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By: Leviathan, Mike Morales
Aug 10 2010 11:45pm
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I.  Introduction

Before we get to my excellent opinions about the new cards in M11 for EDH, I wanted to go back and take a look at how I've been doing on my quest to create decks for each of the various color combinations.  Click on the name of the Commander to go to the article about it.


Ravnica Guilds


W:  Zhang Fei, Fierce Warrior
U:  Sakashima the Impostor
B:  Maga, Traitor to Mortals
G:  Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer
Selesnya:  Asmira, Holy Avenger
Azorius:  Isperia the Inscrutable
Rakdos:  Bladewing the Risen

Grixis:  Lord of  Tresserhorn
Naya:  Rith, the Awakener
Esper:  Dakkon Blackblade

Oros:  Oros, the Avenger
Teneb/Doran:  Teneb, the Harvester
Vorosh:  Vorosh, the Hunter

Coalition:  Fatties!

Looks like we are slowly getting there.  I need to hit up some of the Ravnica guilds soon.  If you guys want anything specific in terms of Generals from the Ravnica guilds and the Shards, let me know and I will see what I can do.  I've also written about Sasaya and a budget Kaervek deck, but those weren't my decks.  All right, let's get on with the review!  I'm only going to be looking at brand new cards, and I'm going to pass up the functional reprints.  Yes, Cultivate is good, and you already know that.

II.  New Legends

Unfortunately, it looks like the core set has gotten away from using Legends.  Other than 10th Edition, where we got Cho-Manno, Revolutionary and a couple others, there haven't really ever been any Legends in core sets.  I guess they have decided to use Planeswalkers as their iconic personalities.  However, we did get a cycle of brand new cards that definitely need a more in depth analysis. 

III.  Titans


Frost Titan - Based upon the history of Magic, blue usually gets the best card out of cycles.  Just look at Cryptic Command for the most recent example, and Ancestral Recall for the original one.  It's ironic then that in the Titan cycle, the blue Titan is the worst one, at least for EDH play.  Typically this creature won't be coming down until at least turn 5 or so.  This means that much of the common targeted removal, such as Condemn and Putrefy, will have had the opportunity to amass the extra 2 mana it would take to remove this guy.  His tap down ability is ok, in that if he keeps attacking you can keep a massive threat immobilized for a while.  However, if you really want to do this, why not just use Yosei, the Morning Star?  Although the dragon only does it once, he can tap down multiple permanents at the same time, effectively making an opponent suffer an anti-Time Walk.  Not the best of the Titans, but better when you get to 1v1 play.

That said, he is still pretty good for the cost.  He is well costed for his size, and he can tap down opposing threats.  He can even tap down Eldrazi.

Grave Titan - This guy is definitely better, and that's an understatement.  As I'm sure you've figured out, this is 10 power worth of creatures for 6 mana, even before he attacks.  He's just going to keep pumping out dudes as long as he keeps bashing into the red zone.  Although his body is pretty beefy, the fact that he has Deathtouch puts him over the top.  In order to kill him through combat, you are going to have to block him with a 6/6 or larger creature.  Those are pretty typically hefty investments, and people will be reluctant to sacrifice their dragons and such to get rid of him.  Even if he gets chump blocked, he will still spit out dudes.  Zombie decks will love him, of course.  But in reality, just about any deck with black on it will be happy to have this card in it.
Inferno Titan - Another one on the slightly lower end of the scale, but actually still pretty good.   I know that there's a card that has this effect, but can't think of the name.  Ah, here it is:  Arc Lightning.  Anyways, he can take out multiple weenies, or just bolt people whenever he attacks.  Putting a Basilisk Collar on this guy means killing three creatures a turn.  The Firebreathing is ok, but without some form of evasion can be a little bit underwhelming.  However, piling up the Lightning Bolts turn after turn will add up over time.  And if there is an open opponent, this guy can hit really, really hard.  Just imagining him with Fireshrieker sounds like a lot of fun.

