Vial Smasher the Fierce and Kraum, Ludevic's Opus - Legendary/Superfriends

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Post by toctheyounger » 5 months ago

Vial Smasher and Kraum, Ludevic's Opus

and their
Grixis League of Legends





Intro

I've had these guys sitting in my folder a little while, as well as the remnants of a previous Grixis build under Thraximundar that conveniently happened to have a few bits of planeswalker tech I thought I could use. I've played a few superfriends builds before, but haven't seen a lot under a Grixis shell, which is a colour combination I've always been fond of; Grixis is always a fun time, tends to be pretty splashy and explosive, and generally doesn't get overly griefy. Which is important for a superfriends build - I want to win, but I want people to enjoy playing the deck too. I've run superfriends before under Narset, Enlightened Master and it just wasn't fun, for the pilot or the opponent.

Nonetheless, I've always wanted to build partners, and since my wife has an Atraxa, Praetors' Voice superfriends build, I wanted to build something in a similar vein. So I dreamed up this concept. And here's why it works:
  • Planeswalkers are often expensive. Vial Smasher rewards casting that sort of spell, and provides a body to protect your investment too, for a reasonable initial casting cost.
  • Planeswalkers, while strong, need some protection. Kraum covers this well while cantripping from our opponents' responses, and being able to swing in when opportune.
  • The colours these two are in give us access to some of the cooler walkers about - Liliana, Bolas, Tezzeret, the Kenrith Twins, Saheeli (as well as some of the colourless options in Karn and Ugin too)
  • Focusing on walkers mean we don't need to worry as much about creature protection - you'll note the lack of Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots in the deck; that's something I don't intend to change any time soon.
  • Grixis gives us plenty of options for sweepers, control, tokens, draw and recursion.
  • Grixis gives us access to some of the stronger 'walker tech with things like Deepglow Skate, Flux Channeler, Inexorable Tide, Spark Double, Yawgmoth's Vile Offering and Command the Dreadhorde



Why Vial Smasher the Fierce?



Part of the reason she works is that Walkers are generally a little pricier to cast, which plays nicely with Vial Smasher the Fierce and his ability. There's plenty of ways to drop that CMC, and I'm running a few of them here, which has made this quite an artifact oriented build, too - there's easy ways to generate a bit more mana with proliferate, affinity, and delve, all of which have a presence here to some degree. None of the walkers here are enormous to cast, but I don't feel like leaning into Vial Smasher's ability totally is entirely necessary. Once resolved, they put enough pressure on the board that Vial Smasher becomes an auxiliary threat anyway, so I'm happy to consider her a cherry on top. She's cheap to cast initially too, and gives us a facade to hide our walkers behind as well as chump blocking. Essentially, Vial Smasher the Fierce makes for an early tempo advantage, and makes sure the walkers and the rest of the deck have less distance to go.

Ideally because the direct damage trigger is random you won't necessarily become archenemy, but ultimately people don't like getting pinged, so she's likely to see hate at some point. It's not the worst thing in the world, as it takes some of the heat from our walkers.

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Having 9 nieces and nephews, there's some inherently relatable about the random nature of Vial Smasher's incendiaries.

Why Kraum, Ludevic's Opus?



Kraum, Ludevic's Opus is an inclusion in the command zone I deliberated over; there aren't really any other stunningly good partners in Grixis, but Kraum works fairly well. He can swing in for immediate damage, he cantrips when opponents play spells, and he can chump block with evasion. He's decent to see in the command zone, he gives me the colours I want, and bare minimum he's decent chump blocking for my walkers and a 5 mana burn to the face from Vial Smasher's ability. I've noticed, too, that once we land some walkers, people will start slinging control spells to control the damage, which will help us draw into more advantage.

Perhaps the best asset Kraum has is haste. We don't need greaves or boots, we just cast him and swing, if that's what we want to do. He is really good at that; he's a mid game punch to the face that draws us cards for any reactive plays an opponent might drop.

Ultimately, Kraum has been really great keeping card advantage going. We can drop him at the sort of time where people are playing expansively to either push their plans forward, or playing removal as needed, and whether this all resolves or not we draw, which is perfect. Passive draw triggers are gravy. It's worth noting, too that his trigger counts for each opponent, each turn. So if it's Dave's turn, and he plays Rampant Growth then Kodama's Reach, and in response to each Jessica casts a Rewind then a Counterspell, we get two triggers (Jessica is being a jerk, but it's just an example, we'll look the other way :) ).

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Left head: The look on my face heading for the peanut butter jar when I get home from work.

Why Legendaries?


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The library is open.


