Leviathan's picture
By: Leviathan, Mike Morales
Oct 07 2010 1:32pm
4.5
Login or register to post comments
4472 views


I.  Introduction

First, congratulations to Paul Leicht, the winner of my little contest/call for assistance from last week.  Paul went with a commander theme and some cool psychedelic lettering, and I like it.  Thanks a ton Paul!

Now, how many of you have been in this situation before:  So you set up a table to play Commander online, and after a few minutes, the table fills up.  You start the game, and unless you know your opponents from past experience, the first piece of information you get about them is their choice of general.  You win the roll, and pull out Doran, the Siege Tower, the Commander of your funky tribal treefolk deck you just put together for kicks.  And then you see what other people are playing:

zur the enchanterjhoira of the ghituuril, the miststalker

Ugh.  Just looking at these guys, you know that they are either going to completely ignore you because they won't think you are a threat, or they will beat up on you quickly to make sure that you don't screw with them and their plans.  Either way, it won't be pretty.


Not quite the same.

What I am going to try to do today is take a look at some of the popular, powerful Commanders you will see online.  I will provide a sample decklist (not of my own making) and then try to give some tips on how to attack these guys.  Most of the time you will not be confronted with the situation above (although when I played with my Experiment Kraj deck, I did have a game where I went up against Sharuum the Hegemon, Zur the Enchanter and Azami, Lady of Scrolls).  In the typical situations where there is only one overly powerful Commander in the game, you can get the other players' help in trying to keep the bad boy in check.  And below are some of the ways to do that.

Admittedly many of you will already know about a lot of my suggestions.  But I think it is important to make this sort of article and get these ideas out there.  Primarily because these are not the type of generals that I would devote an entire article to speaking about as I would not build a deck around them.  In addition, it is important for newer players to know that even powerful Commanders have weaknesses.

Let's take a look at our first contestant:

II.  Uril, the Miststalker

That's right, good old Uril.  I see him a lot, and if you play at all, I'm sure you do too.  Probably more often than any other general.  He is a beating, and pretty much tells you exactly how to build around him:  Tons of enchantments.  Load him up and send him off to war.  Uril is so prevalent primarily because he tells you exactly what to do with him.  Who does not like playing Voltron with one of their guys, just stacking aura after aura on top of a legend?  Reminds me of when I first started playing, and trying to get as many Unholy Strengths on my Sengir Vampire as I could.  In addition, this is a legend that does not use blue, and that is appealing for a lot of players.

I have seen Uril decks take a couple of different routes.  The primary one is to use a bunch of accel, either through green land search or mana artifacts, to rush Uril out, then start loading him up with enchantments.  However, the better Uril decks have various back up plans, and do not focus solely on the enchantments.  These are the ones you need to worry about.  Let's take a look at an example deck:

Uril, the Miststalker
An EDH deck by dvideogamer
Creatures
1 Academy Rector
1 Acidic Slime
1 Duplicant
1 Eternal Witness
1 Spearbreaker Behemoth
1 Spellbreaker Behemoth
1 Tajuru Preserver
1 Totem-Guide Hartebeest
1 Umbra Mystic
1 Uril, the Miststalker
1 Vexing Shusher
1 Woodfall Primus
12 cards

