TWR: Brewing Around Partners

I’ve been sitting on a couple of partner commanders for a couple of years now. I bought the Saskia Commander 2016 precon that came with Tymna the Weaver and Tana the Bloodsower and though I played the deck as it was for a little while, I eventually broke it up to make Saskia into a weird ball lightning deck before later changing her to an infect commander. Tymna found her way into another brew of mine that centered around Alesha, but Tana was relegated to a binder never to see play again (not to mention that the decks I’ve mentioned to this point aren’t seeing play or are broken up). Knowing that the partners have some powerful decks people have come up with, I was looking into another competitive option so that I’m not forced to play Zur every time I want to play cEDH. Arguably the most powerful combination, Tymna + Thrasios builds typically rely on the “Flash Hulk” combo. You can google that last term and find viable lists abound. Vial Smasher decks look solid too, and was the other build I saw most of when it came to partners with Tymna. Finally though, I came across a “Bloodpod” primer that showcased a deck centered around Tymna and Tana, and these are the cards I already owned. It turns out that I owned a good chunk of the list too and though I didn’t want to out right copy it, there isn’t a lot of room for change either. Mainly, I figured that there were some budget versions of cards that I could swap out, and thereby make it a little easier to build overall, despite having a value similar to that of my Zur deck. Most importantly, it isn’t trying to win via Laboratory Maniac and actually wants to turn creatures sideways, which is fun. It’s also pretty stax oriented, another style I enjoy. Backstory aside, let’s take a look at our partners:

Tymna doesn’t look all that great at first glance, being a 2/2 for 3 with Lifelink. However, if you can manage to damage an opponent, you’ll get an extra draw during your second main phase. If you manage to damage multiple opponents, you’re drawing more cards. That’s actually pretty amazing, and with her low CMC you can start doing this early. Tana supports the other side of our plan, in that she too wants to get in for combat damage, but also produces tokens for us to use sacrificially, or to spread our damage around to multiple opponents for more card draw via Tymna. Also, being able to create tokens and draw cards while under stax effects means we’ll be ahead of our counterparts for the majority of the game.

So what’s our game plan? Well the original Bloodpod deck was named as such due to the above two cards. Blood Moon is a card that hoses many multicolored decks, particularly if they are running mostly non-basic lands. It does ruin our non-basics too, and with only a few basic lands that can hurt, but it shouldn’t be an issue if we already have out our commanders and can keep drawing cards and creating saprolings. Birthing Pod is a nefarious card that allows you to sacrifice creatures in order to tutor up other ones, and there are several ways we’re going to utilize it. Essentially, the deck wants to throw down some early stax/tax effects and then pod into a victory combo. The original deck was made a few years back though, but newer versions have come out and I’ve managed to take some ideas from multiple decks and put them together. Some things to note: I don’t have the mana base that most lists do, but found a more budget friendly way to go that should still be effective. I also don’t own some of the most expensive cards, so I’ll be showing you some budget options for those as well. First up, the stax pieces:

I’d argue that more stax pieces are artifacts and enchantments than creatures, but it seems there are plenty of good hatebears for the deck as well. These cards are all purposefully picked in order to slow your opponents down and allow us to get ahead. Combo/Storm decks need to cast more than one spell a turn, so shutting that down as an option is good, as is forcing them to pay taxes on top of CMC. Shutting off the abilities of artifacts and creatures or making them come into play tapped sets people back turns. We also have the all important graveyard hate stapled to Leyline of the Void and Anafeza the Foremost. Magus of the Moon is a second Blood Moon. Grand Abolisher protects us on our turns. You see where this is going. So our gameplan then is to have more mana, more card draw and a faster tempo than the rest of the table. We’re only running 34 lands, which are a combination of Shocks, Pain lands, and others that allow us to create mana of any color, with very little utility. Mana rocks are present in Mox Diamond, Chrome Mox and Sol Ring, but otherwise we are depending on multiple early dorks to really accelerate our plan. Here’s our dork package:

We can make most of our colors with the above elves, along with making an explosion of green mana if we get priest of titania and a couple more elves on the battlefield. Birds of Paradise and Deathrite Shaman can fix for us. So after we have out some decent ramp and some stax pieces to put us solidly ahead, we can work on our wincon. This can be helped with a solid tutor package:

Yisan is basically another Birthing Pod, while Fauna Shaman is a budget version of Survival of the Fittest. Eldritch Evolution only works one time, but can grab you something needed, while the other more traditional tutors can pick up pieces that we need for our combos. What do we need for combos? I’m glad you asked:

So, here are some combo pieces that will win us the game. Kiki-Jiki along with Splinter Twin are two ways to allow us to infinitely ping down our opponents in conjunction with Goblin Sharpshooter, as such:

Splinter Twin + Goblin Sharpshooter + any x/1:

  • Twin on Sharpshooter #1.
  • Tap #1 to create #2.
  • Tap #2 to kill a dork. #1 and #2 untap.

