Karador, Ghost Chieftain - Quest for Control

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Titles & Recognition

Post by WizardMN » 1 year ago

Karador, Ghost Chieftain

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Don't play to win; Play to not lose.
Karador, Ghost Chieftain
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Introduction
Karador is all about attrition; he grinds out games and allows you to focus your energy on controlling what you want to control and finding your window of opportunity to strike. This means he plays much closer to a control deck than he does a traditional midrange or reanimator deck. Those elements are still there, but they generally further the control aspect.

A comment about the deck I like is "When playing Karador, you don't play to win; you play not to lose" (hence the title above). You are not trying to actively push for a winning board state. You simply control the game, control the board, ensure you can last long enough to out value your opponents and take them down at that time.

He is often viewed as "the Reanimation general" for Abzan, but he reanimates for value, not for power. You make incremental advantages until your opponents run out of resources so you can strike.
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Deck History
This deck is literally the first deck I built and is the deck that effectively got me back into Magic in general. I copied a Doran, the Siege Tower deck from online around 2011 since I had very little knowledge of the format. I didn't know what cards were good in EDH (turns out Primeval Titan was very good) or what wasn't. I am not even sure what motivated me to build with these colors to begin with. Though, because of my fondness for Royal Assassin, Black Knight, and Hypnotic Specter, I knew it had to be Black. I brought the deck with me to an LGS and after that one play session, my cousin suggested I change it to Karador since he had just been released in the Precons.

This led to a slow change in the deck as I got used to playing it and figuring out what worked and what didn't. Because the Doran list wasn't really built around Doran, it was an easy swap to Karador without needing to completely re-tool the deck but, over time, the entire deck changed as my preferred playstyle with the deck emerged and evolved. I am not sure how many cards are in the deck now that were in the deck to start with but my guess is less than 10 (and that is being generous).

For a while, I had an Adun Oakenshield deck built that then turned into a Xira Arien deck and it always felt that it was just a worse version of Karador. Then, the 4 color generals and the Partner generals were released, and I just mashed the two decks together basically. This created a worse version of both decks and I took it apart within a few months. I was then without a Karador deck for nearly a year before I realized I missed the play style and I had nothing like it anymore. Since then, the deck has been fairly slow to change and there have been no sweeping changes since putting it together again. As with a lot of decks, there are still changes with new cards, but the deck is at a point now where the bar is pretty high for a card to warrant an inclusion. Though, there are a couple "flex slots" that allow for new cards to be added just to try out.

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Analysis/Why Play this Deck
Why you should play the deck
You enjoy long grindy games of Magic
You enjoy having all the answers
You are confident in your ability to accurately assess board states
You like games that play out differently every time

Why you shouldn't play the deck
You are more of a combo player
You want to win as fast as possible
You always want your general on the field
You don't like it when your own stuff goes away

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Strengths
Karador's main strength is in the fact that the deck has a lot of value in the card choices. You should always be able to out-grind your opponents, even while they are trying to stop you. Your creatures dying is not a detriment (and, in fact, you sometimes want them to die). Their deaths only fuel your cause and your graveyard can become a second hand.

Karador can also be forgiving, up to a point. If you over-extend, he can help you rebuild. If you make a play mistake with a creature, Karador can give you another crack at it next turn. Precision and tight plays are certainly the goal, but as you evolve your playstyle and learn the deck, the nature of the general can allow for some missteps along the way without causing the deck to fold in on itself.

A big pro, depending on your meta, can be the resiliency against blue based control. While control can slow the deck down, anything that is countered generally goes to the graveyard which means you just get to use it again. In certain cases, a well timed Counterspell can spell the end, (which applies to a lot of decks) so never underestimate the blue player.

And, finally, a strength of the deck is the reward for not only knowing your deck and your opponents' decks, but also the rules in general. Because this deck is so focused on being the arbiter within the game, it behooves the pilot to be the arbiter *of* the game. You need to know how spells will affect the board state. You need to know when to respond to triggers (especially when there are a lot on the stack at once). You need to know how all the pieces of the game fit together not just so you can make your deck work, but so you know how to stop everyone else which means a good understanding of the rules in general can be instrumental in winning games. And this is not to suggest angle-shooting or "rules-lawyering" is what you want to do, but understanding intricacies in the rules can help a lot.

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Weaknesses
However, as you may be able to ascertain, the biggest weakness Karador has is grave hate. While the deck is not overly reliant on the graveyard, losing your graveyard, especially after trying to set up a specific play with cards in the yard, can be devastating. There are a few cards to help mitigate this though.

Another weakness is the slowness of the deck. Going against a fast aggro deck or something that swarms with a bunch of tokens can be too much for the deck to handle. Karador takes a few turns to set up to ensure the right plays are being made at the right time and aggro, if they get off to a fast start, can disrupt your plans.

Exile effects can also be devastating to the deck which is why there is a fair number of cards here to help stop your things from getting exiled in the first place. There is no Pull From Eternity or Riftsweeper here because they don't often do much (though Riftsweeper might be a good option).

One major card that is difficult to deal with is Overwhelming Splendor. I don't see it a lot in my meta, but I do see it enough. Since this deck is very creature heavy, it can be tough to remove. This is the main reason for the inclusion of non-creature based removal as it shuts down our creatures pretty hard. If this is a problem in your meta, and the current inclusions aren't enough,
World Breaker, Return to Dust, or Cleansing Nova can be options to help mitigate the impact that card has on you. Shalai, Voice of Plenty is also a way to ensure you can't get targeted with it (though there are other ways it can get attached to you).

And finally, while not necessarily a weakness as much as a different axis, Karador controls the board as his form of control. Someone coming in off of a blue-centric commander trying to play a control role with Karador might flounder as things will resolve with Karador. Sure, there is some grave hate to help control things but almost every bit of control is focused on dealing with what is already on the board. So, things like Craterhoof Behemoth can be tough to deal with since they will get their trigger and make everything big. While Constant Mists and Spike Weaver are the cards of choice for this, other things could be tougher since we can't usually interact directly with the stack.

While I put this as a strength above, for certain people it could be a weakness: this all means that knowing how the stack works, how triggers resolve, and how other decks work is *more* important and is paramount to being able to handle what goes on in the game. Being able to time a Swords to Plowshares to blow out the Anje player using Worldgorger Dragon and Animate Dead, or being able to stop a Tooth and Nail grabbing Purphoros, God of the Forge and Avenger of Zendikar, or someone trying to go off with a Mikaeus, the Unhallowed and Triskelion combo all rely on knowing how the stack works so you know the exact time to do things to ensure they can't respond with what is on the board. Having someone reanimate a ton of creatures with a Gray Merchant of Asphodel trigger then going on the stack means you are able to get out of that situation with False Prophet if you know that Gray Merchant only cares about Devotion on resolution of the trigger.

These kinds of interactions come up a lot with this type of deck. Because we are limited to the battlefield (for the most part) for our interaction, we need to understand a lot about when we can interact to get the most out of our spells if we truly want to control the game.

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Alternate Generals
  • Ghave, Guru of Spores – Ghave is typically viewed as a combo general and for good reason. There are some overlapping cards between the two strategies, but overall the two decks play quite a bit different which makes Ghave less useful for this type of build. However, being able to pump out chump blockers can be a decent way to slow the game down in the early stages.
  • Sidisi, Brood Tyrant – While not the same colors, she is close to being able to do what Karador wants to do. She actively wants things in the graveyard and can set up later plays with her self-milling, but she doesn't get anything back and you do lose out on White (though, you get Blue so that might be worth something). I think she wants a different approach, but she is fairly close to the same playstyle (though, maybe more aggressive) that it is worth calling her out here.
  • Muldrotha, the Gravetide - Muldrotha might be one of the bigger competitors to spearhead a deck like this. She is effectively Karador but on steroids since she allows for more than just creatures to be cast again. But, like Sidisi, the approach tends to be different. Since Karador focuses on creatures, and Muldrotha does not, a Muldrotha build would likely tend to want to spread out the card types to make her more consistent and being able to play more per turn. Swapping White for Blue also changes up quite a few things, but she can easily be a graveyard centric general if one wants to branch out beyond "just" creatures.
  • Kethis, the Hidden Hand – Kethis allows for something similar to Muldrotha while operating on a different axis. It allows for a broader use of permanent types as well as being able to cast Legendary Sorceries. Having to exile cards from your graveyard to make use of other cards might make it a little tougher to really re-use cards but the power level, and not being restricted to 1 card on your own turn might make up for it.
  • Alesha, Who Smiles at Death - I think the loss of green would hurt quite a bit, but Alesha does offer a different style of reanimation. Beyond losing green, the main thing to keep in mind is the restriction on what can be reanimated. I think Alesha is too aggressive and limited for what this deck wants to be but she could work in other builds.
  • Gyrus, Waker of Corpses - This swaps white for red which isn't the worst trade but Gyrus has a similar problem to Alesha in that he wants to be more aggressive. Also, since the tokens don't stick around, and he exiles the card, it is very hard to reuse cards to make interesting plays on each turn or even being able to cast the same card from the graveyard more than once in the same turn.