Other Spells
[Artifacts]
1 Coalition Relic
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Sol Ring
[Enchantments]
1 Armadillo Cloak
1 Asha's Favor
1 Battle Mastery
1 Bear Umbra
1 Boar Umbra
1 Eldrazi Conscription
1 Fires of Yavimaya
1 Hyena Umbra
1 Instill Energy
1 Land Tax
1 Leyline of Sanctity
1 Mammoth Umbra
1 Mana Reflection
1 Mirari's Wake
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Planar Collapse
1 Privileged Position
1 Rancor
1 Runes of the Deus
1 Shield of the Oversoul
1 Snake Umbra
1 Sterling Grove
1 Sylvan Library
1 Unquestioned Authority
[Instants]
1 Eladamri's Call
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Harrow
1 Krosan Grip
1 Return to Dust
1 Swords to Plowshares
[Sorceries]
1 Armageddon
1 Austere Command
1 Cultivate
1 Farseek
1 Harmonize
1 Idyllic Tutor
1 Jokulhaups
1 Kodama's Reach
1 Obliterate
1 Primal Command
1 Rampant Growth
1 Replenish
1 Restock
1 Search for Tomorrow
1 Seize the Day
1 Three Dreams
1 Winds of Rath
51 cards
Lands
1 Arid Mesa
1 Battlefield Forge
1 Brushland
1 Contested Cliffs
1 Fire-Lit Thicket
1 Flagstones of Trokair
4 Forest
1 Hall of the Bandit Lord
1 Jungle Shrine
1 Karplusan Forest
1 Kor Haven
3 Mountain
4 Plains
1 Raging Ravine
1 Rootbound Crag
1 Rugged Prairie
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Skarrg, the Rage Pits
1 Stirring Wildwood
1 Stomping Ground
1 Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
1 Sunpetal Grove
1 Temple Garden
1 Vivid Crag
1 Vivid Grove
1 Vivid Meadow
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Bastion
1 Wooded Foothills
37 cards
 
uril, the miststalker

 

I found this decklist HERE.  Obviously as it is an EDH deck made to play with pants, some cards aren't available to us online, but you get the general idea.  Typically, you will see a bunch of Enchantresses in Uril lists as well, but this guy went with the land destruction route.  Very nice.   

So what do you do to beat on Uril?

Mass Destruction  
hallowed Burial

Uril has troll-shroud, which is a pain in the butt.  So many times you have to blow up the world to get rid of him  Unfortunately, Uril players typically know their weakness is their over-reliance on their general, so they load him up with stuff that makes most mass destruction irrelevant, such as Umbras and Shield of the Oversoul.  So you should be a little bit creative.  This means stuff like Evacuation, which has the benefit of getting rid of all the auras on Uril, Final Judgment, and Hallowed Burial, which has the side benefit of getting rid of him for a good long while.

Don't forget that regular mass destruction is good as well.  Even if you are only getting rid of the auras on Uril, you are making him smaller and more manageable.  Cards like Oblivion Stone and Nevinyrral's Disk are available to every player, no matter what the color of their general.  

All is Dust is also worthy of consideration, as making the Uril player sacrifice Uril gets around the destruction required for the Umbras to work.  Other sac effects include Innocent Blood and Barter in Blood.

Enchantment Removal  
back to nature

Uril is obviously very dependent on the auras and other enchantments he plays out.  So if you have a good way to punish him for playing those enchantments, that's great.  Austere Command is good at this, as are Back to Nature and Tranquility.  Return to Dust makes it so that you do not have to deal with problem enchantments again.

Fracturing Gust has a side benefit of destroying stuff and gaining you life.  And a timely Reduce to Dreams can set people back a few turns.  Patrician's Scorn and Cleansing Meditation are both cards that I've only seen played once, but were both used to mess with a Uril player.

Aura of Silence can do a good job of slowing a Uril player down as well.  However, late game this card isn't usually as good.  The main lesson is that you should play more enchantment removal.  I have seen plenty of games where an enchantment stays in play for too long because people don't have an answer for it.

Stalling  
humility

There are several other defensive enchantments that can slow down Uril.  Cards like Humility, No Mercy and Moat can all do a good job of keeping the pain down.  And Runed Halo does a great job of dealing with any general based damage.  Story Circle and friends (Righteous Aura, Prahv, Spires of Order) don't target as well, but require mana investments.  Aurification is nice, but just means that he will wait to alpha strike.  However, don't become overly reliant upon these enchantments.  Most Uril decks have at least a little bit of enchantment removal.  In addition, Uril's enchantments can give him flying, indestructibility, and other abilities that laugh off Moat and No Mercy

Another stalling method is by using Fog effects.  Spike Weaver, Knight-captain of Eos do similar things, but require resources that you may or may not be able to replenish over time.

