Ephara, God of the Polis - Flash & Taxes

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MeowZeDung
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Post by MeowZeDung » 1 year ago

If you go for Ghostly Flicker to go with Arch, what's stopping you from just adding in Peregrine Drake and Gilded Lotus and going all in on the infinite? Too expensive?
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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

MeowZeDung wrote:
1 year ago
If you go for Ghostly Flicker to go with Arch, what's stopping you from just adding in Peregrine Drake and Gilded Lotus and going all in on the infinite? Too expensive?
It's worth thinking on for sure; I think Palinchron probably makes the most sense if going to focus on that (since it goes infinite with just Nykthos or Phantasmal image). But we don't have that many infinite mana outlets, so I'm not sure it makes much sense from a slot perspective.

Slot-wise I think Ghostly Flicker costs fairly little - it will usually act as a bad counterspell at its worst. Palinchron / Drake / Lotus are all quite a bit worse when drawn randomly, needing something specific to be good. Failure state on Flicker is draw a card and protect an important card, mostly?

Definitely worth thinking bout.

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Post by MeowZeDung » 1 year ago

All true. One benefit of adding in Palinchron or Peregrine Drake is that they both play very nicely with Eldrazi Displacer, which gives infinite mana with either of them while also serving as an infinite mana outlet that can start flickering your other busted ETB stuff.
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Post by Hoboz » 1 year ago

If you're transitioning into Knowledge Pool and/or Ghostly Flicker, might be time to reconsider Cavalier of Dawn. It gives an etb trigger for infinite mana/etbs off Ghostly Flicker (plus Soulherder, Ephemerate, and Thassa, Deep-Dwelling), and its death trigger gets back Knowledge Pool.

I do like that Knowledge Pool now has 3 different lock-pieces via Lavinia, Magistrate, and Teferi.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

Hoboz wrote:
1 year ago
If you're transitioning into Knowledge Pool and/or Ghostly Flicker, might be time to reconsider Cavalier of Dawn. It gives an etb trigger for infinite mana/etbs off Ghostly Flicker (plus Soulherder, Ephemerate, and Thassa, Deep-Dwelling), and its death trigger gets back Knowledge Pool.

I do like that Knowledge Pool now has 3 different lock-pieces via Lavinia, Magistrate, and Teferi.
I have an issue with KP being really bad on its own but it's worth considering. I do have Cavalier on my list as a potential sub for Cleansing Nova since blinking it can clean up a few problem enchantments which is nice.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

Here's kind of the redesign I am thinking about at this point:

Add --
Potential cuts? Need some more:P
But any number of those could skip coming in I guess, just kinda what I'm noodling on at this point. I realize there's some power sacrifices to be made in giving up some of the 2 CMC rocks, but I'm expecting the endgame advantages of Sunscape / Knight / Hawk / being able to crap on artifact decks with kataki would be worth it.

I'd also like to make room for eerie interlude but even a lot of those cuts are things I am loathe to do. So basically just a list of cards I really like and wish I could find room for at this point :P

And I forgot drannith magistrate - gotta figure out where that'd come in too. bleh.

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Post by shermanido37 » 1 year ago

I wish we had Temur Sabertooth. Man that card is bonkers.
Also, green is such a good color to have, and Chulane's game plan is so similar to Ephara's, that I'm pretty certain that he's a better commander. But I am way too loyal to her to give her up now.

So I did mention a possible line of victory, with Altar + Cloud of Faeries + Arch + Brought Back milling everyone out.
Another line of thought I had, which is closer to your current one, was that Eldrazi Displacer + Cloud of Faeries is infinite mana if you have enough setup, but I was still stumped on what to do with it to win the game. Simply forcing in Walking Ballista really doesn't feel organic, even though we can tutor for it with both Recruiter and Trinket. However, that might just be enough for you. A 3 card combo that needs a few optimistic lands isn't much of a big deal, especially with Wayfarer to fetch them for you. The trickiest part will be to get Displacer, which sadly has no solution yet.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

Yeah this deck would kill for Temur Sabertooth.

