Greetings! My first article for this site, almost a year ago, was about the Sunday Chaos tournaments. (That article is here if you're curious.) Back then they were Extended Free-For-All tourneys, and I tended to do quite well.
Since then, the event switched to Elder Dragon Highlander, aka Commander. A great format, which I love in paper and online both! I was never able to squeak out the win, though, and a few generals like Horde of Notions and Rhys the Redeemed seemed to dominate a lot.
More recently, the event's host, DarkPrincess83, threw a new twist at us. Every week there would be a new special deckbuilding requirement. Certain color combinations only, no creatures, tribal format, etc. Almost everybody would be building a brand new deck each time. I think this was a great decision! I've been playing more regularly since this started, since deckbuilding challenges are like fun puzzles to me. I've been taking notes on the matches, so you can follow along with me in these exciting, highly variable events. EDH is a format where you see spells and combos you wouldn't normally get to see, and these specialty variants bring out even more! I'd encourage anybody to come watch the games or join in.
This time out we had a "mono-red only" challenge to deal with. I looked through all the red legendary creatures. Kiki-Jiki was a little tempting, but what really got my creative juices flowing was Marton Stromgald. At 12 cents each on MTGOTraders, I was soon the proud owner of 4 copies. At that price, why not? I might use him in some non-EDH concoction later.
The Pep Boys.
While I wanted a few particularly good tricks & anything that could gain life, I also wanted the deck to be creature heavy, low-drop heavy, and heavy on anything that could create multiple creature tokens. If you attack with this commander and a nice little pile of wimps, people die. I
started out searching for a bunch of 1-3 drops with haste. I ended up cutting most of those, figuring since Martin doesn't come out till turn 4, Most of the 1 and 2 drops may be in play already anyway. I also had grabbed every zero drop in red or colorless (go kobolds!) and cut those as well, figuring on non-Martin turns I'd like my guys to at least hit for 1 to wear people down. I ended up with a bunch of low drops with a variety of other potentially useful abilities, after I pared down 100+ candidate cards down to my final 62. Here's the deck I built:
I've got 13 token-producing spells and 3 token producing lands. The deck sports 13 one-drops, 14 two-drops, and a zero-drop Ornithopter. The weenies are loaded up with potentially useful abilities including pumping the team, regenerating a dude, giving all my guys first strike, firebreathing, preventing blocking, destroying artifacts, gaining protection from red, giving my dudes trample (awesome), and I have multiple guys with mountainwalk or flying. Goblin Swine-Rider could potentially wipe my opponent's weenies while Márton has my guys too big to die, and Goblins of the Flarg can possibly drop dead for free. Flaaaaarg! What more could you ask from a guy?
You gotta love these guys. (And what other deck could?)
Incite Hysteria is there to totally shut out someone's blocking ability for a turn, as long as they don't have artifact creatures. Furystoke Giant could be fun after all the token generators and weenies are out there. And at the high end, Earthquake and Insurrection and Rolling Thunder could do some serious damage in games that go long. If I cast Earthquake after combat, I might have pumped my creatures big enough that I can boardwipe other people while surviving myself. That's the theory, anyway!
I have a hand full of 2 drops and win the die-roll, but Bubba has the first action suspending a Greater Gargadon. I get down a topdecked Goblin Vandal and Utvara Scalper as everyone plays out lands. Bubba drops a Taurean Mauler that promises to get plenty big if somebody doesn't burn it out before it's too late! Afreawind has Incandescent Soulstoke and we're on to turn 4. I play a Soulbright Flamekin and a kicked Goblin Bushwhacker and swing at Bu11fr0g for 11. He says "What are you doing?" I reply, "Swinging at the only guy with no blocker!" I really want Afreawind dead more, since that Ashling the Pilgrim can wreck my deck. But I'm saving a Goblin Shortcutter to get through to him once my general's out.
Bullfrog only has a Silver Myr to try and stem the bleeding. But on Bubba's turn, he plays out a hasty Oxidda Golem, then a Sparkmage Apprentice to nail the Silver Myr and get in with the now 6/6 Taurean Mauler and the golem. Bu11fr0g is at 20 life now to everyone else's 40, it's not looking like he'll survive this one! Afreawind plays out his Ashling and a 4th land, just two away from being able to blow up everything on the board but that huge Mauler. I swing in with my weenies with no pumping this turn, taking Bu11fr0g from 20 to 14, then I play out Marton Stromgald. My topdecked Rolling Thunder promises to be another way to push through juicy Stromgald attacks if needed!
