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Kumena and the Magical Untapping Fishsticks

Posted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:28 am
by Rumpy5897
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Kumena, Jungleborn Pioneer plus friend, Quest for Renewal on one. Hmmmm....

I'm not one to stray into tribal waters. I prefer my commanders kooky and my builds weird, whereas dabbling with a tribe explicitly supported in the last block, after a good few releases full of tribal-minded stuff no less, is the equivalent of the EDH top 40 hits list. Nevertheless, I saw a friend sling a hilarious Brago, King Eternal golem tribal deck, I got the itch to do something along those lines. I knew I had to run Kindred Discovery as that card is bonkers, and I would have liked to include my good swords plus Jitte. My long time MTG overseer Ebline once again shed wisdom - merfolk. Goddammit. As such, the first spin on Kumena was borderline ironic, tapping into all the cliches of a tribal list. It somehow played super fun. I eventually shed most of the swords after a vehemently negative reception in playtesting with my meta, and started explicitly tapping into the strengths of the list.

fishsticks.dec

Tribal Until I Die-Bal


1 Deeproot Waters
1 Kindred Discovery
1 Seahunter
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The plan is simple, really - get value from all the fish, clock people a bunch, hopefully land an untapper and start going ham in everybody else's turns. There's a smidgen of combo potential, but it requires multiple pieces, so it's not gonna come around that often. The deck is easily the most casual thing I've slung and liked. That's what you call something with ridiculous amounts of variance that can either shoot for the stars or fall on its face, right? :P
Changelog
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The Adventure Begins!
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The Adventure Begins!
fishsticks.dec
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02.03.2018 Changes
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09.05.2018 Changes
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[deck = 09.05.2018 Changes menu=hide order=auto]Out:
1 Beastmaster Ascension
3 Forest
1 Halimar Depths
3 Island
1 Temple of Mystery

In:
1 Flooded Strand
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Polluted Delta
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Tatyova, Benthic Druid
1 Tropical Island
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills[/deck]
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02.09.2018 Changes
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11.09.2018 Changes
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RNA Change
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17.07.2019 Changes
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Re: Kumena and the Magical Untapping Fishsticks

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:53 pm
by Sharpened
So I have been working on putting a Kumena deck together, and I have some questions. There are a bunch of cards where I found myself asking, "Why isn't he running <blank>?" only to see them removed in your changelog.

Some I understand. Opposition as a card is something that personal preference would play a large role in. I, personally, use Null Rod in mine as disruption that barely effects me. But other choices seem less clear to me?

Can I get your thoughts on why the following cards aren't in your deck?
Silvergill Adept
Cold-Eyed Selkie
Thada Adel, Acquisitor
I assume Empress Galina was slow (or unfun) and Wistful Selkie was too color intensive.
Herald's Horn seems strong, was it not good for you?
Earthcraft and Cryptolith Rite
Curse of Bounty - did this card not function well for you as an untapper?
Noncreature mass pump - Beastmaster Ascension and Vanquisher's Banner (and also Coat of Arms or Door of Destinies)

And some thoughts on the following Merfolk you do run?
Darting Merfolk - Does it's ability come up/matter to you?
Jungleborn Pioneer - Do you find it's worthwhile to get the 2 bodies from a single card?
Whirlpool Rider - Does it's ability come up/matter to you?
Reef Shaman - Why?
Sea Scryer - Since when do fish need a bad mana critter?
Fallowsage - How has this been? It seems good in situations where you are already winning, which is not what I want from one of the costlier fishies

Do you find you run enough Merfolk? I'm always worried that I won't hit the critical mass of fish to start snowballing. Why not include more like:
Enclave Cryptologist or Merfolk Looter
Merfolk Trickster
Don't you want to lean into the +1/+1 counters with:
Deeproot Elite
Vorel of the Hull Clade
Zegana, Utopian Speaker
Metallic Mimic
Sage of Fables

Landbase wise -
So while I personally hate Reliquary Tower, I understand it.
Alchemist's Refuge and Winding Canyons seem either underutilized or not worth it. If you were running ways to turn your critters into mana engines (like Earthcraft or Cryptolith Rite or even Jiang Yanggu, Wildcrafter if you went the +1/+1 route), then they seem great. As you then have the mana to support the expensive costs of using those abilities and casting during other peoples turns with the untapping effects you run. But without that, don't you find youself struggling to afford them and worrying about playing colorless producing lands in a very color intensive deck? (Also, as a bonus, if you were using them, it would be easier to cast all that you draw and you could cut the tower.
Command Beacon - In a deck that wants it's commander in play as much as this one, isn't this land worth a slot?

