Ephara, God of the Polis - Flash & Taxes

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pokken
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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

I got a couple games in with this today in paper and both games really struggled to close, the Palinchron combo really was a boat anchor in the last game - I had a pretty dominant position and should have won but blanked on the right setups for Intuition + Palinchron for some reason and couldn't put it together. I am pretty sure that is on the way out.

I'm going to make some changes this week once my latest CK order gets in with the foil Long Road Home but honestly I am leaning pretty hard to swapping back to Altar of Dementia as in paper it feels harder to just grind out victories for some reason. I think it's because the painful long games have a human face.

I got blown out pretty hard by an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and man I frigging hate Eldrazi on cast triggers. I feel like I might want an answer to those kinds of effects.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

Some paper updates, mostly just slipping some stuff i want to try and going back to my old combo (which just seems to work better in paper).

2020-07-24 Paper update

Reverting to my previous favorite combo; paper needs a bit of a combo since people don't scoop as aggressively as they do online.

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Post by WizardMN » 1 year ago

I don't think it is a bad thing to cut Elesh Norn. I think at 7 mana she is a lot for this deck. She is good for sure; but I think other removal options are better.

While my distaste for combos has been mentioned in my thread, I think the different metas requiring different strategies is an interesting "problem". It is disappointing that the deck can't really function the same in both worlds due to a number of factors. It sounds like you now have one list for online and one for paper? If so, I hope you can figure out a way to bridge the gap (if you want to of course) so both lists are the same.

As Selfless Squire is one of my favorite cards in my list. She has done so much to get me out of jams and present a beater on the board. With a number of bounce effects allowing us to re-use her, her stock just goes up in my opinion. Now, with the idea of trying to combo off she might not be quite as useful, but I can see where she can save you for a turn to give you just enough time to combo off which still helps out quite a bit.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

WizardMN wrote:
1 year ago
I don't think it is a bad thing to cut Elesh Norn. I think at 7 mana she is a lot for this deck. She is good for sure; but I think other removal options are better.

While my distaste for combos has been mentioned in my thread, I think the different metas requiring different strategies is an interesting "problem". It is disappointing that the deck can't really function the same in both worlds due to a number of factors. It sounds like you now have one list for online and one for paper? If so, I hope you can figure out a way to bridge the gap (if you want to of course) so both lists are the same.

As Selfless Squire is one of my favorite cards in my list. She has done so much to get me out of jams and present a beater on the board. With a number of bounce effects allowing us to re-use her, her stock just goes up in my opinion. Now, with the idea of trying to combo off she might not be quite as useful, but I can see where she can save you for a turn to give you just enough time to combo off which still helps out quite a bit.
The main 3 things I am noticing are:

1) My playgroup is very aggro
2) People know my deck is threatening, so pressure me if I don't have a lot going on
3) Locking the table out with repeated sweepers makes people give me frowny faces :P Online people just tend to scoop, in paper we get glum looks.

Selfless Squire weirdly has not been particularly good for me online yet, but it's always because of the contents of my hand. I recognize how good it could be and so that's why I really want to try it -- also as a way to punish some of the aggro I'm seeing. I expect it will be a better answer than Windborn Muse to aggro and being a flash creature is a very nice bonus.

I *am* picking up a few closer cards to try those out.

One thing I'm kinda noodling on is the idea of playing Harmonious Archon which seemed like it would have been really good against most of the decks I've been facing off against -- particularly adept at shutting down Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer at turning things into 12/12s which was a real problem for this deck.

I also still kinda want to try Monastery Mentor and a few more spells like Spell Burst and Cryptic Command, and maybe Mystic Confluence.

And of course God-Eternal Oketra feels like a reasonable closer I've had decent luck with online.

Anyway as always I try not to make changes too fast when I'm not even playing. We should be jamming some games on my porch this Saturday, but I just really don't feel comfortable going and sitting inside a game store for hours anymore. It feels like an incubator :P

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Post by shermanido37 » 1 year ago

While Harmonious Archon is a great card, it is somewhat similar to Norn in a few aspects:
- It's still expensive. Only 1 less mana to play than Norn is still steep for us.
- It's still not clear to be worth it. Norn is never dead, because she always buffs our board, and always debuffs our opponents' boards, but that is not a promise with Archon. It just equalizes everything, and equalizing everything at 3 means everything can hurt face. So if you are opposing a swarm deck, like Rhys the Redeemed, you can expect a lot of trouble.

