Ephara, God of the Polis - Flash & Taxes

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pokken
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Post by pokken » 11 months ago

Driemer84 wrote:
11 months ago
While I understand the comparison to Sacred Mesa, I think retreat is better by quite a bit.. I don't think keeping 6 mana up to draw 3 cards and create 3 1/1s over a turn cycle Is worth it. I think Mind's Eye would be a better comparison. A bit more expensive up front, but half the activation cost over turn cycles.
The thing to keep in mind about Mesa is that it's guaranteed and requires no setup; Mesa + Ephara means 8 mana makes 3 flying bodies and 4 cards, which is pretty solid. Most of the time that becomes the best thing to do (make a dude and draw a card). The mana cost is definitely the worst part though because as you say we often wind up wanting to do other things.

Felidar Retreat allows you to in a typical scenario make 2 bodies and 2 cards as long as you draw a fetchland or can recur it somehow each turn, along with some life loss most of the time. Most of the time you will need some kind of enabler to make it work (e.g. blinking Solemn Simulacrum) or something. That said, its ceiling is definitely pretty high if you get some real engines going (multiple blinks of a land tutor, Walking Atlas etc.).

From playing with Nadir Kraken I can say that there's a lot of value in cards that just do the magic all on their own with no to minimal setup.

I would love to hear back how it works out for you as I definitely see the potential ceiling of making 10 5/5 cats and killing people explosively.

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Post by shermanido37 » 11 months ago

Ok guys, Hullbreacher is the real deal, what we've all been waiting for.
I can't attach the image, but it's a 3/2 flash for 2U. And it reads: If an opponent would draw a card except the first card they would draw in their draw step, create a treasure token instead.
This is not only an asymmetrical Spirit of the Labyrinth, it's also a Smothering Tithe that doesn't give the opponents a choice. And it has flash. AND it's recruitable.
Snap include for Ephara if I've ever seen one.

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Post by pokken » 11 months ago

Yeah that card is conkers. It tempted me to play a small wheel package tbh even tho that's a little brutal for me.

Timetwistering while that's out is pretty much a guaranteed win.

Best use is probably to hold it and try to whomp someone else's wheel or huge draw spell.

One of the downsides I see to it is once it sticks you're literally public enemy forever since it's not just an annoying tax or whatever. Hard to see how that card plays politically bit I think it makes you archenemy.

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Post by shermanido37 » 11 months ago

So an interaction that has been pointed out to me was that Hullbreacher and Vendilion Clique are great together, in that when you have Hullbreacher in play Clique functions as an ETB Thoughtseize that nets you a treasure token.
This definitely sealed the flying package for me along with Isperia the Inscrutable (especially because of the hand-visibility interaction between Isperia and Clique) and Drift of Phantasms.

My feeling is that my deck is an archenemy anyway, so at least I'll have the resources to play like one.

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Post by pokken » 11 months ago

I know I've said it before but one of the things I love about Ephara is all the different ways to build. They've been setting up a +1/+1 counter based recursion shenangians Ephara for a while with cards like:



Got another tool in that toolbox now with this guy. Basically, you want to play sac outlets and this stuff, probably some persist creatures, and most likely endgame with sac outlet persist combo or something.



I don't think there are quite enough tools yet for that build, but an open sac outlet on a recruiterable creature would be a huge win at some point. :)

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Post by pokken » 11 months ago

Set review for Commander Legends

I'm going to keep this only to the stuff that I like for my build, since there're almost too many different angles for other Ephara decks - there're lifegain cards, +1/+1 counter recursion/token cards, general purpose blink stuff, etc.

One of the huge bummers from this set is the huge +1/+1 counter theme that just takes half the white cards and makes them largely pointless for us.

I am less and less sure of what's an autoinclude these days but this set has a bunch of cards I consider auto-tries -- and then maybe-tries

auto-tries


This card is a really strong 4-drop that does kind of like what Nadir Kraken does - single handedly puts you back in the game. It synergizes with all kinds of things, from Altar of Dementia to Emeria, the Sky Ruin

I think it really has to be tried.



