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By: stsung, Jaroslava Stefankova
Jun 21 2016 8:14pm
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Elder Dragon Highlander, now known as Commander is a very popular format. Many players play it mostly casually but some even competitively. EDH thus comes in many forms. There are players that primarily play multiplayer games and there are players who prefer 1-on-1 games. The power level of a deck and skill level of the pilot can vary a lot so I was wondering what it looks like to play a game of EDH on Magic Online.

I hosted some EDH games in the past already because I needed to see if my French EDH deck is fit for tournament play. I did not really get many chances to try my deck out since many players conceded by turn 2 or 3. So in order to be able to explore the field I decided to play something relatively slow and not disruptive if possible. A casual deck so to say. I was thinking hard to figure out what general to play but in the end I decided to stick with "Happy Flying Hippo" - Phelddagrif - that gives me access to Blue, Green and White.

Why Phelddagrif? I wouldn't possibly choose Phelddagrif myself but some time ago I was given the card by my EDH playgroup. They wanted to face a deck that wouldn't kill them by combo, would let them resolve their spells and would not kill them with its general in one swing. I accepted the card and their conditions and that is how the first Phelddagrif Turboland deck came to be 2 years ago. While playing with the deck I actually started to like the general. For 1GWU (which is a cheap card in the deck) we have a 4/4 body that is difficult to deal with and can block well while often being able to kill the creature it blocks. It can go through small creatures because of Trample, it can FLY and if things go wrong it can be bounced back to my hand. The flying ability is actually pretty good. It gives my opponent 2 life but Phelddagrif still deals 4 commander damage and if my deck gets stuck this is a way to win the game. In multiplayer games it can help certain players stay in game which is a very nice addition.

The deck I wanted to build

  • should not be a combo deck or a heavy control deck (that's what I usually play)
  • should be good enough to win at least some games
  • should be 'playable' in multiplayer and 1-on-1 games
  • should be able to go BIG

 The idea of the deck comes from an Extended deck named Turboland. In short it was a Blue-Green deck that ran Exploration, Horn of Greed and Time Walk effects to gain infinite turns. The deck could lock opponent out with Capsize and Forbid with Buyback. So the game usually ended with the opponent scooping knowing he would just draw his entire deck without being able to do anything. The rest of the deck was mostly disruption (Force of Wills and Counterspells). Ten years later the deck could play Crucible of Worlds and Wasteland. Azusa, Lost but Seeking was also printed which was an additional Exploration effect at the cost of 3 mana but allowing to play 2 additional lands. If one wanted to end the game he could choose from a wide range of cards but Meloku the Clouded Mirror used to be the card I ran.

So if we break it down the deck needs to

  • play or put lands in play
  • needs to draw cards
  • needs to have the possibility to get few additional turns at least
  • needs a way how to win the game in a (25 minutes) time limit
  • needs to survive

The deck plays 41 lands which should be enough to be able to play a land each turn. In addition there are about 10 cards that can help me put additional lands into play (I could play a bit more). Among the ramp spells there are those that allow me to search for Forest card rather than basic lands so I can fetch my dual lands, shock lands and slow lands - Nature's Lore, Skyshroud Claim, Three Visits and Wood Elves also put the lands on the battlefield so I can use them right away.

The original decklist ran Exploration, Rites of Flourishing and Howling Mine effects. But I decided to run more card drawing effects that affect only me since my deck is actually light on threats in general and it seems other EDH players run more mana acceleration than me while not even being a ramp deck. (note: I cut Exploration due to it costing 30 tix, I would keep it in the deck normally).

Card drawing cards are very important and this deck needs to go through many cards. So anything with "Draw three cards" is actually good no matter the downside (unless it also says "Discard three cards"). That is why I have Compulsive Research, Thirst for Knowledge, Urban Evolution and Treasure Cruise in the deck. There are other cards that either 'draw a card' or filter the library. Among them is Courser of Kruphix that is one of the two cards that allows me to gain some life an Oracle of Mul Daya that allows me to play an additional land. I used to run Future Sight when the deck was way lighter on creatures and ran 9 fetchlands but the card is not needed. Many times it was too powerful for my opponents to deal with.

