Sygg, River Cutthroat - Removal.dec

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Post by WizardMN » 8 months ago

I had a Sygg deck built a while back for a league we had done where there were some budget constraints (the list is still on MTGSalvation). Lately, I have been looking for a new deck to play and I keep coming back to that one since I really liked the dynamic of Blue-Based stack interaction coupled with Black-Based board control. And I figured I could change it a little for the better since I am no longer hampered by a budget. To start with, here is the list:

Sygg, River Cutthroat

General (1)


1 Sygg, River Cutthroat

Sorceries (6)


1 Damnation
1 Ponder
1 Preordain
1 Serum Visions
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Windfall

Artifacts (3)


1 Mox Amber
1 Mox Diamond
1 Smuggler's Copter
Approximate Total Cost:

I enjoy control decks which are tough to make work in EDH due to the nature of having 3 people to keep in check instead of just 1. Even my Ephara deck is pretty light on counter magic. But this deck uses a lot of spot removal and counter magic to trade one for one along with a few wraths to deal with board states that need to be wrathed away. Since I don't have white, my wraths are just for creatures except for Cyclonic Rift. I might add in a couple other mass bounce spells if I feel they are necessary but I want to try it out this way first.

There are a number of cards that are somewhat questionable but for my creatures I wanted to do what I could to ensure they drew me cards. Either directly via a trigger or just dealing 3 damage so Sygg would trigger. Specifically, Blacklance Paragon gets a pass for this as it can deal 3 damage when needed but also sort of doubles as removal. But it otherwise isn't too impressive so I can see the argument for cutting it but I wanted to give it a try.

Thassa is a bit on the gray side of things as well as I only have a few creatures that have good ETB triggers, but they have really good ones to remove threats so I wanted to give her a try to see if she could help double up on a few things. She also potentially gives me an indestructible threat later on and can tap down some voltron generals or big threats if I need to. I think I only have 8 creatures to flicker so she might not survive too long.

Otherwise, I tried to make my removal suite cheap. Slaughter Pact, Rapid Hybridization, Pongify, Snuff Out are ones where they can be cast for cheap or free (Pact is delayed, but that's fine). Pact and Snuff Out do only hit Nonblack creatures which can be a problem and it is also one of the reasons Malicious Affliction didn't quite make the cut. This could be a mistake but I found when playing the deck nearly a year ago that getting the copy was somewhat rare so the biggest draw to it didn't materialize all that often.

One major thing that might stand out is the lack of mana rocks. I generally do have some but with Sygg being cheap and none of them helping me cast him earlier thanks to the 2 color requirement, I have eschewed mana rocks in this deck for now. I might need to come up with a way to ensure I hit land drops, though the card draw helps with that quite a bit. I never felt that I missed the ramp of mana rocks too much so I don't know how much I need them in this build.

I haven't played the deck yet with these changes so I am hoping to see what it can do on Wednesday. Until then, I will probably just keep goldfishing with it and tweaking things I can think of. Though goldfishing a control deck is kind of difficult.
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Post by pokken » 8 months ago

This deck is awesome. I love Sygg and really dig the concepts going on here.

I do think you could stand for a few Sygg enablers. Even Pestilence might be pretty good (just ping for 2 when someone cracks a fetchland or shocks or whatever). Since you're so reliant on his CA and he's so dang cheap, I also think some mass bounce effects would be really good -- stuff like scourge of fleets and devastation tide. Even kederekt leviathan is pretty nice.

A couple pieces like sword of fire and ice and cloak and dagger might be pretty good for getting Sygg to 3 power by himself so you can chip shot people and protect him. Jitte might be even better actually since it can pump him and kill other dudes.

A short list of little synergy pieces that might be worth thinking on (though I would probably include just a small package of a couple -- syr konrad is my favorite).

Your curve is super low so a lot of the more expensive stuff doesn't work. but with your removal packages I think finding room for Wurm + Konrad would enable you to finish people off in bursts and also sometimes snag cards on other players' turns.

Anyway thanks for sharing, really a ton of ideas for my own Sygg deck that I keep wanting to brew :)
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Post by WizardMN » 8 months ago

I used to have the Leviathan and I cut it for this time around due to the mana cost. While I understand that Scourge of Fleet doesn't hit my stuff, I think I would still rather have Evacuation or Engulf the Shore. I like the idea of it but 7 mana is really high for something like that.

I had thought of Devastation Tide too and decided to skip it for now. It isn't consistent enough to be cast for its Miracle cost.

I really like Cloak and Dagger. It seems to fit the deck reasonably well. It gives Sygg protection and makes him able to trigger himself. I will have to see how often he is getting destroyed by spot removal to see if it is worth it since I think I value the Shroud higher than the added power (even though the power is what allows him to trigger). Sygg isn't a real visible general in a game since he does basically nothing to other people. I can see him getting left alone for the most part.

I am not sure how much the "deal 1 damage" or "lose 1 life" effects will help. And, there are a lot of those that are high in the curve. I do like Syr Konrad but 5 mana is actually a lot for this deck. Of the ones you mentioned, I think Dread Presence, Marchesa's Decree, and Pestilence stick out the most to me as being the easier ways to get to the 3 life lost in a turn. Decree does put a bit of a target on my back which I might not be able to stop. And, I doubt I would really use Dread Presence to deal damage except to pick off creatures. I might as well just draw the card directly instead of trying to get Sygg to trigger. The 2 life gained is also good there as I don't have much life gain. I probably like that one the most. 4 mana isn't too high though it starts to get to the upper bounds of what I want.

