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By: stsung, Jaroslava Stefankova
May 19 2017 12:00pm
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I've been on Magic Online for a short time (since Khans of Tarkir) but since that time I was never joyful about an announcement. It changed, for the first time, on May 10th. I was very excited about Lee Sharpe's announcement about weekly Format Challenges. The day was also special in another way. 1v1 EDH Leagues were about to happen. So during the time people were sending me birthday wishes I logged in to Magic Online and ended up immersed in a ruthless 1v1 EDH format totally ignoring everything else. AJ Impy sent me a message that my article I wrote about the anticipated 1v1 EDH Leagues made it to the Wizards of the Coast Daily Magic Update.

I opened a former deck of mine still containing 'Singleton' in its name, reminding me that this used to be a competitive format on Magic Online, and changed the deck into something that could resemble an EDH deck. It won't probably surprise anyone that the deck was blue and that it was a combo deck. Its win condition being Necrotic Ooze, Triskelion, Phyrexian Devourer. I added some cards like Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time and wondered what else I could add so I wouldn't need to play cards like Serum Visions. After pondering for a while I realized that 1 mana instant tutors are allowed so I added Vampiric Tutor and Mystical Tutor. My mana base also had to allow me to gain access to blue and black from turn 1 so I was wondering what kind of a land is capable of producing those colors without a drawback or a silly condition (River of Tears). Honestly it took me a while to figure out that there is something like Command Tower, a land that was bugged on Magic Online for so long that I started to ignore it and not include it in my decks.

After this I joined some Queues because I needed some PP in order to enter a League. April was very bad month for me in terms of Magic events so I lost several hundred PPs, my rating fell down, almost reaching the original value, and I was ready to take a break from Magic. I had 20 PP from somewhere though so I hosted a match. After 6 consecutive wins I entered the League finally. There things were different pretty different.

I ran into 4 5-0 players from the first day and you can probably figure out how my League went. Very poorly. I was a bit rusty for sure, but I died to few things that many people would consider very unfair. I played against (Baral, the Chief of Compliance), Leovold, Emissary of Trest, Tasigur, the Golden Fang, Baral, the Chief of Compliance and Keranos, God of Storms. So far everything seemed as I expected it. I was wrong about one thing though. The format is even faster than I expected and that is also why Oloro, Ageless Ascetic is not overpowered. Whenever I was playing competitive EDH I knew that life never bothered me so far as I had 5 life I needed so I could reanimate my Necrotic Ooze (that's why I never minded Zurgo decks and ignore them). Oloro, Ageless Ascetic allows me to play cards that use life as a resource but playing those cards usually requires more time and sometimes that is something one doesn't have in this format. I died to 2 Emrakuls, Timetwister with Leovold in play which caused my heart to sink, and an Upheaval Tasigur that followed. I won against Keranos even though I seriously messed the game up and did not deserve to win.

It was time to get back to 2-player queues to earn more PP. I killed a bunch of people with the Necrotic Ooze, Phyrexian Devourer and Triskelion combo but it was clear that I need more disruption than I ran. So I decided to forget about this deck for a while and tweaked my Tasigur so it would use some of the unfair cards.

In my second League. I died twice to Strip Mine/Crucible of Worlds and Strip Mine/Life from the Loam. Note that I destroyed Crucible twice (Sylvan Primordial and Abrupt Decay) and I played Deathrite Shaman and Nihil Spellbomb to fight this so I can't really say I wasn't ready for this. It just didn't help in these particular games. I won the following matches against Barals and Tasigur/Leovold. At this point I realized that my deck doesn't run Strip Mine and I might actually add it to the deck since I was also on a Loam package right from the beginning.

The following Leagues looked very similar. Meanwhile I was reading tweets and watched others stream the Leagues and noticed that while I'm playing in a sea of blue decks and highly competitive ones some players made the remarks like 'Zurgo is obviously the most favorite general' or noted that they played against fair and not so competitive decks. I've seen a 5 round League where the streamer played against 4 casual decks and 1 somewhat competitive one. So I decided to go through data from my matches and write down the opponents and their decks (I included JXClaytor even we didn't encounter each other in a League, but he played maybe even more than me in them). I played 50 matches and I played against some players more times. I did not include those in the statistics. It would change the results in favor of Baral, Tasigur and Leovold.

