TWR: Klothys – God of X

Theros: Beyond Death was released a couple of weeks ago, and I was finally able to get my hands on some of the new cards. My best pull was probably the Nyxbloom Ancient, which I already knew I wanted in a new deck. There are still other cards from the set I would like, but I managed to snag some cool cards. Each time a new set comes out I tend to look at the new legendary creatures for potential brews. This time around there weren’t too many creatures I saw being good commanders, rather better in the 99 of other decks. However, one of the new Gods from the set caught my attention, and being in colors I haven’t brewed around much, I decided it would be my first project. Behold, Klothys, God of Destiny:

Klothys is a God, so it already comes pre-equipped with two lines of text that apply to all other Gods as well. Each of the Gods are Legendary Enchantment Creatures along with being Indestructible and requiring a devotion threshold before becoming a creature. What makes Klothys unique is the fact that she does some nice things whether or not you can actually attack with her. Each precombat main phase we get to exile a card from a graveyard. This is great for multiple reasons, but having built in graveyard hate is amazing to break up many of the meta’s shenanigans. You can target your own graveyard if necessary, but we’ll typically be using this ability against opponents. When we exile land cards, we get either a red or green mana. Any other card type gains us two life along with dealing each opponent 2 damage. It’s great value for only three mana. Over the course of the years I have notice a bunch of cards in the Gruul colors that I just haven’t found a place for, and Klothys inspired me to fit most of them in. Green wants to ramp and draw us cards, while red wants to burn our opponents out. So my brain immediately goes towards lots of ramp to feed X spells. While the green X spells are mostly creature based, the red X spells can be potential game finishers, especially when we have a ton of mana to dump into them. First let’s take a look at our ramp packages.

BIG Mana:

These are the general ramp spells and creatures that will help us to produce big amounts of mana. Though there are many other options aside from Cultivate, Kodama’s Reach and Rampant Growth, I chose these because they are lowest curve and most reliable. Farseek is another I typically run but because we are only playing two colors and you can’t tutor for green it amounts to a mountain tutor and I’m okay without it. We also like that Cultivate and Kodama’s Reach both put a land card in our hands, mainly because we are including multiple cards that allow us to drop extra lands per turn. Burgeoning will allow us to play lands on opponents turns as well, and the Great Henge is a busted artifact when you are playing big creatures. Playing it for only GG will allow you to tap it for two immediately, and any creatures you cast come in with a +1/+1 counter and draw you a card. Nyxbloom Ancient is a new card from Theros that won’t instantly give you infinite mana, but you can definitely make a ton of it more quickly with him on the field. There are some typical mana dorks that tap for mana, and then there’s both of the Radhas that can produce extra mana when attacking. Mina and Denn along with the Dryad of the Ilysian Grove will allow us to play extra lands and of course the Sakura Tribe Elder can be sacced to grab a basic. Next let’s take a look at our big mana spells/creatures and support for that theme.

X Marks the Spot:

Here we have a selection of Hydras with X in their casting cost. When we have the ability to pump out a bunch of mana, these can hit the battlefield with rather large power and toughness. For the most part they enter with X counters on them but then some will do some extra things, but I’ll leave it to you to read the cards. When it comes to X cost spells, we’re running a selection of deal X damage to multiple or singular targets. I’ve tried to include only those that have the ability to hit our opponents directly, though some can also target their creatures or in the case of Earthquake, all non-fliers and all players, which we’ll have to be careful with. For additional support for this theme, I’ve also included Rosheen Meanderer who taps for four colorless to use towards X spells, and Gargos, Vicious Watcher who reduces our costs for Hydra Spells by four as well. Lastly, Unbound Flourishing is an enchantment that doubles the amount of X when casting creature spells (so our Hydras are doubly huge) and also when we cast big X damage spells, we’ll get to copy that card, so sometimes this could be a two for one finisher! Here are some supporting cards and my reasoning for their inclusion:

Supporting Cast:

Courser of Kruphix doesn’t let us play additional lands, but other creatures we have in the deck do. Still, if you have the ability to play lands off the top of your library, you can then keep some in your hand for Burgeoning or other triggers. Arasta is a nice creature that gives you free blockers with reach (and we don’t have other flying creatures for those blocks either) when opponents cast spells. The new Nylea reduces creature costs along with some situational card draw. Questing Beast is just good value but it’s honestly only here because I pulled one from a pack and wanted to put it somewhere. Torbran allows all of our red sources to do extra damage, and though that’s mostly with spells, it still can help with the hurt. Xenagos the God can make one of our huge creatures even bigger each combat. He’s a big beater himself when he comes online. Rampaging Baloths have one of the best landfall triggers in the game and with our gameplan we should be able to make quite a few 4/4 beast tokens pretty quickly. I inlcuded Ruric Thar for the same reason as Questing Beast, but he’s also a big beater that punishes noncreature spells. And of course, no big beater green deck goes without a copy of Avenger of Zendikar. For enchantments, we have Cindervines, which also punishes the casting of noncreature spells, but also can be sacrificed to destroy an artifact or enchantment. Elemental Bond and Guardian Project help us draw cards each time we cast a creature, while Rhythm of the Wild gives our creatures either haste or more counters. Greater Good can help us to draw a ton of cards by sacrificing a creature with a bunch of +1/+1 counters on it. Overall I think the deck list is pretty solid, but I won’t know for sure until I test it out. Your mileage may vary. You can see the full decklist here.

The War Report: You Dirty Rat!

So the Lunar New Year happened recently and with it many games will do something to celebrate the occasion, from Lunar New Year sales to in-game events, this is a holiday that is recognized though not implicitly celebrated. Eastern Astrology has their own version of birth signs, though they are centered around the year rather than our system which focuses on birth month. Anyway, 2020 is the year of the Rat, and instead of the rest of this article being about sales or video games, we’ll be talking about Magic: The Gathering. Wizards of the Coast wanted to get in on the celebration, and released another Secret Lair product, this time focusing on rats! As it’s been some time since I’ve brewed up anything new, I thought I’d try my hand at making my own rat deck. I’ve wanted to try out some of the cards that read “you can have any number of copies of X card in your library” for a while now. The most prominent cards featuring this rules text that have been made into EDH decks are:

Persistent Petitioners are the newest of the bunch and the first outside of black to my knowledge. They are set up for mill strategies and I’m not super into that. Shadowborn Apostles are pretty cool as once you get enough of them out you can start cheating fatty demons into play, but I already have decks doing that sort of thing so I passed on that as well. As you can see, there are two options when it comes to rats you can have numerous copies of, but I like the lower curve of Rat Colony over Relentless Rats. I was tempted to include multiple copies of both, but figured it would be best to stick to one due to some other packed in synergies. Also costing three CMC just to get additional toughness isn’t really worth it. I’ll take the power buff and smash into things or have a 1 toughness chump blocker that can still kill the biggest of threats. If nothing else, it’s pretty nice to be able to cast two rats instead of only one when you have four mana. There are several commanders people typically use for their rat decks, but for me the choice was obvious:

Marrow-Gnawer is not prohibitively costed, and he is also a rat so he’ll benefit from some other rat friendly cards. As soon as he hits the board, he can potentially make 3-4 of your rats unblockable due to fear. If he manages to stick around long enough, he’s as badass as Krenko at token production, as you can tap him to sacrifice a rat and get X more rats, where X is dependent on the number of rats you control. So if you have four rats out, you tap him to sac one and still make four, as he sees himself as well. So it’s basically the same thing as Krenko when all is said and done, you just have to own at least two rats for his ability to snowball. Let’s take a look at all of the rats we’ve included first.

You Dirty Rat!

Despite this being sort of a “rat tribal” deck, there aren’t a lot of other rats here. The reason for this is we’re going to include 25 copies of Rat Colony in order to draw them regularly and continue to bolster our plan. Little 2/1’s aren’t frightening until you get out six and swing for a ton of damage. Keeping with that theme, if we have a Pack Rat or Swarm of Rats on the board, we will be getting even bigger rats that will still buff our Rat Colonies as well. Crypt Rats can be a finisher in a pinch, and we’ll go over our ways to make a ton of mana in a little bit. Chittering Rats is just a little bit of hand hate, while Throat Slitter is a ninja who can be cheated into play with our other rats while destroying a creature on the way in. Ink-Eyes is another great card that can put in some work and is one of our bigger stand alone threats. Though not technically a rat, Midnight Scavengers melds with Graf Rats into a crazy Eldrazi rat that buffs the team as well. Next, we’ll look at rat support:

Supporting Thine Rats

None of these cards are actual rats, but they have viable rules text for the theme. Piper of the Swarm gives your rats menace, can create rat tokens, and can steal opponent’s creatures — talk about a package! Chittering Witch supports the theme by creating rat tokens for each opponent you have (usually 3). She can also sac creatures to wither others. Ogre Slumlord creates rats each time non token creatures die, but also gives your rats deathtouch which is amazing when you’re killing huge things with little creatures. Patron of the Nazumi is a spirit that allows you to offer a rat to cut mana costs, but also has some life drain stapled on. Finally, Ratcatcher is a tutor for rats on a stick, and that can come in handy.