I really did think hard about chulane but we have a lot of things going for us:
* Ephara is very resilient
* More resilient to Eidolon of Rhetoric / Ethersworn Canonist as well as Hushbringer
* 4 cmc is a big advantage over 5
* Not being a big giant target

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

The issue with Brought Back is still the same unfortunately, as strong as it is it requires an altar and I'm just very not happy with our sac outlet options. The altars all have different upsides but really struggle with being medium to bad on their own.

Cloud of Faeries is a good card though that I always forget about, might be worth playing on its own. Will see if I can snag a foil :)

More than the lack of cards like mana dorks and sabertooth and such, it's frustrating to me how hard it is to find creatures we want, but it's also a fun challenge. I have a Drift of Phantasms I'm still considering as an option - pretty much the only way to get displacer. Long Term Plans also reasonable I guess.

You can always Intuition for guide/lark + whatever creature you want as an option too I guess.

I would love to see some more situational creature tutors like search for a flash creature, flying creature, creature with an activated ability, etc., in white/blue.

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Post by shermanido37 » 1 year ago

I honestly don't think Knowledge Pool is that bad for us! We play tiny creatures with universal effects, why would we care if they get to cast them?
On the other hand my meta is full of decks that play monster cards, like eldrazi titans, giant artifacts, some extra turns, etc. They like to spend at least twice the amount of mana I spend on hatebears, and rarely at instant speed. So even if they do cast something out of the pool, they most likely are mana inefficient, and not utilizing counterspells.
Imagine playing an instant speed Kozilek for 2 with Whitemane, while your opponents are stumped over trying to counter or remove it!
Even if it does not do that, it is sure to be a threat, that must take more than one turn to remove.


As soon as U/W have a tutor for something like that, you absolutely know it will enable some ridiculous combos in eternal formats. Snap, Vendilion Clique, Mother of Runes are all cards that are already good in eternal and will be enabled by such tutors.
Also, while several tutors have been printed in recent years, none of them have been very good, even in colors that have them in their color identity.
So, I guess I'd take my time with that request. But damn would I like that! With that I'd really like to see white doing something new EDH wise.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

Y'know I hadn't though that much about how KP might work for us. We have a higher percentage of instant effects than most decks and it would certainly serve as a piece to discourage people from casting huge bomb spells. I also kinda like that it destroys X spells like Genesis Wave which is a big weakness.

Might be worth playing Transmute Artifact and keeping the artifact count higher :P

Will have to noodle on that some more. I do think Lavinia, Azorius Renegade is a pretty strong hatebear in its own right

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Post by shermanido37 » 1 year ago

Lavinia got a lot stronger with the new free-while-you-have-your-commander spells. That, and if it comes down early versus an artifact deck, they can't play the game until they have like 4 lands.
I feel like if you want an artifact tutor, just push Inventors' Fair or Fabricate. Artifacts themselves could be any number of good things.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

I think it's probably fine to just have e-tutor + spellseeker + mystical tutor as ways to find the kp if you play that.

I don't think I am gonna run it at first, gonna just see if I can win with infinite mana / etbs without working too hard for it.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

Can I ask you guys for some feedback on the idea of just this specific ramp package:
If I want to fit in Cartographer's Hawk and Sunscape Familiar I think I am going to need to cut into the 2 cmc rocks. I'm just somewhat torn about this. I've long thought it might be a good idea to try to squeeze more rocks in - Arcane Signet and Fellwar Stone for example.

Also thinking about Knight of the White Orchid again since I've gone higher on blink effects than I used to have (ephemerate, eldrazi displacer).

But I have seen a lot more artifact/enchantment sweepers and ouphe and similar in recent years and that's lead me to start reducing my artifact/enchantment count quite a bit.

Pearl Medallion does a *ton* of work with Whitemane Lion but I have a huge proportion of blue spells that would benefit from Sunscape Familiar and it would up the creature count.