Invulnerability costs a ton to buyback, but since it doesn't target you can use it to deal with Uril as well.  And most of the time Uril decks don't play with Dosan the Falling Leaf or City of Solitude, so it is usually a pretty safe bet.  But the idea is that by slowing him down, you and the other players are given more time to take out the more potent threat.

Another card that is interesting and I've seen used to great effect is Arena of the Ancients tapping down combat based generals is always fun.  In addition, random answer cards include Earnest Fellowship (makes Uril drop all his enchants) and Cowardice (bounces Uril).  So basically hit him at the areas he depends on, stall a little bit to find your answers, and you should do ok.

III.  Jhoira of the Ghitu

Ah yes, everyone's favorite redhead.  Jhoira seems pretty cool at first glance, in that she reliably gets out on turn 3, and on turn 4 you can start suspending large spells.  Unfortunately, those spells usually turn out to be something large and legendary with Annihilator, and a mass destruction spell like Obliterate.  On the turn they come out of suspension, the legendary Eldrazi has haste, and the Jhoira player stacks the spells so that the world is blown up before the hasty beater comes into play.  If the Jhoira player doesn't drop something like Jokulhaups, it will be Time Stretch or another method of getting extra turns.  Activating Jhoira can be done at any time, so typically their decks contain some countermagic as well.  Other support cards usually deal with removing suspend counters and the like.

Jhoira decks tend to draw a lot of hate, and for good reason.  The combination of "cheating" out fat and massive amounts of land destruction is the most annoying part.  Let's take a look at a representative deck:

Jhoira of the Ghitu
A Commander deck by Redman929
Creatures
1 Aeon Chronicler
1 Akroma, Angel of Fury
1 Arcanis the Omnipotent
1 Bogardan Hellkite
1 Darksteel Colossus
1 Deep-Sea Kraken
1 Djinn of Wishes
1 Dragon Mage
1 Draining Whelk
1 Errant Ephemeron
1 Greater Gargadon
1 Inkwell Leviathan
1 Jhoira of the Ghitu
1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
1 Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
1 Pestermite
1 Riftwing Cloudskate
1 Sphinx Ambassador
1 Sun Quan, Lord of Wu
1 Sundering Titan
1 Tidal Kraken
1 Tidespout Tyrant
1 Trinket Mage
23 cards

Other Spells
[Artifacts]
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Tormod's Crypt
[Enchantments]
1 Form of the Dragon
1 Paradox Haze
[Instants]
1 Brainstorm
1 Cancel
1 Capsize
1 Counterspell
1 Cryptic Command
1 Desertion
1 Force of Will
1 Fury Charm
1 Gather Specimens
1 Hinder
1 Mana Drain
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Pact of Negation
1 Reiterate
1 Rewind
1 Spelljack
1 Trickbind
1 Twincast
1 Wild Ricochet
[Sorceries]
1 Apocalypse
1 Beacon of Tomorrows
1 Capture of Jingzhou
1 Concentrate
1 Decree of Annihilation
1 Eternal Dominion
1 Jokulhaups
1 Obliterate
1 Personal Tutor
1 Temporal Manipulation
1 Time Stretch
1 Time Warp
1 Walk the Aeons
37 cards
Lands
1 Ancient Tomb
1 Caldera Lake
1 Cascade Bluffs
1 Darksteel Citadel
1 Dwarven Ruins
1 Faerie Conclave
1 Forgotten Cave
1 Ghitu Encampment
1 Gods' Eye, Gate to the Reikai
1 Hammerheim
1 Ice Floe
8 Island
1 Island of Wak-Wak
1 Kher Keep
1 Lonely Sandbar
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
4 Mountain
1 Petrified Field
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Riptide Laboratory
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Shivan Reef
1 Springjack Pasture
1 Stalking Stones
1 Steam Vents
1 Svyelunite Temple
1 Temple of the False God
1 Thawing Glaciers
1 Vivid Creek
1 Volcanic Island
40 cards
 
Jhoira of the Ghitu

 

I found this deck on the mtgotraders deck database HERE.  Obviously this deck was created before ROE came out, otherwise you would see a bunch of legendary Eldrazi here as well.  But it follows the pattern you would typically expect from these decks:  Fat creatures, mass destruction (including land destruction), extra turns and counterspells.  How do you beat Jhoira?