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Current Deck List

General (1)


1 Karador, Ghost Chieftain
Approximate Total Cost:

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Card Choices
The cards included in the deck list have gone through quite a bit of testing and a lot of thought has gone into most of them. As always, there is likely room for improvement, and budgets should be taken into consideration, but this list has so far been working out well. There is another section on possible budget alternatives as well as some notable omissions that others may choose to add.
Lands
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  • Duals and Fetches – The backbone of the deck and the cards that allow for the right mana at the right time. The only thing noteworthy here is that I only include "on-color" fetches so I just have the three.
  • Horizon Canopy and Nurturing Peatland – These are here to help smooth out mana as well as be a cantrip later in the game if needed.
  • Bazaar of Baghdad – An extremely versatile and important land in this deck. The ability to filter your hand and fill your graveyard can turn unplayable hands into winning ones. I remember on at least a couple occasions where I would use Bazaar when I was empty handed just to hope for something good to discard so Karador could reanimate it. Bazaar can also be instrumental in protecting your graveyard from exile by discarding an Eldrazi Titan off its ability.
  • Bojuka Bog – A very powerful anti-graveyard card. Knowing what a graveyard deck can do, it is vital to be able to stop other decks from utilizing their graveyard too much.
  • Command Tower – The quintessential "EDH Land". Every deck that is more than 2 colors (and some 2 color decks) should run this.
  • Diamond Valley – Arguably, the most important land in the deck after maybe Bazaar (and easily my go to land for anything). Being able to sacrifice your stuff at the right time, or to prevent it from being exiled, is instrumental in ensuring your plans can still go off later. Not tapping for mana (like Bazaar) is a downside but is generally not a big one. And Urborg can help with this as well.
  • Dryad Arbor – Dryad Arbor is in here for a couple different reasons. It is "free" off of Green Sun's Zenith and, in a pinch, can be sacrificed to help make Karador cheaper. As a note, it cannot be played with Karador but hopefully you have better things to get than a 1/1 Dryad anyway.
  • High Market, Miren, the Moaning Well, and Phyrexian Tower – All the other land based sac outlets. High Market is free and the life gain is basically irrelevant. Miren costs 3 but the life gain can be very important. And Tower is free and gives mana. All 3 should be included if possible, but Tower is likely the most important followed by Miren.
  • Murmuring Bosk & Indatha Triome – Fetchable lands that tap for all 3 of our colors ensure we get the right colors when we need them. The damage from Bosk is negligible and the Triome entering tapped also won't matter too much. Especially if we get it turn 1.
  • Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth – Basically no downside to running this over a Swamp other than not being fetchable. And it allows for even more use out of Chainer, Dementia Master.
  • Vesuva – The main reason this is here is to be a second Bojuka Bog. Being able to Crop Rotation for a Vesuva when Bog is already on the field can be a huge play. In a pinch, can also be another Diamond Valley or Bazaar. Just watch out for your Legendary Lands.
  • Volrath's Stronghold – Since we are dealing with a lot of creatures and the graveyard, this is another option for getting an important creature back in the event that Karador is not around or you need more than the one Karador will let you cast.
  • Winding Canyons – Since nearly half the deck is creatures, Winding Canyons is a great way to hold back until you absolutely want to cast your creatures to avoid opposing wraths. Flashing in a Chainer, Dementia Master to then reanimate something else is always a fun, exciting, and (often) unexpected play.
Creatures
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  • Farhaven Elf, Oracle of Mul Daya, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Wood Elves, & Yavimaya Dryad – These are all the "ramp" creatures in the deck. It is worth noting that the deck relies entirely on creature ramp and, within those, ones that get lands rather than things like Birds of Paradise that tap for mana.

    This is because Karador wants creatures and Karador wants them in the graveyard. So, the creatures enter, get the land, and then die at some point to fuel Karador. Even being able to get Karador down for WBG and then casting a Sakura Tribe Elder every turn for a couple turns is enough to get things moving for your side of the board.
  • Yavimaya Elder – This doesn't necessarily ramp, but it helps ensure we hit our land drops on time. Elder replaces itself and is also easy to get in the grave for Karador which are both nice aspects.
  • Archon of Justice – The biggest draw here is that the ability can exile anything. There are enough ways to ensure it dies that this shouldn't be a hindrance and, because it dies, it can be cast again off Karador.
  • Bane of Progress – In my mind, every green deck that doesn't rely heavily on artifacts and enchantments should run this guy. This card does way too much in EDH to be excluded from most green decks. I have had games where players feared this dropping in and being able to recur it and do it over has often kept some of the "degenerate" artifact decks in check. Being 6 mana is a hindrance but I feel it is worth it. Just note that Enchanted Evening and Mycosynth Lattice turn this card into a true board wipe (including itself) so be wary when those cards are on the field.
  • Cavalier of Dawn - This is another creature based removal spell. While 5 mana, with 3 of it being White, can be a little slow, the flexibility is very nice to have. This used to be Ravenous Chupacabra and for 1 mana more, it does a lot. And the 3/3 token they get isn't too relevant. Plus, the body and Vigilance allow for a bit more aggressiveness after it lands. While this deck often plays for the long game, things like this can allow for some shots in at opponents in the meantime.
  • Chainer, Dementia Master – Likely one of the most important creatures in the deck (easily top 3 at least). While the mana restrictions on the ability, and the life payment, can be daunting, this card wins games. I have had turns where I spend 12 mana, get back 4 creatures, sac one to Diamond Valley to gain life back, and go on a tear with the others. If you include this, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth is a must and I feel you will rarely be disappointed to see Chainer (though, your opponents might).
  • Collector Ouphe - Because this deck runs only 1 Artifact, and because artifacts in general are fairly common in EDH, the Ouphe provides a good effect to slow down any decks relying on artifact ramp to get off the ground. Due to its low cost and being a creature, it is a good early play that can also be recurred later if needed. It can often get us time to build our own board state but it should be viewed as a stall tactic. That is, blowing up artifacts is definitely preferable so if players still put out artifacts with the expectation that they can get rid of the Ouphe later, it is best to destroy those artifacts even with the Ouphe on the field.
  • Eternal Witness – Every green deck should play this and Karador especially. Being a creature means it can come back often and keep getting important non-creature cards.
  • Fauna Shaman - This is a mini-Survival of the Fittest that can allow for some toolbox elements. Early on, it can be good to discard big cards to get ramp and then later use Karador to get those big cards back. The inverse then is that late game, it allows us to pitch our ramp and smaller creatures for bigger threats that can help end the game.
  • False Prophet – False Prophet is a deadly card in this deck. Very rarely should any of your stuff get exiled and "cast Prophet, sac Prophet, cast Karador, cast Prophet" can be a huge play. I have had games where I essentially had a lock with the Prophet for a few turns and my opponents could do basically nothing.