Getting my creature count up to 36-37 again would be really useful.

The problem with trying to squeeze those cards in for other stuff is that I'm already devoting a whole ton of effort to hitting lands and turn 2 Ephara.

The other thing is if I start cutting artifacts/enchantments at what point does Enlightened Tutor still even make sense just to get feast and famine/metamorph :P Although E-tutor also gets mana crypt/sol ring which is what I use it for the most these days.

Lots of questions inherent in rethinking the ramp package.

note: I would not consider cutting any of the rocks that tap for colorless since they're so useful for Eldrazi Displacer

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Post by MeowZeDung » 1 year ago

Just a knee-jerk reaction, and with the caveat that I play my Ephara deck a fraction of how much y'all play yours: Cartographer's Hawk is conditional, albeit a condition that's highly likely to be met by your t3 combat step unless you're player 1, and Knight of the White Orchid also has to meet light conditions that become awkward if you're going first. Pearl Medallion, Azorius Signet, and Sunscape Familiar on the other hand practically guarantee you a t3 Ephara if they are in your opener or first 2 draws. Given that, I don't really see the advantage of Hawk/Knight over the others. I get that it adds to your creature count, but these aren't like your other ETB value bears in that they only really pay off for you if you're up against a green super-ramp deck, and even then the pay off is slowish.

TL;DR rocks are boring non-creatures, but they are so reliable in the early game that I get squeemish about taking em out of a non-green deck.
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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

MeowZeDung wrote:
1 year ago
Just a knee-jerk reaction, and with the caveat that I play my Ephara deck a fraction of how much y'all play yours: Cartographer's Hawk is conditional, albeit a condition that's highly likely to be met by your t3 combat step unless you're player 1, and Knight of the White Orchid also has to meet light conditions that become awkward if you're going first. Pearl Medallion, Azorius Signet, and Sunscape Familiar on the other hand practically guarantee you a t3 Ephara if they are in your opener or first 2 draws. Given that, I don't really see the advantage of Hawk/Knight over the others. I get that it adds to your creature count, but these aren't like your other ETB value bears in that they only really pay off for you if you're up against a green super-ramp deck, and even then the pay off is slowish.

TL;DR rocks are boring non-creatures, but they are so reliable in the early game that I get squeemish about taking em out of a non-green deck.
What I'm thinking about is like...examine the endgame of Knight of the White Orchid. You draw it on turn 6 and play it for functionally W (since its lands comes into play untapped) and trigger Ephara. And it's a body that blocks respectably. And if you can blink it you can catch up multiple lands.

Back when I cut Knight in the first place it was before I had any blink outlets, I didn't even play Whitemane Lion at the time I cut it.

The ceiling is *way* higher.

But you're definitely right, the floor is much lower; neither hawk nor Knight are likely to enable a t3 Ephara (unless you T1 them off of moxen, in which case signet would have enabled a t2 ephara).

It's really tough to say but I often do win games where I turn 4 Ephara and then have a really good turn 5, particularly if I am going to sweep the board.

Signet also enables these crazy busted starts like Ancient Tomb->Signet, which makes me think maybe I should be running arcane signet and fellwar stone as well :P Bleh.

I feel like if Collector Ouphe was white it'd be a slam dunk to run that and cut on artifacts. Still seriously annoys me that they printed that in green.

edit: another thing I have noticed is that the percentage of the time I win off of Hour of Revelation is very high. That card is just nonsensically strong. And having my critters that ramp replace themselves or bounce themselves feels really good.

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Post by MeowZeDung » 1 year ago

pokken wrote:
1 year ago
The ceiling is *way* higher.