Primeval Titan - Now this is pretty sweet.  As this is EDH, we have access to just about every land available.  This means that he not only can be used for mana fixing, but that he can provide answers to problems.  You can search up Strip Mine and Wasteland to deal with problem lands, etc.  You can search up Glacial Chasm for defense.  You can also search up cards like Gaea's Cradle to really push your mana production into overdrive.  As a side note, he goes really will with landfall creatures, so Ob Nixilis can have a new friend.

On top of all that, he is accelerating you out a ton.  This is important in EDH, as it's the land of humongous spells.  With this guy out, you should be able to cast an Eldrazi by the next turn.  Basically, this card can go into any deck with green in it.  If you are lucky enough to get one, that is.

Sun Titan - This guy is pretty sick also.  His ability to recur stuff isn't limited to just creatures.  You can pull Executioner's Capsule back to your hand.  You can also get Krosan Verge back to help you get more mana.  Aside from the fact that you can get stuff like Dauntless Escort and other creatures that sacrifice themselves for great effect.  Everyone likes recursion, and this guy just helps out with that theme.

Don't forget that he has vigilance.  That on a big body provides excellent defense.  He can go in a deck using Hokori, Dust Drinker if you feel like being really evil.  Plus, there has been no shortage of recent articles about standard using this guy for you to get additional inspiration from.

In all honesty, each of these guys is pretty good, even the blue one.  I think that if you own any of these, you could put them in your deck and be perfectly happy.
IV.  Instants & Sorceries
 Back to Nature - Now, this is a great hoser for Uril decks, as well as the various Rubinia and other Bant enchantment fueled decks.  People play with powerful enchantments, and an instant speed (and cheaper) Tranquility is nothing to sneeze at.
 Call to Mind - Additional recursion is always nice.  I know that people are always looking for ways to get back the various Time Walks and draw spells that blue has.  This can also get stuff in other colors, like Damnation, Austere Command, or Krosan Grip.  I think this is going to be a staple card for any blue deck, period.
 Destructive Force - Wildfire on steroids.  Luckily, I haven't seen Wildfire played in a game yet.  So I don't expect this card to be too popular either.  But for decks that are based around land destruction, they now have another weapon.

 Inspired Charge - The great thing about this is that it is an instant.  I can see this fitting into various token decks.  However, there are plenty of other pump spells for those types of decks, and it's hard to compete with Overrun.

 Mass Polymorph - This is an interesting card that isn't very difficult to work around.  Polymorph decks typically throw out token creatures and have a couple of big guys to grab.  I guess you could make a interesting deck with 10 or so big guys and a few different token effects.  I'm wondering if this "breakable."

 Overwhelming Stampede - Just not as good as Overrun.  This is another card that you may see in token decks.  However, many times the tokens aren't going to be that large.  Even if you do have a large creature out, you don't get the benefit of trample that you get from Overrun.  Might as well just use Beastmaster Ascension for the same effect, and it sticks around.  I guess when it is good is when there's an opponent opponent and you a big creature and a bunch of little ones.  Seems very situational though.

 Plummet - A strictly better version of Slingbow Trap and Wing Snare.  This can be decent defense against flying dragons that are often played.  However, I've never seen anyone use Wing Snare in a game, so I think even making really cheap isn't going to be reason enough to play it.

 Redirect - Cheaper than Deflection, and better than Swerve because it can be used on a spell with multiple targets.  I can see this one being used in games.

 Reverberate - Another copy spell that doesn't Shunt, and is basically an updated Fork.  I think that Wild Ricochet is just better.  Even Reiterate is better, as you have the chance to buy it back in the late game.  However, it's still a pretty good card.

