Ephara, God of the Polis - Flash & Taxes

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pokken
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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

shermanido37 wrote:
2 years ago
As someone who can't afford a Mana Crypt, I'm sad that I won't get to play around with that combo - Sol Ring alone is not efficient enough. I don't think I'll run Tyrant without the possibility to combo off, because it's cumbersome and expensive.

Ephemerate seems strong for you, both because of Arch and because of Mentor. However it's really bad with Eidolon of Rhetoric. I'm so sad that it only targets our creatures so it can't be amazing removal with Containment Priest.
I still recommend taking out DDT for it.
Yeah, I do not think I would run Tidespout Tyrant without crypt. It's strong enough I might consider running Mana Vault long term.

I appreciate the thought on Dig. I have really liked it a lot so far, but Ephemerate might be straight up stronger. Right now I'm considering cutting Elspeth, Sun's Champion since it has been very medium for a while - too much small ball these days, lots of armies of smaller creatures. It serves kinda similar purpose as an engine card. But I think Dig is the only other real option since I can't afford to cut any more creatures.

Ephemerate is actually insanely good with Eidolon of Rhetoric. It prevents people from interacting with your ephemerate much during their turn (as once they've cast a spell you can safely ephemerate, blink archaoemancer or whatever, then go to the next turn). Then during your turn you blink a powerful creature and pass.

It's pretty close to the ideal state where we get to make a creature for free in our turn then almost free in someone else's turn, generating +2 cards and +2 blinks for W. Rebound is an optional trigger so if you really must sweep, you can let it go.

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Post by shermanido37 » 2 years ago

My rationale on DTT is that its main asset is its flexibility, which isn't really relevant in this deck. We appreciate cheap cards that we can recur to hand or flashback for value, as well as Tutor, and DTT is none of those in essence. We're sad when it's in our opening hand and we're sad to have it if we don't have a graveyard to exile. I can't see myself playing it.

Ephemerate is great on their turn with the Eidolon, but if you Rebound it and they counter it you are kind of Time Walking yourself. For me that is a very dangerous case.
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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

shermanido37 wrote:
2 years ago
My rationale on DDT is that its main asset is its flexibility, which isn't really relevant in this deck. We appreciate cheap cards that we can recur to hand or flashback for value, as well as Tutor, and DDT is none of those in essence. We're sad when it's in our opening hand and we're sad to have it if we don't have a graveyard to exile. I can't see myself playing it.

Ephemerate is great on their turn with the Eidolon, but if you Rebound it and they counter it you are kind of Time Walking yourself. For me that is a very dangerous case.
Hmm, I guess that's an angle. It also stings if they remove the creature you were going to ephemerate, although that is pretty rare as well.

It's something of a feature of this deck unfortunately that there're a number of nonbos. I was really glad to see Remorseful Cleric printed so I didn't have to resort to something like Rest in peace with all the graveyard shenanigans out there these days. And it's a little less bad without Containment Priest.

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Post by shermanido37 » 2 years ago

If we mentioned sac outlets and how awesome they are, I am definitely thinking about Sower of Temptation. Blinking it can always be great to mess with combat, it's great to steal static effects and commanders like Maelstrom Wanderer. With a sac outlet it becomes blinkable removal.
It's also Recruitable and wields equipment well. To my delight it's also a wizard, so Riptide Lab loves it.

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

shermanido37 wrote:
2 years ago
If we mentioned sac outlets and how awesome they are, I am definitely thinking about Sower of Temptation. Blinking it can always be great to mess with combat, it's great to steal static effects and commanders like Maelstrom Wanderer. With a sac outlet it becomes blinkable removal.
It's also Recruitable and wields equipment well. To my delight it's also a wizard, so Riptide Lab loves it.
Yea, I have for sure noticed that theft effects turn a lot of games. Gilded Drake puts in tons of work for me. Sower has been in before. Its main issue is dying to removal and giving the creature back. But that's significantly less of an issue with a sac outlet out.

I would probably run sower or willbreaker if I did not have a drake. I do like that sower can be recruitered though.

I might run Agent of Treachery before either despite the mana cost. That card has been an absolute house in Aminatou ;)

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

So I did a lot of thinking on it, and decided I needed to give Dig more of a showing. It was great tonight, getting me to see some really powerful cards that would have easily closed the game out for me had I not gotten wheeled (and I still wound up abusing those with reanmiating archaeomancer).

I played a 2 hour long game tonight, where I saw basically all the new cards. My opening hand was insane. I went turn 1 sol ring top spin top, then turn 2 Ephara, then basically went to value town with unfettered Recruiter-Soulherder shenanigans.

I made a pretty critical error I think of going for Hushbringer in response to a Dragon deck with that dragon tempest card -- when I should have just kept on blinking Recruiter and protecting it with stuff. I could have gotten at least one more recruiter activation which would have set me up with the combo, but instead I got my board swept and someone utter ended my Soulherder -- this one was my greed, I had the mana drain to protect it but tapped down. Normally people do not quite get how oppressive soulherder is going to be so they let it go for a bit. I surely got my value out of it (blink get spellseeker, blink spellseeker 3x, etc.).

