Chainer — In the Darkness of Dreams

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lyonhaert
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Post by lyonhaert » 3 months ago

The dark that you find, can come out of your mind — Dio

Chainer — In the Darkness of Dreams

"Image"

Main Index
IntroductionDecklistChangelog – Card Choices – Acknowledgments

— Introduction —
PLUS: Deckbuilding Goals

I think I first put this deck together after reading through jmdt's still-excellent retired Primer All Your Graveyards are Belong to Me, except that I omitted certain sacrificed-based stax and omitted discard. I didn't want to lean on Grave Pact effects at the time and still don't want to overdo them. I've seen them used one too many times to pin the rest of the board down while the player waits to draw a wincon. Example: Grave Pact, Attrition, and Reassembling Skeleton to keep the rest of the table from having creatures — 100 minutes later everybody else is still around 40 life. On the other hand I'm totally fine with someone dropping Grave Pact and using it to clear the way in order to try to close out the game in a turn or two. I even omitted Sheoldred originally, though I just recently added her to the deck again, as I'm recognizing the value of resource denial to the survival of a MBC deck.

Since the original list, it's has changed numerous times, of course. The biggest changes involved two aspects: 1. removing wincons I found boring; 2. trying out cards I thought might be interesting.

I think the first wincon I removed revolved around Gray Merchant of Asphodel. I first replaced Living Death to try to nerf it, because it was just too easy to loop that with plenty of mana and XHD. Same thing with just directly looping Gary with Chainer (especially with two doublers out). So eventually Gary got the axe entirely. Exsanguinate was soon to follow because even if I didn't tutor for it, if I had it in hand and enough mana it became, "And now the game's over." That occurred too often for my tastes; I was leaning on it and wanted more challenging win conditions.

On the matter of interesting cards to try, I like Head Games. I like how that works with full-hand discard like Mindslicer or Myojin of Night's Reach. I like how Homeward Path and Faceless Butcher allow me to play politics by reanimating and returning a creature. I like how Ice Cauldron can rattlesnake an answer in an almost-untouchable place — it's a hilarious card I want to find/make a good home for. I like how Mirage Mirror can enable the doubling of a lot of shenanigans for .

"Image"
So here are my thoughts on the direction I'm trying to go:
  • Theme: In Chainer's story, dementia casters like himself use their own fears and nightmares, learning to control them and manifest them into the real world. In his last moments, Chainer uses the Mirari to pull horrors from all the other dementia caster's minds, too. Thus the Chainer's ability to reanimate from anybody's graveyard, do so repeatedly by not tapping (at the risk of dying), and the final ability that they leave if he leaves. This backstory is the essence of the theme I want to pursue. Actually pulling it off in a more timely manner, Chainer needs some help (hence the presence of loops).
    In sticking to this theme (nightmares, horrific things, fears, madness, etc.), I like to use things that are on-theme when possible, even if loosely. I don't want to devote so much to the theme that the deck is less functional. For example, Suffer the Past seems a more on-theme form of graveyard removal than Withered Wretch, though the latter is more easily recurrable. Sifter of Skulls is more on-theme than Pawn of Ulamog. Slum Reaper is more on-theme than Merciless Executioner. Exceptions: Functionality is still important, so not-exactly-nightmarish stuff like Disciple of Griselbrand, etc. are completely acceptable to help make the deck work. He can be rationalized as a cultist in Chainer's team. However, the flavor of individual cards is not nearly as important as the theme of the epic win condition below.
  • I prefer the typical win conditions be combat and milling, outside of the style wins below. Opponent life lose should be a distant third.
  • The epic win condition: Steal absolutely everything by looping Gonti, Lord of Luxury to steal everybody's libraries (or at least the nonland cards) and cast whatever I want. Milling into exile works, too.
  • I don't want to lean on syphoning opponent's life, but still sustain my own life total for paying it to cost's like Chainer, Erebos, Necropotence, etc. Blood Artist is a combo piece that would quickly end my opponents with some of my loops rather than just sustain my life total so I use Deathgreeter and Dross Harvester instead.
    Examples: no Gary, no Koko, probably no Exsanguinate. Combat damage with lifelink as well as Crypt Ghast's Extort are both acceptable. While the extort could be turned into a win condition if I happen to set up a storm loop, it should be an option of desperation.
  • Find a balance of draw and tutors. What I'm trying to avoid is winning with the same cards repeatedly, or assembling a combo too quickly or easily. I'm going for flexibility and some inconsistency in how I achieve victory, to keep things interesting.
  • Loops should be a bit harder to put together since I want them to be a more occasional win condition. Right now I'm using a 4-card minimum as a rubric for controlling that, as well as the draw-over-tutors guideline.
  • I also have some self-imposed restrictions on cards I simply will not use in any (or most) circumstances — the chief card relevant to this color identity being Sol Ring.
I welcome comments, though I recognize that most typical suggestions for Chainer may not fit within my self-imposed restrictions. Also any other advice on internal balances, which pieces are winmore vs a piece that would make it more cohesive/robust, is welcome.

Main Index

— Decklist —

"Image"
Weaponizes madness and stuff.
"Image"
This dude's cool, too.
Chainer — In the Darkness of Dreams

Commander (1)


1Chainer, Dementia Master

Planeswalker (1)


1Liliana of the Dark Realms
Approximate Total Cost:


Main Index

— Changelog —

2019-04-05

So yeah, massive set of changes in this, and some different toys to test.

I'm trying to refocus on variance in games by taking out some tutors for card draw. I'm actually fine with Demonic Tutor staying but it's needed in another deck where it's easier to cast there than Beseech the Queen is here. Final Parting would have been kindof like a black pseudo-Intuition so I can't say it'll never see play in the deck again. I considered Corpse Connoisseur — we'll see if I end up wanting that or Vampiric Tutor for those moments I need to save my hide. Also trying Liliana of the Dark Realms in place of one of the other tutors since tutoring for swamps is harmless. I have a feeling she'll be pretty redundant to the actual ramp and fetches but that emblem is on my bucket list. I also need to test how well ramping goes without Solemn Simulacrum at some point.

Razzy I know would have been amazing as a giant beater, tutor, and sac outlet, but that tutor part is where he's getting benched for now. Torgaar was supposed to be a toolbox piece for bringing somebody's life down from too high or keeping mine afloat — but maybe if I was planning to need the manual override then my other life support wasn't doing too good. Sepulchral Primordial was basically redundancy with Chainer, and to magnify the effect of his ability. In their place, please welcome returning guest Abhorrent "Tokens for Days" Overlord and two brand new guests: Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief and Sheoldred, Whispering One.

I read an interesting opinion recently that Vedalken Orrery can also be a useful deterrent to attacks and we're going to test that in place of No Mercy. Enough tokens will be dying that I imagine Aetherworks Marvel would also be good and can do neat tricks with Volrath's Stronghold/Scroll Rack/Vampiric Tutor/Library of Leng, so this is actually a flex slot to switch between Aetherworks and Orrery.