A truly absurdly powerful recruiterable hatebear that unfortunately suggests from moderate tweaks - since at the minimum we would like to have one wheel effect available for the win combo of timetwister + Hullbreacher.

The big concern I have about this hatebear is that it's very very polarizing. I try to stay clear of effects that focus lots of hate my way vs. preferring things that just slow the game down a little -more Archon of Emeria and less Consecrated Sphinx. This guy seems to drift toward Consecrated Sphinx in terms of hate, and I think that's an issue. still, it has major things we want -flash and <3 toughness. Worth trying.



maybe-tries


This card is deceptively strong; goes with some of the archons, and you can set up scenarios where it turns say, Eldrazi Displacer into a fog generator, which is really really strong. I am not sure



Cascade with our volume of bounce, and flash, are really good words. Copying permanents that entered is very strong, potentially game-ending effect. It's a good card I think might be worth trying especially given that it's a recruiterable bomb.



An absurdly powerful bomb that's hard for us to find but generates a ton of immediate benefit - including possibly a game winning Emeria trigger and untapping with mana to pass the turn which is great for us. I think any deck that plays Sword of Feast and Famine should look at swapping this card in for a variety of reasons.

I think it's a scoche expensive for me. Maybe I ran more reanimation.

Summary

Lots of really cool cards in this set. I'm most excited about keeper, which is the only thing I preordered, though I will likely get a foil Hullbreacher as prices come down.

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Post by shermanido37 » 11 months ago

Monarch is tricky for us. It's nice to draw an extra 1 card per turn, but the threat of giving that ability can be game-losing. Also, I'm not confident enough in our ability to take it back, even though we have plenty of fliers. Also, if I wanted a blinkable fog effect, I'd play Knight-Captain of Eos.
While my Kykar is now in possession of my SoFaF and isn't keen about playing the sphinx, my Ephara will gladly try it as the closest thing we have to a finisher. I'm trying to figure out if I cut Norn for it, so far the answer is no.
Cascade is a no-go as long as you have any counterspells in your deck, so it leans more heavily into the blink-value side of things.

I will also say that Sakashima of a Thousand Faces is somewhat tempting as a way to duplicate our epic cards, like our commander or Thassa, again in the blink-value side of things.

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Post by pokken » 11 months ago

shermanido37 wrote:
11 months ago
Monarch is tricky for us. It's nice to draw an extra 1 card per turn, but the threat of giving that ability can be game-losing. Also, I'm not confident enough in our ability to take it back, even though we have plenty of fliers. Also, if I wanted a blinkable fog effect, I'd play Knight-Captain of Eos.
<>
Cascade is a no-go as long as you have any counterspells in your deck, so it leans more heavily into the blink-value side of things.
I think monarch is pretty great when you take zero damage if you give it up potentially. And you can just blink it again. The knight captain costs mana and a body for each activation and is not a 5/5 flier and only stops combat damage. The archon is significantly stronger.

Another thing worth noting about the Archon is that it prevents all damage not just combat. So there're a few other things that do infinite damage that become stoppable too (if they can't hit creatures, e.g. valakut invoker).

Stopping things like Warstorm Surge (although with enough juice they can kill the archon ofc) and Purphoros, God of the Forge are pretty nice side-effects.

Re: cascade/protege
I really only have like 3 actual counterspells 4 if you count queller, basically anything else is a hit - I could see this card being best in an ETB focused build though for sure.

I agree you can't cut norn for sphinx :) I think that slot is either Agent or Norn depending on your meta. That said, if your meta is very clone heavy then Sphinx quite a bit safer, so worth thinking about that. I have gotten nailed by Norn cloning a bunch of times ("I clone your norn then kill it and sweep your board").

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Post by pokken » 11 months ago

I did also forget to touch on this guy:


This thing is really strong. exile 4 creatures for 10 mana is hard to top. But my opinion is that those 4/3 creatures are just too hard to block, and they're gonna get turned our way. Being not-recruiterable is the final nail in the coffin for me.

Ultimately not very many things in my deck can profitably block a 4/3 so the idea of putting armies of 4/3s on the board is not a great idea. Better off with Palace Jailer if you need this effect, or Skyclave Apparition I think.

