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By: Doctor Anime, Tomer Abramovici
Jun 14 2013 11:59am
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This article is dedicated to the Timmy players. There are no durdly control or sissy combo decks here, hoping to keep the battleground void of action while setting up some noninteractive insta-win. No, sir! Giant, earth-shattering creatures rule these parts, ready to get into the thick of things and trample the opposition under their titanic feet.

There is only one goal: be BIG and then SMASH! Got it? Good!

Our leader of this "BIG n' SMASH!" policy has a milkshake that brings all the fatties to the yard:

Mayael is a commander that requires heavy building around. She offers you the chance to flash in giant creatures at a discounted price from your library (not depleting your hand = card advantage!), but obviously you need a high volume of giant creatures in order for her ability to be consistent. Twiggy Wood Elves don't catch her ey -- er, grab her attention. She loves beefcakes that can do more than chump block in combat, and she wants lots of them. Thankfully, as I said earlier, this is a Timmy article, and filling a deck with giant beatsticks is what we planned on doing in the first place!

(PS: I restrained myself a ton when talking about Mayael and her love of big things. Maybe it was her cold, dead eyes that unnerves me, or the fear of her summoning Godzilla to destroy my entire neighborhood if I sullied her name. So I will say no more on the subject!)

I'll break down a typical Mayael deck into categories:

1) Fatties

Getting the right number of 5 power creatures for your deck is tricky. Too many and your hand will be clogged with giant creatures that you can't cast. Too few and you have a higher risk of missing with Mayael's activation. So, how many 5 power creatures do we want to run? To answer that, we turn to.. math! Whee!

Math time is fun time!

Basically, the chance of seeing at least one 5 power creature is equal to 1- the chance of seeing all non-5 power creatures.

Let's say we have 28 5 power creatures in our 99-card deck. That means we have 71 non-5 power creatures in our deck. Non-5 power creatures make up 71/99, or 72%, of our deck total.

So we activate Mayael's ability to look at the top 5 cards.

The chance of the first card we see being a non-5 power creature is 71/99.

The chance of the next card also being a non-5 power creature is 70/98, since there are 70 non-5 power creatures remaining and 98 cards left.

Likewise, the chance of the third card also being a non-5 power creature is 69/97, and so on.

So the chance of all 5 cards being a non-5 power creature is (71/99)(70/98)(69/97)(68/96)(67/95), and the chance of seeing at least one 5 power creature is 1 minus this number, which is .818 or 82% chance to hit, 18% chance to miss.

That's how you figure it out. For quick reference, 22 5 power creatures is about a 27% miss rate, while 35 is about 10%.

These percentages are also assuming you've drawn an average amount of 5 power creatures in your game. If you have drawn more than average in your particular game when you activate Mayael's ability, your miss rate goes higher. Likewise, if you've drawn less than average then your miss rate will go down.

The amount of 5 power creatures you should run comes down to personal preference. I prefer running 24-30.

Math part over!

Filling Mayael's creature quota in this format is easy. Commander is the home of the big honkin' creatures. There's so much more out there than a typical yawntastic weenie like Trinket Mage fetching something and then sitting around doing nothing until it inevitably chump blocks herpderp! We've got a selection of goddamn monsters that will make your opponents crap their pants when you drop them on the battlefield! So let's go BIG or go home!

Worldspine Wurm
That's what I'm talking about!

What makes Mayael such an excellent candidate for a budget deck is that there's so many fantastic options at any price range. Even on a strict budget, cutting down to only ~30 fatties was no easy task for me, and that speaks well for the variety and power available to us.

Just make sure to pick fatties that either are packed with good utility or are crazy efficient beatsticks.

For example, compare Kalonian Behemoth to Spearbreaker Behemoth. Both are very hard to kill and cost the same. Kalonian is bigger, but Spearbreaker can make your entire army indestructible! You can't turn down such insane utility.

There's a fattie for every type of occasion. Moldgraf Monstrosity gives you insane recursion. Hoard-Smelter Dragon eats pesky artifacts. Gruul Ragebeast poops on your opponent's creatures. Balefire Dragon poops on ALL your opponent's creature, GG tokens. Terastodon takes care of the noncreatures. Fear retaliation? Blazing Archon says nope! You get the picture.