SoulHerder is the frigging beast.

I saw Mastery of the Unseen and it drew removal, but it was way too slow in this game (I had to keep mana up to defend myself all the time). Had it been Sacred Mesa I would have wildly run away with this game as an opponent had a Coat of Arms out most of the game. I went looking for mesa with enlightened tutor even and missed it.

So far I'm thinking Mastery might just be too cute -- I had an opportunity to set it up pretty well with top too and just couldn't get the mana going until too late. To be fair if someone hadn't removed it, my Smothering Tithe and Sword of Feast and Famine *would* have eventually made it game winning,

Speaking of Sword of Feast and Famine -- man was I drunk ever thinking I should remove it. That card has been clutch the last 4 times I've seen it.

Brazen Borrower was nice -- it stopped a gamewinning play by bouncing some lightning greaves, then flashed in and chump blocked a 10 damage Scion and drew me a card, so it did its job pretty well. Had I gotten to untap with it and start bashing with sword it would have been insane.

I even saw Eidolon of Rhetoric and it being a spirit allowed me to swing lethal at the very end with coat of arms and two Windborn Muse.

Speaking of windborn Muse that card is great! Always great. I cloned it this game and it won me the game.

Anyway, here's what I am trying with the update, I'm pretty happy with most of the cards, though I think Hushbringer may be incorrect. I missed Hushwing already being flash.

2019/10/11 Update
Cut add I decided to cut Elspeth since I'm up on sweepers even with her gone, and she is rarely good, though of course she would have been amazing the night cut her. I thing Hushbringer's lifelink body and one cheaper mana cost (muddleable!) is worth trying, and Brazen borrower feels like most likely to be upside over capsize -- though there are times it's much worse, it's also much better sometimes.

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Post by shermanido37 » 2 years ago

The way I look at it is that flash creatures deserve their own category in our deck, since they are vital to our game plan. Even if there are better non-flash options, the flash ones deserve consideration on their own since flash play is such an important part of how we play - they allow utilizing the stack in order to respond, and they allow us to draw more cards.
Specifically, Hushwing Gryff is a card that I'd probably never cut from Ephara. I don't think Hushbringer is wrong - it's a cheap recruitable creature with a relevant and recruitable body, and its hate effects are very relevant - it's just that it should be categorized differently. I'd rather cut a sorcery speed creature like Archaeomancer or Windborn Muse for it.
Also, it's funny that your main list says "Hushwing Bringer". I like that it's as if the original card is calling for you to slot him back.

I also think that your willingness to experiment with different cards is great, but ultimately nothing can compete with Sacred Mesa. I don't care if I have to pay 2 just to keep it alive each time, and even if I don't want to pay I'd rather slot in Hall of Heliod's Generosity to bring it back than slot it out of the deck.

I'm fine with you taking out Elspeth if all she ever did was blow stuff up, but in my deck she's one of the more reliable finishers. I'm not going to take her out just yet.


Another thought I had is that I highly recommend two cards for your deck: Charming Prince and Trinket Mage.
The Prince is better than I thought since its lifegain mode is highly sought for our deck in the face of beatdown, and its scry mode is pretty much a Preordain for our deck, except it's even better for Miracle purposes. Plus there's the blink mode which can reset Gilded Drake and that we can use even without that, and all that toolbox comes in a recruitable shell. Seems like a winning card to me!
I would also seriously consider Trinket Mage since it's recruitable, it has 5 targets in your deck, and it can tutor the Tyrant combo for you.
I think that good cuts for those might be Ephemerate (if you're going to slot Mesa in for Mastery, this card isn't the best without blinking manifested cards or in cases you don't have Arch), Brainstorm (repeatable might be better than one-shot), and well I don't have much more suggestions...

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

Yeah so what I am finding is Windborn Muse is just insane in my meta. It basically reads: "Gain 20 life" give or take throughout the game. Sometimes I clone it and it just shuts people down.

Archaeomancer so far has been just insanely clutch for me. I forced a sweeper by setting up to displacer+arch lock the board more than once. I am not sure any hatebear could be as good as "get the best instant or sorcery from your yard." Especially with Ephemerate.

I definitely found that Hushwing Gryff was missing, so it's highly likely I swap those back--I'm debating on hushbringer. It did do one good thing in that game before dying -- kept someone from rec saging my mastery (which later got removed by someone else). But I think it mostly would have been better as gryff.

My general thinking is I will likely put Sacred mesa back in for mastery at some point, though I need to give it a few more games I think.

Trinket Mage -- if I ever find a slot I might. I'm kinda heavy on tutor effects these days. That said it is functionally Cultivate or fetch top, which are both very strong effects.