Fallen Ideal is a die-hard sacrifice outlet but has no real benefit from the sacrifice, so now we're going to see what it's like to perform surgery on our opponents' hands with Mind Slash. Along the same lines of discard effects we're bringing in Oppression and Myojin of Night's Reach for Dark Deal and Mindslicer (not that 'Slicer isn't good — we're just going to try something different). Plaguecrafter buttons this up as teammate for Slum Reaper that can get a planeswalker or as a Liliana's Specter if our opponents don't have creatures (Specter was on the list for consideration, but I still want to lean more on removal than discard). I considered adding Bloodgift Demon in place of Doom Whisperer, but that Surveil 2 still needs testing.

Burnished Hart is out for Wayfarer's Bauble and Myr Retriever, but since that's two cards I figure Sudden Spoiling might be enough fog for this deck and cut Darkness.

While Claws of Gix has saved my bacon a time or two, I think Dross Harvester shows some promise for keeping my bacon out of the fire in the first place. Viscera Seer was very often underused by me because, while I wasn't a fan of the timing of the Scry 1 vs draw triggers, I was just always using other outlets. Perhaps the card draw of Vampiric Rites will prove more useful. In place of Ambition's Cost I'm adding the somewhat-similar Infernal Tribute, returning as my sacrifice-a-liability tool. The extra token production may change my mind about Seer someday regarding having card draw vs having scry combined with other card draw, so it's sortof a flex spot between the two, but as a sacrifice outlet it could also become Attrition if I figure I have enough card draw but want more removal.

Finally on the mana/tokens front we'll be trying Pitiless Plunderer instead of Nirkana Revenant and Pawn of Ulamog as back up for Sifter of Skulls, replacing Defense Grid. I may end up liking Smothering Abomination even more.

Somehow I didn't have any graveyard answers other than Chainer himself. I want something not too difficult to recur since an answer might be needed at instant speed. Withered Wretch can be mana intensive but is quite surgical and I've used him before, so we're going to try Agent of Erebos as a wholesale graveyard exile that can be re-used if I happen to get another enchantment on the field after him. Part of the reason for going for the wholesale exile approach is some recent experiences with enchantments and Bruna. Better to just nuke that whole 'yard.

Cavern of Souls and Homeward Path are out for a third b booster land, Crypt of Agadeem, and a discard enabler in the form of Geier Reach Sanitarium. And I figured Vesuva is better here than in another deck where it would only have copied some colors or fetches, so I replaced a Swamp.
Archived Changelog
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2019-03-17

After doing some goldfish testing and realizing I could visualize if Demonlord Belzenlok did anything acceptable through a bit of programming, he's back out and I'm trying Harvester of Souls again. Might end up back to Bloodgift Demon, though. In the simulations, Belzenlok would most often get me 1 card at a time. Half of the frequency of singles I could get 2 cards. Half of that frequency 3 cards. Plus any lands exiled would stay exiled, and I like my lands. Maybe he'd work in a deck that can tolerate the land loss once some sort of value-engine blinking has begun (maybe Marchesa, the Black Rose), but most likely reanimating with Chainer and most likely only getting one card in hand makes it too costly.

Massacre Wurm is too good to stay out for token control. Void Winnower would keep opponents from blocking with tokens, but not prevent a retaliatory attack. Also I figure the cast-prevention would put a target on me. I was initially worried about outright killing a player with Massacre Wurm, but if they have enough tokens for that to happen then they were getting ready to win anyway and there's a decent chance their stuff was not worth stealing to use against the other players. Or I just sac the Wurm before the -2/-2 trigger resolves and they don't die.

2019-03-01
Ages ago I said: wrote:I had chosen Deathgreeter to replace Blood Artist because I didn't want to end up leeching the table while trying to combo with Gonti or Sepulchral Primordial instead. However, most of the combos involve a sacrifice outlet and I usually have one out anyway. This means I can just soften people up (particularly as a solution to lifegainers) from the Blood Artist triggers if I'm going for a different win condition, while helping enable a combat win condition and being a backup win condition itself.
I decided I wanted to give this deck more opportunity to pull off its ultimate win condition if possible. Blood Artist afforded a strong temptation to simply machine-gun everybody to death, plus it would kill everybody in the process of a Gonti/Primordial loop anyway... unless I add Abyssal Persecutor to the combo. Anyway, Deathgreeter is back.

Ashnod's Altar and Bog Initiate were supposed to be a backup to Phyrexian Altar. Once I get a copy of Pitiless Plunderer, that plus any free sac outlet will serve the same redundancy better. So now I've got Helm of Possession and Mesmeric Orb (testing).

My weak tutors were just that, so I'm going back to good ones. Diabolic Intent may still be a good one to try but may also be a dead card at times. In place of Shred Memory comes Darkness, because surprising folks with a black Fog is still on my bucket list. Then Dimir House Guard, Fleshwrither, and Beseech the Queen are all being replaced by the classic Demonic Tutor, the deck-thematic Increasing Ambition, the badass Razaketh, and Final Parting because I want to try this option over stuff like Buried Alive.

Wipes — I had more wipes in the draw version — don't need that many for my group. Damnation is great, but I want to be able to hit other stuff with Nevinyrral's Disk (plus I used the older, more eldritch-horror art). All is Dust doesn't hit artifacts for the most part, and short Toxic Deluge I wanted another -X/-X solution so Mutilate is in for testing (also older, nightmare/Chainer themed art).

Land stuff — Expedition Map and Wayfarer's Bauble out for Nirkana Revenant and Sword of Rampant Growth to lean into the basic land mana production a little more. Can't wait to put the sword on Mindslicer or XHD.

Beatsticks — Arena-on-a-stick out to test Belzenlok's card accessing. Phyrexian Obliterator out for a different beatstick in the shape of Void Winnower now that devotion doesn't matter except for Nykthos. I removed Massacre Wurm because it can be a "surprise, you lose!" card if somebody has enough tokens, and I want to avoid having that kind option immediately available. It's why Exsanguinate isn't here. Torgaar replaces it so I can fiddle around with life totals to knock lifegain decks down or keep myself alive (20 life is quite comfortable, really). Abhorrent Overlord may someday see play again, but it forms a rather easy loop with just Chainer and Phyrexian Altar, so let's see if I can steal somebody else's ETB token producer for loops and see how Doom Whisperer fares.

Vedalken Orrery is also one of those cards I would love to have in play every game. In its stead, Ambition's Cost is the last piece of the draw-only version that I'm leaving in for now because it's on-theme. And since I pay life to stuff a lot, I'm going to see how Font of Agonies does, replacing Vampiric Rites.