Shut Down Abilities  
cursed totem

Obviously Jhoira uses an activated ability, so might as well shut it down.  There are a couple of artifacts out there in the form of Damping Matrix and Cursed Totem that are excellent at doing this and can go into any deck.  Humility essentially does the same thing, and Suppression Field adds to the cost.  The problem with these cards is that they shut down the activated abilities of your creatures as well.  Now, you can build around these cards by using creatures with triggered abilities and "enters the battlefield" abilities instead of activated abilities, but sometimes you don't want to be that restricted.

Linvala, Keeper of Silence is another great card that is good for this purpose, but allows your creatures to use their abilities as well.  

Finally, there are all of the Faith's Fetters variants, such as Arrest, Detainment Spell and Pithing Needle.  All are good cards for shutting down Jhoira.  If you destroy her, the Jhoira player can just replay her and start the cycle over again.  Keeping Jhoira out and incapacitated is nice.

Counterspells  
teferi, mage of zhalfir

First, there are the traditional Counterspells, such as Cryptic Command, Dismiss, ForbidMana Drain, Desertion, etc.  The idea is that since you see what is coming, you counter the important stuff.  These are usually good, but many Jhoira decks, such as the one above, pack their own countermagic to insure that their big scary spells resolve.

You can also go with the non-traditional counters, such as Teferi, who prevents things from coming out of suspension.  Azorius Guildmage can counter activated abilities, which is generally useful to have.  This guildmage definitely does not see enough play.  Rimewind Cryomancer has a more limited version of the same ability.  Voidmage Husher can do the same thing multiple times, but is unwieldy to use.

Finally, there are the one shot effects like Stifle, Trickbind, Squelch and Voidslime.  I'm not as big a fan of these, but they do have their uses, and as such, come in handy even when not facing Jhoira.

Bounce  
evacuation This method is definitely less commonly employed.  Jhoira decks work by cheating out large, expensive to cast spells.  This usually requires the Jhoira player to wait 3 or so turns, but requires a very minimal mana investment up front.  So if they wait a few turns to have Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre come out of suspension and hoping to be hasty and hurt someone, but Boomerang comes out of nowhere to send the big beastie back to her hand, you can expect a frowny face.  Obviously Boomerang itself isn't the best method, as it is pretty limited, but there are other cards that provide options, such as Crosis's Charm, Dead/Gone, Grixis Charm, Cryptic Command, Jilt, Peel from Reality, and even Whiplash Trap will do the trick.

Gather Specimens is another card to consider, as you can just steal whatever they are suspending.  Good times.  Also, in case you did not notice, the best ways of dealing with Jhoira include a lot of blue spells.  So shutting down Jhoira herself and dealing with the stuff that is suspended are both good ways to deal with her.

IV.  Zur the Enchanter

Over a year ago Zur was all the rage.  It seemed like every time you tried to join a game, you would see Zur.  In fact, Zur became so prevalent there was an unspoken agreement that he should be beaten into submission in the beginning at all costs.  This kind of hate eventually made people switch from Zur to other generals.  However, recently I have been seeing him pop his head up again, so I figured I would give him his own space.

Zur decks usually like to get him out as quickly as possible, then start attacking.  They can either go on the offensive immediately, or search up a protective aura for Zur.  Either way, he typically becomes a beatdown machine pretty quickly.  Zur can also search up answers to problem creatures, while providing protection for himself.  Since he only costs 4 mana, there are times when he can come down as early as turn 3, if you have some accel.  Add in something like Lightning Greaves, and he can get out of hand pretty quickly.