The parts where it's worse than Norn, are that if Norn gets removed at least she killed the squishies, but if Archon gets removed, you are only left with two 1/1s, plus opponents get their fatties back, and that's after a cost of 6.
Another defecit versus Norn is that Norn can be comboed with. I always have Godhead of Awe on my mind as a fattie hoser, and it is pretty unfair if you get her online with Norn. The bad part is that it automatically activates Ephara and makes her a 1/1, so she becomes much more vulnerable to removal, but if the opponents don't have boards maybe that's not so bad.


Spell Burst is a trap. I barely used it even in Mizzix, where it can be freely abused. If you're going for Mon man combos you should probably first focus on Cryptic, then crank up the counterspells a notch. I'd also consider more planeswalkers like Elspeth, Sun's Champion, Serra the Benevolent if you're into fliers, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar etc.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

shermanido37 wrote:
1 year ago
Spell Burst is a trap. I barely used it even in Mizzix, where it can be freely abused.
I think the play patterns in Ephara are very different. It's pretty common that I get a bit ahead on board and want to ride that to victory while protecting it with something like Forbid. It's true that Spell Burst is quite a bit more expensive manawise, but I've had lots of games where I had mana and nothing to do with it.

I do suspect that Capsize is probably better for that, but Spell Burst has a failure mode of countering a game winning play for 1U on occasion which is pretty good. And there're times where you really need to counter a spell vs. allowing some bomb to resolve.

I think you're right that Cryptic Command would probably come first. I'm iffy on walkers. I do occasionally think about bringing back Venser, but tapping out during my turn is something I keep trying to do less and less. I probably need to try bringing that further forward in my thinking because dropping 5 mana for God-Eternal Oketra might be too much there too.

Nadir Kraken has been just such a stupid boss as a wincon, it's kinda what made me think about Monastery Mentor again since it's kinda similar - a 3 mana engine that doesn't require a massive mana commitment to trigger, and builds your board state while churning out cards (as opposed to Saltskitter type cards that just draw but don't build a winning board).

You're probably also right on Archon; the 1 mana discount isn't that great. I do like that it can be blinked for an overwhelming board state though, that's the main advantage it has.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

So uh, keeper of the accord. I'm telling yall someone at wizards plays ephara

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Post by Rumpy5897 » 1 year ago

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the ramp side of the card, especially given your Rampant Hawk misadventures :P
 
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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

Rumpy5897 wrote:
1 year ago
I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the ramp side of the card, especially given your Rampant Hawk misadventures :P
It's medium but doesn't require any setup really. The constant stream of tokens seems great. But depends on creature volume on meta too

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Post by shermanido37 » 1 year ago

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While it does come down later, it's pretty much guaranteed to activate ramp at least once per round, depending on the number of green players at the table.
There's a downside - it only fetches basic Plains.

Honestly, much like a lot of other cards they recently released (like the Hawk), while the card seems awesome for mono white I still don't think I want to run it. Sure, best case scenario is that it fetches 3xPlains, spawns 3xSoldier and draws 3 cards with Ephara, but I view that case to be extremely unlikely.
The unreliable factor is that it relies on our opponents, namely on multiple opponents being ahead for it to be good. In comparison, Verge Rangers is cheaper while still being as good in combat, and while it doesn't ramp you it filters your draws, with a condition that only requires one opponent to be ahead instead of a lot of them.
Also, Rangers can give you value on the turn you play it, while Keeper crosses its fingers that opponents don't have sorcery speed removal. That feels bad to me.

Also, the notion that we will have less creatures than other players as a hatebear deck (or even a blink deck) seems very rare to me. So I don't think the first ability is reliable almost at all.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

I really try hard not to commit many creatures the board; the expected performance for this guy is ramp 1 and make 1 dude per turn, which is pretty solid for a static 4 mana dude.

The nice thing he has going for him is that it's a huge topdeck when you're behind in a game, kinda Nadir Kraken esque - a single card that bring you back from a long way behind and provide a stream of chump blockers.

It feels overall likely to be better than Kor Cartographer most of the time, which is probably what I will cut to try it.

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Post by DirkGently » 1 year ago

pokken wrote:
1 year ago
So uh, keeper of the accord. I'm telling yall someone at wizards plays ephara
I saw him and immediately thought of ephara xD it's so insane here, holy cow. Kinda makes me want to rebuild my ephara.

Don't undersell the ramp aspect either. Even if you're staying on par with lands, you could just stop playing them from hand and pull them from deck instead, and keep the lands in hand to play later once everyone else has fallen behind.
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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

DirkGently wrote:
1 year ago
pokken wrote:
1 year ago
So uh, keeper of the accord. I'm telling yall someone at wizards plays ephara
I saw him and immediately thought of ephara xD it's so insane here, holy cow. Kinda makes me want to rebuild my ephara.