I think this is very ephara playable in a much more focused blink shell where you want to play Deputy of Detention and you have more stuff like Scourge of Fleets or Resolute Archangel to help preserve your life total.

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Post by pokken » 11 months ago

Alright, so I'm pretty sure I know what to cut / swap here but I have changes on the docket:
My proposed cuts right now are :
But I'm definitely noodling on potentially cutting Smothering Tithe just because I've seen the play patterns with it despite how ridiculously good it is and I find it kinda tedious.

Would love to hear your guys' thoughts. I really wanted to see how Brought Back played before cutting it but I just haven't been able to get any games in for a while unfortunately.

I do know that Niambi, Esteemed Speaker has been...medium-bad. So willing to shave that. And Sunscape Familiar much worse now that I'm not looking to cast Palinchron with it.

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Post by WizardMN » 11 months ago

I agree on cutting Brought Back and Familiar for sure. I know you commented on it before and I just never felt that an additional cost reduction effect was truly necessary.

I also can see where you are coming from with Strip Mine. I don't run it in mine and never really missed it. I think the deck has other answers that Strip Mine isn't completely necessary. It does leave you open a little bit to some serious lands but I think it is worth it.

The Signet swaps make sense so there isn't really anything to mention on that.

I am not sold on Niambi myself but I have had good use from here. Granted, I have only cast her once so I can see where more experiences has shown her to be underwhelming. It is similar to Restoration Angel but also requiring the spell be cast again so the mana can get sort of tricky.

I don't do a lot with Smothering Tithe so I can't say too much about it. I don't think it is a bad cut to make by any means.

Are your plans with Hullbreacher to combine it with Twister (or other effects)? I don't think it is bad but it really leans into more of stax-y type build (or a griefer type build). I am not a fan of it, but I can see its power.

I definitely like Keeper so that should definitely find its way in.

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Post by pokken » 11 months ago

WizardMN wrote:
11 months ago
Are your plans with Hullbreacher to combine it with Twister (or other effects)? I don't think it is bad but it really leans into more of stax-y type build (or a griefer type build). I am not a fan of it, but I can see its power.
My thought is that Hullbreacher is just absurdly powerful at hating on other people drawing tons of cards. So many things it randomly griefs out -- combos, big bomb card draw spells (Rishkar's Expertise , Rhystic Study / Mystic Remora / etc. It seems like just as a hatebear effect it's worth it given that it has flash. [ because of the May effect it's not *amazing* vs. Rhystic Study effects, but it's very good since it basically shuts them off ]

Shutting off cards like Gitrog, Korvold, Chulane and Thrasios (although infinite mana thrasios stil can ramp its lands all out, it can't actually win) is nice

I could be reading it wrong but I think as a hatebear it's fine. I don't think I need to run any wheels just like having an answer to other people's wheels. I also love that it craps on my least favorite card to play against (Notion Thief).

A bit of a niche effect is that it shuts off opponents' Ephara, God of the Polis as well, as cloning her is a big fan favorite move around here :P

I've never really liked wheel effects in casual EDH so plan to avoid that.

re: Strip Mine vs. Jeweled Lotus

I have defintely won a lot of games with Strip mine but usually as a way to close with Sun Titan where I would have won anyway. It's usually just a way to seal the deal. I have used it against Field of the Dead a bit, but these days people are just playing too many Crucible of Worlds effects for that to be reliable. I feel like I need to just combo out over those players, or potentially tempo them out with Cyclonic Rift shenanigans.

My mental math is kinda that in my opening 7, Jeweled Lotus is always going to be better - I only need a single other land and I get turn 1 Ephara, and given all my cards like Tithe and Brainstorm and various ramp spells, I *should* be able to dig out of even having to keep a 1 land + Lotus (though 2 land + lotus is wayyyy better).

Later in the game, I am usually drowning in lands to play and Ephara is usually on the board, so Jeweled Lotus is worse but not *that* much worse. It's mostly a wash. And on the off chance I need to recast Ephara, it's a bomb draw since it gets me a ton of tempo.