    (*)Fiend Artisan - This deck does well with a Pod style effect. Since I care about creatures, and Pod would be the only Artifact, I like the Artisan a little more. It isn't limited on CMC but does cost more for the activation. It is cheap and is a good way to turn our early Elves into either other elves for ramp or something more impactful when we need it later in the game.
  • Gray Merchant of Asphodel – Mainly a win condition but can provide enough life in a pinch to keep you in the game. Some of my favorite plays were "cast Gray Merchant, sac Gray Merchant, reanimate with Chainer (or triggers with Luminous Broodmoth), repeat". I have gotten 4 or 5 triggers with him in a single turn when everything lines up right.
  • Harmonic Sliver – More Enchantment and Artifact hate on a creature. This makes the cut because Necrotic Sliver is in the deck as well.
  • Karmic Guide – While this is often viewed as a combo card, here it is just value. Casting it off Karador to give a flying blocker and another creature allows for enough creatures to stall out for a few turns while to trying to turn the tides or trying to win. And, without Karador, it becomes a good way to get something back when needed. Just remember: if you are paying the Echo cost for this, things probably aren't going too well. There should almost never be a time when you want to pay the Echo cost as it is usually better in your graveyard anyway.
  • Knight of the Reliquary – Because of the number of utility lands in the deck, this is another important piece of the puzzle. It can get Bog when needed, or Maze, or even just mana fixing at worse. While, at the same time, it grows larger to either be a force that needs to be dealt with or something you can sac to gain life. It took a while to get back to including this card, but I think it works well in this deck.
  • Kokusho, the Evening Star – Another wincon. Being able sacrifice and reanimate (and maybe sacrifice again) allows you to close out games. If nothing else, gaining 15-20 life at a time with it can give you enough room to work to close out the game later on.
  • Kozilek, Butcher of Truth – This is almost never cast until the very end of the game and very rarely actually attacks. He is here to protect the graveyard and, potentially, draw some cards. Depending on your meta, don't plan on this winning games (though it can) since it will likely eat removal more often than not.
  • Lifeblood Hydra – This on the other hand is often a great card. Pump 7-9 mana into it and then let it die to draw cards and gain life. It doesn't work well with Karmic Guide or Chainer but works with Karador and generally works out very well (even with smaller numbers for X). I think the lowest you ever want to cast it is for X=3 and even then it will generally be because you are getting behind and you need some cards.
    {*}Luminous Broodmoth - This is our Mikaeus, the Unhallowed in this deck. It works better with our humans, though is a little worse for things like Karmic Guide and Archon of Justice. Being 4 mana vs 6 is also a big deal. The main thing this allows for is being able to build a board into our own potential wrath. We get our stuff back and they fly now so we should have a reasonable board position. Even incremental advantage with getting E Witness back or ramp or whatever works out well. Worth noting this took the spot of Mikaeus in my build because Mikaeus goes "infinite" with Yawgmoth, Thran Physician and I didn't like that.
  • Necrotic Sliver – Vindicate on a stick and works well with Harmonic Sliver. Being able to deal with any permanent at Instant timing is very good and being able to do it over and over is even better.
  • Nethroi, Apex of Death - Nethroi is an interesting card all around. The Mutate ability is fairly high costed, but the abilities it has work pretty well for us to mass reanimate in a way that works with Karador's ability. We do have a fair number of Humans we need to be aware of, but being able to cast this for 7 mana and get 3-5 creatures back can really turn things in our favor. Deathtouch and lifelink are also nice to have as well though aren't really the reason we would run this.
  • Qasali Pridemage – This is an artifact/enchantment hate card that doesn't get stopped by Torpor Orb. If Orb is more prevalent in your meta, Thrashing Brontodon is another good option.
  • Recruiter of the Guard – A tutor that can get some of the more important "silver bullets" in the deck. Bane of Progress, False Prophet, Spike Weaver, Crypt Rats, Karmic Guide, etc. In a pinch, it can also just get a ramp creature if needed.
  • Remorseful Cleric – More grave hate. As this deck shows, players using their graveyard can often out-grind others so being able to stop others from doing what you are trying to do is important to ensure you can continue doing your thing.
  • Satyr Wayfinder - This does double duty to help us hit our land drop while also filling our graveyard with creature cards to either cast with Karador or make Karador cheaper to cast to get something else.
  • Scavenging Ooze - The deck wants some form of grave hate on a creature. Ooze allows for Instant timing much easier and can also gain life when needed. The main concern is leaving up green mana for it, but that shouldn't generally be a problem and can actually help prevent us from overextending as we don't often want to tap out even if we can.
  • Spike Weaver – Probably another of the more important creatures in the deck. Being able to fog for a few turns is important and being able to get it back with Broodmoth or Chainer can often turn games to your favor. Again, the deck wants to, and expects, to go long, so having ways to make that happen are important while you try to get to the point of winning.
  • Sun Titan – Great with a lot of things. Even just getting a land back can be important and there are a lot of small creatures that it can get back. Getting back Pernicious Deed every turn is also something that can ensure you keep the board clear and can continue attacking with your bigger creatures.
  • Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre – As mentioned, he is here mostly for the graveyard protection but also to deal with several permanents. He doesn't exile so indestructible stops him but it is a cast trigger so you will almost always get to destroy what you target. If he does land, he is harder to get rid of than Kozilek so he has a higher chance of living to then be able to swing.
  • Ulvenwald Hydra - I didn't include this up top as ramp because that is not what it is here for. At least 80% of the time, I get Diamond Valley off this. Since it also comes with a big body, Sacrificing this to Diamond Valley and then reanimating it to get another body/life/land always fees like a creature play. Plus, it has Reach which is often relevant since this deck is a bit light on the flyers.
  • Underrealm Lich - This offers another form of card selection while also fueling the graveyard for Karador. Early game it gets us what we want and later game we can get essentially two cards from it each time if we cast a card we put into the graveyard. It also has an excellent synergy with Sylvan Library where we can get 3 cards in hand, 6 in the graveyard, and not have to put any back on top or pay life since we never actually drew any cards.
  • Wall of Blossoms & Wall of Omens - These are here as small blockers that cantrip. They stop small attacks in the early game and become chump blockers later. These are not super high impact and they are kind of "flex slots" but so far they seem to be performing well enough to leave them in.
  • Yawgmoth, Thran Physician - This is our free sac outlet that also works for card draw and removal in a pinch. It does well to keep our hand and graveyard full. It is also a discard outlet if we need to get something in our graveyard for any reason.
Instants
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  • Beast Within, Mythos of Nethroi, Krosan Grip, Unexpectedly Absent, & Anguished Unmaking – This deck folds super hard to things like Humility and Overwhelming Splendor and even Torpor Orb can be a hindrance. These all deal with those 3 cards and can also deal with a number of other problematic cards. Absent is only temporary but is especially useful against things like Darksteel Forge and Indestructible Gods. Unmaking helps deal with these things and more at the low cost of costing 3 life and the token from Beast Within is generally going to be much better for us than whatever we are blowing up.
  • Back for More - This is meant to be Instant timing reanimation and removal all in one. 6 mana is a lot and even with our ramp we don't want to get stuck in the mindset of "we will always have enough mana" when we still need to be smart about how we spend our mana. But, the effect is still a good one and the Instant timing pushes it over the edge.
  • Constant Mists – Repeatable fog at the low cost of sacrificing a land. Due to how slow the deck can sometimes be, being able to fog for 3 or 4 turns as you build up can mean the difference between winning and losing. So many decks are reliant on combat damage to win and this helps stop them.
  • Crop Rotation – Instant Bog, Maze of Ith, Urborg, Diamond Valley, Strip Mine or even Dryad Arbor in certain cases. All of these things are good so Crop Rotation is often one of the more underrated but impactful cards in the deck.
  • Entomb – This is in here for two reasons; getting an Eldrazi Titan at Instant Timing to save the graveyard or getting an important creature to then cast off Karador. Sometimes Buried Alive can be decent in this slot, but the Instant aspect of this card is what sells it.
  • Momentous Fall – Another Instant timing sac outlet and one that draws a bunch of cards and gains a bunch of life. This has saved my creatures more than a few times and has saved me the game as well due to the life gain. Since it can save something from being exiled, it allows you to cast it with Karador again. And it is good to have if players are actively attacking your sac outlets as you can "get them" with this when they are not expecting it.
  • Dire Tactics, Path to Exile and Swords to Plowshares – Cheap spot removal that exiles rather than destroys. None have a downside that ever really matters. Ramping your opponents 1 land in EDH doesn't usually amount to much (though you can watch to see if it will give them a color they are missing) and life (either way) is even more irrelevant. Since you are working at grinding them down, giving them 10+ life in exchange for exiling an Eldrazi Titan or something is not a fair trade, but not fair for them; that is a trade you will make every time. Even taking 10 life if you don't have a Human is a worthwhile trade.
  • Vampiric Tutor – This biggest reason this is here over something like Demonic Tutor is mostly because it is an Instant. The most important part of this deck is the graveyard and being able to get to an Eldrazi Titan can be the play that saves the game. If someone is trying to exile your graveyard, shuffling it in is preferable to having it exiled as this way you can rebuild later.

    This does require the use of Bazaar or Greater Good to be able to draw it *and* discard it.
Sorceries
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  • Damnation and Toxic Deluge – Both are here as cheap wraths to help keep the board clear and Deluge can deal with indestructible creatures.
  • Eerie Ultimatum - This card is basically exactly what Karador wants. I have mentioned a few times that mana cost needs to be considered but this is essentially "put your graveyard on the battlefield". The effect is awesome and can be a significant blowout in games. And we don't even really need to play into it or try to make it better. We just play our normal game, get to the mid to late game, cast this, and start pressing the advantage.
  • Green Sun's Zenith - This fits in our toolbox nature and can help us ramp early with Dryad Arbor or get just get us to an important creature later (Bane of Progress, Spike Weaver, and Qasali Pridemage are likely going to be our "go to" creatures.
Enchantments
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  • Aura Shards – One of the best ways to deal with opposing enchantments and artifacts. I still like getting Dryad Arbor off of a fetch to blow up an important artifact/enchantment at instant timing.
  • Greater Good – Card draw, a sac outlet, and a way to fill the yard pretty fast. This card has put in a lot of work in this deck since the discard is rarely a downside.
  • Pernicious Deed – This ends up giving us a way to hold up mana to deal with exactly what you want to deal with. While it does telegraph the play it can also ensure your opponents don't have much of a board when you start your next turn if you are able to wait until the last player's end step to activate it. It also deals with most tokens when needed.
  • Phyrexian Reclamation – Due to the nature of the deck, being able to get back creatures is important. Reclamation is one of the best for this and the life payment generally doesn't matter all that much.
  • Sylvan Library - This gives us some much needed card draw. The deck tends to be somewhat cavalier with its life total so this fits right in with that idea. Just watch out to be sure you are not spending too much life on keeping unnecessary cards

