In this article, I continue my miniseries of two articles based around Rhys the Redeemed. I will go over the problems with getting a coherent deck as well as some of the other Rhys decks I happened to run into while making my own.
So a few weeks ago, I published part one of my two part miniseries about Rhys the Redeemed. In that article I highlighted a deck by fellow online commander player, Remi. I went over the card choices and suggestions for a future deck. If you have not read that article, I suggest you go back HERE and read it over.
My starting point was to take Remi’s deck and replicate as much as I could. The cards I could not afford, or were hard to come by, were replaced. What I ended up with was a mixture of agro and control.
Here is what I came up with.
This version of the deck had mixed performances. I found myself with the same problems I ran into in my first Rhys deck I made years ago when I first started commander. Lack of consistency. Do not get me wrong, the philosophy behind the deck performed when the pieces fell into place, but that was not the usual. Frustration settled in and I went to the drawing board again. One issue I noticed was lack of draw. I decided to add some drawing via Howling Mine Font of Mythos and Seer's Sundial. I often found myself producing so much mana that I would empty my hand and be left topdecking, hoping for something to send the deck into overdrive. Another problem I worried about was land drops. I incorporated many ways to get consistent land drops. So many ways that I took up spaces for better cards. One thing this deck does not need to worry about is land drops, and subsequent decks in this article will prove that.
Here is my second version of the deck.
What I ended up with is another subpar deck that was filled with draw and land drops and failed attempt to make the deck run smoothly. I was on the verge of throwing in the towel until one day I ran across another Rhys the Redeemed deck. This version seemed to be the deck I was looking for, a well-tuned token deck back by Rhys and a complement of elves. Piloted by Elijah121580, here is what his deck looks like.
As you can see Elijah’s deck has a full compliment of elves in the deck and a small mix of other creatures as well. What made his deck explode was the combination of Elvish Promenade, Glimpse of Nature, and Regal Force. Rounding out what made the deck rock was Coat of Arms. Something to note here, this version only runs 29 lands. This may be due to the fact Elijah has a lot of mana producing elves. My worry with this strategy is not drawing a land or two to get the mana rolling, and anything that produces a wrath effect. A simple Pyroclasm could seriously wreck this deck. Here is a screenshot of his game state.
That's a 206/206 elf token.
The next deck I came across was a deck built by another fellow Commander player that goes by the name of Kelds1. Let us look at his deck list.
The first thing that pops out is the lack of creatures. Elijah121580 ran 59 creature cards, were as Kelds1 only runs 23, relying on sorceries, instances, and lands to produce his creatures. The thing that this deck and Elijah’s deck did have in common, its ability to accelerate very quickly.
So what was my deck lacking? What was it that Remi, Kelds1, and Elijah121580 did to make their decks work, where mine failed. To figure this out, I took my first version of the deck, put it into an excel spreadsheet, then I added the other three decks of my fellow commander players, and finally I added my second version.
Here is an example screenshot of how I kept track of everything.
What I did was, I compared my first version with the other deck lists. I looked far cards in common, and cards that none of the other players had. The yellow indicates cards I had in common with my first deck list, and one of the deck lists of Kelds, Remi, or Elijah. Pink indicated a card that all four decks had in common.
Second, I compared the three decks without any version of mine to see what cards the three of them came up with that I didn’t have. Light Blue represented a card in common with Kelds, Remi, and Elijah, but cards I had not thought of in my first version
Third, I compared my second deck list with the other players’ decks to see what I had in common with those decks. The dark purple shows the cards my second version had in common with Kelds, Remi, and Elijah. The brown shows cards I did not have in my second list that I wanted to include.
Once I compiled all my data, my forth step was to take my second deck list and begin the process of eliminating cards that none of the other decks used, with some minor exceptions. The red indicates what I would eventually remove, and the Green indicates cards I had to acquire.
After all that, I had a final deck list.
Now that I have my Hybrid of five different decks, let us go through and see what we have.
The Token generator suite is big, and it should be. The theme of the deck is tokens. There are a few of the token generators I want to comment on.