So this is sort of a weird flavour point that I've leaned into because it sort of works. Legendary permanents tend to be a little more expensive on account of splashy effects, so Vial Smasher the Fierce likes them. There's also the fact that quite a few of them play pretty well into walker protection, draw triggers and mana production.

Add to this the historic theme, brought in during the Dominaria set, and we've got some layers of synergy. Historic is a mechanic that affects permanents that are artifacts, legendary or planeswalkers in various ways. Well, that's like....most of the deck! Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain cantrips from most of our deck, and it's, once again, a cast trigger. Being in a lot of our ramp is artifact based, which plays nicely into the historic theme, as well as our Tezzeret walkers, Emry, Lurker of the Loch and Storm the Vault.

Torbran, Thane of Red Fell makes a lot of our walker abilities, creature damage and Vial Smasher the Fierce triggers hit a little harder, and Sakashima the Impostor can double up as any high impact legendary we might want a second of to drive salt into the wounds. Then there's The Locust God, which gives us some board persistence and easy protection on draws, and Sheoldred, Whispering One helps manage threats across the table and keep our board presence up. So ultimately, adding the legendaries I have added has layered some synergy into the deck for measures of acceleration and control - not every legend gets a place, the shoe definitely has to fit, but nonetheless, this is a fairly cohesive team.

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Reading is fundamental, dahling.

The Decklist

Vial Smasher and Kraum - The Legendaries
Approximate Total Cost:




Strategy



The deck is designed to be able to play out fairly quickly and fairly cheaply - or, at least, with a speed that isn't evident in the average CMC anyway. Ultimately what we're looking to achieve is pretty simple:

Early Game:

Our early game is all about establishing board presence. We want some rocks in hand to build up a mana cache and colour fix, and if we have some mid to high level bombs in hand we want to drop Vial Smasher the Fierce early if we can to push through some damage. In terms of early drops, you can either look for pieces that hold your opponents back á la Ashiok, Dream Render or Narset, Parter of Veils or drop some pieces that keep your grip full, like The Royal Scions, Mind's Eye, Phyrexian Arena or Dack Fayden. So long as you're seeing plenty of cards and chipping away at board presence, don't worry overly about losing pieces - ultimately, it's going to happen regardless. Vial Smasher is a common target and there's nothing we can do about it.

WOTC have put a lot of puns on cards. This is definitely one of the subtler ones.


Mid Game:



Ultimately, this deck works on the concept of threat overload. Each walker present a different set of abilities we can use to put ourselves ahead each turn, and with enough of them on board that can present an insurmountable task to overcome. Not only that, they draw fire away from our life total really commonly, whether that is advisable or not - ultimately they can cause our opponents a lot of distraction and result in misplays.

So what we're going to do at this point, now that we have some degree of board presence, is expand it to become overwhelming. If you can land multiple walkers, great. If you can do it with Vial Smasher the Fierce on the board, even better. If you can draw from them, you're golden. If you can set up a board presence to protect them, you got yourself a really nice platform to overwhelm the board.

This stage of the game is where you're most likely to see some pushback. Early game, it's not quite clear what you're doing. Once people realise, they'll try to stop you. So there's a good chance you may need to play some control here. Sheoldred, Whispering One, Noxious Gearhulk. Last One Standing, Decree of Pain, Blasphemous Act, Possibility Storm, Commit // Memory, these are all options to hang on to for this time in the game. If you can stamp out any resistance at this point, you stand a really good chance of finishing strongly.

How I feel winning a commander game out of nowhere.


Late Game:



Push home the advantage. Ultimately, this is going to look different in most games. There's some surefire finishers in terms of ultimate walker abilities, but because they're literally all swiss-army knives, we have the luxury of being able to use a variety of different tools to win, so going through any degree of permutations or algorithms to victory here is going to take up a lot of space and be pretty convoluted to take in. There's games it'll be easy - cast something large with Vial Smasher the Fierce in play, pop an ultimate. There's games it'll be a lot more complex and you may need to do this:

Image


By nature, the decks I build tend to grind advantage out of a game, and in most ways this is no exception. There's very little here in terms of an immediate win con, aside from Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God. I prefer a slugfest, and while this deck packs some serious firepower, I don't believe there's anything infinite here. So, with all of the various tools at our disposal, we will have to just wait and see what the endgame looks like in each different scenario. Suffice it to say, a lot of the victories you have here will come from overloading walker abilities and triggers, emblems and just overwhelming the board, but ultimately this will look different most games.

This is what ego looks like.


Ramp


I don't know what a Shaku is, but if they're all like this we all need one.