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Important Cards
  • Chainer, Dementia Master – One of the most important cards in the deck. You will likely want to do whatever you can to keep him around or, at the very least, keep him from being exiled. There are times when you need to give up the fight on him so choose your battles over him carefully.
  • Sac Outlets – Diamond Valley is my go to, but others are just as important. It is somewhat surprising for someone to look at the deck from the outside and be able to tell just how important your sac outlets are. And they are very important. If you are in a game where you have none because you didn't draw them or they have been removed, it becomes even more difficult to control the game and, ultimately, win. Do what you can to ensure you have at least 1 sac outlet on the board and preferably 3 or 4.
  • Ulvenwald Hydra – It may seem strange to put this here, but this card does a lot for us. It gives us a blocker against flyers, it gives us a way to get to our Diamond Valley or Miren the Moaning Well and it gives us a big body to sac over and over to gain some much needed life. My Diamond Valley and Miren are targeted super hard because of the life gain they allow and I have won a number of games because of them. While Diamond Valley might be over budget for some, Miren should be in this deck no matter what and Hydra gives us the way to get to these.
  • Kokusho, the Evening Star – Our main win con because it triggers on dying. While there are a lot of ways to eventually win the game, this is one of the better ways to do it. While not quite as important as Chainer, it can be a card worth fighting over.
  • Eldrazi Titans – Ulamog and Kozilek are here primarily for their graveyard protection and should be viewed as such. If you get to a place where you can cast them, that is great. However, that should not be the goal. Don't try to ramp to 10+ mana and then slam one of these as they will not win you the game if they come down early and it leaves them open to removal. As long as you have a sac outlet you can activate, there should be no issue with casting one, but try not to do so without some way of preventing them from being exiled.

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Notable Omissions
  • Survival of the Fittest – Anyone who plays this deck, depending on budget, will likely want a copy of Survival. For the longest time, Survival was a part of this deck, but it was cut for being *too* good. Mainly, it created situations where the value with Karador was too much for my opponents to deal with and it always felt like the games became repetitive with Survival. If these are not concerns for you, this is likely a snap include.
  • Ashen Rider – This is a "better" Archon of Justice but 8 mana is a lot for this type of deck. While you can generally ramp to 8 fairly quickly, you don't want to be spending all your mana on something like this. There are other options that exist and should be used over this most of the time.
  • Viscera Seer – I don't feel like this deck needs a lot of creature-based sac outlets but Seer is one of the best ones. Depending on what else you can or want to include, Seer can be a pretty good addition.
  • Reveillark – This is more of a combo card and since this deck doesn't do combos, it has been omitted. If you include this, then Viscera Seer is an obvious include as well.
  • Gaea's Cradle – This was in the deck but this deck is not really setup to utilize it. And, I have found too many situations where it doesn't tap for mana at all leading me to leave it out. It isn't the worst card to have but as we are not flooding the board, this card isn't as useful as it can be in other decks.
  • Mana dorks in general (Llanowar Elves, Arbor Elf, etc.) – While this is obviously a creature heavy deck, it is also one that expects to wrath the board, or for the board to be wrathed, fairly early and potentially often as the game goes on. It is tough enough to go down a land when Dryad Arbor dies and we don't really want that extended to even more mana production when we eventually have to wrath the board. Ramping with lands is safer and ensures that we can more consistently plan out future plays rather than possibly being caught without the necessary mana because our 2 or 3 dorks got destroyed.
  • Saffi Eriksdotter - She is a card found in a lot of Karador builds, but I have not found that I wanted her for this one. This build is about mostly reaction and controlling the board and, while Saffi can still do good work here, I feel that the reactive nature of the deck, and the lack of combos, leads me to omit her. And the deck has a lot of reanimation elements to it already and those don't require that they be on the field at the time something is dying. The timing of Saffi is not ideal in all cases.

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Budget Alternatives
  • Diamond Valley – Miren is the closest and it is already in the deck. At least one *needs* to be in this deck and Miren is a fine substitute. Disciple of Griselbrand or Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim have the same effect but they are not even close to the same caliber. Since the biggest draw here is the fact that it is a free sac outlet along with gaining life, there really isn't a great alternative but Ayli can do some good work in a pinch even if she does cost mana. For another free sac outlet, Viscera Seer is likely the best.
  • Bazaar of Baghdad – This is one that doesn't really have a good alternative. Greater Good can help as it does something close but it requires 4 mana and a creature. And, it is already in the deck. If budget is a concern, this might be one to just skip over. It isn't absolutely necessary to include but the deck does play better with Bazaar than without.
  • Damnation and Toxic DelugeCrux of Fate would be fine here (unless your meta has a Dragons deck that is popular). Wrath of God obviously works here too while being a little cheaper. Kaya's Wrath, Fumigate, and Cleansing Nova are also good choices. As long as your mana base can support them since the deck is primarily black. Mutilate might be the closest for -X/-X effects, but it isn't all that great. It might be better to just go further into trying to get to False Prophet if the normal wraths don't work.
  • Vampiric Tutor - This can be replaced with Worldly Tutor as the main reason to cast Vampiric is to get a Titan. Since the deck hinges on creatures, Worldly can still get a ramp creature or a utility creature as needed. It does have significant limitations, such as not being able to grab a land if you are falling behind, or a sweeper (other than False Prophet) but it is serviceable to can do the same job 80% of the time.
  • Kozilek, Butcher of Truth & Ulamag, the Infinite Gyre - These are super tough to replace. No other creature does what they do and things like Gaea's Blessing just don't work right with our deck. However, it is important to have at least one form of this effect. Loaming Shaman would be the next best option since it is a creature and can be re-used easily. The main issue is that you need to cast it but Winding Canyons can help with that. Elixir of Immortality is another decent option though it is at odds with Collector Ouphe and is harder to re-use if needed. It also doesn't work as well with Worldly Tutor if you need to go that route. Repopulate can be decent since the main things we are trying to protect are creature cards.
  • Volrath's Stronghold - Being a land makes this preferable over the alternatives, but Haunted Crossroads is a really good replacement. It is repeatable and the ability cost is cheaper.
  • Sylvan Library - This is one that doesn't have a good replacement either. Phyrexian Arena might be a good replacement for it but nothing will get the same effect.
  • Fetches - These are tough as there are fewer alternatives for them. Grasslands and Krosan Verge are reasonable though don't get Swamps (not directly anyway). Evolving Wilds and Terramorphic Expanse are the main fetches on a budget and can still do decent work, even if they are a bit slow.

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Starting Hands
Our starting hand generally wants at least 3 lands and 1 ramp piece. With the number of lands that don't produce color, it is important not to keep a hand with one of these lands unless there are enough ramp pieces and other lands to make up for it. Typically, you want at least 1 green source (two is preferable). Unless you feel your hand is stacked, it is often right to throw away a hand with no green mana regardless of the other cards. Too many times you will be stuck without that green mana and fall too far behind.

Below are a few starting hands to offer a feel for some hands that can be kept or thrown back.

Hand #1



This hand is an easy keep. It is 3 good lands, one of which is a fetch which allows for tutoring out the other 2 colors. High Market might not produce colored mana, but it does still provide mana and gives us a much needed sac outlet. Entomb isn't that great in the early game, so it is kind of a dead card, but isn't the worst.

Elf is slow-ish, but it is ramp. Plus, we can sac it to High Market to make Karador cheaper later on. Sun Titan and Lifeblood are slow as well, but Titan can get us our Elf back and Hydra can get us 3 or 4 cards in the mid game when we might desperately need them. Overall, this is a slow hand, but a powerful hand and it would be tough to throw this back.

Hand #2



This hand is actually really good except for one thing: our lands. One land doesn't produce any color and the other doesn't give us Green. We could risk the keep because of the Wall of Omens that we can cast which will dig us another card deeper to get to our green mana, but the risk is very high. Even though the hand has a very low curve, missing that green mana puts us too far behind. This is a hand to ship away.

Hand #3



This hand is borderline for a couple reasons. While we have 3 lands, one does not produce mana. We also don't have white mana for our Wall though Sakura will get that for us. Kozilek is also effectively a dead card right now making this a 6 card hand. The Wall can dig us another card for another land and then the Wall can then be sacrificed to Diamond Valley to make Karador cheaper.

If we miss a land drop, we have almost nothing going on after these plays. Though, we will have 5 draws to get another land, which allows us to cast Oracle and that can be good enough to hit more lands. While this is a risky line, 5 draws to get either another land or a 3 drop ramp creature isn't out of line. This hand would come down to how comfortable you are with the deck, but it would be one that I would risk keeping based on being able to hit Oracle on curve and having Sakura-Tribe Elder that can be reanimated later as needed. Without Oracle here, I think we ship this away.