Underrated Fattie:  Forcing a creature to block each it each turn is essentially repeatable removal, for free. Not only is he killing off threats, but he's also removing your opponent’s defensive creatures so your fatties can swing for lethal unimpeded by pesky blockers.

2) Cheats

With so many high-costing fatties in the deck to activate Mayael, you're bound to run into issues casting everything. The average converted mana cost is going to be reeeeally high.

Mayael helps with this, so long as your murderous anti-disability opponents allow her to live a full and prosperous life. But, while her ability may let you cast high-costing fatties for a little cheaper, 6 mana per activation still ain't cheap.

In a typical deck, your mana resources will allow you to churn out threats at the ponderously slow pace of one per turn. You'll have a full grip of fatties in your hand throughout the game. You need to find ways to get them out faster!

One method is ramp. You'll need a lot of ramp cards for you to consistently have ~16ish mana available to be dropping 2 threats a turn. That's a big chunk of your deck devoted to ramp, which you'll then need to balance out with a good chunk of card draw to replenish your hand afterwards. This eats up slots fast.

Or you can cheat. Play those obscenely expensive cards at a big discount or for free! We have a couple ways to do this.

Quicksilver Amulet and Elvish Piper drop your bombs stuck in your hand for cheap. Hunting Grounds is nasty if you can hit threshold. Eureka is a riskier cheat, but since you're in control of when you cast it and you typically have 4+ fatties in hand to drop down, you should almost always come out on top.

There are also ways to really abuse Mayael's ability and crank out even more bombs with her. Awakening and Seedborn Muse untap all your permanents each turn, letting you activate Mayael's ability once every turn instead of just your turn. Illusionist's Bracers and Rings of Brighthearth let you copy her ability each time you use it.

Finally, you can cheat creatures from your library outside of Mayael. Lurking Predators is a green favorite for this. In a 34 creature deck, each spell your opponents cast is a 34% chance that you'll cheat in a creature from the top of your library. Doesn't sound like much, but remember that this is for every spell.. even if your opponents are playing super conservatively and cast only one spell each turn, in a 4man game that's still a 72% chance each turn to cheat at least one creature into play. But if they play more than one spell each turn (and they will!) this thing becomes bonkers.

Underrated Cheat: Guild Feud. I've never seen this card played before. It's one of those new cards that everyone looks at, thinks is unplayable trash in any environment, and throws it in the junk rare pile to never be seen again. Which is why I was so surprised to find how deliciously bombtastic it is here!

With 28 fatties in your deck, you'll have a 64% chance each turn to cheat a fattie into play that will likely eat your opponent's creature for breakfast, if he even finds one. You can also hit skinny creatures too, so if you have 34 creatures in total, for example, the odds of hitting any of them is up to 72%. Don't forget that you choose which opponent you feud with, so picking a creature-light control deck will yield a high chance of him hitting nothing. 

Guild Feud

3) Ramp

Cheats are good, but you can't rely on them always to play out your hand. You'll need enough ramp to hit 8 mana consistently so that worst case you'll be able to cast a fattie from your hand each turn. 

For this reason I'd recommend running ~10 cheap ramp cards to help you along to 8 mana. Finding those cards in green is a breeze. Old favorites like Sakura-Tribe Elder, Farhaven Elf, Rampant Growth, and Explosive Vegetation work like a charm.

Be sure that the ramp cards can manafix as well as ramp. Wood Elves, Nature's Lore, and Skyshroud Claim are far worse when they can't fetch dual lands. I'm a fan of the guild signets Boros Signet, Gruul Signet, and Selesnya Signet as cheap manafixing ramp sources to help hit your ramp quota.

Underrated ramp: Into the North. It's essentially a Rampant Growth that can also fetch you the dual lands Highland Weald and Arctic Flats. Add one Snow-Covered Mountain, Plains, and Forest for added consistency. 

4) Disruption

Commander is the format of absurd, game-winning bombs / combos / interactions. Every deck needs to have immediate answers for creatures, artifacts, enchantments, and even lands, or else you'll just lose the game.