Loop:

  • Tap #1 to create #3.
  • Tap #2 to damage face.
  • Tap #3 to kill itself. #1 and #2 untap.

We also have loops from Birthing Pod/Yisan that count on creatures like Felidar Guardian, Karmic Guide and Village Bell Ringer, all of which can essentially be tutored with Buried Alive and then reanimated with either the Karmic Guide or the couple of reanimation spells present in the deck. For example:

Birthing Pod + 3drop + 4drop + 2mana -> pod 3 into Felidar Guardian -> Flicker Pod -> pod 4 into Kiki-Jiki

The deck can be a little convoluted, but you should be able to win either by infinitely pinging, or making infinite Guardians with haste that you can hopefully win the game with. Instant board wipes could be an issue, but with the recursion you should be able to get one of these going. If nothing else, you can stax lock the board and win via normal combat damage. I think the deck can be very competitive and I can’t wait to start building. It’s probably going to take some time to get the capital together for the cards needed but I think it’s going to be worth it just as much as building Zur was.

TWR: New 2020 Build: Kykar

Core Set 2020 just finished being spoiled and hasn’t even been released yet, but I couldn’t wait to brew around one of the new legendary creatures. I wouldn’t say that it’s the color combination, because Jeskai is definitely not as effective as Grixis or Esper, but we’ll take what we can get when we have such a cool commander to build around. I’ve made several other brews that featured token strategies, but this one feels like the ultimate token commander that doesn’t really want to turn creatures sideways. I know that sounds counter-intuitive but check him out and we’ll talk about it:

Kykar is a new Bird Wizard that is trying to compete with other famous Bird Wizards like Derevi. We won’t know if he’ll be as competitive until the community gets their hands on it, but I’m still excited to sling some spells and smash face with some tokens. Kykar is a 3/3 for 4 CMC that has flying, but has the triggered effect of creating 1/1 flying spirits every time you cast a non-creature spell. Bonus, you can sacrifice spirits for 1R, which means if you’re making a ton of tokens you’ll be able to make some extra mana to cast more spells to make more tokens. But I think we can take it further than that with a bunch of ways to make tokens, and hell, we might as well use Divine Visitation and turn those 1/1’s into 4/4 angels while we’re at it! This isn’t the first time I’ve brewed a token focused deck, nor is it the first time I’ve put together a spell slinger deck, but this combines the best of both worlds and I think suits my playstyle pretty well. First up, let’s look at our token strategy:

Token Strategy:

Not only does our commander create tokens by casting non-creature spells, but there are plenty of other creatures in the deck that also trigger token generation from casting instants or sorceries. These aren’t new cards, and I’ve talked about most of them in the past. Basically, with or without your commander you should be getting tokens off of each of your spells cast, and then we have some additional support. Mentor of the Meek can draw us cards for an extra mana per spell (the tokens will trigger his ability), while Impact Tremors will do a damage to each opponent for each token generated. Anointed Procession will double up our tokens and if we have Divine Visitation out then our 1/1’s are suddenly 4/4’s and we’re swinging for lethal pretty quickly. Lastly, Metallurgic Summonings isn’t going to make us too many big tokens due to the deck being pretty low to the ground, but it can still supplement us with some 3/3’s and 4/4’s and that’s not nothing.

Spell Slinging Strategy:

A selection of cards here that support the spell slinging portion of the deck (though the two ideas feed each other well). Guttersnipe can do some nice damage to all opponents if left alone for long enough, while Niblis of Frost can tap down blockers and threats alike after casting spells. Taigam protects our instants and sorceries from counter magic, and can also give our spells rebound if we time them properly. Narset lets us filter through the top of our library for a needed spell, while Ral does damage for casting spells and can let us copy them periodically. Past in Flames is nice recursion for spells and can set up an explosive turn, while Electrodominance does some damage and gets a spell cast for free. Lastly, Jeskai Ascendancy fits both strategies as when we cast spells, we get a small anthem along with getting to loot. Start stacking some of these effects, and your one mana cantrips can a whole bunch more.

Other Synergy:

Our support package provides some utility that can be abused with some of our other strategies. The brand new Tribute Mage from Modern Horizons is great for searching up some of our mana rocks, but was put into the deck to specifically tutor our Isochron Scepter. Trinket mage is there to tutor Skullclamp (to use on our tokens to draw more cards) but can alternatively grab a Sol Ring. You can then use Mystical Tutor to grab Dramatic Reversal (or something else if the circumstances call for it) and use Enlightened tutor to grab a Basalt Monolith for the infinite mana combo. Smothering Tithe and Rhystic Study will help us get more cards and more mana which is always a good thing in these kinds of decks. Last on the tutor front, we have Plea For Guidance which can grab Anointed Procession and Divine Visitation at the same time, or whatever else is needed at the time. Lastly, we have three wheel spells that were included specifically because of the new Narset I linked above. Her static ability says that opponents can’t draw more than one card per turn, so if she’s on the board and we cast one of these spells, our opponents will dump their hand and get one card, while we’ll get the full hand. Card advantage for the win!