Grixis isn't the perfect colours to make mana quickly, so we need some ways to move around it. There's a reasonable reliance of mana rocks here, and there's some weird ones here.
  • Crystalline Crawler - This guy generates his own mana, which is sweet, but he just gets stupid with proliferate options on the field. You need not be overly afraid to push all of the counters from this guy early to colour fix, it's more than worth the tempo boost. We can always get cute and Spark Double a copy of him too - if you spend it'll enter with 4 counters. Which is cool, obviously.
  • Honor-worn Shaku - This rock has straight up been a revelation. With errata post Jace, Cunning Castaway changing walkers into legendary cards, they can now produce for each tap, and still perform their primary tasks. Add to that the fact that a lot of our legendary creatures we aren't taking into combat and we have a rock that can pump out some crazy mana. It's not uncommon for this to produce upwards of - a turn. It's that good here it actually draws hate above other rocks.
  • Coalition Relic - Very similar to the Crawler above, but a little more bursty. Really it needs proliferate to produce swathes of mana, but it still gives us the option of being able to colour fix or save up for burst mana turn by turn,
  • Vault of Catlacan - Well, we play a few rocks. Nothing disgusting like Mycosynth Lattice, but Saheeli makes artifacts in all 3 iterations, then we have our mana rocks, we have some critters, we have Vault of Whispers, Seat of the Synod, Great Furnace and Darksteel Citadel, so this is decent. It's commonly a kill on sight threat, so drop it at a point you can at least swing to grab a treasure token from it in case it blows up before it flips. As a legendary enchantment, it also cantrips from Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain, which is cool.
  • Neheb, the Eternal - 'This is what glory looks like'. Bolas was right. This guy's a beast. Even casting himself with Vial Smasher in play he replaces the mana used to cast him. Given that it's second main mana, it's 'drive salt into the wound' strategies, but hey, we're in Grixis here. It's what we do. Nonetheless, he works remarkably well to keep momentum up, works well with our walkers and commanders (both of whom deal damage easily) and other picks like Irencrag Pyromancer.
  • Signets and Talismans - A lot of our spells are sizable, but predominantly our biggest problem with mana production is color fixing. These are sort of crucial here - my lands are far from optimal, and these are really forgiving. It's worth having them in the list too, because of the deck's artifact synergy. So being able to power them out early and drop some crazy synergy with Vault of Catlacan or Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge is great value.
  • Filter Lands - I've recently added Graven Cairns and Cascade Bluffs for the same reason the signets and talismans are here. Colours. Our options for ramping lands are quite minimal, so fixing colours is pretty important.
  • Solemn Simulacrum - Sad Robot. Let's not pretend he hasn't aged, because he has. That being said, he drops land, he's an artifact, and a good chump blocker. Those are three layers of synergy, so it's worth having him here.

Draw


I love owls. Seriously. Ask me about owls.


We have some of the stronger draw options in the colours in this deck, but we also have some fairly irregular options too:

The Win



Essentially, this deck operates mostly like a midrange value grinder. There's a lot of removal and control on our walkers, as well as some card advantage, and we have a few ways of advancing things fairly quickly:


Ultimately, once you hit an ultimate, there's a pretty good chance you're going to wreck someone's day eventually. Bolas' ultimate on any iteration will likely cause the game to end, the Kenriths will give double value to more or less anything you do, and either Tezzeret, Artifice Master or Saheeli, the Gifted flick the switch on 'easy mode'.

As far as combo and proliferate goes there's obviously plenty of scope here, which is nice for some, but I prefer to avoid it - I'm not in a rush, so there's no need to combo or lock the game up entirely. I run a few pieces of proliferate tech in Flux Channeler, Inexorable Tide and Karn's Bastion, but I'm not going to add every piece. A lot of the pieces that would be required to combo have shot up enormously in price recently anyway (seriously, check the damn price on The Chain Veil these days), so it's a bit of a moot point. Regardless, I haven't found them altogether necessary, so I likely won't buy into those options anytime soon.

There are a couple of bits and pieces I eventually would look at including to really make the deck go crazy, but at present it really doesn't need much. Teferi, Temporal Archmage would be nice, but it's up there for price. Some of the more expensive rocks like Mox Opal could be good too, but again, very much not necessary as they're out of my price range. I'd like to add Nicol Bolas, the Ravager to the 99 at some point now that he's rotated out of standard, but I'm in no rush. Mycosynth Lattice would be obscene in the deck, frankly (think of what it would do with Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge, Saheeli, the Gifted, and just our colour fixing!). I'd seriously consider adding a copy if I had one (I did, and traded it like a dumbass). It won't be dropping in anytime soon though, the price of that thing has tripled in the last year.

