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By: stsung, Jaroslava Stefankova
Aug 11 2016 11:00am
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My very first activation of Roon of the Hidden Realm was preceded by 'Oops, I passed my opponent's [second] main phase'. One of the viewers of my stream asked me why that is a problem. Roon's blink ability reads: '{2}, {T}: Exile another target creature. Return that card to the battlefield under its owner's control at the beginning of the next end step.' This means that if I remove a creature from the game at the end of turn it will return the following turn and that is something I really did not want to happen. I needed my creature to come back on the same turn so it could attack and so that I could blink it again on my turn. So meet the general that requires a player to do something in his opponent's end of Post Combat Main Phase - Roon of the Hidden Realm.

Roon is one of the legendary creatures from Commander 2013. He is rather expensive to cast (2GWU) but he's got a decent body (4/4), Vigilance, Trample and an awesome ability that can be used on your own creatures or opponent's ones. The fact that the creature does not come into play immediately might be seen as a disadvantage at first but it can be used to our advantage. We can remove opponent's creature from the game so we can attack for example or we can save one of our creatures when our opponent plays Wrath of God (or if we are forced to play them).

Roon of the Hidden Realm allows us to trigger comes into play and leaves play effects repeatedly and it can also reset creature cards (for example those with Persist or cards like Phyrexian Metamorph). When Roon gets 'online' it can lock the opponent down when specific creatures are on the board. On the other hand when Roon dies and cannot be played due to being too expensive, the deck sometimes just falls behind and struggles to keep up with opponent's deck. A single Wrath effect can utterly destroy this deck, but the deck has graveyard recursion and can sometimes overcome this. If Roon is around when Wrath effect is going to happen, he can at least save one creature which can be very important. Sometimes that one creature can bring back what died later. There is Angel of Serenity, Karmic Guide, Eternal Witness, Reveillark to deal with this. If these are not enough there is always Sun Titan and Deadwood Treefolk that can be added to the deck.

Why play this deck?

If you like all those small creatures that have awesome abilities and you like to use those abilities repeatedly you might like this general. If you like controlling the board, being reactive and dislike linear play this deck is for you. It can create very strange situations and scenarios where you have to figure out how to deal with the situation while not having truly strong cards that would solve the problem for you. This deck does not run big flashy creatures or strong planeswalkers but rather relies on the strength of many creatures and their abilities. The creatures may be weak power/toughness-wise but when their abilities are put together you can do almost anything you'd like! Note that this deck is very interactive and features many triggers (not as many as my Meren deck) so playing fast is advised because the deck is rather slow.

Card choices


The general idea of this deck is to play its general and blink your own creatures to gain extra value. I chose this general because it has access to green unlike Brago, King Eternal for example and because it is a blink enabler on its own. Often players play blink decks to blink their general rather the other way round (for example Rasputin Dreamweaver is a good blink target). Before Roon (as the deck) came into existence I built a Derevi, Empyrial Tactician deck. The deck was of highly competitive nature though and blink was rather a sub-theme of the deck and I started looking for a different general trying to go 100% blink. I stumbled upon Brago. Even though I couldn't imagine anything more evil, Brago proved to be even more destructive. He blinks nonland permanents which is rather unusual and that is why I started looking for noncreature permanents that could be blinked or reset. Resetting a Planeswalker is always a good thing right? But what if I reset cards with Vanishing or Fading? How about Parallax Tide or Parallax Wave. How about Tangle Wire? As for blinking targets at first I just wanted to play artifacts like Ichor Wellspring for example. What I stumbled upon is something you don't even want to see. For example I discovered a card named Reality Acid. In blue decks this card can be very desperate removal for something that slips past counterspells. But in Brago this is totally different card! It says 'Destroy one permanent per turn'. After few games in which me and opponent got both totally disgusted I finally chose Roon. After my previous attempts I realized that excessive blinking or more recurring blinking at instant speed is not really what I would like since it usually just drives my opponents away (have you ever played UW Blink in Pauper? My opponents weren't usually happy to see the deck). For that reason I decided to recur creatures rather than cards like Ghostway or Eerie Interlude. This way the deck became more 'midrange' and not that dependent on the blink spells.