But you're definitely right, the floor is much lower
There's a huge Commander format theory discussion to be had right here with just those two lines. I guess I lean more towards the "consistency" end of the spectrum rather than the "power" end of the spectrum. Kykar, Wind's Fury is my prime example: it's another 4 cmc commander, and I've intentionally built the deck to almost always be able to cast big bird on T3. I can't really overstate that, as simple as it is on the surface level, but on the very rare occasion that I resolve t4 Kykar, I feel behind. I don't think T3 Ephara is as essential since Ephara is more about keeping a full grip and Kykar is more about mana development and board presence, but my point remains that what I'm aiming for is consistency, even if it means giving up a little raw power. I guess you could call is "conservative" deckbuilding, and maybe it's not what your Ephara build needs, what with its locks and tutor packages. That "conservative" track is where my mind always wanders towards though.

EDIT:
pokken wrote:
1 year ago
I feel like if Collector Ouphe was white it'd be a slam dunk to run that and cut on artifacts. Still seriously annoys me that they printed that. in green.
FTFY
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Post by Rumpy5897 » 1 year ago

I actively dislike Knight of the White Orchid. It fakes being a two drop, as you never play this thing on turn two. In fact, my distaste for it goes so far that I run Kor Cartographer over it in Feather. That said, that deck blinks like crazy, so there's that.

Rushing the commander is a nontrivial concern for all commander-dependent decks. Rampant Hawk was previously acknowledged here as slow as all hell for all intents and purposes. If speed is your concern over the land nature of the returns, just stick to the other options.
 
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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

Rumpy5897 wrote:
1 year ago
I actively dislike Knight of the White Orchid. It fakes being a two drop, as you never play this thing on turn two. In fact, my distaste for it goes so far that I run Kor Cartographer over it in Feather. That said, that deck blinks like crazy, so there's that.

Rushing the commander is a nontrivial concern for all commander-dependent decks. Rampant Hawk was previously acknowledged here as slow as all hell for all intents and purposes. If speed is your concern over the land nature of the returns, just stick to the other options.
Yeah I'm kinda wrestling over whether it's better to be consistent and more value or faster but worse later. I tend to hate drawing signets late game, since they don't even bring a redraw like Sunscape Familiar.

I'm not 100% sure what my concern is. Hawk and Knight both generally assure me of hitting turn 4 Ephara and likely represent +1 card each at least, sometimes more (if I get to trigger hawk or knight multiple times I'm probably not losing).

What I find is that this deck almost always is going to drag the game out such that I'm casting Hour of Revelation or someone is.

Turn 2 and 3 Ephara really wins games though, but it is less likely to win them as my creature count decreases and my whiff count increases---T2 ephara with no creatures is super bad.

Ephara games almost always run long, so I'm not sure but I *feel* like maybe the extra lands and wipe resilience would be good enough? Maybe good enough to play Kataki.

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Post by shermanido37 » 1 year ago

I think Meow has brought up a great point, which is the need for consistency over explosive plays and board shenanigans.
Essentially, to any given card, we should think what it would do at any point in the game, how it would help the deck to win, and its utility with and without our commander.
I feel like you are starting to spread thin between too many attempts for synergy and value, instead of actually focusing on this deck's primary objective. Perhaps that's exactly the problem - there seems to be no primary objective for the deck. You used to be much more intense on the "slow down and control the game" plan, but now you have a lot of blink value or general value cards, plus you are devoting several slots to the combo endgame.

Blink engines (6): Thassa, Displacer, Soulherder, Ephemerate, Whitemane Lion, Stonecloaker
Blink value cards (6): Recruiter, Spellseeker, Charming Prince, Phyrexian Metamorph, Archaeomancer, Snapcaster Mage
Combo cards (9): Karmic Guide, Reveillark, Body Double , Altar of Dementia, Sun Titan, Leonin Relic-Warder, Intuition, Mystical Tutor, Enlightened Tutor
General Utility (9): Brazen Borrower // Petty Theft, Nadir Kraken, Land Tax , Smothering Tithe, Sword of Feast and Famine, Tithe, Brainstorm, Ponder, Sensei's Divining Top
Actual Hatebears (10): Remorseful Cleric (eh), Hushbringer, Eidolon of Rhetoric, Spell Queller, Glen Elendra Archmage, Windborn Muse, Linvala, Keeper of Silence, Venser, Shaper Savant, Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, Faerie Artisans