Hand #4



Now, for a really tricky one. This hand, at first glance, is pretty terrible. We have 2 lands, but only 1 produces mana. And the land that does produce mana can't cast one of our ramp spells though it does give us half the colored mana requirement for our Deed. The main thing to look at here is that we have a Sweeper if we need it and 2 ramp spells. All we need is mana. And Bazaar is our ticket to that.

Our first turn play should be the Swamp. We can hope to draw another mana producing land the next turn but, if we don't, we play Bazaar and activate it before our next turn. We discard the Hydra and Aura Shards (and one other card) and, again, hope we drew another land. We can then do the same next turn. While this leaves us with a thin hand, we can use this to get our land drops (this sequence has allowed us to draw 8 cards by turn 4) and can help make Karador cheap enough to cast. With Karador out, we can start to cast some of the cards we pitched earlier.

This is a super risky line, and is outside the realm of a "normal" keep, but it can pay off. But, there is no shame in throwing this hand back due to the high risk. This is more to illustrate some of the power Bazaar gives to the deck and to recognize that it can accelerate the game plan of the deck in a way.

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Strategy
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Overall Strategy

The main strategy of the deck is to fill the graveyard and utilize it as much as possible. However, this is to be controlled as much as possible which is why self-milling doesn't make an appearance here. You want to know what it is in your graveyard, and you want to use it at the right time, but that doesn't mean you want to just dump your library into your graveyard and call it a day. A reasonable amount of restraint is expected and knowing when to put things in your graveyard is important as things are vulnerable there.

Generally, you want a measured approach to the game. Don't overextend, but be cognizant of what everyone else is doing. You are not playing Blue, but you are still playing a form of control. Ensure you use your wraths and removal at the appropriate time. Don't get too anxious and spend them early but, on the flip side, don't get greedy and spend them too late. Knowing when to cast your removal is very important to the success of the deck. I have often seen players play decks like this (or this one specifically) and they get blown out because they spend their removal very early and have nothing for the mid to late game when players are dropping their real threats.
Another thing to keep in mind is to not be afraid to build your board into your own wrath. Broodmoth with 4 or 5 smallish creatures can still be a huge swing when you get those back and everyone else still has nothing. Sure, you lose Broodmoth (for now) but it is still sometimes right to allow him to die to allow for you to have a reasonable board post-wrath.

Even casting Karador a lot shouldn't necessarily be avoided. His cost reduction is immensely useful, especially in the late game, so you can afford to get him out for 3 mana even if there is a higher risk of him being removed. In other words, it can sometimes be right to offer him up as bait for other spells so your other spells can get through. Or, you might be able to force Karador through this way. I have, on occasion, been able to cast Karador for the 4th, 5th, and 6th times for still only 3 mana. Sometimes I can do so in the same turn causing my opponents to expend their counters and removal for him. There is a risk to this of course, but risk can't be avoided entirely.
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Early Game

Focus on ramping and answering early threats as needed. Very often it is the right call to continue to ramp even as players are building their board states. You want to ensure that you have the mana, and the resources, necessary to be able to fight out the long game. Your opponents will likely be developing their board states during this time so it is important to recognize the threats on the board. Don't waste removal on a Tireless Tracker for example even if it is drawing them cards.

You want to spend your spot removal on really hard to deal with threats, or things about to kill you but even then, there shouldn't be too much at this stage of the game worth fighting over. Eventually you will wrath to get rid of anything they have so it is often best to just wait until then.
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Mid Game

This is about the time where you want to really focus on what others are doing. You have spent your time trying to build your board state up with lands and maybe a couple creatures. Now, is the time to look for big threats that can either be dealt with via spot removal if there are only a couple big threats or wraths if you need to reset the board entirely. Being able to reset everyone should impact you the least since you have spent very little in resources on trying to build a board state so none of your big hitters are out yet.

Also, this is the time, when you are likely to start dropping in Luminous Broodmoth or Ulvenwald Hydra. Not necessarily creatures that will win the game but things that further slow the game down and force your opponents to extend further to get around your stuff. This is important as you want to be in a position where other players need to try to go bigger than you or try to get around your stuff which means that you are further able to generate more advantage when you wrath the board again. This is also about the time when you want to first cast Karador.
Wraths tend to make their first appearance in the mid game here. It is important to note that you don't necessarily want to stop playing creatures just because you know you want to wrath. And casting a wrath isn't something to do lightly. Often, there will be times when someone has a few flyers which are tough to deal with and you have the option of casting a wrath or something like Ulvenwald Hydra or even just spot removal.

The Hydra can effectively shut down an entire team of fliers depending on your opponent. They won't want to attack into you since they know their biggest will die so they might just focus on someone else. If you have enough life, and can afford getting hit with the fliers (if they remove the Hydra or just swing out at you anyway) it is sometimes worth more to try to just stall the board first before going with the wrath.

And spot removal can help out immensely here. Waiting until they attack when your opponents feel they can get a big strike only to lose their best creature is not only demoralizing, but can cause them to overextend to replace what they just lost. If you have a wrath in hand, and 2 pieces of spot removal (with the mana to cast the spot removal) it is often the right call to use those to protect you first and try to get your opponents to build their board further. And, of course, any small creatures to use as chump blockers help this out as well.
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Late Game

This is where we start trying to win. We have hopefully caused our opponents to run out of resources and we still have a lot of gas in the tank. This is where we flood the board with our Kokusho, the Evening Star, our Luminous Broodmoth (if we had to wait for him), our Gray Merchant of Asphodel, etc. We start being able to attack into players without fearing them coming back at us and we can then sacrifice our stuff and reanimate things to get some of the better dies triggers or continuing to keep control of the board. It may take a few turns so still be patient at this stage of the game.

Getting here is a big accomplishment and trying to suddenly turn aggressive or trying to speed things up can spell trouble if you are not aware of what others are doing. Just because you *can* get Ulvenwald Hydra and Broodmoth and Kokusho and whatever else on the field doesn't mean you should. Especially if it will cost a lot of your mana and leave you vulnerable. Playing it slow is rarely a mistake.
As an example, if you have Kokusho on board while everyone else has very little, it is often right to go after the player you think is the biggest threat and make sure you keep spells in hand to deal with opponents' board. The deck plays a lot of spot removal for this reason so even if you only have Kokusho or something else big, but that is it, that can often be enough if you can still keep your opponents down. And, again, recognize the threat someone actually poses. If someone drops in a 10/10 flyer that you can't get through, but you have chump blockers, removal, or enough life to take the hit, then the right course of action might be to wait.

If you can't stop players from rebuilding, sometimes it is best to just stall while they do so and wrath again. One of the biggest challenges with the deck is knowing when to wrath but if you have been conservative until now with them, you should have a good chance of being able to get your opponents with a well timed, late game wrath to reset their boards.

And of course, looping False Prophet at this time can be immensely useful as players will spend a lot of resources trying to stop that loop. And you lose basically nothing while trying to establish the loop.

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Potential Combos
While I prefer not to have "infinite" combos in my decks, others don't necessarily feel the same so here are some possible combos in these colors. This is not an exhaustive list and just gives an idea of possibilities. I may add more as time goes on:
  • Mikaeus, the Unhallowed & Triskelion – One of the more obvious ones. With both on the field, you remove 1 counter from Triskelion to target whatever you want. Then, remove the other 2 to target itself. You need to remove 2 counters to target itself because Mikaeus is giving it a static +1/+1 so its P/T, without counters, is 2/2. Then it dies and Undying returns it with an extra counter so now it has 4 counters on it. Now, you remove 2 to target whatever you want and 2 to target itself. And then Undying triggers again. And so on.

  • Mikaeus, the Unhallowed & Walking Ballista & <any repeatable free sac outlet> or <any card that cares about a creature entering the battlefield or dying> - Because Mikaeus changes the P/T of the Ballista to be 1 without a counter, the same kind of loop is not possible (since you have to shoot itself to kill it but then you can't shoot anything else). Adding a free sac outlet, like Viscera Seer, gives you a way to kill the Ballista after the counter is removed, to then return with Undying.

    Adding in Altar of the Brood or Blood Artist is another way to combo out. Since the Ballista can kill itself and re-enter, anything triggering off that death or entering will work.

  • Karmic Guide & Viscera Seer & Reveillark & a host of other cards - This is another combo that gives you infinite deaths or ETB so you need something that can work off them like the aforementioned Blood Artist. Plus, the main core of this combo can be gotten off of Protean Hulk if you play it. So, you sac Hulk and get Karmic Guide and Viscera Seer. The Guide gets back the Hulk. You sac the Guide and the Hulk and the Hulk gets you Reveillark. Reveillark is sacrificed to Seer which gets back Guide which gets back Reveillark. Now, you sac Guide followed by Reveillark and continue looping those with something on the field that cares about them entering or dying.