Re: Kumena and the Magical Untapping Fishsticks

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:59 pm
by Rumpy5897
Nice, a visitor!
  • The first thing to keep in mind is that the deck is consciously depowered. It comboed a lot too quickly/easily/reliably when I was trying to fine-tune the card choices, leading to disapproval from the meta. I had to tone it down a couple notches to avoid the deck dying. Feel free to soup up the list with Aluren and various other obvious depowers from the changelog.
  • This thread was previously active on MTGSalvation, and the changelog links to relevant discussion posts about the swaps if the following write-up will prove insufficient.
  • Opposition was ultimately a very winmore card, either I had no board/untapper and it sat around and did nothing, or I had all the fish and they'd untap easily, and I'd start mauling mana bases in upkeeps. Unsurprisingly, the group hated it.
  • Silvergill Adept is okay, but what if he's your only fish? Five mana for an Elvish Visionary is not the best.
  • Cold-Eyed Selkie, Thada Adel, Acquisitor, Herald's Horn - the list's been moving towards 1-2 CMC fish as sequencing fish for the first three turns, capping off with a Kumena draw is a pretty good thing to get a humming engine online. These are just too do-nothing for their required cost.
  • Empress Galina - who knew people didn't like repeatable commander theft on legs?
  • Earthcraft was taken out as a depowering move. Cryptolith Rite felt too inferior to merit that slot. That disregard of summoning sickness is monstrous.
  • Curse of Bounty was just too unreliable. You'd tap two fish (Kumena plus a second to grant evasion) to untap your board, and then you'd be at your opponents' mercy whether you'd get more value out of it. That, or you'd put it on yourself and watch as your smoke and mirrors board state dissipated under pressure.
  • Darting Merfolk is a wicked good piece that does wicked stupid things and wins the game, be it via combo or just repeated cast synergy milking. The two bodies from Jungleborn Pioneer complete a Kumena draw by themselves. Whirlpool Rider can be used to refuel a fat, yet depleted hand (various lands and stuff after you cast all the juice out of it), or just come down early for the memes. Reef Shaman costs one and kind of does something. Sea Scryer costs two and is actually pretty good. Fallowsage is solid.
  • The looters are the best of your suggestions. I haven't had much draw to them personally, but they could be fine.
  • The +1/+1 counter stuff and the P/T pumps don't do it for me, at all. By the time I have enough of a board to consider swinging, the engine's humming to a standard where I can get everyone above 10 counters off Kumena's ability easily. Sage of Fables is the most redeemable, but the deck's whole thing is massive card draw off tapped fish, so it doesn't even really need it.
  • I stand by my land choices. Having the flash granters untap via Awakening or Seedborn Muse is worth the opportunity cost. Also, this list doesn't even scratch the surface of colour-intensive - check my Feather, the Redeemed ;)

Re: Kumena and the Magical Untapping Fishsticks

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 6:58 pm
by Sharpened
Interesting responses. I also went back and found your deck thread at the old site and read through it for more insight.

So I'm with you on the depowering aspect. I'm not looking to see how ruthless I can make the deck. So obviously, I'm not going to touch Aluren. Personally, I am going to stay away from Intruder Alarm as well, as it feels very much like Paradox Engine and I think that creates the unpleasantly powered scenario. I was surprised that you depowered and kept those, as I feel that those tend to create more degeneracy than Earthcraft.

Opposition being either bad or unpleasantly oppressive makes sense. Likewise, I can see how Empress Galina creates more unpleasantness than it's worth.