Let's take a look at a representative list:

Zur the Enchanter
A Commander deck by cronous
Creatures
1 Desolation Angel
1 Ethersworn Adjudicator
1 Maddening Imp
1 Meloku the Clouded Mirror
1 Nomad Mythmaker
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Wall of Denial
1 Zur the Enchanter
8 cards

Other Spells
[Artifacts]
1 Journeyer's Kite
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Skull of Orm
1 Tawnos's Coffin
[Enchantments]
1 Animate Dead
1 Arrest
1 Aura of Silence
1 Battle Mastery
1 Blessing of the Nephilim
1 Compulsion
1 Copy Enchantment
1 Daybreak Coronet
1 Edge of the Divinity
1 Empyrial Armor
1 Greater Auramancy
1 Hoofprints of the Stag
1 Karmic Justice
1 Moat
1 Mystic Remora
1 Necromancy
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Oubliette
1 Pemmin's Aura
1 Phyrexian Arena
1 Prison Term
1 Runed Halo
1 Seal of Doom
1 Shade's Form
1 Steel of the Godhead
1 Temporal Isolation
1 Trade Routes
1 Unquestioned Authority
1 Vanishing
[Instants]
1 Condemn
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Esper Charm
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Oblation
1 Path to Exile
1 Return to Dust
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Vampiric Tutor
[Sorceries]
1 Armageddon
1 Austere Command
1 Damnation
1 Demonic Collusion
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Diabolic Tutor
1 Idyllic Tutor
1 Imperial Seal
1 Ravages of War
1 Reminisce
1 Retether
1 Winds of Rath
55 cards
Lands
1 Eiganjo Castle
1 Esper Panorama
1 Fetid Heath
1 Flooded Strand
1 Godless Shrine
6 Island
1 Island of Wak-Wak
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
1 Mystic Gate
1 Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
6 Plains
1 Polluted Delta
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Sunken Ruins
6 Swamp
1 Terrain Generator
1 Thawing Glaciers
1 Vivid Creek
1 Vivid Marsh
1 Vivid Meadow
1 Watery Grave
37 cards
 
zur the enchanter

 

This list can be found HERE.  It seems like it's a little bit older, as there is nothing from ROE here, but it would still do well if played today.  Zur and Uril share a reliance on auras and enchantments, so obviously the enchantment removal section from Uril will be effective here as well.  What other stuff can we do to beat Zur?

Anti-flying Defense  
gravity well

Zur gains his advantage by being able to repeatedly find opponents that do not have flying defenses.  He then attacks those people to bring out the enchantments he needs at that time.  However, by keeping Zur from flying, Zur can be blocked, and many times destroyed, by blockers.  This can slow down a Zur player, who then has to re-play Zur at a higher cost.  And that can make all the difference.

So we want to make Zur loose flying so that anyone can block him.  Cards such as Roots, Storm Front, Downdraft, even Chaosphere can all be helpful.  Gravity Well is probably best for this, though.

You can also just outright destroy the flyer, by using cards such as Plummet, Arashi, the Sky Asunder, Hurricane, Silklash Spider, Tropical Storm, Windstorm and Squall Line.  Arashi and the Spider are good because they are reusable.  In addition, there are a couple of creatures with reach and deathtouch out there, like Thornweald Archer and Juvenile Gloomwidow.   Finally, Matsu-Tribe Sniper can keep Zur tapped down for a long time.

Sacrifice Effects  
consuming vapors

Many times, Zur decks run a very low number of creatures, so usually Zur will be the only creature on their side.  Most of the time this isn't a huge issue for the player using him, as he is a pretty big beast.  Also, many times Zur will have Pemmin's Aura strapped on or some other shroud granting enchantment.  Of course, the best way of dealing with big, untargetable shroud creatures is to use sacrifice effects.

There are a ton of sacrifice effects I discussed in my Dakkon deck, but if you do not want to click on the link, a few of them are Diabolic Edict, Chainer's Edict, and Consuming Vapors.  In addition, Fleshbag Marauder, Butcher of Malakir and Grave Pact effects all do the job as well.

And don't forget, sometimes just standard removal will work just fine, especially if Zur has already been dealt with once or his Vanishing has already been dealt with.  So if you drop Terminate or even Swords to Plowshares on Zur before he attacks, you set him back just that much more.