Brainstorm I'm kinda iffy on. It's been mostly medium when I have it, but there have been times both it and ponder have made hands keepable -- which is kinda what most of my 1-drops do (land tax, sensei's divining top, weathered wayfarer, etc.) Brainstorm is just largely been unfortunate in that the times it's let me keep questionable hands I never had to cast it to fix anything cos I had great draws that made it unnecessary, heh.

Like one time I kept something like -- And I topdecked Mana crypt and it was off to the races.

RE: Charming Prince
I am not sure on this guy. He does a lot of things. But I'm just not where he'd slot in, and not sure he's relevant enough. I do have a full art one I pulled so will probably use it someday. Maybe as there's a meta shift.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oh, couple thoughts from last night's game also:
* Smothering Tithe is still frigging insane. It was a beast last night giving me plenty of mana to work with.
* Snapcaster Mage proved itself clutch when I snap-mana drain'd something game winning.
* Forbid was cast 4 times in that game. That card is nuts. I love that Spellseeker can chain into mystical tutor to forbid.
* I had the opportunity to set up an Ephara Terminus and probably should have. Ephara is very good with miracle effects when you have topdeck control (and sometimes not). I had a terminus 3 down and topped, and could have passed turn and terminus'd (sadly I did not want to). But it's really cool.

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Post by darrenhabib » 2 years ago

If you haven't tried Faerie Artisans in the deck before, trust me it's a bomb. It's the sort of card that takes over the game all on it's own.

It will not only trigger Ephara draw trigger each turn as opponents play creatures, but you literally get every ETB effect that happens and the value just becomes insane. Then you even have Altar of Dementia to get LTB effects potentially as well.

It also has the hidden mode of making opponents not be able to play out particular creatures. So it effects the game in ways that you won't even know at the time. For example I was playing a game yesterday and my opponent had a Faerie Artisans in play and I had a reanimation deck and my target would have been Razaketh, the Foulblooded. But because it was too risky to give them a version, even for a short time as they had plenty of creatures to sacrifice for the tutor effect.

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

darrenhabib wrote:
2 years ago
If you haven't tried Faerie Artisans in the deck before, trust me it's a bomb. It's the sort of card that takes over the game all on it's own.

It will not only trigger Ephara draw trigger each turn as opponents play creatures, but you literally get every ETB effect that happens and the value just becomes insane. Then you even have Altar of Dementia to get LTB effects potentially as well.

It also has the hidden mode of making opponents not be able to play out particular creatures. So it effects the game in ways that you won't even know at the time. For example I was playing a game yesterday and my opponent had a Faerie Artisans in play and I had a reanimation deck and my target would have been Razaketh, the Foulblooded. But because it was too risky to give them a version, even for a short time as they had plenty of creatures to sacrifice for the tutor effect.
I played artisans when it first came out, and what always happened to me was people would gang up on me and 1) avoid playing thing I would benefit from, or 2) immediately kill it. I will say that since adding ephemerate, eldrazi displacer and soulherder I have had a lot of desire to try it again - being able to blink your artisans and keep your current token forever once a turn is very, very strong.

My new meta is a bit less removal heavy and quite a bit less, well, particularly aware of interactions. So it's highly likely I would get away with it like I never did in my old shop. I've been meaning to give it a try again.

EDH has gotten quite a bit more creature heavy since the days when I started this deck and it's taking me a while to come around to it. Back in Phoenix windborn muse would have been hot garbage, but it's been gamechanging at my current store.

I keep hoping they will print a foil of it but I will probably slap it back in at some point.

edit: I think you guys have convinced me (shermanido is always on artisans :)) - pulled it out of the binder and will think of a cut this week.


Ok, unbiased opinions on cuts for Artisans? I'll reserve my ideas until I hear what you guys think so as not to bias :)

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Post by darrenhabib » 2 years ago

pokken wrote:
2 years ago
edit: I think you guys have convinced me (shermanido is always on artisans :)) - pulled it out of the binder and will think of a cut this week.


Ok, unbiased opinions on cuts for Artisans? I'll reserve my ideas until I hear what you guys think so as not to bias :)
I personally would cut the Body Double just because of the mana cost. Like all cards I'm sure you had some games where it did some amazing things given the circumstances, but 5 mana is a lot.

I noticed that you don't have Temporal Mastery. This card is such a free roll with Ephara as you get so many "first card drawn" opportunities on opponents turns.
It's just one of those really cool cards to drawn into and really changes the dynamics of what opponents might have planned for that round as well, as you get to deploy a bunch of stuff.
Like my deck is a draw/go deck so extra turns isn't even that beneficial on the whole, but it costs you nothing to put into the deck (well $11 :P).
Maybe cut Ponder for it as Temporal Mastery can be read as..

1u Instant - Untap all permanents you control, draw 2 cards, you get an additional main phase and combat phase.

The draw 2 comes from the fact that you'll probably get an Ephara trigger from a flash creature or what not casting on opponents turn.

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

darrenhabib wrote:
2 years ago
pokken wrote:
2 years ago
edit: I think you guys have convinced me (shermanido is always on artisans :)) - pulled it out of the binder and will think of a cut this week.