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MTGO Recordings

This section just references Magic Online games played with this deck. It might be fun to keep a tally of different games and the text summaries are elsewhere in the thread.
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06/06/20 Game
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06/07/20 Game
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06/09/20 Game
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06/15/20 Game
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Credit & Thanks
There was some good discussion about this deck on MTGSalvation here and I don't want to lose the good ideas and back and forth that occurred in that thread.

In particular, the activity by Pokken has been very helpful even if we don't always see eye to eye. Being able to bounce ideas off of them, or try different suggestions, has led to the deck being better than I think it would on its own. I also looked at their Ephara primer for help with some of the formatting of mine.

toctheyounger is another who had some threads I reviewed to get inspiration for this thread as well as help with some of the formatting.

darrenhabib, toctheyounger, and Rumpy5897 of the EDH Primer Committee who offered invaluable suggestions as to the layout and formatting of this thread to ensure it had plenty of content for anyone wanting to view it.

benjameenbear who uploaded the Primer Template which this thread is based on and which allowed me to more easily structure this thread.

And, finally, Feyd_Ruin who created all the kick-ass BBCode behind the scenes so I could make this thread look as nice as it does.

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Change Log
Change Log
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08/27/2016
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10/16/2016
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Mass Change
01/26/2018
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08/21/2018
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11/30/2018
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06/12/2019
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06/14/2019
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07/15/19
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10/28/19
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11/10/19
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06/30/20

CUTS


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Post by WizardMN » 1 year ago

I plan on playing this again this week (I took a little time off) and I have been thinking more about what I want to do with the deck. I think, with a lot of the most recent suggestions on MTGSalvation, I have this deck is a really good spot. I still feel that Birds, Deathrite, and Weathered Wayfarer are the weakest links in the deck. Necromancy is still being tested so it may not pan out but it has been decent so far. Sylvan Library, Underrealm Lich, and Pod are performing very well.

Fauna Shaman and the two Walls are kind of in the middle. I like them and they do decent work, but I could see cutting them if I ever get to the point where I think I need slots. I have no plans for that though..

I am starting to believe that, with the Walls added and with the continued focus on ramp tied to creatures (Farhaven Elf, Wood Elves, etc.) that Evolutionary Leap would be a good card to fill the graveyard, keep my hand full, and make use out of creatures that are basically useless once I get their ETB trigger.

I also want to try out Collector Ouphe since that was mentioned as well.

I don't really have good spots to cut for these and I did want to give Birds and Deathrite more chance to shine but I have been less than impressed with them so far so I think I will just cut them both. I think it is possible that Wayfarer can still do something so I will give it a little more time before cutting it. Plus I am still debating a few cards for that slot anyway.
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Post by cryogen » 1 year ago

I was going to post my Karador list, and then I saw yours and don't even feel like putting in the work to do more than a deck list :cry:

I probably still should, simply because mine is more combo based. I do disagree with your choice of Archon of Justice over Ashen Rider, but since you're not running Birthing Pod (which should 100% be mentioned in your Notable Omissions section.
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Post by WizardMN » 1 year ago

I didn't include it in the notable omissions because it isn't omitted :)

Though, I see the list I actually have posted is somewhat outdated. No doubt due to making changes to the deck but not updating the list in anticipation of doing everything here. And then, not making the changes here. I will make that change so as not to cause any further confusion.

I do think you should post your list either way since it runs much differently than mine and would give others a better source for ideas if they wanted to go more into the combos.

As for Ashen Rider, I had it once and I didn't like that it was 8 mana. My curve tops out at 7 (and that is only for Protean Hulk) and I have never felt that it was good enough at 8 mana. The effect is fantastic so I think we can agree on that. But I generally would rather ensure I can get a "weaker" version of the effect down earlier than have it stuck in my hand.

I am open to the idea of using Ashen Rider though. Do you generally feel you are hardcasting it or you are usually cheating it in some way?

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Post by WizardMN » 1 year ago

I played this deck last night against Krenko, Mob Boss, Kami of the Crescent Moon, and Niv-Mizzet Parun.

I didn't do much in the early game. I got down a Burnished Hart and used that to ramp a little. That was basically the only ramp I got in the game though I did use it twice.

I used Ravenous Chupacabra 2 or 3 times in the game to keep Niv off the table as well as another creature. Qasali Pridemage, Harmonic Sliver, and Aura Shards were used to get rid of Dictate of Thassa, Teferi's Puzzle Box, and a few others. This kept the card draw for the blue decks down.

I cast Karador 2 or 3 times in the game and he was able to keep me in control with being able to recast Chupacabra and Protean Hulk when I needed it. One time when Protean Hulk died, I got Ulvenwald Hydra for Diamond Valley and so I could gain a bunch of life when needed (I gained 20 when I sacrificed it).

Underealm Lich made an appearance and was very good to ensure I got the cards I wanted. It also worked well with Bazaar of Baghdad. Evolutionary Leap allowed me to turn a my Harmonic Sliver into a Mikaeus (which I never cast). I didn't do much else with it.

I also had a Birthing Pod later in the game but I couldn't do what I wanted with it to start with. Namely, I wanted to get a 4 drop but I had none left in the deck so I couldn't make my 3 drops better. After thinking of it for a while, I realized I could sacrifice my Oracle of Mul Daya to get my Karmic Guide which then reanimated my Gray Merchant of Asphodel. I had 7 devotion to Black and that was exactly how my life Niv had left so I was able to win with that (the other two players were already out).

Overall, Pod was important at the end of the game and Leap was useful before that. I didn't use Leap much though I didn't get a lot of creatures early where I felt I really had much fodder for it. I will keep an eye on it to see if it really does what I want but so far it seems reasonable.

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Post by cryogen » 1 year ago

WizardMN wrote:
1 year ago
I didn't include it in the notable omissions because it isn't omitted :)

Though, I see the list I actually have posted is somewhat outdated. No doubt due to making changes to the deck but not updating the list in anticipation of doing everything here. And then, not making the changes here. I will make that change so as not to cause any further confusion.

I do think you should post your list either way since it runs much differently than mine and would give others a better source for ideas if they wanted to go more into the combos.

As for Ashen Rider, I had it once and I didn't like that it was 8 mana. My curve tops out at 7 (and that is only for Protean Hulk) and I have never felt that it was good enough at 8 mana. The effect is fantastic so I think we can agree on that. But I generally would rather ensure I can get a "weaker" version of the effect down earlier than have it stuck in my hand.

I am open to the idea of using Ashen Rider though. Do you generally feel you are hardcasting it or you are usually cheating it in some way?
Oh definitely cheating it in. Every. Single. Time.
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Post by DrSeaMonster » 1 year ago

My own Karador differs quite a bit from this, I've got less single-target removal, more board wipes and I use more land ramp instead of mana dorks. It's got a lot of high-value creatures that get cast from the graveyard or get reanimated. Entomb, Buried Alive and Survival of the Fittest fill my graveyard. Tooth and Nail fetches creatures from the deck directly.

I also have Elesh Norn, Massacre Wurm and Demon of Dark Schemes.

Living Death and Twilight's Call are symmetrical mass reanimation, sure. But not when your creatures wipe out their boards.

I'll post a list later...
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Abzan aligned, Timmy/Johnny with a Vorthos activated ability.

Commander decks: Karador. Riku. Savra. Vorosh. Teysa Karlov. Kenrith. Kaalia, Zenith Seeker.
Balthor the Defiled. Radha, Heir to Keld. Nath. Saheeli, the Gifted. Zurgo Helmsmasher.
Samut, Voice of Dissent. Grimgrin. Ertai, the Corrupted. Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. Elsha.
Glissa, the Traitor. Chainer, Nightmare Adept. Obosh, the Preypiercer.

Oathbreaker: Ral, Storm Conduit/Teleportal.

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Post by WizardMN » 1 year ago

I'm definitely interested in seeing your list as it does seem to be quite a bit different than mine (which seems to be somewhat common). I too don't really like mana dorks and I removed the ones I was running. I prefer land ramp for a variety of reasons so I would like to see how many land ramp creatures you are running compared to me.

I have Entomb and I am not a fan of Survival due to power level. I noted it above in my Omissions list because I don't think it is wrong to have; it is just not something I wanted to include in order to keep the consistency of the deck down (for now). Buried Alive being a Sorcery isn't usually where I want to be, but it is a good call out. I can mention it above as it can be a reasonable include.

Elesh Norn, Wurm, and Demon were all in the deck at one point and eventually cut for one reason or another. Mostly due to mana cost but my Meta doesn't seem to have as many tokens as others so the Wurm and Demon never did as much as I wanted. And the cost to reanimate for the Demon just meant I never got to reanimate as much as I wanted. Still not the worst options, but those are the reasons I left them out.