Mass Destruction  
all is dust

Although they are both based around enchantments, Zur is usually more susceptible to mass destruction than Uril.  This is because although Zur can tutor up auras, the quality of those that are resistant to mass destruction is limited, and require mana.  Zur does have Vanishing, Flickerform and Tawnos's Coffin can even be used to save him, but those are the primary few ways he has (I know I'm forgetting another blue enchantment, but can't recall it).  However, Uril has a variety of good totem armors, and the ability to use an enchantment to become indestructible in Shield of the Oversoul.

As such, the typical mass destruction of Oblivion Stone, Austere Command, Nevinyrral's Disk, Akroma's Vengeance and company do well.  In addition, Zur decks often use enchantments to deal with problems.

Zur decks also have a hard time with Arena of the Ancients because they require Zur to attack to get the full benefit of the deck.  So you want to make Zur get blocked, use mass destruction and use sacrifice effects to slow him down.  Sometimes Zur players can even work through all of this, though.

V.  Sharuum the Hegemon

I knew that I wanted to cover four different deck types today, but I had a hard time picking the fourth general.  There are plenty to choose from, and just picking one was tough.  However, I have been seeing a bunch of Sharuum recently, and I thought we should talk about her as well.

Sharuum decks are pretty much determined by their Commander:  Artifacts, and lots of them.  In addition, they are typically recursion based.  Many of them have combos that are usually blue based.  They have access to the controlling cards in the Esper colors.  I have also seen them as strictly reanimator decks, trying to get a third turn Iona, Shield of Emeria into play.  They almost always make good use of their graveyards.

Here's a decklist:

Sharuum the Hegemon
An EDH deck by yawg07
Creatures
1 Augury Adept
1 Disciple of the Vault
1 Duplicant
1 Etherium Sculptor
1 Filigree Angel
1 Inkwell Leviathan
1 Kederekt Leviathan
1 Magister Sphinx
1 Master Transmuter
1 Memnarch
1 Mistmeadow Witch
1 Sakashima the Impostor
1 Sen Triplets
1 Sharuum the Hegemon
1 Sphinx of the Steel Wind
1 Sundering Titan
1 Trinket Mage
17 cards

Other Spells
[Artifacts]
1 Aether Spellbomb
1 Coalition Relic
1 Courier's Capsule
1 Darksteel Forge
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Dispeller's Capsule
1 Executioner's Capsule
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Mind's Eye
1 Mindslaver
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Sculpting Steel
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Sol Ring
1 Tawnos's Coffin
1 Tormod's Crypt
1 Voltaic Key
[Planeswalkers]
1 Jace Beleren
1 Liliana Vess
1 Tezzeret the Seeker
[Enchantments]
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Rhystic Study
[Instants]
1 Brainstorm
1 Capsize
1 Counterspell
1 Desertion
1 Dissipate
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Force of Will
1 Frantic Search
1 Gifts Ungiven
1 Intuition
1 Mana Drain
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Wipe Away
[Sorceries]
1 Acquire
1 Beacon of Unrest
1 Bribery
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Transmute Artifact
1 Windfall
1 Yawgmoth's Will
48 cards
 
Lands
1 Academy Ruins
1 Adarkar Wastes
1 Ancient Den
1 Arcane Sanctum
1 Cabal Pit
1 Caves of Koilos
1 Cephalid Coliseum
1 City of Brass
1 Dromar's Cavern
1 Esper Panorama
1 Exotic Orchard
1 Forbidden Orchard
1 Island
1 Minamo, School at Water's Edge
1 Mystic Gate
1 Nomad Stadium
1 Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
1 Plains
1 Scrubland
1 Seat of the Synod
1 Shizo, Death's Storehouse
1 Snow-Covered Island
1 Snow-Covered Plains
1 Snow-Covered Swamp
1 Sunken Ruins
1 Swamp
1 Tolaria 
1 Tolaria West
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Tundra
1 Underground River
1 Underground Sea
1 Urborg
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Vault of Whispers
35 cards

 
sharuum the hegemon

 

I found this list HERE.  Again, since this is an EDH deck, it has cards that aren't available to those of us that play online.  And major props for being a true highlander deck.  In addition, it was created before Tolarian Academy was banned.  How do you attack a Sharuum deck?