I do see the inherent synergy with Wurm and Konrad so I will keep it in mind. But, that really works the best with small token decks which my meta doesn't have a lot of. I think I would rather throw in an actual wrath if I needed it and try to handle the life loss/dealing damage some other way.

Thanks for the suggestions. After I play the deck a little more I may find some of those suggestions being relevant as I figure out where the weak spots of the deck are.

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Post by pokken » 8 months ago

Yeah, I think you're right that efficiency is going to be really important especially if you try to play without ramping. With how low your curve is and how many ways to generate draw I think you'll probably just want to play a few cantrips to ensure you hit land drops - ponder / preordain / portent are the three I would run since you can't get un-brainstormlocked too much. Maybe Impulse. You could probably straight up shave to 37 lands if you added all four cantrips.

How much the ping effects help really depends on how your meta plays; if there's a lot of life-as-a-resource stuff going on it's pretty easy for a pestilence to turn a fetchland into speeding up the clock and drawing a card. Much like massacre wurm it's very much a meta thing and a call only you can make.

Look forward to hearing how it develops :)

edit: Hey sorry, I somehow forgot bloodchief ascension -- that's a bit of a hatorade piece but I think you should be able to defend it I would think. Worth considering.
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Post by WizardMN » 8 months ago

I got to play this deck last night and it performed very well. I played against Ramos, Dragon Engine, Gargos, Vicious Watcher, and Anje Falkenrath.

I started off with a Bojuka Bog. I would have rather saved it as I had the mana to cast Sygg with just Blue mana, but my curve would have been messed up if I missed a black source. So, I got Sygg down turn two but then didn't do much for a couple turns. Gargos was really going aggro and ended up getting a Kalonian Hydra on turn 3. I took a shot for 8 and then bounced it once and then blew it up with some removal spell later. I also made sure Gargos never stayed alive for very long. I think I countered it 2 or 3 times. The first was with Forbid since it was the only counter I had and I couldn't buy it back.

Once I stablized and slowed down Gargos enough, (or, rather, while I was doing that) I was casting my smaller stuff like Mindblade Render and Shadowmage Infiltrator. I got Ashiok, Nightmare Muse on the table to get rid of something of Gargos's first and then made creatures from there. I swung in and returned a token to my hand to get Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow on the board. She hit four or five times over the course of the game which made players lose around 15 life or so. She was pretty big in winning me this game (though only for a specific reason I will mention below).

With those 3 creatures attacking, I was "drawing" 4 cards per turn so my hand was full. I made my land drops, I had my removal to deal with opposing creatures and I had my counters to deal with spells as I needed. I ended up countering a wrath because by board of small tokens and 1/3's were doing excellent work. Sygg was removed once early on but, beyond that, none of my creatures died.

I ended up winning in the end thanks to Ramos mostly. I had been getting in pot shots to people and Gargos and Anje were both below 10 life while I was at 17. Ramos had a Bolas's Citadel that is actually very hard to deal with once resolved. Ashiok was my only option and I never had a good time to bounce it since they would just recast it. But, I attempted to do something like wrath the board and Ramos activated Citadel and sacrificed a bunch of tokens Elspeth, Sun's Champion created to make us all lose 10 life. I also had a Cylconic Rift in hand that I though about keeping up 7 mana for, but I decided to only leave up 2.

They also had Sorin, Grim Nemesis which was now a big threat so I cast Vraska's Contempt to exile it and go down to 5. They were at 10 themselves after activating Citadel thanks to using Citadel and I got them down to 4 after they got me to 5. They cast some spell to reanimate their Wrexial, the Risen Deep which would have killed me but I was able to bounce it with Rift.

From there, I was able to just sneak in for the last remaining points of damage and win the game. It does show that resolved Artifacts are a problem. It isn't too surprising but things like Citadel need answers and I am not sure "bounce, then counter" is going to work too often. Considering it didn't work here anyway.

Overall, this game was pretty good for the deck and gave me a few things to look at. I really wanted to cast Blacklance Paragon but just couldn't find the right time to do it. I think it would have been good to kill one of Gargos's Hydras (or, at least, that is what I wanted to do) but, at the time, I didn't get a chance where I could spend the mana and I had better removal options anyway.

This also highlights one of the big things I had a problem with the first time around: life gain. Or, more specifically, losing life too quickly or spending it for spells. Getting down to 5 life could have been a problem if Ramos wasn't already at a low enough life total. I stayed away from Exsanguinate in this build as I had always felt this build wasn't that conducive to X spells in general since I don't get a lot of mana. And, a Sorcery timing one is even worse since it means I either have to tap out to get the most out of it, or try to save mana which makes the spell less effective.

I had run Venser's Journal for a time which I might go back to. 5 mana is a lot for this deck which is why I chose to leave it out for now. I am going to see if I can find something else for lifegain (maybe just giving my creatures lifelink or including more with lifelink?) but that is the main thing I see now.

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Post by WizardMN » 8 months ago

pokken wrote:
8 months ago
Yeah, I think you're right that efficiency is going to be really important especially if you try to play without ramping. With how low your curve is and how many ways to generate draw I think you'll probably just want to play a few cantrips to ensure you hit land drops - ponder / preordain / portent are the three I would run since you can't get un-brainstormlocked too much. Maybe Impulse. You could probably straight up shave to 37 lands if you added all four cantrips.

