Wednesday, July 11, 2012

M13: Replacements/Upgrades in my decks

Every time a new set comes out, there's a time when we go over our decks and see what goes into assorted EDH decks and what will come out for those cards.

There's no right answer.  There is only what you want to be playing.  Some people can't imagine a blue deck without Bribery, for example.  Or others abhor the notion of playing with Iona, Shield of Emeria.  Results and tastes may vary, and as the person who plays these decks, I'm the final word on what I want to be playing.  I expect some will disagree, and I look forward to that discussion.

I'm going to go through each of my decks and review what cards I'm putting in, what I'm taking out, and what I'm tempted to play. This last status could also be called "If I open a foil, I'll find a spot for it." I reserve the right to make changes in the decks, I'm going off of my first blush.

It's easy to say "Yeah, that should be a good fit for this deck" but it's more difficult when something else has to come out.

Some things to say ahead of time: 
  • Acidic Slime is in every green deck of mine already.
  • Reliquary Tower should be in every EDH deck--it costs you nothing and can be a very handy effect.
  • As I said in my M13 Review, there aren't many decks that can't make use of Akroma's Memorial, so I don't know if I'll actually put it in every deck, some decks, or no decks.  
  • All of my black decks have Increasing Ambition, and I'm not sure if Diabolic Revelation is an upgrade or a downgrade.  I'm probably going to stick with Increasing Ambition, because with Diabolic Revelation, I'll always want to wait and get one card more.  Tutoring for just two cards seems underpowered with this.

For simplicity's sake, I'll go in the same order as my list of generals.  

Adun Oakenshield (BRG Creature-based)
In: Disciple of Bolas, Mindclaw Shaman, Thundermaw Hellkite, Elderscale Wurm, Thragtusk
Already there: Garruk's Packleader, Hamletback Goliath
Nearly there: Xathrid Gorgon, Primordial Hydra, Silklash Spider, Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis, Mwonvuli Beast Tracker, Yeva, Nature's Herald
Out: Oracle of Mul Daya, Sylvan Ranger, Phyrexian Plaguelord, Dread Cacodemon, Hoard-Smelter Dragon
Notes: This being a 60% creature deck, and the deck I've had the longest, some of the new cards are just outclassed by what's already there.  The Gorgon is not as good as Visara the Dreadful and Avatar of Woe.  Hydra doesn't do enough for me in this deck, I had it in there the last time it was printed and it was never good for me.  (It is a sad reveal on Lurking Predators, let me tell you!) Yeva is only for my green creatures, and that's only 1/3 of the creatures in the deck. I'm super stoked about Disciple + Hamletback, and recurring Mindclaw Shaman is going to be a good time.  I've got 35 land and 8 creatures that help with land, and the creatures I'm adding are better than the backup artifact/boardwipe/targeted kill creatures that I took out.

Animar, Soul of Elements (URG chaining creatures)
In: Courtly Provocateur, Mindclaw Shaman, Thundermaw Hellkite, Slumbering Dragon, Thragtusk
Already There: Clone, Sphinx of Uthuun, Garruk's Packleader
Nearly there: Hamletback Goliath, Elderscale Wurm, Primordial Hydra, Ring of Evos Isle, Ring of Kalonia, Ring of Valkas, Void Stalker, Yeva, Nature's Herald
Out: Creeping Renaissance, Conjurer's Closet, Wild Pair, Oracle of Mul Daya, Asceticism
Notes:  The deck focuses on putting counters on Animar, then playing things with high colorless requirements on the cheap.   That makes the rings a great inclusion, giving counters and haste/trample/hexproof to go with Animar's built in protection, but I already have five equipment that give some level of protection (Lightning Greaves, Darksteel Plate, Champion's Helm, Swiftfoot Boots, and Whispersilk Cloak).  Yeva, yet again, is awesomeness for a color that's only on 18 of my creatures.  Mindclaw and Thragtusk will be fun, and I'm excited to play Courtly Provocateur, making things attack into my huge Animar.  Hamletback will likely go into this deck soon.  I took out accessory cards for more creatures, a choice I may revise after a few games.

Azami, Lady of Scrolls (Mono-blue Wizard Tribal)
In: Talrand, Sky Summoner, Archaeomancer
Already there: Elixir of Immortality
Nearly There: Omniscience, Switcheroo, Spelltwine
Out: Meloku the Clouded Mirror, Temporal Adept
Notes: As a deck focused on stealing creatures, Talrand might be weak.  Most of my theft spells are enchantments, but if I can add 2/2 creatures to those effects, it'll be a winner.  Archaeomancer gets back those spells (again, might be weak) and Switcheroo is not worth the change from Legerdemain.  Meloku and Adept were just not doing enough to earn their keep.  In a deck that devours mana like this, Meloku's ability was not worth the land bouncing, and Adept was good but pricey.