Bu11fr0g taps out for a Scuttlemutt, still stalled on 3 land while nobody else has missed a land drop yet. Bubba swings in with all 3 guys against Afreawind now, even the little Sparkmage who could! Afread tries to use 2 mana to pump Ashling, but Ashling gets a Lightning Bolt to the face in response, and Afrea takes a full 13 damage, the Mauler being up to 9/9 now. After combat Bubba has a Sizzle for 3 more damage to everyone - except himself, of course! Afreawind plays out a Forcefield to try and stem the bleeding, leaving 1 mana open to use it. With almost half his life gone from Bubba's turn, a little defense must look good right now!
At the end of 5 turns we have Bubba at a comfortable 40 life, Felorin (that's me!) at 37, Afrea in second place in the race to violent death at 24 life, and Bu11fr0g in the lead at just 11. Hey, this isn't golf!
The boys are back in town.
On my turn, I'm determined Afrea must die now, before he can have more Forcefield mana open. I drop Goblin Shortcutter so his lone Soulstoke can't block, and swing in with 6 utter wimps. Márton pumps the other 5 of them so big I'm swinging for 32 damage, and the Forcefield can at best stop 6 of it, so that's one man down! Meanwhile Bubba's Taurean Mauler is now up to 11/11, tough enough to take out Bu11fr0g's remaining life total in one hit. Bubba sends me a private message saying he doesn't expect to win, but he's definitely gonna have some major impact.
Bu11frog taps out for Solemn Simulacrum, giving him another blocker, but the Scuttlemutt had to tap for mana to provide it, so he's hanging by a thread. Bubba decides to snip that thread and-how, making some big plays for his turn 6. First he plays his general, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. Then he feeds 5 of his 6 mountains to the Greater Gargadon that's been impatiently ticking down, bringing the enormous brute into play. To follow that up, Kiki-Jiki makes a second hasty Gargadon, and Bubba has more than doubled his potential attacking force, from an already impressive 16 power at the start of the turn, to 34 ready to go now! With just 1 mountain in play and 1 card in hand, he sends everybody on the attack. Bu11frog is killed and I drop from 37 to 27. There's "impact" for ya!
Instant Brute Squad, just add Kiki.
With no blockers available, Bubba gives me the good game, and I respond in kind. Then because of my topdeck, I say "And by the way... Flaaaaarg!" I have to play out Goblins of the Flarg before my alpha strike, because let's face it, you'd never get to play this guy under any other circumstances. But mountainwalk and weenies are both good in my deck. I thought I even had one mountainwalking dwarf in this deck, but I don't see it in the decklist. Need to add that in, for potential Flarg Comedy Value.
With one more guy attacking this turn, my alpha strike is good for 45 damage to bubba's untouched 40 life total, and my Rolling Thunder backup can sit in-hand unneeded. With my Soulbright Flamekin out, I also could have given all 7 guys trample had Bubba held back blockers, so yeah, this deck works. It's all over on turn 7, and I'm on to the semi-finals!
In the other tables, it's clear the most popular general is Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker with at least 5 people running the goblin shaman. I believe there were at least 3 Godo, Bandit Warlord, one table had two of 'em up against two dragons. Rufa got Godo's "classic" play in against the rival Godo pilot, Squirrelboy. Casting the turn 6 Godo, tutoring up Tenza, Godo's Maul, and getting in two six point hits in a row using Godo's extra attack step against an opponent with no blockers in play. Rufa had to re-cast Godo later, and got a Mask of Memory, letting him filter through an extra 4 card draws per turn!
You don't mess with the Godo.
The table my friend Sniper was on got combo-ed out by a Kiki-Jiki player who got Thornbite Staff onto Kiki, and a Mogg Fanatic in play. He would make a copy of the Fanatic, hurl it at someone for 1 point of damage... And the Fanatic dying would make the staff untap Kiki so he could do it all again. Voila, infinite damage!
Game over man, game over!