Thankfully, there are tons of fatties that can deal with any type of problematic permanent. I already named some in section 1.

Maybe you need more disruption, or cheaper disruption. Whatever you want, it's easy to find many options for it. White/Red/Green Naya is the absolute best color combination for spot removal and board wipes. Swords to Plowshares and Nature's Claim are two examples of super cheap, super effective spot removal. For one more mana you've got Hull Breach or (Wear // Tear). My favorite board wipe in the format is in white, Austere Command.

There are also quite a few thematic disruption cards. Aura Shards adds a Disenchant to all your creatures. Where Ancients Tread and Warstorm Surge add a giant burn effect to all your creatures. I've had games where I couldn't break an opponent's defenses so I just burned him out with Surge. Super effective!

Underrated Disruption: Ulvenwald Tracker. You have a deck packed with enormous creatures. Your creatures are going to be the biggest on the table. Might as well rub it in by making your creatures fight your opponent's and see which one comes up on top. Hint: yours.

Ulvenwald Tracker

5) Card Draw / Tutor

I never thought I'd say this but, with my own Mayael list at least, that I don't really need much card draw. I feel dirty just typing that out. Card draw.. not.. important?

It's true. I often find myself staring at a full hand of fatties even mid/lategame, my manabase simply unable to dump them onto the battlefield fast enough for me to actually need card draw to refill.

Some card draw is never a bad thing, of course. Some cards are just too good with fatties to not run. Greater Good is the best of them. That one makes the budget online but sadly the physical version is more expensive. Other super budget but super good/thematic inclusions are Momentous Fall and Soul's Majesty. Triumph of Ferocity is basically Phyrexian Arena in Mayael decks, minus the lifeloss.

I'd say tutors are generally more useful for Mayael. Unfortunately, all the good ones are over budget, so.. moving on.

Underrated card draw: Drumhunter. Ramp and consistently draws a card each turn. You don't even need the biggest fattie on the table. He also draws at the end of your turn, so even if he dies before your next upkeep he still drew you a card.

6) Utility

Good stuff that don't fit in the other categories.

Naya has tons of utility lands that are absolute bombs with giant creatures. Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion, Skarrg, the Rage Pits, and Slayers' Stronghold all drastically increase the power of your beaters. Spinerock Knoll and Mosswort Bridge are cheat abilities and card advantage. There are so many good ones that I had to make hard choices on what to cut!

Crystal Ball. Pretty strong in most decks. Even better here. Not only does it set up your draw, but it also helps set up Mayael, Lurking Predators, and Guild Feud.

Underrated Utility: Contested Cliffs. Many amazing fatties also happen to be Beasts. This turns them into repeatable removal for dirt cheap.

 

The Good:

This deck is a blast to play. I guess I'm a Timmy at heart, because each time I dropped down Godsire I let out a little squeal of glee. Casting some of the biggest creatures in the game feels very gratifying to me.

You can do some broken things. I've had games where I had Warstorm Surge on the field and cast Eureka with a full grip of fatties, winning on the spot by burning out the two biggest threats at the table while the final opponent was staring down 40+ damage next turn. Cheat effects are great!

Mayael decks LOVE grouphug decks. Yes, give me more cards! Yes, give me more mana! Sure, play your (Braids, Conjuror Adept), what's the worst that could happen? NOMNOMNOM! 

 

The Bad:

Mayael gets hated on a ton. Targeted removal will be used on her and she'll often be the casualty of board wipes. Honestly, as far as generals go, she's not even that powerful, so I'm not sure why people target her so much. She only truly becomes great with Seedborn Muse out or Illusionist's Bracers. I often found myself not bothering to recast her when she died if I had the mana to start hardcasting creatures from my hand. 

Blue theft and Black reanimation are the bane of Mayael. Never are such tactics so powerful as when they can prey upon a deck filled the rim with raw power. Bribery, Animate Dead, Treachery, all these things will be aimed your way and the results won't be pretty.

The worst game I had was when I sat down with a Thada Adel, Acquisitor theft deck and two reanimate decks, Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord and The Mimeoplasm. I was denied the ability to do anything and the sole purpose of my existence at the table was to be raped and pillaged for fatties by my opponents. I've never been so close to ragequitting before.