Balthor The Defiled (Monoblack Zombies)
In: Liliana of the Dark Realms
Already There: Mutilate, Rise from the Grave
Nearly There: None
Out: Corpse Harvester
Notes: This deck has Liliana Vess already, but this is an extremely mana-hungry deck, so Liliana of the Dark Realms's +1 ability is exactly what it wants.  There were no amazing Zombies in this set, sad to say.  I'm taking out the Zombie who is supposed to help with land-finding, but is a lot slower.

Darien, King of Kjeldor (Soldiers and Swords)
In: Odric, Master Tactician
Already There: Captain of the Watch, Intrepid Hero
Nearly There: Crusader of Odric
Out: Cenn's Enlistment
Notes: Crusader might be overkill, because if I have a swarm of Solider tokens then I'm likely winning anyway.  Odric is the stone nuts in a white weenie deck, allowing you to attack through just about anything, and making kills along the way.  I've never used the Retrace on Enlistment, so out it comes.

Garza Zol, Plague Queen (Vampires)
In: Gem of Becoming
Already There: Gilded Lotus, Vampire Nocturnus, Vampire Nighthawk
Nearly There: Spelltwine, Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker, Ring of Evos Isle, Ring of Valkas, Ring of Xathrid
Out: Belbe's Portal
Notes: This is another mana-hungry deck, so the Gem will help in that regard.  I feel better playing Gem than Journeyer's Kite--6 mana will get me three land, and I had at least three to start, so I'm fairly set.  I have a foil Cruel Ultimatum, and that might come out for Nicol Bolas, who is just ridiculously good, yet isn't really in on the Vampire theme.  The on-color rings will be good, but I'm not sure if Vampires need more accessories.  I've been unimpressed with Belbe's Portal--for that same 8 mana, I could play any vampire in the deck.

Hanna, Ship's Navigator (WU artifacts/proliferate)
In: Ajani, Caller of the Pride, Staff of Nin
Already There: Planar Cleansing, Gilded Lotus
Nearly There: Clock of Omens, Sands of Delirium, Ring of Evos Isle, Ring of Thune, Trading Post
Out:  Eye of Ugin, Serum Tank
Notes: Ajani is a good planeswalker for the proliferate cards I already have in the deck, and the rings would help with that too.  Trading Post does several useful things in the deck, recurring artifacts, drawing cards, gaining life.  I'm not sure if Clock is worth it in this deck, I need to re-evaluate the abilities that tap.  I'm semi-certain that Sands will go into every deck that has Grand Architect, but that's still a lot of mana to invest. In recent games, Eye just isn't worth the mana, and Staff will draw as many cards per turn as Tank, without the continuous mana investment.

Kaalia of the Vast (BWR Aggro)
In: Thundermaw Hellkite
Already There: None
Nearly There: Ring of Valkas, Ring of Xathrid, Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis, Sublime Archangel, Fervor
Out: Backlash
Notes: If I only get one Thundermaw, it'll go in this deck.  The Hellkite is such an amazing card for what Kaalia wants to do, especially as it can come down the turn after Kaalia, clearing the path for both Kaalia's attack and whatever she drops into play.  I think the red and black rings help with what Kaalia wants to do, but I already have a few accessories for her and the deck is feeling tight.  I'm very likely to try Fervor in this deck soon.  Nefarox is only good attacking solo, as is the Archangel, so those two aren't going in.  I had both Backlash and Delirium as part of this deck's Sunforger package, but I doubt I'll need to do this effect twice.

Experiment Kraj (UG tap abilities)
In: Courtly Provocateur
Already There: None
Nearly There: Void Stalker, Silklash Spider, Yeva, Nature's Herald 
Out: Spike Soldier
Notes: New tap abilities have to be pretty outstanding to crack this list, and I think that Courtly is there.  Messing with everyone else's combat steps (in this deck with Kraj, I'll get to use it more than once a turn) sounds like lots of fun!  Void Stalker is just excellent general control, but Silklash Spider isn't as cool as Arashi, the Sky Asunder in this deck.  Spike Soldier was only good if I'd put Blockade Runner into play as well, so out he goes.

Lady Evangela (UWB Clerics)
In: War Priest of Thune, Healer of the Pride, Faith's Reward
Already There: None
Nearly There: Rhox Faithmender
Out: Loxodon Mystic, Soltari Visionary, Second Sunrise
Notes: I'm so annoyed that the Rhox is a Monk!  I might dent the tribal nature of this deck for him anyway.  Faith's Reward is a strict upgrade for Second Sunrise, while the Mystic hasn't been good enough for me and the War Priest kills an enchantment immediately, instead of needing an attack as Visionary does.