2017-11-27

I had chosen Deathgreeter to replace Blood Artist because I didn't want to end up leeching the table while trying to combo with Gonti or Sepulchral Primordial instead. However, most of the combos involve a sacrifice outlet and I usually have one out anyway. This means I can just soften people up (particularly as a solution to lifegainers) from the Blood Artist triggers if I'm going for a different win condition, while helping enable a combat win condition and being a backup win condition itself. Falkenrath Noble could see a return to the fold since it's flying and is tutorable with Dimir House Guard and Fleshwrither.

Thought Gorger I tried a few times and it wasn't really doing what I wanted, but I did find myself wanting to tutor for one of the noncreature 4-drops, so Dimir House Guard is back.

Imp's Mischief probably won't be as useful with Defense Grid also here, as well as I spend the majority of the time reanimating rather than casting, so for the same reason I'm not too sad if a creature card ends up in the graveyard. Diabolic Intent usually has fodder here for the additional cost, as Demonic Tutor is in another deck (also, being ripped apart and eaten by Crovax is pretty "nightmarish"). Evidently I'm softening slightly on my tutor limitation.

Ice Cauldron is a hilarious effect and I finally got a chance to play with it, but there's nothing I really want to rattlesnake in this deck. Also, I don't want to explain how it works, apparently, so if I ever do try it in another deck, its usefulness better be worth all the explanation. In its place enters Dark Deal, which is more what I wanted out of Thought Gorger in the first place.

Finally, I'm going to test All is Dust instead of Ugin as a wipe that hits enchantments. I probably need better graveyard removal than Shred Memory anyway since that usually serves as a tutor,
but for the most part people are not going to recur their enchantments. Most often they'll be sacrificing creatures, too,
and I probably want them.

2017-10-28

Most of these changes are a result of recent discussions in this thread with GloriousGoose and ProfessorWhen. Some cards leaving I still want to test, but the list was feeling way too heavy on testing slots.

Sadistic Hypnotist is a pretty easy change, and should be able to do a lot more work than Mesmeric Fiend. Furthermore in interest of putting cards in the graveyard, Memory Jar is in for Gemstone Array.

Shred Memory is in for Ravenous Trap because I won't be facing a Balthor Shift anytime soon, and there are some good CMC 2 targets if I want to Transmute. Expedition Map will be more helpful than Tortured Existence and is probably a better backup Urborg than Blanket of Night.

Defense Grid is replacing Warping Wail as a more proactive counter deterrent. It could also prevent some EOT shenanigans, but won't hinder Chainer or my sac outlets.

With my relatively recent interest in token producers due to a Meren deck with Grave Pact effects, Vampiric Rites is going to do better work than Infernal Tribute, though I'm probably going to miss Tribute a little bit.

Inventors' Fair was pretty iffy as an artifact tutor since it requires three to activate. Crypt of Agadeem was in to test as a third possible ritual-land. Since it was also a testing slot these are both back to Swamps for now. Still might test the Crypt, but I need to observe how many creatures I typically have in my graveyard. I suspect I just get a lot of mileage out of the first 3-4 I get and nobody stays there very long. Also, the artifact creatures don't help and they're the regulars.

— Edit —
Almost forgot about the Harvester of Souls —> Smothering Abomination change.

Main Index

— Acknowledgments —

Initially my list was heavily based on jmdt's still-excellent retired Primer All Your Graveyards are Belong to Me and its extended discussion. I learned quite a lot from that thread. Makes up for the Comic Sans in the OP.

I'm also appreciative of the insight and discussions in this thread, especially from ProfessorWhen, GloriousGoose, and benjameenbear.

I must also acknowledge that I've probably gleaned a fair bit from decklists and good discussions had in other mono-black or Bx threads by: GloriousGoose, toctheyounger77, bobthefunny, Outcryqq, and MrCoupon.


Last edited by lyonhaert 1 month ago, edited 3 times in total.
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Post by lyonhaert » 3 months ago

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Post by lyonhaert » 3 months ago

Alright. Finally content enough with the formatting to post it. Still a bit janky (the formatting), but it's work-in-progress.
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Post by tarotplz » 3 months ago

Formating looks really solid imo. Looking forward to discussing more things Chainer with you here :grin:

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Post by nobody » 3 months ago

Why are we playing corpse dance when our general does the same thing?

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Post by xeroxedfool » 3 months ago

I like the philosophy of removing tutors to increase variance, I think it takes a lot of discipline to do that in mono-black. Pretty cool deck.
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Post by lyonhaert » 3 months ago

nobody wrote:
3 months ago
Why are we playing corpse dance when our general does the same thing?
"Don't put all your eggs in one basket."

I don't like to have too much redundancy on reanimation effects since, as you said, Chainer does it. But if somebody gets wise and makes Chainer expensive to cast I like to have at least one backup method of reanimation. I liked Corpse Dance because
  • it's instant-speed unlike Reanimate/Animate Dead
  • the buyback makes it more easily reusable than Necromancy
  • it can help me keep Chainer by sacking him and paying 2b-4b to return him rather than pay commander tax
  • the end-of-turn exile usually doesn't lose me a creature due to sacrifice outlets
  • it combos with some of the other pieces I typically use with Chainer (e.g., Abhorrent Overlord and Phyrexian Altar)
  • works well with Entomb
I viewed it more as a tool to help kick-start recovery if my board gets wrecked than a use-it-whenever reanimation effect (especially considering its end-of-turn exile). In the physical deck I've actually swapped it for Living Death but was waiting for a few other changes before putting up a changelog about it. That change is part of scaling up power level while staying within some of my other restrictions.



xeroxedfool wrote:
3 months ago
I like the philosophy of removing tutors to increase variance, I think it takes a lot of discipline to do that in mono-black. Pretty cool deck.
Yeah, it does — tutors are so tempting for consistency. Entomb is probably the biggest enabler in the deck in that regard because it makes it so easy to put an answer or final combo piece within reach of Chainer. Even switching it to Corpse Connoisseur might not put much of a dent in that enabling. I really ought to try playing without it and have only one sorcery tutor if any. All-in-all, the restrictions I set for myself have kept theorcrafting/building for this deck fun.

The card draw stuff is going to get some boosts soon, too. Warteye Witch is probably going in soon, I plan to test Yawgmoth as a multitool, and Vilis might be Chainer's new best friend. At that point Reanimate might be a good swap for Entomb.
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Post by Rumpy5897 » 3 months ago

Nah man, you gotsa have that Entomb, especially if you're getting some new cuddly critters for it. Both Yawgers and Vilis seem like they'll be ridiculous here. I can relate to tutor moderation - there's a Varolz, the Scar-Striped in my meta, and every single time turn four comes the question becomes whether he opened Buried Alive or not. If he did, he pops the same three cards and someone dies. I guess your need for restraint depends on how samey games would get. Maybe this list would be okay?

