Ephara, God of the Polis - Flash & Taxes

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pokken
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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

You're definitely right that they're more brago cards, but it's really interesting how much overlap there is. Usually if a *creature* is good in Brago it's worth us considering it - non-creatures diverge a lot.

Part of that is just that there are so few good creatures printed in UW these days, every one is precious :)

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Post by shermanido37 » 2 years ago

One more thing that I forgot to mention is that there's an all-star in getting Ephara down early, and that's Jeweled Amulet. It's great in the early turns where we're trying to save our creatures for after Ephara enters, and since most of our gameplay is draw-go it's very easy to find turns to charge it.
If you run it along with Ring, Crypt, Top etc, it can be a great Trinket package.

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

I used that in Atraxa and was definitely thinking on it. The main issue with it is that it 1) isn't available in foil, and 2) is not really mana producing without some kind of effects.

I think I would definitely use it in an artifact themed deck, since those 0 drop artifacts are crazy with mox opal anyway.

The main issue with this deck is I'm not sure that we want to keep speeding up; I'm actually considering cutting back on mana rocks a little bit and moving up on stuff like Ponder. I've gotten blown out really badly a couple times recently with mana rocks getting popped at bad times.

What I want more than anything in this deck is to always hit my land drops. And drawing stuff like amulet late in the game is very unpleasant. Azorius signet is pretty darned solid but even that is quite the poor topdeck.

The game these days is so dependent on early turns but on the flipside my games with Ephara tend to go long regardless, so it's a very conflicting period in the metagame tbh.

I think that I would play mana Vault or chrome mox both before JA, but I'm really not sure about those cards still. I think they are probably right to play but I don't know how I would change deck construction if I was trying to play those kinds of cards.

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Post by shermanido37 » 2 years ago

First of all, if you were to consider a cantrip, the first one would absolutely have to be Brainstorm. Very few cards are called format-defining, and Brainstorm has earned that title well. It gets ridiculously better with any sort of fetch, so I'd add even Terramorphic and Evolving Wilds with no regrets. (Brought Back also likes them)
Secondly, Chrome Mox is a mana rock much unlike other rocks in that running it in a heavy artifact build actually hurts it - and running disposable spells like cantrips benefits it.
Thirdly, I view land drops as dangerous to solely rely upon. Since we're restricted to one per turn we'll always get outpaced by green and artifact decks, and too much lands in hand can pose a bottleneck that feels really bad.

I view Jeweled Amulet and Chrome Mox as mana that goes straight to the field without clogging up your hand, which is exactly what we need considering our deck draws so many cards. While Brainstorm alone is strong enough to justify an include, I think more cantrips feel unnecessary to me and not the right direction to go.

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

Yeah I think I probably do need to find some room. I agree re chrome mox. I wouldn't play it in artifact theme but I do think it's good enough for this deck. Possibly better than mox diamond.

Something about cantrips I have found ponder to be as good or better than brainstorm in edh depending. In this deck where I am often looking for a specific card and am not crazy high on fetches and don't run any miracles I think ponder would be close to as good. Enough so that I would want to run both if I bothered.

I agree I don't think I'd like to rely entirely on land drops but I think it's possible being say one or two rocks lighter would be ok. Esp if I went up a board sweeper.

You might be right about chrome mox too. I have a promo set aside for this deck. It's always hard making room for that stuff.

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

So completely off topic to me contemplating cantrips --

I was thinking about swapping Evacuation for Selfless Squire which is a card I think has more use in my current meta (which is much more stompy) - Evac has a lot of downsides with allowing people to reuse ETBs, and is also not a creature that develops my board.

Any thoughts on that?

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Post by shermanido37 » 2 years ago

Mox Diamond is gold. I don't think you want to swap it out at all. However it again benefits from tutoring lands to hand or from a high land count. Ultimately I believe both moxen should be in, the question is merely the balance. Chrome Mox even combos nicely with Tyrant.
Brainstorm is the #1 cantrip for you and you will not persuade me. You run 6 fetches, Myriad Landscape (which should be cut imo), 7 tutors, and Land Tax. It is a card with a high skill ceiling, though, so you might not be using it to its maximum potential.