 Time Reversal - An updated and fixed Timetwister.  This has the added benefit of being graveyard hate.  However, Time Spiral is already available, and for just one mana more you get to untap 6 lands as well.  Heck, you can even use Diminishing Returns if you want, and that is one mana cheaper.  If you want to be super competitive, you are going to want to abuse the ability to use your extra cards before your opponents can use theirs.  However, as a "group hug" type of card, it's perfectly fine.
V.  Artifacts, Enchantments & Lands

 Brittle Effigy - A method of creature removal for blue and green decks.  As this does have the ability to remove a creature from the game, that has a benefit.  But most of the time the high cost to do so isn't worth it for other colors, especially those packing white.
 Crystal Ball - This is going to be another ubiquitous time stealer, just like Sensei's Divining Top.  You will see this played a lot, as the activation cost is low and people will love the ability to smooth their draws.  Actually, what I see happening in the future is someone with this and SDT out who uses SDT, then Crystal Ball, then SDT again.  It just means slower games.

 Dark Tutelage - I have yet to see Bob be used in EDH.  Although Dark Tutelage is more resilient, I still don't think it will see play.

 Leyline of Anticipation - Vedalken Orrery that can come out on the first turn?  This is going to be pretty sweet for all those control players out there.  I can't imagine too many blue based decks that wouldn't like this card.

 Leyline of Punishment - Pretty brutal, this is another version of Everlasting Torment, and sort of like Forsaken Wastes.  People in EDH games can get really attached to their life gain.  Keep in mind that this also keeps things like Beacon of Immortality and Loxodon Warhammer from working.

 Leyline of Sanctity - This makes me remember that I don't think I've ever seen anyone play Ivory Mask in a game before.  It's actually better than Ivory Mask, as the troll shroud allows you to target yourself with something like Opportunity or Ancestral Vision.  I would think that it sounds pretty good, but it just won't be that popular.

 Leyline of Vitality - Possibly going to be seen in token decks?  Pretty underwhelming.
 Mystifying Maze - Online, this is our only equivalent of Maze of Ith.  Although this one can tap for mana, unfortunately it has a pretty high activation cost.  It's good for the late game when you don't have anything to do with your extra mana, and can stop things like the Eldrazi from hitting you (although you still have to deal with the Annihilator).  However, before turn 10, it can often leave you with a choice:  Do you keep mana open to use it, or do you try and advance your gameplan by casting spells?  I can't wait for the real Maze of Ith to show up online.
 Sword of Vengeance - A mini piece of Kaldra equipment, I actually think this is pretty good.  It's another piece of equipment that gives trample, and therefore makes sure that you get your Commander damage through.  First strike and the power boost are nice, and vigilance is great for defense.  The haste is just icing on the cake.

 Temple Bell - The "fixed" Howling Mine.  The main issue with Howling Mine was that your opponents got to draw the cards before you did.  However, now you can draw immediately, or just wait until it is about to be your turn.  Expect this card in Group Hug decks, as well as decks that just want to draw more.

 Wild Evocation - This can lead to some crazy games, as it's a random Braids, Conjurer Adept.  I can see this used in group hug decks, as well as used by some of those deck builders that love random effects.

VI.  Creatures

 Aether Adept - Updated Man-o'-War, I don't expect you will see this one getting much use other than in Wizard themed decks like Azami.

 Air Servant - Lots of Generals out there are dragons, and as such, have flying.  This is an expensive Icy Manipulator for those guys.  I don't know if it's worth it, but it does have the ability to tap down multiple flyers at the same time.

 Ancient Hellkite - Another Flameblast Dragon/Mordant Dragon variation.  Each of these types of dragons are pretty good, and go well in big mana red decks.  Definitely worth a look in any dragon themed deck as well.

 Angelic Arbiter - Seems like every set needs an angel.  When I first read this card, I thought it's ability applied to all players.  However, as it works only on your opponents, it's just a beating.  I suspect you will start seeing it in Mayael type decks, as well as other controlling decks using white.  Keep in mind that this card doesn't prevent people from attacking, then killing it with an instant on another player's turn.

 Captivating Vampire - I haven't seen too many vampire themed decks, but this guy will obviously fit into one.  However, you would have to work pretty hard to get any use out of the stealing effect.  Without something like tokens and Conspiracy out, no one is really going to want to overextend like that.