Just how good is Head Games, by the way? You're not exactly swimming in mass discard over here.

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Post by tarotplz » 3 months ago

I've found both Reanimate and Animate Dead to be very useful. Chainer is pretty expensive and if he gets removed just once or twice we can struggle to reanimate stuff just using him.

Depending on how all-in the deck is in regards to reanimation, that poses quite the problem. These sort of cards are not a perfect solution, but definitly help the deck to run more smoothly.

I can see Corpse Dance being quite useful aswell. I just feel like my meta is a bit too fast for something like that.

EDIT: Also, Entomb should definitly be in the deck 100%, even if you want to power it down, it's just way too useful as an enabler to remove completely.

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Post by lyonhaert » 3 months ago

Rumpy5897 wrote:
3 months ago
Nah man, you gotsa have that Entomb, especially if you're getting some new cuddly critters for it. Both Yawgers and Vilis seem like they'll be ridiculous here. I can relate to tutor moderation - there's a Varolz, the Scar-Striped in my meta, and every single time turn four comes the question becomes whether he opened Buried Alive or not. If he did, he pops the same three cards and someone dies. I guess your need for restraint depends on how samey games would get. Maybe this list would be okay?

Just how good is Head Games, by the way? You're not exactly swimming in mass discard over here.
It can be pretty samey if I just have to tutor for Abhorrent Overlord or Deathgreeter to complete a combo. Those two plus Chainer and Phyrexian Altar is infinite life/mana/tokens. Ending the game with Harpies is not uncommon. Enough that I may need to switch Overlord out to force myself into other paths.

I love when people ask about Head Games. It's a bit of a pet card and I really don't draw it very often so I don't have a bunch of stories about its use yet. But the times I have used it have been game-changing. If I have any discard online I can steal something, but I can also just completely wreck somebody's hand or give them answers to problems I can't solve myself at the time. I've done the latter, giving a wipe and an artifact/enchantment removal to someone who was behind (the rest were lands, even though it fixed their mana since they'd been color-screwed). They waited a bit to use any of it (not too long, but they started making me nervous), and then as an added bonus the player who got hurt the most by them focused on the caster rather than the enabler (me). So yeah, you can change the balance and course of a game with it.



tarotplz wrote:
3 months ago
I've found both Reanimate and Animate Dead to be very useful. Chainer is pretty expensive and if he gets removed just once or twice we can struggle to reanimate stuff just using him.

Depending on how all-in the deck is in regards to reanimation, that poses quite the problem. These sort of cards are not a perfect solution, but definitly help the deck to run more smoothly.

I can see Corpse Dance being quite useful aswell. I just feel like my meta is a bit too fast for something like that.

EDIT: Also, Entomb should definitly be in the deck 100%, even if you want to power it down, it's just way too useful as an enabler to remove completely.
Yes, my last game I was stuck on 1b for a small handful of turns and one of those in my hand would have made a huge difference, even though it went long enough that I was able to get the Overlord combo in place from lucky draws. At the end of the game I only had lands that could produce a total of 3bbb as my sole mana sources other than Phyrexian Altar + tokens. Thus, having a cheap recursion method even if it's one-time has been on my mind, even though getting stuck without mana doesn't happen to me often.

I agree that Entomb is very useful. I can't count how many times it has at least saved my bacon by getting me an answer when I needed it. As for all-in on reanimation, most of my win conditions rely on that, yeah. I also use it to dodge removal and for general value. I have to keep in mind the win condition of exiling everybody's libraries and graveyards, so even if I was doing a storm loop for Bitter Ordeal, it's probably going to involve some sort of recursion. One deck has Ground Seal in it, but Corpse Dance/Living Death get around that. This may end up giving the deck a slight Glass Cannon aspect in that I don't have win conditions like Kokusho or Exsanguinate, but I'm okay with that due to the theme (see below).

I'm glad my meta isn't competitively fast. It could be a little faster so games are 1.5 hours instead of 2-3 hours so we can get another game or two in, but I also don't really want it transforming into a bunch of combo. Our swings in dominance during the course of a game are getting close to a nice equilibrium that makes the games more consistently enjoyable, so if that means 2+ hour games I'll take it.



Regarding Theme
Ideally it would be most fitting to run the risk of killing myself in the process of looping to steal/exile everybody's libraries and graveyards. I'll just have to see what I can do about. Flavor-wise, instead, I've recently considered adding Mirari to the deck and not allowing myself to do a mass steal/exile like that unless Mirari is on the battlefield.
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Post by Rumpy5897 » 3 months ago

Heh, I guess Head Games ultimately lives up to its name with the political shenanigans ;)

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Post by tarotplz » 3 months ago

I've actually ended up cutting Abhorrent Overlord from my list, Wurmcoil Engine can perfom all the same loops, but is easier to cast and can gain life, which is nice.

Deathgreeter is a nice touch, not sure if I have the space to try that in my list, but that'S definitly a sweet inclusion!

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Post by lyonhaert » 3 months ago

tarotplz wrote:
3 months ago
I've actually ended up cutting Abhorrent Overlord from my list, Wurmcoil Engine can perfom all the same loops, but is easier to cast and can gain life, which is nice.

Deathgreeter is a nice touch, not sure if I have the space to try that in my list, but that'S definitly a sweet inclusion!
I suppose with Pawn of Ulamog, Sifter of Skulls, and Wurmcoil Engine I have enough token sources. Maybe Overlord is a good slot for Vilis. My hesitation though is that those flying tokens as blockers have been pretty amazing at keeping me from getting hit in the face.

I use Deathgreeter and also Dross Harvester. I have a changelog entry detailing why Deathgreeter instead of Blood Artist-type cards.
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Post by lyonhaert » 2 months ago

Hey, first set review on this site for this deck.