The deck needs its general soon and relies on it quite a lot (more than I would like). Since the general can die there are other blink enablers - Deadeye Navigator, Mistmeadow Witch and Venser, the Sojourner. I added two blink spells as well - Momentary Blink and Turn to Mist. The first one I added because it has Flashback. The second one for the reason it returns the creature at end of turn unlike majority spells that return the creature immediately and can be used on an opponent's creature.

Since we create value by blinking creatures we need to play a blink enabler as fast as possible. For that there is a certain amount of acceleration in various forms be it mana producing creatures (Birds of Paradise), creatures fetching a land (Wood Elves), mana rocks (Selesnya Signet) or spells (Nature's Lore). Since this deck does not run tutors of any kind it needs to draw many cards or return cards from the graveyard. For that there is actually a wide range of creatures one can choose from (Wall of Blossoms, Elvish Visionary, Sea Gate Oracle etc.). A notable omission is Slithermuse. This card has never performed reliably well for me. The reason is that usually I need the effect when I am screwed and often that is the moment during which my opponent(s) don't have cards in their hands. For that reason I rather play anything that simply says 'When X enters the battlefield, draw a card'. Since this deck does not look for specific cards I don't run cards like Augury Owl. Filtering cards is good though and that is why there is still Courser of Kruphix in the deck. It gains life and filters the library.

From time to time though one really needs to see more cards than just one (or two in the case of Sea Gate Oracle) and for that reason I added Compulsive Research, Thirst for Knowledge, Mystic Confluence and Urban Evolution and later even Sphinx of Uthuun. I used to run Sphinx's Revelation but most of the time X was 3 so I decided to cut the card and replace it with a creature. Sphinx of Uthuun not only efficiently draws cards but is also a flyer which can be very important in some matchups.

I mentioned graveyard recursion already - there is Angel of Serenity that also has a big body and can be used as removal as well, Eternal Witness, Greenwarden of Murasa (this deck does not usually want to remove this card from the graveyard, but rather keep it there so it can be brought back with Eternal Witness or Karmic Guide so it can be blinked once again while in play), Karmic Guide (note that Karmic Guide in Angel, cannot be blinked with Restoration Angel) and Reveillark. Reveillark does not have comes into play ability but rather leaves play one. So either Evoke it or have something with which you can blink it to trigger it.

Not so many decks can live without removal and this deck needs it. There is some spot removal like Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile but it also features more strange removal in the form of Selesnya Charm that removes a creature with power 5 or greater and Bant Charm (I really do not want to destroy creatures if I can exile them or put them on the bottom of the library). In creature form there is Duplicant and Angel of Serenity. Global removal is needed from time to time and that is the reason why I run Wrath of God and Supreme Verdict. If you don't have access to removal, bounce effects (or Roon's/Mistmeadow Witch's blink) can be used. There is Man-o'-War (that can be replaced with Reflector Mage that is strictly better but people outright hate that card), Venser, Shaper Savant that can sometimes bounce a spell and Mystic Confluence that can bounce up to three targets.

Destroying artifacts and enchantments is important in EDH so there is Trygon Predator, Harmonic Sliver, Reclamation Sage, Bant Charm (to get rid of Torpor Orb for example) and Acidic Slime.

Merrow Witsniper is a card many people do not understand. Many players play cards that put something on top of the library though and it is usually a much needed tutored card. If you manage to use it only once like this the card is worth it (people do not usually bother destroying this creature). If you would like to abuse this card more in order to keep it in the deck you can add Nevermaker to your deck (cut Journey to Nowhere). I even managed to mill few players like this. This card can target any player that means even you. Sometimes that comes handy as well.

Sometimes I have to face graveyard recursion. I used to run Loaming Shaman and Stonecloaker against such decks but I'd rather have the whole graveyard removed from the game. For that purpose there is Angel of Finality.