Ok, unbiased opinions on cuts for Artisans? I'll reserve my ideas until I hear what you guys think so as not to bias :)
I personally would cut the Body Double just because of the mana cost. Like all cards I'm sure you had some games where it did some amazing things given the circumstances, but 5 mana is a lot.

I noticed that you don't have Temporal Mastery. This card is such a free roll with Ephara as you get so many "first card drawn" opportunities on opponents turns.
It's just one of those really cool cards to drawn into and really changes the dynamics of what opponents might have planned for that round as well, as you get to deploy a bunch of stuff.
Like my deck is a draw/go deck so extra turns isn't even that beneficial on the whole, but it costs you nothing to put into the deck (well $11 :P).
Maybe cut Ponder for it as Temporal Mastery can be read as..

1u Instant - Untap all permanents you control, draw 2 cards, you get an additional main phase and combat phase.

The draw 2 comes from the fact that you'll probably get an Ephara trigger from a flash creature or what not casting on opponents turn.
Thanks for the reply man!

body double is unfortunately key to the various intuition packages in the deck, just no real way around it -- makes too many things tick. It surely is expensive but it combos with any one of guide/lark + altar, so kinda important. Otherwise you're stuck with image/lark as your backup. Intuition does about 5x more work when you have two recursion creatures, so guide+double+<whatever creature> is a guaranteed thing.

I wanna say someone else was on the cut double bandwagon so far it's been nothing but a rockstar.

Yeah, mastery is good for sure. I'm not really sure I could cut another creature, and Ponder has been very good to me. The cantrip package (ponder, brainstorm, top) have been part of an experiment to see if I could get the percentage of keepable opening hands up, and so far it's been very good - deck hardly has to mulligan ever anymore. I think if I ever went further down the rabbit hole of more spells fewer creatures, I could see adding it. It is quite efficient and very powerful.

Definitely an angle I had not really heavily considered though, appreciate it!

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Post by darrenhabib » 2 years ago

pokken wrote:
2 years ago
Thanks for the reply man!

body double is unfortunately key to the various intuition packages in the deck, just no real way around it -- makes too many things tick. It surely is expensive but it combos with any one of guide/lark + altar, so kinda important. Otherwise you're stuck with image/lark as your backup. Intuition does about 5x more work when you have two recursion creatures, so guide+double+<whatever creature> is a guaranteed thing.

I wanna say someone else was on the cut double bandwagon so far it's been nothing but a rockstar.

Yeah, mastery is good for sure. I'm not really sure I could cut another creature, and Ponder has been very good to me. The cantrip package (ponder, brainstorm, top) have been part of an experiment to see if I could get the percentage of keepable opening hands up, and so far it's been very good - deck hardly has to mulligan ever anymore. I think if I ever went further down the rabbit hole of more spells fewer creatures, I could see adding it. It is quite efficient and very powerful.

Definitely an angle I had not really heavily considered though, appreciate it!
Remember that you get to a stage with decks where all cards have been "very good to you" but you are looking for those that are just better in the long run. You can always put an additional Preordain into a deck and be pretty happy with it, but there is a difference between a cantrip and taking an extra turn, literally game winning in many circumstances,
The only time Temporal Mastery isn't better is if it's in your opening 9 cards. But even then you have Brainstorm to make use of it later on.

Just other cards I've been a bit disappointed playing myself is Unexpectedly Absent, the mana cost does become an issue.

I'd look at Monastery Mentor as the cut for Faerie Artisans then. The deck is chock full of win conditions and even though you have some number of non-creature spells, it's not like you get to cast all of them during a game, so the reality is that a "going off" Monastery Mentor you might get 5 tokens, and this just isn't enough to consistently win you the game.

Also with the reanimation package and some really high costed mana creatures like Sun Titan, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Tidespout Tyrant it would be nice to have a discard outlet somewhere in the deck.
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy is usually my favorite for this type of interaction and the Jace, Telepath Unbound gives you another Snapcaster Mage. Plus filtering is pretty nice with the amount of draw in the deck as you are bound to get more lands than you can produce land drops.
Also can Volrath's Shapeshifter be leveraged instead of Body Double for your combos? It's a tricky card to use and has to have exact requirements, but it's way more mana efficient and also has the embedded "discard" which you can use with your bigger creatures to get them into graveyard rather than hand.
I have to say that Hushbringer does stop 13 of your creature abilities, including your ability to combo/lock with some, so that would be my choice to cut for Jace, Vryn's Prodigy.

Other cards I think you should consider is Walking Atlas as it's just guaranteed to be an additional land drop every turn with Ephara drawing you into lands.
Also Dreamscape Artist as again it has the discard element, but it only really costs u to activate as the lands come into play untapped, and thinning your deck of lands does make draws more potent over time.
Maybe look at Tithe as the cut for one these. I love me a Tithe but bigger picture these will do a lot more for you over time.