Silvos der Benny, a frequent winner of these events, had a Heartless Hidetsugu deck. He got Loxodon Warhammer on his general, and managed to send his life total well over 100 before someone killed Hidetsugu - nice combo! When I peeked in he had one opponent dead, and slowed the goblins of the other two down with a Mudslide. I saw them take him down gradually from 65 life to 32, but the extra time he got, and extra cards from a Mind's Eye managed to buy him enough time to find what he needed. With Gauntlet of Power giving him lots of mana, he cast Recoup on a copy of Trash for Treasure in his graveyard, giving it flashback. Then he cast the Trash for Treasure, followed by Reiterate to make a second copy, and sacced a couple artifacts to get back the Loxodon Warhammer and a Sword of Fire and Ice and equip them. Suddenly some non-descript 2/2 creature he had was an 8/5 that nobody could block, nobody could target, with Lifelink, a free shock spell and a free card draw every turn. It didn't take him long to mop up his already-weakened opponents after that.
For the semifinals, the seven winners from round 1 were divided into a table of 4, and a table of 3, with the winner from each to face off mano a mano for the prizes. There were prizes for first and second this week, but the top winner gets twice as much as the runner up.
I ended up on the table of 4. Well, ok, I got through a 4 man table first round, right?
I had a hand with only 2 spells, and only one a creature - a wussie little Goblin Balloon Brigade. That and Rolling Thunder, but it was kinda nice that I have Izzet Boilerworks and Rakdos Carnarium, so I'm guaranteed 7 turns worth of land drops. And I have the Springjack Pasture, which could conceivably help bloat my creature swarm on turns when I have no other play. Still, this deck thrives on getting multiple creatures out early, and I should have mulliganed this. Rufa takes the free mulligan to 7 and I go "Buhhhh?" Did I have a chance to mulligan to 7 rather than 6? Stupidity is its own penalty, so is "not paying attention".
I have the first creature with my little 1-drop. Turn 2 I decide I should play coy and drop my land AFTER swinging with the goblin. Like it would even matter to what anyone did whether they knew I'd have a land drop after combat or not. Only one player had 1 mountain even untapped at this point. So I hit F6 during combat to speed things up, and miss my second land drop. Ouch! Not playing seriously enough here. At least I had played second out of four players, so only the guy who played first is really a full turn ahead of me on mana development. In fact, Tenover and Rufa both missed their third land drop, Rufa just charging up the ol' Fungal Reaches. My next turn, I dropped land before swinging with my dorky little goblin. Luckily I've been drawing into some spells, both Siege-Gang Commander and Snake Basket making quite juicy company for my swarm-loving commander.
Two great tastes that go great together.
Dalkon burned up a Banefire for 1 to get rid of my 1/1 gobin that had hit him twice. I laughed, and was happy enough to see a Banefire used up without me losing anything of great importance. Though I suppose if I hadn't mosquitoed him for 2, that spell mighta gone to one of my other opponents instead. But still. I drew an Empty the Warrens and pass, resolving to save that for when I have some 1 or 2 drops to throw out before it for more value. Tenover throws out War's Toll, making everyone pretty unlikely to cast instant spells when it's not their turn. Suits me, I have very few instants in my deck! Rufa has a Flying Carpet, and Dalkon puts out Illuminated Folio - not bad in a monocolor deck. I get out my Snake Basket, drawing into a Heartlash Cinder that will make Empty the Warrens a decent turn 6 play - only in my case, that's turn 7 now!
Tenover has Rakdos Pit Dragon, for the first decent sized creature. Rufa has a Gratuitous Violence that promises for some nasty beatings later. In fact, if he can catch anyone with no blockers and no burn spells ready, 6 mana lets him cast Godo, grab Tenza, and swing for 24 hasty commander damage in one turn! Or he could wait a turn and use the flying carpet, or do it all in one turn after hitting 8 mana. Nasty. I didn't notice this at the time, which is just as well or I might have been quite worried, especially since 4 mountains and a Fungal Reaches with two counters on it had Rufa all set to do this next turn.
Good Game in a cup.
As it happened, Dalkon cast Obsidian Fireheart and I cast Marton Stromgald, so everyone had a chump blocker after all. I guess it's ok I didn't notice, as I woulda just gotten all worried and stuff! I was more worried about Dalkon's Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle as it would let him repeatedly fry my general for free, unless he didn't draw land or saw more tempting targets.
Tenover had a Siege-Gang Commander, and swung in at the obviously dangerous Rufa for 3. Rufa had a Magma Giant that wiped the board - thanks to the Gratuitous Violence it even wiped out Tenover's pit dragon, and did 4 to each player as well. Dalkon had a hasty Rorix Bladewing that took Rufa down to 27. I'd topdecked a Bloodmark Mentor and several more mountains, so at this point I'm considering holding back the Empty the Warrens till I hit 8 mana, possibly. I play out my Siege-Gang Commander and get out my second Ravnica bounce land, to get it out of the way now.