Apart from ramping and drawing cards the deck needs to deal with some permanents - mostly creatures. For that reason there are board wipes in form of Oblivion Stone (that is recurred with Academy Ruins), Wrath of God, Day of Judgment and Supreme Verdict. I do not run much spot removal because it should not be needed (but it is the biggest weakness) so there is only Oblivion Ring and Detention Sphere. When it comes to extra turns the deck wants to play cards that can be returned to hand with Eternal Witness for example. During the whole Magic history there 6 spells that do not exile themselves and I would be willing to play them - Time Walk, Time Warp, Temporal Manipulation, Capture of Jingzhou, Beacon of Tomorrows and Walk the Aeons. The original Time Walk is banned so I choose Walk the Aeons which can be abused quite easily since it has buyback, Beacon of Tomorrows can be drawn once again and any one or two of the remaining ones. Three spells of this effect seem to be enough though.

As for creatures, there are utility creatures that draw cards (Wall of Blossoms, Sphinx of Uthuun), fetch lands or creatures (Solemn Simulacrum, Conduit of Ruin), destroy noncreature permanents (Acidic Slime, World Breaker) or return cards from graveyard (Eternal Witness, Greenwarder of Murasa). Then there are the BIG creatures that are supposed to win the game - Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and Kozilek, Butcher of Truth.

Since many of the creatures have comes into play ability I added Crystal Shard to the deck. That is a card I always liked to abuse in my blue decks. Who doesn't like an Eternal Witness effect each turn? Not only can the Shard be used on my own creatures but it can deal with opponent's creatures sometimes as well. For the same reason there is also Progenitor Mimic that I find cool but never found a place for it in a competitive deck and Phyrexian Metamorph that can also copy an artifact. Since many decks run mana acceleration in forms of big mana rocks it can also help me play big Eldrazi spells faster.

When I built the deck for the first time it did not really consist of creatures (it ran Meloku and Emrakul). There were few utility creatures like Eternal Witness and Solemn Simulacrum but it did not play creatures big enough to beat someone fast. In order to win a game I used Mindslaver and Academy Ruins most of the time. I was told to play creatures though instead so slowly I added more and more creatures. Since I already ran Mindslaver and Ruins I decided to play Treasure Mage, that can fetch the Slaver. But it could also have other targets. I decided to put Myr Battlesphere that can be tutored with both the Mage and Conduit of Ruin and Steel Hellkite (but that was because my imagination ran rather dry). I also added some trinkets I could use with Academy Ruins - Expedition Map can find Academy Ruins or Eye of Ugin, and Relic of Progenitus because removing a graveyard from the game is often needed and if not it replaces itself.

So now we know what the deck consists of but what does it do? In early game the deck tries ramp, keeping any hand that has 3 or more lands is good. It either plays the ramp spells or tries to draw them along with lands so no land drop is missed (it needs at least access to UUU, GG and WW in play if possible). The deck needs to play a land per turn at least, if there is nothing to play there is always Phelddagrif to be played for 1GWU. It either puts pressure on the opponent or it can block. In midgame while usually having 6-8 resources available the deck tries to deal with anything that the opponent has played so far. It usually means finding a Wrath effect and playing it. If not the deck wants to play utility creatures and get the most value out of them and then use them to save some life. In late game the deck looks for a threat and plays it. Then the deck usually only needs one extra turn. In late game the deck can control the game with Forbid and Capsize and possibly win by controlling target opponent's turns.

After a few days of playing with the deck it seems to me that I could make the deck more efficient since the majority of the decks I played against were more powerful than my deck and some were seriously competitive. Also, even though my deck is a ramp deck a majority of the decks could generate more mana than mine (so maybe more ramp is better). The games were fun though and I even won most of them. The deck is good against aggressive decks. The deck is fine against midrange decks even though it lacks threats. The Eldrazi are rather resilient though and can be recurred or played one by one. Against control decks this deck struggles a lot but it can still win through recursion (mostly with Mindslaver combo) or by being fast and aggressive (does not happen often). It needs to amass a number of threats, then try to play them and then resolve the Mindslaver with 12 lands and Academy Ruins in play. Phelddagrif becomes the best card against such decks since it can be played over and over and it costs the control player some cards. Against combo decks the deck needs to win as fast as possible and is mostly completely clueless against such decks.