Credit & Thanks



I'd like to give credit to Dementedkirby and WizardMN for some great discussion and suggestions regarding this build. I know WizardMN has a similar build with Nicol Bolas, the Ravager at the helm, so we have bounced ideas back and forth to great effect.


Enjoy!

Toc
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Post by xeroxedfool » 5 months ago

Why Voltaic Key? I'm not seeing any specific reason to run it but I could be missing something.
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Post by toctheyounger » 5 months ago

xeroxedfool wrote:
5 months ago
Why Voltaic Key? I'm not seeing any specific reason to run it but I could be missing something.
Yeah, it’s kind of redundant here. I had Clock of Omens too, as a way to generate a little more mana and pump out big spells a little earlier. It should go, and could easily be a Talisman or Commabder’s Sphere/Darksteel Ingot.

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Post by benjameenbear » 5 months ago

I recently added in Bolas's Citadel to my Yawgmoth deck and holy damnation it's stupidly powerful. Combined with Sensei's Divining Top and Aetherflux Reservoir and you have a stupidly powerful engine to win the game with. Anyways, my point being that you could probably add in Exsanguinate or Tendrils of Agony to ensure maximum awesomeness from the Citadel when you resolve it!

Otherwise, all hail Bolas!
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Post by WizardMN » 5 months ago

Even on its own, the Citadel can be a powerhouse. I have had a couple games where I used it for value rather than a "combo" piece and was able to build up a significant board for the "low" cost of 10-12 life or I was able to leave a Counterspell on top so I could counter something for "free" when I needed to.

But yes, there are ways to make it better if one wants to go that route. Reservoir is the common one that is usually discussed but I think I like the idea of Top more as it is still really good outside the Citadel and gives more options in a lot of cases when needed and isn't "just" good with Citadel. I might try to slot the Top into my deck to see how it plays as I have been looking for a replacement to Wheel of Fortune anyway.

Not saying Reservoir can't be good outside that either, but a 4 mana artifact that really requires a lot of spells being cast in a turn (something this deck doesn't typically do past the early game) means it is tougher to get good use out of it without Citadel on the board.

I will say that, unless I am misunderstanding what you are saying, Exsanguinate doesn't seem to be that good since you can't declare a value for X other than 0 when casting it off the Citadel.

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Post by benjameenbear » 5 months ago

WizardMN wrote:
5 months ago
Even on its own, the Citadel can be a powerhouse. I have had a couple games where I used it for value rather than a "combo" piece and was able to build up a significant board for the "low" cost of 10-12 life or I was able to leave a Counterspell on top so I could counter something for "free" when I needed to.

But yes, there are ways to make it better if one wants to go that route. Reservoir is the common one that is usually discussed but I think I like the idea of Top more as it is still really good outside the Citadel and gives more options in a lot of cases when needed and isn't "just" good with Citadel. I might try to slot the Top into my deck to see how it plays as I have been looking for a replacement to Wheel of Fortune anyway.

Not saying Reservoir can't be good outside that either, but a 4 mana artifact that really requires a lot of spells being cast in a turn (something this deck doesn't typically do past the early game) means it is tougher to get good use out of it without Citadel on the board.

I will say that, unless I am misunderstanding what you are saying, Exsanguinate doesn't seem to be that good since you can't declare a value for X other than 0 when casting it off the Citadel.
I meant to imply that a life-gaining spell like Exsanguinate would be good for the deck generally and particularly in conjunction with the Citadel, even though you can't cast it off the top of your deck via Citadel. Top is probably the better slot for it overall, frankly, but I like the idea of Bolas assembling a Doom Laser that wipes out opposing planeswalkers. You know, like what should have happened in the abysmal War of the Spark story. I still can't contemplate that storyline without a legitimate amount of rage welling up inside me...
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Post by WizardMN » 5 months ago

Ah, I see (regarding Exsanguinate). That is a very good point to be honest. My life gain is centered around Crypt Incursion which means I don't really have a lot. I could see where Exsanguinate could be good to gain some much needed life back when necessary and, in good cases, can be a legitimate game ender. I do think that the cost in using it can be a little high, but I also know toctheyounger's deck runs more rocks than mine so I imagine he can get more mana to fuel into it. Overall, it seems like it could do some good amount of "damage" and life gain.