Then Tenover plays Boldwyr Heavyweights, and I go "Oh really?" to myself, and things get a little interesting. My brain immediately thought "An 8/8 Duplicant and no more giant for him is kinda nice". Most of my other creatures are weenies, but there's probably a few interesting ones to think about grabbing, so I should look through them all. I get to go last, so I'll see what the other players put out too.
Rufa put out a 6/7 Bosh, Iron Golem. Decent, but not exceptionally scary or anything. Dalkon puts out Duplicant and I figure he'll target the Heavyweights. I look through my cards. Kiki-Jiki is a little interesting, and could copy my Siege-Gang Commander for more swarminess. But Dalkon can kill it for free with the legend rule while his commander won't die, so that sucks. A few other creatures are a little interesting, but I go for my own Duplicant. I end up targeting Bosh, leaving a board where it's likely Tenover and Rufa will get beaten down a bunch by Dalkon and me, which suits me fine. Tenover has 1 untapped mountain and no creatures, while I have 1/1 goblin chump blockers, so I'm glad the other players are likely to fight amongst themselves.
Friends don't let friends drive Boldwyr Heavyweights!
Rufa has a Quietus Spike. I'm thinking how nice it would be if that got equipped to the Magma Giant and then it hit the defenseless Tenover, making him lose half his life. Rufa apparently thinks the same thing, and Tenover's down to 13 life in a flash!
Dalkon has Kiki Jiki copy Duplicant, removing Rufa's Magma Giant and swinging at Rufa for 19, taking him down to 8 life. I'm happy to still be on 36, politics is everything. Dalkon's on a robust 48 life, but I'm hoping he doesn't know how hard I can hit. Tenover's encouraging me to Siege-Gang Commander the Kiki-Jiki, which is a pretty decent play actually, but I want Dalkon to be thinking Rufa and Tenover are the ones to hit for one more turn, until I'm ready to hit HIM good and hard. I play out my commander again for 6, and with my 7th mana I play Warbreak Trumpeter unmorphed, just to up my creature count 'cause against Dalkon I'll need a lot of guys to one-shot him if I get the chance.
Free removal each turn worries everybody.
I had been planning to kill Rufa, but now I think I should just damage Tenover, leaving Dalkon needing to finish him off, maybe thinking he'll only take a weak strike from me if he isn't paying enough attention. Ah, attention, if only I used more of it this game! I settle on attacking Tenover down to 7, but War's Toll makes MTGO tell me that's an illegal attack. I consider the attack with everything, for 12. But I figure that'll make Tenover consider casting something on me, right now it's only Dalkon and Rufa that've been hitting him. I figure Tenover's no big threat and I don't need to knock him down to 1 here, so I pass without attacking. Let Dalkon swing with his guys, then I hit Dalkon after he's left Rufa and Tenover dead or crippled. Even if Dalkon hits me with a dragon or two, I'm fine.
What Tenover did, actually, was cast Siege of Towers with replicate, turning a couple of Rufa's mountains into 3/1 creatures. Rufa taps 3 mana, presumably thinking about spiking up a mountain-creature and knocking Dalkon down from 48 to 21 before getting killed. Which would be so great for me! But of course, War's Toll forces the mountains to tap even though they're creatures too. So Rufa spends the 6 mana on Godo, gives him Lightning Greaves, and hits Dalkon for 3, then leaves Godo untapped as a blocker.
Two great tastes that don't go great together.
Dalkon cast Pillage on the Lightning Greaves. Then he plays a mountain, having Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle take its first free lightning bolt, killing Godo. I smirk, and think "That could have kiled Márton and saved you, but you didn't". Then he plays Extraplanar Lens, pumping up everyone's mountains. This will be important later.
Then he copies Duplicant again, and I am the only other player with creatures now, and I think "uhoh". But he removes Siege-Gang Commander instead of my commander, and I inwardly rejoice. He swings with his 3 guys to kill Rufa, knock Tenover from 13 to 11, and knock me down from 36 to 30 with Rorix. Ok, not bad at all. I untap, drop a mountain, and here I made a key mistake. I had a Heartlash Cinder in hand, and if I played it before combat I could swing for 46 at Cledwin and kill him on the spot.