Mangara of Corondor (Mono-white problem solver)
In: None
Already There: Oblivion Ring, Intrepid Hero, Planar Cleansing, Tormod's Crypt
Nearly There: Ring of Thune, Erase
Out: None
Notes:  Everything good for permanently solving problems has been printed before, so there's nothing I have to add.  Erase isn't as good as Revoke Existence, and vigilance via a Ring isn't really worth considering.

Multani, Maro-Sorcerer (Mono-green big creatures)
In: Ring of Kalonia, Elderscale Wurm, Boundless Realms, Primordial Hydra, Thragtusk, Yeva, Nature's Herald
Already There: Garruk's Packleader, Garruk, Primal Hunter, Silklash Spider
Nearly There: Mwonvuli Beast Tracker
Out: Feed the Pack, Ohran Viper, Strata Scythe, Gutter Grime, Desert Twister, Artisan of Kozilek
Notes: I have made Yeva the new general of this deck, just to give a green deck an element of trickiness that required Winding Canyons before.  Multani is now in the 99.  I'm pretty sure that the rest of these cards will be excellent as beefy face-beaters.  I took out some unnecessary utility, a nongreen creature, and an enchantment that never gave me the value I wanted.

Nin, the Pain Artist (UR pinging)
In: Staff of Nin, Ring of Valkas, Fervor
Already There: Stuffy Doll
Nearly There: Thundermaw Hellkite
Out: Koth of the Hammer, Crimson Hellkite, Shattering Pulse, Vithian Stinger
Notes: Since Nin is the general, then her Staff is sort of a given.  Two more ways to give my creatures haste will be winners!  If I re-add Charisma to the deck, then I think Thundermaw goes well with that enchantment. (Steal all of target player's flying creatures? Don't mind if I do!)  However, that triple blue is a big sticking point in this deck--everything else is single blue to cast.  Koth was rarely more than a mana boost, and Crimson Helkite was just too much mana to be useful.

Sliver Queen (5-color token madness)
In: Healer of the Pride, Odric, Master Tactician, Boundless Realms
Already There: Garruk, Primal Hunter
Nearly There: Ajani, Caller of the Pride, Captain of the Watch, Crusader of Odric, Sublime Archangel, Augur of Bolas, Fungal Sprouting, Hellion Crucible
Out: Krosan Tusker, Armillary Sphere, Wurmcalling
Notes:  Healer is an extra Soul Warden.  Odric, again, is there to ensure that the tokens get through and do work.  Boundless Realms is there to power up the token spells.  Upon reviewing the mana of the deck, Sphere and Tusker were just overkill, and Wurmcalling is not going to help me make a swarm.

Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter
In: Rhox Faithmender, Ajani, Caller of the Pride
Already There: Vampire Nighthawk, Serra Avatar, Elixir of Immortality
Nearly There: Ring of Thune, Ring of Xathrid, Mutilate, Healer of the Pride
Out: Pristine Talisman, Tower of Eons
Notes:  Ajani's abilities work well with the general and having a big life total makes the ultimate that much better.   Rhox Faithmender is a backup to Boon Reflection, or the key to quad lifegain if both are out!  The rings may be exactly what Vish Kal wants, but I doubt Healer is a good card in a deck that doesn't have a lot of creature production going on. The two artifacts I'm taking out have just been underwhelming.

Hope you enjoyed a peek into the decks I have and the changes I'm making!

It's been pointed out to me that I don't have a set schedule for new posts here, and that's valid.  I suggest you follow me on Twitter @WordOfCommander and that'll tell you when I have a new post.

Talk to you soon!


  1. Great info. If I want to build an EDH how do you recommend I start? I have a ton of cards in storage. Should I just haul them out and have someone look over them or throw them all together and try a deck or ? I am interested in any feedback you can give.

    1. The first thing you should do is figure out what colors you want to play or the legend you want to build around. Once you have that, put together the cards that will be fun. If that's a list of 200 cards, that's fine.

      Cut it down to 60 cards, add your land, and play the deck a few times. Then start revising.

      Don't worry about making the perfect deck, especially on the first pass.

  2. Re: Darien, no Healer of the Pride? Are you not running the Soul Sister package for some daft reason?

    1. Healer would be great if it were a soldier.

      I'm pretty strict about my tribal decks. It took me a year to add Grave Titan to my Balthor deck. ;)

    2. It's an army, they gotta have medics behind 'em. That's how I justify it to myself.

      Now, Suture Priest and Elesh Norn, THOSE I just choose to not think about too hard, but Soul Warden/Attendant are totally thematic.

    3. Combat Medic was in there for a while, but no longer.

      Sticking to a theme is tough, it's true.