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

Gonna need to noodle on that stuff some. I have come to really value consistency and enjoyed the cantrips quite a bit. I do think mentor is probably the right cut for artisans though.

So far I've seen mentor a half dozen times and it's always triggered a few times and often been a removal magnet. But never been quite as good as I'd hoped. Usually solid but rarely dominant.

JVP is something I've thought a lot about as it's a powerful consistency engine and replays a lot of my best cards.

Hushbringer is in temporarily for hushing gryff and I am not sure it's staying, but it's really necessary for the deck to have answers to other peoples etb abuse. I don't think I could live without at least one. The deck is extremely soft to a few etb strategies I run into regularly.

I've also noticed the deck is very soft to zulaport cutthroat effects which is why I'm trying hushbringer.

I have yet to ever have an issue with seeing unexpectedly absent. It does a lot of stuff. I could see an argument for another counterspell but it's always done everything I've wanted.

Appreciate the food for thought sincerely and will try to let some of it percolate here.

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

2019/10/21 mods
Cut monastery mentor
add faerie artisans

Mentor has been a touch weaker than expected and it's the only real flexible slot for another powerful engine. I expect artisans to be quite good in the new meta that's quite a bit more creature heavy.

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

darrenhabib wrote:
2 years ago
Remember that you get to a stage with decks where all cards have been "very good to you" but you are looking for those that are just better in the long run. You can always put an additional Preordain into a deck and be pretty happy with it, but there is a difference between a cantrip and taking an extra turn, literally game winning in many circumstances,
The only time Temporal Mastery isn't better is if it's in your opening 9 cards. But even then you have Brainstorm to make use of it later on.
This is going to just be my opinion and hopefully doesn't come off as defensive since I sincerely appreciate the back and forth.

My take on temporal mastery is that it has a very high whiff ratio where it's in your hand and you have no way to get it back on top. At 7 mana, it's a very bad card because if you tap out for it and it gets countered you're almost knocked out of the game. Or god forbid it gets narset's reversal'd. Once you have it in your hand it's very situational whether it's OK, pretty much safe to assume in most tables it's 9 mana because you need to protect it.

On the flipside, ponder lets me dig 4 cards deep for U and also fixes my opening hands, can be snapcastered and archaeomancer'd and even spellseekered. Ponder also fixes brainstorm locks or toplocks by allowing a shuffle.

I eschew preordain for this deck because it doesn't have additional utility like Ponder (shuffle, set up topdecks more effectively). I think it's borderline, if the foil wasn't like 100 bucks I might consider it more hehe.

I do think being able to mystical tutor for mastery is a pretty huge edge and that's a card I see a lot because there're so many ways to get to it (recruiter → spellseeker chains). And when cast off the top for 1U it's incredibly powerful.

So the ceiling is definitely quite a bit higher than ponder, but what I tend to think about the most with cards is how good they are in my opening 10 or so cards.

Tithe is kinda like that too. Tithe makes a lot of unkeepable hands keepable. I have kept 1 landers with Tithe. Ponder and Brainstorm let me keep 2 landers. Temporal mastery in the opener is a gigantic brick.

At least with my build, I am far more focused on making sure I will cast Ephara on turn 3 than almost anything else, and those things that smooth your opening hands out are really powerful for that.

My gut feel after really thinking hard on it is that temporal mastery would probably need to be part of a redesign shaving down to 20-24-ish creatures and focusing more on spells. Probably more dudes like torrential gearhulk and cryptic command / mystic confluence.
darrenhabib wrote:
2 years ago
Other cards I think you should consider is Walking Atlas as it's just guaranteed to be an additional land drop every turn with Ephara drawing you into lands.
Also Dreamscape Artist as again it has the discard element, but it only really costs u to activate as the lands come into play untapped, and thinning your deck of lands does make draws more potent over time.
Maybe look at Tithe as the cut for one these. I love me a Tithe but bigger picture these will do a lot more for you over time.
I have played walking atlas quite extensively and it's a very good card. Unfortunately as the land count gets lower it's not really reliable at making turn 3 Ephara -- I have too many 2-3 land + rock hands that I have to keep, and 3 lands + atlas is gambly, and 2 lands + atlas does nothing.

I think it's a very strong card in the deck but I think it's worse than a lot of other big mana options we have available now, like boreas charger and as foretold and even victory chimes. It essentially has to be evaluated through the same lens as anything that does not make turn 3 Ephara since it does not reliably do so.

It's a LOT like knight of the white orchid -- it's only going to enable t3 ephara a small percentage of the time, so does not do the same things as cards like azorius signet.

Dreamscape Artist is a card I have considered a bunch of times but never tried. It feels like the kinda card I would be inclined to play more if I was playing crucible of worlds (which I am not sure I shouldn't). It's very similar to Atlas, except that it never really enables t3 Ephara -- basically an endgame mana engine. If I was deeper on the graveyard abuse I think I would want it as well, but for the most part I am committed to casting my fatties and if I happen to get to discard them then karmic guide them, that's nice. There just aren't enough reanimation cards.