Selfless Squire is a cute card at best. It costs 4, fogs and gives a vanilla beater. It doesn't help versus anything other than combat damage, we don't have good ways of blinking it other than Displacer, and the creature left afterwards isn't even that good. You're better off with Wrath of God or Terminus.

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

shermanido37 wrote:
2 years ago
Mox Diamond is gold. I don't think you want to swap it out at all. However it again benefits from tutoring lands to hand or from a high land count. Ultimately I believe both moxen should be in, the question is merely the balance. Chrome Mox even combos nicely with Tyrant.
Brainstorm is the #1 cantrip for you and you will not persuade me. You run 6 fetches, Myriad Landscape (which should be cut imo), 7 tutors, and Land Tax. It is a card with a high skill ceiling, though, so you might not be using it to its maximum potential.

Selfless Squire is a cute card at best. It costs 4, fogs and gives a vanilla beater. It doesn't help versus anything other than combat damage, we don't have good ways of blinking it other than Displacer, and the creature left afterwards isn't even that good. You're better off with Wrath of God or Terminus.
I have been pretty impressed with mox diamond despite my initial doubts. I think you're probably right that Chrome Mox also should be in there.

Yeah, I do think Brainstorm is good but I think ponder is closer to it than you think :) It would not take many fewer shuffle effects for me to prefer ponder (say -3 or so). I've played a lot of legacy and getting brainstorm locked is real.

What turned me on to Squire is it isn't actually just combat damage. It's all damage. So it can shut off stuff like Warstorm Surge and Comet Storm and Grapeshot as well. The fact that it doesn't get Blood artist effects is really irritating (life loss, etc.). but still has some uses.

I do think that Terminus should probably go in if I add the two cantrips and I have one set aside.

I'm thinking about adding Cleansing Nova and Terminus as I've been pretty underwhelmed with Oblivion Stone and its 8 mana cost most of the time, and Evacuation has been mostly just a target painting device (once people see the evac-arch lock it mostly turns into archenemy :P).

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Post by shermanido37 » 2 years ago

I've played with it and man can Terminus save your hide sometimes. Even if there's a single creature on the board it can act as a STP. However Terminus is another card that benefits much more from Brainstorm than it does from Ponder. I would also strongly recommend Scroll Rack with this setup - having all the synergies plus tax rack will really make the deck tick.
If you like the Squire for stopping damage just play Solitary Confinement. It's the same effect plus giving you shroud versus Blood Artist and and Altar of Dementia wins. I recently had a game where I had it along with Hall of Heliod on the board, so I could have just stalled forever especially since I had a token producer to actually draw me cards. I didn't and instead I got trampled by a ton of angry goblins. Moral of the story: the most obvious answer to a situation is probably the most correct one.

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

I'm making a pretty drastic change I've wanted to for a while here and will be willing to revert. I've got to cut something to try some of the stuff I want to and this is the best I could do.
I'm still willing to cut a few hatebears if I need to but I'd really rather not.

Mostly I am upping the spell density just a bit to play some very strong cards. I may at some point work a rhystic study in but it's a ways off.


2019/08/23 update

In Out I have found with my increased sweeper quotient that Silver myr is the worst mana rock so shaving that for chrome mox, and adding some filtering spells. I think 36 is probably closer to my correct land count and Academy Ruins is no good without oStone.

Since I shaved a lot of the artifacts ruins has been quite a bit worse anyway.

I suspect the o stone package may come back in. But it has been mostly too expensive, though it does win games sometimes. I mainly want to try Cleansing Nova there to be a bit more mana efficient.

Jitte has been on the bubble for a while as it's just such a tempo problem with the sweepers - just haven't wanted to cast it most of the time much less pay to equip it.

I saved the previous version of the deck so easy enough to revert, but I think this is my best idea for trying to run some of the more powerful spells I want to.

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

I got two games in and saw a ton of new cards. Still no Tidespout sadly.

Game 1
vs old teysa, goreclaw and animar
I got put down hard pretty early but was able to come back with wraths a couple times, goreclaw hit me down to 23 and then I ancient tomb and metamorphed myself down to 12 eventually. Then animar combo'd out the turn before I did.