Big Black Mana

Being a black deck, we have ways of making a ton of mana, and as such we have some things we might want to do with that. Crypt Ghast, Magus of the Coffers, Cabal Coffers and Cabal Stronghold will make you big mana for small investments. The Ghast can also extort which can move some life totals over the course of a game. Gary will also allow you to make some explosive life shifts if played at the right time. Bubbling Much is also a good option to make a metric fuckton of mana to funnel into a huge Torment of Hailfire for the win. If nothing else, you can dump your hand onto the table and get a good swing in rather quickly.

Other Cards of Note

Mostly a selection of some noteworthy artifacts here. Secret Salvage is a dumb card that will never work in EDH, until it did. You can literally exile a Rat Colony, then search for all other copies of it in you library and put them into your hand. You have the big black mana thing going already, so why not play them all right now? You don’t have haste so that might make you vulnerable, but it’s still a pretty amazing interaction. Thrumming Stone can be equally busted, as all of your spells will gain ripple 4, so when you cast Rat Colony from hand you can look at the top four cards of your library and cast that card for free if it pops up, but then you get to ripple again. We really need some hast in this deck, don’t we? Heraldric Banner, Icon of Ancestry, The Immortal Sun and Vanquisher’s Banner are all tribal boons, which give small anthem effects along with doing other cool things.

Overall I think the deck looks like fun, but due to some of the cards I’m choosing to use, it’s not quite budget at around $300. You can see the full deck list here.

The War Report: Overpopulation

After realizing I had already made a “go-tall” token style deck in Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun back when I first got into commander, I thought I should try my hand at this strategy again but in different colors. I was already interested in Ghired for some of the other cards that come in the box that I want to add to other existing EDH decks, but decided I should probably brew him up as well. He’s the only face-card commander I find appealing in any sense of the word, so let’s take a look at him (again):

Ghired is a 5 CMC 2/5 with an ETB trigger that creates a 4/4 Rhino token with trample. He also has the added bonus of triggering populate each time he attacks, and whatever token you choose to copy comes into play tapped and attacking. Give him haste, and you can slam 10 power on the board on turn 5 at the latest. Honestly I wish I could use Temmet in this deck, solely to give that unblockable bonus, but alas he contains blue and that wouldn’t be allowed. So given that populate only copies creature tokens, and it only does it one at a time, we’re going to want bigger creature tokens rather than little ones. We also don’t necessarily want to go wide, but the speed at which you should be able to populate, you will eventually go wide provided there aren’t a lot of board wipes being cast. Still, we want tokens in general to copy so I have included a few ways to make some smaller ones, but for the most part we’re focusing on those that are 4/4 or more. Let’s take a look at what I mean:

As you can see, there are a myriad of ways that we can make some big tokens, from creatures that ETB or otherwise trigger other tokens to be made, to spells that create tokens that you can later populate, or event enchantments that can churn out 4/4’s and 5/5’s like nobody’s business. For the most part, we’re looking for big tokens to target with our populate triggers, so I’ve tried to focus on this theme. If you can get a few populate triggers in a single turn, you could be looking at several 6/6’s or 8/8’s, particularly with the token support package we’ve included (populate and other bonuses).

This support package will make those populate triggers happen, but it will also benefit your population, in that you’ll get extra tokens with an Anointed Procession or Parallel Lives on the board, and then if you can double up on that with Song of the Worldsoul or Growing Ranks. We also have a few anthem effects to make those 4/4’s into 5/5’s or even 6/6’s. Intangible Virtue and Angel of Invention can help beef up the tokens already on the board.