There we a few cards the other decks did not have that I felt were important in my version.
Mimic Vat can be a great way to get tokens. Mimic vat puts a token copy of the exiled card into play. Now if you do this right, you can get a lot of use out of it. If you have the mana, during your opponents end step, make a token. It is not exiled till the beginning of the next end step. Now on your turn, use Rhys the Redeemed to make a copy of it. Only the copy you made with the Mimic Vat will be exiled. Now imagine doing this with a Doubling Season in play, and using Rhys’ ability to double them during the end step you put the Mimic Vat token into play. Spicy.
Next on the list is Sacred Mesa. I am not sure how people missed this. Sacred Mesa has been the white poster child for infinite token generation for quite some time. I think this is an awesome card and should be considered if you build your own version.
Mitotic Slime. How can you miss this guy? He replaces himself three times, all in tokens. There was one game where I had a Mitotic Slime under the Mimic Vat, A Doubling Season in play, and Rhys was going to town making ooze tokens. Apparently there is a limit to the amount of tokens one can have in play on MtGO. The client was saying that it put zero tokens in play. The sad part about that game, I lost. Wrath effects can do some damage to you.
Acceleration and Tutors
This deck needs a lot of mana and ways to get the mana. The acceleration and tutor package is here to help.
Probably the most important card, and the one that stands out as an obvious inclusion is Gaea’s Cradle. Putting a Gaea’s Cradle in play is like putting nitrous injection into your sports car. It will send you well ahead of the rest of the table in terms of mana production. The downside is that it produces some hate. People will already be looking at you because of your general. Once the Cradle hits the play, it gets worse. Lucky for us we have ways to get it back if it hits the graveyard.
Draw and Utility
Drawing cards is probably the third most important aspect of this deck. With all the acceleration in the deck, you may often find yourself with nothing to cast. This is where the card draw comes in.
There are two cards here I want to mention that I found interesting. The cards that really helped to push my deck in the right direction are Coat of Arms and Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant. The Coat of Arms does the obvious of making your creatures bigger. With the amount of tokens you get, the consequences of it helping your opponents is minimal. Rune-Tail is great for things like Pyroclasm and Earthquake. It also insures your tokens will survive if they have to block. Another possible card to fill in for Rune-Tail would be Vigor.
Martial Coup and (Kirtar’s Wrath) help to clear the board while putting some threats in play. They fit the theme of the deck perfectly and I am sure they will not disappoint you. Retribution of the Meek is great for eliminating the big creatures that can be troublesome to deal with. Oblivion Stone is there for an all around board wipe. Sometimes there are other things other than creatures you need to get rid of, and the Oblivion Stone is there to help. The final card here is Silklash Spider One of the weaknesses of the deck was the ability to deal with fliers. My original version had no way to deal with them, and I often found myself over run by them. When I built my succeeding version of the deck, I felt that the spider would be a great way to keep the skies under wraps from things like Skithiryx, The Blight Dragon, Steel Hellkite, and Rith, the Awakener which are cards that can make your day miserable.
So how did the final version hold up? Let’s take look.
This is a gamble of a hand, but I think I can manage to pull it off by getting a turn three Gaea's Cradle. Not too far into the future, I will realize keeping a one land hand is not good. Nothing too exciting happens for the first three turns. On turn four, Wort manages to have ten lands in play. A combination of casting Sakura-Tribe Elder, Three Wishes, and Primeval Titan giving it haste with Fires of Yavimaya. Rith puts Garruk Wildspeaker into play and then cast Day of Judgment. Wort manages to get Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre into play and goes on the offensive attacking Teneb. On my turn I am stuck at four land and just pass. Teneb’s next turn he attacks Rith. Rith responds with Wing Shards, and I sigh a bit of relief when Wort sacrifices Ulamog. On my turn I peel a Sylvan Ranger off the top of the deck which allows me to search for another land. I am in desperate need of a (Forest) since I have Masked Admirers still in hand. Wort plays Doubling Season on his turn and then cast Avenger of Zendikar putting 32 plant tokens into play. At this point Teneb and Rith both concede the game leaving me to fend for myself. Since I am so far behind on the curve I figure my chances of survival are slim and I conceded as well.