 Conundrum Sphinx - At first I didn't like this card.  But after thinking about the number of ways people can manipulate or see the tops of their libraries, with everything from Crystal Ball to Oracle of Mul Daya, I really don't like it.  It's just not worth it to give your opponents any form of card advantage.  Unless you really want to push the Group Hug theme.

 Cyclops Gladiator - The effect isn't that great in the land of giants that is EDH.  The high red casting cost isn't all that fun either.  I guess it can pick off a couple of smaller guys over time, but don't think it's worth it.

 Demon of Death's Gate - A large flying demon with an interesting alternative casting cost.  Obviously this goes well with tokens as well as Grave Pact effects.  Can also go well in decks with lots of recursion, in case you want to get a second use out of some of your creatures.  I really like that they gave him trample.

 Fauna Shaman - A fixed version of Survival of the Fittest, this will be a good budget alternative.  Unfortunately, it's not nearly as good as Survival, as creatures are far more vulnerable, you have to wait a turn to use it, and you can only use it once a turn.  I'm guessing you will still see it played though.  If you really want Survival but can't afford it, go ahead and get this one.  Although it's not very cheap, it is still less than 5 tix right now.

 Fire Servant - An auto include in any big red deck.  Unfortunately it doesn't double creature damage, but you can't have everything.

 Gaea's Revenge - Large.  Haste makes it good.  Lack of trample is annoying, but that would be too good I guess.  Oh well.

 Garruk's Packleader - Kavu Lair on a creature with a smaller threshold.  Combine with Primordial Sage for additional drawing shenanigans.  This can actually be pretty good, and should net you a couple of cards at least.  If you have this out with an active Luminarch Ascension, it would be just silly.

 Harbor Serpent - Uses a fixed version of Islandhome.  The Islandwalk ability is nothing to sneeze at.  Unfortunately for the serpent, there are just better large beaters out there.

 Hoarding Dragon - I'm just not seeing it.  The problem is that plenty of games use "remove from the game" effects like Condemn and Swords to Plowshares, so without a sacrifice outlet readily available, you may never get the artifact you search up.  Doesn't even work with blink effects.  I think it'll end up working about 50% of the time.  Depending on how artifact heavy your deck is, this can be good or bad.

 Knight Exemplar - I saw a knight based deck that used Oros as it's commander a while back.  It really liked using Buried Alive to put Haakon, Kinsbaile Cavalier and Mirror Entity in the graveyard.  It looked like fun, but not too resilient. I think this would go well in that type of deck, but few others.

 Manic Vandal - Viridian Shaman in red.  This card makes sense, but the main reason the Shaman sees play is because of it's creature type.

 Phylactery Lich - Cool idea for a card.  Unfortunately, there is plenty of artifact hate out there in this format.  And without some additional boost, either flying or trample or deathtouch, this guy doesn't stand up to snuff.

 Serra Ascendant - Another card that seems made for EDH.  Getting this guy out on turn one is just plain silly, as he is basically a 6/6 flying lifelinker.  Now, he can still be dealt with, but expect to be missing a nice chunk of your life total by that point.  If you are playing a "threatening" Commander, and this guy drops turn one, be prepared to take your licks.  Even late game, if people still have decent life totals, he brings plenty of bang for the buck.

 Steel Overseer - Obviously works well in artifact based decks like Sharuum.  The question is whether he is worth it.  He is cheap and comes down early, so that's good.  I think that if you have the ability to pump out a lot of artifact creature tokens, like through the use of Sharding Sphinx or something similar, he can be good.  Otherwise, he's just slow.

 Stromtide Leviathan - I really like this card.  He's basically Island Sanctuary on a big beefy creature.  Should be good in control decks as a way to lock things down late game.  Plus he's pretty efficiently costed as well.  He would go well in my Dakkon deck, as well as the older Isperia one. 

 Vengeful Archon - The PureMTGO preview card, it seems like he's made for EDH.  Again, he's efficiently costed, and he flies.  The ability to redirect damage is nothing to sneeze at.  Another worthwhile late game finisher.