If I compare it to Crypt Incursion, I gained 42 life off of that once but that was against a Sidisi deck. Normally I expect around 20-25. But it does revolve around creatures in graveyards. That isn't that uncommon fortunately. But, for Exsanguinate to do the same, X must be 7 or more in a 3 player game which makes it cost 9 mana. Depending on the build, this might not be that hard to get to and then it obviously scales from there so the ceiling can be pretty high.
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Post by toctheyounger » 5 months ago

benjameenbear wrote:
5 months ago
I recently added in Bolas's Citadel to my Yawgmoth deck and holy damnation it's stupidly powerful. Combined with Sensei's Divining Top and Aetherflux Reservoir and you have a stupidly powerful engine to win the game with. Anyways, my point being that you could probably add in Exsanguinate or Tendrils of Agony to ensure maximum awesomeness from the Citadel when you resolve it!
Yeah, the card is nuts. I've really enjoyed just being able to establish a solid board state very quickly, as WizardMN mentioned. But yeah, the life loss has become problematic in the past. This is very much a 'the blood is the life', life as a resource deck, and I don't have a lot to mitigate that. Noxious Gearhulk has been cool, but there aren't a ton of other options in the colors - I guess there's Wurmcoil Engine and Vampire Nighthawk for lifelink blockers, but Engine is cripplingly expensive and Nighthawk isn't an artifact. @WizardMN, how reliable has Crypt Incursion been for you? Sounds like potentially it can be amazing at its zenith, I'd be interested to hear how it is at its nadir.

Honestly, as much as I can acknowledge that Aetherflux Reservoir is awesome in the right place, I don't want to use it. Partly because I don't like the way it's an insta-kill (I don't enjoy it being used like this against me, so I won't do it to other people), and partly because I don't think the deck actually 'storms' enough to actually support it. It'd do ok with Citadel in play, but without the Rock it'd be a bit lackluster.

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Post by WizardMN » 5 months ago

So far, the "worst" Crypt Incursion has been was when I used it to exile 3 creature cards from a graveyard in response to some sort of recursion and I gained 9 life. Doing so got rid of a Mangara of Corondor that was wrecking my board so it was definitely worthwhile. Even that was decent as it did slow the opponent down and I got 9 life out of the deal.

I am generally not upset to see it as it isn't really a dead card. But I don't like seeing it too early since I don't want to use it then. And, it is one time use so it is enticing to sit on it to make it as good as possible.

Overall, I wouldn't say it has been super impressive but it hasn't been disappointing either.

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Post by toctheyounger » 5 months ago

Makes sense. It’s not the sort of thing you casually cast without a reason to do so, and the life gain is secondary really. I might have to think about adding it or something similar though. You know it’s a problem once you’ve lost a game to your own Phyrexian Arena trigger :cool:

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Post by Kemev » 4 months ago

So don't yell at me when you read this, but I don't think this is the deck for Bolas's Citadel. I get that it's stupid powerful, but it also pushes against Vial Smasher. And like you've been discussing, this deck has a relatively high curve and not many ways to make up the life.

If it were me, I'd rather find space for some of the other cost-reduced instants and sorceries... stuff like Treasure Cruise, Temporal Mastery, Temporal Trespass (the time walks effects would be especially beneficial for your planeswalkers). My friend built a Vial Smasher + Silas spellslinger list, and like you, he didn't originally plan on leaning into Vial Smasher (he was looking for more of a reanimator/control build, and wanted the low CMC generals for blocking/early game). But it turned out Smasher + the big spells was really brutal, and eventually he re-worked the list a bit so he had more instants to pick up Smasher triggers on other players' turns.

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Post by toctheyounger » 4 months ago

Kemev wrote:
4 months ago
So don't yell at me when you read this, but I don't think this is the deck for Bolas's Citadel. I get that it's stupid powerful, but it also pushes against Vial Smasher. And like you've been discussing, this deck has a relatively high curve and not many ways to make up the life.

If it were me, I'd rather find space for some of the other cost-reduced instants and sorceries... stuff like Treasure Cruise, Temporal Mastery, Temporal Trespass (the time walks effects would be especially beneficial for your planeswalkers). My friend built a Vial Smasher + Silas spellslinger list, and like you, he didn't originally plan on leaning into Vial Smasher (he was looking for more of a reanimator/control build, and wanted the low CMC generals for blocking/early game). But it turned out Smasher + the big spells was really brutal, and eventually he re-worked the list a bit so he had more instants to pick up Smasher triggers on other players' turns.
Not at all! Critique is critique, and I've had harsher, you're welcome to your opinion, and all those platitudes, yada yada yada.