How much the ping effects help really depends on how your meta plays; if there's a lot of life-as-a-resource stuff going on it's pretty easy for a pestilence to turn a fetchland into speeding up the clock and drawing a card. Much like massacre wurm it's very much a meta thing and a call only you can make.

Look forward to hearing how it develops :)

edit: Hey sorry, I somehow forgot bloodchief ascension -- that's a bit of a hatorade piece but I think you should be able to defend it I would think. Worth considering.
I realize I never actually responded to this, so here goes:

Ponder and Preordain might make their way into the deck. The reason they haven't is because my creatures are typically good enough for draw engines (see the game above) so adding in more draw might not be all that helpful. Granted, they do allow for some selection of cards, but still. If I wanted to go that route, I would probably go with your suggestion of Impulse over Sorcery options since the deck really wants to play at instant timing and Impulse lets me see an extra card.

Pestilence isn't the worst but it almost always requires that my opponent's take damage from some other source first. Activating it 3 times just kills all my stuff. I realize that is the scenario you are talking about (activating for the 1 or 2 I need) but I would rather try to find something else. Especially, as the last game indicated, I tend to get low enough on life as it is so hitting myself over the course of the game might be too detrimental.

Bloodchief Ascension is probably more in line with where I want to be since it doesn't hurt me and can actually get the 3+ life loss I need to trigger Sygg. It can also give me some much needed life gain. I will pick one up as I think this is pretty good for this deck and might solve some of the issues with life if it can stick around.

Massacre Wurm is definitely a meta call and it would have helped immensely against Ramos's Soldier tokens from Elspeth. But, 6 mana is definitely a concern. And I don't think it does a lot in most other situations.

My main line of thinking is that I either want to keep the curve low or I need to add ramp for high CMC things to work right. Which means that adding in Massacre Wurm means adding in Sword of the Animist (this would be my first choice and maybe should be here anyway?), mana rocks, Medallions, etc. Not to say that is bad, but it does change it a little.

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Post by pokken » 8 months ago

WizardMN wrote:
8 months ago
My main line of thinking is that I either want to keep the curve low or I need to add ramp for high CMC things to work right. Which means that adding in Massacre Wurm means adding in Sword of the Animist (this would be my first choice and maybe should be here anyway?), mana rocks, Medallions, etc. Not to say that is bad, but it does change it a little.
Figuring out a ramp profile for this deck that will have any amount of consistency without seriously compromising your removal plan is very, very difficult. My inclination would be to play this package (as it's probably about what I would run, and has a lot of parallels to how Ephara works for me).
Your swamp count is high enough that I think you'd get +2 or +3 mana in the mid game from coffers just naturally a lot of times, and the small color rock package could help fix your mana without a huge impact -- and I think you could go to 37 lands most likely.

nightscape familiar applies to something like 29 cards, and is a resilient chump blocker that potentially represents a lot of mana in mid game situations (incl. recasting Sygg). I always got a ton of mileage out of it in Inalla, despite having no red cards.
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Post by WizardMN » 8 months ago

37 lands probably is where I want to be anyway. I noticed I was drawing a lot of extra lands (though I did go about 5 cards or so without drawing one so had I no had my draw effects, I would have been stuck).

Urborg, Coffers, and Ancient Tomb are easy enough to add. Coffers is my main concern there for not tapping for mana on its own. Also, I generally want blue mana over black so getting a bunch of black isn't necessarily that great. I am willing to try it out though since I feel it will at least be a wash with what have now with the ceiling being pretty high. Tomb is easy enough. Adding in the Ascension (or some other life gain) becomes even more important though.

I like Mox Diamond due to having to discard lands anyway. I will have to see if that becomes a problem in the early game though when I might not have a lot of draw or lands in hand. Mox Amber seems decent. It doesn't ramp Sygg but does ramp because of Sygg. It also gives me a reason to play the card since I picked up a couple months ago. However, it really only ramps when Sygg or 8 other cards are on the field. Sygg isn't hard to get back out so hopefully it doesn't end up being a dead card too often.

Familiar is reasonable and being a creature is important as it can help deal the total 3 damage I need to deal each turn for Sygg. However, it is small and I doubt I would ever really regenerate it though that depends on how much mana I actually have available. This one I am not as sure on but I think I might try out the others.

So, at this time, I think I am looking at the following changes. I will figure out what to take out a little later:
The first two I am looking at mostly for their life gain attributes to be honest but both can help trigger Sygg as needed and Presence can offer some removal for some smaller creatures.

The rest is the ramp being discussed above.

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Post by pokken » 8 months ago

Yeah I definitely have doubts about Coffurborg, but I think it could really help powering out a game ending turns sometimes. I would probably only want to go hard on that if you are playing a few 6 drops.

Tomb/Diamond/Amber feels good. chrome mox is probably going to be exceptional in this deck - you have a lot of card advantage and it lets you turn 1 Sygg, and you are often going to have removal spells that are not great right now. I'm pretty anti-chrome mox for the most part but decks like this where you have almost no rocks to clog your hand with it, and likely to have expendable cards.
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Post by WizardMN » 8 months ago

pokken wrote:
8 months ago
chrome mox is probably going to be exceptional in this deck - you have a lot of card advantage and it lets you turn 1 Sygg, and you are often going to have removal spells that are not great right now. I'm pretty anti-chrome mox for the most part but decks like this where you have almost no rocks to clog your hand with it, and likely to have expendable cards.
Maybe but my main concern is the loss of the card. It already feels bad when I have to discard cards but exiling them has always been something I don't like doing in EDH. I do agree that it allows for a turn 1 Sygg and can ramp me into a few other things, but the loss of that card early on can be pretty detrimental since I haven't gotten any of my draw effects going yet. I will keep it in mind, but I want to try out the others first to see if I really need the additional ramp.