I saw Brainstorm which was pretty good, and had a dig through time which I couldn't get the time to cast. Brainstorm I wished was Ponder.

I actually had the combo earlier but forgot I could mystical tutor for muddle which could transmute for altar. Totally spaced it.

Weathered Wayfarer was quite good this game, feeding me lands and ancient tomb and so on.

Game 2
vs. marisil, feldon and urza

New cards I saw
brainstorm - pretty good, wished it was ponder (got brainstorm locked).
dig through time - won me the game by getting spellseeker for mystical for forbid.
smothering tithe - it didn't do anything crazy but it did giv eme a pretty big mana advantage that I am not sure I could have won without. Even just +3-4 mana per cycle added up.
windborn muse - kept people from attacking me for quite some time
winds of abandon - closed the game out after Marisil scooped to forbid lock by clearing the board of Urza's blockers and alpha striking him

Tons of old favorites in this game
-displacer + gilded drake locked the board down, got a few activations out of a dude's Ryusei with some enchantment on it, that I had to sac it and then got a creature off the top and reattached it. Got me Monastery Mentor.
-saw Monastery mentor + both capsize and forbid and they were just as good as I expected.
-sword of feast and famine gave me a ridiculous mana advantage combined with smothering tithe


This game went on for quite a while; marisil whacked me to 13 with tree of perdition, someone else to 4 with marisil + tree. I closed it out in the critical turn with Elspeth, a pile of monk tokens, and all that nonsense by ending my turn with mystical tutor into forbid -- urza durdled empty handed, Marisil scooped to Forbid + monk lock, then urza died to alpha with winds of abandon.

Y'know thinking about it the critical turn mighta been the one before when Marisil disked the board and my Reveillark got me back spellseeker for mystical tutor and monastery mentor.

All in all I feel like the deck was running just great.

As predicted Brainstorm was mostly worse than ponder. I never got to abuse its shuffle due to sequencing issues with fetches (needing mana to save myself).

Monastery Mentor feels absolutely clutch with this new build. I really really liked it. I made probably 7 monk tokens and it sealed the forbid lock as unescapable.

Windborn Muse has been a nonstop bucket of awesome. Really glad I put it in. It is always doing work.

I did miss having any lifegain at all in the deck; kinda wondering if I will wind up wanting Resolute Archangel or Blazing Archon more than Tidespout Tyrant in the end. Or even Sword of War and Peace.

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Post by shermanido37 » 2 years ago

Nice games. I guess Brainstorm locking happens sometimes but there are tons of ways to prevent that, so hopefully that doesn't happen often.
I disagree with DTT. It's a broken card, but if you want to be unfair with it you need to exile cards from the yard. You have Snap to care about as well as the combo finishes, so I feel like you might have it stuck in your hand sometimes without cards to exile.
If you really want to commit to spellslinger builds I would highly recommend Cryptic Command. It's never dead and your deck can cast it pretty easily, and flashing it back always feels good. There are also some really cool shiny versions of it which is cool for you.

The best lifegain I can think of is Soul's Attendant. Cheap, permanent, draws us a card. After that it's stuff like Sphinx's Rev which is powerful but not meant for this build.

EDIT: I happened upon this Kykar list in MTGS that ran Ephara main board. I also saw you commented on it - are you thinking of transitioning to jeskai?

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

shermanido37 wrote:
2 years ago
Nice games. I guess Brainstorm locking happens sometimes but there are tons of ways to prevent that, so hopefully that doesn't happen often.
I disagree with DTT. It's a broken card, but if you want to be unfair with it you need to exile cards from the yard. You have Snap to care about as well as the combo finishes, so I feel like you might have it stuck in your hand sometimes without cards to exile.
If you really want to commit to spellslinger builds I would highly recommend Cryptic Command. It's never dead and your deck can cast it pretty easily, and flashing it back always feels good. There are also some really cool shiny versions of it which is cool for you.

The best lifegain I can think of is Soul's Attendant. Cheap, permanent, draws us a card. After that it's stuff like Sphinx's Rev which is powerful but not meant for this build.