I definitely get this, and to be fair I actually am not sure I have a deck that could totally justify the life loss - maybe Varina, not sure. I've seen similar lists to your friends' with some of the heavier delve spells as well as the overloads and such, and it's interesting. I'm not sure the extra turns is something I want to do as it does become pretty tiresome spamming turns while everyone picks their noses and I'm already pushing an archetype that comes with its share of feelbads.

Having said that I'm open to the possibility of removing the rock, what specifics would you suggest adding in its place? The extra turn spells are probably out of my budget right now anyway, being honest. Temporal Trespass I could afford, but as I said I do want this deck to be at least reasonably free of salt.

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Post by Kemev » 4 months ago

Well, one of the nice things about Temporal Trespass is that it does self-exile, so it's harder for you to abuse.

Treasure Cruise is the most similar function wise, in the sense that it's giving you some extra card advantage.

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Post by toctheyounger » 4 months ago

Kemev wrote:
4 months ago
Well, one of the nice things about Temporal Trespass is that it does self-exile, so it's harder for you to abuse.

Treasure Cruise is the most similar function wise, in the sense that it's giving you some extra card advantage.
This is true, Trespass is probably the most reasonable option in that respect.

I’m not entirely sure I like Treasure Cruise as a replacement (for Citadel at least, it could totally switch out for Fact or Fiction or Tezzeret’s Gambit). It’s decent draw, sure, but it’s sort of hard to rival the pure value Citadel offers in terms of being able to just vomit out a decent board state from nowhere. The life loss is problematic, but I also don’t really want Citadel I a deck that will just go full on combo with it. I guess I’m just closer to a 75% player than competitive,

I can’t really think of anything that does the same without savaging life totals or needing some building around - Dream Halls maybe, or Future Sight or Omniscience. The latter being the most powerful obviously, but also the most eye rolling. Dream Halls I have spare, it could be reasonable, although there is the trade off of life loss for discard, and the global nature of the effect.

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Post by Hyrkh » 4 months ago

Awesome decklist as always toc! I'm looking into building Vial Smasher with either Kraum or Ludevic with the decking being built around big spells and rituals. Do you have any suggestions for someone looking to build that kind of deck?
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Post by toctheyounger » 4 months ago

Hyrkh wrote:
4 months ago
Awesome decklist as always toc! I'm looking into building Vial Smasher with either Kraum or Ludevic with the decking being built around big spells and rituals. Do you have any suggestions for someone looking to build that kind of deck?
Thanks a lot!

I think in general the advice kemev gave earlier was solid. The delve spells, overloads, aftermaths are all good additions to any deck with Vial Smasher at the helm. I’ve gone more for walkers purely because I wanted to. And Kraum works great as a cantripping walker shield anyway, so win win.

The other thing you could look for leveraging Vial Smasher at is big mana X spells and such. The ability counts the spell on the stack not in CMC, so you can really scale that to your board state to suit.

I kind of feel like Archfiend of Despair hits most of the notes Vial Smasher wants too.

Ultimately because partners are such wide open brewing space I think it’d be good to see a list and know what spells you’re tied to before giving any specific recommendations, but I’d be happy to weigh in on a list if you have one.

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Post by Hyrkh » 4 months ago

toctheyounger wrote:
4 months ago
Hyrkh wrote:
4 months ago
Awesome decklist as always toc! I'm looking into building Vial Smasher with either Kraum or Ludevic with the decking being built around big spells and rituals. Do you have any suggestions for someone looking to build that kind of deck?
Thanks a lot!

I think in general the advice kemev gave earlier was solid. The delve spells, overloads, aftermaths are all good additions to any deck with Vial Smasher at the helm. I’ve gone more for walkers purely because I wanted to. And Kraum works great as a cantripping walker shield anyway, so win win.

The other thing you could look for leveraging Vial Smasher at is big mana X spells and such. The ability counts the spell on the stack not in CMC, so you can really scale that to your board state to suit.

I kind of feel like Archfiend of Despair hits most of the notes Vial Smasher wants too.

Ultimately because partners are such wide open brewing space I think it’d be good to see a list and know what spells you’re tied to before giving any specific recommendations, but I’d be happy to weigh in on a list if you have one.
Busy weekend, finally time to reply :laugh: . Anywho I haven't tought about x spells alot, might need to rethink some cards. Vial Smasher Idea is the list I currently have and by no means a final iterration of this list.

I reckon this will help with the advices I want.
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Post by toctheyounger » 4 months ago

Hyrkh wrote:
4 months ago
toctheyounger wrote:
4 months ago
Hyrkh wrote:
4 months ago
Awesome decklist as always toc! I'm looking into building Vial Smasher with either Kraum or Ludevic with the decking being built around big spells and rituals. Do you have any suggestions for someone looking to build that kind of deck?
Thanks a lot!