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Post by WizardMN » 8 months ago

I am planning on playing this deck tonight so I wanted to get my swaps figured out. I think the only card that I am adding in the list above that I might pull out again is Mox Amber. Not that I don't think it isn't any good, but it might not be good enough. I will have to see. I only call it out as more of a reminder to myself to look at it again later.

The cards I think I will take out are:
Thassa was already questionable and as I try to tighten things up I think the fun factor of having her is outweighed by the fact that I don't think I will get enough use out of her. Plus, cutting 2 of her targets doesn't bode well either.

Day's Undoing was in here from earlier as a way to refill but this is not really a deck that can handle my opponents getting a new grip of cards. I can't spend a ton of resources to keep things clear and then just rest everything to 7 cards. If I need to add new card draw I will, but it needs to be asymmetrical. I also had this partly because I had Notion Thief which I have cut for now. I might one day add him back in, but not with more Wheel effects.

Drown in the Loch is too situational. I had it in my hand in the last game and couldn't cast it because graveyards weren't full enough yet. I like that it is flexible but being a dead card early on is too much against it.

And, finally, I cut 4 lands to down to 37 lands. I will see how this truly affects things but I think with the ramp . I chose to go with 3 Islands and 1 Swamp because I still want a fair number of Swamps for Coffers. It is looking kind of low though so I will have to see if Coffers can work without Urborg. Winding Canyons was a consideration here but I do still have 17 creatures without Flash (18 with Sygg) so it might do some decent work.

As for other thoughts (which might come up if I find other things to add):

Archaeomancer probably could go. I have so much redundancy as it is and getting back one spell among the number I have doesn't seem great. 4 mana isn't too much but I am thinking that it is just overkill.

Ravenous Chupacabra is 4 mana and a "Sorcery". I have so much removal that I don't think Chups does enough here where I am not sure I would really mind him getting cut. Noxious Gearhulk gets a pass mostly for gaining me life which I still want to have.

I have decided to keep Windfall for now but it was a potential cut. The main reason I kept it was to trigger Bloodchief Ascension which Day's Undoing can't do. The same things apply to this as they did to Day's Undoing with the issues of refilling hands, but with Ascension online, I might not care if I can gain a bunch of life *and* make my opponents lose a bunch of life.

Rankle, Master of Feasts and Blacklance Paragon were also on this list. I decided to keep them for a couple of reasons. First and foremost I kept Rankle as it seems like a versatile card for either clearing things off the board or drawing me into cards if I need it (though, giving opponents extra cards is tough). Discard probably won't be used a lot but I tend to have enough extra cards that it isn't the worst thing to just "tack on" to the trigger.

Damnation was a consideration as well. With all the removal I have, and the fact that I don't really want my board gone, I could see where I might find I don't really need this. It is in here as a safety valve of sorts though and, along with Toxic Deluge, can potentially get me out of tough situations where I can't continuously answer threats. I think this is one of the last ones in this list to cut as I feel that a deck like this definitely needs something like this.

And, finally, Silumgar's Command was another card I thought to cut. Mostly based on being 5 mana. But, the flexibility is actually very nice and being able to bounce any permanent can come in handy when people are trying to combo off with things, when they are about to hit with their general for the last bit of damage, or they just have a Purphoros, God of the Forge dealing a bunch of damage.

My curve seems to be at 3.23 which is actually a little higher than I want. But, if I remove the ones that wouldn't be cast for their full CMC which are Commit//Memory, Murderous Rider, Brazen Borrower (the program I have counts these with both sides), and Murderous Cut, I am at exactly 3. My 4 drop slot is actually pretty high at 18 cards. I might try to replace some of my 4 CMC counters with cheaper versions at some point but I like the ones i have and there are only so many good, cheaper, counter spells.
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Post by WizardMN » 8 months ago

I played this deck last night against Tuvasa, the Sunlit and Anje Falkenrath.

I actually started off pretty slow in that I didn't get Sygg down until around turn 3. When I did, I also cast Mox Amber to give me a little more mana. Over the course of a couple turns, I slowed down Tuvasa mostly and I also got a Bloodchief Ascension in play. I got it to 3 counters but then Tuvasa tried to blow it up. I countered their Seal of Cleansing (I assumed they would go after Ascension anyway).

I gained a little bit of life while I kept Tuvasa in check. Eventually, they had no cards in hand while Anje had 5. I decided to Windfall because I needed more cards and I kind of wanted the life off of Ascension. I gained 10, Anje lost 10 and I ended up with a better hand.

Tuvasa then tried to drop in a Aura of Silence but I countered that too. I spent a few resources protecting Ascension but I think it was worth it. A one point, Tuvasa got down Eternal Witness but chose to get something other than their Enchantment destruction. I am not sure if what they chose was right (I think they went for card draw) but I was certain at the time that blowing up Ascension was the right call.

In any case, Ascension was able to get in some good bit of life loss and was able to trigger Sygg a few times. With one being the turn I Windfalled and another being the other 2 life loss to go with the 1 damage from Phyrexian Arena for Anje :)

But, the triggers actually were very important since I was using Ancient Tomb quite a bit. It kept me at a healthy life total as I remained above 30 at the end of the game.