EDIT: I happened upon this Kykar list in MTGS that ran Ephara main board. I also saw you commented on it - are you thinking of transitioning to jeskai?
Yeah I just got unlucky with the way the sequencing had to go; I think it will be mostly better than Ponder, but a lot of times Ponder is better. Both is right.

I was really surprised with Dig through Time. I put it in there just to try but it was always free. I was watching and I woulda been ready to cast it early most of the time. I cast it for UU and left plenty of gas in the yard. It felt like darn near as good as a tutor - I really had to think about what cards I wanted.

Cryptic Command is very good. it is possible it's better than dig. I have had huge blowouts with Winds of Abandon where I basically used it like one of Cryptic's modes.

I have really seriously considered a couple changes honestly. I think Tymna+Ishai would be fun with this kinda build. But every time I start looking into it I get cold feet. The purity of the UW manabase with tons of basics and Emeria is really hard to give up. Also cards like Pearl Medallion and such.

All things considered I think I have successfully reinvigorated my love of Ephara for the 4th or 5th time now with this latest round of changes plus Soulherder. I think opening myself up to creature removal being good against me (e.g. people killing Tymna or Kykar) is not where I want to be. And I really do love this deck and Ephara.

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

I finally got to see Tidespout Tyrant in action in a triumphant hilarious 2-player combo victory -- vs. Saheeli and Windgrace.

I blinked a gilded drake with displacer to steal someone's Urza, they played a mycosynth lattice (I presume anticipating taking their Urza back somehow). I untapped with Top, Sol ring and Tidespout in hand - cast tidespout, whitemane lion to bounce sol ring, then was able to chain infinite mana with top / sol ring and Urza, then urza flipping into venser which prompty bounced the entire board.

Not sure that's really a legit view of the card but I could have gone absolutely ape even without the "combo" finish - I had whitemane lion and a cost reducer, so tidespout woulda been pretty savage just on its own.

Sacred Mesa was pretty good again, though I regularly feel its board presence drain - mana going into creatures that don't live. Fundamentally it didn't draw me many more cards than I would have with the Stonecloaker I had as well, though it did make some dudes to threaten walkers here and there.

Overall a pretty good showing for the deck, I felt pretty well in control for most of it. I had a pretty egregious start of 3 lands, Talisman, Stonecloaker, sacred mesa and some 7th card, then drawing a sol ring on the first turn (so I went land, sol ring, talisman, t2 Ephara).

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

Kinda out there thought but I've been thinking of trying out mastery of the unseen over sacred mesa. Itd be nice to have some lifegain again and I have a few ways to make a lot of mana now so was thinking it might be reasonable to try.

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Post by shermanido37 » 2 years ago

Mesa is way too good to pass up. I view Stonecloaker as a much more likely candidate to go out - it's pretty much a 3 mana Cremate that comes back to hand at best. If you mentioned the board presence drain of mana going into creatures that don't live, Stonecloaker isn't really a creature until you sub out another creature for it, and that seems worse than a 1/1 flier for 2.
Also, if Mastery were to go in, Scroll of Fate would seem like a no brainer to me. My estimate is that Mastery will overall be activated less than Scroll.

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

shermanido37 wrote:
2 years ago
Mesa is way too good to pass up. I view Stonecloaker as a much more likely candidate to go out - it's pretty much a 3 mana Cremate that comes back to hand at best. If you mentioned the board presence drain of mana going into creatures that don't live, Stonecloaker isn't really a creature until you sub out another creature for it, and that seems worse than a 1/1 flier for 2.
Also, if Mastery were to go in, Scroll of Fate would seem like a no brainer to me. My estimate is that Mastery will overall be activated less than Scroll.
My experience lately has been that mesa rarely contributes to me actually winning because I play such a high rate of reactive spells that it's infrequent I will do more than activate it once then sac a pegasus. The saccing one every turn basically means that to get to the point Mastery gets you you need to activate it twice in a cycle; and mastery is cheaper out of the gate and offers some lifegain. And Stonecloaker protects combo pieces, synergizes with reveillark, and incidentally grave hates, so I doubt it'll ever go out - just too flexible.

I have had some really great games with Mesa too. So I am definitely doubtful about cutting it. But what I keep thinking about with Mastery is the ability to actually dig through my deck and get to actual cards instead of birds. And some really powerful lines involving topdeck manipulation.