Commander 2019 New Cards
The more intriguing ones in bold that I'm most likely to at least test.
  • Archfiend of Spite: Potential as a combat trick for Chainer to throw up as a blocker at instant speed, or in the way of a Blasphemous Act, but that isn't quite as mean as Phyrexian Obliterator.
  • Bone Miser: I like this one. I don't currently have enough discard to support it, but there's potential to get some nice incidental value from it just from discarding to hand size (and Memory Jar/Mindslicer) since I don't run any hand-size effects. Could retest Thought Gorger with this.
  • Curse of Fool's Wisdom: This seems to go in the pile with stuff like Subversion that supports my life total in an event-based way but never actually sees play in the list.
  • Gift of Doom: I doubt I'll use this card in this deck, but I like that it can provide a non-token creature in a pinch (for triggers like Grim Haruspex). But I like more that it provides an instant-speed sacrifice outlet that does not use the stack (which is what also makes mana source sacrifice outlets like Phyrexian Altar special). In fact, morphing it to the aura to make something indestructible doesn't use the stack, either.
  • K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth: I know this guy is powerful, but I can't help but feel like it's a liability in a deck where I already spend a bunch of life. Definitely getting a copy, but we'll see if it's useful for Chainer at all.
  • Mire in Misery: Decent card, but Chainer would rather use Meteor Golem.
  • Nightmare Unmaking: Exiling is not what we want to do.
  • Thieving Amalgam: This one intrigues me and is probably the one I want to test the most, really. I get to steal opponents cards as nontoken creatures which is great for many of my triggers. I get incremental life support as I go about my usual business and whittle opponent life totals in a way I'm unlikely to turn into a table-killing loop (at least not without infinite life and mana from somewhere else or Sepulchral Primordial).
  • Bloodthirsty Blade: Cute trick. It's interesting if you want to sow some chaos to make players keep their eyes elsewhere while you develop resources, but I'd probably rather steal something.
  • Empowered Autogenerator: Many have called this a trap. We don't have untapping or proliferation, but a deck that likes to protract the game through control could get some mana out of it. Probably not this one.
  • Idol of Oblivion: Good card, but there's more powerful card draw to choose from.
  • Pendant of Prosperity: I'll test this in some sort of deck sooner or later, but this seems pretty meta-dependent on who you could actually put this on that would actually keep activating it.
  • Scaretiller: Probably awesome in Phenax. I am curious how it would do with only tapping during combat. Could be handy somewhere Tangle Wire is used.
  • Scroll of Fate: The potential I see in this one is with my sacrifice outlets, in part. I don't have much discard for getting creatures into the graveyard from my hand, but I have sacrifice outlets. So it could be part of the mechanisms for cheating creatures into play for cheaper via Chainer, Living Death, or Thrilling Encore. But it can also turn a card that's otherwise dead in hand into a nontoken creature on the battlefield to make it useful to other things.
  • Sanctum of Eternity: Chainer does get targeted, so I'm considering this one. I probably have too many utility lands already, though.
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Post by benjameenbear » 2 months ago

Your curve seems quite high with not a lot of mana rocks to support Chainer. Any reason cards like Coldsteel Heart and Charcoal Diamond didn't make the decklist?
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Post by lyonhaert » 2 months ago

benjameenbear wrote:
2 months ago
Your curve seems quite high with not a lot of mana rocks to support Chainer. Any reason cards like Coldsteel Heart and Charcoal Diamond didn't make the decklist?
I'm actually working on a big post of re-evaluating stuff. I've gotten too lean on ramp and have some cute cards that don't further the goals or theme well enough. Aside from Myojin of Night's Reach (which I've drawn and used only once so far to protect a combo turn), the cost of most creatures is actually bbb and 3 life. I really can't remember the last time I cast Noxious Gearhulk or Abhorrent Overlord from hand. Tokens + Phyrexian Altar tends to power a lot of the mana needs. Also my meta isn't fast.

I might be swapping Myojin back to Mindslicer if I even keep a mass-discard tool (I really should), and I definitely want to make room for some mana rocks. Due to wanting to include Thieving Amalgam (and because of Praetor's Grasp), Fellwar Stone and Gilded Lotus are among my considerations for rocks, along with the cheaper ones like Charcoal Diamond/Coldsteel Heart/Star Compass (not that I'm trying to include all of them, but we'll see how many slots I free up over time).
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Post by lyonhaert » 2 months ago

So I ended up thinking about K'rrik again while writing a comment on Sally:
K'rrik I see as sortof a mana rock that needs support so you don't pay all your life away. But there are already some pieces like Dross Harvester and Abhorrent Overlord that allow K'rrik to combo with Chainer as long as there's a free sac outlet. With those cards Overlord makes a minimum of 9 tokens which when sacrificed is enough life to cover paying 9 life to Chainer. Even if it's Deathgreeter instead of Dross Harvester it's 8 tokens and sacrificing Overlord along with those is enough to self-sustain the loop. In these loops it's almost like he takes the place of Phyrexian Altar's mana or acts like Pitiless Plunderer would for supporting part of the cost. The main difference is that I'd be using a different sacrifice outlet like Altar of Dementia for net effect outside of the loop instead of relying on something triggering off the Overlord/harpy deaths. Even combos with Torgaar, Famine Incarnate as long as I have at least 10 life to pay 9 to bring back Torgaar I'll be set to 20 and can keep alternating between bringing another creature (down to 11) and then Torgaar again (down to 2, back up to 20). Still at least 4 cards, too (Altar of Dementia again). It could even open up other combo possibilities with Noxious Gearhulk and anything with 9 or more toughness — not that Gearhulk can't already fill that role in the absence of Deathgreeter/Dross Harvester as long as enough mana is also self-sustainable.

So yeah, I guess I see K'rrik as another engine piece for Chainer's combos. I guess I will test him, but the big question will be how dead of a card will it be outside of the combo usage?
The Chainer + Torgaar + K'rrik + Altar of Dementia combo is really quite nice, since it allows me to mill everybody, steal the creatures if I want. I can even mill myself to get Agent of Erebos for exiling what remains of their graveyards away. Plus it's risky, continually dipping down to 2 life, which is something I've wanted out of the Mirari-nightmares-inspired combo finale for this deck.
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Post by lyonhaert » 1 month ago

Re-evaluating Again
The process of figuring out a good set of categories for cards' main roles in the list — and thus figuring out each card's main role — has thrust me into a tangent of re-evaluating many of the cards in the list. But what better place to organize my thoughts in this regard than the deck's thread, since this train of thought is going to influence its direction.

This re-evaluation has been due for a while. I have accumulated some "cute" cards that are probably less useful than I was hoping for. I need to tighten up the list and kick out some of the cards that neither satisfy the deck's theme or goals so that I can add cards that do. It would be cute and very Vorthos (super thematic) to add Mirari and not allow myself to combo-mill the table unless it's on the battlefield, but that's just not going to happen because it would do almost nothing in this deck (it would have slightly more relevance with card draw spells). If I do ever go all-draw with no open tutors, I may need the space for slightly more redundancy for engine pieces, anyway.

I'm betting parts of this will make it into the OP. It's long since I've been working on it for a while and I ramble in places, so I've tucked it in a spoiler.
Long post is long
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Degrees of Separation
A way that one can evaluate cards during building and how well they serve the central goals of the deck is by way of a mind map of their relationship to the deck's goals (or to other cards), and looking at how many degrees of separation their functions are from what the deck wants to do. Best way to explain is to start with the commander and demonstrate since I need to do go down this rabbit hole anyway.

Goals and Needs
Chainer, Dementia Master reanimates creatures at instant speed, from any graveyard, for the cost of bbb and 3 life per target, and this is the means by which I'll defeat opponents. The deck is built around its commander, so black mana, life, and reanimation targets are its central needs. Chainer's ancillary details are that creatures he reanimates color-change to black, are Nightmares in addition to their other creature types, he gives Nightmares +1/+1, and has a trigger that if he leaves the battlefield all Nightmares are exiled.

