s to live up to its intent. Consequently, there are a lot of cards I just don’t play. I build my decks in anticipation of seeing them, but loathe them every time I so, and so seeing them on my side of the table just means I see them more and hate them more.

    List of those cards I don’t play:

    That said, I don’t get why Wound Reflection is on Sheldon’s list. I also don’t understand his prior comments on similar cards like Vicious Shadows. It just seems like his playgroup doesn’t like abrupt wins that occur outside the combat step, no matter how slow and obvious. They also don’t seem to play enough outside their own group to realize that a good half or more of Commander games seem to be won outside combat, no matter the power level of the group.

    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on So what could WotC realistically do to help white in Commander?
    Viewing the color pie in terms of the limitations of each is just not a sustainable way to view the color pie. It’s a game where the object is achieving victory. To deprive some colors of critical mechanics, like drawing cards in a card game, is really dooming it to failure.

    To use an example, it might be fine in the game of basketball for one team’s “identity” to be controlling the post, and another’s to have fast perimeter movement. But when it becomes prohibited for one team to shoot a 3-point shot, and prohibited to the other to block a shot, then your audience laughs.

    All colors should be able to attack. All colors should be able to draw cards. The color pie should touch on two things: 1) how well or badly a given color does on each, 2) the subjective feeling of how the effect is gained.

    Another good example – Survival Cache. It seems fine to me because 1) it’s worse in terms of game impact than Divination or Night’s Whisper, from the colors of Blue or Black that should be better at draw than White, 2) it subjectively feels like a mechanic based on retribution and eschewing excess, the identity of White.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on So what could WotC realistically do to help white in Commander?
    I don’t agree with the idea that White is suffering the most from draw. I don’t think any color suffers that badly from lacking enough draw to fuel an EDH deck. There are things like Mind’s Eye and Skullclamp which keep cards coming as fast as you can play them. White has plenty enough tutors for these options.

    No, I think the main thing that White is lacking is a strong approach at winning the game outside of combat. Blue untaps things, which tends to generate combo’s aplenty. Black drains copious amounts of life, and ways to sacrifice resources of one type for resources of another. Red has cards like Goblin Bombardment, and plenty of direct damage effects. Even mono-Green has ways to making the combat step more explosive than White does – e.g. Craterhoof, Pathbreaker Ibex, etc.

    White is somewhat good at making a bunch of tokens and mass pumping them, but not as good as Green. It has some recursion, but not as good as Black and Green. It generally has no way of sacrificing things for damage, untapping things, or otherwise a lot of cards that could generate wins. About the only thing I can think of is Karmic-Lark, or Titan-Fiend Hunter, and tellingly the only game-winning sac outlet I can think of available to Mono-W is Blasting Station.

    White can and should be considered the best color at winning the game by fiat. It plays into the identity as a color that is all about law. Things like Test of Endurance, Near-Death Experience, and Approach of the Second Sun. The only problem is that a) there very few of these type of cards printed, and b) the ones that are any good like Coalition Victory tend to be banned, and relatedly, are viewed as anti-fun.

    But at the end of the day, not hard to figure out why a color that is known for Voltron-like setups that rely on attacking is having trouble with its win-rate in a multiplayer free for all format.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Spellslinger general
    One that no one has mentioned - Nin, the Pain Artist. An oldie but a goodie. Being able to consistently draw a few extra cards from your deck each game makes sure that you don't stall out on mana production, like Izzet decks going for big plays are at risk of doing.

    Seems like a cool route also for the token-heavy build you plan on going, since you can just zap a token for max and effectively Pull from Tomorrow every turn. I'd suggest also Moonveil Dragon, Warmonger Hellkite and similar for this kind of build.

    Hard to argue with Riku though. Access to Overwhelming Stampede with that kind of copy effect is bonkers. Can copy Wood Elves all day. I am fond of Riku for casual/fun, just hard to find me playing it for same reasons as Melek - easy to get blown off a 2/2 for 5+ mana, then your deck doesn't work the same.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Unreleased and New Card Discussion
    Quote from DirkGently »
    I don't think Niv 3 is a "more powerful" version of Niv 1 at all, Niv 1 draws himself cards, this requires another card to be used, and I only brought up standard because that is what I was playing it in, Finally I think it is frankly fantastic that Niv has kept a general set of abilities, it makes the Character actually flavorful instead of whatever random effects they staple on the current iteration of whatever Planeswalkers are getting printed.
    Niv 2.0 was a similar concept (drawing + damage) to niv 1.0 that plays very differently. Niv 1.0 is mostly a combo machine that also synergizes ok with wheels. Niv 2.0 is mostly a mana dump that draws you cards and gives you removal and inevitability. Despite superficial similarities, they play very differently.

    Niv 3.0, on the other hand, plays nearly identically to niv 1.0. If Niv 3.0 was worded as:

    No counters!
    Whenever a player casts an instant or sorcery, draw a card. When you do, Niv deals 1 damage to any target.
    At the beginning of your draw step, niv deals 1 damage to any target.

    Then that would be a fresh take on a similar concept - now you're incentivized to sling spells in order to get cards and ping value. But because they used the exact same ability as 1.0, he's going to play basically the same - as a dumb combo machine that can't be allowed to live. Except now he'll draw you a card when he eats removal, and he can't be countered, and he's fatter. Thanks, WotC, I hate it.

    Yeah, I sympathize with this. Niv 3.0's ability is exactly like Niv 1.0's, and then has some more stuff added on.

    That said though, the format's old enough now that you'll probably often hear a player state they're not playing Curiosity effects, and be able to believe them when they do. Building Niv decks myself I always favored Niv 2.0, but once in a while I did try a Niv 1.0 and was fairly well received when I indicated I wasn't running any curiosity.

    Also, two things maybe mitigating against obvious combo uses always showing up. One, there's always an influx in play of the new cards, and most people aren't interested in doing that. Most importantly two, there is Niv 1.0's second ability - the one that taps to draw cards. This turns Mind Over Matter into another combo option, including its redundancy with Azami and Arcanis. I don't think it's a far stretch to think that most players who actually do want to run the combo will stick with Niv 1.0, for both that reason and for him being easier to cast. It might be to the point where you see Niv 3.0 and just assume no Curiosity, where you see Niv 1.0 and conclude pretty safely that they're in there.

    In the end though, Niv is going to be prime target for the table no matter what version, and no matter whether Curiosity effects are in the deck. I suppose that's why those players that are Izzet to the core, like myself, are so drawn to our much beloved Dragon.

    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
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