I was able to keep the board in check with removal where Tuvasa lost a lot of life from Ascension and Sygg was there to let me draw my card from it. From there I just beat down with a few small creatures while using my spells to clear the way. I don't even remember exactly what I had on board when I won but I know Ascension was a huge part of it.

The deck, again, worked exactly as I wanted it to work. The counter magic and removal options are pretty good. As for the additions, Ancient Tomb did good work as did Cabal Coffers and Urborg. However, I had Coffers down for about 2 or 3 turns where it was terrible since I didn't have enough Swamps. I luckily top decked Urborg to go with it.

I am not entirely sure how much of a difference this made though. I did find myself "wasting" mana or still having lands untapped when using it. I know it offered me a few things and I think being able to Cyclonic Rift was easier with it, but overall it didn't seem entirely necessary. It was super nice though. I am going to have to watch out for how often I get Coffers without Urborg though. It actually set me back on mana for a couple turns compared to it being just a basic.

Mox Diamond was not very good in goldfishing (I cast it once when goldfishing and that was because I got lucky to top deck a third land; leaving me with 3 mana total). In the game above, I drew it early on (more or less) but didn't have the land to pitch to it. I ended up discarding it to Windfall. Either I need to go back up to 38 lands or I am thinking of just cutting it.

The other additions worked out well for the ones I got on the field. I never saw Dread Presence but I think it will work out pretty good in the long run. Especially with Urborg in the deck.

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Post by pokken » 8 months ago

With mox diamond you need to be willing to cast it with 2 lands so you can turn 1 Sygg and trust the mercy of your deck (or card draw) to find more lands, I think. I think with the amount of card draw you have available it'll be a really nice free land drop to accelerate you in the mid game quite often.

When I was goldfishing with Ephara I had the same opinion; it felt clunky. But I forced myself to trust it and it's been really exceptional.

I will say that the cantrips really do help that function; brainstorm/ponder/etc., though, as a lot of times I've kept a hand of 2 lands/mox diamond/brainstorm (or land tax, tithe, etc.).

Coffers I completely understand the iffiness and feel the same way. I feel like you probably will want expedition map if you're playing it long term, and it will definitely cost you a game here or there if you draw it as your land at a bad time. But the same can be said for a lot of utility lands, I've had phyrexian tower ruin a lot of hands in my time too. But I think the payoff is *probably* there.
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Post by WizardMN » 8 months ago

pokken wrote:
8 months ago
With mox diamond you need to be willing to cast it with 2 lands so you can turn 1 Sygg and trust the mercy of your deck (or card draw) to find more lands, I think. I think with the amount of card draw you have available it'll be a really nice free land drop to accelerate you in the mid game quite often.
I think that is my main issue though. In all the times I have had it in hand (goldfishing and in game), I only had a land to discard to it once. So, it isn't as much around not wanting to discard a land; it is more about not having the land to discard.

The other thing in terms of trusting my deck is that I really can't get my card draw online without more things to cast. Luckily, most of the good creatures are 2 or 3 mana but that does mean I might miss land drops. In reality, missing those land drops are going to be the same thing as if I had played the land anyway; I just start missing them a turn sooner. So this isn't as much of a concern since my mana availability is the same.

I guess what I am looking at is that 37 lands might just be too low. I know my curve is low, but I need to get things online and missing land drops, for whatever reason, is bound to set me back too much. I just don't have the power to really get things rolling if I start too late.

You might have a point on the Ponder/Brainstorm/Preordain options as being part of making Mox Diamond good. I am trying to stay away from those, but I might need to suck it up and add them. They all give me a turn 1 play (if I don't have Diamond to just cast Sygg) and offer a bit of consistency that this deck might need. I still like Impulse over the Sorcery ones, but 1 mana might be the tipping point to go with them over others.

I will have to see how Coffers plays out in the end. I am fine with adding it in if it consistently at least gives me 3 mana (breaks even) as it won't be a net loss. But this isn't a "big mana" deck so if I need to add more things to make it work, even if it is just Map, will likely lead me to cutting it. It is also possible that the cantrips will help this function as well.

With that in mind, and with some of the other thoughts on cards above, I think I am fine with working towards a little more "support" in the early game. Brainstorm, Ponder, and Preordain are all fine choices (and, ffs Wizards, reprint Preordain; I hate that I need to pay $70 for a foil of this dumb card).

On that same vein, I am thinking of adding in Deep Analysis. It isn't an Instant but it does let me cast it twice which might be nice to help refill my hand. Or, maybe, I could add in Pull From Tomorrow which goes reasonably well with Coffers. I think I just need a little bit more supplemental card draw. Not a lot, but I could use a little.

As for cuts, I am still not sold on a couple cards, so I am thinking Ravenous Chupacabra and Noxious Gearhulk are the two that come to mind first. These don't do quite as much as I think I want and with Ascension and Dread Presence, the lifelink might not be as important as I intially thought. Ascension kept me alive pretty good in the last game. Blacklance Paragon is still a thought but I like that it can be a removal spell or a beater if I need it so I am still not there yet. Also, being 2 mana for 3 damage can be pretty important as I can wait a turn for Sygg, flash this in right before my turn, and then cast Sygg on my turn 3 to be able to draw right away.

Ashiok, Nightmare Muse I am finding is less useful than I thought they would be but it is tough to just cut repeatable bounce and token generation. This might be because I haven't faced enough that my other removal couldn't already take care of.

Bontu the Glorified doesn't really fit in this deck. He makes me sac my stuff, which I don't want to do, and only scries. And even the life loss/gain is too minor to really do anything.