So after a week the metagame breakdown based on my own experience looked like this.

General Personal matchups
Baral, Chief of Compliance 14%
Tasigur, the Golden Fang 12%
Vial Smasher the Fierce partner 8%
Leovold, Emissary of Trest 8%
Narset, Enlightened Master 4%
Other non-blue 32%
Other blue 22%

From the above numbers you can see that blue is favored with 68% percent. The non-blue decks are usually mono green ramp decks using Life from the Loam/Crucible of the Worlds and Strip Mine/Wasteland lock. The generals I encountered were Azusa, Lost But Seeking, Nissa, Vastwood Seer, Titania, Protector of Argoth and one occurrence of Omnath, Locus of Mana.

Let's take a look at data Wizards of the Coast provided of the randomly chosen 5-0 decks.

General Distribution of 5-0 decks
Tasigur, the Golden Fang 18.3%
Baral, Chief of Compliance 13.3%
Vial Smasher/Thrasios 10%
Nissa, Vastwood Seeker 8.3%
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy 5%
The Gitrog Monster 5%
Breya, Etherium Shaper 5%
Azusa, Lost but Seeking 5%
Leovold, Emissary of Trest 3.3%
Zurgo Bellstriker 3.3%
Sidisi, Brood Tyrant 3.3%
Titania, Protector of Argoth 3.3%
Vial Smasher/Kraum 3.3%
Selvala, Heart of the Wilds 3.3%
Other 10%

The ratio of blue decks vs non-blue decks is 67 percent to 33 percent and clearly Baral, Chief of Compliance and Tasigur, the Golden Fang are in the lead.


If you entered one of the Leagues you probably already know what the decks with the mentioned generals above do. I'll give a quick overview.

Baral, Chief of Compliance is a general that replaced Vendilion Clique. The deck is a blue control deck with cards that somehow cheat into play Emrakul - see Polymorph effects. Vendilion Clique's ability allowed one to control the game and disrupt opponent's hand but Baral does way more for the deck because it loots when its controller counters a spell. It has another ability that is awesome as well. Modern players know it well. The ability makes instant and sorceries cost 1 generic mana less. That is huge for such a deck because with a little bit of Storm deck approach one can go through the deck very fast, find the needed Tutor or Polymorph effect and cast it while keeping permission in hand to back it up. The games are not necessarily fast, but by turn 6 the player can dig through 50 cards. it's not unusual.


Leovold, Emissary of Trest is a general of a fair rock deck but players sometimes includes the  Necrotic Ooze combo. One does not need to limit themselves to one archetype with Leovold. Different kinds of decks can be build - tempo, purely combo, control. Some players discovered that Leovold's ability is very strong and they try to make a good use of it playing cards like Timetwister. It doesn't matter that Mind Twist is banned, people will find a way to discard your whole hand.

Tasigur, the Golden Fang is usually a control deck that does not include the combo. The deck is focused on casting Tasigur soon (and it can happen turn 2) and then protecting the card till it deals 21 commander damage. Since it's power is 4 it takes 6 turns to deal those but it doesn't usually matter. One of the key cards to ensure victory is Upheaval. Since Tasigur costs usually just 1 mana and cards in graveyard this is an awesome way to shut down your opponent and cast your general for that 1 floating mana or mana from a land you'll play afte Upheaval resolves.

Vial Smasher the Fierce is a general with the partner mechanic. This means that it can be partnered with another card with Partner. The most common control combinations are with either Thrasios, Triton Hero or Kraum, Ludevic's Opus. Smasher decks try to control the early game and then play Vial Smasher and keeping it in play. Each turn a player can either proactively play something on their turn or reactively on opponent's turn triggering the general and dealing often big amount of damage. That is why the deck plays cards like Misdirection, Gush, Treasure Cruise or Dig Through Time. Those are ideal spells because their converted mana cost is high but the spells can be cast for alternative costs or less with a reduced mana cost (thanks to Delve mechanic).