Herald's Horn - I certainly see how this isn't quite doing what I want. Merfolk Cost reducers are only minimally needed, so that aspect underwhelms. And sure, it's great that you're going to get an extra card when you have a fish on top, but in that situation you are already happy. It's when you aren't drawing a fish that you are hurting and would want the card to help you.

I see your point on Thada Adel, Acquisitor and Cold-Eyed Selkie. I'm not sure I'm with you on the conclusion. If I'm going for max-streamlining, probably cuts. However, in situations where things aren't running perfectly, I think both these cards open up other angles of attack. I'll have to play more, but I suspect these two improve both fun and versatility, despite being slightly suboptimal.

I absolutely get the concept of running 1-drop, 2-drop into turn 3 Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca. I just don't see how that can be a consideration when you are running only 3 1-drops. Also, I keep coming back to the list having too few merfolk. Once you get going, it's fine obviously, but don't you find yourself sputtering more than you'd like? The fish shortage is probably why you find yourself having to spend 5 for Silvergill Adept. And yeah, at 5 mana he sucks. But at 2 mana, and one of that being generic, he's kinda gas.

Best 1-drop fish for this deck:
1. Benthic Biomancer
2. Enclave Cryptologist
3. Mistcaller
4. Cursecatcher
5. Dakra Mystic
6. Tidal Warrior / Reef Shaman - more valuable if you run islandwalk creatures beyond the lords
7. Unblockables - Mist-Cloaked Herald / Triton Shorestalker
8. Sandbar Merfolk

Other considerations: Rootwater Diver if you have the artifacts that need some support. Cosi's Trickster and Jungle Delver for the ability to increase in size (which usually isn't needed because of the general doing it).
I don't know that I need more than the top 3 or would go beyond 5. It's not like I ever see a shortage of islands around.

So if Sea Scryer is pretty good, I have to think Cryptolith Rite is too. (Obviously, important that you aren't cutting it close with the number of merfolk). It's obviously not the degeneracy of Earthcraft, but thats fine. I know how much I love Kiora's Follower which is untapping lands for mana more often than not. Once the engine starts running, the bottleneck seems to be mana, and turning all my dudes who constantly untap into mana generators has to help deal. Sure, it creates the dilemma of whether you are tapping them for mana or for more cards, but those are the fun kind of problems to have.

Darting Merfolk does seem sweet now that I think about it more. Degenerate with things like Intruder Alarm, but even with me choosing to forego that card, Merrow Reejerey tricks or additional other triggers might make it worthwhile.

More to think about I suppose. I may have to update and streamline my list.

Re: Kumena and the Magical Untapping Fishsticks

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 7:20 pm
by Rumpy5897
The untap's in the name, if I'm gonna allow myself a little degeneracy it's going to be in there ;)

Other than Enclave Cryptologist, there really aren't that many one-drops worth running. You have to admit Cursecatcher does nothing. I ran Rootwater Diver for a while, he wasn't too bad. I don't think I ever used him, and now his main potential target went away.

I'm not really seeing a fish shortage, if I'm to be honest. There are 24 (about to be 25) in the deck. A few of them are expensive, but it's not that hard to hobble two together with Kumena and go to town.

Sea Scryer is a fish. She taps for Kumena stuff too.

In fairness, Thada Adel, Acquisitor and Cold-Eyed Selkie are both okay. They served me fine, and would probably still be in the list if I didn't go on this weird CMC-hacking binge. However, a lot of the time once the engine gets humming they just tap for Kumena stuff. If they just tap for Kumena stuff, they may as well cost less.

Yeah, Earthcraft is strong. I guess Cryptolith Rite is decent too. I might be fine to explore that class of effect again, now that it's pretty much just Intruder Alarm as the other half of the combo. And maybe summoning sickness will help temper it too.

I guess since I'm already active in here, may as well toss up an update.

17.07.2019 Changes
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You've sold me on the Cryptologist. It's a one-drop that's not any more questionable than some one-drops I already run, so the Pengine can turn into that. Also, seeing how I've been rather ruthlessly combing the fish for CMC thinning, may as well apply the CMC comb to other areas of the deck. Ramp sticks out a little - if 3 CMC fish are clunky, am I just grandfathering in the Cultivates? Two CMC land ramp exists in green, and even gets the duals. Pretty easy swap, come to think of it.