I'd try to narrow down the amount of cards that are there "just because", especially those that don't do much without Ephara. For example, Brazen Borrower // Petty Theft is amazing even without Ephara, so I'd probably keep it, while Nadir Kraken always ends up on my cuttables list because it's just so slow and cumbersome without her. As another example, it feels excessive to me to have both Whitemane and Stonecloaker.
These also depend on how competitive you want to be, bla bla bla. I feel like you know all of this better than me since you have a cEDH list, and they pretty much only have cards that are either mana, interaction, combo, and in rare cases single, independent cards that net card advantage.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

Lots to digest there.

I think in general I think the deck's objective is to set up a value engine and either 1) stall until I can combo or 2) set up a lock and grind out a victory.

So in general it is kind of like a low rent cEDH deck dumbed down to play in different metas in that it's aiming to set up a card advantage engine and ride it to victory - which is basically what cEDH is now (cast tymna, draw cards; cast rhystic study and ride it, etc.). Ephara makes the gameplan more consistent and resilient but worse and slower.

Unlike Tymna drawing 1-3 cards per turn for 0 mana we're drawing 1-3 cards per turn for some sizable mana investment.

I hate to reduce it to that, but it is what it is.

A major difference is that we're set up to play long games, and have a much more varied suite of answers (and ways to go over the top in a long game like Emeria, the Sky Ruin.

Part of the recent renaissance in the deck with blink engines is that Wizards printed two engines that are just too strong to ignore, particularly Soulherder that is crazy cheap *and* turns into a big threat *and* is recruiterable. But to an extent also Thassa, Deep-Dwelling. I think those cards kinda steered me into playing a but more blink/etb effects, though I always had a good number of them.

Another thing to factor in into the balancing act is that a lot of the way this deck is constructed is to avoid being just obnoxious. I'm pretty committed to, er, committing to the board state at least to an extent.

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Nadir Kraken specifically is a pretty interesting callout. I have found it to be very powerful independently but it's hard to assess its affect on games outside of the card draw. I will say that it forcing you to spend mana makes certain sequencing awkward; like you've got to stop paying mana on the kraken chain to keep interaction up sometimes.

But it's an insanely powerful topdeck or as a card to hold back after a sweeper. It will single-handedly win the game for you - i've had it and soulherder both out as 10/10s before, killing one person a turn cycle with the army of krakens and couple 10/10s.

It's definitely a card that could be cut to do something more interesting.

The goofy Ephara interactions are one of the things I do like about the deck. Stonecloaker would go after Remorseful Cleric for me - being able to pinpoint grave hate on a powerful engine is nice.

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

I think my current leaning is to try to pull some of the combo pieces and lean heavier into the blink/value, but gonna think about it a few days. All my cards came in so I have a huge pile of nonsense to work with.

Ephemerate is one of my favorite adds to the deck in a long time; i've done so many hilarious fun things with it. Probably my favorite memory was hiding someone's Counterspell under Spell Queller and then using ephemerate to let them cast it :P (even if it didn't work out, I think they chose not to out of spite lol).

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Post by shermanido37 » 1 year ago

I didn't try to discourage you from running blink engines - those cards are mega powerful for a variety of reasons to be sure. At the very least, they guarantee Ephara triggers on the turn after your own. In fact, one of the reasons I love blink engines in our deck is because they are great with cards we want in our deck anyway without even having ETBs - Faerie Artisans, Glen Elendra Archmage, Reveillark, Phyrexian Metamorph, etc. and ETB creatures get much more obscene with it.
However, I personally feel like I don't want to be relying on them too heavily, and I feel that it's very important that they still do things when we don't want to blink stuff. Thassa is a good example for that, tapping down threats and being an indestructible creature herself. Soulherder can be a fattie if given enough time. Displacer is just obscene.