Because of this, I would HIGHLY recommend running some countermeasures against creature theft. Homeward Path, Relic of Progenitus, Ground Seal, Rest In Peace. Don't fall into a toxic victim mentality. Don't think you "deserved it" when Sepulchral Primordial comes home drunk again and beats you over the head with your own Godsire. Fight back!

 

Online Budget:
- No individual card costs more than $1
- Total deck cost is $21 at mtgotraders.com, 6/12/2013

Budget Mayael the Anima Online
$21
Creatures
1 Elvish Piper
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Farhaven Elf
1 Seedborn Muse
1 Drumhunter
1 Mycoid Shepherd
1 Deus of Calamity
1 Godsire
1 Aegis Angel
1 Flameblast Dragon
1 Hellkite Tyrant
1 Hoard-Smelter Dragon
1 Paleoloth
1 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
1 Twilight Shepherd
1 Balefire Dragon
1 Boros Battleshaper
1 Giant Adephage
1 Gruul Ragebeast
1 Krosan Tusker
1 Moldgraf Monstrosity
1 Molten Primordial
1 Pelakka Wurm
1 Spearbreaker Behemoth
1 Sylvan Primordial
1 Vagrant Plowbeasts
1 Vengeful Archon
1 Windbrisk Raptor
1 Bogardan Hellkite
1 Scourge of Kher Ridges
1 Terastodon
1 Utvara Hellkite
1 Blazing Archon
1 Worldspine Wurm
1 Oracle of Mul Daya
35 cards

Other Spells
1 Slayers' Stronghold
1 Asceticism
1 Ulvenwald Tracker
1 Boros Signet
1 Mana Reflection
1 Hunting Grounds
1 Illusionist's Bracers
1 Into the North
1 Rampant Growth
1 Selesnya Signet
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Aura Shards
1 Crystal Ball
1 Cultivate
1 Kodama's Reach
1 Triumph of Ferocity
1 Explosive Vegetation
1 Mirari's Wake
1 Eureka
1 Greater Good
1 Where Ancients Tread
1 Rings of Brighthearth
1 Guild Feud
1 Lurking Predators
1 Soul of the Harvest
1 Warstorm Surge
1 Quicksilver Amulet
27 cards
Lands
1 Command Tower
1 Snow-Covered Plains
1 Snow-Covered Mountain
1 Snow-covered Forest
1 Copperline Gorge
1 Razorverge Thicket
1 Mosswort Bridge
1 Arctic Flats
1 Boros Garrison
1 Boros Guildgate
1 Contested Cliffs
1 Elfhame Palace
1 Evolving Wilds
8 Forest
1 Graypelt Refuge
1 Gruul Guildgate
1 Gruul Turf
1 Highland Weald
1 Jungle Shrine
1 Kazandu Refuge
1 Krosan Verge
1 Mountain
1 Plains
1 Selesnya Guildgate
1 Selesnya Sanctuary
1 Shivan Oasis
1 Skarrg, the Rage Pits
1 Spinerock Knoll
1 Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
1 Terramorphic Expanse
37 cards

Sideboard
1 Mayael the Anima
1 cards
Mayael the Anima

 

Deck Overview:

 

G1:

 

G2:

 

G3: 

These videos ended up being longer than expected, sorry! For the future I'll try to record games that are either shorter or I'll try to skim over boring parts more.

 

Offline Budget:
- No individual card costs more than $3
- Total deck cost is $65 at tcgplayer mid price, 6/12/2013

Budget Mayael the Anima
$65
Creatures
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Farhaven Elf
1 Drumhunter
1 Mycoid Shepherd
1 Arashi, the Sky Asunder
1 Rakeclaw Gargantuan
1 Aegis Angel
1 Capricious Efreet
1 Flameblast Dragon
1 Hellkite Tyrant
1 Hoard-Smelter Dragon
1 Paleoloth
1 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
1 Twilight Shepherd
1 Balefire Dragon
1 Boros Battleshaper
1 Giant Adephage
1 Gruul Ragebeast
1 Krosan Tusker
1 Moldgraf Monstrosity
1 Molten Primordial
1 Pelakka Wurm
1 Spearbreaker Behemoth
1 Sylvan Primordial
1 Vagrant Plowbeasts
1 Vengeful Archon
1 Windbrisk Raptor
1 Bogardan Hellkite
1 Scourge of Kher Ridges
1 Terastodon
1 Utvara Hellkite
1 Blazing Archon
1 Worldspine Wurm
33 cards