From time to time this deck also needs counterspells. There are a few - Counterspell, Memory Lapse and Mystic Confluence. Even though Mystic Confluence is more of a draw spell it can also counter something when needed. The last counterspell is Mystic Snake. Sometimes this creature can be blinked with Momentary Blink or Restoration Angel to counter once again so it is not that bad. The opponent should be wary that this can happen and that alone helps. Even though it does not work well with other blink enablers I always found it worth to run this card. With Deadeye Navigator it becomes degenerate though.

The last card with 'strange' effect is Stonehorn Dignitary. I fell in love with this creature when I played 4c Pod in Standard years ago and for that reason I decided to put it in this deck. The card is not necessary but I find it as a nice addition and it can block quite well.

Stonehorn Dignitary trying to save my life not letting a horde of Slivers to attack.

Strategy

This deck is rather slow and requires a set up so the early game usually consists of playing lands, ramp and few creatures. If your opponent will be putting pressure on you, keep in mind that you need some utility creatures to gain value from on the board later. So do not block with those if they would die. When you play your general you can start using it. Either blinking your own creatures to gain additional value or blinking one of your opponent's creature to slow him down till you can get better control of the board. During mid-game you usually start playing more expensive creatures and set up your board which can lead to locking your opponent. When Roon is out you should always keep those 2 mana open so you can blink. If possible protect your general or key cards. The counterspells are there for extreme threats so use them wisely. If your opponent targets Roon for the first time with Swords to Plowshares there is no need to counter it usually. But if he plays Wrath of God into your board with Roon and some creatures you really should counter that card.


I used to run Reveillark combo in the deck at first (Body Double, Mirror Entity, Karmic Guide + Acidic Slime/Venser, Shaper Savant) since one needs to loop it just a few times to deal with everything on the board. I found out that it is not necessary. The deck alone can win the game without the combo just by attacking. On the other hand Deadeye Navigator and Acidic Slime/Venser, Shaper Savant does pretty much the same thing as the combo and does not require many steps and 5 different cards. That is why people will just scoop when they will see these two cards. Playing the Lark combo in a deck does not always have the same effect because many players are rather unsuspecting about it. But when they see you try to kill your team a few times they will concede. Now with the combo gone from the deck you should just be able to consistently blink your creatures and put pressure on your opponent with those creatures. Since Roon is relatively big he can sometimes win by dealing 21 Commander damage but honestly this is rather rare. Winning through regular combat damage and forcing opponent to scoop (locking him down) is way more common.

Weaknesses

Since EDH games can be pretty different the deck can be overpowered against some decks and weak against others. The main weakness of this deck is consistency. This problem is what makes it fun to play though because it forces the player to come up with different ways how to deal with something. If you'll find need to make the deck better all you need to do is introduce some tutors. It does not need to be Worldly Tutor or Mystical Tutor. There are even creatures that fetch other creatures - Fierce Empath that can find the 6+ mana bombs like Angel of Serenity and Sphinx of Uthuun, or Brutalizer Exarch that can either tutor a creature or get rid of a noncreature permanent. If even more value is needed, cards like Seedborn Muse or Murkfiend Liege will allow you to use Roon's ability on each of your and opponent's turns.

If the level of your decks will be more or less the same then in general any fast deck is a problem for this deck. But the worst matchups for this decks include fast dedicated combos and token generating decks (swarms in general). This deck runs few global removal spells but those cannot stop such decks from running you over. If you'll be running against heavy control, the best way to beat it is just to play the creatures and attack. It  probably won't work but trying to do something fancy won't help much (unless a miracle happens). Playing against mono blue control decks is actually easier than multicolored control decks because mono blue decks don't usually have many ways how to deal with your creatures that actually resolve (blue removal exists even though it leaves usually something behind).