With those in mind, I think Twilight's Call and Living Death make a little more sense, but I feel those options are a little more "random" or uncontrollable to be desirable. In general, I prefer more precision with the build and play style and these types of cards are imprecise enough that I generally avoid them. That comes down to a playstyle difference rather than either option being right or wrong so, again, mentioning them offers more for other players.

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Post by DrSeaMonster » 1 year ago

I'd love to show you my list. Give me a sec to type it up.

I know Survival is very pricey, but I only recently got myself a copy. I wanted one for a very long time, basically as long as I've been playing Magic, and I traded in a couple Cavern of Souls I wasn't using to get store credit, which I used to buy it,
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Abzan aligned, Timmy/Johnny with a Vorthos activated ability.

Commander decks: Karador. Riku. Savra. Vorosh. Teysa Karlov. Kenrith. Kaalia, Zenith Seeker.
Balthor the Defiled. Radha, Heir to Keld. Nath. Saheeli, the Gifted. Zurgo Helmsmasher.
Samut, Voice of Dissent. Grimgrin. Ertai, the Corrupted. Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. Elsha.
Glissa, the Traitor. Chainer, Nightmare Adept. Obosh, the Preypiercer.

Oathbreaker: Ral, Storm Conduit/Teleportal.

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Post by DrSeaMonster » 1 year ago


It's meant to be sort of a toolbox-type reanimator, at least in general. It's in a bit of a transitional period at the moment, see I realized I was spending most of the game filling my graveyard and durdling until I drew a mass reanimation, but I made some tweaks to make it more proactive and engage with the board more.

One of the things you might notice is that I run the landcycling creatures for these colors, I'm pretty fond of them. They mana fix, they thin the deck and they put bodies in my graveyard. All for just 2 mana.

I have a bit of a ramshackle mana base, but only because I typically just use lands I have on hand to make decks, then slot in better things as they come into my possession.
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Abzan aligned, Timmy/Johnny with a Vorthos activated ability.

Commander decks: Karador. Riku. Savra. Vorosh. Teysa Karlov. Kenrith. Kaalia, Zenith Seeker.
Balthor the Defiled. Radha, Heir to Keld. Nath. Saheeli, the Gifted. Zurgo Helmsmasher.
Samut, Voice of Dissent. Grimgrin. Ertai, the Corrupted. Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. Elsha.
Glissa, the Traitor. Chainer, Nightmare Adept. Obosh, the Preypiercer.

Oathbreaker: Ral, Storm Conduit/Teleportal.

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Post by DrSeaMonster » 1 year ago

Oh that does not look right, I think I typed up the decklist thing wrong...

Could anyone tell me the proper way to format it?
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Abzan aligned, Timmy/Johnny with a Vorthos activated ability.

Commander decks: Karador. Riku. Savra. Vorosh. Teysa Karlov. Kenrith. Kaalia, Zenith Seeker.
Balthor the Defiled. Radha, Heir to Keld. Nath. Saheeli, the Gifted. Zurgo Helmsmasher.
Samut, Voice of Dissent. Grimgrin. Ertai, the Corrupted. Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. Elsha.
Glissa, the Traitor. Chainer, Nightmare Adept. Obosh, the Preypiercer.

Oathbreaker: Ral, Storm Conduit/Teleportal.

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Post by SocorroTortoise » 1 year ago

DrSeaMonster wrote:
1 year ago
Oh that does not look right, I think I typed up the decklist thing wrong...

Could anyone tell me the proper way to format it?
You don't need card tags in the deck tag, and you do need numbers in front of the cards. You can quote this post to get your list in the spoiler formatted right. I also alphabetized it because that makes it easier for me to parse, but that's less important.
Spoiler
Show
Decklist

Instant


1 Entomb
1 Moonlight Bargain

Approximate Total Cost:




I should get around to posting my current Karador list. I've got a similar theme to WizardMN and I think there are only 9 shared creatures between the lists. I had some good games last night where Karador, Izoni, Thousand-Eyed, and Phyrexian Plaguelord outright won the game (with support from Saffi Eriksdotter for one of them). I was also kept in one of those games almost entirely through Gavony Township and Vault of the Archangel. I got off to a slow start and kind of flew under the radar pumping up things like Wood Elves and Manglehorn with Township, with Vault thrown in for some lifegain and defense as appropriate. A combination of Sylvan Library and Perilous Forays eventually got me the resources to do a little more, but I would have been knocked out much earlier if it weren't for the utility lands.
Last edited by SocorroTortoise 1 year ago, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by DrSeaMonster » 1 year ago

Ah, nice! Thanks for the tips!
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Abzan aligned, Timmy/Johnny with a Vorthos activated ability.

Commander decks: Karador. Riku. Savra. Vorosh. Teysa Karlov. Kenrith. Kaalia, Zenith Seeker.
Balthor the Defiled. Radha, Heir to Keld. Nath. Saheeli, the Gifted. Zurgo Helmsmasher.
Samut, Voice of Dissent. Grimgrin. Ertai, the Corrupted. Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. Elsha.
Glissa, the Traitor. Chainer, Nightmare Adept. Obosh, the Preypiercer.

Oathbreaker: Ral, Storm Conduit/Teleportal.

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Post by cryogen » 1 year ago

Well I posted my list. It's actually a couple of cards out of date, but more or less accurate.
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Post by WizardMN » 1 year ago

I finally found some time to get back and play some Magic and look at the lists others posted above. I will have some comments on theirs but I want to give a summary of the game I played last night.

I played against Etrata the Silencer and the Mystic Intellect precon with Sevinne, the Chronoclasm at the helm.

Overall, the deck performed pretty much as I wanted. I stumbled early on as I kept a 4 land hand but had no Green mana. I did get green mana on turn 5 which got me to Oracle of Mul Daya which then ramped me a little bit more. I think I only got 3 extra lands off it before Etrata exiled it.

I did end up getting a False Prophet down which stemmed the attacks on me. I had a sac outlet the entire time so I could exile the board as needed whenever I wanted. I did end up sacrificing the Prophet and then cast it again with Karador. Since I wasn't being as focused on a lot because of this loop, I started to build a larger board. This actually ended up causing some interesting play decisions later on as I slowly started trying to get my creatures to die so they wouldn't be exiled. I ended up being able to kill all but 2 by the time I needed to exile the board but this is one of the most obvious times where I would have liked to have a creature sac outlet as I had Protean Hulk die a couple times and he would have been able to get me one. Viscera Seer is the most likely one I would want so I might find a spot for it.

Otherwise, I ended up getting an Ulvenwald Hydra at one point to gain some much needed life and a Kokusho for the same reason. I did have a misplay later on where I wanted to get Chainer, Dementia Master down but I really wanted Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to help out. So, I ended up spending some spells to get Hydra back from the graveyard to search my library before realizing the Tomb was in the graveyard. So I ended up needing to use an Eternal Witness to get that back the next turn. It ended up not mattering but I still should have played a little tighter.

I think I ended up just winning with creature beats with the one Kokusho trigger helping out.

One interesting play pattern occurred later in the game. Karador had died so I tried to cast him knowing my opponent had a counter spell. This was the third time I cast him but he still cost WBG. They countered it so I cast it again for WBG. They countered it again so I cast it again but it cost 2WBG this time. But, this time it resolved. He did die and I was able to cast him again for WBG a couple turns later since my graveyard had gotten even more creature cards in it.

Another big card in the game was Underrealm Lich. It helped keep my graveyard full and let me see 3 cards at a time whenever I drew a card which gave me some much needed answers in different cases.

It was nice to be able to bring this deck out again after a while of not playing and seeing it work pretty much as I want it to.

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Post by WizardMN » 1 year ago

[mention]DrSeaMonster[/mention]

Overall, I like you list but the curve seems kind of high. While that works a bit more into your theme since you seem to be doing a lot more with the reanimation aspect as well as a few mass reanimation spells I still think there might be a lot there where, if you don't get your reanimation plan online, you might have a tougher time getting things on the field. I think the biggest card I would really look at for this side of things is Reya Dawnbringer. It fits the theme but 9 mana is a lot; especially if you don't get something to cheat her out early.

I am not a fan of Soul of Theros due to cost but I can imagine that the lifelink in particular would be super helpful.

Sun Titan is a good 6 drop that can help with a lot of things and could give you a consistent wrath if you also included Pernicious Deed. I would also add in a few more creature based ramp cards (Wood Elves, Farhaven Elf, etc.) as you can get more value out of them with your reanimation plan.

Fauna Shaman can be another Survival to help fill your graveyard. It isn't nearly as good, but it is another discard outlet to hopefully help cheat big things into play.

Otherwise, it is obviously a different build/focus than mine is based mostly on the larger push for reanimation. On paper, it looks like you might end up with a non-zero amount of games with big things stuck in hand but if that doesn't happen very often, I can see where this would be a fun deck to pilot.