The goal of this deck, though, will be to cause our opponents to lose the game by loss of life or by drawing from an empty library. This will primarily be done through reanimating creatures, though that will also be used to control the board. One of my challenge restrictions is that loss of life must be primarily through combat — black is very good at draining life to win but those got kinda old for me. I can allow a method of doing so if it is difficult to pull off so that it doesn't happen often. Anything opponents bring to the table is fair game to steal. There is also a thematic goal related to Chainer's storyline as a dementia caster (using nightmarish/horrific things) and the end of his arc where he used Mirari to amplify that ability.

First Degree
Some cards are obviously very closely related to the central needs. For example, Gilded Lotus and Cabal Coffers provide b, while Exsanguinate and Gray Merchant of Asphodel keep our life afloat. Our targets, however, are our own creatures and our opponents' creatures, and most of them are stuck inside the libraries.

One of my favorite targets in this deck is Noxious Gearhulk, as it destroys another creature to provide another target (target one of your own creatures as a makeshift sacrifice outlet) while also providing a chunk of life. Cards that do multiple jobs like this are precious.

Second Degree
Our need for targets is satisfied in a variety of ways that I think of as a second degree of separation: milling ourselves and our opponents for access to targets, tutoring to the graveyard, killing target creatures, forced sacrifice, killing many creatures (Life's Finale doing two of these at once), and discard effects. Also part of second degree are cards like Solemn Simulacrum, Crucible of Worlds, Loxodon Warhammer, Life's Finale, Buried Alive, and Mesmeric Orb that facilitate central needs but indirectly.

Chainer's leave trigger affords a popular use of sacrifice outlets to keep from losing valuable targets to exile, but the prevalence of good ETB triggers (and a few really good death triggers) already afforded them so these effects can be repeated. Sacrifice outlets aren't a necessity for Chainer to be successful, but having one on the battlefield is usually quite convenient. Because they enable re-use of targets, they're pretty much second degree as well, though Phyrexian Altar and Phyrexian Tower blur the line with first degree, while outlets like Fallen Ideal are pretty much just sacrifice outlets and don't really do anything else productive (though that one is hard to get rid of).

Third Degree
Where we start to wander further is when we start to add cards that support the sacrifice outlets rather than supporting mana/life/targets. Self-returning creatures like Bloodghast, Reassembling Skeleton, and Nether Traitor are often included to get more use out of the effects of sacrifice outlets like Mind Slash and Attrition. Token-producers like Wurmcoil Engine and Abhorrent Overlord are often the same story, producing fodder for sacrifice. And then with so many creatures dying we kindof loop back around with lifegainers like Dross Harvester, card-drawers like Grim Haruspex or Smothering Abomination, and mana from Phyrexian Altar or Pitiless Plunderer, and more tokens as part of this cycle from Pawn of Ulamog.

You can also probably see how we get to further degrees with support for the support when we get into recovery cards like Buried Ruins/Myr Retriever, protection cards like Sudden Spoiling, and so on.

...And Beyond
With all these activated abilities on sacrifice outlets and such (and our commander's expensive ability), it's easy to throw in Rings of Brighthearth to get more out of those for less life or fewer bodies. Then you throw other activated abilities from artifacts like Trading Post and planeswalkers like Ob Nixilis Reignited. Wait, did we add those because they were the best options for the effects they provide, or because they were convenient for Rings of Brighthearth because we were daydreaming about having that every game?

The degrees of separation are not hard thresholds for each card, of course. In fact, it's more accurate to say that I don't think of whole cards as being a particular degree of separation, but moreso I think of some cards as having an input and output that can be considered separately. Using Phyrexian Altar for example, the sacrifice outlet part could be seen as second degree for targets (perhaps third degree for tokens), but the mana it produces is first degree. Likewise Dross Harvester has an input (death triggers) that's a bit separated from the deck's primary needs but an output that directly feeds into the need for life.

Looping and Combo
In a non-combo deck (and I mean the "infinite" kind of combo, not just high synergy), I'd be evaluating based on degrees of separation a little more directly because the way I think about them in terms of input/output might only stray from the center linearly for the most part. But the pieces of a combo engine form loops and that's not as straightforward.

Because one of the win conditions I want available is literally stealing my opponents' entire libraries by looping Gonti, Lord of Luxury (because why just mill) I needed the self-sustaining loops as a way to do that. This is the main reason for the token makers, Phyrexian Altar/Pitiless Plunderer, and Deathgreeter/Dross Harvester combo pieces for use with Chainer's cost. There are also other ways to accomplish loops, though: Balance
One of my ongoing dilemmas comes down to how much redundancy I should have in the way of engine pieces for the looped win conditions versus picking the best cards for the goals and theme even if I end up with little redundancy for the loops. I may even remove tutors that can get combo pieces so I rely entirely on draw/scry, which provides its own layer of making combos difficult to assemble.

I like to have a variety of effects I can use in different situations that also interact with each other rather than devote a lot of space to redundancy of engine pieces. It's already unlikely enough to assemble a milling loop, considering I haven't done it yet. Currently the most common win is lethal damage from a mess of tokens, unless somebody else brought a Gray Merchant of Asphodel or Kokusho, the Evening Star to make it easier for me. So I guess I don't mind if the mill win is rare — it's going to be pretty sweet once it does.

I'm going to have to start by splitting the engine pieces based on their recursion piece — between those that work with Chainer and those that work with XHD.

Engines — Chainer
Chainer's engine is easy because you just need life and mana to support a self-sustained loop of activating him. This involves creature cards that make tokens on ETB (Abhorrent Overlord), when they die (Wurmcoil Engine), or when others die (Pawn of Ulamog). Then you just need to gain life and make mana from their deaths to sustain the loop. Any creature card that makes two tokens this way is enough to loop through Chainer with Deathgreeter and Phyrexian Altar, and this is the bare minimum without producing any surplus mana or life.

Any extra tokens and you can make surplus mana, life, and tokens — Abhorrent Overlord easily makes 5 tokens with Chainer and Deathgreeter. The addition of Pawn of Ulamog just sitting there will make an extra token per loop, so loops with Wurmcoil Engine can sacrifice the Eldrazi token in order to hang on to a bunch of the Wurmcoil tokens as the surplus.