I've really thought about this a lot and I feel like this card is borderline. There are a lot of really bad play patterns with it, particularly drawing it when you really need gas. I kinda wish they had not printed it since it's a very frustrating thing to decide whether it's worth it or not.
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Post by WizardMN » 11 months ago

Those are fair assessments. I suppose it isn't really making the game worse or anything (especially without Wheel effects) so as a way to make those decks play a little more fair it seems a solid enough reason.

I wouldn't be opposed to trying it but man, I really hope Commander Legends is popular online in the next few weeks. Hullbreacher is currently the most expensive card in the set at $95....

On the other hand, Jeweled Lotus is slowly coming down and I am looking forward to trying it out in my build. I still don't think it does enough, but I think the effect is worth the testing at the very least.

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Post by pokken » 11 months ago

WizardMN wrote:
11 months ago
Those are fair assessments. I suppose it isn't really making the game worse or anything (especially without Wheel effects) so as a way to make those decks play a little more fair it seems a solid enough reason.

I wouldn't be opposed to trying it but man, I really hope Commander Legends is popular online in the next few weeks. Hullbreacher is currently the most expensive card in the set at $95....

On the other hand, Jeweled Lotus is slowly coming down and I am looking forward to trying it out in my build. I still don't think it does enough, but I think the effect is worth the testing at the very least.
I accidentally bought two foil hullbreachers in paper :P I have no idea what's driving the price discrepancy online vs. paper, as the demand online feels like it has to be tiny...people only need one of them.

MTGO is a bit pissing me off lately with some of the weird pricing things, tbh. I really hate not having cards like Force of Negation available for arbitrary market reasons.

It might be at the point where it's more cost effective to draft your way to some CMDR legends cards tbh online.

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Post by WizardMN » 11 months ago

pokken wrote:
11 months ago
WizardMN wrote:
11 months ago
Those are fair assessments. I suppose it isn't really making the game worse or anything (especially without Wheel effects) so as a way to make those decks play a little more fair it seems a solid enough reason.

I wouldn't be opposed to trying it but man, I really hope Commander Legends is popular online in the next few weeks. Hullbreacher is currently the most expensive card in the set at $95....

On the other hand, Jeweled Lotus is slowly coming down and I am looking forward to trying it out in my build. I still don't think it does enough, but I think the effect is worth the testing at the very least.
I accidentally bought two foil hullbreachers in paper :P I have no idea what's driving the price discrepancy online vs. paper, as the demand online feels like it has to be tiny...people only need one of them.
My understanding that it, and Opposition Agent, are being driven by Legacy Demand and I guess it makes sense. Maybe Legacy is played more online than in Paper? Especially now anyway.
MTGO is a bit pissing me off lately with some of the weird pricing things, tbh. I really hate not having cards like Force of Negation available for arbitrary market reasons.

It might be at the point where it's more cost effective to draft your way to some CMDR legends cards tbh online.
I agree completely. I finally bit the bullet and bought Windgrace online the other day even though he is $30+ and I still can't believe Skyclave Apparition is $15. I don't play Force in anything and seeing the $75 price tag, I am thankful for that. I waited on Fierce Guardianship too which has come down to $15 which is manageable, but still seems high.

I have thought about drafting, but I don't really like drafting and $20 draft to maybe get one of 4 cards above $20 is a pretty bad return (and yeah, you get 3 packs and 2 picks from each, but still, it seems like it could go south pretty easily).

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Post by pokken » 11 months ago

WizardMN wrote:
11 months ago
I have thought about drafting, but I don't really like drafting and $20 draft to maybe get one of 4 cards above $20 is a pretty bad return (and yeah, you get 3 packs and 2 picks from each, but still, it seems like it could go south pretty easily).
Yeah, it's only really a reasonable idea if you get some fun from the experience of drafting to offset. I am not a huge fan either but friends have said this set is a good time, so might at least try it once.

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Post by shermanido37 » 10 months ago

I myself play all of the Talisman, Guild Signet and Arcane Signet, but then again I also don't run Mox Diamond.
I'm also cutting Archaeomancer - it has sometimes been a 4 mana 1/2 that either doesn't save me from a bad situation, or completely whiffs.
Smothering Tithe also feels pretty bad when you have an effect limiting card draw, like Hullbreacher or Spirit of the Labyrinth. Also, in my experience, the card puts a massive target on our heads while not actually winning us the game.
I'd also consider Stunt Double as a cut, and maybe Selfless Squire.