In spite of all of what I just said, I'll argue this: what you seem to be saying is that you actually want your deck to be less combo-y and more value-y, or in other words less Flash and Taxes, more flash and flickers. In that case I'd consider Lavinia of the Tenth, Agent of Treachery, Brago, King Eternal shenanigans, though it would start to feel like an inferior Brago deck if I'm honest.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

Something to note about the legacy Death and Taxes archetype (not that it really exists anymore) is that it's heavily built on the back of the value engines of Recruiter of the Guard Flickerwisp and Stoneforge Mystic. That's how it beats control shells. Vial shenanigans have a lot in common with whitemane lion/displacer, etc.

I'm thinking more about shaving on sweepers and combo pieces and adding more value, but maintaining the hatebear stuff for the most part.

I'm also thinking about swapping the ramp package around a little, but that's really unrelated I guess.

I'm thinking locks+interaction and value as opposed to locks+interaction and combo. I think with the addition of those new blink outlets I'm at a point where I can actually achieve serious value enough to win games.

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Post by shermanido37 » 1 year ago

I disagree. While Flickerwisp definitely does all kinds of shenanigans in Legacy, and while Stoneforge Mystic is a monster in any deck with both Sword of Fire and Ice and Umezawa's Jitte, I see the real MVP of the deck to be Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and the runner up as Mother of Runes. The lists I saw had 3xMystic, 3xFlickerwisp, 3xRecruiter, but 4xThalia and 4xMom.

Value that wins games usually needs to win them through damage, and that is something your deck is still lacking. I'm still excited to test out Cavalier of Dawn in that respect.

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Post by ISBPathfinder » 1 year ago

I have had a hard time running Mother of Runes in any deck other than Gaddock Teeg. But it comes down to how much spot removal you expect vs how many sweepers you expect. I have always been in metas where I expect more sweepers than I do spot removal but as you see more combo you tend to also see more of a shift towards spot removal. Mother of Runes's popularity and usefulness tends to follow one drop mana dorks if you ask me. As you start seeing more use in one drop mana dorks you also tend to see more use in mom.
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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

shermanido37 wrote:
1 year ago
I disagree. While Flickerwisp definitely does all kinds of shenanigans in Legacy, and while Stoneforge Mystic is a monster in any deck with both Sword of Fire and Ice and Umezawa's Jitte, I see the real MVP of the deck to be Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and the runner up as Mother of Runes. The lists I saw had 3xMystic, 3xFlickerwisp, 3xRecruiter, but 4xThalia and 4xMom.

Value that wins games usually needs to win them through damage, and that is something your deck is still lacking. I'm still excited to test out Cavalier of Dawn in that respect.
Thalia is pretty important in a lot of matchups, but it's more critical in the unfair matchups. That's how D&T always worked, is its creature hatebears and wasteland fixed unfair matchups and the creature beats and card advantage fixed fair matchups.

For me Eidolon of Rhetoric is doing the job Thalia does (and hushbringer, atm). But also counterspells. mother of runes is a key card in legacy because of all the spot removal - I go over that with emeria/reveillark/guide/countermagic because EDH is slower, you can't tempo someone out with a mom very easily.

You would not believe how many games I won with flickerwisp with a sword. My version of flickerwisp with a sword is:
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite + dudes
Sun Titan x multiples
Nadir Kraken + soulherder
pile of fliers on one guy, ephara voltron on another

Right now I agree that the beats side of the deck is a bit weak but that's one of the things I want to change -- adding stuff like Dream Eater or cavalier of dawn is part of that that I'm thinking about.
ISBPathfinder wrote:
1 year ago
I have had a hard time running Mother of Runes in any deck other than Gaddock Teeg. But it comes down to how much spot removal you expect vs how many sweepers you expect. I have always been in metas where I expect more sweepers than I do spot removal but as you see more combo you tend to also see more of a shift towards spot removal. Mother of Runes's popularity and usefulness tends to follow one drop mana dorks if you ask me. As you start seeing more use in one drop mana dorks you also tend to see more use in mom.
As my meta shifted more toward sweepers I moved away from Mom, yep.

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