There are a number of variations for engine pieces, but the current engine pieces in the list are: There is also a new set of variations with K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth because he allows you to pay 6 life instead of the bbb part of Chainer's cost, for a total of 9 life per activation. In that case you don't need mana production (though you're still going to need a sacrifice outlet), but you need to make at least 9 life per loop to sustain. Chainer + K'rrik + Abhorrent Overlord will make 7 Harpy tokens all on their own, so with Deathgreeter (1 more Harpy) it breaks even at 9 life gained if you have a free sacrifice outlet for the tokens and Overlord itself. Dross Harvester instead (9 Harpies minimum) means a surplus of 11 life per loop (gaining 20 and paying 9), allowing you to reanimate extra creatures with the extra life. Simpler, though riskier, is Torgaar, Famine Incarnate + sacrifice outlet: set your life to 20 with it, pay 9 to reanimate some creature, pay 9 to reanimate Torgaar (repeat).

Engines — XHD
XHD is a peculiar card, as he sacrifices himself to return a black card to your hand. But to be an engine piece he needs lots of mana (to recast things in a loop) and a secondary piece to become a recursion engine. Examining Win Conditions
Milling
Mesmeric Orb requires outlasting opponents, attrition, and good resource management to not mill ourselves out first. Altar of the Brood would be easier to control and use due to token production and loops available. Extractor Demon might need some testing since it also benefits from the tokens and sacrifice outlets, but it targets a player for 2 cards whereas Altar doesn't target and can do up to 3 cards in a 4-player pod. However, both Orb and Altar come down early to start getting some stuff in graveyards (and hopefully have some good targets when I'm ready for Chainer), so instead of running one of those and Extractor, perhaps it would be better to run both artifacts.

Gonti, Lord of Luxury and Altar of Dementia are also usable for incremental value or all-out milling in loops.

Memory Jar is a double-edged sword since it also mills us. There are a number of cards that can be used to save ourselves, and a number of ways (our other milling tools) to just make sure opponents have fewer cards in their library and end up drawing from an empty library while we still have cards. For 7 with Rings, we can mill 14 cards from each player. There's the turn-based attrition approach with Buried Ruin and Crucible of Worlds, but it can also be looped with enough mana and Myr Retriever.
  • XHD can't return it directly, but a Victimize/Living Death/Thrilling Encore loop could be used, with the extra mana to cast the Jar. Living Death could cause problems in giving opponents a lot of ETB effects unless you're making sure to exile from their graveyards.
  • Chainer can directly return Retriever, so a loop there is easy, as is making the extra mana.
Other Win Conditions
Combat is a fine win condition, though it's just as much of a combo win if it involves making a bunch of Harpies and alpha strike everybody at once.

Crypt Ghast is the only lifedrain win in the deck. With its extort ability, loops that involve casting and producing some extra b can be used to drain all opponents. XHD loops tend to involve casting easily, but Chainer loops that get a card to hand with Myr Retriever (or an opponent's Eternal Witness) can be used if that card can be cast and put in the graveyard again — we simply need to have the surplus mana to cast it and do any activation. Gravedigger or Endless Cockroaches cold also be used, but here's some stuff that works with Myr Retriever:
  • Wayfarer's Bauble can sacrifice itself, and Unstable Obelisk can, though is much more expensive.
  • Artifact creatures like Wurmcoil Engine can be used and sent through a sacrifice outlet. We have to be careful of milling ourselves with Solemn Simulacrum, though. Mirage Mirror can copy a creature so that it can be sacrificed, but can also send itself to the graveyard by copying an aura, or copying a land that can sacrifice itself (think Buried Ruin + Myr Retriever + sacrifice outlet).
  • Claws of Gix and Infernal Tribute can be used to get other artifacts into the graveyard, but the latter also requires us to be careful of milling ourselves out.
  • Other alternatives also exist such as using Gravedigger instead of Myr Retriever.
Rebuild, Retest
I'm not going to go in-depth here on the details of the rebuild as I go through it, but I'm going to reorganize in two sets of packages. On one hand, packages the deck needs for running smoothly and getting to do what it wants to do such as Card Draw, Ramp, and Answers/Control (wipes, removal, discard), and making sure there are solid amounts of those. On the other hand the packages of what the deck wants to do such as Chainer engine package, XHD engine package, and win condition package, including branching out to support cards. I figure that may end up at too many cards in total once combined, and then whittling begins.

Cuts and Considerations
Aetherworks Marvel, Mirage Mirror, and Vampiric Rites are definitely top of the list to be cut.

I've also got some swaps in mind already, such as Mindslicer returning to replace Myojin of Night's Reach. Sheoldred, Whispering One will likely have to be cut for one of the newer high CMC cards. I don't think I've ever actually used Sudden Spoiling and that's why I have some doubts about it and want to maybe try Force of Despair instead. Withering Boon I have actually used to great effect a few times, though I still feel on the fence about it sometimes — probably won't be cut. Vilis, Broker of Blood needs a slot and could take Sheoldred's spot or that of Harvester of Souls.

I need to re-examine how much of an impact Rings of Brighthearth really makes. If it goes then Crucible of Worlds and fetchlands would go. It's also sortof a combo piece with XHD and the Deserted Temple mana combo.

I'm quite confident this deck can do well in my meta without open tutors, just card draw and milling (land tutors like Wayfarer's Bauble/Solemn Simulacrum will be fine - also they're ramp). I'll keep Head Games, and perhaps Praetor's Grasp, since they fit the theme of stealing from the opponents. If I start going to the LGS and the deck can't hang then I may have to prepare a slightly altered list for when I go there that adds back in a few strong tutors — but it would be nice to not have to do that. I'll probably go back and forth on this topic on my own quite a bit. Because monoblack has great tutors and loves power. I'm already trying to rationalize to myself keeping Entomb or putting in Final Parting — or even restrictive/bad ones like Fleshwriter or Insidious Dreams. *sigh*

But that's at least 5 slots just based on the existing list. Time to get to work.
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Post by benjameenbear » 1 month ago

Interesting train of thought. I wish you the best of luck in evaluating your decklist and the slots you have open. I think the cuts you've outlined are totally acceptable, which is always a fun feeling to have.

Another suggestion that I think will perform well for you is Mindcrank. There's lots of life loss that occurs within a game and the Crank will fill up those 'yards nicely for your Chainer shenanigans.