Instead I swung for 32, leaving him even slightly out of Rolling Thunder range. But it's ok, I've still got a decent shot here.
I decide on popping the Snake Basket over the Mentor, Heartlash, Empty the Warrens play to throw 8 more guys out there. That's hidden information, whereas the snakes are expected, and either way I want to do a play that gives me chump-blockers rather than use the Thunder. I tap all my mana. Hmmm, 13 mana instead of 10? That's when I notice that Extraplanar Lens. I'm paying attention really well, right? I reconsider the Rolling Thunder. Killing Kiki-Jiki doesn't matter much, as he'll replay it with haste. I still can't kill Duplicant and Rorix both, I can just kill one plus the Kiki which will come back, so I'm gonna make snakes still. 13 as it happens.
Hey, it was kinda fun making the ONLY green creatures in a mono-red tournament. They coulda even fought pro-red guys and stuff, right? So Tenover's going "C'mon, Top Deck" repeatedly. Then he casts Volcanic Fallout. I say hey ya shouldn'ta done it, now Dalkon's probably gonna win.
That's when he follows up with the Molten Disaster for 6. Thanks again, Extraplanar Lens, for feeding him all that mana! Now the 8/8 Duplicant has fallen as well, sadly Rorix is still there but hey whatever. More importantly, Dalkon is down to 7 since the disaster hits players too, well within range of Rolling Thunder now! I just have to live through his turn, and I'm at a relatively healthy 22 still, so odds are good.
Dalkon plays a mountain, and has Valakut take me down to 19. Then Rorix swings me down to 13. And that's it. What? Where's the Kiki, the cloned dragon, and the extra 6 damage? Well I still would be alive to blast him. Maybe he's holding some instant? I go to look at Tenover's life total, and I see a zero up in his corner. Did Dalkon do something to him I missed? Oh yeah, his own Volcanic Fallout and Molten Disaster mana must have killed him, ok whatever. I didn't stop to think about why his name is still in red in the chat, like an alive guy. Or notice that I'd clicked on Rufa to see Rufa's mana-pool and/or graveyard, and I'm STILL looking at Rufa's info up by Tenover's corner. Rufa really IS at zero life.
So, I ponder how much to blast Dalkon's 7 life for, and whether to save a little to throw out a 2 mana dude after "just in case" or something. I could blast him for 7. No good, Dragon's Claw will put him to 8. Could blast for 8. He might have an instant, blasting for 9 is safer. He has 2 cards in hand, what are the odds? But he's the only one still alive, why blast for 9 and play a guy, when I could blast for 10 and be safe? Why blast for 10 when "Ours goes up to 11"?
So I use all my mana, and Rolling Thunder him for 11, hard enough to knock him down to -3 in theory. Wondering if he is sandbagging some kind of instant speed X spell until I go to burn him, then he'll kill me in response. Hmmm, now that I look back he only had 13 mana to my 13 life anyway. What he actually did was keel over dead, at -3 life.
That's when I notice that the game isn't over, meaning apparently I haven't won or anything. I click over to show Tenover in Tenover's corner again, and he's at 3. D'oh! Had I steered 3 damage over there I'd have won this turn.
Rolling Thunder for the blunder!
So on Tenover's turn, naturally he has the Flameblast Dragon. Ouch! I pull a Jackal Familiar, and could throw out 11 guys here. But I figure, I'll be smart and get the Empty the Warrens out BEFORE the Heartlash Cinder, as it has one more red mana symbol on it to let me make a 5/1 haste dude. He has 3 life so he has to block and lose the dragon while he's tapped out and I win, right?
Only problem is, while Empty the Warrens does indeed have a red mana symbol, it doesn't stay in play, just its symbol-less token dudes due. My Cinder is a 4/1 which can't do anything useful this turn. Nice try, space cadet! Still, 9 ground guys is just as good as 11 in this situation, really.
I stil have hope. He has 6 mountains, and I killed the Extraplanar Lens owner dude already. Right now he can definitely hit me for 10. Playing another mountain makes it 11, still not enough. He has 3 cards in hand plus one draw, if he doesn't have burn, pump, or a hasty flyer they're not quick enough and I win.
So of course he goes Snow-covered Mountain, play Blazing Shoal pitching a Knollspine Dragon for +7 power, Furnace of Rath for double damage, and his last 3 mana goes to 2 points of flamey breath damage from the dragon, for a total of 28 points damage to my 13 life. Ouch!