My untapper count dipped on account of Pengine going to hell. Is the next best one seriously Curse of Bounty?

Re: Kumena and the Magical Untapping Fishsticks

Posted: Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:31 pm
by Sharpened
Hey, if you want to run Intruder Alarm, by all means. You do you.

Cursecatcher doesn't seem worth running. My point was that's how shallow the merfolk 1-drops are. There are 2 that do things that are worthwhile, and then it gets pretty horrible. Mistcaller seems disruptive enough to be worth it with all the fish synergies, but once you get beyond that you are playing cards that have next to no impact on the game on their own.

So I guess I'm harping on the fish shortage, because I play more and am still frustrated by the times I sputter in the opening. Rather than say it "seems" like I don't draw enough, I wanted to check some probability. So I did some reading of Frank Karsten, found a hypergeometric calculator and here's what I got:

Premise: I want to be able to have 3 fish (1 of which being my commander) by turn 4. It's not worth running enough crappy 1 drops to try for turn 3. So I need to be able to find 2 merfolk in the top 11 cards.

Chance of seeing 2 or more merfolk:
25 fish: 82.4% by turn 4, 56.8% in opening hand
26 fish: 84.4% by turn 4, 59.3% in opening hand
27 fish: 86.1% by turn 4, 61.8% in opening hand
28 fish: 87.7% by turn 4, 64.1% in opening hand
29 fish: 89.2% by turn 4, 66.4% in opening hand
30 fish: 90.5% by turn 4, 68.6% in opening hand
31 fish: 91.6% by turn 4, 70.7% in opening hand

Now, this is rudimentary. as it doesn't take into account mulligans or a lot of other things (Although it's really hard to mulligan when you also care about the top 4 cards). Some of those successful hands may not have workable mana sources. Clearly, counting Tishana, Voice of Thunder for this purpose is not worthwhile, although Merrow Commerce can be counted.

Everyone has to determine what sputter rate they find acceptable. Personally, anything that puts me below 90% feels unpleasant. Whatever works for you. But looking at your decklist, I have to think that half the time you look at your opening hand and hope, and in 1 out of every 5 or 6 games, you stumble out of the gate.

I dunno, maybe I'm overly sensitive about starting slowly.

Re: Kumena and the Magical Untapping Fishsticks

Posted: Thu Jul 18, 2019 1:56 pm
by Rumpy5897
I had no idea you could actually tap Merrow Commerce for Kumena purposes, I perceive enchantments as this weird thing that just sits there and is exempt from tapping. Good one.

If trying to maximise getting a pair of fish in time for draw o'clock, Aquatic Incursion is a decent include.

Another thing you could factor into your calculation would be Deeproot Waters. Those rudimentary numbers are quite nice, and I'm now seeing what potential fish I could add in and what to cut for them. It seems that my nonfish nonlands are pretty tight though. Anything strike you as crappy?

Re: Kumena and the Magical Untapping Fishsticks

Posted: Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:27 am
by kidpurple
I play a very similar deck

I have won games with Simic Ascendancy, but that is not nearly as fun as:

Just wait until you get Intruder Alarm, Lullmage Mentor along with at least 6 other friends, and Seahunter on the battlefield at the same time! That is a lot to ask, but on my is it fun!

Re: Kumena and the Magical Untapping Fishsticks

Posted: Tue Aug 20, 2019 9:02 pm
by Rumpy5897
Alas, that sort of stuff doesn't tend to fly well with the group I'm in, so the deck's gathering dust in the drawer. What can I say - there are a lot of pieces that you want to run because they're good on their own, and then they come together to do disgusting things like this and people get upset.

The list would have been long dead, possibly not even making it out of the online stage, if not for the fact it's an absolute blast to pilot. Remember this, future me, as you consider scrapping it for parts - just walk it, have a game with it, and bask in its glory. That said, I'm unsure what direction to take it. I dislike having an openly suboptimal build where I make obvious concessions on cards I would normally run and enjoy. For now it's about to have ~10 cards gutted from it for the newly born Ghired. I guess I'll have a think about what to do with this fact.