So, with that in mind, I think I am going to try this:
02/20/20
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I am not sure how much the loss of the two creatures will affect the deck, but I want to lower the curve and these just seem like the 3 best cuts for trying add consistency.

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Post by pokken » 8 months ago

I definitely think this deck wants at least the three good cantrips; I also don't play preordain cos of the 70 dollar foil (which hopefully will be in the mystery boosters at least), but you can play serum visions instead and it's not that much worse, or impulse.

I think you may find portent to be better than preordain or SV because of your high ratio of instants and low ratio of other shuffle effects, though it is much worse at finding land drops than Preordain in the mid game.

I can understand the (ahem) impulse not to play all that stuff but it's part of the glue necessary to hold control decks together without tutors in my opinion, and the tempo is a lot easier to make up in longer multiplayer games.

In reference to some draw smoothing stuff--

I think night's whisper is pretty underplayed in EDH. I'd play that before Deep Analysis since it's better at helping you find lands, which is really what most of your <3 cmc card draw spells are for. impulse is probably better than either though.

mystic remora and rhystic study are obviously likely to be good in this deck but they don't fit that well with the theme.

cryptic command and archmage's charm are both worth considering, though the mana can be awkward at times.

treasure cruise and dig through time are both probably playable in this deck though less good without the fetchlands you have so many spells that I expect you could support at least Dig.

manifold insights does not hit land drops, but has been ridiculous for me in other control shells.
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Post by WizardMN » 8 months ago

My thought was using these primarily to find land drops so I would definitely want Preordain or SV over Portent for that (plus Portent doesn't have a foil :p). I am not opposed to playing a nonfoil Preordain for now. I have them anyway so I can slot it in.

I am probably being a bit too stingy with these types of cards anyway. For example, Impulse wouldn't be a bad fourth option if I wanted that; I don't have to stop at 3. I just have a harder time trying to cut the cards to fit in the "glue" cards. Part of the reason I comment on other cuts is to open the door for more things like this if I need them.

I really want this deck to somewhat revolve around Sygg which allows me to go lower on the cantrips. That is probably the biggest reason I don't want them: I just want the deck to work without them. It is kind of silly in that regard, but I might need to accept that Sygg might need a little help :)

EDIT: Yeah, I think I would go with Impulse over Night's Whisper but that isn't a bad idea. At least, if I still wanted Deep Analysis, I would probably go with Whisper instead.

Remora is tough as I don't want to spend the mana to keep it around. The first few turns for me are generally more tap out or aggressive. Late game it isn't bad but I should have better options. And I just don't like Study because it is annoying.

I think you are right about Command and Charm as 3 blue mana can be tough. I don't think I have been in a situation where I felt either of those would be great, but I might have to keep them in mind just in case.

Dig was actually in my mind as well. I decided against it for now, but I might circle back to it in the future.

And I just don't like Insights since it is a Sorcery but 3 mana draw 3 (usually) is nothing to scoff at. I will keep this in mind as well.

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Post by pokken » 8 months ago

WizardMN wrote:
8 months ago
My thought was using these primarily to find land drops so I would definitely want Preordain or SV over Portent for that (plus Portent doesn't have a foil :p). I am not opposed to playing a nonfoil Preordain for now. I have them anyway so I can slot it in.

I am probably being a bit too stingy with these types of cards anyway. For example, Impulse wouldn't be a bad fourth option if I wanted that; I don't have to stop at 3. I just have a harder time trying to cut the cards to fit in the "glue" cards. Part of the reason I comment on other cuts is to open the door for more things like this if I need them.

I really want this deck to somewhat revolve around Sygg which allows me to go lower on the cantrips. That is probably the biggest reason I don't want them: I just want the deck to work without them. It is kind of silly in that regard, but I might need to accept that Sygg might need a little help :)
The issue I think is that Sygg is only going to keep the lands pumping if you can get him triggering, and without specialized stuff you're not going to get more than one trigger a turn early on. I tellya it was really hard to squeeze brainstorm/ponder/top into Ephara, but I am really glad I did. They've been superb.

In a lot of ways I think the cantrips are a bit more syggy than the card draw--the cantrips just increase the likelihood you get Sygg down and start triggering him, but the card draw can easily start to overshadow him. At least, that's kinda how I was thinking of it when I was drafting a similar approach.

A general approach of "everything for smoothing my draw is <= 2 cmc" probably would work fairly well. You could start trimming into stuff like fact or fiction and chemister's insight for more enablers?

Whichever way, I really am excited to watch this one evolve and hope to learn stuff for my eventual build :)
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Post by WizardMN » 8 months ago

That is actually a fair assessment and one that I kind of overlooked. Adding in Scrying (or card selection of some sort) and Cantrips might be the way to go to just smooth things out while trying to set up Sygg. I might be focusing too much on "what happens if Sygg doesn't trigger" and I might be better off with "what do I need to do to help make sure Sygg triggers".

With that in mind, I think you are right about the 4 drop draw spells. The 1 and 2 drop cantrips are somewhat limited but there are some good options. I am looking at the following:

1-Drops
Preordain
Ponder
Brainstorm
Portent
Serum Visions
Opt
Sleight of Hand

2-Drops
Impulse
Anticipate
Diabolic Vision
Nagging Thoughts
Omen
Ransack the Lab
Shimmer of Possibility
Strategic Planning
Telling Time
Worldly Counsel (which really only works if I have both an Island and Swamp out when I cast it)

I think I am fine with the 1 mana cantrips being Sorceries, but not so much for the 2 mana ones. So, I think out of those lists, I would lean towards:

Preordain
Ponder
Brainstorm
Serum Visions
Opt (kind of on the fence; Instant pushes it over)
Impulse
Telling Time (not sure if this is better than Anticipate)

I have already mentioned adding in Preordain, Ponder, and Brainstorm, so cutting Glimmer of Genius, Chemister's Insight, and Fact or Fiction lets me add 3 more. I would probably go with Telling Time over Opt in the remaining 4.