 War Priest of Thune - People used to play with Kami of Ancient Law, so they will probably play with this.  I know that I played Aven Cloudchaser in some of my decks just to do the same thing, and although the War Priest costs 2 less, it doesn't have flying.  I guess it's a presonal preference.
VII.  Conclusion
So what's good? I'll tell you what's good!  Here are my top nine in terms of overall utility, in no particular order.
5.  Mystifying Maze  (Until Maze of Ith comes online)
6.  Crystal Ball (Makes me sad to admit this, but it's true)
9.  The Titans (I'm cheating here, I know)
Now if you want a deal, I'm sure that most of the rares are going to get cheaper over time, and the non-Standard tournament Mythics will drop also.  Just keep an eye out for anything with a high casting cost that seems like it has a narrow use.  So the Angelic Arbiter, Brittle Effigy, Hoarding Dragon, Reverberate, Redirect, Stormtide Leviathan, and Vengeful Archon are all a ticket or less, and other rares should all get cheaper as well.  Anything that is Standard playable and mythic, however, is going to cost a pretty penny.  If you take a look, though, things have already dropped off a good amount, so feel free to grab what you want now.
VIII.  Bonus Decklist
So you may remember the article I wrote about Sasaya a few weeks ago.  Recently, the guy who actually won the game that I reported on in that article, Sheldama, contacted me, and gave me permission to show his decklist.  It has changed a few cards since then, but the basic idea is the same.
A Commander Deck by Sheldama
1 Thraximundar
1 cards

Other Spells
1 Armillary Sphere
1 Coalition Relic
1 Coldsteel Heart
1 Crystal Shard
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Dimir Signet
1 Everflowing Chalice
1 Izzet Signet
1 Journeyer's Kite
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Pithing Needle
1 Proteus Staff
1 Relic of Progenitus
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Tormod's Crypt
1 Chandra Nalaar
1 Jace Beleren
1 Liliana Vess
1 Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
1 Sorin Markov
1 Tezzeret the Seeker
1 Declaration of Naught
1 Phyrexian Arena
1 Bituminous Blast
1 Capsize
1 Comet Storm
1 Consume the Meek
1 Cryptic Command
1 Diabolic Edict
1 Echoing Truth
1 Fact or Fiction
1 False Cure
1 Grab the Reins
1 Grixis Charm
1 Memory Plunder
1 Mystical Teachings
1 Opportunity
1 Radiate
1 Ravenous Trap
1 Reiterate
1 Word of Seizing
1 Barter in Blood
1 Beseech the Queen
1 Chain Reaction
1 Consuming Vapors
1 Cruel Ultimatum
1 Damnation
1 Decree of Pain
1 Demonfire
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Diabolic Tutor
1 Imperial Seal
1 Insurrection
1 Mind Shatter
1 Recoup
1 Recurring Insight
1 Rite Of Replication
1 Surreal Memoir
1 Telemin Performance
1 Twisted Justice
60 cards
1 Akoum Refuge
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Cascade Bluffs
1 Crumbling Necropolis
1 Deserted Temple
1 Dimir Aqueduct
1 Dragonskull Summit
1 Drowned Catacomb
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Exotic Orchard
1 Graven Cairns
1 Grixis Panorama
6 Island
1 Izzet Boilerworks
1 Jwar Isle Refuge
6 Mountain
1 Shizo, Death's Storehouse
1 Steam Vents
6 Swamp
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Thawing Glaciers
1 Vivid Marsh
1 Volcanic Island
1 Watery Grave
39 cards

mystical teachings
So basically it's a creatureless deck using Planeswalkers and board control.  I'll let him describe the deck in his own words:
"I basically started the deck as a 5 color planeswalker deck but didn’t have the Gideon, Ajani or Elspeth so I decided to cut White all together.  And with no 4 color generals, Green was quick to follow.  So that left me with Grixis. 