Other Spells
1 Slayers' Stronghold
1 Relic of Progenitus
1 Ulvenwald Tracker
1 Boros Signet
1 Farseek
1 Gruul Signet
1 Hull Breach
1 Hunting Grounds
1 Illusionist's Bracers
1 Into the North
1 Rampant Growth
1 Selesnya Signet
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Aura Shards
1 Crystal Ball
1 Cultivate
1 Kodama's Reach
1 Triumph of Ferocity
1 Awakening
1 Explosive Vegetation
1 Momentous Fall
1 Return to Dust
1 Soul's Majesty
1 Where Ancients Tread
1 Guild Feud
1 Lurking Predators
1 Soul of the Harvest
1 Warstorm Surge
1 Tyrant of Discord
29 cards
Lands
1 Arctic Flats
1 Boros Garrison
1 Boros Guildgate
1 Contested Cliffs
1 Elfhame Palace
1 Evolving Wilds
12 Forest
1 Graypelt Refuge
1 Gruul Guildgate
1 Gruul Turf
1 Highland Weald
1 Jungle Shrine
1 Kazandu Refuge
1 Krosan Verge
2 Mountain
3 Plains
1 Selesnya Guildgate
1 Selesnya Sanctuary
1 Shivan Oasis
1 Skarrg, the Rage Pits
1 Spinerock Knoll
1 Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
1 Terramorphic Expanse
37 cards

Sideboard
1 Mayael the Anima
1 cards
Mayael the Anima


Unfortunately, the offline version is a straight downgrade from online. Some of the cheats are now out of budget range. The fatties are swapped around but I don't view all of the changes as downgrades or upgrades, rather just different fatties with their own pros/cons.

 

Increasing the Budget:
Scroll RackHomeward PathSylvan LibraryPrivileged PositionAngel of SerenityAvacyn, Angel of HopeAvenger of ZendikarGisela, Blade of GoldnightVorinclex, Voice of HungerDefense of the Heart
Domri RadeSensei's Divining TopSigarda, Host of HeronsSurvival of the Fittest

It goes without saying that you can upgrade the manabase by adding all the dual lands from Plateau to Sacred Foundry, all the fetchlands from Onslaught and Zendikar, and the Lorwyn filter lands, etc. With all the dual lands added, you can upgrade you land ramp with staples like Wood Elves and Nature's Lore.

It's interesting to note that Command Tower is a "common" card but doesn't fit the budget. Here's hoping Wizards heavily reprints the darn thing. Having 1 of them in each precon deck isn't cutting it.

Paying up for the sweet stuff gives you access to some seriously powerful topdeck manipulation. Sensei's Divining Top and Sylvan Library are, as usual, insane. They're amazing on their own but also help set up Mayael (whether or not you should use her) and Lurking Predators.

The best card of them all, however, is Scroll Rack. It's undoubtedly the best upgrade you can get for the deck. You can ship away hands full of fatties to make sure you hit lands, ramp, and cheats, aka the things you want in your hand. The fatties are put on the top of your library, where Mayael, Guild Feud, Lurking Predators etc are now bound to hit exactly what you want. Scroll Rack is completely broken here.

Do yourself a favor and get a copy of Homeward Path. It's not that expensive and boy does this deck need it sometimes. Any blue or black player is going to have a field day with your deck without it. Bribery, Animate Dead, Treachery, and all those similar effects will aimed at you. Get your fatties back!

 

That's All, Folks!

Thanks for reading. As always, suggestions for future Budget Commander articles are always appreciated.