Don't undersell the ramp aspect either. Even if you're staying on par with lands, you could just stop playing them from hand and pull them from deck instead, and keep the lands in hand to play later once everyone else has fallen behind.
The nice part with that is that ramp decks are typically the worst matchups and if you're ever facing down two+ green decks you can catch up in a turn cycle. The synergy with Emeria, the Sky Ruin is pretty real as well.

I definitely think it deserves a try and is likely very good. Things that build a board state passively are really, really good in Ephara. Some people are still playing Saltskitter and I think this destroys that.

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Post by Wallycaine » 1 year ago

shermanido37 wrote:
1 year ago
The unreliable factor is that it relies on our opponents, namely on multiple opponents being ahead for it to be good. In comparison, Verge Rangers is cheaper while still being as good in combat, and while it doesn't ramp you it filters your draws, with a condition that only requires one opponent to be ahead instead of a lot of them.
Worth pointing out that in almost every situation where Verge Rangers gets you a card, Keeper of the Accord ramps you. Keeper only needs one opponent to be ahead as well, it just gets even better if more than one is. Even disregarding the token completely, a four mana 3/4 with "End of your turn, ramp" would be a staple in the vast majority of grindy decks, including green ones, and this is not terribly far away from that (higher ceiling, with getting one per opponent, obvious downside of being more conditional).

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

Not gonna say Skyclave Apparition is an autoinclude but it's surely very good, especially for a spirit tribal approach

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Post by shermanido37 » 1 year ago

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Well... Hello there. You are looking mighty fine. I will definitely like you going in my list.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

Wow, angel of destiny is a sick wincon for lifegain ephara

And archon is amazing.

I wanted to say more about the archon...

Eidolon of Rhetoric is playable, and there is a slight downside of not being able to e-tutor for it. But the nonbasic land hate is absolutely a huge benefit. I've seen it blow people out with Thalia, Heretic Cathar before. Crapping on only opposing fetchlands is a big advantage.

And being a flier is more and more important; people play planeswalkers very greedily nowadays and being able to peck them is important.

I am definitely going to find room for that. It's really a bummer it wasn't 2 toughness. I do not know why they keep making things that can't be recruitered that really would like to be. It's annoying.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

ondu inversion seems very very very playable as an extra wrath. Gonna have to think hard on that one. It's hard to evaluate the idea of a tapland on a sweeper.

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Post by shermanido37 » 1 year ago

I'm not a big fan. I don't think we'd want to pay 8 to destroy the board with no mana for interaction after resolving it. Hour of Revelation is a disgustingly powerful card because of how easy it is to cast the card for cheap.
If we'd put that aside, my friend's cube is counting MDFCs as land cards for purposes of deck construction. If you'd go with that logic, you'd likely replace a basic plains for this card, which I believe to be a mistake. Cutting basic plains reduces consistency of activating Emeria and punishes us in the face of cards like Blood Moon and Back to Basics.
Then again, if you'll cut a nonland card, what would you cut?

---

Several other thoughts:

The printing of the recent Archon made me really think of Isperia the Inscrutable. It fetches a plethora of important cards, from ramp (Stormscape Familiar), card advantage (Faerie Artisans, Brazen Borrower), and plenty of hatebears (Linvala, Keeper of Silence, Aven Mindcensor, Hushwing Gryff, Hushbringer, Spell Queller, Stonecloaker, and the list goes on).
In fact, it can also tutor Drift of Phantasms, that can be transmuted for Recruiter or Spellseeker. That catches my attention.
It's slow, but slow fits us just right.
Also, it makes it astoundingly easy to activate Ephara, which is important, because she has been becoming my main wincon lately. I may go as far as slotting in Mother of Runes and maybe even add Giver of Runes .