I am facing off against these guys
That’s right folks, two Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind. I will be glad when the Commander rules online mirror the Commander rules in paper.
I open with a hand that looks like this.
I start my turn one putting the Joraga Treespeaker in to play. I figure the quicker I can ramp him up, the quicker I can start mass producing tokens. On turn 2, I level up the Treespeaker and pass. Niv-Mizzet-1 plays a Sol Ring, but nothing other than that happens this turn. Turn three I cast the Brawn in hopes that it ends up in the Graveyard soon. Niv-Mizzet-2 tries to cast Taurean Mauler but Niv-Mizzet-1 counters. Sliver Queen puts a Trace of Abundance on his Savage Lands and then cast Journeyer’s Kite. At the end of the queen’s turn, I cast the Enlightened Tutor searching up Mirari’s Wake. On my turn four, I put the wake into play, cast Crop Rotation, searching up the Gaea’s Cradle, putting that into play as well. I attack Niv-Mizzet-1 with the Brawn. Nothing else of note worthy happens on turn four. On my turn five I cast Rhys, the Redeemed, and then Genesis Wave for eight. The wave puts Mitotic Slime, Elvish Archdruid, Expedition Map, Priest of Titania, a Plains, and a Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant. The Ascendant flips immediately. I attack Nivmizzet-2 with the Brawn and he concedes mentioning his girlfriend just got into a car accident. I take a moment to pause and reflect the fact when playing online games against other opponents, you really wonder what’s going on in their world. Sliver Queen does nothing of interest and at the end of her turn, I search up Mosswort Bridge. On my turn 6 I play the bridge and tuck a Selesnya Guildmage underneath. I attack Niv-Mizzet-1 with the Brawn and Sliver Queen with the Mitotic Slime. Sliver Queen puts herself into battle. I begin to wonder if there is an in finite combo with Heartstone. End of Sliver Queen’s turn, I make an elf token. On my turn seven I cast Masked Admirers and then attack Niv-Mizzet-1 with Brawn and Joraga Treespeaker in an attempt to turn up the heat. I send the Mitotic Slime at Sliver queen as well hoping she will block, and turn it into tokens, but she doesn’t take the bait. On Sliver Queen’s turn seven, she decides to play Warp World. I am a bit confused as to why you would play that against a token generating deck, but I figure what the heck. I respond by cycling Decree of Justice for 18 Soldier Tokens and then doubling them with (Rhys, the Redeemed). At this point Niv-Mizzet-1 concedes. I obviously outnumbered Sliver Queen in permanents, and when I start putting my triggers on the stack, Sliver Queen concedes.
The After Math
My thoughts on the deck are positive. It’s a fun deck to play. It’s an explosive deck that can generate an army in no time. It can also draw hate. The combination of Rhys, the Redeemed with Gaea’s Cradle is enough to scare any veteran magic player into attacking you. It’s not really over powering though and has many ways it can go construction wise as you can see from the decks I post above. There are still a few cards I am considering replacing in the deck. One card I plan to add is Eldrazi Monument. Another card I would like to add is Primeval Titan, but I am going to have to wait till the price drops a little. Build the deck, give it a try, and tell me what you think.
I want to first apologize for taking so long to get this article published. My job has been very busy taking up a lot of my time. My wife was in Chicago visiting family, and that left me with extra house chores as well. Finally I am working on another Magic Project, my Level one Judge Certification. With that I won’t be writing until I get my L1 certification. I will be devoting a lot of time studying. Also, I won't be playing as much online or with my paper commander group. I have been teetering on the idea of becoming a judge for quite some time now. Recently however my fellow friend Bryan, was recently promoted to a level 2 judge. With that status he can help tutor me along. So when I next return, I hope to be a fresh new L1 judge, and may even write about my adventures getting there.
Thanks for reading my articles and until next time, Be kind to your fellow players.