I think in general the advice kemev gave earlier was solid. The delve spells, overloads, aftermaths are all good additions to any deck with Vial Smasher at the helm. I’ve gone more for walkers purely because I wanted to. And Kraum works great as a cantripping walker shield anyway, so win win.

The other thing you could look for leveraging Vial Smasher at is big mana X spells and such. The ability counts the spell on the stack not in CMC, so you can really scale that to your board state to suit.

I kind of feel like Archfiend of Despair hits most of the notes Vial Smasher wants too.

Ultimately because partners are such wide open brewing space I think it’d be good to see a list and know what spells you’re tied to before giving any specific recommendations, but I’d be happy to weigh in on a list if you have one.
Busy weekend, finally time to reply :laugh: . Anywho I haven't tought about x spells alot, might need to rethink some cards. Vial Smasher Idea is the list I currently have and by no means a final iterration of this list.

I reckon this will help with the advices I want.
I know the feeling, life is stupid busy right now. It's been at least 6 weeks since I last managed to squeeze a game in.

Anyway, list looks reasonable - in terms of comparability to my lists, I'd put it closer to my Dralnu list than this one, but there's some overlap. Here's my thoughts:
  • Cruel Ultimatum - I feel like this card has aged a lot, and that colour cost is nasty for a single player effect. I'd personally rather play Torment of Hailfire - it scales for Vial Smasher, and even if it doesn't end the game you're putting your opponents back quite significantly.
  • I wonder if Kess, Dissident Mage could suit well as a lieutenant? It would give your deck some resilience against control and permission - as far as Vial Smasher is concerned the spells don't need to resolve, but redundancy is really worth aiming for and Kess does that well. She'd lessen your reliance on things like Mystic Retrieval
  • Personally, I'd look at a few more options to protect your life total. It's very much a creature-lite build, and I totally dig that. Perhaps something like Aetherize or Sudden Spoiling could be helpful for instant speed combat denial? Rakdos Charm is a legitimately underplayed multipurpose spell, too. I've had it one shot kill people before, it really is worth considering. Void Winnower could be awesome too.
  • Thinking purely in terms of Vial Smasher triggers, I wonder whether it's worth running the Rituals. Because they by nature have to be the first spells you cast it makes for a slightly weaker trigger than you'd optimally like. I wonder if something like Crypt Ghast, Arcane Melee, Jace's Sanctum or Mizzix of the Izmagnus (best for last) would be preferable?
I hope this all helps and I've read your intentions for building correctly!

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Post by Hyrkh » 4 months ago

My current version is a Kess deck which plays the usual Doomsday Labwin route. So getting her in as a lieutenant is not that hard, the rituals is a little subtheme which I carried over to Vial Smasher but they are indeed bad for her trigger. So I'll add the other cost reducing cards in favour of the rituals.

I could ramble on an on about all your suggestions, but I really like them. I hadn't thought about the protection spells Blustersquall is another one I'm considering with the other cards you suggested. A bit more creatures won't hurt the deck so they'll find a place.

Thanks for the great advice toc!

edit: tweaked the list with your feedback in mind.
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Post by toctheyounger » 4 months ago

Hyrkh wrote:
4 months ago
My current version is a Kess deck which plays the usual Doomsday Labwin route. So getting her in as a lieutenant is not that hard, the rituals is a little subtheme which I carried over to Vial Smasher but they are indeed bad for her trigger. So I'll add the other cost reducing cards in favour of the rituals.

I could ramble on an on about all your suggestions, but I really like them. I hadn't thought about the protection spells Blustersquall is another one I'm considering with the other cards you suggested. A bit more creatures won't hurt the deck so they'll find a place.

Thanks for the great advice toc!

edit: tweaked the list with your feedback in mind.
Happy to help! Blustersquall is a cool option that has a few uses, Turnabout could be good too.

I wonder, purely because I had tossed it up, how have you found Ludevic as a partner? He's sort of in a weird place of pseudo-politic pillowfort, and I just wonder if you manage reasonable draw from him. Kraum does nicely for me - he's no deterrent to attacks, but the cantrip is nice and he's a decent body for chump blocks. I guess I just think that with Vial Smasher in the Command zone it's sort of inevitable that you'll be the target of some heat and there's not a lot you can do to deter it.

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Post by Hyrkh » 4 months ago

toctheyounger wrote:
4 months ago
Hyrkh wrote:
4 months ago
My current version is a Kess deck which plays the usual Doomsday Labwin route. So getting her in as a lieutenant is not that hard, the rituals is a little subtheme which I carried over to Vial Smasher but they are indeed bad for her trigger. So I'll add the other cost reducing cards in favour of the rituals.