If I were looking for a discard outlet beyond maybe JVP, I think cloudseeder is the one. I tried it many years ago and it was always a bit awkward. But I think that if I wanted an additional discard outlet it would always be JVP first, he just does too much.

Again, I hope that doesn't come off as too defensive. It's definitely possible I am wrongly committed to the cantrip suite especially after cutting Mentor.

I'm still stewing on Volrath's shapeshifter. I do like that it has some additional utility in discarding an elesh norn at instant speed. But I really do not like that I can't copy other people's dead fatties which is something I have done a bunch (copying Kiki Jiki was probably my best, but I got an opposing Elesh Norn once too).

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Post by darrenhabib » 2 years ago

pokken wrote:
2 years ago
This is going to just be my opinion and hopefully doesn't come off as defensive since I sincerely appreciate the back and forth.
Ha ha, not at all.
My take on temporal mastery is that it has a very high whiff ratio where it's in your hand and you have no way to get it back on top. At 7 mana, it's a very bad card because if you tap out for it and it gets countered you're almost knocked out of the game. Or god forbid it gets narset's reversal'd. Once you have it in your hand it's very situational whether it's OK, pretty much safe to assume in most tables it's 9 mana because you need to protect it.

On the flipside, ponder lets me dig 4 cards deep for U and also fixes my opening hands, can be snapcastered and archaeomancer'd and even spellseekered. Ponder also fixes brainstorm locks or toplocks by allowing a shuffle.

I eschew preordain for this deck because it doesn't have additional utility like Ponder (shuffle, set up topdecks more effectively). I think it's borderline, if the foil wasn't like 100 bucks I might consider it more hehe.

I do think being able to mystical tutor for mastery is a pretty huge edge and that's a card I see a lot because there're so many ways to get to it (recruiter → spellseeker chains). And when cast off the top for 1U it's incredibly powerful.

So the ceiling is definitely quite a bit higher than ponder, but what I tend to think about the most with cards is how good they are in my opening 10 or so cards.

Tithe is kinda like that too. Tithe makes a lot of unkeepable hands keepable. I have kept 1 landers with Tithe. Ponder and Brainstorm let me keep 2 landers. Temporal mastery in the opener is a gigantic brick.

At least with my build, I am far more focused on making sure I will cast Ephara on turn 3 than almost anything else, and those things that smooth your opening hands out are really powerful for that.

My gut feel after really thinking hard on it is that temporal mastery would probably need to be part of a redesign shaving down to 20-24-ish creatures and focusing more on spells. Probably more dudes like torrential gearhulk and cryptic command / mystic confluence.
Well I picked up my Ephara deck yesterday because I wanted to give new additions a whirl and one out of the three games I did draw Temporal Mastery as literally my 9th card (i.e. it wasn't in my opening hand, and then with 1 land in play second turn I drew it). So you know, it does happen. But statistically speaking that is 1/11 of games, which is not nothing, but not the norm.
To exacerbate this I did miss a 4th turn land drop. So if it was a Ponder for example instead it would have probably mean't not missing a 4th turn Ephara. But my deck is much much more about attrition, so getting out to a fast start is not at all what I'm about. Plus I have Scroll Rack in the deck to make use of it further into the game.
I have played walking atlas quite extensively and it's a very good card. Unfortunately as the land count gets lower it's not really reliable at making turn 3 Ephara -- I have too many 2-3 land + rock hands that I have to keep, and 3 lands + atlas is gambly, and 2 lands + atlas does nothing.

I think it's a very strong card in the deck but I think it's worse than a lot of other big mana options we have available now, like boreas charger and as foretold and even victory chimes. It essentially has to be evaluated through the same lens as anything that does not make turn 3 Ephara since it does not reliably do so.

It's a LOT like knight of the white orchid -- it's only going to enable t3 ephara a small percentage of the time, so does not do the same things as cards like azorius signet.

Dreamscape Artist is a card I have considered a bunch of times but never tried. It feels like the kinda card I would be inclined to play more if I was playing crucible of worlds (which I am not sure I shouldn't). It's very similar to Atlas, except that it never really enables t3 Ephara -- basically an endgame mana engine. If I was deeper on the graveyard abuse I think I would want it as well, but for the most part I am committed to casting my fatties and if I happen to get to discard them then karmic guide them, that's nice. There just aren't enough reanimation cards.

If I were looking for a discard outlet beyond maybe JVP, I think cloudseeder is the one. I tried it many years ago and it was always a bit awkward. But I think that if I wanted an additional discard outlet it would always be JVP first, he just does too much.

Again, I hope that doesn't come off as too defensive. It's definitely possible I am wrongly committed to the cantrip suite especially after cutting Mentor.