Graveyard Hate  
Relic of Progenitus

Obviously Sharuum likes it when there are multiple artifacts in the graveyard to choose from.  But if you take those choices away, Sharuum gets a lot less powerful.  There is a ton of graveyard hate out there, including Scrabbling Claws, Bojuka Bog, Faerie Macabre, Phyrexian Furnace, Tormod's Crypt, and plenty more.  Being able to exile the cards at instant speed is even better, as you can see what the Sharuum player is specifically targeting and remove it then. 

A couple of other cards that are useful but that I never see played are Moratorium Stone, Identity Crisis, Rats' Feast and I know there's a black card that recently came out that gains you life, but I am completely blanking on the name and can't find it.  Ah well.

Combo Hate  
sadistic sacrament

Like I said, a lot of these decks end up running some type of combo.  Going through the Sharuum player's deck and removing combo pieces is always a good way to make sure that they don't go off.  Some other stuff to consider includes Jester's Mask, Bitter Ordeal, even Grinning TotemNightmare Incursion is another card that is great at removing cards from an opponent's library.  The good thing about all these cards is that they also give you an opportunity to look at the player's deck, and get an idea about what to look forward too.

Other methods of combo hate include limiting the number of spells people can play during a turn, such as Rule of Law and Arcane Laboratory.  Unfortunately, Ethersworn Canonist doesn't work against Sharuum due to the high amount of artifacts they play.

Another method of hating combo is by keeping your opponents from searching their libraries, by using Aven Mindcensor and Mindlock Orb.

Artifact Hate  
null rod There are plenty of ways to hate on artifacts, including stuff like Hum of the Radix, Austere Command, Aura of Silence, and Molder Slug.  Ideally, you can keep from actually destroying the artifacts, as Sharuum can just bring them back.  But by making them cost more, you will slow down a Sharuum player significantly.  So Hum and the Aura are both good for this purpose.  This does not prevent Sharuum from bringing back stuff from the graveyard, but it makes Sharuum cost that much more.

Sharuum usually carries a number of diverse of threats.  But with the right cards you can slow them down and keep them from combo'ing out or just dominating the table.

VI.  Conclusion

I know there are a few other legends that are pretty common and powerful, but these are the most common ones that I have seen.  Maybe I will do another one of these articles in the future to hit up some more decks.

Keep in mind that you are obviously not expected to carry all of these cards in your decks.   But at least this should give you a few ideas to think about, especially if you are constantly running into one of these decks. 

Also, please feel free to add to the list by bringing up your ideas in the comments.  I know that I haven't hit every possible way to combat these generals.  I tried to hit broad categories of cards to think about, not necessarily specific, funky and strange cards.  The more, the merrier. 

VII.  Addendum

Just this Monday over at Starcitygames, Sam Black wrote a free article about broken and "unfun" decks.  His motive was to show that there are ways to build inherently unfair decks in EDH.  Two of these decks, Azusa, Lost but Seeking and Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper, have multiplayer applications and can be easily adapted for online play.  I'm not going to link to the article, I'm going to make you find it yourself.  Basically, I am giving you guys a heads up because you are definitely going to be seeing both of these decks online.

To fight Azusa, you want to keep them from searching their deck and hurt their card draw.  Deck searching can be hindered by Aven Mindcensor, Mindlock Orb, and Psychogenic Probe.  Hurting the draw can be done with Underworld Dreams, Kederekt Parasite, Spiteful Visions.  Also, Zo-zu the Punisher hurts Azusa a bunch as well.

Sek'Kuar is basically a combo deck, so lots of the stuff that can fight Sharuum can fight Sek'Kuar.  It also has a lot of sac effects, so Tajuru Preserver can help as well.

Sorry for the short addendum, but at least I have given you a heads up.  Hope you enjoyed the article.  Until next week!