 

Budget Commander Archive

10 Comments

Mayael is a ton of fun, who by Leviathan at Fri, 06/14/2013 - 13:18
Leviathan's picture

Mayael is a ton of fun, who doesn't like bashing with fatties? Plus as you found out you can make a competitive deck pretty cheaply. In addition you found Guild Feud, which I don't think anyone else would have given a second look. However, this quote made me remember what would sometimes happend with my old Mayael deck:

"The worst game I had was when I sat down with a Thada Adel, Acquisitor theft deck and two reanimate decks, Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord and The Mimeoplasm. I was denied the ability to do anything and the sole purpose of my existence at the table was to be raped and pillaged for fatties by my opponents. I've never been so close to ragequitting before."

Haha, the life of a Mayael player! You give some pretty good ways to combat this, but you didn't put any of them in the deck (Ground Seal, Rest in Peace, Relic of Progenitus are all in your budget). Why not?

Only other thing you're missing is Kessig Wolf Run. Maybe Mana Reflection too. Looks like fun though!

Hey now I have played with by Paul Leicht at Fri, 06/14/2013 - 21:10
Paul Leicht's picture

Hey now I have played with Guild Feud! That card is a hidden house.

Yeah, it's so good. I was by Doctor Anime at Sat, 06/15/2013 - 10:44
Doctor Anime's picture

Yeah, it's so good. I was always delighted to see it and it's so fun to play!

That terrible game was one of by Doctor Anime at Sat, 06/15/2013 - 10:43
Doctor Anime's picture

That terrible game was one of the last ones I played with the deck before I finished writing this up. I should've made that final edit though. For the record, I'd probably take out Aegis Angel and either Twilight Shepherd / Deus of Calamity / Ulvenwald Tracker / a ramp source for two of the GY hate cards.

Mana Reflection is already in there. Out of the budget for the offline version though. I can't believe I forgot about Kessig! Good catch.

Fight Bear by Elbinac at Sat, 06/15/2013 - 01:06
Elbinac's picture

You broke the first two rules of Fight Bear.

As for the hate Mayael gets:
Mono colored decks are worried about Iona getting flipped out and shutting them down.
Control decks are worried about Avacyn and What's-her-name, Host of Herons making you hard to interact with.
Combo Decks don't like rampant fatties going hulk smash on their faces too fast.

:)

I'd understand that if Mayael by Doctor Anime at Sat, 06/15/2013 - 10:54
Doctor Anime's picture

I'd understand that if Mayael got to search the library and put a creature into play. Her ability is completely RNG though so it's far less potent than that.

Obviously kill her whenever you can, but I had a game where she was the primary target while someone's Fauna Shaman sat pretty on the field. It didn't end well.

Fair enough. by Elbinac at Sun, 06/16/2013 - 02:01
Elbinac's picture

That is poor judgement.
But there are plenty of Worldly Tutor type cards to set her up as well.
And of course just grinding the shuffler with scroll rack/sdt/sylvan library/etc and shuffle effects.

Personally I only go for Mayael when I know the caliber of the players deck warrants it over other targets.
Where possible I like to let others deal with the problems for me.
Though in multi I tend to have to use sweepers as "spot" removal.
Since I run far less single target kill and far more sweepers in multi games.

Yeah, that's good threat by Doctor Anime at Tue, 06/18/2013 - 15:24
Doctor Anime's picture

Yeah, that's good threat assessment. Unfortunately, Mayael is often considered a high threat regardless of what else she has on the board, at least initially. Other generals like Zur, Sharuum, etc suffer from this. I count that as a negative to the deck.

Out for in by doktorsleepless at Sun, 07/28/2013 - 12:05
doktorsleepless's picture
5

What would you take out to put in Avacyn, Homeward Path, and Sensei's Divining Top?

Sorry for the late response! by Doctor Anime at Thu, 08/01/2013 - 14:46
Doctor Anime's picture

Sorry for the late response! I wish I could receive email notifications on these comments hehe.

Aegis Angel --> Avacyn
Skarrg, the Rage Pits --> Homeward Path

Once you run Homeward Path I'd probably put in Expedition Map as well just to increase your chances of getting it in games. It's seriously that good against Blue/Black decks.

Any Signet --> Expedition Map

Awakening --> Sensei's Divining Top