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Post by pokken » 8 months ago

I think I draw the line at anticipate -- impulse is sweet, but I have a hard time playing anticipate over other cantripping spells. I'd always do all the good 1-drop ones first (down to preordain), then impulse, then down to opt, then before sleight of hand or anticipate I am moving on to stuff like remand and gitaxian probe and mission briefing (which you have).

So if it were me I think:
Is how I would roll with 6 slots. opt and serum visions are very close for me though.
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Post by WizardMN » 8 months ago

That makes sense. I don't have a Portent so I am going to with the list you have except with Opt instead of Portent for now. I will see if I find that, when I cast Opt, if it would make more sense to be Portent. I am still prioritizing hitting land drops so I will see if that is really necessary.

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Post by WizardMN » 8 months ago

I played again last night and I think the addition of the cantrips has been pretty decent. It was kind of a long night, so I won't go into a lot of details. but the deck seemed to work out well overall. I was able to keep Aurelia and Oketra (two different decks) off the board pretty well, but eventually I ran out of steam. It also didn't help that I never got any real card draw going. I had Yuriko swinging in a couple times but she only revealed lands so no life lost. I did get her to reveal a 1 drop at one point which was just enough to get the 3 life loss for Sygg to trigger since I had only swung with her and Sygg.

Since I had been unable to really stop things, Oketra managed to go off. They had a number of enchantments and artifacts that I just couldn't deal with. Luckily, when they had the chance to kill me, they went after the Kadena player first which ended up costing them.

This gave me an opening where I was able to get to Cyclonic Rift to buonce the boards. I was also close to getting Bloodchief Ascension online even even though I cast it pretty late. This ended up still turning the game to my favor as I finally got it turned on and was able to basically ping people to death since everything was pretty low already.

I think I ultimately ended up winning by tutoring for a Windfall and casting that with Ascension online.

I was able to get Urborg/Coffers online towards the middle of the game and it did help. I am not sure how much it helped, but it was enough where I was able to leave up enough mana for different things. I know it was important for the Cyclonic Rift play to leave up enough mana for everything I wanted to do.

I don't think I got any ramp beyond Ancient Tomb so I can't say how much those helped but I know I didn't miss any land drops. Most of that was because I was just drawing them naturally though so the cantrips didn't do much there. What they did do, since I cast Preordain, Serum Visions, Brainstorm, and Opt, was dig me to answers. Serum Visions in particular was the one I remember since I drew the card and then was able to see the next two cards, one of which I kept on top so I could draw it next. I don't remember the card, but I do remember it was important.

Of those, Opt is easily the more underwhelming of them. I am starting to lean more towards Portent even if it is a delayed draw. Other than that, I might need to look into something else to bounce the board. Since these colors have a hard time straight up destroying Enchantments and Artifacts, there is likely a need to do something to handle them.

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Post by pokken » 8 months ago

Yeah, opt tends to be higher on my list in decks that care about casting instants just for the sake, e.g. kykar or rashmi.

SV is a bit deceptive in EDH. A lot of people cut it in CEDH lists but it's always been really good to me.

Windfall/Ascension feels like a pretty solid way to close games in this deck, nice to have something explosive but not unbeatable that you can do.
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Post by WizardMN » 8 months ago

I played this deck last night and it performed exceptionally poorly. I may have made a large mistake though (which I will touch on below). I was playing against Baird, Steward of Argive, Muldrotha, the Gravetide, and Ramos, Dragon Engine.

I kept a hand that had very little draw or ways to trigger Sygg. Instead, it was a bunch of removal/counters which I thought would be fine. I got Sygg down turn 2 like I wanted but only triggered him once, which was only thanks to an opposing Orzhov Advokist which made Sygg 3 power. Unfortunately, everyone else got big enough blockers to block him. So, I was drawing a measly 1 card per turn. I did get in a Mox Diamond and Mox Amber but I think the Mox Diamond might have actually been a huge detriment.

At one point, Baird cast Hour of Revelation which I let resolve due to opposing boards. However, my board then was just 4 lands. The reason I say the Diamond may have been a detriment was because I discarded a land to it and then missed 2 or 3 land drops (if not more) so I was stuck on 4 lands for far too long. I am not sure if I should have countered the Hour of Revelation since I had the two Moxen, Bloodchief Ascension, Sygg, and Mindblade Render. The main issue is that nothing I had was getting in damage anyway so I felt that a rest was warranted.

Since I was stuck on lands, I didn't do anything for a long time. I cast Silumgar's Command in there at one point and then finally got to the point where I could cast Cyclonic Rift. Had I another land (another time when missing those lands hurt) I could have held up Overwhelming Denial as protection but I didn't have the mana for it. So, Ramos cast Spelljack and bounced Baird who was attacking me. But, without the Rift going off, I was dead so I kind of stopped paying attention.

The game ended (for me) when I was at 5 life and Muldrotha attacked me for 4 with Massacre Girl. I responded by activating Ancient Tomb to deal the last 2 damage to myself.