In previous iterations of the deck Mesa was much better since I really wanted mana sinks, but I find myself spending most of my mana without it.

Anywho I sincerely appreciate the discussion - it's highly possible you are right (nay, probable). But I think I'm going to try it out at the least. I've seen a lot of games where I'd really have rather had mastery, especially because the lifegain is seriously relevant.

I keep forgetting but soulherder goes apeshit with the manifests too. Something to think bout.

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

2019/09/06 Update
Trying out Mastery of the Unseen in the enchantment finisher slot, cutting Sacred mesa. I suspect this is a temporary move but I have been very impressed with Mastery in another deck and Mesa has been mostly Meh for a while due to the sacrifice effect and my increase in reactive spells.

My hope is the lifegain and increased tutorability combined with increasing my ability to get through my deck to important cards will come in handy.

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

I did not see the new card tonight but I did have a pretty triumphant victory.

This game did sell me hard on Smothering Tithe. I would have lost this game hard without the crazy mana it provided. I at one point sac'd 7 treasures created while Jhoira was attempting to combo to cast cyclonic rift and stop the combo :)

Too much and too long to give much of a play by play but it ended with me flashing in a Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir after bouncing my eidolon of rhetoric with whitemane lion. Then I capsized my Karmic Guide so I could retrieve my Venser.

I set up to infinite combo with mana crypt, tidespout tyrant, chrome mox with eldrazi displacer and venser, shaper savant by making infinite colorless and displacering venser until the board was empty.

On the combo turn I drew body double for turn with altar of dementia and guide in hand, so it was pretty easy to just combo kill the table.

Soulherder was a *beast* this game. I did so many shenanigans with it. Karmic Guide chain of guide → image → soulherder, blink soulherder for Venser. Resetting my whitemane lion (twice). Etc.

That card is seriously insane. I'm so happy with it. People are starting to try to kill it on sight. I rescued it with [card}Stonecloaker[/card] and Capsize both once each.

Tidespout Tyrant feels pretty good. I didn't realize Displacer was an infinite colorless outlet until tonight, but it's quite good.

Altar of Dementia was exceptional, protecting my dudes from exile removal more than once and milling myself into awesome cards to reanimate. I am really thrilled with that change.

I think had I drawn mastery of the unseen the game would have been over as I had to opportunities to put giant fatties on top with brainstorm and ponder respectively (tidespout and elesh norn).

Ponder was great. Brainstorm was cast when I ran out of shuffle effects again.

Dig through time got cast and was exceptional; got me swords to plowshares and altar of dementia at a critical point where I needed to be able to swords stuff.

All in all, deck is firing very well. I'm super happy with how everything is flowing.

Elspeth, Sun's Champion was a bit of a boat anchor, I wound up discarding it to hand size at one point. Not sure how long that card is going to last - feels like too many people have planeswalker removal these days and I can't protect it as well as I can creatures (lion, displacer, etc.). It's been just OK the last several times I've seen it and "just OK" is very poor for a 6 mana card.

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Post by shermanido37 » 2 years ago

If your build isn't suited towards it anymore I can see Elspeth coming out. It's supposed to be there to end games, and if it doesn't do that it's a bit of a clunky card. Hopefully the Elspeth that (probably) comes out in the new Theros set will be more interesting for us, and not an alternate version of Gideon.
Again, I'm thinking Cryptic could have bought you time in a similar way to how DDT let you look at your top seven, except you wouldn't have to give up your library for it. If you're lacking in creature removal Luminate Primordial seems pretty dope, and to a lesser extent the white mythic from M20.

I'm reminding you that Scroll of Fate really needs to go in with Mastery. It's a great card on its own for us, and the potential synergy between the two is awesome. I'm also reminding you that when I'd previously mentioned Mastery you were very insistent that you'd need a lot more topdeck manipulation. I still don't think you have enough to make full use of it - at the very least I'd add Scroll Rack since it's so beautifully tutorable and works so wonderfully with Land Tax. Scroll of Fate doesn't need topdeck shenanigans to be awesome, so I'd take things more heavily into consideration if I were you.