It ain't over till the fat dragon wings.
Moral of the story: If you want to win, pay attention and play the game like you're serious. Always.
I wished both players luck in the final, though more to Silvos since I know him (and hey, Tenover killed me, right?) Also I think Silvos is likelier to win, and it's always fun to be rooting for the winner. He's going on a little about how Heartless Hidetsugu is a deck for fighting crowds, not for one on one dueling, so he'll probably lose, etc. I guess it's a little like when Fezzik in The Princess Bride tells The Man in Black that he's out of practice at fighting just one person!
Of course I know it's totally in character for Silvos to downplay his chances a little, so everyone won't go after him and might fight each other some too. Still, in a 2 man final, I don't think there's much chance Tenover will attack anyone else, no matter what Silvos says! DarkPrincess sets up a 3 player table, since you can't play Elder Dragon Highlander with less than 3. Then she concedes, leaving the two finalists to go at it.
Final Round, Fight!
Since this is Chaos, one of the rules at the event has always been that you can change decks between rounds. Silvos had mentioned to me while he was waiting for the other rounds to finish that he'd put together a Lovisa Coldeyes deck. Sure enough, there she is as his general. Meanwhile, Tenover has switched to Kiki-Jiki! I find this very amusing, since Silvos had been telling me "kill the Kiki, I don't want to face that general in the finals!" Now he tells me he's kept a hand with no creatures, and I have to ask him what for? Maybe his spells are pretty good?
Tenover gets out a Bloodmark Mentor, and he burns his Blazing Shoal plus a big 7 mana spell to get in an early 8 point hit. Seems a little premature to me, but he's definitely winning the race so far. His next play is a Char-Rumbler, but he gets stalled on 4 land. Short of Kiki-Jiki mana, or any other big spells he may have in hand. Silvos only has a Mask of Memory out, and he's holding back Lovisa because she will pump the Bloodmark Mentor too! Finally he topdecks a little Goblin Sky Raider to carry the Mask. While Tenover gets him down to 25, I'm thinking the guy that's drawing 3 cards a turn (even if he has to discard one of them) and making every land drop is gonna find a way to win here. Especially with those cards coming out of a Silvos-designed deck, he's an excellent deckbuilder
After a bit, Fireshrieker shows up, and while the damage is still minimal (2 a turn), Silvos is getting to see 5 new cards a turn with the Mask plus his regular draw! A Raging Goblin joins the team for Silvos, and then he Drops Da Bomb with an Akroma's Memorial. I had that in my deck too, since it's such a "You win" card in an "Everybody is mono-red" format! Your guys all hit every turn without being blocked, they have vigilance, and they prevent all damage when blocking the enemy? Sign me up, please! That 1/1 and 1/2 can hold off anything, now. Tenover is only up to 3 creatures, so he can't swarm around to speak of, either.
You can laugh at him, but he can win games for ya this way!
Next turn Silvos played out Lovisa and swung in for 12 of Tenover's 33 remaining life. Two swings would do it even with no further plays. But Silvos has been going through 5 new cards a turn, after all. Tenover has no answer on his turn, and Silvos drops 3-4 more guys. Lovisa Coldeyes gives them all haste and +2/+2, and Silvos der Benny is the winner! Tenover gets 10 bucks worth of store credits for 2nd, and Silvos wins 20. Congratulations guys!
I have to say, even though I missed out on 10 to 20 bucks in prizes by making some bad mistakes & playing well below what I'd like to believe is my usual level of care and precision... I couldn't get myself to feel too bad about it, even right after it happened. The games were just so fun! And while I'd just thrown the deck together in the hour before the tournament, I felt like I'd built a really good deck and it performed great (even if I didn't!), so I was proud of that. I felt like it might even be a strong deck in regular EDH play against random decks that aren't all red!
There's a feeling you sometimes get to have, that your deck is just more powerful than most (or even all) of the competition in an event you're in. It's a great feeling, and one of the major goals of someone who's highly focused on the deckbuilding aspect of Magic. Which I am. I got that feeling during this event, so I had fun with that.
The decision some months back to move to a new deckbuilding challenge each week for Chaos has been a successful one, I think. Before this change, a few particular generals tended to win a lot, and there was less variety and fun in the event. Turnouts were a lot lower, too. This event had a lot of people having a good time, a good variety of decks, and you know that you won't see any of them next week and it'll be full of more new ideas people are trying out. If you love designing and building decks, these tournaments give you a good excuse to flex those particular mental muscles on a weekly basis. (Though I admit, for the white/green/blue week, I probably woulda brought my Momir Vig deck, since I love that one so much. But I missed that week anyway!)