I'm optimistic for Niambi, Esteemed Speaker. She has quite a variable and interesting effect for the low cost of 2 mana. It's true that you're less likely to want her, since you're running both Whitemane Lion and Stonecloaker, but I think she still deserves testing.
I'm also surprised you're not running Mistveil Plains anymore. That card has given a surprising amount of utility: considering that we can tutor for most answers with a single blink of a creature, putting stuff back into our library has proven quite useful, up to a level of completely ignoring opponents' removal. It's also easily fetchable, even if it's not a basic for Keeper of the Accord.

There's actually a dedicated legacy deck that plays both Hullbreacher and Opposition Agent. The plan is to play T1 Ancient Tomb into Lotus Petal to play Hullbreacher, then cast Lion's Eye Diamond and activate it, discarding Echo of Eons, then casting it via the floating mana. Also, Agent is disgusting in Legacy.

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Post by pokken » 10 months ago

I really miss mistveil tbh it's real good. I may swap it for mystic sanctuary at some point. Can only handle so many potential taplands unfortunately with how lean the Mana has gotten.

Stunt double and squire are definitely both cuttable so good eye recognizing them. I've really enjoyed them so far but possible I am getting a bit greedy on 4 drops and niambi winds up better than one of them.

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Post by shermanido37 » 10 months ago

Why not both? Having two fetchable utility lands seems awesome. It's great in particular that Knight of the White Orchid can fetch Mistveil.
I think I might recommend to take out Strip Mine. As much as it's powerful to get rid of opposing lands, you're also sacrificing a land drop to do so, and I think that this can often hurt you more than your opponent, especially since we can't spare land drops since we're not in green. Also, when you're not sacrificing it, it's a Wastes. That is bad, and you are not hurting for colorless sources for Displacer.

I'm really feeling the return of the Forbid wars with these changes. We now have 3 cards that net us consistent, almost-free card advantage with Ephara: Keeper of the Accord, Faerie Artisans, and Nadir Kraken. We're going to be able to just draw-go, waiting for opponents to extend then react to them like a proper control deck. Your list has all three free counterspells to secure the stack versus shenanigans. And with the mana Keeper and Hullbreacher can give us, we can seriously fuel some endgame evil plans.

Also, have you considered Akroma's Will or Sakashima's Will? Mostly the former. Since we'll consistently have both effects of those cards, they seem like food for thought. Giving our team double strike and protection from everything seems like a great way to end the game, and if it won't end then we'll be life linking the hell out of it. Also, we could turn our entire team into fat fliers - that seems like fun..
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Post by WizardMN » 10 months ago

shermanido37 wrote:
10 months ago
I'm also cutting Archaeomancer - it has sometimes been a 4 mana 1/2 that either doesn't save me from a bad situation, or completely whiffs. I'd also consider Stunt Double as a cut, and maybe Selfless Squire.
That isn't a bad take on Archaeomancer. I had cut it from Sygg because it wasn't doing well, but it might not be good enough here. It is tough cutting a card that gets us back Rift or Winds or a counterspell (and works pretty good with Ephemerate) but other cards might just be better than that.

Stunt Double is interesting, but I have had a number of good plays with it that led to wins. I think with the amount of big stuff running around, or just wanting to get more use out of some of our stuff, it is worth it. I wouldn't go as far as to say it has been stellar or anything; but it has been serviceable and rarely do I get upset to see it.

Selfless Squire I disagree with, though it may come down playstyles or other inclusions. But Squire is a card I would say has been stellar. I have fogged 30+ damage with it, just to win on the swing back. I have blinked it in response to an Alpha Strike to save myself again. For me, I think I would need a pretty good addition to be looking at Squire as a cut, but everyone's experiences may vary.
I'm optimistic for Niambi, Esteemed Speaker. She has quite a variable and interesting effect for the low cost of 2 mana. It's true that you're less likely to want her, since you're running both Whitemane Lion and Stonecloaker, but I think she still deserves testing.
I think this is probably a good assessment where Lion and Stonecloaker do much of the same but can also bounce themselves. Sure, they don't gain life (which can be important) but they can also just be fired off when mana is open just to draw.