I think it is time to post the decklist.

Phelddagrif Turbolands
Happy Flying Hippo meets Eldrazi

Creatures
1 Acidic Slime
1 Conduit of Ruin
1 Courser of Kruphix
1 Eternal Witness
1 Greenwarden of Murasa
1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
1 Mulldrifter
1 Myr Battlesphere
1 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
1 Oracle of Mul Daya
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Progenitor Mimic
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Sphinx of Uthuun
1 Terastodon
1 Treasure Mage
1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
1 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
1 Wall of Blossoms
1 Wall of Omens
1 Wall of Roots
1 Wood Elves
1 Woodfall Primus
1 World Breaker
26 cards

Other Spells
1 Beacon of Tomorrows
1 Capsize
1 Compulsive Research
1 Crystal Shard
1 Cultivate
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Day of Judgment
1 Detention Sphere
1 Expedition Map
1 Explore
1 Forbid
1 Jace's Ingenuity
1 Jace, Architect of Thought
1 Kodama's Reach
1 Mindslaver
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Nature's Lore
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Rampant Growth
1 Relic of Progenitus
1 Skyshroud Claim
1 Sphinx's Revelation
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Temporal Manipulation
1 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Three Visits
1 Tooth and Nail
1 Treasure Cruise
1 Urban Evolution
1 Walk the Aeons
1 Wrath of God
32 cards
Lands
1 Academy Ruins
1 Adarkar Wastes
1 Breeding Pool
1 Brushland
1 Canopy Vista
1 Command Tower
1 Eye of Ugin
1 Flooded Strand
6 Forest
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Hallowed Fountain
7 Island
1 Lumbering Falls
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Petrified Field
3 Plains
1 Prairie Stream
1 Savannah
1 Sunpetal Grove
1 Temple Garden
1 Tolaria West
1 Tropical Island
1 Tundra
1 Wasteland
1 Wastes
1 Windswept Heath
1 Yavimaya Coast
41 cards

Sideboard
1 Phelddagrif
1 cards
Eye of Ugin

 

The total cost of the deck seems to be around 280 tix but the price can be reduced by roughly 240 tix. Apart from mana base the deck's more expensive cards than 2 tix can be replaced or cut. I prepared a table with some examples.

Cards more expensive than 2 tix Aprox. Price Possible replacement
Wall of Roots 3 Coiling Oracle might even be a better card
Nissa, Vastwood Seer 9 Kiora, Master of the Depths
Phyrexian Metamorph 6 Rite of Replication
World Breaker 4 Deceiver of Form, it's big, it scries, sometimes makes creatures big)
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger 8 cut
Mystical Tutor 10 cut/Austere Command
Oblivion Stone 16 Nevinyrral's Disk
Sphinx's Revelation 12 Stroke of Genius
Jace, Architect of Thought 10 Fact or Fiction
Supreme Verdict 3 Planar Outburst
Wrath of God 4 End Hostilities

 

This reduces the price by 80 tix more or less. The rest of the expensive cards is in the mana base since Wasteland and fetchlands are expensive. But those are not necessary. I used to run fetchlands just to be able to shuffle the deck since I played more 'Play with the top card of your library revealed' cards rather than trying to fix my mana. Thanks to the ramp spells I managed to get the colors I need usually anyway. Wasteland can be replaced with Ghost Quarter. It is not in the deck to keep an opponent out of mana but rather to deal with cards like Eye of Ugin or Hall of the Bandit Lord. The last expensive card is Petrified Field. It produces colorless mana that I sometimes need and can return Academy Ruins or Eye of Ugin from the graveyard. Petrified Field is not needed that much but it is nice to have it in the deck.

The whole Phelddagrif adventure was fun for me so I hope you enjoyed the artcile as well and if you decide to give this deck a try I hope you'll have at least the same amount of fun as me with it. For those interested I even recorded few videos. 

Phelddagrif Turbolands vs Anowon Vampires

Phelddagrif Turbolands vs Oloro Lifegain