Ok, I mentioned above that I thought the deck could fare well in random casual matches. Plus I was still gung-ho on the deck, while I had let it down, it hadn't let me down for one moment in today's matches. So I wanted to take it out and drive it around some more, like a Ferrari you just bought yesterday, you know? Not that I'm into cars much - but I am into Magic decks!
So I saw a Commander game with 3 people seated, perfect. I jumped in, and it started right up. How'd Martin fare? Fasten your seatbelts!
I start with a hand with only 2 land - maybe a mulliganable, like my last game with it. But hey, I have three one-drops, and this time is totally just for fun with no prizes at stake, so what the heck, right? It has an 8 mana Insurrection I'll probably never ever cast, but if the game goes long enough, and I *do* cast it, should be quite fun (and quite fatal!)
Turn 1: Triplets plays a gain-a-life two color land. I play Goblin Grappler. Progenitus plays a Forest and plays Lush Growth on it. That's right, not mana accel like Utopia Sprawl, it's just color fixing and he's still at 1 mana. Sek'Kuar has a gain-a-life two color land also.
Turn 2: The Esper dude (Triplets) has a Courier's Capsule. Also a Springjack Pasture which could eventually make some chump blockers and make me kill him slower. Only I've already had my eye on him to kill first because hey, he's in the tricky colors. Those are MY colors, I'm not gonna let someone else have 'em! I hit him for 1, and play Jackal Familiar and Goblins of the Flarg. Flaaaaarg!! Progenitus dude cycles Sylvan Bounty for a land. Jund dude (Sek'Kuar) has a Crypt of Agadeem. I intend to finish this long before that can do anything significant. And if the Progenitus dude really thinks he's gonna get to 10 mana before I go crazy... Well he's at 3 now. I've topdecked Goblin Shortcutter and Mountain so I'm feeling good so far.
Turn 3: The dude I'm beating on has Kabira Crossroads to undo 2 more points of my tiny, tiny beatdown. I hit him for 4. More important, I topdeck another mountain, so the Stromgald Train will be departing the station on schedule! I play out the Magebane Armor from my opening hand, with the plan of turn 4 Stromgald, turn 5 Shorctutter + equip armor. The armor is there so he can work his magic turn after turn rather than getting blocked and killed, so I'm glad to have it. Progenitus dude has a wussie little Cosi's Trickster. Jund dude has Sprouting Thrinax, so I think to myself "Ok, you die last, those chump-blocking Saprolings will be annoying!" They'll be like chewing gum in my tank treads.
Turn 4: Esper dude pops his capsule, then drops Academy Ruins. He could capsule up cards forever now if I weren't going to be tapdancing on his vital organs here. He has to discard an 8th card, which I take as a sign of weakness, and a clue that I should keep beating on him. Which I was gonna do anyway. I hit him down to 34, and play out my commander. Am I enjoying this too much? Progenitus dude has a Captured Sunlight (isn't that cute) cascading into a Scute Mob, which looks like a bit of an uh-oh to me, especially since he already has 4 land out. Jund guy has a Magus of the Library, which is kinda good, but he still has the "You die last" badge on, and Scute Mob just confirms it.
Turn 5: Usually the earliest I'm gonna make a Stromgald attack, barring an Iron Myr draw. A steady flow of mountains has me on par here. Esper dude taps out for a Glassdust Hulk. Does he have sick combos to pump it multiple times and charge in for big damage? Right now I'm happy he has only 1 blocker, just the right amount for my Shortcutter to bamboozle, and that he's tapped out and can have no combat tricks. I stick with the plan, equipping Magebane Armor to my glorious leader, and playing the Goblin Shortcutter targeting the Hulk. Now I'm pretty well guaranteed a 16 point hit on Esper, barring any shenanigans from Jund guy with his one untapped black mana. He's stuck on 3 land up there, though his Magus should help him outa that. So Esper dude concedes, apparently seeing he's about to be at 18 life on turn 5 and not used to that kind of fast, brutal beating in EDH. I think it's more manly to take the hit first and then concede, to give the other players more of a chance. But he dropped before combat, so I swung at Progenitus guy. Did you know Goblin Grappler has provoke? It's actually a great way to get rid of a Scute Mob before it can mob up. He drops from 44 life to 32 and loses the Mob. He plays out a Blood Cultist on his turn to give my Grappler something to do next turn, as this is another potential problem card for me - just his bad luck! He also cycles a Sigil of the Nayan Gods, looking for more answers in a hurry. He apparently isn't impressed, as he says "You win, Felorin". I just say "Maybe". Jund guy has a 4th land and a (Sakura Tribe Elder). I drew my 6th land this turn, so I figure Insurrection for him at this point isn't an "if" so much as a "when".