Otherwise the deck has a pretty standard land base and most of the spells are removal, counterspells and cantrip or draw spells. You can see the full decklist here.

TWR: The Year In MTG 2018

2018 was a good year for Magic: The Gathering. There were some ups and downs as far as product releases went, as well as ups and downs with my playtime. In January our playgroup sort of disbanded. During 2017, we had a solid three players and an occasional fourth, but by the end of the year we were down to just us three again. At the beginning of 2018 our third moved to Las Vegas, so it was just my roommate and I most of the time. We played quite a few times throughout the year, but 1v1 Commander games just aren’t the same. As such, we made sure to hit up Pre-Release events and also attended a few Commander based events at one of the local game stores. Despite having moved out of state, our third managed to come down to visit us a couple of times and we had all day shenanigans, and of course we saw him at the GP.

The biggest events were covered in detail below, with my favorites being the Battlebond Weekend along with Grand Prix Las Vegas.

Live Events:

Rivals of Ixalan Pre-Release
Commander Event
Commander Event #2
Commander League
Selling Cards
MTG Arena
Battlebond Preview Weekend
Grand Prix Las Vegas
Guilds of Ravnica Pre-Release
Playing at Home

When I’m not actually playing MTG, I spend a good chunk of time creating new brews. Some of these decks come to fruition and others were built just for the sake of seeing what I could come up with. I do a lot of the leg work for this blog — I create a build and then it generates a blog post, and then I don’t think about the deck ever again. In other cases, I’ve written about decks that I had already built and how I’ve improved them, or about decks that I’m super excited to build. My latest completed deck from this list is Zombies 3.0, where my original Zombie deck led by Gisa & Geralf (Dimir [Blue/Black]) was later transformed into a Scarab God (also Dimir) deck and has finally been changed into a Varina (Esper [Blue/Black/White]) deck. I received the final cards needed in the mail this week and now it’s ready to test out. Anyhow, here is a list of the builds I came up with over the year:

Custom Brews:

Dinosaur Tribal – Completed and adjusted since this point.
Oloro Pillowfort – In progress.
Reaper King – Retired.
Kess, Spellslinger – Never built, Kess was put into Inalla.
Prossh Food Chain – In progress.
Selvala Group Hug – Playable, but needs upgrades.
Gonti Theft – Never built.
Boros Goodstuff – Never built.
Budget Knight Tribal – In progress.
Inalla Wizard Tribal – In progress.
Jodah and Friends – Completed and tuned.
Monk Voltron – Completed.
Budget Grenzo – Never built.
WUBRG Warriors – In progress.
Atraxa Infect – In progress.
Doran Defender Tribal – Completed.
Izzet Chaos – Never built.
5-Color Spirits – Never built.
Bolas Flipwalker – In progress.
Mono Blue Mill – Never built.
Ninja Tribal – In progress.
Tuvasa Enchantress – In progress.
Zur Tier 1 Build – Completed. Technically still need a Marsh Flats and Mana Crypt.
Estrid Stax – In progress.
Tawnos Artifacts Matter – Playable, but needs upgrades.
Zombies 3.0 – Completed.
Lazav Toolbox – In progress.
Niv-Mizzet Wheels – In progress.
Arachnophobia – In progress.
Karador Tier Build – In progress.
Daxos 3.0 – In progress.
Aminatou Blink – In progress.

As you can see, that’s a bunch of decks but very few are actually being played. That’s because I spent most of my disposable cash this year on making Zur a true Tier 1 deck, and as such his price tag is around $900 alone. All of the “in progress” decks also are in varying states of completion, as I do have a bunch of cards for quite a few of them. That’s how Tawnos and Selvala ended up “playable,” because I just threw in stuff I had lying around, despite not being exactly how I want them. The decks that are listed as “never built” were those that I thought about and could become decks in the future but I decided to cut down on the amount I was trying to build at one time. I typically focus on one deck at a time, but when sets like Ultimate Masters release and have cards that I need for multiple decks I will filter them into the appropriate ones. New standard sets oftentimes contain cards that I can use in these brews as well, so they will be adjusted accordingly. Whatever the case, I clearly spent a lot of time on the hobby this year, and I don’t see that stopping in the future.

I’ve done a little research and found a local game store that does have EDH nights on Thursdays in the town that I’m moving to. So I should be able to find a new playgroup there (fingers crossed). Also, my sister and her boyfriend have been playing EDH for a little while now and also know about their local spots, though they are about a 45 minute drive from where I am, so I won’t be going that way as often. Perhaps I’ll be able to convince them to come to my house on occasion.

I’m looking forward to what 2019 brings to the Magic side of my life.