I've thought more of Keeper of the Accord, and I think you guys are right in that it is definitely worth it. However I very much think it needs to be taken into consideration, so I'd like to think of ways to keep my creature count low, and my land count just low enough to be abused.
I already considered the land situation, because Weathered Wayfarer and Land Tax have similar conditions, so I slotted in Lotus Field, Azorius Chancery, and Kjeldoran Outpost, and I also wanted a way to catch up after I cheat lands into play, so I slotted back Walking Atlas. I even have Flagstones of Trokair tucked away in my collection waiting to be abused. So far all of them have been a bit uncomfortable at times, but useful and impactful at others. I think I'll try and test more to see what will come of it.
Creature-wise is an entirely different story. There aren't many white sac outlets, and no blue ones at all. The only good white one I can think of is Martyred Rusalka, and it's not much. However we can try and bounce creatures instead of saccing them, and in that this color combo is much better. Obviously we have Whitemane Lion variants, including the new Niambi, Esteemed Speaker, but there's also Barrin, Tolarian Archmage, that likes to be blinked, and Dust Elemental, a rare threat that can be fetched by Isperia.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

Being on the Altar of Dementia combo is a nice place to be when you have hatebears you might want to sac.

Isperia the Inscrutable is almost a card I really like. I don't think it's quite consistent enough though. It's not like you know everyone's hands.

I'm still noodling on playing Azorius Chancery - it makes a lot of hands a lot better by counting as basically two land drops. Very good with Keeper of the Accord as you say.

I don't think I am going to play Ondu Inversion - 8 is just too much. If it cost 6 or 7 I might.

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Post by shermanido37 » 1 year ago

pokken wrote:
1 year ago
It's not like you know everyone's hands.
A. Some tutors require the caster to reveal the tutored card before putting it in hand, and EDH is filled with those, so they should be plenty of help.
B. It's possible to bounce something that player owns to their hand. We already do that with Venser, Shaper Savant.
C. There are popular recurring cards in EDH. Think of cards like Golgari Grave-Troll, Squee, Goblin Nabob, Genesis, Capsize, and more. All return to owner's hand eventually and can be used as tools.
D. If all else fails, just name a basic land, most decks still run plenty of those. Even if it's a 2 color deck they likely have ~7-10 basic lands of each type, and a 10% chance to hit is better than a 1% or lower.
E. You're forgetting that all of the previous are tips that help the first hit, where things are still relatively dark. Isperia causes
the damaged player to reveal their hand, even if she doesn't tutor, and 1. that's great information for the table on its own, 2. that information will pretty much ensure you can tutor on the next hit.

Another thought is that I'm already toying with finding a spot for Vendilion Clique, and they would go great together.

Since she's only 50 cents I'll probably pick up a copy eventually and start experimenting.

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Post by Rumpy5897 » 1 year ago

It feels weird to watch you herald a five mana connect-a-flier after a two mana connect-a-flier died :P that said, you are making a good case for it.
 
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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

shermanido37 wrote:
1 year ago
pokken wrote:
1 year ago
It's not like you know everyone's hands.
A. Some tutors require the caster to reveal the tutored card before putting it in hand, and EDH is filled with those, so they should be plenty of help.
B. It's possible to bounce something that player owns to their hand. We already do that with Venser, Shaper Savant.
C. There are popular recurring cards in EDH. Think of cards like Golgari Grave-Troll, Squee, Goblin Nabob, Genesis, Capsize, and more. All return to owner's hand eventually and can be used as tools.
D. If all else fails, just name a basic land, most decks still run plenty of those. Even if it's a 2 color deck they likely have ~7-10 basic lands of each type, and a 10% chance to hit is better than a 1% or lower.
E. You're forgetting that all of the previous are tips that help the first hit, where things are still relatively dark. Isperia causes
the damaged player to reveal their hand, even if she doesn't tutor, and 1. that's great information for the table on its own, 2. that information will pretty much ensure you can tutor on the next hit.

Another thought is that I'm already toying with finding a spot for Vendilion Clique, and they would go great together.

Since she's only 50 cents I'll probably pick up a copy eventually and start experimenting.

It's worth trying I guess but I'm not sold. Most of the revealed tutors are instant speed, and it's pretty rare that people are going to expose a card to Isperia when they know she's out there. She doesn't have haste, so very telegraphed.

5 mana cards need to do a *lot*.

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Post by pokken » 1 year ago

So I think skyclave apparition is likely way better than my first thought. It's permanent exile for most of the things I would want to deputy - including most planeswalkers that are a threat - and recruiterable.

Fairly sure it should replace deputy and is basically an autoinclude. Significantly stronger than reclamation sage on the balance. Being able to nail opposing creatures is huge. Hell it can kill a huge subset of problem cards. Very very flexible.

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Post by shermanido37 » 1 year ago

Why not both?
A. Redundancy in removing nonland permanents is pretty strong.
B. If you like blink shenanigans, the ultra combo is to exile the nonland permanent with Apparatition, blink it a bunch of times to get rid of more stuff, then when the opposing armada of tokens gets threatening just make them all disappear with Deputy.

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