Rock beats Scissors, Grappler beats Mob.
Turn 6: I attack Progenitus guy, and Jund guy's Sakura Tribe Eder sacrifices himself in response, pumping Cosi's Trickster to a totally irrelevant 2/2. Both critters chump block me (I gave Blood Cultist no choice) and now Pro guy is down to 18 life. I drop my topdecked Gorilla Shaman and the poor Mox Monkey looks around for artifacts to get excited about destroying, but there are none in play! Progenitus Guy has an Oracle of Mul Daya, playing two lands and revealing a juicy Emeria Angel on top of his deck. Jund guy plays a Thornweald Archer ooh, deathtouch, might need to have the Goblin Grappler trade for that - and a Nantuko Husk. Part of one of my favorite combo decks I ever made.
Turn 7, I topdeck a Mountain. Now I'm just one land drop away from Insurrection mana! I swing at Progenitus guy with 35 power of creatures, but he ony takes 29 after blocking with his Oracle, leaving him at a nice unhealthy -10. Jund guy gets yet another free card off his Magus of the Library and drops Scarland Thrinax (my backup to Husk in that combo deck I made) and Murderous Redcap, offing my Goblin Grappler. Good thing my commander has that armor on! Interestingly, while Jund Guy can produce up to 4 red mana and 7 mana total now, his only basic land is a Swamp, so Goblins of the Flarg still can't mountainwalk him for 1. They're just flarged here, what can I say?
Turn 8: There's that mountain, right on schedule. My deck still loves me. I say "Here we go, the insane card." My one surviving opponent says "Insurrection". I cast Insurrection. After it resolves, he realizes he's missed something. I think a moment, and sure enough - he could have sacrificed all his guys in response, to keep me from being able to swing for fatal. Granted, killing all your own guys doesn't put you in a great position, but he woulda been alive. He concedes before I swing, but my math shows I would have attacked for 121 damage.
Winning EDH games since 1842.
So, EDH is still good fun. Mid-range and late game strategies are more versatile, but a fast deck can get the occasional win too. This deck is very vulnerable to sweepers, luckily I didn't run into many so far. If I were to play it more often against the field and not just a mono-red tournament, I'd put back in things I took out during deckbuilding like Mind's Eye, Pentavus, Skullclamp, Oblivion Ring, and some other cards that help more when your first wave or three of swarm-attacks don't get there on their own. I need to buy a Starstorm too. I also missed out on some obvious includes I saw other players running in the tournament, like Valakut (duh), and Paradise Plume is another lifegain option I missed that's good in an "Everybody's red" tournament. Though I think the deck kills so fast, lifegain might be just a waste of space most times.
Of course for general play I'd have no Dragon's Claw, and I'd take out the mountainwalkers for some more relevant abilities, or even a few big fattie finishers. I'd also swap out Incite Hysteria for Goblin War Drums. That might be better even against mono-red. Another option there that I took out as "too high mana cost" for this rush-focused version was Wave of Indifference. I also would put back in Spawning Pit, which gives some followup potential after mass removal. Again, I cut it for this tournament to go for more of an "all or nothing" rush. The deck needs more answers to flyers if it wants to be "general purpose" as well. I'd want the Quietus Spike back in, Possibly Kamahl, Pit Fighter and Kumano, Master Yamabushi for some repeatable removal. Also probably a bit more artifact removal, since Red is so good at it! Shattering Spree is hard to pass up.
The deck is so fast, I think actually putting back in all the 0 drops would be correct, as well as adding several ways to give Marton haste. That would make the deck even faster and deadlier than it is now. There's obviously a lot of tinkering that can be done - there always is, with any EDH deck, that's part of the fun! This one's already fun to play as-is too, of course. If you try it out, or make your own variation of it, let me know how it does for ya. Join me next time, when I'll be back with another EDH decklist for you, and more war stories!