Also, why the exclusion of Geth, Lord of the Vault? It fuels the primary strategy you've outlined in your deck (technically the second degree of synergy that you've outlined in your thought train), is a great mana sink in the late game, fuels his own ability and can substitute in as Chainer (in case Chainer has been taxed out over the course of a game).
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Post by lyonhaert » 1 month ago

benjameenbear wrote:
1 month ago
Interesting train of thought. I wish you the best of luck in evaluating your decklist and the slots you have open. I think the cuts you've outlined are totally acceptable, which is always a fun feeling to have.
Thanks, mate! :)

Just trying something different, and partially because I've had a lot of time between games lately to overthink stuff.
benjameenbear wrote:
1 month ago
Another suggestion that I think will perform well for you is Mindcrank. There's lots of life loss that occurs within a game and the Crank will fill up those 'yards nicely for your Chainer shenanigans.
I guess I'd been auto-excluding it due to its combo with Bloodchief Ascension and the assumption that if players saw Mindcrank they'd assume Ascension was also going to be a factor and target me. I'll add it to the pile, though. The loss of life trigger might encourage me to combat more.
benjameenbear wrote:
1 month ago
Also, why the exclusion of Geth, Lord of the Vault? It fuels the primary strategy you've outlined in your deck (technically the second degree of synergy that you've outlined in your thought train), is a great mana sink in the late game, fuels his own ability and can substitute in as Chainer (in case Chainer has been taxed out over the course of a game).
He does become a win condition with infinite mana, too. For a long time I'd been wary of mana sinks since I usually wanted mana available to activate Chainer outside of my turn in order to control the board until I hit combo. I'd also been on the fence about Geth because I can't get my stuff back with him at all and I've been doing that a lot. I haven't gotten any testing in with having extra mana sinks in the list like Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief. I don't think I've ever actually tested Geth at all, and I should. I think he's actually in the pile, but it might be Marchesa's pile since a lot of mana is open once I get her engine running which lends itself well to mana sinks for theft (like Captivating Crew, too). Oh, wait - I have a second copy now from C19. :grin:

There are probably several cards like these that I had decided not to use/test for some reason and hadn't reconsidered in a long while. For example, Black Market. I'd always figured it would encourage me to do stuff during pre-combat main phase when I prefer being able to respond to opponents with Chainer at other times, but the reality is probably that it would leave more lands/rocks open for responding to opponents. My other qualm was the FOMO on leaving any of that mana unused, but the reality of that one is the only mana sink I had for it before was Chainer and trying to use that mana up with him would have depleted my life total, too. With other mana sinks like Drana and Geth, Black Market looks a lot better. The only problem is I can't bloody find my copy of it in order to test it and I'm quite sure I've looked through everything fifteen times at this point.
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Post by lyonhaert » 4 weeks ago

Hey, it's review time for Throne of Eldraine!

Ayara, First of Locthwain — Different take on Zulaport Cutthroat, only ETB instead of on-death. If I ever open up my list to some lifedrain effects again, this would be high among the considerations. Plays very well with Abhorrent Overlord and Chainer's effect (because anything he brings back is black).

The Cauldron of Eternity — The last ability is alright (it's okay to me if backup reanimation methods can only get from my graveyard), and it's not hard to reduce the cost to 2bb or even bb. But that trigger is what I've had to mull over for a bit. Hypothetically it would encourage milling in order to cycle through targets for reanimation since the dying stuff gets tucked, but it's only stuff I control that gets tucked. So basically:
  • A. This hobbles how Chainer-with-sacrifice wants to work by preventing me from reanimating the same creature unless I can do so again immediately in response to the trigger. While it protects slightly from decking myself, it could prevent me from rebuilding the same board after a wipe, which has usually been one of the deck's resilient strengths. I could potentially have to start all over.
  • B. Since part of the point is to steal other people's creatures and they'd be tucked if they die, it actually makes it a bit harder to mill them out.
  • ...
  • So basically this is like putting a weight vest on Chainer? :hmm:
Cauldron's Gift — Fairly typical 5 cmc reanimation sorcery, with a bit of potential self mill.

Epic Downfall — I wouldn't mind paying 2b if this were an instant, but still 2 mana for an exile isn't bad.

Piper of the Swarm — I think one would have to be more rat-centric in the list before including this. I probably wouldn't run this if Ogre Slumlord was my only other rat-related card, but those two work well together especially with some P/T buffs to the rats. With enough rat support that stealing would be worth inclusion, probably.

Rankle, Master of Pranks — This one encourages combat (as Rogues are wont to do), and all the effects are pretty good. Seems like one you'd build around, though, to make sure he gets through. Not so much a supporting card for this deck.

Revenge of Ravens — Better for us than Marchesa's Decree in terms of lifegain so it's slightly more likely to prevent some attacks. Scales to tokens rather than beaters, so spot removal or Maze of Ith would need to take up slack there. I'd still rather not get attacked and still gain life, of course.

Syr Konrad, the Grim — This guy is busted with milling, wipes, even Elixir of Immortality. This guy would definitely be a must-answer win condition in this deck.

Wishclaw Talisman — Sometimes political stuff is fun. Probably won't ever run it in this list, but might get a copy.

Witch's Vengeance — Sorcery. Oh how I wish this were an instant instead. Potential for taking care of tokens while leaving our own stuff alone, but at worst case you'd only be able to take care of a specific hatebear or two and there are better options for that.

Castle Locthwain — Not the best card draw, if one just looks at it as card draw, and so I had a really dismal view of this at first. Since it enters untapped if you have a swamp and it produces , it could be fairly neutral (except for where Cabal Coffers or Crypt Ghast care) if you don't need to activate it. As emergency draw when your hand is empty it's basically a safety net if everything else is gone. And if you have Vilis, Broker of Blood on the field, there's synergy. So at least there's not much harm in running it since it goes from neutral to bonkers.

Arcane Signet — Pretty amazing rock, but better suited to multicolored decks. And its price might prevent me from getting one for a while. :x
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GloriousGoose
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Post by GloriousGoose » 4 weeks ago

Castle Lochthwain is bananas. If my commander didn't already draw cards it would be an auto-include for me. I know you recently cut it but Lochthwain with a recurring Mindslicer is double bananas.

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Post by lyonhaert » 4 weeks ago

GloriousGoose wrote:
4 weeks ago
Castle Lochthwain is bananas. If my commander didn't already draw cards it would be an auto-include for me. I know you recently cut it but Lochthwain with a recurring Mindslicer is double bananas.
I guess I'm just not seeing the bananas yet compared to Greed variants, Necropotence, Yawgmoth, etc. Once I get a copy I'll add it and try it out. Maybe I'll proxy it before then.

Also, Mindslicer is definitely making its way back in. I've made some changes for testing recently to add Vilis, Geth, Mindcrank, Reanimate, Animate Dead, Deathrender, Soldevi Adnate, The Haunt of Hightower, Nirkana Revenant, K'rrik, and Lightning Greaves. After some of this experimental stuff 'Slicer will take a slot vacated by something that doesn't pan out.
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Post by GloriousGoose » 4 weeks ago

I could be overrating it, but I'm a huge fan of low opportunity cost lands. Sure, it's not a Swamp, but I tend to look at it as an inverted, "fixed" Library of Alexandria. Obviously, you'll only use it when you're in topdeck mode, which is exactly when you really want to be seeing more cards. Then again, drawing cards is my favorite thing to do, so maybe I'm biased.

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Post by lyonhaert » 4 weeks ago

I like drawing cards, too (especially when going tutorless), but designing around self-milling is a big factor for Chainer, or at least the way I'm trying to go about it. For some reason I've been comparing it to Underworld Connections, which I've been thinking of testing.
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