Leviathan, aka Tarasco on MTGO
mrmorale32 at yahoo dot com 

8 Comments

nice article by Lythand at Thu, 10/07/2010 - 16:12
Lythand's picture
5

I always learn something from your articles.

I was a little torn reading Sam's article. His deck suggestions are a little over the edge of the Social COntract, but not too far. It was nice though that he made suggestions for those of us who play more "casual/friendly".

I have to say though I do like the Azusa deck and may make that one. I had been contemplating making a 60land.dec for EDH/commander, but wasn't sure on how to go about it. His deck is what I was looking for.

Hey glad to be of service. by Paul Leicht at Thu, 10/07/2010 - 17:20
Paul Leicht's picture

Hey glad to be of service. Your articles are always fun to read and it's nice to see a logo on top. :)

Btw a deck list of all the various anti deck hate would have been nice.

good work per usual... by Scartore at Thu, 10/07/2010 - 17:41
Scartore's picture
4

Oddly, the first commander deck I made was a Jhoira deck and it was completely harmless fun. I was mostly interested in playing around with time counters and cheap storm effects. Of course I immediately drew all the hate on the board assuming I was going to go all crazy at any moment.

Sekkuar Deathkeeper is my "Favorite Magic Card EVER", yet I have really struggled to use him as a commander on the kind of budget i usually run. I ws going to suggest him as a card to write about.

Yeah, when I first got back by MMogg at Thu, 10/07/2010 - 18:22
MMogg's picture

Yeah, when I first got back into Magic and found EDH was popular, I immediately wanted to make an esper control deck and picked up a Zur... then I discovered that he was one of the most loathed generals. Needless to say, the deck never got built. I think paper, where you have a playgroup, has the advantage here for playing non-broken decks with breakable generals because they will get to know you and your deck.

Great job on the banner by Xaoslegend at Thu, 10/07/2010 - 20:47
Xaoslegend's picture

Great job on the banner Paul,

How does one enlist your services? I've obviously made my own but not necessarily with a great degree of artistry.

my only commander deck was a Savra, Queen of the Golgari deck that was always pretty fun to run: http://www.mtgotraders.com/deck/viewdeck.php?ID=4993

I kept running into a couple of opponents in the multiplayer room that you couldn't really beat unless everyone teamed up against them but mostly it was the time it took to play the games that petered out my play of it.

Still great format and a good look at it here

X-

Message me in game we can by Paul Leicht at Thu, 10/07/2010 - 21:48
Paul Leicht's picture

Message me in game we can talk about it. :)

Occasionally you do find by Leviathan at Fri, 10/08/2010 - 01:08
Leviathan's picture

Occasionally you do find people who are playing Commander for the first time and are trying to rock Jhoira or Zur without knowing just how broken they are. You can usually tell by the fact that they play pretty suboptimal cards. However, this happens so rarely that people usually shoot first, then ask questions later. These are just Commanders that are usually so powerful they just deserve early game hate.

Game length is an issue. You can't just get into a game and expect to be done in a half hour. But that's part of the fun, I think. It also gives you time to talk smack with your opponents, who are usually pretty fun.

As for a deck that incorporates all of these thoughts, I would probably just end up tweaking the Dakkon deck I made a while ago. I would add Sadistic Sacrament, Jester's Cap, Patrician's Scorn, Linvala, and Relic of Progenitus. I will leave it as an exercise for the reader as to what to take out.

As for the Sek'Kuar deck, I saw someone playing a similar one a couple of months ago, and it was pretty brutal with a whole lot of back breaking combos. It really relies upon the sac outlets, especially the free ones. I don't think I could make a more effective one than the one Sam Black made.

I checked out Sam Black's by Scartore at Fri, 10/08/2010 - 08:56
Scartore's picture

I checked out Sam Black's article and recommend it. He has some great insights into the EDH mindset. His Sek'Kuar deck was packed full of a lot more combo pieces than I would normally run, but I see a few that I should definitely pick up. I don't know why I don't own a bloodghast for instance!