There are certain cards that stop the deck from working. For example cards like Torpor Orb or Hushwing Gryff that prevent creatures' comes into play effects to trigger will just ruin your day. Because of cards like Torpor Orb I used to run Krosan Grip. But since people don't usually run these cards I decided to cut it and play Bant Charm and Trygon Predator instead even though those are not the ideal choices. But for some reason I do not really like Aura Shards (even though that is the number 1 card against Enchantments and Artifacts in this deck) and Bane of Progress that I would love to play but costs a fortune (15 tix?). If you would be playing with people that tend to play combos and hate against your deck Krosan Grip and Glen Elendra Archmage is the way to go. Qasali Pridemage works as well since they both use activation ability to destroy artifact or enchantment.

Other cards that wreck the plan are global removal spells that remove creatures from the game - Anger of the Gods or Merciless Eviction for example. This deck needs its cards either in play or in the graveyard. Without them the deck won't stand a chance playing against any kind of midrange deck since the power of single cards in Roon deck is relatively low.

Cards more expensive than 2 tix Aprox. Price Possible replacement
Roon of the Hidden Realm 4 no replacement obviously
Kitchen Finks 4 Lone Missionary/Spike Feeder
Phyrexian Metamorph 4 There are other 'clones' for lesser price. In this deck it is not that important to have access to 3 mana Clone.
Restoration Angel 9 Flickerwisp. Even though this card won't save any other card because it does not have Flash, it can still do pretty awesome job at blinking.
Venser, Shaper Savant 4 Riftwing Cloudskate
Thragtusk 3 There isn't a better creature at gaining life and leaving a creature behind. I like Spike Feeder as another life gain creature. Wingmate Roc could be a possible replacement even though the Raid condition is already too much for my taste.
Mystic Confluence 4 This card is there more because of its 'draw a card ability' so you can run for example Tidings or Stroke of Genius.
Venser, the Sojourner 8 Conjurer's Closet. It is not a win condition but it blinks a creature once per turn.

Here is the decklist in a text form (if you will be downloading the decklist, there is Fiend Hunter instead of Angel of Finality).

Roon of the Second Main Phase
by STsung, 211tix
Creatures
1 Acidic Slime
1 Angel of Serenity
1 Avacyn's Pilgrim
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Brago, King Eternal
1 Coiling Oracle
1 Courser of Kruphix
1 Deadeye Navigator
1 Duplicant
1 Elvish Visionary
1 Eternal Witness
1 Fiend Hunter
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Greenwarden of Murasa
1 Harmonic Sliver
1 Karmic Guide
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Loxodon Hierarch
1 Man-o'-War
1 Merrow Witsniper
1 Mistmeadow Witch
1 Mulldrifter
1 Mystic Snake
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Restoration Angel
1 Reveillark
1 Sea Gate Oracle
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Soul of the Harvest
1 Sphinx of Uthuun
1 Stonehorn Dignitary
1 Sylvan Caryatid
1 Thragtusk
1 Trygon Predator
1 Venser, Shaper Savant
1 Wall of Blossoms
1 Wall of Omens
1 Wistful Selkie
1 Wood Elves
40 cards
 
Other Spells
1 Azorius Signet
1 Bant Charm
1 Compulsive Research
1 Counterspell
1 Detention Sphere
1 Journey to Nowhere
1 Memory Lapse
1 Momentary Blink
1 Mystic Confluence
1 Nature's Lore
1 Path to Exile
1 Selesnya Charm
1 Selesnya Signet
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Three Visits
1 Turn to Mist
1 Urban Evolution
1 Venser, the Sojourner
1 Wrath of God
21 cards
Lands
1 Breeding Pool
1 Canopy Vista
1 Celestial Colonnade
1 Command Tower
1 Flooded Strand
6 Forest
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Hinterland Harbor
6 Island
1 Marsh Flats
1 Misty Rainforest
7 Plains
1 Polluted Delta
1 Savannah
1 Sunpetal Grove
1 Temple Garden
1 Temple of Mystery
1 Tropical Island
1 Tundra
1 Wasteland
1 Windswept Heath
38 cards