I could ramble on an on about all your suggestions, but I really like them. I hadn't thought about the protection spells Blustersquall is another one I'm considering with the other cards you suggested. A bit more creatures won't hurt the deck so they'll find a place.

Thanks for the great advice toc!

edit: tweaked the list with your feedback in mind.
Happy to help! Blustersquall is a cool option that has a few uses, Turnabout could be good too.

I wonder, purely because I had tossed it up, how have you found Ludevic as a partner? He's sort of in a weird place of pseudo-politic pillowfort, and I just wonder if you manage reasonable draw from him. Kraum does nicely for me - he's no deterrent to attacks, but the cantrip is nice and he's a decent body for chump blocks. I guess I just think that with Vial Smasher in the Command zone it's sort of inevitable that you'll be the target of some heat and there's not a lot you can do to deter it.
That's something that I have yet to test but I could change Ludevic for Kraum if I want to. I picked Ludevic soley for his lower CMC but Kraum seems the stronger option.

All in all the deck is more a Vial Smasher + X deck than set in stone with Ludevic as his partner.
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Post by toctheyounger » 4 months ago

Hyrkh wrote:
4 months ago
That's something that I have yet to test but I could change Ludevic for Kraum if I want to. I picked Ludevic soley for his lower CMC but Kraum seems the stronger option.

All in all the deck is more a Vial Smasher + X deck than set in stone with Ludevic as his partner.
Yeah, totally agree - whoever VS gets paired with her effect is much the stronger. For me it makes sense because Kraum makes a good chump blocker for my walkers and cantrips for expansive plays from my opponents. Ludevic could be good though; honestly, I just haven't seen him played that much at all so I really don't have much to compare him to.

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Post by toctheyounger » 4 months ago

So I made a couple of changes over the weekend too, and probably have at least one or two more coming as well.

In:
Inexorable Tide
Crypt Incursion

Out:
Voltaic Key
Liliana, Heretical Healer

Happy with the two adds, in terms of life totals and walker synergy. Key was an easy removal, it just wasn't relevant. Lili I was a little hesitant to remove, but at the end of the day it's at least a little bit hard to flip her, as I don't really have any easy way to make that happen. One less walker, but that's ok for now.

In terms of more additions, I'm definitely looking heavily at Neheb, the Eternal, Sakashima the Impostor and Exsanguinate. Neheb seems crazy good with Vial Smasher's trigger for explosive plays (he evens pays for himself if I cast him first), and Exsanguinate plays nicely into both as well as keeping totals up if or when I have Bolas's Citadel up and running. Sakashima is sort of a weird thing. I like the legendary theme, he clones the best critter on the field, and cantrips from Jhoira, and can bounce for adjusting/further cantripping. He might or might not work, but I have a spare copy so I'm gonna try it out here purely for the sake of trying for some cool shenanigans.

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Post by Hyrkh » 4 months ago

toctheyounger wrote:
4 months ago
Hyrkh wrote:
4 months ago
That's something that I have yet to test but I could change Ludevic for Kraum if I want to. I picked Ludevic soley for his lower CMC but Kraum seems the stronger option.

All in all the deck is more a Vial Smasher + X deck than set in stone with Ludevic as his partner.
Yeah, totally agree - whoever VS gets paired with her effect is much the stronger. For me it makes sense because Kraum makes a good chump blocker for my walkers and cantrips for expansive plays from my opponents. Ludevic could be good though; honestly, I just haven't seen him played that much at all so I really don't have much to compare him to.
It's so meta/playgroup depenable how much you can see of certain cards
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Post by toctheyounger » 4 months ago

Hyrkh wrote:
4 months ago
toctheyounger wrote:
4 months ago
Hyrkh wrote:
4 months ago
That's something that I have yet to test but I could change Ludevic for Kraum if I want to. I picked Ludevic soley for his lower CMC but Kraum seems the stronger option.

All in all the deck is more a Vial Smasher + X deck than set in stone with Ludevic as his partner.
Yeah, totally agree - whoever VS gets paired with her effect is much the stronger. For me it makes sense because Kraum makes a good chump blocker for my walkers and cantrips for expansive plays from my opponents. Ludevic could be good though; honestly, I just haven't seen him played that much at all so I really don't have much to compare him to.
It's so meta/playgroup depenable how much you can see of certain cards
Absolutely. I can see places where Ludevic would do just fine, or Kraum in his stead. If Ludevic works for you don't let me deter you :)

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