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Post by DrSeaMonster » 1 year ago

I'm definitely going to consider some of these points, especially Sun Titan.

The deck is a bit durdley, but that is why it has ten board wipes...Not counting Massacre Wurm, Elesh Norn and Demon of Dark Schemes.

I think some more mana rocks might be good, though. Especially things like Commander's Sphere that can be sacrificed, especially if I'm going to try slotting in Sun Titan...
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Abzan aligned, Timmy/Johnny with a Vorthos activated ability.

Commander decks: Karador. Riku. Savra. Vorosh. Teysa Karlov. Kenrith. Kaalia, Zenith Seeker.
Balthor the Defiled. Radha, Heir to Keld. Nath. Saheeli, the Gifted. Zurgo Helmsmasher.
Samut, Voice of Dissent. Grimgrin. Ertai, the Corrupted. Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. Elsha.
Glissa, the Traitor. Chainer, Nightmare Adept. Obosh, the Preypiercer.

Oathbreaker: Ral, Storm Conduit/Teleportal.

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Post by WizardMN » 1 year ago

I have mentioned it in the past, but I truly believe that mana rocks in Karador (and, for me, in basically any green deck) is not where you want to be. There are a ton of 3 mana creatures that fetch out lands, give you fodder for Karador to become cheaper later on (when they die), and can be recurred by Karador. I think creatures that tutor out lands are far superior to mana rocks in this deck.

I can definitely get behind being durdly :) I generally lean on 3 board wipes: False Prophet, Damnation, and Toxic Deluge. I have others (Pernicious Deed being a good one) but these three are often all I really need. And False Prophet, if players can't get to their grave hate, can basically keep everyone off creatures forever. Until you are ready to win that is. So, it might be worth looking into minimizing the number of wraths and lean more heavily on your creature based wraths. And False Prophet can make a good inclusion to that.

I do understand that he can tend to make mass reanimation a little worse as you don't want the Prophet reanimated with everything else which gives your opponents an easy way to deal with your (hopefully) massive board. And Demon of Dark Schemes just outright kills it so I can see staying away from it in your build.

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Post by DrSeaMonster » 1 year ago

I've been cutting rocks from my green decks, honestly. Even my three color ones.
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Abzan aligned, Timmy/Johnny with a Vorthos activated ability.

Commander decks: Karador. Riku. Savra. Vorosh. Teysa Karlov. Kenrith. Kaalia, Zenith Seeker.
Balthor the Defiled. Radha, Heir to Keld. Nath. Saheeli, the Gifted. Zurgo Helmsmasher.
Samut, Voice of Dissent. Grimgrin. Ertai, the Corrupted. Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. Elsha.
Glissa, the Traitor. Chainer, Nightmare Adept. Obosh, the Preypiercer.

Oathbreaker: Ral, Storm Conduit/Teleportal.

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Post by WizardMN » 1 year ago

I got another game the other night and it, again, went pretty well. The game basically hinged on False Prophet. I don't really want to go to far in depth in the game, but one situation stood out for a couple reasons.

First, the board state was False Prophet, Mikaeus, the Unhallowed, Protean Hulk, and some land ramp creatures. Anje Falkenrath had been working the entire game to fill their graveyard. They had a ton of creatures with one of them being Gray Merchant of Asphodel. They went to cast Dance of the Dead for the Worldgorger Dragon combo. I told them False Prophet would blow them out (they lost the previous game since another player stopped the combo by blowing up the Dragon and causing all their stuff to be exiled) so they took that back.

They went to cast Living Death and I, again, informed them that False Prophet blows them out since his dies trigger will exile everything. He took that back. Then he just went ahead and cast Rise of the Dark Realms. I told him False Prophet stops this too but he went ahead with it. I think he thought he could stack the triggers and have Gray Merchant still do something.

Anyway, everything came back I made him stack all his triggers (the order did matter; I wasn't just trying to be a jerk) and then I exiled everything at the time I wanted. This is before the Worldgorger Dragon trigger resolved. All of his stuff was exiled and he scooped it up.

Now, this situation brought up again that my lack of a creature based sac outlet hurt. I wanted to do more with Hulk to save my stuff and do a few things with Mikaeus but, without the creature based sac outlet, I was stuck trying to sequence things with just my Diamond Valley. Things could have easily gone sour during this process so I am pretty much sold on getting a Viscera Seer in the deck. I need to find something to cut. I really like the Walls a lot more than I thought I would so I don't want to cut them now. I will have to find something at some point.

Otherwise, the effort over the last 2-3 months to revamp the deck a little has proven fruitful. I am really liking where the deck is at now.

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Post by DrSeaMonster » 1 year ago

Well, you're certainly not starved for options as far as sac outlets go in Abzan.

Of course, artifacts like Ashnod's Altar and Phyrexian Altar are always good. Spawning Pit is a good, free option.

Vampiric Rites and Izoni, Thousand-Eyed are better for drawing, and I also like Disciple of Griselbrand for a way to gain life fast.
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Abzan aligned, Timmy/Johnny with a Vorthos activated ability.

Commander decks: Karador. Riku. Savra. Vorosh. Teysa Karlov. Kenrith. Kaalia, Zenith Seeker.
Balthor the Defiled. Radha, Heir to Keld. Nath. Saheeli, the Gifted. Zurgo Helmsmasher.
Samut, Voice of Dissent. Grimgrin. Ertai, the Corrupted. Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. Elsha.
Glissa, the Traitor. Chainer, Nightmare Adept. Obosh, the Preypiercer.

Oathbreaker: Ral, Storm Conduit/Teleportal.

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Post by WizardMN » 1 year ago

The sac outlet I want to add need to be on a creature. Viscera Seer is top of the list since it costs 0 mana to sac things (unlike Izoni and Disciple). And being 1 mana makes it easier to get off Protean Hulk when Hulk gets a 5 drop.

One other thing I forgot to mention above is that I did have a situation where Collector Ouphe ended up shutting off my Birthing Pod. I ended up discarding Pod due to this so I ended up not using it all for the game. This is one of the few times where the deck is at odds with itself and it is only one of two cards (Burnished Hart being the other) that Ouphe shuts down so I don't plan on removing it just because of this but it was a disappointing interaction in the game.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

It's unfortunately part of the nature of EDH I think that you sometimes have to deal with the busted stuff other people are doing with things to your own detriment, but I think ouphe is still right to run in this deck. It hurts them much worse than it hurts you :)
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Post by WizardMN » 1 year ago

[mention]pokken[/mention]
I think you are right in that aspect. It definitely wasn't something that is going to force me to remove the Ouphe. It was just a interesting anecdote, and a situation I hadn't thought of until in game. Overall, the loss of my Pod is likely worth any resistance the Ouphe offers opponents.

From the new set, I think Murderous Rider easily stands out as the best card for this deck. As a creature, it isn't necessarily that great, but the Swift End half can be very important. And being a creature means I can get it back with Phyrexian Reclamation and I can discard it to Fauna Shaman if I need to. If only the toughness was 2 and I could get it off of Recruiter :)

With that said, I am still not sure I can actually fit it into the deck. The instant spot removal I have deals with more than just creatures which makes them more useful than Swift End. I could see the argument for cutting Generous Gift just to provide a more re-usable removal spell. Or, I could potentially cut Ravenous Chupacabra but cutting an actual creature, that can be reanimated or tutored out, is a hard sell. I am going to think on this but I am not sure it quite makes the cut.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

WizardMN wrote:
1 year ago
I think you are right in that aspect. It definitely wasn't something that is going to force me to remove the Ouphe. It was just a interesting anecdote, and a situation I hadn't thought of until in game. Overall, the loss of my Pod is likely worth any resistance the Ouphe offers opponents.

From the new set, I think Murderous Rider easily stands out as the best card for this deck. As a creature, it isn't necessarily that great, but the Swift End half can be very important. And being a creature means I can get it back with Phyrexian Reclamation and I can discard it to Fauna Shaman if I need to. If only the toughness was 2 and I could get it off of Recruiter :)

With that said, I am still not sure I can actually fit it into the deck. The instant spot removal I have deals with more than just creatures which makes them more useful than Swift End. I could see the argument for cutting Generous Gift just to provide a more re-usable removal spell. Or, I could potentially cut Ravenous Chupacabra but cutting an actual creature, that can be reanimated or tutored out, is a hard sell. I am going to think on this but I am not sure it quite makes the cut.
Hmmm, so I looked and Rider doesn't let you cast the adventure half from the yard (and I know you surely knew that, I just didn't) so you have to get it to your hand before it's any good. In that case I think it's pretty iffy. I don't see what you could possibly cut for it except path to exile which I think is a really overrated card despite its mana efficiency. Boy do I hate ramping people.

Given any thought to Cavalier of Dawn? Been looking hard at that for my Aminatou deck which looks for a lot of similar stuff inc reatures.
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