I'm still stewing on Volrath's shapeshifter. I do like that it has some additional utility in discarding an elesh norn at instant speed. But I really do not like that I can't copy other people's dead fatties which is something I have done a bunch (copying Kiki Jiki was probably my best, but I got an opposing Elesh Norn once too).
Volrath's Shapeshifter would serve as both a discard outlet and as replacement for the combos, and I think remembering that time you copied a Kiki Jiki isn't the best way to look at a card, when you can think in terms of what you know your deck can do, which could be a for example discarding a Sun Titan, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite or Tidespout Tyrant for immediate impact.
Now it's not that simple however, Volrath's Shapeshifter is a very tricky card to use. As soon as a card goes to graveyard you'll lose that creature.
But it's defiantly worth investigating it's pros and cons.
For example discarding Reveillark to Volrath's Shapeshifter with Altar of Dementia in play you can mill your opponents out. That's a 4th turn kill without any mana acceleration if you have these.
But it also must be noted that if you use Intuition the order is that the chosen cards go to graveyard first and then the Intuition goes on top.
So for example say you went for Volrath's Shapeshifter, Karmic guide, Reveillark.
If the opponent gave you Volrath's Shapeshifter then the top card of your library is in fact Intuition, so this wouldn't work.
You need the additional help of Stonecloaker, Archaeomancer, Mistveil Plains to remove that Intuition.

Instead you'd have to go for a much longer line. Say Snapcaster Mage, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, Sun Titan. These all allow you to cast Intuition from graveyard (exiling it). Now you can for Volrath's Shapeshifter, Karmic guide, Reveillark. But clearly this is another full turns worth of setting up.

Anyway food for thought, you can probably tell that I like to puzzle solve, and ponder about advantages where they may be found :P

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

I got a game in with Ephara tonight, where Mastery of the Unseen was pretty good. I activated a number of times, leveraged it to do some things. I am not sure I would have been better off with sacred mesa.

I had a very early Altar of Dementia in this game and it plus Gilded Drake ran away with the game; I was able to grab someone's haunt of hightower and then threaten to make it gigantic with altar and mastery tokens.

Did not see Faerie artisans.

For the first time in a long time someone killed my poor kittycat whitemane lion got straight up counterspelled. Poor fella. He'd drawn like 4 cards by then so them's the breaks :)

Like most of the time I start with an early altar, I won with combo on turn 8 or so -- I actually won early because I was able to flip a stormscape familiar off of Mastery which gave me the two extra mana I needed to cast karmic guide and reveillark, and I got karmic guide via bouncing it with something after manifesting it. To be fair I could have just let guide die to a sweeper but I didn't want to expose it to the graveyard since I had previously.

I am always hesitant to run altar of dementia out, but for some reason people tend to lose track of it as the game progresses and its upside of protecting my board from exiling sweepers and potentially milling me into the second half of the combo is also nice.

This was the first game Mastery dug me to some good cards, which I liked. But it was still very very slow. It did gain a bunch of life which would have been relevant had I not gained like 30 from the gigantic haunt of hightower (which ended up getting removed at about 8/8).

My opening hand in this game demonstrated the extreme awkwardness of prairie stream as well - I had stream, tundra, sol ring and had to keep, but it really screwed my sequencing. Makes me wonder sometimes if I should be looking at getting rid of those two awkwards lands - that one and nimbus maze have screwed me a bunch in the past. My initial thoughts are damnit I don't want to get a foil scalding tarn and also sea of clouds :P

Overall this deck is doing very well lately. People are starting to recognize it at the shop though so here's hoping it's still good once people are wise to my bs :)

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

Got in a couple games tonight; one game I kept a 3 lander with no acceleration but a good hand (recruiter, muddle, s2p, something else) and got wrecked by missing 5 straight land drops and having to muddle for an azorius signet to even get Ephara down on turn 5. I still almost pulled this out by discarding body double to handsize and recruitering for spellseeker for enlightened tutor. One opponent wisely countered my E-tutor (since I would have untapped and had forbid backup).

Game 2 I had a much better game, early Reveillark then closed it out with smothering tithe +mana drain fueling a big combo turn where I main phase intuition'd for sun titan/body double/recruiter, opponent gave me body double and they get combo'd out -- though with the +10 mana from drain + smothering tithe I was getting it done anyway.

Overall the deck is still doing its thing very well, and I'm pretty happy with everything. I'm still a bit iffy on tidespout tyrant as it did clog my hand briefly in game (although I was able to set up discarding it to hand size and nearly started a karmic guide chain with it).

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Post by shermanido37 » 1 year ago

I'm rather quiet since my schedule has been hectic lately, but I've just ordered a bunch of stuff for Ephara and am debating between several strong toolkits on what to run and what of each to run.
The short version is blink & value, hatebears, creature beats, combo, enchantments. The longer version is more complex because of all the new cards and because of meta calls.
Hopefully I find some time to elaborate on my dilemma, because there are a ton of interactions worth mentioning, and because ultimately I believe the deck will function best if each individual card can make the most of its mileage.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

shermanido37 wrote:
1 year ago
I'm rather quiet since my schedule has been hectic lately, but I've just ordered a bunch of stuff for Ephara and am debating between several strong toolkits on what to run and what of each to run.
The short version is blink & value, hatebears, creature beats, combo, enchantments. The longer version is more complex because of all the new cards and because of meta calls.
Hopefully I find some time to elaborate on my dilemma, because there are a ton of interactions worth mentioning, and because ultimately I believe the deck will function best if each individual card can make the most of its mileage.
With how bomby stuff has been lately I've been really struggling with winning outside of combos, although on occasion I'll string together like a sun titan with a sword or something. The issue I'm seeing mostly is that everyone's decks just seem to go so darned big now. Lots of interactions operate at a different scale than our stuff. Without green it's harder for us to create these off-scale scenarios where we go huge - no craterhoofs or pathbreaker ibexes.