As I said earlier, we really want our new token creatures and our commander in particular to have haste. As such I’ve included Fervor, Fires of Yavimaya and Rhythm of the Wild to give this to them. If we can use our commander immediately we get a bunch of power on the board quickly, and utilizing our populate triggers this can me explosive turns. But we also need to draw cards so enchantments like Colossal Majesty, Elemental Bond, Rishkar’s Expertise and Shamanic Revelation were included. Hour of Reckoning is an on-theme board wipe, while Second Harvest can make an already big board that much larger. In order to help keep up with mana production, I’ve also included Mirari’s Wake (doubles as an anthem) and Zendikar Resurgent (doubles as card draw). They’re pretty much staples in the colors, so I expect you know them by now.

I’m positive this deck will not be overly competitive, but it looks like fun. I hope to pick it up while I’m in Vegas and get some test runs in as it stands in the precon, but this version of the deck is ones I’d aspire to upgrade to.

The War Report: This Shirt is Not Black

This Friday the Commander 2019 precons release. By the time this post goes live I’ll already be in Vegas and it actually should already be Friday, but who knows if I’ll have gotten my hands on any of the new decks yet. I fully intend to try and pick up both the Naya Populate and the Jeskai Flashback decks, mostly likely by going to the LGS out there. Whatever the case, there weren’t initially any commanders from the new sets that I wanted to build, but after some careful consideration, I decided on building one that doesn’t even come in one of the decks I want to purchase. As such, I’ll likely grab him as a single and go from there, don’t believe I’m using any other cards from that particular box. The commander in question is from the Rakdos Madness deck, and it’s *drumroll*:

That’s right, it’s K’rrik, Son of Yawgmoth. I have brewed a mono black deck or two in the past, but I ended up never really being all that passionate about the commander. In this case, I absolutely love what K’rrik can do. A 7 CMC commander is not one you’d usually aim for, but because the 3 black pips are actually phyrexian mana, you can pay 2 life instead of 1 black mana, meaning you can play K’rrik without even having a swamp on the board, just need a couple of decent colorless mana rocks. Besides that, he gives this ability to all of you cards, where each black pip turns into phyrexian mana. On top of that, K’rrik gets +1/+1 counters fore every black spell you cast, and he has lifelink to keep the engine running. I don’t really think it’s necessary to make this into a Voltron deck, but I do think a Tainted Strike and Phyresis are in order to capitalize on big swings and then adding infect. One thing that I think black can do almost better than any color is both make some big time mana (without infinite combo) and make use of your life total as a resource. We’re going to aim to do both, with a splash of good stuff along with a few known but busted win conditions.

Big Mana:

I’ve been wanting to make a mono black deck for a long time, if for no other reason than using the Cabal Coffers/Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth combo, and it’s on flavor with K’rrik at the helm. Other lands that can help to make explosive turns are both Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Cabal Stronghold. If we can get a few of these out on the battlefield at once, look out. Not only can we capitalize on lands, but also utilizes creatures that do a similar thing: Nirkana Revenant, Magus of the Coffers and Crypt Ghast. The latter also feeds into one of our subthemes with extort (and it’s completely legal because the hybrid B/W symbol only appears in parenthesis and therefore is only reminder text, not part of color identity). Black Market will build up additional mana for you over time, and Bubbling Much can make a big mana turn even bigger by doubling up what our swamps produce. I imagine you can get to a point where you’re probably wasting mana, but without testing I don’t know just yet.

Ramp and Card Draw:

Here we have a selection of ramp and card draw spells, creatures and enchantments. Each card was included to either get you some land or draw cards. Having a ton of mana means we can cast too many spells and be low on cards all the time, so we need to refill that hand as often as possible! Next up, how we can use our life as a resource:

Playing with Life:

I’ve added a selection of creatures that will ping our opponents while give us life. Not pictured here, several creatures with Lifelink that will also help. We can use our life gained in various ways, for instance by casting spells in conjuction with Bolas’s Citadel. Use it for a big Toxic Deluge, or just trade up and down in combination with cards where you pay life and then get life back. In this deck, you’ll have a life total that fluctuates more than normal! I feel like I packed in enough ways to gain life back though, so you shouldn’t worry about using it to do stuff.

Win Conditions:

Outside of just whittling your opponents down with the cards we have already covered, you have a few ways to close games out. Bond of Agony can be used to drain out your opponents as long as you have the highest life total. Ditto Exsanguinate, though it will heal you instead of harm. A big Torment of Hailfire can help to close out a game, and you should be able to make some big mana with this deck. As such, if you can gain enough life, Aetherflux Reservoir is there to blow up your enemies one at a time. If you have K’rrik out and he’s starting to get big due to his counter ability, you can throw on Phyresis or Tainted Strike to eliminate a player. Finally, the cheesy Exquisite Blood/Sanguine Bond combo will close out those stubborn games.