Green based decks are usually ramp decks that can attack opponent's mana bases (thanks to Crucible of Worlds, Life from the Loam and lands that destroy other lands) and that can draw additional cards somehow. In the case of Azusa, Lost but Seeking that allows to play more lands a player may play cards like Horn of Greed or Recycle. Nissa, Vastwood Seer itself draws cards or ramps. It can play other cards to help draw cards like Lifecrafter's Bestiary or Coercive Portal. The Gitrog Monster is not uncommon either as a general. That card alone can also create a huge card advantage. These decks may be seen as fair decks but often they get so far ahead that it becomes very unfair.

One of the decks to look out for is one that has Jace, Vryn's Prodigy as its general. This deck is built around getting extra turns and then casting Emrakul, the Promised End or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. If one Time Walk (but not actually Time Walk, because it's banned) effect resolves it is often GG.

According to my own personal experience, the players joining the Leagues are mostly playing with tier 1 decks (I played against 2 Casual decks so far). The players are not new to the format and gravitate towards blue decks that are in some way unfair and use the overpowered cards to their full potential. Even those decks that seem to be fair often end up doing something unfair and sometimes it is only because of one single card be it Vampiric Tutor or Strip Mine. The most common combo kill contained in a deck is via Necrotic Ooze, Phyrexian Devourer and Triskelion otherwise the decks use their general as part of the combo (Baral, Chief of Compliance, Vial Smasher the Fierce) or are dependent on it for the deck to work and win (Narset, Enlightened Master, (Geist of the Saint Traft)). After reading this article you will have a good idea how my first week of playing 1v1 EDH Leagues went and how the metagame can possibly evolve. In my next EDH article, I'd like to introduce you one of the decks I played during week 1, not necessarily the best ones but a good one. The generals I played with were Oloro, Ageless Ascetic, The Mimeoplasm, Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Vial Smasher the Fierce/Kraum, Ludevic's Opus. I'll let you wonder which one performed the best (I think you can guess correctly).

Thank you for reading
S'Tsung (stsung on Magic Online and @stsungjp on twitter.)


Thanks for the snapshot into by Paul Leicht at Fri, 05/19/2017 - 19:08
Paul Leicht's picture

Thanks for the snapshot into what the format looks like so far. :D

Thanks. I think there will be by stsung at Sun, 05/21/2017 - 11:35
stsung's picture

Thanks. I think there will be a new week 1 next week^_^ (or not, depends if I manage to play or not). So far I hope Wizards of the Coast will be banning cards slowly and carefully and not mess it up.

Good overview. My big by ArchGenius at Sun, 05/21/2017 - 09:31
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Good overview. My big decision about 1 vs 1 commander is do I buy a Crucible of Worlds and start playing now, or just wait until it's banned.

Hello there, thank you for by stsung at Sun, 05/21/2017 - 13:14
stsung's picture

Hello there, thank you for reading. Honestly I don't think that Crucible of Worlds will get banned and if by a chance it would, it will cost more or less the same either way so you won't lose too much money. The card that is certainly problematic is Strip Mine. If you are on mono green or heavy green deck I'd buy Crucible of Worlds no matter what happens after new cards are banned. But you can also wait with buying and still play (still there is Life from the Loam which might actually get banned, but hope it won't). If you don't want to play in a sea of blue decks and play cards like Carpet of Flower I'd wait for next Wednesday.

But it is soooo darned pricy! by Paul Leicht at Sun, 05/21/2017 - 15:47
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But it is soooo darned pricy! (--edit-- oops it's only 20-22 tix on so not TOO bad.) Life from the loam's a good place to start though.

Will Demonic Tutor be on the by MichelleWong at Sun, 05/21/2017 - 22:28
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Will Demonic Tutor be on the chopping block in the next round of bans, anyone believe so?

I don't think so. there are by stsung at Mon, 05/22/2017 - 07:54
stsung's picture

I don't think so. there are many cards that are way too OP than this, so far.

I concur, it has too much by AJ_Impy at Mon, 05/22/2017 - 10:09
AJ_Impy's picture

I concur, it has too much redundancy. Demonic, Vampiric, Cruel tutors, plus Imperial seal and diabolic intent off the top of my head. What matters more are the resultant endgames.