This is definitely one of those politicking decks that you can’t just go on the rampage with.  First off all you want to establish some sort of long term card advantage.  The reality is that online very few people will play a creature the first couple turns so if you can manage to kill whatever 1-2 drop creatures on the board and then stick a Jace Beleren, you are absolutely golden.  There is no phase 1-2 plan for the deck per say, unless you get some freak turn 5 Thraximundar eating the table... But that only happens 1 out of every 10 games really.  The plan is this:  Hit a land drop every single turn.  Seriously.  Between Thawing Glaciers, Journeyer's Kite, and card draw you need to hit a land drop every time so that when you get to a point where Thraximundar is an option and you can replay him a couple times.  


Step 1: Establish long term card advantage.
Step 2: Stay alive.
Step 3: Kill people.
Win conditions are as follows:
  1. Headshots:  Mystical Teachings is your friend.  If someone is playing a life gain effect like Beacon of Immortality or a Loxodon Warhammer on a Chameleon Colossus or something you can kill them with a False Cure off the Teachings.  Tutoring for Insurrection wins games sometimes.  A kicked Rite of Replication is well.... Rite of Replication.  You saw how Grab the Reins killed the Momir player the game you reported.  Radiate on a Consume Spirit or the likes also has potential.
  2. Thraximundar:  If you stick to the “play a land every turn” plan, you can just stock up to the point where you can recast him 4 or 5 times and by the end of the game you will have a full grip of answers and other people will have 2-3 cards which don’t really do anything anymore and so their resources to answer are reduced
  3. Protect the Queen.  Sorin Markov or Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker can end the game, together they dominate.
Everything is built on packages really.
Mystical teachings is a building block and Tezzeret is a building block, so those 2 cards are important tutor targets and you want to protect them.  I am thinking about adding recall and relearn to the deck just to be able to reuse them."


So there you go, another deck and an interesting deck idea for you to chew on.  Hope you liked article.  Until next time!

Leviathan, aka Tarasco on MTGO
mrmorale32 at yahoo dot com


Maze of Ith IS online, albeit by Paul Leicht at Wed, 08/11/2010 - 00:21
Paul Leicht's picture

Maze of Ith IS online, albeit hard to obtain since its only in promo form.

Overwhelming Stampede does by arthurmauk at Wed, 08/11/2010 - 03:37
arthurmauk's picture

Overwhelming Stampede does give trample.

maze by burn3000 at Wed, 08/11/2010 - 05:55
burn3000's picture

Yes Maze is online, and can be picked up for about 25 tix currently. Worth it IMO as it's a beautiful rattlesnake card, though very likely to get destroyed. Think it was only given out to judges in a recent online tourney, but there's a bunch floating around.

maze was given out to by Mooncalf at Wed, 08/11/2010 - 09:35
Mooncalf's picture

maze was given out to everyone who qualified for the last MOCS. top-32 also got a foil version.

Wow, two big mistakes. Sorry by Leviathan at Wed, 08/11/2010 - 10:07
Leviathan's picture

Wow, two big mistakes. Sorry guys.

I'm more upset about screwing up Overwhelming Stampede. That's just a case of RTFC. Obviously with trample the card is much better. Not top 10 better, but still better.

I honestly had no idea about Maze of Ith. I knew that it wasn't in any of the MED sets, and hadn't seen anyone play it yet. I assumed that it would probably come out in the next MED set and we had to wait till then to get it. Wrong assumption I guess. 25 tix is a lot, though. I would probably wait till MED 4 comes out to see if I could get a cheaper version before shelling out that kind of cash. Of course, now that I know it's out there, I may not be able to wait...

I liked this list as it gave by ShardFenix at Wed, 08/11/2010 - 14:49
ShardFenix's picture

I liked this list as it gave me a few cards to consider for my Jund and for my gruul decks. I have Hoarding Dragon in my Jund deck already and mainly because its a red air elemental and is a decent 5 mana dragon. I doubt the ability will ever work but its such a narrow use im sure there is something in SoM which is made to work with this.