So it feels like with creatures we're almost stuck in the prison role, where we need to create a strong soft lock like displacer/containment or displacer/venser to control the board.

Of your packages I think the only ones I have really great reads on are combo and creature beats;

creature beats
Over the years I've tried a lot of angles; swords+fliers, tokens, elesh norn. I think norn has been the most consistently good although with the scale of creatures these days he's less of a sure thing. I've never really tried playing strong beater creatures, although there are a few options for playing some fat fliers (avacyn for example) that can close games fairly fast.

One thing I never tried that I liked the idea of was Archetype of Imagination. I also never tried going heavy on anthem effects or anything crazy like coat of arms. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is a card I never tried that I always thought would be pretty good. A permanent anthem is pretty good.

I have had far less success ultimatting Elspeth in recent years, though, so something to keep in mind.

Serra Ascendant was always really good to me in the beatdown department, but there just isn't really critical mass of this kind of effect.

Archangel of Thune was always very strong, and if you're generating even a little bit of lifegain (I won games with like, get 4 counters on a jitte, pump the team and win) it can be game winning.

Overall my conclusion has largely been that most creature beats options in our colors other than creating a swarm of tokens are probably gonna wind up wrong. And even that will struggle against dedicated combat decks.

combo
I think there are two playable combo lines in Ephara;
1) Lark/Guide/Double/Altar -- easy to set up with intuition packages, mana efficient, and made up of all cards we would like to be playing except altar which is medium but still has a lot of utility. The mana cost for this can be as low as 6 (4 guide off a cost reducer + 2 for altar) if you've previously had a dead lark or body double, and it's fairly innocuous to leave one of the combo critters in the yard most of the time.

2) Archaeomancer effect + Time warp + blink effect - this one is rock solid and plays only good cards (displacer/venser/archaeomancer/time warp are all great cards). Time magic fairly powerful with Ephara because she often acts as a howling mine, so even incidentally taking a couple turns can be great. The downside here is the mana setup is a bit heavy or it's quite telegraphed, often costing in the mid-teens of mana to get going (5 warp, 4 arch, 3 blink, or 5 venser/closet).

However, leaving the spell returner on the battlefield is often very feasible, and the 'combo' also works starting from mystical tutor or spellseeker, and the chain is quite startable with just recruiter.

There're a ton of cute options and it's likely going the Arch route you would want to consider brought back since it's another ramp spell that can get into an early Ephara in some circumstances and also combos with Arch+Phyrexian altar.

Eerie interlude effects are also ridiculously powerful with Archaeomancer, and there are numerous ways to turn that into a soft lock.

In general you really need two of each combo type enabler, or to have a secondary combo, or to have a really powerful win plan otherwise.
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I'm sure I'll have a lot more to say as you develop your ideas, :)

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

Got a game in tonight and won pretty handily - basically locked the board down with a Linvala for a while, got a recruiter chain going, got to start with an early altar of dementia which was as always exceptional (I milled a bunch when there was a sweeper, then combo'd off). Nothing really major there except dig through time and smothering tithe put in some great work.

Basically any time I run into a group hug deck - one of the guys was playing some kinda UB wheel and mill deck - I go apeshit and this game was no exception; Smothering Tithe made +10 or so mana in a turn cycle, I got milled a bunch outside of my own altar, and essentially when I untapped there was no chance of stopping me. Guide for recruiter, recruiter for body double, gg.

I did have to keep a slow hand but I drew out of it into recruiter which made it work.

Brazen borrower was pretty great in my opener - tempoing an Urza off the battlefield, then being a 3/1 flier with a cantrip attached. I'm pretty happy with that card. It makes a lot of sequences very good.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

Minor update, I picked up a foil arid mesa, so:

2019/11/12 Update
cut nimbus maze

add arid mesa

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Post by ISBPathfinder » 1 year ago

I have very little to add but this. I guess congrats on pulling that trigger lol.

thumb_ifelt-a-great-disturbance-in-the-force-asif-millions-of-59349822.png
[EDH] Sram (auras) | Bruna | Heliod | Sai | Naban | Anje

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

ISBPathfinder wrote:
1 year ago
I have very little to add but this. I guess congrats on pulling that trigger lol.
The ol' ebay lowball best offer during the holidays :P

Don't think I can bring myself to go for a tarn though.

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