All in all, one of the worst games I have played with any deck in a long long time. I am still not entirely sure if countering the Hour would have done much since I don't think my board was drawing me cards anyway. I do think going in for Mox Diamond was a huge mistake since I barely got any use out of it. It did give me my second blue which was important, but discarding that land to then miss land drops was frustrating. I also had Mox Amber doing nothing for a while too since Sygg had gotten destroyed once before that which meant I didn't have any way to get mana from it.

I will continue with the list as is for at least the next time I play, but I am starting to look at the moxen as not being good enough. A Talisman, even being 2 mana, might be better since it is never dead. If I went that route, I might just go ahead and add in Sol Ring. If Mox Amber is good enough for after Sygg enters, then Sol Ring definitely is.

I also realized I never noted the changes I made for the cantrips above, so here is that:
02/21/20
Approximate Total Cost:


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Post by pokken » 8 months ago

Hmm, that's a tough beat for sure. I wonder if maybe you need to mulligan to make sure you hit either some velocity (early cantrip) or an engine piece? When I was playing Inalla I would usually chuck any hand that didn't have a cantrip or a rhystic study/mystic remora/necropotence/etc. -- with your deck I think that translates to wanting a good cantrip or a way to trigger Sygg semi-reliably in your opener.

It's also possible that Sygg just doesn't generate enough card advantage to be OK without some engine-ish card advantage generators (like necropotence // rhystic study // mystic remora. But feels like

These low ramp control decks are very hard to play and harder to mulligan in my experience. If you stumble once on lands your game is largely over.

The point of the light early ramp is mostly to try to get an engine piece down ahead of curve so you don't have to be shields down in the turn 3-5 time frame -- so being able to drop Sygg + counter backup on turn 2 or 3 instead of 3 or 4, or being able to turn 1 a mindblade render and ride it to victory.

My general rule for playing mox diamond is to hold it if it'll make me miss my next land drop, *unless* it's to get Ephara down a turn early (since that will usually allow me to recover from a single missed drop on turn 4. You can always play it later for a free mana when you get a stocked hand which is often nice.


re: the hour counter --

I think once you have bloodchief ascension on board you want to protect it even if it puts you at risk. But it's possible you made a mistake by committing it to the board so early too? It's hard to say. Usually you want to avoid dropping it if you can't trigger it and protect it I would think since it basically wins you the game with Sygg once it gets online.
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Post by WizardMN » 8 months ago

pokken wrote:
8 months ago
Hmm, that's a tough beat for sure. I wonder if maybe you need to mulligan to make sure you hit either some velocity (early cantrip) or an engine piece? When I was playing Inalla I would usually chuck any hand that didn't have a cantrip or a rhystic study/mystic remora/necropotence/etc. -- with your deck I think that translates to wanting a good cantrip or a way to trigger Sygg semi-reliably in your opener.
This is likely true. My thought at the time was that I would be able to use the hand to stop others, but that doesn't really work here. My mindset should be "go aggressive to start and draw into answers". If I just start with answers with no way to keep things moving, I will fall behind. Any other game I won I had 2-3 other pieces on board that drew me cards. I think those are essential.
The point of the light early ramp is mostly to try to get an engine piece down ahead of curve so you don't have to be shields down in the turn 3-5 time frame -- so being able to drop Sygg + counter backup on turn 2 or 3 instead of 3 or 4, or being able to turn 1 a mindblade render and ride it to victory.

My general rule for playing mox diamond is to hold it if it'll make me miss my next land drop, *unless* it's to get Ephara down a turn early (since that will usually allow me to recover from a single missed drop on turn 4. You can always play it later for a free mana when you get a stocked hand which is often nice.
The early ramp idea is fair. It makes sense that I want to use those to be able to commit to the board more while also providing decent protection.

Regarding Diamond I will have to see how that plays out. My main concern is that if I wait too long, I essentially lose a lot of the effectiveness of the card. It should be to make early turns more explosive, as your comment above attests to, but if I am finding too often that I need to wait until turn 6 or 7 to drop it in for fear of missing a land drop, I am not sure it is quite as useful. As, again, by that point a Sol Ring is almost strictly better and a Talisman I could have dropped earlier.

I will keep it around and continue to monitor my plays with it to determine if I am being too aggressive with it, too cautious with it, or where I want to be, and see if any of that leans me one way or the other in terms of how much it is really doing.

Mox Amber is in the same boat, but not costing me a land drop (but only working with Sygg and a couple other cards) just means I have different things to look for.
re: the hour counter --

I think once you have bloodchief ascension on board you want to protect it even if it puts you at risk. But it's possible you made a mistake by committing it to the board so early too? It's hard to say. Usually you want to avoid dropping it if you can't trigger it and protect it I would think since it basically wins you the game with Sygg once it gets online.
I honestly don't think playing Ascension any differently, or valuing it more highly, made all the much difference in this particular case. I think your comments are likely accurate in that it should be protected or the board should be evaluated to determine if it makes sense. But, in this case, my hand was pretty terrible and I figured throwing it out there to maybe get it to the 3 counters from other people attacking each other was better than hanging on to it for the rest of the game.

This really speaks more to the underwhelming hand I had in general which leads back into the mulligan fiasco (maybe a bit hyperbolic :) ). In other words, I doubt countering it would have really changed the outcome of this game since my board had no way to actually deal damage since I only had Sygg.

I will have to focus a bit more on recognizing what I need for good early plays and trying to force myself to mulligan away "decent" hands as "decent" isn't likely to cut it if there is no card draw elements.

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