All in all it looks like a really fun deck to pilot, is mid tier when it comes to budget (and I’m sure more expensive cards could be included to make it even better), and should still be semi competitive. You can see the full deck list here.

The War Report: Ninja Update

Despite all of the recent hype around here surrounding the impending release of Commander 2019, I still have projects that I’m always working on. Each new set brings with it new cards that can potentially replace older cards in my existing decks, and sometimes a set comes along with enough of boost to a pet project to snowball a deck into fruition. When Commander 2018 was being spoiled last year, I immediately knew that I wanted to build Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow. Ninjas aren’t exactly a well supported tribe though, basically only having cards from the Kamigawa block. I still brewed a deck around this commander, but it never really felt like it was where I wanted it to be. There were ninjas in it, there were ways to manipulate the top of the library to capitalize on Yuriko’s ability. There were plenty of unblockables and then enchantments like Conspiracy and Arcane Adaption to make sure everything that wasn’t a ninja would still count as a ninja. This still felt pretty half-assed. Enter Modern Horizons.

I ended up writing a post about my pickups from Modern Horizons, and the extra few ninjas that were put out in that set enabled this deck to feel more on theme. Gone from the original list:

Duskmantle Seer
Sire of Stagnation
Grave Pact
Fleshbag Maurader
Merciless Executioner
Evil Twin
Viscera Seer
Patriarch’s Bidding
Sakashima’s Student
Palace Siege
Tetsuko Umezawa

Some of the cards that were removed were due to the fact that they just weren’t on theme enough. Duskmantle Seer is a fine card, but it doesn’t really fit in with the ninja theme, I can’t use ninjitsu to throw it out from my hand, and well it’s a vampire. Ditto Sire of Stagnation, it’s an awesome card but I don’t really feel a lone Eldrazi is the way to go. I also had some light sacrifice theme stuff going on in the prior build that was no longer relevant, so I have removed Grave Pact, Fleshbag Maurader, Viscera Seer and Merciless Executioner. Copy effects sounded okay, but Sakashima’s Student is a little pricey, and I had some budget constraints to stick to if I wanted to build this deck before my Vegas trip. I dropped Evil Twin as well, opting to go for more theft effects rather than copy effects. Patriarch’s Bidding was also cut due to the budget, though I did splurge on Sensei’s Divining Top because it is basically required. I also dropped Palace Siege (was in for recursion but isn’t very efficient) and Tetsuko Umezawa (she’s great and all but I felt another ninja would be better in her stead).

New cards that were added were mostly from Modern Horizons, including:

Changeling Outcast
Mist-Syndicate Naga
Phantom Ninja
Azra Smokeshaper
Ingenious Infiltrator
Moonblade Shinobi
Fallen Shinobi
Cunning Evasion

These cards were a given, due to all but one of them being a ninja outright. The Changeling Outcast is a shapeshifter, but counts as a ninja without needing enchantment help. It’s also unblockable so that’s on-theme for ninjitsu tricks. The rest are pretty obvious inclusions, while Cunning Evasion is a double whammy in this deck. Not only is it protection for our creatures that can’t get through unblocked (allowing them to be returned to our hand if they are blocked) it also can fill our hand back up with ninjas that can then be dropped back onto the battle field if we have some creatures that get through unblocked. It’s cool stuff. Other notable new inclusions are:

Scheming Symmetry
Notion Rain
Aminatou’s Augury
Future Sight

These cards were put in while I was finding a better mana curve. The first is a new tutor from M20 that allows you to pick another player to give a tutor to while you tutor up something as well (cards go to top of library). A great political tool and way to set up for big Yuriko triggers. Notion Rain is a pretty decent common from Ravnica that gets you two cards and some selection with surveil. Aminatou’s Augury is a bomb and I don’t know why I didn’t think of using it sooner. You get to exile 8 cards, ramp by throwing a land onto the battlefield, and then potentially cast 3-4 cards for free. Future Sight is also a no brainer for top deck shenanigans.

The deck is finally done and playable, and I can’t wait for Vegas to try it out. Here’s the updated deck list.