I do think that Niambi's biggest strength is allowing us to reuse our other ETB creatures. Which Stunt Double does too. In fact, the effect is almost entirely the same except Stunt Double often costs less (we don't need to recast the card) and we just lose out on life gain. If either are potentials for a cut, I think I would cut Niambi first.

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Post by pokken » 10 months ago

I will say it'd take quite a lot to get me to cut Archaeomancer after how many times it's won the game for me. Our sorceries/instants are super high impact. Just the interaction with Ephemerate is pretty close to good enough, but its interaction with Thassa, Deep-Dwelling and Soulherder and either winds/rift as a soft lock is also nuts.

Lots of decks just can't beat 2-3 sweepers and archaeomancer is an extra sweeper when you need it, or spamming Mana Drain when you need it, etc.

re: Niambi, Esteemed Speaker → The incidental lifegain is what I like the most. Reusing / protecting stuff is nice, but man, gaining 4-5 life periodically off bouncing critical dudes is nice. I even used it to bounce ephara once.

But I think it's overall worse than whitemane/stonecloaker who can bounce themselves.

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Post by pokken » 10 months ago

shermanido37 wrote:
10 months ago
Why not both? Having two fetchable utility lands seems awesome. It's great in particular that Knight of the White Orchid can fetch Mistveil.
I think I might recommend to take out Strip Mine. As much as it's powerful to get rid of opposing lands, you're also sacrificing a land drop to do so, and I think that this can often hurt you more than your opponent, especially since we can't spare land drops since we're not in green. Also, when you're not sacrificing it, it's a Wastes. That is bad, and you are not hurting for colorless sources for Displacer.
Mostly it's too many things that ETB tapped - Emeria + Mystic sanctuary + Irrigated Farmland is the cap I think. While I agree that Strip Mine is the right cut I think I want to go down a land with Jeweled Lotus and Preordain.

Soooo glad I didn't buy a foil preordain at its old price :P

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Post by umtiger » 10 months ago

Being in U/W should provide enough responses to all different types of threats. Strip Mine (w/o a way to recur) seems okay to cut.

You don't need to Strip Mine Cabal Coffers since you have blue counter spells; you don't need to Strip Mine Volrath's Stronghold since you have exile removal, etc.

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Post by pokken » 10 months ago

umtiger wrote:
10 months ago
Being in U/W should provide enough responses to all different types of threats. Strip Mine (w/o a way to recur) seems okay to cut.

You don't need to Strip Mine Cabal Coffers since you have blue counter spells; you don't need to Strip Mine Volrath's Stronghold since you have exile removal, etc.
This has generally been my experience as well. I will say that Field of the Dead is a bit overwhelming for this deck - but usually I am able to stall those builds, and usually they have ways to get it back anyway.

I *think* that being a little faster with a Jeweled Lotus will be worth more than the ability to potentially slow down land based decks.

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Post by shermanido37 » 10 months ago

Any thoughts on Akroma's Will that I mentioned earlier?
shermanido37 wrote:
10 months ago
Giving our team double strike and protection from everything seems like a great way to end the game, and if it won't end then we'll be life linking the hell out of it.
Also the card shop ran out of both Hullbreacher and Keeper of the Accord. I don't mind the former, since I'm pretty sure it's going to get banned in Legacy then tank in value, but Keeper is super annoying because for God's sake no one even cares about the card except for us.
umtiger wrote:
10 months ago
You don't need to Strip Mine Cabal Coffers since you have blue counter spells; you don't need to Strip Mine Volrath's Stronghold since you have exile removal, etc.
1up to this post:
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade is actually a hidden monster versus Cabal Coffers plays i.e. Torment of Hailfire, unless they're playing an X cost creature like Genesis Hydra, which we rarely care about anyway.
Also, Archon of Emeria is amazing at slowing down the game and making sure that we can answer spells before things get out of control.

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