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

shermanido37 wrote:
2 years ago
If your build isn't suited towards it anymore I can see Elspeth coming out. It's supposed to be there to end games, and if it doesn't do that it's a bit of a clunky card. Hopefully the Elspeth that (probably) comes out in the new Theros set will be more interesting for us, and not an alternate version of Gideon.
Again, I'm thinking Cryptic could have bought you time in a similar way to how DDT let you look at your top seven, except you wouldn't have to give up your library for it. If you're lacking in creature removal Luminate Primordial seems pretty dope, and to a lesser extent the white mythic from M20.

I'm reminding you that Scroll of Fate really needs to go in with Mastery. It's a great card on its own for us, and the potential synergy between the two is awesome. I'm also reminding you that when I'd previously mentioned Mastery you were very insistent that you'd need a lot more topdeck manipulation. I still don't think you have enough to make full use of it - at the very least I'd add Scroll Rack since it's so beautifully tutorable and works so wonderfully with Land Tax. Scroll of Fate doesn't need topdeck shenanigans to be awesome, so I'd take things more heavily into consideration if I were you.

So what I keep finding with Elspeth is that it's rare that it will clean up the board as much as it used to. People are playing a lot more small ball these days. Not sure why that is, maybe just an overall downward curve pressure.

So when I cast DTT I actually paid only 4 cards from yard and they were bad ones, but it let me see 7 cards deep and get the altar that was the 6th card. In that particular game Cryptic Command would have been pretty miserable since I didn't have a particularly aggressive board state. But it would have been able to counter Mystic Forge from Jhoira which might have been worth the price of admission.

Luminate Primordial is a card I have in the back of my mind now and then. It really is oppressively strong when you blink/reuse it (and I would ;). Soulherding that would be pretty horrid.

Topdeck manipulation wise I have now:
And then quite a few more shuffle effects than I used to have (although that never seems to line up with Brainstorm:P). I think I'll be able to take pretty good advantage of it.

Scroll of Fate does seem pretty good in my head. I forgot that it let you manifest *from hand* which is way better and way worse than I was thinking (that it manifested the top). It's nice in that you will know what will be under it for blink planning (like you can say to yourself I'm gonna manifest this Elesh Norn at instant speed then flip it with displacer to do xyz).

The downside with it is that I don't really have a lot of ways to shenanigan with it. Not really a lot of ways to abuse it other than blinking things.

I'm going to have to see how Mastery of the unseen performs I think - if it shows flashes of awesome as I think it might, it might open the door for more stuff like that.

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Post by shermanido37 » 2 years ago

I'm surprised you're not gushing about the reveillark-able Flickerwisp that is Charming Prince. It's also a great solution for your lifegain problem, one that doesn't require flipping creatures face up or down.

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

shermanido37 wrote:
2 years ago
I'm surprised you're not gushing about the reveillark-able Flickerwisp that is Charming Prince. It's also a great solution for your lifegain problem, one that doesn't require flipping creatures face up or down.
So I looked at it. It is powerful and does a lot of good things.

* Blinks Gilded Drake
* Tutorable by Recruiter of the Guard
* Resets Whitemane Lion
* Allows repeated scry 2 which is very powerful
* Gains a bit of life, quite a lot with repeated blinks
* Allows end step double Ephara trigger shenanigans (where soulherder blinks this at the end step and then it comes back and slow blinks something which arrives next end step)
* Allows you to slow blink a key creature and then wrath (like Flickerwisp used to, but cheaper) - also works to protect as many creatures as you can with Displacer from opposing wraths.

I'll have to look and see if I can find a spot and find a foil one.

I keep hoping we'll get a good adventure. The Faerie counterspell is borderline.

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Post by shermanido37 » 2 years ago

We were hoping for an endgame card for a long time, and I think we found one. The archon is just nuts by all accounts. I view it as a psuedo Elesh Norn, except we can blink this guy for value.
Slam dunk for me for sure. I support the combo a lot less so I think I'll take out Sun Titan, though that's negotiable.

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Post by pokken » 2 years ago

The archon is pretty cool. I like that it mostly shrinks the opposing threats we care about. And so many of our things fly.

It's a shame it didn't say 2/2 so it'd turn elesh norn into a real sweeper;)

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